Archive for January, 2011

Since 2000 or so, I’ve been researching my family history. I’ve been able to trace some branches of my family – mostly the Scottish branches – back to the mid-seventeenth century, but as most genealogists will tell you, the fascination of family history is putting ‘meat on the bones.’

The bones are the dry dates of birth, death and marriage, the so and so begat such and such. The flesh for the bones might be occupations listed in the census, unexpected marriages, newspaper articles or – in my case – an ancestor kidnapped by Moorish pirates in the eighteenth century and was a slave for the Sultan of Morocco for twenty years before escaping and returning to Cornwall (he even wrote a book about his experiences – a great find for a family historian!)

It is far easier to put faces and stories to more recent ancestors. Through my family history research online, I’ve met a whole new family of cousins. After living so far away from my family roots in Scotland, it’s been wonderful to reconnect with familiar family members and discover new ones.

Sometimes, my research has turned up information that was unexpected and saddening. The family story was that my great grandfather, who served in the First World War, had died of Spanish Influenza shortly afterwards, leaving his wife and two young children. However, his death certificate – and records of a Board of Inquiry into his death – revealed that he had killed himself only weeks after the end of the war.

My great grandfather’s name was Moore Harvey – pretty unusual name. Due to an Unfortunate Incident, we have no photographs, letters or other mementoes from that part of our family, and I’ve been unable to trace other living descendants – although based on the story of the Unfortunate Incident, it’s likely that no such photographs remain in any branch of the family. But I know that photographs get traded, and that some photographs were taken of units before they went to war – so I’m taking a very slim chance that someone might have a photographs of Royal Engineers CC Cable Section taken in 1914 or 1915 – or even after – or a photograph with the name Moore Harvey on the back – and might decide to google the name or the Section and read this post.

Believe me, stranger things have happened.


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2011 rolls in

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year.

For me, the last week or two has been the perfect end to a very nearly perfect year. All my stars must have been in alignment in 2010; here’s hoping they stay that way for a bit longer.

Every New Year, I make resolutions. One of my resolutions is appearing on my New Year list for roughly the fifteenth time, as I’ve yet to achieve it; another has been on my list for at least ten years.

It doesn’t bother me that some of my resolutions are recurring. ‘Quit smoking’ was on my list for a good ten years before I finally quit – but I did. ‘Write’ was on my list for more than two decades – and last year, I did. Buying my own house, finding a new job starting my own business were all re-run resolutions – goals I set but didn’t achieve in the first year I set them.

Some things just take more than a twelve month timeframe, and I’m okay with that. I keep making the resolutions, because if I didn’t, it would feel like I was giving up on those goals.

I’ve got a list of seven or eight goals for 2011. One of them is to write MORE, and to finish the first draft of my novel. I wrote over sixty thousand words of first draft this year, so I think I can manage another sixty this year.

Good luck with your New Year Resolutions and your goals for 2011!

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