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Touring Ancestral Homes

It’s time for a trip down memory lane. Follow our guide to planning a tour of your family's ancestral homes.

Who says you can’t go home again? I’ve lived in the same house for more than 30 years. But my mom’s family moved more than 25 times before she was married. When my sister and I decided to take our mom and aunt to see some of those houses, we had no idea of the genealogical adventure that would unfold.

During the lean years of the Great Depression and into the beginning of World War II, Grandfather Brown would barter his work as a house painter and wallpaper hanger in exchange for rent for the family of four. Sometimes they lived in a house for a few months; sometimes, a few years. Mom could remember living in 13 houses and her sister recalled a few more; snapshots and old letters gave evidence to more than 20 residences. 

We couldn’t find all the houses they’d lived in, but we had a great day visiting many homes with stops along the way to see their schools, churches and teenage hangouts. The best part was listening to Mom and her sister reminisce about the people and events from their past.

Whether you have one ancestral home or 25—or more—you can conduct a similar tour of family homes. It’s a wonderful, memory-filled activity for a family reunion, parent’s birthday or empty Sunday afternoon. Follow these steps to plan your own trip down memory lane.

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