Saturday 17 December 2011

The Chosen

Why do some of us work on the family tree and gather photos while some think it's a sad hobby or just ignore it? This was posted on the Family History and Photogrpahy Facebook page (which you can find HERE) by Peter Monaghan. It says it all for me and I know many other genealogists feel the same.

"We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors.

To put flesh on their bones and make them live again.
...To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us". How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying - I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.

It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are.

So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never known before."

by Della M. Cummings Wright.Rewritten by her granddaughter Dell Jo Ann McGinnis Johnson. Edited and Reworded by Tom Dunn, 1943.

CLICK HERE to see this in a scrapbook layout.

Horswill ancestors worked in the mines, going back to gold mining in Cornwall in the early 1800s, from the age of twelve. We mocked Dad when he told us mining stories but I feel immensely proud of that heritage and I know he would have been very proud of the way we're working on the family history now.

December and January are not genealogy months for me as I'm still failing to retire each year and have loads of tax returns to do but in a few short weeks (Eeek, that's how long I have to do the tax returns ...) I'll be working on it again.

Have you joined the MyHeritage site? You can find it on If you can type out your name and email address you can join it! You can then invite others and add what you like to the family tree and photo albums. We have lots of distant cousins joining us from around the globe and I'll tell you about them later.

Have a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year!

Thursday 14 July 2011

Look what can be done!

The main photo of the Horswill family which we use a lot in websites was actually a larged framed photo hanging on our wall. Dad took a photo of it (pre-digital). Tony now has the framed photo in the US but since it was impossible to get it out of the frame we still needed to work with Dad's photo of it, which had a flash burn. I've covered this in various scrapbooks layouts - see photo and the end of the post belowe this one - but now we have a restored photo WITHOUT the flash burn.

The restoration was done by Michael Harvey. You can see his site HERE. He'll be doing a lot more work for us!

Here's the before and after:

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Important Changes To Our Family Websites

First of all, sorry it's taken me so long to update this blog. We don't even have a tribute to Uncle Bill yet (coming soon ... )I had the whooping cough thing for three months and I'm only just catching up on the life that passed me by during that time.

The news is basically - we've gone private!

We no longer have the My Family websites which were completely private. Which website is that, you ask? Exactly. The ones no-one looked at or asked to join. They were $60 a year and it was a waste with no-one using them so they went.

The main Horswill Family Photos site is a public website anyone can see. We need people to be able to find us! So is this blog, of course, and our Facebook groups.

The big changes are to the family tree sites. The My Heritage site is now completely private. The photos were already private but it was a pain having updates on the home page showing who added what, birthdays, tagged photos etc. If you are logged in you can see all of this. In fact you won't notice any difference.

Anyone who is not a member will not see any updates or photos and WILL NOT be able to see the tree. The page they get to when they type in will invite them to look at Horswill Family Photos to see who we are and they can then ask to be members of the My Heritage site. You can also invite members to the site yourself through the invitation system.

If you haven't logged in for a while take a look - there are hundreds of photos and digital scrapbooks on there and the tree is growing.

I paid the price-of-a-small-country fee to upgrade the My Heritage site so you can upload as many full resolution photos as you like and you can also download full resolution photos. They will download as a zipped file. Just ask if you don't know what to do with that! I'll put full instructions on the main site but basically to ADD photos:

1) Go into the photos/videos section.
2) Click on Add Photos
3) BEFORE you find your photos REFRESH the page and make sure you can see a line at the bottom asking you which album you want to put them in (it also gives you the choice of starting a new album).
4) Find your photos on your computer and upload them.

Please do NOT add photos from Facebook. You should never let sites talk to each other anyway but Facebook photos are completely useless for our project as they're very low resolution. I suggest you don't upload them from Flickr either. I hit that button and stopped it just in time as it was about to put the 20,000 photos I have on Flick onto the MH site!

Need to know more about resolution? Click HERE.

You can always send me a disc or actual photos!

Now to Ancestry ...

Scroll down a couple of posts and you'll see we've been the victim of Ancestor Rustling. This is what the genealogy geeks call it when someone adds your ancestor to their tree even though they're not related - and then keeps taking more and more ancestors and all the photos. In this case the ancestors were Nanny Hills' family and the photos inlcuded on I have copyright on as I restored it. I have a legal battle going on with Ancestry US office. Long and stupid story .... Basically genealogy has its share of morons, as does any hobby.

So the Ancestry tree is now private. If you've had an invitation to look at it you can, of course, still look at it. Nothing has changed. If you want to see it just let me have your email address (or Ancestry name if you are a member) and I'll invite you. There are no photos or copies of documents on Ancestry, they are all on My Heritage. NOTE you don't get to add to the tree on Ancestry unless you're an experienced genealogist. Please go to the My Heritage site to add people to the tree.

Now for some good news! I managed to find a way to hide the flash burn on the photo of George Horswill's family. The photo we have is a photo of the framed one when it was hanging on the wall. George was born in Bigbury in 1851 and is my great grandfather. My Grandad, Tom Horswill, is in the front row on the left.

Click on the small image in the right hand column of this blog and it will take you to a (random) gallery of scrapbook layouts)

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