Ancestry Blog » Ancestry Great Adventure The official blog of Ancestry Fri, 31 Jul 2015 22:23:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Lobster and Maple Syrup Thu, 02 May 2013 18:08:41 +0000 Read more]]> This post has been contributed by the Brown Family on their Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure – 

Who knew that Lobster and Maple Syrup would be such a great combination? While camping in the mountains near Boston, we enjoyed a few day trips to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We stopped at a local crab shack and enjoyed our first taste of fried clams, lobster rolls and fresh clam chowder. Let’s just say that our Western taste buds were in a bit of shock. It was a fun experience and yes, we are so glad we made the trek.

New Hampshire and Vermont are SWEEEET as Sugar, Maple Sugar that is! We loved learning at Collins Farm how the sugaring process happens and tasting the results of their hard work. We went into Putney, Vermont and had a little taste of Maple ice cream, Maple Popcorn, Maple candy. We had to bring home some rich Maple syrup for our future pancakes and recipes. It was a long drive from Vermont to upstate New York where we did a bit of research on Rob’s family history and our church’s history, then on to the amazing Niagra Falls. We froze while we stood and marveled at the power of that massive waterfall. The kids loved it!

From Buffallo, New York we traveled down the eastern shore of Lake Erie to Kirtland, a small town in Ohio. We did a little more church history and then headed into Dearborn, Michigan to experience the American Dream through the eyes of Henry Ford. What a great place! The Greenfield Village, The Henry Ford museum and the Rouge Factory tour is a must see for anyone who loves America and the entrepreneurial spirit it allows. It was hard to leave our last major stop of history but had to continue on to South Bend, Indiana where we made a visit to see Notre Dame University. So inspiring, and while we were there, we drove over to Shipshewana to learn about the Amish. We found them to be very hospitable, loved our home cooked meal, and were amazed at their beautiful farms. Our girls are convinced that we need to have a buggy and wear bonnets when we get home. Rob is already planning out the small farm he would like to own. Thanks for the memories and the opportunity to relate to a new culture.

As we say goodbye to the East, we know someday we will return. There are so many stones we left unturned, so much research to continue at home and on future trips, and so much to still record and ponder. We look forward to seeing mountains again soon, but will miss the beautiful East Coast!

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: It Tastes A Lot Like Chicken” Mon, 04 Mar 2013 20:57:46 +0000 Read more]]> After being on the road now for nearly four months, we are so excited to finally be here in North Carolina. We have so much we hope to discover here so when we arrived in our campground just outside of Lexington, N.C. late Wednesday night we couldn’t wait for morning to arrive so we could get started.

Whenever we arrive in a new location we have to remind ourselves that we are here for a very limited amount of time, and we need to try and strike a balance between doing research, seeing places and meeting people that we can’t do, see or meet anywhere else. It also works best when we spend the early part of our time in an area doing research and meeting people and the later part of our time seeing places. That way we learn what places to see through our research and through the people who live in the area and know where to go.

We are very happy to report that the first day here we struck gold. As we drove into the town of Wilkesboro, North Carolina we passed big poultry farms and big poultry processing plants. Then, after an unfruitful search at the county records office, we headed to the county library to meet with Hazel Roche, a wonderful genealogist who has been helping Kathy’s father with his family history research for several years. We quickly located the children’s section of the library and got our 5 wiggly and restless historians (or children) situated. Kathy made her way up to the family search area on the 2nd floor.

As Kathy walked into the research room she was pleasantly surprised to find a group of very helpful and enthusiastic women waiting there to help. Before the day was done, we had worked with an amazing group of family history experts, met with two newspaper reporters, and discovered some very interesting information about Kathy’s Spicer family history. We learned about the location of the old family homestead that is now a bed and breakfast and still has some of the original family heirloom furniture pieces and other items that we hope to see before we leave. We have an appointment to meet with these wonderful women again on Tuesday and we look forward to learning and sharing with them again. So, luckily for us, the next time we hear someone say, “It tastes a lot like chicken” we are going to think of the wonderful people and places in Wilkesboro, N.C.


1 Kathy at the County Records Office in Wilkes County North Carolina 2 Kathy enjoying the sunshine outside the county records office 5 Kathy with one of the wonderful genealogists at the Wilkes County Library 6 Rob being interviewed by the newspaper reporter 7 Audrey and Sophie checking out the Body Basket 9 Newspaper interview #2 10 Audrey learning more about her ancestors on's App 1 Kathy at the County Records Office in Wilkes County North Carolina 2 Kathy enjoying the sunshine outside the county records office]]> 9
The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Earth, Wind, Fire & Rain Mon, 04 Feb 2013 18:12:29 +0000 Read more]]> Three months on the road and time is flashing by so fast that we are starting to panic a little. We have been planning for February for so long and now that it is here it almost seems surreal, but there is nothing we can do to slow time down so we just keep planning the future and making the most of every day.


One of Rob’s greatest fears as sole driver of the motorhome is getting it stuck in the mud. The earth has a funny way of holding onto things when water is added, and we learned how true this is when we parked our motorhome in a grassy field for a few days back in Illinois. We didn’t anticipate it turning into a mud pit the morning of our departure but it did and if it weren’t for some skillful maneuvering and miraculous good fortune we may still be there! We thank Mother Earth for letting us go and we hope and pray we never find ourselves in the mud again.


Who would have ever guessed that when the wind blows the people inside don’t sleep? Well it is true and we have had our share of near sleepless nights over the last three months thanks to the sound of wind whistling through every microscopic crack and cranny of our home on wheels. It is also a real party to drive a 65’  “wall” on the open highways of Wyoming and Nebraska as mother-nature blasts you with pushes and shoves for hundreds of miles.


Other than the half-second when we thought Audrey’s hair was on fire, the flames of good fortune have burned bright and contributed to the positive memories of our adventure. Time spent in blacksmith shops and around campfires making smores have been absolutely awesome times for our whole family.


As the old saying goes, “When it rains, it pours”, but being from Utah Valley where the winters can be long and miserable (especially this year), we have put our own positive spin on the old saying. Whenever it rains we like to say “When it rains, it pours, but at least it isn’t SNOWING!!!

The bottom line is that Mother Nature just doesn’t seem to care what we, as brief visitors on this planet, hope or wish for i.e. perfect 75 to 80 degree afternoons with a gentle refreshing breeze. She just does what she does and we can either plan for every possible scenario or suffer the consequences. We have had more than our share of rain and wind on this adventure, but over the past week here in Florida we realize how much more we appreciate the good weather because we have been through the not-so-good weather. We also reflect on the fact that many of the good and bad times faced by our ancestors were directly related to the weather. While some lost fingers and toes to frostbite, others lost their lives to exposure and extreme weather conditions beyond their control. We are just grateful that they left their story and that no matter what weather we have yet to face on this trip, we are facing it together.

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The Great, Great, Great, Grand Adventure: Meeting New Faces Fri, 25 Jan 2013 19:33:18 +0000 Read more]]> Since the very first morning after leaving home until just yesterday, we have met so many people who have gone out of their way to come meet us and tell us their story. We somewhat expected this to happen since we are driving an enormous bright green motorhome with pictures of our ancestors covering the sides, but what we didn’t expect was the variety and range of people who would be so excited to share their story with us.

Since that first day, we have met hundreds of people and the best part about it is that they are of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds. They have all had a unique story to tell and it is one of the highlights of our day when someone walks up to us with a curious look on their face and starts asking questions. It has happened so many times by now that we can almost see the story coming from the look in their eyes. It gets even better when our kids get to hear their story because inevitably their curiosity will get the better of them and they will start asking questions, even hours or days later. Sometimes we will have something in common with our new friends, but more often than not, we learn about people, places and times that we previously knew very little about.  We have heard stories about ancestors who were on the Titanic, others who were horse thieves, others who were Vikings with very unusual names, and others who started businesses or were involved in the arts and whose contribution to society have left a lasting legacy. Family history stories are inspiring, always interesting, and sometimes quite hilarious, but regardless of whether they make us laugh or cry, we love to hear your stories and we look forward to meeting you at our next stop.

Birmingham - visitors Little America - Wyoming Hannah is awesome! Eiteljorg Museum - Brother and sister we met who were excited about our trip and Ancestry Blog follower c Mike

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Santa’s Dead? Fri, 11 Jan 2013 19:02:35 +0000 Read more]]> This is a good one, follow if you can…my Grandpa Wilkinson has an aunt Mabel. I never knew her because she died in 1969 and lived in another state. But I was given a letter that she had written to my Grandpa. It tells all about her life and family in Birmingham, Alabama.

We are here to find her two grandsons that we were led to believe still lived here. As I was doing some research today on, I had the thought that maybe her children would still be alive, so I checked it out. Mabel had 3 kids, Dixie, who only had one son and he passed away as a child, Don, who moved to Georgia, and Santa. Santa was her daughter and our main link, because she was the mother of the 2 grandsons here in Birmingham.

We had been discussing this for days. Rob was making lunch and the kids were eating nearby while I discovered that unfortunately all of Mabel’s 3 children had already passed away…I said to Rob, “They’re all gone.” Rob said, “What?” Looking confused. Apparently he didn’t hear me so I said, “Santa’s dead”. Not noticing that Harvey was sitting across the table, until a few minutes later he asked, “Dad, who’s gonna bring our presents?” A good laugh feels so good! Look how much fun Family History can be! The search continues for Santa’s sons and yes, I am sure there must be a very interesting story behind her name. Why would anyone name their daughter Santa? We are gonna find out!

Shortly before, I had walked into the kitchen to hear Sophie telling George all about his “an sisters.” Gotta love that! We are having a blast out here on the road. We just found a family history tie in Atlanta, so I think we’re headed there next!


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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Trouble in Paradise Wed, 09 Jan 2013 22:42:09 +0000 Read more]]> Well, well, well… there you are Trouble…it’s been awhile. Yes, we had a bit of a setback, last night somewhere between New Orleans and our destination, Birmingham Alabama, we were given notice (a series of very loud honking) by a trucker to pull over. We pulled over and discovered the trailer we are towing with our van inside was smoking near the rear tire. Low and behold, the bearings were shot! So we called AAA. We were told since we didn’t have an exact location (deep inside the backwoods of Mississippi, doesn’t work), they couldn’t help. We had to get to a mile marker or a town. Pitch black outside, Rob decides to remove the tire, and try to drive without it (we have a double axle). When he came back in, he said, “I don’t know what’s freekier, taking off a tire next to a semi passing by or being completely alone on the highway, knowing down in those woods and swamp lands could be alligators!” I drove the van, to relieve stress and weight on the… trailer, and followed Rob into the closest town. Welcome to Meridian, Mississippi ( and yes as I typed that, I smiled as I spelled Mississippi in my mind!). We found a Wal-Mart and prepared to camp there for the night only to realize we were out of propane. So that only means, no heat, no hot water, and the fridge turns off. Oh yeah, no oven or stove either. So cold cereal it was, warmest jammies, and ice for the cooler to keep the milk cold. NO ONE has propane for your 40 gallon tank at night! This morning we found some Mississippi repair men to fix the trailer, while we drove around to see the sights with the kids while they worked (not a lot to see so this didn’t take long). We got propane and now we are about an hour from Birmingham! Taking it all in stride…and enjoying the ride! Trouble go away!

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: New Years in Galveston, TX Mon, 07 Jan 2013 19:04:30 +0000 Read more]]> Happy New Year! The stories of 2012 are now “in the books” as they say and although it is a little chilly down here in Galveston we are pinching ourselves just to make sure we are really here on this incredible adventure. We look forward to the New Year and we couldn’t be more excited about our resolutions.

We feel like we are really starting to get into the groove. We had to make some real sacrifices to make this trip happen but we have been very fortunate along the way and it has been absolutely worth it.  We have never spent more time together learning about the people and places that make this country great and how our ancestors have been a part of it all. For example, we discovered last night that Rob’s 9th Great Grandparents John and Rebecca Throckmorton were some of the first members of the first Baptist Church in America and are on the list of Original Members in 1638.  It was a really cool discovery and we can’t wait to get to Rhode Island to see where it all happened.

We are also looking forward to meeting more great people along our journey. We meet people almost every day that are really excited about their family history and take the time to tell us all about their ancestors. It is always fascinating to observe what they find most interesting. For some the most important thing is how far back they have gone. For others they want to share the important people that are related to them. And for others it is all about the unlikely hero or the underdog who overcame difficult odds to achieve something great. Whatever their story, it is always amazing for us to hear their stories and to observe what they value most about their family history.

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Christmas in Houston Mon, 07 Jan 2013 19:00:51 +0000 Read more]]> We can’t believe it’s over. We have been thinking and talking about how we were going to handle Christmas on the road since we first decided to go on this trip. We wondered where we would put the Christmas tree, how Santa Claus would find us, how the kids would handle Christmas morning in a motorhome, and if it would be hard to be away from family and friends.

Celebrating Christmas on the road in Texas was very different for our family in a lot of ways. Back home we were used to icy cold weather and really big snow-covered mountains. Like most everyone, we anticipate being very busy doing things like going to family parties, baking goodies, sharing holiday treats with friends and neighbors, and hustling to get all of the Christmas shopping done in time for Christmas morning.

This year we didn’t have any of those things. This year we traded the snow, icy cold temperatures and big mountains for mild temperatures in the mid 50’s and a relatively flat Texas landscape. This year we didn’t give or receive any holiday treats to or from friends or neighbors, and instead of family parties we made a lot of “wish you were here” phone calls. This year there was no hustle or bustle for Christmas because we were focused on our travel itinerary.

However, this year Christmas was still a blast! We were treated like royalty by our good friends the Allen’s who had us over for Christmas Eve Dinner and afterward we sang carols and shared holiday memories. The kids were as excited and filled with anticipation as they have ever been, and Christmas morning was magical. They were elated to discover that Santa had found them, even in Texas, and it wouldn’t have mattered where they were, they opened their presents and shared the joy of Christmas morning with each other just like we did back home. And now that it’s all over we look back and realize that even though it wasn’t what we are used to, it was just what we had hoped for…

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Who Are We? Mon, 07 Jan 2013 18:56:48 +0000 Read more]]> We were recently discussing several experiences we have had with members that we have met along our trek. We mused at what they must have expected us to be like as they approached us. The vast majority of the people we interact with here on and in the various cities and states we visit have no past experience with our family. So, I thought today, that I might do a little introduction for you all.  First of all, Rob and I are a typical married couple. We have a lot of fun together, work together and yes we often times irritate each other as well. Having said this, we are of course happily in love and thrilled to be spending so much time together and with our children. Our children didn’t come to us easily, we waited for them longer than most couples and were thrilled when they arrived, each one, some closer together and quicker than we expected, but still such a blessing. Audrey is our oldest and she is a normal 10 year old.  She loves to read, dream about being a princess and tease her siblings. She has an amazing ability to memorize and absorb information. This trip will be forever in her mind. She will learn more seeing this country first hand, than she ever would have learned from a textbook. She is blessed with a very creative mind and incredible curiosity. Audrey has a best friend and partner-in-crime, and it just happens to be her, 7 year old, sister Sophie. Sophie is our little perfectionist. She is so competitive and driven. So strong yet so tender hearted and sweet, Sophie loves being out here on such a grand  adventure, but struggles with missing friends and family back home. The girls may not admit to you their fondness for each other, but we see it every day. This trip has strengthened our children’s relationships with each other due to the simple facts of necessity and accessibility. They are all they’ve got out here on the road and it is kind of nice to see them learning to value each other more. Our three little Amigos…Harvey, George, and Sam are like any other brothers, they wrestle, they tease, and they play, play, play! Their little conversations, comments and questions keep us in stitches. They are so curious about everything, from the trailer behind the motorhome to the jacks underneath. It is so fun to see them learning and exploring.

We are just amazed at the experiences we are having as a family. Although, this adventure is exciting and an enormous blessing for our family, it doesn’t come without trials. We struggle with work, budgets, mealtimes, mechanical repairs, laundry and other cleaning, naptimes and bedtimes, schedules, school work, family commitments, relationships here and at home, and sometimes just getting to and fro is not without obstacles. But, we are driven! We are excited. We are searching for more and are willing to sacrifice to find it. We want to know what we are made of, and what characteristics we inherited from our ancestors that will help us not only on this journey, but throughout our lives and the lives of our children. We are just a normal little family, trying to make it work, yet finding strength in the lives of those who lived long ago.

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The Great, Great, Great Grand Adventure: Getting Ready For Christmas in San Antonio Wed, 02 Jan 2013 20:55:25 +0000 Read more]]> Oh the memories we made in San Antonio, Texas. Swimming, bike rides, learning all about the Alamo in 80-degree weather, a powerful windstorm and really getting into the Christmas spirit.

Our exploration began with a Riverwalk cruise, complete with yummy Mexican food and Christmas caroling with carolers riding in boats along side our boat! The kids loved it!

We traveled to the Alamo and learned all about this pivotal, historical battle. And visited the Texas Rangers Museum and Saloon.

The Live Nativity at the Lutheran Church in downtown was a hit with the kids. They got to pet live animals and experience a recreation of the nativity.

We also spent 2 days hibernating in our motorhome with 3 sick little boys.

And thankfully we survived a powerful storm and with motorhome still intact and fevers gone we headed back on the road to Houston.

Tis the Christmas Season and we are so blessed to be here celebrating with wonderful people around the country. We miss family and friends at home but have felt so welcome here in San Antonio. It has really invited the Christmas Spirit into our motorhome and into our lives. We celebrate our freedoms and the great people who have worked and sacrificed to build the foundations of our country. Happy Holidays!


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