Minnesota and family history heaven
Back at Winneconne with my homestay hosts, the Stoinskis, we go to a local restaurant and bar for Wisconsin’s traditional Friday fish, and early the next morning they farewell me as my return journey to New Zealand begins. I couldn’t have wished for better hosts.
|The Stoinskis of Winneconne, Wisconsin|
Today I’m driving to Minnesota, the state of 10,000 lakes. Its twelve years since I was in Minnesota, briefly, with no time to meet any of the many name-sakes that live in the state.
As I drive the back roads to Minneapolis the dairy scenery is a lot like home, but I notice two differences; here I see big red barns everywhere to house the animals during the bitter winters and there is more cropping to provide food when the grass stops growing. By comparison, the grass on New Zealand’s dairy lands grows 10-11 months of the year and slows a little for another two or three.
At St Paul I stop to call my cousin, Jerry (seven generations removed) and he gives me directions to Prior Lake, and says it will take another 45 minutes. The twin cities cover a vast area and maybe the lakes and parks have a lot to do with that. I like it here.
|Blakeborough brothers and cousins at Prior Lake|
The GPS takes me right to the door and Jerry and Videl come out to meet me. It’s a warm welcome to their lovely home in a park-like setting. We are family, but not family, with all those generations separating us. I wonder if we will find things that we have in common. We do.
They met my sister Joan several years ago, and they know about my late brother Don and his family tree. They are in the tree. But there is more.
They have a good knowledge of the Minnesota Blakeboroughs and their ancestors back to 1830 and Topcliffe, England. And in New Zealand we have a family tree that goes back to the same place and further. The Minnesota Blakeboroughs and the New Zealand Blakeboroughs are all descended from Jonathan and Mary Blakebrough who married at Skipton, Yorkshire about 1740 and had eight children. Jonathan was born at Bolton in 1719.
|An example of several restored trucks and tractors in|
Blakeborough family collections
Jerry and Videl have been big international travelers and for many years owned a motor-home and traveled extensively in North America. I tell them about my travels and my motor-home.
Before retiring, Jerry worked in transport as a driver and manager, just like me, just like Jerry’s father and grandfather, and many other Blakeboroughs elsewhere. There is also a history of family dairying both in Minnesota and in New Zealand.
It’s time to meet the rest of the family. We pile into Jerry’s auto and start a grand tour of Blakeborough houses. At 74, Jerry still drives like a professional. It’s in the blood.
We visit brothers, children, cousins, including some from Wisconsin. Something else strikes me; even though we are separated by three centuries, seven generations, and different cultures and nationalities, some of us have the same appearance and mannerisms. It’s uncanny.
|The resting place of the first two Blakeboroughs to reach |
Minnesota in the mid-1800's
On Saturday night a crowd of relatives arrive for dinner, and on Sunday there’s another crowd at Debra and Kent’s house for lunch. We pour over photos and Don’s Blakeborough Family Tree. We’re in family history heaven and I regret that I must leave again on Monday morning.
I’m eight days and ten states away from my flight from LAX to New Zealand.