In August 2014 I decided to research my family history. It has always been something I wanted to do but I finally had the time to do so.
The first initial reason on why I wanted to was because of my middle name Louvain, which is a place in Belgium. The Belgians spell it as Leuven but mine is the French spelling. Why I had this name was because of my great grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. He fought in the First World War and was in that area and that is how the middle name originated. I am the third generation to have it as my grandmother and aunty had it as their middle name. So because of this story it inspired me to start it all off.
As always it is best to start with what you know and thankfully to a family bible on my paternal side I was able to go back to my great grandfather. I was lucky as it had dates of birth and death so it was a useful source of information. On my mother’s side I was able to ask as she could remember her ancestors rather clearly.
After a while you get further back and a small tree of your direct ancestors turns out to become a forest of distant cousins and great aunts and uncles, with a numerous number of greats before a grandparent. It has taken me a long time to get as far back as I have with much time clued to a computer screen and a monthly subscription to Ancestry, which is where I have done the majority of research. Every now and then I diverted to other places to do research such as the local library.
One thing that I have learnt through all the ancestors and travelling from different times and places without making a single move out of the front door is it a rather addictive pass time. Also it does become more than just a mere hobby, it becomes a passion. It is good to try and go as far back as you can, however finding out the stories behind the name and dates makes the history journey more appetising.
When looking at who someone was and where they came from can change your outlook and perspective. The reason for this is because you learn from your ancestors in various ways. You learn about who they were from the job they did to the simple part of the address of a home. I have found many happy memories of success in an adventure of work or being married with children for a long time. But with every happy story there are many sad stories in the closet.
The sad stories have consisted of untimely deaths to leave children orphaned or the young men in my tree and so many others who went off to war and many never came home. These are in particular heart breaking as they are related to you, no matter how distant they are.
Overall my journey into looking at my ancestors has made historical events more real and relatable through my own ancestors. I will keep continuing in looking at my family tree and finding out where I come from and where I will end up in my own journey.