After just reading my friend Jane Turley’s latest blog entry for the A to Z challenge I am feeling a bit like a layabout (which actually I am especially when there is a book to read or a book to find to read) so I think I will be inspired by her and do my own A to Z about life in England for an American (though I think of myself as an AmerBrit since I am anxiously preparing for the driving license trials to legally drive in the UK since I am now a resident (for as long as the contracts continue to be renewed).
So, My A (Alpha) is AmerBrit, my very own phrase for what I am. Four hundred (+or-) years ago my British ancestors began leaving these shores and sailing across the Atlantic to ports in the colonies. Most entered via Baltimore and settled in Maryland and Virginia and their sons and daughters (they had them by the dozen) moved south to N/S Carolina and then westward crossing the mighty Mississippi through Alabama, or through Tennessee and Missouri to southern and western Arkansas in the early 1800’s.
Those who moved the southern most routes had names like Ainsworth, King, Miller, Williams and McWilliams. Those coming through Tennessee bore names like Barker, Cates, Mankin, Hawkins, Frost, and Hays. By the time they reached Arkansas (and long before) they were mostly farmers and mostly Methodists or Baptists. A few explored further into Texas and Oklahoma. Their given names came from their English origins such as: Edmund, Imogene, Raleigh, Lydia, Keziah (Kessiah), Rosa, Ernest, Charles, George, John, and Henry.
With the American Civil war some joined the Union army and others joined the Confederate. One seems to have joined both at different times. Afterwards they seem to have gone on about the business of living. There may have been a rogue or two. Their daughters were masters of their homes and as much as possible their men. They sent their sons off to later wars including my father who traveled to the shores of Africa and Europe. It was during that time that his very English name handed down for generations, Raleigh Cecil, became Rawleigh Cecil (for British that is CEEcil). It was also in his generation that Hays became officially Hayes.
Daddy’s (Southerners call their fathers Daddy regardless of their age) generation begat children who began the movement to new places across America and the larger world. They went to university, entered new vocations and professions, served their country and married people from other countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. They diversified. Many stayed near where they were born and raised (yes my British friends in America we raise children as well as livestock). So most are not AmerBrits any longer but AmerWorld and that is a very good thing.
I sit here at my front window and know that most of my family is living in America, but I also wonder about those very distant connections across Britain who shared some distant ancestor.
So, AmerBrit is my offering to Alpha. If I carry through on this idea then I will explore the alphabet by visiting a place for each remaining letter of the alphabet. I actually found one place in all the British Islands that begins with the letter Z (zed … Zulu) so I look forward to my visits to the northern reaches.
Come along for the drive, ride, walk, crossing, or flight. Next . . . Buckinghamshire, Bletchley, Basingstoke, Bath, Bristol or . . . hmmmm.