Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Fork in the Genealogy Trail

White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Newark, Delaware.

When I first met Peter, he told me his family was very small, but the internet has changed all that. He has been researching both sides of our family for ten years and has found 4,400 'new' relatives! We have met a number of the 'found' and each occasion has been a delight and they have always led Peter to yet another fork in the genealogy trail.

More is known about my side of the family and the names of those who have gone before me have often been repeated by my aunts and grandmother. Many rest in White Clay Creek Church in Newark, Delaware. As I stood beside the community of graves for the first time, I couldn't help but wonder what they would think of a great great granddaughter who had wandered so far afield without roots for so long, standing beside their graves, reading their names etched in stone.

Old Swedes Church, Wilmington, Delaware.

One drives through some rough neighborhoods in Wilmington, Delaware to find the beautiful and immaculately tended Old Swedes Church. It was early spring and the ground was sprinkled with pink petals while more drifted through the air as we walked amongst the graves. The effect was magical and the outside world disappeared beyond the old walls.

Charles Springer is buried by the side entrance to the church where a steel gate prevents a closer inspection of the site. He was one of my earliest ancestors to arrive in America and one small link as to why I am here and why this is my country. He never intended to make that journey. Charles Springer's life in Sweden was privileged and he was sent to London to further his education. I try to imagine his terror when the thugs attacked....imprisoned him on a ship bound for Virginia and the hardships he endured as an indentured servant on a tobacco plantation. His experience is well documented in a moving letter to his mother. Please click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page for a translation of the original letter which is in the National Swedish Archives.

A fork in the genealogy trail.


  1. So great to see these photos! I think Grandfather Springer would be very proud.

  2. How fascinating! I've never really studied my family tree beyond the level I can get to in living memory, but sometimes I feel I should do more.

  3. Rachel, after you've seen, written about and photographed the world, there will be time for genealogy! Then, it will shed light on why you were driven to do all those things.

  4. Carol you are a great writer, there is poetry in all your sentences <3
    As for the story of your ancestor, it is amazing !a great page of history !


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