English Family

My husband’s Great-Grandfather in England with his sisters. He’s on the right, quite dapper I think. Don’t you love the hats?

Although her father migrated from England and we don’t think she ever visited, his grandmother wrote to her English cousins throughout her life. Sadly, by the time we became interested in meeting that side of the family, his grandmother had died. We decided to travel to England to see if we could locate them. (It would have been cheaper but less fun to write to the address he had…)

Before the English trip, I went on a tour to China. Among the group were a couple of Brits and I mentioned that I was traveling to England soon. “Oh where?” “Just a tiny town. Hebdenbridge.” “My, we live just a few miles from there.” The story of why we were visting was told and the British women decided to help. We sent them the address and one Saturday we got a call. A very-out-of-breath voice said, “I just ran up the hill to a phone box. I’ve found them!”

The house had been sold but the people living there knew my husband’s relatives (the pleasures of small town living.) The upshot was a wonderful afternoon with many many cousins, eating, talking and learning various recipes for trifle. One of the cousins had just completed a family geneology, but had been unable to locate the U.S. relation. We completed her information which was displayed in a large family tree on the wall and there were namtags for everyone that identified relationships – daughter of Emma, and so on. The tags for the women who had made the reunion possible read “Go between.”

A result of this trip, besides some wonderful hours, was a confirmation of U.S. family gossip that that great-grandfather and his wife moved to the States because their first child was born “too soon.” The Brits said there were always whispers that stopped when they came into the room but they didn’t know why.

My indelible image of that afternoon, besides all the food and conversation, came when we were leaving. Ella, the oldest surviving relative stood at the top of the stairs and waved us off with a British flag, singing “Till we meet again.”


  1. How lucky is that to meet those people in China! I’m glad you had a chance to meet your British relatives, and it was so nice to invite the “Go Betweens” to the party 🙂

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