noun. noun. /ədˈvɛntʃər/ 1[countable] an unusual, exciting, or dangerous experience, journey, or series of events
c. 1200, aventure, auenture "that which happens by chance, fortune, luck," from Old French aventure (11c.) "chance, accident, occurrence, event, happening," from Latin adventura (res) "(a thing) about to happen," from fem. of adventurus, future participle of advenire "to come to, reach, arrive at." This is from ad "to" (see ad-) + venire "to come" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- "to go, come").
The meaning developed through "risk; danger" (a trial of one's chances), c. 1300, and "perilous undertaking" (late 14c.) to "novel or exciting incident, remarkable occurrence in one's life" (1560s).
Earlier it also meant "a wonder, a miracle; accounts of marvelous things" (13c.). The -d- was restored in English 15c.-16c.; in French the attempt to restore it at about the same time was rejected.
My (Family History) Adventure (Draft 1)
In 2010, during a long service leave break in which ancestry.com was advertising two weeks free subscription, and having some family mysteries which remained unresolved, I set off on an adventure. A different type of journey of discovery, of ‘heading out into the wild blue yonder’, but still a heading out from the known to the unknown.
Like most adventures, there was a goal at the end, whether my maternal great grandfather’s journey to Australia as a ‘gold seeker’, or in this case, my overriding goal of finding my father’s other biological children, the half-brother and sister I first heard of when I was 14 and of finding out more about my paternal ‘family of origin’, my Scottish forebears.
An adventure usually involves processes to be worked through, tickets to purchase, timetables to meet, resources to pack, directions, maps and more. I’d trialled, then purchased an ancestry.com and then a My Heritage subscription, had a lap-top with lots of file storage, lots of A4 arch folders and plastic inserts from my teaching days, and an understanding of family trees and ‘family systems’ and relationships from my social work background. Along the journey I discovered and became adept using ‘Scotland’s People’ records, ‘Find My Past’ and other resources which opened up/proved keys to my family story.
When we head out on an adventure into the unknown, other people have the opportunity to discover us, people we may not ever have connected with otherwise. This proved to be the case quite early in my journey, with two family mysteries via messages received from cousins through ancestry… Not only to discover us remotely, but to visit and re-establish contact with us.
Adventures can also feature ‘serendipitous’ moments – my quest to find out more about my father’s family of origin involved one of these. A young first cousin, twice removed, studying social work in Edinburgh, Scotland had begun to create a family tree during a trial of ancestry.com not long before I put in the little I knew about my father’s family into the database. A hint to her tiny tree appeared, and it seemed that my paternal grandfather had a sister Elizabeth I never knew of, the great grandmother of the young social worker. Contact with her led to making contact with her great uncle, my father’s first cousin, who kept in treasured contact with me for seven years prior to his death in 2018 and shared so much family history with me.
Such ‘serendipitous’ moments have been important throughout my journey, adding to the sense of adventure. The search for my half brother and sister remained unresolved for the first three years, a black hole with so many roadblocks along the way. I persevered with the little I knew – their names, the names of their mother and maternal grandfather, the possibility that Harry Green had a Jewish background. Pieces had gradually fallen into place, and I became fairly certain that Harry Green had married Helena Twomey and that his name had been Aaron Gruen. One day, on the spur of the moment, I googled Aaron Gruen and Helena Twomey and came up with a genealogy related website which included, in their family details, would you believe ‘Elenore Green m Anthony Lee’…. my father. It was establishing contact with the very helpful and wise administrator of the website that I eventually made contact with a ‘step’ niece x 2 removed currently living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, who thoughtfully worked through a process whereby I was able to meet, love and enjoy my half-sister, now almost 96, and the family of my half-brother.
Luck is such a factor in a family history journey… I was so lucky that the Parish records of my great grandfather’s baptism in Ireland had been faithfully recorded and kept by the priests at the time, had not been destroyed in a fire, etc…. lucky that the birth and death records of the only child they had in Scotland contained so much information about the family.
Generally, the weather is clear, there are relatively few stormy seas, however the water is sometimes deep and storms do occur at times. It can be quite traumatic if someone disputes, and wants you to correct, something you have put on a family tree; and vice versa…. Examples….. It can feel as if you are in a sword fight, passions can run high, or alternatively, there can be unwanted icy cold silence on the matter.
The aim of family history, like most adventures is discovery! it’s a bit like going to an island with a map which might contain buried treasures Like other adventures, a family history adventure can include experiences of tragedy, of sadness, and indeed can impact on our mood. There is risk – in finding out bad or sad news, bad or mad relatives (we hope our relatives are good people)…, of having no success at all. There is mystery. There is joy – the joy of discovery, the ah hah moments. There is also possible chance, fortune, luck… if someone else happens to have worked or be working on ancestry.com trees featuring links; if records have been retained and not been destroyed by war, accident or other misfortune,… and more… What an adventure it is!
‘Are we there yet?’ often accompanies journeys into the unknown as children… ‘Am I there yet?’. I think I’ve largely completed the ‘adventure’ phase of my family history journey, a phase full of ‘ah hah’ moments, discoveries and at times frustration. I do retrace the journey, revisiting my family tree on ancestry, at times ‘tidy up’ information and respond to messages which can often be really helpful. The ‘ah hah’ moments are less intense these days, however I have a continuing interest in correcting the maps which other people may draw upon. You never know, perhaps finding my tree may prove ‘serendipitous’ to them as they embark on their family history adventure!