Friday, 5 January 2018

52 ancestors in 52 weeks - Week 1 - Start

"Let's start at the very beginning..."
Perhaps I am being a little unimaginative, but I'm going to take several of Amy's suggested starting points and make my first "52 ancestors" post about myself.  After all, we're always advised to begin our family history with ourselves, and I am the "Home Person" on my Ancestry public tree.

But then again, I am not actually one of my own ancestors - so I'm also going to include my parents in this post.  Although they are both deceased, it still seems too close to publish much online about them, from a privacy point of view, so covering all three of us at once means I can then move on to the more distant ancestors, knowing I have at least mentioned us all in the series.

For those who don't know, the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" is a series of weekly prompts, produced by Amy Johnson Crow, aimed at helping genealogists share their research about their ancestors.  I did consider taking part in the series some years ago, when I began the Genealogy Do-over. At the time, I'd recently acquired all of my parents' family history records and I was planning to work through them, starting with myself, in order to confirm, and add to, Mum and Dad's research.

Unfortunately, I got "bogged down" after about week 6 of the Do-over, and never started the actual "family history" tasks (although I learnt a lot about tools and techniques during those first few weeks, which definitely came in handy for some of the other activities I had going on then!)  You can find my 'Do-Over' posts earlier in this blog.  My more recent posts here (if you can call them "recent"!) have related to my DNA research.  Once again this is something that I find easy to get bogged down with, as DNA can rapidly become complicated, especially for those of us who are not particularly 'technologically minded' and who have to work hard at understanding what all the various tools can do. 

But one of the things I have learnt, in all the years since first taking a DNA test, is that family history is important!  DNA alone will not produce all the answers.  It needs to be combined with genealogy - so hopefully, this year will be the year when I really feel I demonstrate some proper "genetic genealogy"!

Anyway, back to my "start".

Obviously my parents were present - and they continued to be responsible for many of my "starts" in life. Particular memories for me include my first driving experiences - steering an old Bedford van, whilst sitting on Dad's lap (I couldn't reach the pedals!) and, as soon as I was legally old enough to drive, giving Mum a fright when I turned a corner rather abruptly, after she'd bravely allowed me to drive her car on a disused airfield.  Mum and Dad were both responsible for my enjoyment of gardening - I have many happy memories of visits to garden centres, and certain plants will forever be associated with particular experiences involving my parents.  They were also both responsible for my interest in photography, another of their joint hobbies.  A camera was passed down to me when I was merely six or seven and, again, specific memories are intrinsically linked with the two of them, such as photographing lightning in Singapore, and doing our own developing and printing at home.

Of course, the combination of these two hobbies does have its downside, as I now have thousands of photographs of flowers to deal with!


Mum was creative - I didn't inherit any of her musical skills but I like to think that some of her practical side has rubbed off on me, for general handicrafts and (potentially!) model making.  Dad was also practical but more studious. He was responsible for my interest in archaeology - I remember the two of us watching Mortimer Wheeler on television when I was a teenager.  Dad was also the one who began our family history research, back in the early 1980s. 

And he was the one who first mentioned DNA to me, around the year 2000, asking me if I knew anything about it. By then I had begun researching and was concentrating on our surname of Parry, since that was the one Dad had got stuck on and Mum and Dad were both working on all of the other branches.  One of my regrets is that my response was to say, no, I didn't know about DNA and didn't see how it could be used with a multiple origin surname like ours. 

If only I had asked what had he read and did he want to do it.......

Dad passed away within a year of that conversation.  Fortunately for me, seven years later, when I had finally learnt a bit about DNA, another male relative was willing to take a Y-DNA test.  But what a missed opportunity, to have been in there right in the early days of genetic genealogy.  Who knows what situation my DNA surname research would have been in now if I had acted differently?

But there's no point looking back at what might have been.  I'm what's known as a "RAF BRAT", so am fairly used to moving on without allowing regrets to build up.  And I am so grateful for the wealth of experiences my parents gave me, and for the treasures I still have to explore, within their research, as I begin this year's journey to increase my knowledge about all of my ancestors.

Amy Johnson Crow - https://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/

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