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Posts tagged ‘family history’

In their footsteps (2): Journey to Hamburg

Poland Day 26. In 1876, members of the Fabich family embarked on the long and hellish journey from their home to start a new life in New Zealand. While it’s not possible to emulate the sea voyage (thankfully), I could at least mimic the train journey beforehand that got them to the port city of Hamburg. Read more

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In their footsteps (1): The villages

Poland Day 25. Given the south-to-north trajectory of my trip, and given my Polish ancestors came from the north, it worked out that my last full day in Poland would be spent visiting some of the villages they’d lived in. Read more

Delving into my Polish ancestry

Poland Day 19. I have a smidge of Polish blood and worked into my itinerary a day at an archives office to see if I’d be able to add to the information Mum has already collected. Read more

East Cape 7: More small town ghosts and picking up the family trail

We were on the downhill run now to Gisborne but the car detoured off again, this time to Tokomaru Bay. Originally named for sandflies, there’s a bit more going for it these days – in the East Cape sense at least. Read more

Other stuff around Portsmouth: Family past and present

As I’ve mentioned once or twice, Portsmouth featured prominently in our itinerary because of dad’s origins. His dad was born there and lived there until late in his teens when he moved to New Zealand. My grandfather had a few sisters and as a result, dad has several English cousins who materialised only in recent decades.

During our week in and around Portsmouth we saw all and met all we could with a tie to dad’s family.

Meeting up with dad’s cousins Ray, Rosie & Helen at the Churchillian pub on Portsdown Hill in Portsmouth. We must be related – we’re (mostly) all tall!

Mum and dad with cousin Helen in the cafe with the best views in Portsmouth

Me, dad and Helen during a visit to an old family church at Farley Chamberlayne

Dad and more first cousins who we met in the gounds of Portchester Castle

The Porchester Castle meeting place was also handy to the parish church of St Mary, which held significance for dad’s cousins

Dad and his cousin David visiting his parents’ memorial plaque

My great grandfather was a Royal Marine for 18 years

He was based here at the barracks in Eastney, now home to the Royal Marines Museum and private residential apartments

One of the navy ships he worked on, the HMS Victory, one of the main attractions at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

He also worked on the HMS Illustrious.

Dad at his grandparents’ grave. Two of his aunties are also buried there

My great grandfather was only 46 when he died

My great grandma stuck around another 30 years

Dad’s dad lived in this street in Southsea when he was born

When my great grandfather died he left six children, my grandfather being the eldest and the only boy. He emigrated from England on his own as a teenager under a scheme which was to have seen his sisters and mother eventually join him. However for various reasons that never happened and he never saw his family again. Happily though he met my grandmother and they proceeded to have 10 children, who produced 24 grandchildren (voila, me!).

My grandparents. Unfortunately my grandfather died before I was born

I’m sure my grandparents would have been blown away if they could have seen this gathering of their descendents in March 2011

When we left Portsmouth for London that was the end of the family history theme of the trip. It was this theme that prompted me to travel around with my parents for a month, particularly as mum has collected so much information about who-what-where-when. Between her ancestral ties with Cornwall, dad’s with Hampshire and going to these places, have to say I’m pretty happy with my English roots and my decision to have gone on the trip.

Family portrait of sorts in the pub (how English!)

Chesapeake Mill – a not so hidden gem in Wickham

Just a quickie (of sorts) to mention this place as it was one of the local highlights near where we stayed.

Before leaving for our day-trip-to-Southampton-that-wasn’t, we met at the Chesapeake Mill in Wickham. A striking brick building, this former watermill, which produced flour, is today a homewares shop and cafe.

Still retaining much of its original character, the big old mill is hard to miss

It has so much stuff in it, new and antiques, though we didn’t have nearly enough time to poke around properly. Probably just as well; I was quickly running out of nooks and crannies in my bag in which to stuff things.

While the mill was plenty interesting already, another reason for visiting lies in our family history, the main theme of our trip.

The mill was built in 1820 using timber from the US frigate Chesapeake. During the War of 1812, the Chesapeake was captured by the Royal Navy, specifically the HMS Shannon on which one of my 4x great grandfathers served – and who was also part of the boarding party onto the Chesapeake.

Unfortunately I didn’t realise at the time, otherwise I would’ve taken photos!, but apparently blood stains and embedded bullets can still be seen in the timber inside the building.

The ship beams are a very cool feature but are probably easy to miss in amongst all the other stuff

Another great feature of the mill are the tea rooms, especially if you need a rest from too much (is there such a thing?) shopping.

Mmmmmm complimentary choccy treats

I wish we’d had more time to spend there but as was usually the case, there was other stuff to go see.

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