January 2008 Archives
I was very lucky in that I knew my grandparents very well and I was 18 before the first of my grandparents died. My earliest childhood memories are from the days I was living on my motherâs parents small farm in Penmachno in the early 1940s when my father was in the army. I also spent time staying with my fatherâs parents in Llithfaen. I knew both sets of grandparents and I also knew their brothers and sisters and their families. I also remember how they used to talk about their parents but, of course I canât remember everything they talked about!
I remember my grandfather on my fatherâs side telling me stories about going to work in San Francisco to 1906. He was Thomas Roberts, a joiner who was born and brought up in the Victoria Inn, Llithfaen, which I visited regularly as a child to meet his two sisters, Hannah and Minnie who followed their parents, John and Jane Roberts, in running this village pub. Between them they ran the pub for about 70 years.
Following the big earthquake that destroyed most of San Francisco in 1906 thousands of construction workers from Europe went there to rebuild the city and amongst them was my grandfather Thomas Roberts and a group of friends from Llyn. I remember that he named his companions but by now Iâve no idea who they were. Neither can I remember how he travelled there nor how long he stayed but I know that he was back in Llithfaen by March 1909 marrying Ellen Williams of Bryn Meirion.
The photo shows my grandparents and their dog and cat. I used to accompany him as he went out after work with the dog to catch rabbits (before the disastrous myxomatosis outbreak of the early 50s) and he used to tell me the stories during these walks. As a child the stories were fascinating but, like all other children, it never entered my head to make notes of this exiting adventure in my grandfatherâs life. Later when I was 21 I remember him reminding me that he was working on building sites in San Francisco when he was 21 but even then I didnât think to record any of the stories.
This is the problem. Most of us donât start to take an interest in our family history until itâs often too late and the key people who have the information and interesting stories have passed on. If your parents and your grandparents are still alive, talk to them. You probably know most things about them but try to get the details and the dates when important events happened, where they lived at different times and the interesting experiences that theyâve had. Get them to talk about their parents and, if possible, their grand parents and the relatives. This is the first step in tracing your family history, talking to your parents, grandparents and other members of your family. And take notes!
Incidentally, if any of the readers is a descendant of that group of workers from Llyn who went to San Francisco in 1906 and knows a bit more than I do about their adventure, please get in touch.
Gwynedd Archive Services
The following courses are being organised by the Gwynedd Archive Service:
One day Family History Course in English starting at 10.30 am:
Saturday, 19 January 2008 Caernarfon Record Office, Caernarfon
Wednesday, 30 January 2008: Meirionnydd Record Office, Bala Road, Dolgellau
Courses are free, but it is ESSENTIAL that you book your place with the record office where the course is to be held:
Caernarfon Record Office: (01286) 679095/679092
Dolgellau Record Office: (01341) 424681
Anglesey Archive Services
Following the popularity of the Ask your Archivist sessions around Anglesey libraries the Archive services are offering advice sessions in the Record Office in Llangefni over the winter. These will take the form of 20 minute individual sessions between 2.00pm and 4.00pm on Wednesdays
Next sessions Wednesdays 6 and 20 February 2008
This will be on an appointment only basis -book early! 01248 752083
If you have ever wondered whether the Anglesey Record Office can help you find out more about the history of a subject, your house, place or person on Anglesey or how to use the Anglesey Record Office then this is your chance to find out! They can also give advice on looking after your old documents and photographs.