What are the ties that bind us?
Searching your ancestry can be exciting, but have you ever thought of creating a travel itinerary based on your findings? I’ve been researching my family tree since before it was “cool”. For the most part I knew the basics of where my ancestors lived when I started my search. However, the more I learn, the more I want to travel to where they are from and immerse myself in the culture.
On my “bucket list”, you will find places like Michigan and Scotland. When I say I want to go to Michigan, I often get puzzling looks, but I have roots to trace there. Some people want to go learn the history of an area, I also want to learn the history of my family. I like to think that setting my feet on the soil my ancestors walked, will connect me to those who have gone before me. Call me crazy, but I get a sense of who I am, from learning who they were.
Tracing your roots
When my Son was still in High school we talked about going to Scotland so we could trace our ancestors. We purchased a map of Scotland, with plans to pin the areas they lived. I got a little overwhelmed trying to pinpoint exact locations due to the vastness of our Scottish roots. We didn’t make it there for High School graduation, so I am shooting for his College graduation now. My plan is to have all of the towns we want to visit mapped out before we go.
I use Ancestry.com to research my family history, and to store my family tree. The information I have found there has been invaluable, but in many cases is incomplete. This missing links are what have peaked my interest in ancestry travel. By traveling to the area your ancestors lived, you can find a wealth of information at local levels. Historical societies, churches, cemeteries, and local government offices are just a few ways that you can get dig up information. It’s like a puzzle and you are working to put all the pieces together.
Where are you from?
My Husband went back to Michigan a few years ago and while he was there I pinpointed where his Mother’s family’s seed company had been in Detroit. I sent him the street name and we worked to pinpoint it (street names change so this can be tricky sometimes). Turns out he was staying about a block away from the building where their thriving seed company had once been. His Mother’s family also had a lake house which still stands. I’ve added that to my list of places to see on our next trip back there. Besides my Husband’s family having deep roots in Michigan, my Grandfather also had deep roots there. What may sound like an odd vacation choice, or bucket list travel destination to some, sounds utterly fascinating to me.
Who would have thought?
I have always known that my Great-Great Grandparents on one side were Scottish. But, I hadn’t known that my husband also has pretty deep Scottish roots as well. When we visit Scotland, it will be not only a family trip to search out my ancestors, but his as well.
Originally when I started writing this post, I was so excited to share the idea of ancestry travel. When I was half way through my post, I was doing some fact checking found ancestry travel is not a new concept. I’m not going to lie, that made me feel a little less original. But, it also made me realize that I am not the only one who thinks tooling through cemeteries and visiting the homes of my ancestors can make for a great vacation.
When I was doing my fact checking I came across Ancestry.com’s ProGeneologist’s site. You can pay them to do the research for you. I have seen the TLC series “Who Do You Think You Are”, so I knew Ancestry had this service, but I didn’t realize they also offer Heritage Travel. My mind was blown! They will map out where your ancestors homestead was, connect you with historians local to the area, help you find their churches, and even help you determine if you still have relatives in the area. While I don’t know the cost involved, I think it would be an amazing experience.
Are you ready to find your roots?
Scotland is on the top of my ‘bucket list travel”, but there are so many more places I want to visit to make those ancestry connections. Travel doesn’t have to be just about tropical locals, it can also be about finding your roots and making connections.
On a side note the links here are not paid links.
And if you are interested in ancestry research, check out TLC's Who Do you Think You are. I didn't realize this show was still on and there are some great new episodes.