They Want To Be Found
Several amazing things have happened while researching my family tree. These first four stories are only a few of the many unusual things that have happened to me over the years. The stories here are true and prove to me that my ancestors want to be found.
Six months had gone by and I had not been able to find anyone on the maternal side of my family. The films I had ordered from the LDS had not yielded any familiar surnames. It was October and I had promised my mother that I would find some information for her Christmas present. I was very depressed and started crying. I was a sight! I prayed to God, I prayed to my ancestors, I prayed to anyone that would listen that night. My “Pity Party” lasted for about fifteen minutes then I spent the next hour cleaning my apartment.
During the next week I ordered five more films of Grenada church records and waited for them to come in. I had only one month left to research. The first film started the avalanche. By the end of the last roll I had found over 325 cousins and my mother’s christening record! I had two inches of copied records to give my mother. I call that a prayer answered!
My half sister Felice and I traveled to England together so that we could track down our Roche ancestors. We were staying at B&B’s and Hostels in order to keep our costs down. We had just arrived in Liverpool and were calling the places in our Guide Book so we would have a place to stay. Each place on the list seemed to be full until I called the fourth one. It was a hostel and it had room for two more. It was on Canning Road and I suddenly got excited. Our great uncle John Roche and his family had lived at Upper Canning Road. I hoped that it would be near.
We woke up early the next morning. Felice had to have her coffee to wake up so she went to the kitchen. I was eager to find the house so I decided to go for a walk. Both sides of the street were in the middle of a large restoration project; the first updating since they were built in the 1850’s. The buildings were being painted and repaired as part of an historical restoration project by the British government.
It was drizzling outside as I stood on the corner outside the hostel. I looked around and saw a man across the street doing the same thing. He was dressed in slacks and a jacket. I walked across the street and introduced myself as being from the United States and there for genealogy research. I asked him if he knew where 53 Upper Canning Road was. His eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped. He started fishing through his pockets until he pulled out his identification. He was living in the house!
He asked if I would like to see it. I couldn’t believe my luck. Of course, I said, “YES!!” He took my hand and proceeded to almost drag me down the road. The house had been divided into four flats (apartments), as had all the other buildings. He spent the next two hours giving me a complete tour of the house and the surrounding area. I was fascinated at the number of ancient churches and homes mingled in with the newer and more modern buildings.
I thanked him profusely and ran to tell Felice what had happened. She was having her own good luck. The owner of the Hostel had given her a complete history of the area also. His grandfather was a Master Stone Cutter and had come over from Wales in the early 1900’s to work on the church nearby. He told a few more interesting stories and we then proceeded to retrace the steps I had just taken. What a day that was!
Felice and I were researching the ancient Roche manuscripts in the Special Collections Department of the Library at the University of Cork, Ireland, when I noticed a familiar face at the table next to us. I kept having this feeling that I knew him. But that could not be possible since this was Ireland. I told Felice and she urged me to go over to talk to him. I did. I introduced myself and apologized for interrupting him. He smiled and I soon knew the reason. We had been writing to each other for a year! His name was Dr. Diarmuid O. Murchadha and I had purchased his book, Family Names of County Cork. He had given me much advice over the past year and I respected him very much.
The mystery was solved. I had recognized him from his picture on the back jacket of his book. He was in the library on that day to do research for his next book. What a small world to find us both there on the same day!
We were staying at a beautiful B&B in Cork City called the “Faery Inn.” Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll owned and ran the place. Felice and I were staying in a room on the second floor and were getting ready for breakfast. I went to the floor’s bathroom and as I came out I noticed out of the corner of my eye a beautiful young barefoot woman with long curly golden hair in a long flannel nightgown standing near the door. I hurried to shut the door and move so she could go in. I turned around and she was gone! I couldn’t imagine how she could have left so quickly without my seeing her go, but I wasn’t going to worry about it.
I mentioned it to Felice and said that I hoped I hadn’t inconvenienced the woman. We went down to breakfast and I mentioned the “new person” to Mrs. Driscoll. Her face went pale and she became very frightened. Tears began to stream down her face and I became worried. I asked what was wrong and she told us we were the only people in the house and that it must have been a ghost. The other visitors had left the night before. Felice and I just looked at each other and chills ran down my back. We asked Mrs. Driscoll if anyone else had seen the ghost and she said not to her knowledge. She and her husband had only owned the place for eight years. I often wonder if anyone else has seen the young woman there on the second floor.
During a trip to Grenada a cousin told a story that I found chilling. We were talking about the strength of the women in our family and she spoke of something that had happened many years ago. Our g-grandmother “Bessie” was in the backyard with her maid and the maid’s child. The mother had tried several times to get her daughter’s attention. She threw a rock, meaning it to land near the child, and it hit her child in the head killing her. The mother was frantic at the loss of her child and the thought that she would be locked up for killing her. She didn’t know what to do.
Bessie didn’t want the woman to get into trouble with the authorities for the accidental death of the child. She told the woman to get the child and they would hide her in the Cotton Wood tree. It seems that the local Voodoo Priest used that tree for his own purposes and everyone stayed away from it. They took the child and put her in the hollow of the tree and the authorities never found out.
Stories From Essie Campbell in Grenada, BWI:
Essie Campbell in Grenada told of how a third house happened to be built at Mt. Cenis in St. John’s, Grenada. He told me that as a very young boy he was walking through the woods near his house and a rain of rocks came down so hard they almost knocked him over. This happened several more times to various family members. A friend told them that it was an unhappy ghost and that they should build another house and move. A new house was soon built. The rocks stopped falling and everyone was happy.
When I told this story to his brother, Colin, he laughed and told me what he knew of the incidents. The raining rocks were caused by a woman who was angry at the family, and the reason the rocks stopped falling was because she died. The new house was built because the other one was falling apart. Still a good story to tell around a camp file late at night!
Another story from Essie. He and another family member were seated at a table talking. The table began to rock back and forth until the bowl of fruit on top of it flew off the table. He and the cousin reached for the bowl at the same moment, saving it and the contents from falling all over the floor. They didn’t think much of the incident until a short time later when they heard that their Grandmother “Bessie” had died at about the same time. Essie said that Bessie had been a very strong-willed person and he believed that she was making her presence known so she could say good bye. Sounds good to me!
Stories From My Mother:
Voodoo and variations of the religion are practiced, and have been for hundreds of years, in the islands of the West Indies. My mother often spoke of hearing chanting late at night as a child and that chickens would disappear on those evenings. She said that her mother would yell at the help the next morning and tell them to stay away from that “Godless group.” She would end with an admonition to “Stop stealing my chickens!” They always promised they would stop and the chickens continued to disappear. My mother always laughed as she told the story.
She was twelve years old and loved her grandmother very much and was sitting at her bedside when she died. My mother said that she had sat there for hours holding her hand. As she listened to her grandmother breathe, she suddenly heard a great intake of air and then a loud sigh as the air was let out. My mother felt a “great cold wind” blow right through her and pass out the door. She knew at that moment that her grandmother had died.
As my mother told me this story I was amazed. I asked her if she had been frightened and she replied, “No, I knew it was my grandmother’s spirit so I wasn’t afraid.”
She heard the footsteps jumping the stairs three at a time as she brushed her hair. She heard him say, “Miriam, where are you?” She answered back, “I’m up here, brushing my hair! Come up.” She heard him call her name two more times and then nothing. No more footsteps. Where was he? “Here I am, Francis” she called again. Out to the stair landing she went to see where he might be. And nothing. No one was there. Had she imagined his voice? No, it was her husband Francis. She heard him call her name three times.
She thought that he must have heard how sick she had been and how close to death she had come. Only the new miracle drug Penicillin had saved her. He must have come from Antigua to her mother’s house to see her. Where did he go? He really wasn’t there. She could only believe that she had imagined it and went back to brushing her hair.
A few days later a Telegram came stating that Francis had died the same day she had heard him. The Telegram stated that the last thing he said was “Miriam, where are you?” and he called her name twice more, then died.
I find this terribly sad. Not knowing she had been sick, he must have wondered why she wasn’t there beside him.
She and a friend went to see a fortune teller in Antigua for the fun of it. The fortune teller told my mother she would meet a man in a uniform wearing glasses on a bus and that she would marry him. My mother and her friend laughed and thought nothing of it. A short time later she saw my father in his Navy uniform getting on the same bus she was riding. He was wearing glasses. He sat near her and they spoke briefly. She thought he was pleasant, but she could never get interested in a man who wore glasses.
She laughed it off and forgot about the incident then some time later she went to the Governor’s Ball at Government House. “Fancy Dress” dances were held every week and my mother loved to dance. My father didn’t usually attend dances, but decided to leave the Base with friends for some fun. He was a fantastic dancer so when he asked my mother to dance, she accepted. They danced perfectly together and a friendship began. My mother was widowed and my father was in the middle of a divorce from his first wife. After they had become engaded my father asked her if she remembered where they had met. She answered, “At the fancy dress ball”, and my father said, “No”, and reminded her of the bus ride. The fortune teller was right. They married a year later.
As a child, my mother liked to play in the orange trees at Mt. Cenis. She would eat the fruit and spend hours just daydreaming. During one of these daydreams, she felt something squeezing her leg. She looked down and it was an anaconda that had apparently mistaken her leg for a tree branch. She was so startled that she jumped out of the tree and ran all the way home.
According to my mother, she had the happiest childhood possible. She spent the days playing at Mt. Cenis and at The Cottage with her many cousins. Her favorite place to daydream and play was a place where the ground was covered with cobblestones and had a “fairy-like setting.” I don’t remember whether she said it was at The Cottage or Dougaldstone Estate.
Her mother was a very good seamstress and had a store in town. She purchased all colors of satin material with which to make blouses and dresses for her. Yellow, pink, blue, and green pastel shades were her favorites. Later when she was older and married, she would have pastel satin gowns in which to Waltz around and around.
It was in the middle of the night and I had been woken very abruptly by my mother. She was very upset and sat at the side of my bed. She said, “Remember what I tell you,” and I promised I would. She told me she had dreamed of snakes and that she was sure her mother was dead. She said she had prophetic dreams sometimes, but this one she wished she hadn’t had. She started to cry and I tried to comfort her, as much as a young child could do. She told me to go back to sleep and she went to her room. A few days later she received a Telegram stating just what she had said, her mother was dead.
I never forgot that night. It awakened me to a new unseen consciousness and connection to another plane that only a few participate in. My mother seems to have been one of these people. I know this story is true because I was a witness.
While visiting in Grenada, my Roche cousins shared many interesting stories with me. One of these stories was told to me by my cousin Ruby. She told me that her father could predict storms and hurricanes.
She witnessed his gift on many occasions. His head would suddenly look up at the sky. He would be very still except for a slight turning of his head. He would lick a finger and put it up into the air to test the direction of a breeze, would look at the clouds and then spring into action. “Get everything into the drying sheds, a storm is coming.” Sure enough, Ruby said a big storm would be on its way. Many crops were saved because of his unusual and unique ability to tell when a storm was coming. None of his children inherited this ability.
My sister, Felice, and I were sharing unusual stories when she told me of a friend of hers who had experienced visitations by her dead son. It seems that there was an air conditioner in his bedroom and after his death it would go on at anniversaries of his birthday and death. On these days she noticed his personal items would be moved to different locations in the room.
The friend had the air conditioner checked and the repairman could find no problems or shorts. She believes that there is only one explanation for the strange events happening in the room, her son is trying to communicate that he is OK.
Stories From My Father:
My father spent most of his years from age one to eight at his grandparent’s home in San Francisco, California. His parent’s were divorced and his mother had given custody of him to his father, Albert. Albert worked most of the time and had many girlfriends so didn’t have much time for a child.
There was a great mutual love and caring between my father and his grandparents. Each night before going to sleep, his grandfather would come in and tell him “good night my darling” in German and say that he loved him.
One particular evening his grandfather came in and stayed longer than usual at the foot of the bed. He seemed hesitant to leave. My father went to sleep happily and the next morning a family member came into his room. She apologized for “Goompa” not coming in to say good night. My father insisted that he had and that everything was fine. The family member said he must have been dreaming because his grandfather had died that night.
I heard this story many times as I grew up and the look in my father’s eyes told me it was true. My father sincerely believed that even death could not keep his grandfather from one last farewell.
My father was in the Navy and had just discovered his first wife was having an affair with another man. He was very upset and was drinking too much. He was short-changed by the bartender at the bar on the base and, instead of letting it go, he hit the bartender knocking out two of his front teeth. The Shore Patrol was called and they carried my father off to the brig for the night to cool off. The next morning after being released, he was late getting to his ship. By the time he arrived at the dock the ship had already left port.
Whoever it was that said that God protects the stupid was correct. My father’s life was saved by his stupidity because the ship that he was supposed to have been on was bombed and sunk that very same day with all aboard killed.
He had another ship go down without him. He had nightmares for several nights in which his ship had sunk with all on board drowned. He was very restless and couldn’t shake his feelings of doom. He had a chance to stay in port so he requested three days leave. It was granted. Two days later the ship he should have been on went down and again he was saved. Did he have a Guardian Angel?
Some Great Stories Submitted by Al Worsfold:
Al wrote: “I don’t know if these stories are useable but for better or worse here they are.”
Imelda (Preudhomme) did make and bottle ginger beer in our basement in New Jersey. It had a strong ginger flavor and peppery taste. Sounds delicious! (My mother loved ginger beer and searched for years in the U.S. until she found a store she could order it from.)
Dad was the one most likely to tell tales of life in Trinidad. He once told of his mother going for a walk in the forest and deciding to sit down on a small log, to rest, only to have it move. It was an enormous snake such as a python or anaconda.
He (Al’s father) used to talk about his life as a supervisor on a cocoa plantation and work in the oil fields in Trinidad. He and his boss Mr. King would enjoy a smoke on the veranda after dinner in the evening. They hired a new black cook by the name of Guo Ma Ma (Phonetic spelling). Her cooking was good but in the evening she would sit upwind of them and smoke her pipe. It was so foul smelling that it spoiled their relaxation in the evenings. The question was how to get rid of her without hurting her feelings. Dad told Mr. King he had a solution for the problem. The black people of that time were very superstitious. Dad took some black button thread and tied a pebble several feet from one end of the thread. He then attached the thread to a tack and stuck the tack to the top of her window frame The other end of the thread he led off into the bushes in front of the house. Once Guo Ma Ma had gone to sleep he hid in the bushes and pulled and released the thread causing the pebble to go tap? tap? tap? on her window. Shortly the door opened and she stuck her head out and asked “Who dah!” Of course there was no answer. The tapping was repeated several times that night with the same results. Early the next morning Guo Ma Ma came out with her bag packed and announced that she was leaving. When asked why she said she could not stay in this place because it was haunted. Thus the problem was solved.
My eldest son Sean was renting a house in San Jose, California, and his brother, David, was visiting from Fresno, California. Sean had told David of the strange yelling and pounding he had heard coming from his bedroom wall on several occasions. At first, he had believed that someone outside had been playing tricks on him. Sean would run to the window to catch the culprits, but no one was there. It soon became evident that no living person was responsible. No children playing tricks or howling dogs. He soon began to wonder if the house was haunted. He also noticed a cold spot in front of his bedroom door which never went away, no matter how hot the weather.
David was soon to experience the haunting himself. Sean was explaining the cold spot to David as they stood in the hallway in front of Sean’s bedroom when they began to feel chilled to the bone. Within a few seconds a cold wind blew through them for the second time. They looked at each other with the same question in their eyes. “What was that?” The noises soon began to emanate from the bedroom wall as they had before. Neither of them could find a logical explanation. It wasn’t long before Sean moved out of the house.
Seems almost everyone in the Roche branches has heard this story or a close rendition of it. She said that we had originally been de la Roche and that our family had “barely escaped France in the 1600s with our heads.”
Well, she got my attention! Our heads? Why did someone want our heads and what were they going to do with them once they got them? A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing to see in action. I had watched movies. I knew about the axe and my imagination went wild. I imagined the Executioner chasing me around a field yelling, “I want your head!”
Unfortunately, I don’t know who our immigrating person or persons were, so cannot prove or disprove the story. Maybe time will be on my side and bring forth a cousin or two with the other side of the story. Wouldn’t that be exciting?
I know you have some, everyone has at least one good story. Doesn’t have to be an unusual one. As you can see, there is a variety of stories here. Stories that tell of how our ancestors lived and what they believed help us to better understand them and the world in which they lived.
Do you have an interesting family story? Send it to me for review and it may be added here. You don’t have anything to lose and we have everything to gain!