52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
Week 1 - Foundations -My Grandfather
This word can mean so many things – but when I think of it in relation to Genealogy – a few things come to mind:
· Foundation of your family
· Research foundations
· Founding Father or Ancestor
· Foundation or cornerstone of your Family Tree – the “reason” you started researching
To me the fundamental foundation of my research, and the reason I got started on my Family Tree, was my unusual surname. The one deceased ancestor I wished I could talk to was my paternal Grandfather, George Toulson.
I never met my Toulson Grandfather, he died many years before I was born, but I was always curious as to our surname (which is rare in the USA) and why he emigrated from England. I was sure there was some deep dark mystery.
All I knew was he came from a small village in rural Lincolnshire, England, emigrated in the early 1900’s, went to Iowa where he had an Uncle, was in Oklahoma at the time of the Land Rush, and ended up in California in the early 1910’s.
I started with the basics, and wrote to the Vicar in Fulbeck, asking for my Grandfather's baptism record. This was in 1976, so it was snail mail. Several months later a letter arrived with a typewritten listing of my Grandfather's baptism date, along with 4 siblings! SIBLINGS??? Who were these people? We had no idea he had any siblings, as he'd never spoken of his his family.
Turns out there was another Sister and 2 Half-Siblings born before his Mother married!
This became a new foundational pillar to my research, who were these Grand Aunts and Uncles, and did they have descendants??
Over the ensuring years, I have uncovered more about the siblings - a Sister and Half-Sister died as infants, a Brother died in a tragic accident as a teenager, a Half-Brother was raised by Grandparents, another Brother died a bachelor, a Sister married a miner and moved to Nottingham, and finally the last Brother was a CHALLENGE. It took me until the 2000's to find his descendants - all because I made a class genealogy mistake. I discounted the possibility that this Brother would have relocated and moved away for work as a Farm Bailiff. When I finally connected with a descendant of his and saw a photo of him, there was no doubt he was my Grandfather’s brother.
A long and winding road, but I’ve now fleshed out all those lines – and the descendants had no idea anyone had ever left England, so were surprised to hear from an American relative!
Slowly and surely I feel I have a better idea of what his life was like and what an amazing journey from a small village in rural Lincolnshire to Ellis Island to Clinton, Iowa to Oklahoma and on to California. The story goes, he was headed to Australia next....but a little matter of a wife and a baby on the way got in the way of that!
So, I credit my Grandfather and his surname for my passion for genealogy. And it turns out my Grandfather’s wife also plays a role in my genealogy interest – she died young, but her twin Sister lived to her 90’s in England. She wrote us hundreds of letters in her lifetime, and when I asked about her family she drew out a rudimentary Family Tree, which had great details and traced the family back to Pendeen, Cornwall on the far southwestern tip of England. This Cornish branch of my family has been a bonanza for research, with records going back to the 1550’s! And the diaspora of the Cornish miners has led me to many cousins in Australia and New Zealand. A fascinating branch of the family!
So those are my English foundations --- I could write a whole other blog on my Irish side of the family – and those foundations! Maybe that will come in a later entry of #52ancestors.