Today is the final day in a month dedicated to family history in New Zealand. I’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane while I shared some of my ‘adventures’ with you. I will continue to pursue whatever I can find out about the family of my past but I fear there is little more to discover about these ordinary people who helped shape me into the person I am today. But while I was certain of this for some years, I have been shocked out of my socks and forced to realise there might always be something new and exciting out there.
I had spent years searching for signs of my paternal great grandparents. My English relatives in Kent could not help me. Census and parish records did not help me. Visits to many village cemeteries around Maidstone did not help me. They had disappeared completely.
Family stories had told how my grandfather had come to New Zealand and been somewhat successful during the Otago gold mining days. We knew he had returned to England and paid for his younger brother and sister to accompany him back to Dunedin where they all initially settled. We knew my father had had contact with the children of this uncle and aunt as a youngster and I was even lucky enough to establish links with descendant ‘cousins’ from both these siblings of my grandfather.
What completely surprised and shocked me was the knowledge gained by a cousin I didn’t even realise I had. Keen to find links between her illegitimate grandmother and my family, she easily found records of my great grandparents living in Otago. It seems Grandad not only returned to New Zealand with one brother and sister as our family stories suggested, but also his parents, another (widowed) sister and nephew. Why no-one in the family seemed to have had any knowledge of these ‘extra’ family members who lived and worked alongside my grandfather for some years is a mystery. Why are there stories aplenty about three siblings settling in New Zealand, but no mention in any of those stories about their parents or another sister?
Who knows? I doubt I will ever find any way to answer this question. But it won’t stop me wondering and delving into my family’s past. Mysteries are what makes family history research so interesting. The thirst to solve that mystery, even if it appears unsolvable is what keeps the genealogist digging.