Many people are looking for their roots nowadays. A quick online search will give an idea of the number of family history programmes on television worldwide at present, such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’
The search for your ancestors might begin with what life was like for them. What was their work, how did their children live, what were the houses they lived in, what about their neighbours, workmates and friends? Then you may want to see where your forebears came from, what the places looked like and are they still there? Your family’s history may well have started miles from where you are now, maybe even on the other side of the world.
If you have researched your family tree, you will probably see names you recognise, and some you don’t, there will be fashionable names, biblical names, unusual names, or naming patterns in Wales and other Celtic countries which won’t fit a modern pattern. You will also see place names, some familiar, some not, some indecipherable and some strange.
On a Genealogy Tour I can make the link between the past and present for you. I will research your genealogy; build on the work you’ve done, or indeed start from scratch. I will use birth, marriage and death records, censuses, old maps such as tithe maps, newspaper reports (there are over 300 years to be searched!), wills and testaments, court records from 800 years, and other sources too numerous to mention in archives and libraries.
From the humblest labourer to the mighty landowner, if the records exist, they can be found. From these records we will map out the life of your ancestors, gather the documents, put together an itinerary and off we go.
A visit to your roots will let you hear the language and accents your ancestors used. See the churches or chapels where they got baptized, married, and buried. You will walk in their footsteps, perhaps see the houses they lived in, the places they worked and the sights they saw.
Tracing the Welsh heritage of a family from Pennsylvania
160 years ago, a miner and his young family left Blaenavon in Monmouthshire, Wales, for Scranton, Pennsylvania, to work in the mines there. Six generations later, the descendants of that family came back to follow their family history.
Using the records available, we were able to go to the streets the family had lived in, the terraces of cottages holding on to the hillsides. We talked about how the houses sprang up to accommodate the workers arriving to get jobs in the coal mines, iron mines, limestone workings, furnaces, forges and railways. We talked about the boom and bust of the times, and how their ancestors left for better times in Pennsylvania.
As we walked around the industrial heritage town of Blaenavon we saw the church of St. Peter which had been built by the ironmasters, and where ancestors had been baptised, married and buried. Next to the school one of the children attended, the rest of the children worked at the Iron Works.
We toured the spectacular Blaenavon Ironworks to see beautifully restored cottages, a company shop, the iconic blast furnaces and marvelled at the Balance Tower, a hydraulically operated lift which once raised wagon loads of raw materials to the top of the furnaces.
The 19th century family had moved around in the area as the times changed and the work places opened up and closed down. For instance they had gone north towards Govilon in Monmouthshire and we were able to travel on the road they used. We stopped and could see where the mountain had been tunnelled to move the iron north, to save the company the tolls for going south.
I was able to show the family a long-since derelict village with schoolhouse and pub built by the company for forge workers and miners – the place their ancestors had lived, with nature taking back over.
From this viewpoint we could see the Blaenavon World Heritage Site on one side and the National Park of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) on the other. Now the family could see the geography of the area and why it had lured the venture industrialists and then the workers in.
Continuing north, following the iron route, we saw the schoolhouse next to the canal where an ancestor had been a housekeeper and walked along the canal path for a few minutes, now a pretty leisure area, but once a busy industrial transport route.
Then to the stunning St Peter’s Church in Llanwenarth Citra, next to the River Usk, because I had found the marriage of their seven times grandparents there in the 1840s, and where the lovely family were able to leave a message in the visitors’ book on their 25th wedding anniversary in 2023.
Past, present and families. Perfect.
I will research, plan and guide you through your route.
My friends at Janet Redler Travel Limited will put the whole thing together for you click on the the underlined text to go to their website.