Winging it: #MyGenealogyStory

Daniel, from Daniel’s Genealogy and also a Hidden Branch colleague alongside the wonderful Mish Holman, has set the genealogy community a challenge to tell their genealogy story.

Daniel’s tweet

My genealogy story isn’t that profound nor does it have a particularly impressive backstory. I have always been vaguely interested in my family history but I didn’t really have the means to pursue it. I know that this may seem a little against the whole ‘#GenealogyForAll’ movement but I was too young to pursue it as I didn’t wish to sit down researching for hours, didn’t have the knowledge or much self-confidence to learn nor did I have the financial means. I was only eight years old!

However, my Grandad Richard, my dad’s dad, remained a mystery throughout my childhood. He was rarely discussed; once I became a little older, I was told that he sadly took his own life. My dad was only nine years old when he died, so didn’t remember a great deal about him. I remember being relatively young, perhaps six to nine years old, in the car with my dad driving up Lady Ann Road in Soothill just thinking and imagining who / what the Halls were like during the Victorian era. I obviously didn’t imagine that my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Hall, who was born in 1842 and died in 1904, nicely just about encompassing the Victorian era, was a rampant alcoholic!

It seemed weird that the family name would even have meaning. I even remember walking to French or Form in about Year Eight, call it late 2017 to mid-2018ish, and considering dropping the name Hall because it ‘meant nothing’ and taking my mother’s maiden name Richardson. But, of course, the great irony in doing that is that I would have dropped a surname that had nearly half a millennium’s history for one that elusive Great Grandfather Fred probably made up.

What ‘meant nothing’

Let’s jump forward a bit now. Despite my cringe-worthy attempts at a tree when I was about eight and a half-hearted attempt at a school project in late Year Seven (2017), I hadn’t probably begun my Genealogy story. However, that changed one late Friday night, just as Covid was becoming a significant issue, on Friday 13 March 2020. That Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky one!

I was, for unknown reasons, scrolling through my old Virgin Media email address and came across an advert from Ancestry, probably related to my old account. I had recently begun taking photos of graves as part of the DofE skills section and became deeply interested in all the possible stories they could represent. Therefore once I had seen the advert, I decided to create an account and start a free trial.

I put in my dad and mum’s details and then my living grandparents’ details. I then put ‘Richard Hall’, died ‘about 1982’ and low and behold, the mysterious and unknown figure of my paternal grandfather came somewhat into focus. Well, at least his grave up at Morley Cemetery did.

I was hooked from then on.

Messages to my mate at the time, moments after I found Grandad Richard’s grave.

The defining feature of my whole journey since the somewhat cursed March 2020 is the connections I have made. Sure, I found my major interests in history but also developed my passion for writing and words but meeting all the wonderful people I have since then has truly been life-changing. Not just finding family through blood, but family in all different definitions the word has. I already know I have made life-long connections with people I would have never met or known about.

Thank god for that advert, eh?

I don’t know what the future will bring. I hope it will be good, but God knows, at this point but I’m just thankful for what I have got. After all, I have just winged it all up until this point.

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