I wrote a blog recently, for Family Tree Magazine, all about the visual imagery of Family History and the different ways in which we can present our Family History Research, see the link below;
With this in mind, I was contacted by a wonderful lady, who has been inspired by her own Family History story and decided to share and show her own story in a very unique way, in the form of a tattoo!
What an inspirational and different way in which to visualise your Family Tree forever.
Where does the inspiration come from, to think of such a wonderful idea and from this thought and idea, how does one visualise the final image and bring it to life.
With that in mind, over a series of conversations, I was able to find ‘The Real Story’ behind “The Girl With The Family History Tattoo”. So, let’s dig under the surface and find out the secret behind “The Girl With The Family History Tattoo”.
Where does the desire and thirst for knowledge come from? Like a lot of us, Charlie was inspired by her Father and initially was interested in finding out more about her DNA. After taking a DNA test with Ancestry and subsequently testing as many close family members as possible, she was bitten by the ‘Genealogy Bug’ and the search in earnest for her family roots was sparked. So armed with some previous notes from her grandparents and their handwritten narratives about their lives, the quest began.
Charlie was able to uncover some remarkable stories about her family, in particular her Jewish side of the family, who were part of the horrors of the Holocaust. A particularly harrowing experience for anybody of Jewish descent, made even more difficult to bear when she shared her story with her sister-in-law, who discovered that she had an ancestor who was a member of the Luftwaffe. Can you imagine the emotions, grief and distress this all brings to the surface? Generations that previously had been part of one of the darkest moments in our history are inexplicably thrown together in the mix of normal family life, how do you cope with that? You cry together, hug each other and share a moment of reflection over a glass or two of something. We have to take both the good and bad when we uncover our family history, the dark and the light go hand in hand, after all, it’s all a part of the fabric of what makes us who we are today.
From here we see the first part of the tattoo;
A Stag taken from the family surname Hirsch, which translates as ‘stag’. This side of the family were German Jews hence the Star of David in his antlers.
You can see clearly how the impact of previous generations has shaped and formed an emotional bond with Charlie which has evolved in the forming of the idea of the tattoo in the first place. Once the idea had formed, it was then a question of piecing together the stories from the Families History, into an image that had some significance.
During Charlie’s research into her family, she was able to discover on her father’s line a direct link back to the village of Tolpuddle, all the way back to the 1500’s. The direct male line of descendants were all Blacksmith’s, all from this tiny, but historically important village. So like all good Family Historians Charlie’s next move was to “Walk in The Footsteps of her Ancestors”.
(See my Blog for Family Tree Magazine with helpful tips and advice on planning a field trip)
Charlie was able to visit the Village of Tolpuddle and actually visit the church and touch the Font that her actual ancestors were baptised in, I have said it before and I will say it again “You can’t beat touching History”. What a very humbling and incredible experience that must have been, but what was to follow was even more amazing. She was able to visit the Farm that her ancestors had last worked on and was incredibly invited to Tea in the house with the current owners of the Farm. Charlie then discovered that the current owners of the Farm’s Ancestors, had actually employed Charlie’s Ancestors on the Farm, how incredible is that. What an experience to sit in the Farm House where your Ancestor worked and be in the presence of descendants for the Farm’s owners, priceless family History moment.
From this moment is born another part of the tattoo ;
A Horseshoe to represent an extended line of Blacksmith’s all residing in the Village of Tolpuddle.
Moving over to Charlie’s maternal side we find a long line of Seafarers and Mariners all living and based in the Liverpool and North Wales areas. Hence we see the image of a ship on our tattoo. I can’t stop just with that alone and would like to share with you this wonderful story, all backed up by research.
“My 2 x great grandfather was a young boy, at boarding school in London, why he was in London we don’t know, but it’s my assumption it was a school for children whose parents were travelling to sea. His father was captain of a ship called the Acastus. As captain of the ship, he took his wife aboard the voyage in 1869. They were transporting goods, however, the ship was wrecked with all hands lost. What followed was my 9 year old 2 x great grandfather being kicked out of school, because there was no one left to pay his school fees! He was literally turfed out. He is said to have remembered that his father had business associates in Liverpool, so this orphaned child walked, all by himself, in 1869 from London to Liverpool where a family (not sure if he knew them or it was just a lovely family) took him in! The legend is that it was a family called Sharples, and it was a Sharples girl he went on to marry. He did really well in life so there’s a happy ending!”
I am sure that there is a lot more to this story, but we will save that for another day.
You can see by now, how much thought has gone into the things that mean so much to Charlie and where her origins and roots are. The next part should be straight forward enough for you to recognise, if you know your famous buildings and landscapes. We have already established Charlie’s maternal side were from Liverpool and what more of an iconic image do you need, the Liver Building itself. Liverpool is a place where Charlie feels very much at home. So much history and legacy of her family is Liverpool based. Her mum was born in Liverpool and the place still holds a special place in her heart.
Now to the final element of the tattoo.
The Mountains – Vancouver Island, with cousins, aunt, uncle, parents, brother and friends. An incredibly important and special place to Charlie and her family. We will leave that stone unturned for now.
Wow what an incredible story, full of real family history, with real stories, real feelings and real emotion, all brought together in this wonderful work of art which was initially drawn by an artist and family member.
Thank you for reading Charlie’s story you can follow her on Twitter @cmouse1980.
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11 thoughts on “The Girl With The Family History Tattoo”
Wow! I love this. The stories and the images combined truly makes for one powerful visual representation. Thank you for telling Charlie’s story, Paul!
Glad you enjoyed it Zoe
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Paul, thank you for telling Charlie’s story here! She has a very rich story to tell, and I love the visual, artistic way she chose to share that story. What a beautiful way to honor her ancestors!
It’s a beautiful story, thanks for taking the time to read and leave your comments
Just came across this story and likes reading it. Especially that this week I have been researching cousins back a few generations from South Shields name Thompson through my Clare tree. So more research need to see if any link.
Has the rest of the story been told?
Bob from Camden Australia
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Hi Bob there’s still more to the story to be told, like all family history stories they are never really fully complete
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What a fascinating read – thank you Paul!
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Im so pleased that you enjoyed it Lynne, it was a story that just had to be shared