I feel very very blessed to have had the opportunity to take a number of vacations that were either entirely for genealogy or had a planned stop that included an chance to visit with the ancestors.
It’s hard to narrow my list down to my 5 favorite vacations, but here they are:
1980 Visit to New England
Soon after I was bitten by the genealogy bug, we had a chance to visit family on the East Coast. We planned a road trip from New Jersey up to Maine and back again. The highlights included meeting my grandmother’s younger half-sister, Lydia, who lived in Calais, Maine and was able to tell me stories about my great grandfather and other relatives.
Lydia Coleman DiCenzo
Lydia reminded me a lot of Grandmother, both in her looks and mannerisms. Her husband died in a plane crash long before we met and she had no children, so she was pleased to share all the family lore with me.
Besides meeting Lydia, I had a chance to visit Calais Cemetery, Red Beach Cemetery, Meddybemps Cemetery and the towns of Robbinson and Charlotte, where my ancestors settled in the early 1800s.
As we passed through New Hampshire and Masschusetts, we visited the little town of Mason, where my Revolutionary War ancestors, Joses Bucknam and James Scripture are buried.
Mason, New Hampshire Town Cemetery
My Personal Photo
Groton is another historic town where a number of my ancestors settled in the early days.
Just for the sheer excitement of it being my very first genealogy trip, I’d have to rank this trip as #1.
Barry County, Missouri Court House, 1994
In the summer of 1994, my husband and I met up with his aunt and uncle in Barry County, Missouri. Dave and his uncle headed to Branson to check out the town. His Aunt Freda and I made a beeline for the Barry County Court House.
The county clerk was fabulous! He welcomed us to town, showed us where the copy machine was and then pointed to the vault and said all the old records were in there! All we had to do was keep track of how many photocopies we made and let him know when we were finished.
Boy, was that a fun day! Freda and I found all kinds of documents, including proof that old Isaac Sturgell’s first wife left and took the girls with her to Peoria, Illinois.
If that was enough excitement, we found the original divorce packet whereby his SECOND wife, Susannah Douthit Alberty Sturgell ALSO divorced him and accepted a gray mare as her settlement.
We even met a number of Sturgell cousins who still lived in Missouri and, of course, the visit wouldn’t have been complete without some cemetery visits.
One of the gravestones we viewed was the most intricate stone I’ve ever come across. Marlett Sturgell had died the year before, but we met his widow, Dora, who told us about the family, who still lived on the original family farm.
Here is a photo of their barn:
Now look at Marlett’s and Dora’s gravestone:
Their gravestone is etched with a drawing of their land, which Marlett truly loved. How neat is it for descendants to come back and see the farm as it looked in their time?
My only court house visit and meeting all the Sturgells is #2 on my favorite list.
Copenhagen, Denmark and Öved, Sweden, May 2013
By 2012, I had cracked through my Danish brick wall and found the family and ancestors of my 2X gret grandfather, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Johnson, who settled in Calais, Maine in the 1880s.
I was bound and determined to get to Copenhagen somehow and in May 2013, we took a repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam. Copenhagen was just a short flight away.
His father was born at the unwed mothers’ hospital in Copenhagen and was given up for adoption when he was a couple of days old. I had the chance to go in the building, which today houses a number of different offices.
We also visited two of the parish churches where the family attended services. Both were quite beautiful. Here is a view of Trinitatis Church:
Frits’ mother hailed from Öved, Sweden, which is only a couple of hours east of Copenhagen, across the modern bridge connecting the two countries.
I walked the streets of Copenhagen where the family lived and enjoyed a perfect spring day in Öved, visiting the village church and cemetery and enjoying the beautiful views.
Öved Village Church
My Personal Photo
Cracking the Danish and Swedish brick wall AND having the opportunity to walk in my ancestors’ shoes in their ancestral homes makes this #3 on my favorites list.
Family History Library
I have been fortunate to live in the West and only a 60-90 minute plane flight away from Salt Lake City.
I first visited the Family History Library around 1994 and have probably spent more than a month of combined days there if all my visits were to be totaled up.
The first time, though, was in the summer and my husband’s Aunt Freda (yes, the same aunt who met us in Barry County, Missouri) and I were in the line bright and early. Those were the days when the library opened at 7 and closed at 10 p.m.
For many years, I salivated at the thought of walking in those doors and accessing all those fabulous books and microfilms to my heart’s content.
Today, I still love visiting, but with all the digitized records and access at local family history centers, my “to do” list in Salt Lake is much shorter.
Good thing, since RootsTech does a great job filling my days there!
The Family History Library is #4 on my list, but the excitement I felt the very first time I walked in it ranks right up there with #2 and #3. 🙂
John and Joan Tuttle, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland
My Tuttle ancestors were a bit different than my other early colonial America families.
Their ancestral home was St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. I am descended from both John and Joan, but have a double descent from Joan, because I also descend from a child she had with her first husband, Thomas Lawrence.
The blended Lawrence and Tuttle families settled in Massachusetts in the late 1630s. However, by the 1650’s John Tuttle was faced with some business problems (which I’ve never seen clearly defined), but serious enough that he hopped a ship out of town, sailed back to England for a short time and then moved to Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, which is about an hour’s train ride from Belfast.
Eventually, wife Joan joined him and they lived out their final days in Carrickfergus. John died there on 30 December 1656. Joan passed away a few years later, sometime after 29 January 1660/61.
Dave and I were on yet another cruise, this one around the British Isles, and one of the ports was Belfast. I always wanted to claim some Irish ancestry, but alas, I have absolutely none. John and Joan Tuttle living and dying in Northern Ireland is apparently the closest I will ever come to Irish ancestry.
Church of Ireland, Carrickfergus
I was told that because the Tuttles were Puritans, they wouldn’t have been buried next to the church, but in a second church owned property down the road and they wouldn’t have had gravestones.
In spite of that, I loved Carrickfergus, visiting the town, the church and the historic castle, which the Tuttles would have seen every day that they lived there.
That finishes my top 5 genealogy vacations list.
What are your favorite family history themed vacations?
Please leave a comment and share one of your own adventures.