It’s the second week of Family History Month. Have you started your project yet? I’ve decided to make a migration map. Sure! I had a flashback to High School History (“Now each country must be shaded a different color…), but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway.
My ancestry comes from several places. They were from the Azores, Portugal, Ireland, England, France, and Australia. Some also made migrations across the US to California. I was going to need a large map with fairly good detail in order for this to work.
I searched high and low on the Internet for a world map. I found a wonderful collection at: The Perry-Castaneda Map Collection. They have so many different maps including historical maps (if you really want to do it right) Since my migrations started in 1840 and ended in 1907, I decided on a current world map.
Then came the fun part! Armed with my genealogy notes, map, and pencil with an eraser, I began mapping out the migrations. It was fascinating to see all the separate journeys unfold. Imagine! All these different people left their homelands and ended up the San Francisco Bay Area. And, generations later I was the result of the convergence! It’s an awe-inspiring and humbling thought.
I do not know most of the ships my ancestors came over on. I do know that my Pacheco ancestors left Sao Miguel Island on the 14 Jul 1882 on the S.S. Hansa. The ship first stopped in Lisbon to pick up more passengers, then they were on their way. They had a stopover in Lota, Chile on 13 Aug 1882 and left there on 16 Aug 1882. They finally arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, 9 Sep 1882. What a journey that must have been! These people who probably had never left their villages were embarking on a voyage half way across the globe.
The Portuguese Genealogical Society of Hawaii once had an article in their newsletter titled “The Voyage of S.S. Hansa”. The journey took 53 days. There were 11 births, 24 deaths (of those 23 were children under the age of 10), and 22 stowaways. When they arrived in Honolulu, 11 marriages were performed. There was joy, death, celebration, and disease–almost as if for those 53 days a small ship bound community existed.
I think that my project ended up pretty well. I can look at the map to ponder the many routes. I now have an idea of the journeys of all my ancestors. And, I give thanks to those brave pioneers who left their home towns for adventures afar!
Haven’t started a project yet? Here are the ideas for week #2:
1. Make a migrations map like the one I did. Buy a map or find one on the Internet. Map out the routes your ancestors took. Give brief descriptions of the journeys. List the reasons why they left.
2. Visit the graves of your ancestors. It’s a strange and beautiful feeling to stand before your ancestor’s grave. Make sure to take photographs of the tombstones so you have a record of the information.
3. Did your Grandparents always serve a certain dish for family dinners (at my Grandparent’s house it was always Grandpa’s special soup)? Did your Great Aunt have the best cookie recipe? Spend an afternoon preparing one of your relatives recipes or favorite dish. This is a great project to share with your children.
4. This suggestion comes from one of our readers: “This is something that I did with my grandmother – I asked her to spend the afternoon with me and let me ‘interview’ her about our family history. What a wonderful afternoon that was! It was about twenty-five years ago now, and my grandmother died a few years after that afternoon – but I will always recall the hours we spent together that day.” Interviewing your elderly relatives is a great way to honor your heritage! It’s time well spent…and your relatives really appreciate you taking the time to listen. Remember to take plenty of paper and/or recorder (if the person is comfortable with it) so you can have a record of your interview.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com