The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
It is winter time in the Northern Hemisphere, the ideal time to start planning your summer vacation. Where will you go on your next vacation trip? A trip to New England? Washington, D.C.? How about to the beach? Or how about a European vacation? How about taking a trip to the town where your grandparents grew up or a visit to the country of your ancestors? Wouldn’t you like to actually walk the same streets as your great-great grandparents or see the home where your grandmother was born? This is something you probably want to put on your bucket list.
A trip back to the home town or to “the old country” can be an immensely satisfying experience. Those who prepare for the trip usually report they have great memories and photographs of the experience.
Several years ago, I visited the town in England where the first Eastman lived before he emigrated to America in 1638. Walking the streets of the village was interesting but the highlight of the trip (for me) was visiting the church built around 1150 where he and generations of his ancestors (and mine) undoubtedly attended services, were baptized, were married, and probably also had their funerals. I cannot find the words to express my feelings as I walked in and around the medieval church.
You may have similar feelings when you visit the places where your ancestors lived, worked, raised families, and died.
While it is always worthwhile to visit town clerks, courthouses, libraries, and other repositories where your ancestors lived, you also will want to spend some time looking for old cemeteries and perhaps for the land where the old homestead stood. This provides an interesting look at history and the hardships your ancestors faced, even if the old farm is now a shopping center. Few activities are more thrilling than traveling to your ancestor’s village or gravesite. Standing where your forebears walked long ago is an amazing experience. You always should try to visit the family homestead or homeland, eat the local food, and drink the local beer, wine, or beverage of choice.
Of course, you will also want to find distant cousins, if possible. There is an interesting difference between Americans and many Europeans. Americans typically look back to find ancestors while Europeans often look forward in time, wondering what happened after people went to America.
Here are some suggestions.
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