May I Introduce to You . . . Callum Leslie
I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Callum Leslie and his blog, Intertwining Branches, described as, “. . . I write about the lives my ancestors led. I don’t just share those, however, I also like to share poignant or often funny finds, not necessarily relevant to my family.”
Callum, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
“I was born just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I have lived here my entire life, in the area where the majority of my ancestors have lived and worked for centuries. Both my paternal and maternal grandfathers had Irish roots, but there is also a little bit of Scottish thrown in.”
How long have you been doing genealogy and how did you get started?
“I began my journey into family history at Easter 2009. I was fourteen-years-old at the time, and it was the day before Easter half-term at school. My school put on a range of activities and I picked family history. I was already keen on history, and had always wondered what my ancestors had gotten up to, and whether they witnessed any significant moments in history – (they did!) Because I was at school at the time, I am lucky to know the exact date and approximate time I began researching, as it was all written down in my school planner.”
When and why did you start your genealogy blog?
“I started my blog right at the beginning of 2015, solely to document my findings and research. I also wanted to put my research into a narrative format, so family members could read and understand their ancestors better. Ancestors are so much more than born, married, died, and it’s important to show that, I believe.”
Callum, how did you choose the name for your blog?
“I chose Intertwining Branches because that’s exactly what my family tree looks like, or feels like, sometimes. My paternal grandmother’s family lived in the same seaside village for centuries, in a very tight, close-knit community. Over the years there are a number of cousins marrying each other, and so many, many shared ancestors. In this particular village, I am related to the majority people.”
Callum, what research tool or source has been particularly helpful in researching your family history?
“I think one underrated website is FreeREG, which has many transcriptions of parish registers from across the UK. It’s a brilliant resource, but always make sure to double-check the original document!”
Do you have any tips for new genealogy bloggers?
“Just do it. Write about what you know, and sometimes what you don’t. The genealogy blogging community is a lovely and welcoming one, and people are so keen to read stories and share experiences. Your experiences with a certain record set or document can be invaluable, and inspire others to look where they previously hadn’t.”
Callum, what other genealogy blogs inspire you?
“KindredPast – Sue writes brilliant and informative posts, and I have enjoyed reading every post. There are a few ‘how- tos’ and also posts about the methods behind Sue’s research. Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog – I enjoy reading Jana’s posts also. I find out about a lot of genea-news from her.”
What has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?
“My 3x great-grandfather was good friends with a local dignitary. In the early 1860s they went to Melbourne, Australia, together. They returned a few years later on the famous SS Great Britain, which was carrying precious cargo – gold! I can’t be certain the gold was discovered by them, but after that my 3x great-grandfather called himself a ‘gentleman’ and was left a £2000 legacy by his noble friend. £2000 was a massive amount for a humble fisherman. I actually haven’t written a blog post on this yet, so spoilers!”
Callum, what are your favorite posts on your blog?
“A Grand Old Man. A brief biography on my 2x great-grandfather, Adam Storey, and also my first blog post. He was a brilliant man, and I felt like I needed to tell his story.
Lady of Sorrow. A blog post dedicated to Martha Renner (née Robinson), my 4x great-grandmother and Adam Storey’s grandmother. She was an incredibly resilient and hardy woman, who lived such a tragic life.”
How much time are you able to spend on your research?
“I spend every moment of free time on research. If I disappear for an hour or two, you better believe I’m scrolling through indexes or knocking on my ancestor’s doors in the census.”
Who are your favorite ancestors?
“Two of my favourite ancestors have previously been mentioned; Adam Storey and Martha Renner. Adam because he genuinely seems like a lovely man. He was 97-years-old when he died in 1951, so within living memory for a lot of people. I have talked with many people who actually knew him. Martha because her tale is a tragic one, and surely her heart must have been broken by the end of it all, but still she lived on. That makes her all the more endearing to me, somehow. Another of my favourites is my 3x great-grandmother, Margery Barrass (née Turnbull). She inherited the lease to a pub when her father-in-law and husband died, and under her the pub thrived! She was incredibly hospitable, and a real matriarchal figure to me. So many descendants have been named in her honour, and the name is still around in my immediate family today.”
Callum, what family story or heirloom do you cherish most?
“We have a spill vase in my family which originally belonged to my great-grandmother. It depicts a cow and horse drinking from a trough, and is known affectionately in the family as ‘the coo and horse!’”
In what ways has genealogy improved your life?
“I think genealogy has made me more perceptive and sympathetic, and I think that’s always a good thing. Genealogy has also taught me so much about history, particularly social history, and historical events my ancestors lived through.”
What do you love most about doing your genealogy?
“I think it’s the feeling when you discover something new and amazing, or when you finally break down a brick wall. I also enjoy telling family members about my discoveries.”
Callum, what is on your genealogy bucket list?
“When I first started researching, I probably would have said that I’d like to find a link to Royalty. I still would in some ways – think of the records, for example! I think I’d like to find an ancestor I could be proud of. Someone who did something good, or was ahead of their time. I’d also like to find an ancestor who perhaps influenced a famous historical figure and helped them to succeed. Selfishly, that would give me the opportunity to discover and tell their story.”
Please take a moment to visit Callum’s blog, Intertwining Branches. Be sure to leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome Callum, it’s great to have you here!
© 2017, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.