Portsmouth offers an extensive maritime history with a rich collection of historic ships you can climb on and see up close and personal. Of particular note is the recently raised Mary Rose, a four masted flagship built in 1509 and sunk in 1545. At Portsmouths D-Day museum you'll see the breath-taking Overlord Embroidery which commemorates the city's role as the main assembly point for the D-Day invasion, Operation Overlord. This hand-stitched masterpiece took 20 embroiderers and five apprentices over five years to complete.
Southampton enjoys a strategic maritime location which was the departure point for the Pilgrim fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Southampton bid farewell to maiden voyages of the Titanic and Queen Mary and saw 5 million movements passing through beginning June 6, 1944. For a contemporary touch, the Titanic Trail in Southampton helps add to the fabric of understanding the true personal tragedy of hundreds of families. Visit the Grapes Inn where some of the Titanic crew drank before their journey. Trail starts in Southampton and continues in Cherbourg before its fateful final departure.
Poole is an ancient seaport whose circumference makes it the second largest harbor in the world. It was the second largest embarkation point for US troops in 1944. The Waterfront Museum tells a fascinating tale of the town and port's history with a touch of high technology to its exhibits.
Nearby Bournemouth is a seaside resort town popular with tourists from around the world. Entertainment, shopping and recreational activities abound. Bournemouth was a special furlough destination during World War II. The building that housed Red Cross headquarters during the war is now the lovely Marsham Court Hotel with a priceless view of the strand.
Northern France A pleasant four-hour ferry trip connects Poole, England to Cherbourg, France.
Cherbourg is dominated by the Liberation Museum (Musée de la Liberation) high atop this city, a bustling working and pleasure boat harbor. Cherbourg is a departure point for wonderful tours of Normandy and particularly to Utah, Omaha, Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches. Along the way, a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur Mer is a moving experience for any patriotic American.
In Caen The Memorial to Peace is an absolute must-see in an area that both understands the horror of war and the pursuit of peace with Americans (proudly) often pictured as at the forefront of making peace a reality.
LeHavre, founded in 1517 and located on the northern bank of the Seine River, has a long history as a military and commercial port. Its Port Centre of Vauban docks offers a fascinating panorama of 150 years of maritime history and trading out of LeHavre. The city also home to an exciting art museum with its impressive collection of impressionist art.
How to get there By air: From the US fly to one of the principal European gateways: London, Paris, Amsterdam Direct flights inside Europe: Southampton-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-LeHavre, LeHavre-Southampton (summer only) I'm a sucker for flying the airlines of the countries I'm visiting. My experience is that the airline tries hard at making your first impression a great one. British Airways succeeds! By train: Reliable trains connect London, Paris and Amsterdam with connections to the South Coast of England, northern France and Flevoland/the Golden Circle in Holland. Rail Europe, 800-438-7245. By ferry: A ferry trip can be a pleasant leisure part of your journey between Cherbourg and Poole, LeHavre and Portsmouth, Portsmouth and Cherbourg or Caen. Getting around: Local travel is easy. Fine public transportation is available as are rental cars and campers for self-directed tours.
Books aid ethnic searches Reviewed by Adam Rose Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. (2000, 260 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45207.
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack shares her diverse professional genealogical expertise regularly in this magazine and also in Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors.
The "Getting your genealogical research started" section is a guide for those just starting to search. It shows you how to collect your family’s oral history – and separate fact from myth, understand historical trends that might affect your research, develop strategies for tracing ancestors back to their arrival in America, successfully locate and interpret naturalization, immigration and emigration records and identify sources to help continue researching your ancestors in their homeland.
The guide then moves to "Major ethnic groups in America: historical overviews." This helps focus your search using profiles of forty-two distinct ethnic groups, including American Indians and African Americans, determine when ancestors arrived, where they likely settled and why, and resources particular to each ethnic group.
The book concludes with "Leaving a legacy," which teaches you how to turn your research into a memorable family history narrative for future generations.
Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors by S. Chris Anderson and Ernest Thode. (2000, 191 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, see above.
If your ancestors came from Germany, try Discovering Your Germanic Ancestry. This hands-on guide designed specifically for beginners addresses virtually every aspect of tracing Germanic lineage. It covers basics and provides a history of Germanic countries and their changing boundaries to help researchers find villages of origin and determine events that led ancestors to emigrate. Anderson and Thode have written several genealogical books and combine 60 plus years of research in this guide.
Discovering Your English Ancestors by Paul Milner and Linda Jonas. (2000, 184 pages, paperback, $18.99) Betterway Books, see above.
With technology at your disposal, there’s never been a better time to research your English ancestry. You don’t need to leave the US to do it.
This guide gives a well-rounded perspective to your research and shows which records you’ll need and where to find them. It also describes why records were created and how to reveal more about your ancestors’ lives.
There is step-by-step instruction from focusing your research to overcoming special challenges with a case study to learn from. With this information you’ll be able to create a history that brings your family’s story to life.
Both Paul Milner and Linda Jonas have longtime experience in English genealogy. Their insights and experience will pay off as you uncover your family’s history.
Note: All three of these Betterway Books use the same easy to follow format. Each uses icons in the margins to highlight key points in the text. A table of icons provides definitions to easily spot help you’re looking for. Each section utilizes pictures and graphics similar to ones you’ll encounter in research. Definitions and interpretations ensure you’re able to interpret information to record your family’s story.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, summers are festival season throughout the area but particularly on the city's fabulous shoreline of Lake Michigan. The nineteen year Milwaukee Irish Fest features music, dance, culture, entertainment and heritage activities for all ages are annually enjoyed by over 100,000. Each year Irish Fest also honors family reunions. Call 414-476-3378; www.irishfest.com.
A topless doubledecker and cream tea by Jill Nielsen
Chances are we're related if the unusual name of POUT is on your family tree. As far back as 1410, Pout families lived in and around Canterbury, Kent, England, relying on land and sea for their living. By the 1840s some Pouts had emigrated to Australia and North America, where their descendants live today. Correspondence with an English cousin who had researched the family tree resulted in plans for a reunion in Canterbury.
More than 100 people attended the week-long flurry of activities, including a bus outing to visit farmlands once owned or worked by Pout families. But the evening before someone stole the engine out of the bus. Fortunately, the owner's had another bus – a topless doubledecker.
Many of us wanted to sit up top. But as we traveled it became quite windy. On the way to our last stop the driver was driving at a fast clip and we were really bouncing around in our seats. The curvy country road was now lined with trees and as we flew past, overhanging branches brushed the top deck. The wind was working up to a gale and we were laughing hysterically as we constantly ducked to avoid getting smacked on the head by branches.
When we tumbled out of the bus at the vineyard it looked like we had bird nests on top of our heads. Our cream tea – scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, served with tea, was delicious. Later we sampled the wine and discovered a family trait: everyone shared a taste for sweet wine. We agreed that the entire reunion week was a fantastic success which we would always remember – especially the wild bus ride to our cream tea.