Sunday, May 10, 2009

Family Stories: Only Half Truths

Since I've began genealogy, I've been told of the story of my great great grandparents coming to America.  Nearly everyone I talked to was willing to share the story.  They also provided me with pictures and letters that made the story come alive.

The story always goes the same: Daniel and his wife, Elizabeth wanted to give their children a better life.  They left Wales, boarded a ship, and arrived in Seattle only two days before the The Great Seattle Fire of 1889.  The family then traveled to Black Diamond, Washington and settled there.  They raised the family there and became very involved in the town and it's happenings.

Eventually, the family bought a home in Seattle, Washington.  The home is still in my family today and serves as a central hub for the family.  The house is two stories, with one bedroom downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs.  The interesting thing about the three upstairs bedrooms is that you must travel through the first one to get to the next and travel through the second one to get to the third.  There is no hallway upstairs.  In the entire house, there is only one bathroom that still only has a bathtub - no shower.  My Great Aunt, who has owned the house for the majority of her life, refuses to update it much.  The cabinets in the kitchen are the original.  The deck is mostly the original (they had to replace some of it after it became too damaged).  The stairs that lead up to the house are made from concrete.  This home means the world to my Great Aunt, because to her, it connects her with her past, present, and future.

So it isn't a suprise that this story and this particular branch of my family tree is so close to me.  As I began to investigate and look at all of the sides of the story I became stuck: Everything I read and heard said that the family traveled from Wales and ended up in Seattle.  I made the mistake of assuming that they went straight from Wales to Seattle, Washington.

I failed to think things through - and I just couldn't figure out why I was so confused.  I finally figured out that it is practically impossible for someone to travel from Wales to Seattle in 1889.  I needed to stop restricting my search, and start expanding it.

So I did just that.  But I also knew that there were so many ports that they could've landed on on the Eastern Coasts of the U.S. and Canada that it became overwhelming.  And then came the question of how they travelled to Seattle once they landed in North America.

Luckily, thanks to's Hints (the little green leaves you see next to a name in your family tree), I found the passenger list that shows them arriving in Quebec, Canada in 1889.

I have yet to figure out how or confirm exactly when they came to Seattle - but I know that I am now on the right track because I have opened up my search and stopped restricting myself!

If you open up your research and expand your searches, you might be suprised where you find your ancestors!


Jennifer said...

I totally agree. My great-uncle told me that my great-great-grandfather, Ernest Crysler, was born in Quebec and then moved to Sanilac/St. Clair County, Michigan. I posted a query on a Sanilac County message board asking if anyone knew his parents. Someone wrote back saying he was born in Ontario and that his parents were Calvin Crysler and Mary Ellen Molesworth, both of Ontario. I ignored this until I finally found Ernest's death record and realized the lady was right. I just assumed my great-uncle was correct in saying that he was from Quebec. Now that I've done more research, I think my great-uncle was confusing his father's side of the family with his mother's side. His father's mother's family seems to have been from Quebec, not his mother's father's family.

GrannyPam said...

Hi, I'm presenting you with the 2009 Friendly Blogger Award. Keep up the good work.