27 Feb 2021
I’m in the idyllic town of Bridgetown in the south west of my state. We are here for the wedding of my parents of my dogs best friend, but have taken the opportunity to have a prowl around.
It should be noted and acknowledged with gratitude, that my enjoyment and enthusiasm about this town greatly outweighs the enjoyment and enthusiasm experienced by my husband. But he suffers this disparity in enjoyment levels stoically, hardly ever complaining. Much.
The reason I like this town to such a degree is because it’s a haven for all things relating to my paternal ancestry. My Dad was born here, with both sets of his grandparents also living in the town. The cemetery here is a treasure trove for family history 🙂
Whenever we visit, I wander around trying to locate the four grave sites I’m aware of. My grandparents, both sets of great grandparents, and an aunt and uncle all have this hillside spot as their final resting spot. The cemetery itself was originally cleared by one of the great grandfathers – and his son was one of the first people buried there.
I have for a long time also wanted to visit the small museum in town, located in the old police station. I was lucky this morning that the opening times coincided with times we were free to visit. It’s a beautiful building, lovely museum, and what’s more I found that one of the volunteers staffing the museum today was a cousin who had recently moved to the town.
Oh my goodness we had a lovely chat about family history and the town. I could have chatted for hours, if not for the aforementioned stoically suffering husband, who had admittedly enjoyed a quick look through the museum and had been polite in the initial chat with my cousin. That’s as much as a stoically suffering husband should have to endure, so he plodded off to sit on a fence to stoically wait politely for me to stop socialising. It possibly may have taken longer than he’d expected.
The family connections with this town are a very minor part of the history of this town, but to us they are major. To us, the street where my Dad and his family, and where the grandparents lived, are part of our dna. The houses themselves are no longer there, so we transfer our fascination with the town to the cemetery where a lot of them ended up.
It’s a small town that hasn’t outgrown its history, which is what I really enjoy about the place. The river that flows in and around the town still carries hints of the children who lived here in the late 20’s and 30’s. The old bridges stand sturdy but old.
I always try to imagine my small, rheumatoid arthritis suffering grandmother, walking to church on the other side of the valley, to play the organ each Sunday. I try to imagine my Dad and his brothers, gathering firewood, trapping and killing rabbits to sell the fur, being taught by their grandfather about the use of gelignite to help clear land for farming of fruit trees for their orchard (!!).
Yes the gelignite great grandfather was the same one who cleared the cemetery, but that’s not what caused his son to be among the first incumbents.
It’s a place that feels like home to me when I visit. Until this cousin moved here, our family had not lived in town for many many decades, but it doesn’t matter.
It’s home. It contains the roots of my family tree, in every part of the town.
Or maybe the town is part of me, rather than us being a part of it?
Do you have a similar town in your family tree?