#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Travel

I traveled a lot growing up. I was born in Spain, lived in Seattle and San Diego, started school in Scotland (aged 4). While living in the UK, my grandmothers flew over and we spent 30 days touring Europe. I attended at least seven elementary schools. Two junior highs and two high schools. My parents bought a travel trailer, later a motorhome, later a bigger motorhome, and we went to Good Sam campouts and “Good Samborees” all the time. My mom reminds me of the time when I was little and she said, “Look at the mountain,” or whatever it was, and I said, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”

Bill and Auriette Hahn in Mexico (1966)

Bill and Auriette Hahn in Mexico (1966)


As an adult, my mom and I drove Interstate 10 from Florida to Las Angeles, because I wanted to attend the 10th Anniversary Star Wars Convention. Driving was cheaper than flying and she didn’t want me to go all that way alone. I was 21. On the way, we crossed the border into Juárez, and we stopped at a tourist trap that advertised for miles. (“You must see The Thing!” the billboard exclaimed, and so of course, I couldn’t pass it by.) We drove through Saguaro National Park and I took pictures of every cactus we passed. No more, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”

Doing family history research makes me realize how easy we had it on all our travels. I can’t imagine leaving the old country, sailing for weeks on a ship, and landing in a strange new place. I’d seen pictures and film of the Grand Canyon before mom and I stopped there on our 1987 trip. They couldn’t do it justice, but I had an idea. What must those early travelers have thought to see it for the first time?

Most of my family settled in the South. The road from the Carolinas through Georgia to Florida and Alabama would have been long and hard. When they arrived to homestead on their land grant, they had to cut down trees, clear stumps and rocks, build a house from the ground up.

One of the late arrivals to Florida were my great-grandparents Arthur Thomas Cook and Dorcas Elizabeth Allison. The Allisons had traveled by train from Georgia to Oklahoma. The story is that their mother, Delila Bruce Cook, was killed in a train wreck on the way. Their father S. John Allison died soon after, from grief. Dollie would have been about 14 at the time. Her brother James Frank Allison about 16. The children – at least the older ones – returned to Georgia. Dollie married Arthur, and they moved to Escambia County, Florida, about 300 miles southwest of their home in Marion County, Georgia. I’m not sure how they got down here – by wagon or train or stagecoach.

Zenova and Auriette Hahn arriving in New Mexico (1966)

Zenova and Auriette Hahn arriving in New Mexico (1966)

A great-great grandfather on another line – Origen Thompson – may have driven a stagecoach. The 1880 Census shows his profession as “teamster” and his sister-in-law Georgiana Hammond Thompson’s father ran a stagecoach station in Stockton, Alabama. I never imagined stagecoaches in the South; to me that’s an Old West image from cowboy movies.

When I was one year old, my mom, dad, and I traveled west by Mustang, of the Ford variety. Interstate 10 didn’t exist then — at least not all the way. Mom says we took Highway 98 – well known to me as a scenic route here in Florida – all the way to California, then drove up the coast to Seattle. We crossed into Mexico and stopped at souvenir shops and saw the redwood forest covered in snow, a journey of days and convenience that would, just a couple of generations earlier, been a months-long effort of danger and determination.

Auriette Hahn in the Ford Mustang looking at snow. (1966)

Auriette Hahn in the Ford Mustang looking at snow. (1966)

This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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