If you have ever attempted to look back to see from where and from whom you have descended; if you have ever marveled over a previously undiscovered old photograph of a grandfather when he was a young man; if you have ever attempted to put pencil to paper and sketch your family tree, then you have no doubt felt the tingle of discovery of who you are, and who were those who preceded you.
While my mother, and I years later, dipped our toes into our geneaology pool, it is my niece Zoe who has made our family history her mission. No one in our family has been more thorough, more dedicated and more tenacious at pioneering the exploration back—far back—to define who we are.
Zoe has just completed a much anticipated and exceptionally planned for trip to Amsterdam. What’s in Amsterdam? Well actually, it’s who is in Amsterdam and it’s a good bunch of my mother’s ancestors. This is one branch of the family tree to which Zoe has devoted several years of research, achieving a remarkable link as far back as the 1500’s!
Zoe and her husband Berry went to Amsterdam in the beginning of July. They trekked on bicycle for miles through the countryside. They strolled along canals and up and down side streets looking for addresses for homes that no longer stand where they once did; and they trudged through swampy cemeteries where the family’s heritage lies under unearthed slabs of granite whose surfaces were etched with names and dates, many too eroded to decipher without help from local experts.
Following one marvelous revelation after another, Zoe took detailed notes and lots of pictures. And now, she has begun to tell the story of one branch of the family tree. I found her initial draft of her trip to Amsterdam to be incredibly fascinating…too good not to share here on my blog. It does not matter that it is not about your family, because it is a story of search and discovery that most anyone will relate to and appreciate. I will feature several episodes over time as Zoe completes them. I hope you find her journey as interesting as I have and that somewhere along the way you too may feel the tingle.
Okay, here’s what you need to do see Zoe’s first journal: click on this underlined section or the link below for Zoe’s first journal. The slides will change at ten-second intervals. If you click on the arrow functions in the lower left corner you should be able to run them manually.