Where to begin on this just completed, epic nuclear family odyssey to Ireland and Scotland? It was partly my discoveries in our family history that got my dad excited to go. And he being the type who likes to plan and be organized and prepared for anything foreseeable, it's a trip that had been in the works nearly a year - with my sister and I tasked with all of the trip planning and logistics, including driving!
Dad had expressed a desire to bring a little soil from his grandfather's gravesite in Forestville (Bristol), Connecticut to return to the "Auld Sod". When I learned the grave location of Andrew McKnight and Sarah Milliken (his grandfather's parents) in West Calder, Scotland just a few weeks ago, the mission was set. I made a quick visit to the Forestville Cemetery on a rainy Scottish type day last month when I was doing a concert in Bristol a few blocks away.
So on the last of our days in Scotland, we met Kerrie, a 3rd cousin of whom I had only recently learned and who lives near Edinburgh. She shares those same folks as her 3G grandparents, and was excited to meet us and share family history from her branch.
Kerrie was able to find their unmarked gravesite in advance of our visit, and after a delightful lunch and get to know you session, we went to pay our respects to our ancestors on a similarly rainy Scottish day. She left flowers, and we the soil and a couple of American flags to note that we had visited, and a secret item of his own that Dad decided to leave. And he collected a little of the dirt to bring home to eventually share with Andrew and Sarah's son Andrew back in Forestville.
A dram to Andrew and Sarah, my great-great grandparents, Ulster Scots who left northern Ireland for a hard life working the mines in the lowlands of Scotland. They may have lost as many as 6 of their children. Three more left for America. They are part of the story of why so many of us are here. I'm meeting more and more of their descendants it seems with each passing month. It is rather amazing to comprehend just how many lives you might be a part of some four or five generations into the future. Rest in peace.
and if you think my sister Aly and Kerrie look quite a bit alike, you aren't the only one!