Category Archives: Travel

Genealogy trips: past, present and future. How ancestors traveled.

Why I Live At The Archives

“But here I am, and here I’ll stay. I want the world to know I’m happy.”  Sister in Why I Live at the P.O., Eudora Welty

Some of the happiest times of my adult life have been spent at the Mississippi Archives doing genealogy research. When I was pregnant, I would spend every day at the Mississippi Archives from opening until closing looking at microfiche, microfilms, books, journals, collections, compilations of marriage records, census indexes – all of it revealing new names, filling in missing details, and printing proofs for most of my family lines back to about 1800. Since I was becoming a “regular”, the director and her assistants were worried that I’d go into labor at the Archives! That would’ve been OK with me to have my daughter born at my favorite genealogy place!

After my daughter was born, the only time I could do research was in the first months when babies sleep most of the time. I’d go to the Archives with my mom and car-seat stroller in hand, and stay until dinnertime. In time, though, the research slowed down a bit, and it became clear that it was time to hit the road.

Armed only with family group sheets and diapers, I found fascinating, old record books hundreds of years old while visiting county court records’ offices revealing land maps that show the plats where ancestors lived including their neighbors, original marriage bonds and licenses, tax and militia rolls, state censuses, original wills and estate inventories in MS, AL, SC, NC and TN!

I have found records and changed diapers in most of the archives and county seats across the South.  However, for me, the Mecca of all Archives where the angelic choir sings is the Library of Virginia in Richmond. When I visited Richmond with my young daughter and mom, it was for fun and seeing the old haunts where the first Rocketts lived. It wasn’t for research at the Library. Perhaps, someday. Maybe with a grandbaby and diapers in hand. Someday.

There and Back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost)

Earlier this month, watching my daughter board a plane for the first time to head overseas for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the Rocketts who boarded boats in England bound for colonial America. Who saw them off on their voyages? Who paid for their voyages? Were they motivated by wanderlust or money?

Since some of the colonies started out as money-making ventures, perhaps many families in England assumed their relatives would eventually come back. There must’ve been moms, sisters, or aunts who cried many tears seeing their family members get ready for their voyage, and like me, they must’ve wondered every day what new and exciting adventures were awaiting their child, brother, or niece. What new ideas, gifts, or illness would they bring back with them?

Many Rocketts, including my colonial Virginia line, were captains and mariners. My earliest Rockett ancestor in America, Baldwin Rockett, had 5 sons: Ware, appears to be a mariner who married and settled down in VA; Francis, a mariner who left VA later in life to spend his final days in the port area of Wapping, London, England; Baldwin Jr., a bachelor and mariner who lived in VA with no family of his own; John, a mariner who eventually left VA for NY; and Richard, my ancestor, who was a vestryman settling down in VA and who was a power of attorney for all of his brothers whenever they set sail! Baldwin’s estate inventory lists 6 Mapps (sic), which ended up in Richard’s estate inventory years later.  So, ships and the sea were part of their lives, whether they captained a ship or not.

Recently, it occurred to me that all of the research on these early Rocketts has been focused on church records, land records, wills, and court records, but none has been focused on maritime records. Having reached a bit of a dead-end on finding out more about Baldwin, I am hopeful that the sea and this new-found source type will reveal even more.