I have been tracing my family history since early 2003, when my younger son, David, was given a project with his classmates. My family and I being relatively recent immigrants into the US, the standard US databases to which he was given access weren't that helpful. "Don't worry, son. I'll help," I said. Eighteen months later, he took a large rolled-up print out of his family tree back 13 generations in parts to a stunned teacher!
The County of Norfolk
Over the years since I've had much enjoyment and some success in tracing further back and filling in gaps up almost every line of our ancestry. But one of the branches I have had the most difficulty with was our direct paternal line: a family of shoemakers for over 200 years in the City of Norwich in England, the city where I also grew up. I was also stuck on two other Howes lines in the Norfolk area, specifically around the villages of Blickling and Ludham! So I started to mull over how to deal with the problem. The Howes name is very common in Norfolk and it started me thinking of working with other local people with the same name.
A further piece of input to this site came out of some discussions that I had had with Al Howes of the Howes Family Association (HFA) in the US. Being a relatively recent arrival in the US, I had made contact with them some years back and stayed in occasional touch. I learned about their long-term quest to find the ancestral home of their forebears, Thomas Howes and Mary Burr, who emigrated to the US on the Mayflower II in 1637. What got my particular attention was reading that they had thought their origin was Morningthorpe Hall just a few miles South of Norwich. In fact it isn't, but the possible Norfolk connection got me thinking further.
I started to see articles about DNA testing in family history magazines and suddenly realized one day that here was the perfect tool to solve both the HFA's problem and mine. If we could get enough people named HOWES to take a DNA test we would be able to make connections between different family groups that would help us break through the "brick walls" in our research. After convincing the Board of the HFA that there was mileage in this project, though it might take several years to bear fruit, Al and I started working together over the past few months to plan a DNA project. Find out more about that here
We figured our project should have four aims:
1 - to help individual Howes family members break through brick walls in their research
2 - in particular, to establish the English roots of Thomas Howes, who emigrated to America in 1637
3 - to bring together Howes families from around the world, and add to the sum of knowledge about our family name
4 - to examine whether there are common roots between Howes, Howse and Howe families/
As I then returned to think about my own situation, I realized that to really achieve these four goals would require a much wider effort than just a DNA test. I first had to enter some data to give people a reason to come visit the site and gain enough from it that they would want to help. So that's what I've now done. This site now contains all of the data for all of the people called Howes in the vicinity of Norwich, roughly in a 15mile (25Km) radius of the city, for the period from 1841 through 1901. As I worked back through the years I was able to join up many individuals into larger family groups. I have not required as much proof to link people as one might ordinarily use in a rigorous examination of a particular family line, however. My purpose was to have a good stab at the truth so that:
1 - it would help others looking for information
2 - other people would then help get me closer to the truth, for all our benefit!
Read more on the next page here.........