Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.
I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Heidi Wessman Kneale…
Finding Your Roots with Family History
Family History is one of the biggest hobbies in the world, inspiring millions to learn where they came from. Any famous people in your history? Any amazing stories? You could even be descended from a king.
In my book “For Richer, For Poorer”, Beatrice Nottham has traced her family roots back over a thousand years. Turns out she is descended from Norman nobility, but her roots also come with a family curse…
I can’t claim to have gone back quite that far in my own family history but have been able to trace my line back to French and German nobility and even a Swedish king.
It’s not so much the blue blood flowing in my veins that makes family history so fascinating but the stories of everyday people. Our families did not live boring lives!
A great-great grandmother of mine, Elizabeth Pugsley Hayward, was a Suffragette. She was one of the first women to be elected to a State political office before women were even allowed to vote. This meant she was successfully elected by a hundred percent male vote. She served as a State Representative, then later as a State Senator. She was even introduced the bill to ratify the 19th Amendment to the State Senate, successfully.
There’s a history of strong women in my family, even one who wasn’t a woman.
A 19th Century ancestor of mine was Edwin Pettit, an American Pioneer. When his family emigrated out West, he had to remain behind, as he was apprenticed to a cruel master.
One night, Edwin managed to sneak out and make his way to a pioneer camp. There, everyone conspired to dress Edwin up as a girl, skirts, curls and all. He remained in this disguise for as long as it took until his master, who had come looking had given up.
Not many people can lay claim to a cross-dressing ancestor.
How can you get started in your family history? Ask your parents, your grandparents, your aunts, uncles and other family members for their stories. Write them down. Get as much information as you can, for once they die, they take their stories with them.
For those who have passed on, you can look them up in Census records, on Family History sites like FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com. Many public libraries and family history centres offer free access to Ancestry.com.
Don’t feel discouraged if you’re not able to immediately find records of your family. Every month more and more records are transcribed and made public, even records for families that, until now, have been almost impossible to track and trace. For example, the family histories of many African Americans are coming to light, thanks to the tireless work of historians like Amy Tanner Thiriot and genealogists like Thom Reed.
Knowing your family history can give you a sense of belonging, a sense of place. Join millions of fellow human beings around the world who are learning where they come from.
For Richer, For Poorer is available in ebook format and as an audiobook.
The Deveraux line is famous…for a family curse. The rich must marry the poor or lose their prosperity. Peter Baring is the last of the Deveraux and sinking slowly into poverty. But will marriage to his icy business partner save him?
Beatrice Nottham dreams of leaving Earth for a fresh start. But only married couples are allowed to move off-world. Marrying a man she’s unsure she loves will solve that problem…but at what cost?
When Beatrice visits England to research her branch of the Deveraux family tree, she meets Peter and sparks fly. Both question everything they ever believed would fulfill their dreams. If they dare to be together, will the Curse follow them beyond the stars? The answer to breaking its power could lie in the heart of a crumbling tapestry…if they have the courage to try.
What were the exact conditions of the Curse?
That the richest must marry the poorest? Sure. But other than that? Peter wondered, did Gytha love Phillippe?
She must have, to stay for so long. Or was it love? Did she stay simply so her family could be provided for? If she loved him, would she have cursed him thus? Or was she thinking of her sons? Clearly, she loved them more than anything.
“Peter?” Beatrice’s voice broke into his thoughts.
“Whether or not my marriage to Francie will break the Curse is irrelevant, because last night I decided I’m not going to marry her.” He hung his head. “And forgive me,” he murmured, “I haven’t told her yet.”
He wanted to take Beatrice’s hands, but thought that most improper. He did not know how she was taking this news. She stood as she had through the story of the Curse, one hand wrapped about her waist, the other hand pressed to her lips.
“I don’t love her,” he confessed. “Not one whit. I never did.”
Beatrice closed her eyes and slowly shook her head. “Yet you were going to marry her.”
He shrugged, at a loss for an answer. “I thought she loved me.”
“But you didn’t love her.” Was that disappointment in her voice?
“I liked her,” he hedged.
There was pain in her voice. “But you love the land more? You’d marry her so not only would the prosperity return, but she’d know how to develop the land properly so it’d turn a profit.” She hugged both arms tightly about her. “Or perhaps you love money? Perhaps you see this as the only way of restoring your fortune.”
Heidi Wessman Kneale is an Australian author of moderate repute. By day, she wrangles computers as a way of supporting her writing habits. By night she stares at the stars in the sky. Noble blood flows through her veins; she is the daughter of kings and can prove it.
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