Visiting an Ancestral Home: A Life-Changing Experience – FamilySearch January 24, 2020

I found this several days ago on FamilySearch – Visiting an Ancestral Home: A Life-Changing Experience:

January 24, 2020  – by  Sunny Morton

An ancestral home is a house, village, or region where your family lived in the past. Visiting an ancestral home—walking where your ancestors walked, putting their experience in context—can be a life-changing way to connect with your past.

Recently, I took my first trip to England from the United States to teach at RootsTech London. As soon as the conference ended, I started driving north. There was one place in England I wanted to visit more than any other: Eccleshill.

Eccleshill is a village that has been swallowed up by the city of Bradford, in Yorkshire. In this old industrial zone, more than a hundred woolen mills once hummed with the labor of thousands of workers, including children. One of those children was my great-great-grandfather Washington McClelland, born in 1861.

As a young man, Washington made two momentous decisions that changed the course of his life and the lives of his descendants, including mine. I wanted to see the place where he lived and walk—at least for a day—in his shoes.

Visiting My Ancestral Home

Learning as much as I could about Washington’s life helped me plan three meaningful stops in Eccleshill and Bradford. Though each destination was a little different, I hoped they would all help me better understand him and feel more connected to him and his parents, John and Jane.

1. Honoring My Ancestor’s Childhood at an Industrial Museum


According to a family story, Washington began working in the Bradford woolen mills at age six, after his father died. He walked six miles to work each day. Though he did get some schooling, he apparently worked throughout his childhood.

By age 17, Washington was a foreman in the spinning room. Jane, his mother, worked in the woolen mills too. For a time, she was a burler—someone who cleaned wool.

That’s why I wanted to visit the Bradford Industrial Museum, which tells the stories of the people who lived and worked in the local mills. One floor of the museum displays dozens of textile machines, and I was lucky enough to be in the room when a staff member turned several of them on. Immediately great, clacking, clamoring noises filled the room. For a visitor, it was mesmerizing.



About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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