Monday, October 17, 2011

Leslie Huber speaking at Ottawa OGS - Ryan Taylor Memorial Lecture

I have known Leslie Huber for about five years now and her talks are quite interesting. Primarily her research talks that I have heard have been on her German/Swedish ancestry. Everytime I hear her telling the story of going to Germany at 21 years of age and walking in the tracks of her ancestors I am amazed that someone so young would do that. That was not that many years ago (maybe ten not sure). This was her first talk in Canada and nice that it was Ottawa she came to. Since they live in New England they took the opportunity to come through Quebec City, then to Montreal and keep coming slightly north west and you are in Ottawa. I hope they enjoyed the trip.

It is interesting that the first time I heard her talk was not long after we came back from England (it was my husband's first trip to England and for me it was my second trip to England). The first time in 2001 I had no interest in genealogy. It never occurred to me to go to the Record Office; I wouldn't have had anything to look up. But when she spoke about the feelings of being in a place where your ancestors lived and how you could feel so at home - I wondered again about my feelings of being in London where I didn't know at the time that we stayed just around the corner from where my 2x great grandfather had had his butcher shop. I thought that feeling of being home was because of my three grandparents who were born, raised to adulthood and lived in England. It never occurred to me that I could be experiencing in true Celtic terms - a memorable experience from my senses being intermingled with my ancestors. It was uncanny thinking about that after that first talk she gave.

I think it takes a while to recognize that where your ancestors lived, experienced all the nuances of life, and finally died can leave something behind for you to experience - was it my grandfather talking so much about Upper Clatford that made me see it through his eyes once again, recognize the turns in the road, Bury Hill up behind, the road to Goodworth Clatford, the Church yard. It is an interesting experience I think to walk the paths of your ancestor. Each one of us must do it in our own way.

Interestingly, when we walked the path up to the Church in Bishops Nympton I didn't have any of those stories to go on. The pull was less powerful except I thought about my ancestors retracing their footsteps up and back for four hundred years - that was powerful imagery but not as powerful as knowing that the trees I touched the tombstones that I looked at were all there when my grandfather was a child. Recognizing the look of the place, the stream passing nearby and then the Church door still looking as ancient as the day he walked through it. The Font that had baptized my 2x great grandfather and everyone on down to my grandfather (it was replaced in the later 1700s so would not have baptized my 3x great grandfather) was so amazing.

No there was somewhat of a disconnect at Bishops Nympton. They had come earlier. My mother knew many of their stories but not such a detailed description of daily activities - it was more of a family story. Names of parents/grandparents/great grandparents and stories about the lands they farmed but not in great detail. So the experience wasn't as powerful; I didn't talk to anyone at Bishops Nympton. I didn't want to do that. I had written to one of the Pincombes living there still but they didn't respond - I felt outside. I know the priest felt badly because he had given me the name (without my asking; he volunteered to do that) and so I didn't go and see him either even though he was in his yard by the Church. I could have gone into the Church but I didn't have that strong desire - I was an outsider. I felt like an outsider and it is my nature just to look not push ahead. Next time I would visit the Church; I will write to him to do so but that time I didn't do that.

Birmingham though is a place I would like to go to. My grandmother grew up there; her father was born there but there the link ends on that side. The next generation back was from London and Henry continued to go back and forth between his butcher shop in London and his butcher shop and restaurant in Birmingham. He died in London; he was buried in London. That must have been tragic for the young widow. She was 15 years younger than Henry and he died relatively young at 57. A whole houseful of children so she moved in with her mother. Well enough of reminiscing. Next time we go I want to look at Birmingham and perhaps walk those streets. Apparently the street where they had their butcher shop is a museum now dating back to the 1880s (they were there just before that). I have a picture of the house they lived in but none of them. I wonder if anyone has a picture of Henry Christopher Buller and his wife Anne Welch. Perhaps I will be lucky one day to find that.

Always I find listening to Leslie Huber reminds me again of my own treks looking for my ancestors. She has a long career ahead of her in Genealogy; her talks are very interesting.

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