Friday, January 13, 2012


All of the above are scenes from York, a city in Northern England, in Yorkshire. This is the fartherest north I had ever been and coupled with the fact we were there in 2007 on the summer solstice,  it was the the longest day I ever experienced. Steve had been assigned to work in Kent County for 3 weeks. He was then free to travel for about 10 days with me. I chose York because we were both New Yorkers so we might as well see the original York. (Steve will argue that I am not a New Yorker because I came from 'upstate' and I only lived there about 8 years).

When I was studying in Italy, many of my fellow students were Italian-Americans discovering their roots and they went to connect with relatives. I was envious of them..lots of joyful discoveries and homecomings for them. I was asked many times there about my 'genitori' parent's people..not genitals. Saying that I was una americana wasn't good enough so I said I was tedesche (German), which was their second guess after danese (Danish..lots of Danish ex-pats there). But I am a mixture of Scottish, Irish, English, possibly French, Prussian, German, Polish, I have no real identity. On my mother's side, the country that many of her relatives came from no longer exists (Prussia). It has been hard to pin down anything from her side due to lack of education on her relatives' parts, lack of interest, lack of English, etc. For instance, when my mother's maternal grandfather died, the widow could not provide names of either of her parents-in-law or their birth places for the death certificate. I do know that from naturalization papers that they had a child born in Bergfriede, Prussia, my mother's uncle.

But things were different on my father's side. Lots of attention to detail, high education, good record keeping, etc so my roots are much easier to trace. Almost all the relatives on my father's father's side came from Scotland, but more than 200 years ago and these people are documented very thoroughly. My father's mother's side is a tad more interesting. Her father is from Dublin but I have conflicting reports whether his mother was a French woman named Jeanne Devereux or an Irish woman Jean Downy. His father was born in Dublin also so I guess if I went to Dublin, that would be a homeland of sorts. Her mother, Florence, born in 1860 in Iowa had gone to the Boston Conservatory of Music for what I assume was piano as she was listed in a census as a piano teacher. Florence's mother, was Sarah Mason, (my great-great grandma) born in 1824 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England to William Mason and the former Mary Lockwood, also born in Halifax , England. Sarah lived almost 87 years dying of Bright's disease, a catch-all phrase for various untreatable (then) kidney problems.

So Yorkshire is one of my homelands. When I watch Downton Abbey, I can pretend that it is about from whence I came (though I think it is not actually filmed in Yorkshire).


Jill said...

My roots are from England. I was born in the south down in Brighton. I finally got back there after 50 years this past summer and now the one thing I still want to do is to rent a cottage for 2 weeks in the Yorkshire Moors.

We purchased a pass for all the castles but with so many you never have the time to see all of them.So much history there.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Funny that you said Brighton. That was also a place that I intended to go to (Steve's section of Brooklyn was Brighton Beach named after Brighton) and it looks interesting. Instead (from my base in Canterbury) I went to Dover and took a ferry over to France. I think going to Brighton that day instead would have been better as Calais doesn't have much going for it.


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