We all at different times go in search of things from the car keys to our wallets, from looking for a new home to looking into the lives of our forebears.
I recently went in search of my grandfathers. On my mother’s side, that is, as I went to a part of the state where both men lived so long ago.
My mother’s father came to Australia with his father and his three brothers. They came following the death of their mother in Scotland and came to a part of the state which long puzzled me as to why they chose to live where they did. The reason for that was simple as it turned out, my grandfather’s uncle lived here with his family, and so my grandfather and his family moved to be near them and to work in the timber mills in the area.
The other grandfather in question was a grazier in the same area. He had come to Australia, from Ireland, as a young boy and later came to take up three blocks of land in an area about forty kilometres from where my Scottish grandfather was living.
We discovered from the old parish maps where the land my grazier grandfather lived was and decided to go and see if we could find anything remained of where he had lived. I’m talking of a period at the start of the twentieth century and apart from the town where he lived there was not a lot to be found apart from a lot of rocks and a creek that ran through the property.
It was wishful thinking that anything might still be there, but one outcome was to know I was standing on land he once farmed and I did gain a sense of connection to him. It is rough country, and I could see why you might need three parcels of land just to make ends meet. I also understood why it was that his first wife died and later three children died. Also, they were a long way from help, even today with what we have available, you are still a long way from help if anything goes wrong.
The link between these two grandfathers and me, apart from the obvious bloodline, is that they both later lived in the same house as I now live in.
My grazier grandfather retired from the land in 1903 and moved to the coast and took up residence in my house. My Scottish grandfather after his service in World War One married the grazier’s daughter and later bought my house from his father in law and my father, in turn, purchased it in 1947.
The search to discover the lives of my grandfathers goes on, there are so many questions to ask some of which I may never find the answers to as there are not many people left to ask. On top of that, they didn’t write anything down that has been preserved.
Searches can be humbling, understanding our past, where we have come from gives us a perspective and appreciation on a life we should never take for granted.