Last night I stayed a hotel called The black boy in Newton, Powys, Wales. I learned this morning from the proprietor that it was initially built in 1640. Crazy. I remember thinking how lovely these old buildings are, with their uneven floors and creaking walls, and that nothing this beautiful (old) would be allowed to stand in the U.S. Not that I don’t enjoy the new and (sometimes) convenient functionality of them (a.k.a. elevators) but there so much to be said for quality buildings that are beautiful, charming and stand the test of time. Imagine how many people and memories have been through there in the past 400 years or so.
I didn’t get a picture of it. In fact I came into town, dropped my bags off (that felt good, I’d been dragging them around all day yesterday since checking out the hotel at 10:00 a.m. until I reached my hotel around 3:00pm) and headed off to the library. I’d learned that the library was only open until 5:00pm and I wanted to know what resources were available in case I might be able to get things together in order to have a productive search.
The library actually has quite a few resources including, censuses, vital records information, and even newspapers dating back a while. Sadly, this was a very last minute trip and I didn’t have much information, let alone organized information. My sister and cousin were very quickly responding to my requests for information and it seems I may have been in the very right spot, looking at the very right things. I just didn’t what I was looking at or looking for. I came to the conclusion that I would need several more days and a huge desk to work on where I could spread out all of my papers and piece them together (do some massive [<--- very overused word here]-organizing). An expert wouldn’t hurt either.
I did however, learn how to get started and knowing that information will help my cousin, who, unbeknownst to me is planning a family history trip here in April. The leg work and face to face conversations with the locals, as well as seeing the resources and gaining some very helpful and important contacts should save her a bunch of time when she gets here. So I count it as a win AND I got to see WALES, which has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, double win. Even if I come home empty handed.
Oh, and I guess my inquiries prompted some before unknown information from a woman my sister, Cheri, has been in contact with that led us back another 200 years on one line. Okay, I’m beginning to see that I although I loved my time there and initially thinking I was coming back empty handed in the family records department, this trip did spawn some fruit :) -get the genealogical pun?
And so I saved myself the frustration of rushing to the library this morning and basking in a wealth of information I had was in no position to make sense of. Instead, I found a wonderful Christmas gift for Kira in my last few minutes there.
I will close with this. I LOVE WALES. It’s beautiful. And despite tromping around in the rain, hail, sleet, snow I can’t wait to come back. I imagine if I were here in a different season, I wouldn’t be to help but ride bikes through the country with a big smile on my face.
But tonight I will once again, and gratefully so, unload my bags, take a really hot shower, and sleep very well. I’m exhausted.
Farewell Wales until we meet again....soon!