Pictures from “home”

I just received my order of two copies of a lovely 2019 calendar from Wales (one for me and one for my brother). It is illustrated with paintings of village life in Wales by Welsh artist Valeriane LeBlond ( The calendar text is in Welsh, so I can’t translate the titles, but the scenes include little white cottages with quilts hung out to air (even in the snow), row houses exactly like those I know my ancestors lived in, bucolic landscapes – this is the southern part of Wales, great farming country – with wind-whipped waves off shore. Neat stuff.

I discovered Valeriane’s work on Pinterest, to which I confess to be addicted. I check the app a dozen times a day just to see what new discoveries it generates by memorizing the pictures I save. While there are many photographs of the old country, I really like the work of local artists painting local scenes.

Search Pinterest with the name of the village or parish, county or country of your ancestors and add “art” or “artists” to the search. Those searches will lead the program to find more of the same, plus there will be links to some artists’ websites. You will discover many old and new artists who knew/know your ancestral haunts intimately. Another favorite of mine is the Welsh artist Sir Kyffin Williams (no relation), who painted the more rugged mountain areas of Wales.

The other half of my father’s ancestry comes from Yorkshire. A search for “Yorkshire art” yields interesting work with titles such as “Yorkshire Wolds,” “Millington Pastures, East Yorkshire,” “Port Mulgrave, North Yorkshire,” “The Denbigh Moors,” and “Harrogate, Yorkshire.” Even better, a search on my family village of “Huddersfield” leads to paintings of the old mill town.

There are posters for every stop on the vast British Railway system.

A nineteenth-century painting of “Thornbury Railway Station” in Gloucestershire is pertinent to my family and brings up the whole category of vintage travel posters. There are posters for every stop on the vast British Railway system. Aberystwyth, Wales, where Valeriane lives, is a seaside resort, which is reflected in many of her paintings. Posters for “Picturesque Wales,” “Yorkshire Dales,” “Yorkshire Moors,” or “The Lake District” are all meaningful because I have been to those places. I have found artists’ work of such far flung family origins as Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham; Tytherington, Gloucestershire; Hipperholme, Yorkshire; and Chepstow and Pontypool, Monmouthshire (Gwent).

And last but not least is Pilgrim Country. Aside from the old classics, I have found contemporary paintings from Dorking, Surrey, home of the Mullins family; many in Devonshire, the county of the original Plymouth; and in Norfolk, just to name a few. I could go on, but I’m supposed to be working.

Although all my ancestors are from Great Britain, I’m sure the same trick works for the rest of the world. Let me know what you find.

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

10 thoughts on “Pictures from “home”

  1. What a wonderful idea. So obvious once pointed out. Have yet to discover my specific connections to the Old Country but your example can be followed in myriad applications.
    Thank You.

    1. Pat, great idea, although the literal translation seems to leave something to be desired! The titles that make sense are : Star and Morning, Perfect Morning, As the Wind Turns, and Raining.

      1. It does some funny things with Chinese too but it’s a start. My son has an app on his phone that lets you hold the phone up to something, say a box at the grocery store, and it translates. Too much technology for me.

  2. Years ago I did similar thing with old post cards of our home town and places we vacationed found on Ebay. It was a big hit with the family. I have a whole album of antique post cards that have relevance to places my ancestral families have lived.

  3. I lived in Hereford, England for 17 months, about 20 miles from the Welsh border. Among my many English ancestors I found roots went back to early Welsh connections so had the privilege of “walking” in the footsteps of my ancestors. Beautiful landscape along Offa’s Dyke, lots of wind atop Pen y Fan and fog on the Cat’s Back all in the Black Hills. My Welsh friend, Lynne, led the way!

  4. Great idea! I did some research on the Awbrey ancestral land in Wales…which is relatively easy because most of it is now the Brecon Beacons National Park!
    The old manor house is actually like a bed and breakfast now…called Abercynfrig. I was able to see the house and most of the rooms. There are 21 acres of ground with the house, and total access to Brecon Beacons while you’re staying at Abercynfrig.
    I have the same problem with reading the Welsh signs…looks like a bunch of consanants and very few vowels!

  5. Good Morning Alicia. It is a real snow storm here in Harvey Station, New Brunswick, Canada this morning and I am just catching up on some correspondence. I have links through the Morris Family with Chepstow Castle in Wales. My Mom was born in Northern Nova Scotia and has many links to various families in Wales and England. Many thanks for all your great postings and also thanks for keeping in touch with so many of us. I am about the only one of my family still living and try to keep in touch with all of you folks. Merry Christmas to all of you great friends at NEGHS and over and around the world who keep in touch with us. Love, Paul Morris Hilton

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