I doubt that I am the only person who, when planning a vacation, looks to see if there are any genealogical opportunities in the area in which I am visiting. I don't care where it is that I am heading there has never been a time when I haven't checked to see if there just might be some connection to my family. Even if my ancestors were nowhere near the location, I check to see if the public, or maybe a college, library has a good collection of family history or genealogy resources that I can sneak a look at in a moment of free time. Call me what you will, but I just can't help myself!
Our recent trip to San Francisco was no exception. When the possibility of the trip was mentioned last summer, my brain kicked into gear. I mentally went down my list of ancestors and all the locations that they found themselves to find my great great grandfather, Samuel Jackson Nower, who went to California in search of gold, enlisted in the Union Army in 1865, and was stationed at the little fort named Fort Point right there in San Francisco.
Now, my husband and I are not really what you would call great vacation planners. We buy a guide book just so we have an idea of the sightseeing opportunities, and then when we get to our destination, we take it day by day with a little help from the hotel concierge. San Francisco was fairly easy and we hardly looked at our guidebook before we left South Carolina. After all, who hasn't heard of Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, sour dough bread, and the Golden Gate Bridge? We knew that we would be sure to see the standard tourist fare. The only exception to our day by day "planning" was my obsessive desire to get to Fort Point.
Our first full day in San Francisco was the usual tourist day. Hilga, a great concierge by the way, showed us her "famous" walking tour that took us up and down hills through Chinatown, North Beach (home to some fabulous Italian restaurants with fabulously delicious food), the zig-zaggy Lombard Street, Telegraph Hill, and on to Fisherman's Wharf. It was a great day, but still no Fort Point.
I knew that the second day, Sunday, was my chance as we had scheduled a rental car for a trip up the coast on Monday and our tickets to Alcatraz were for Tuesday. I truly doubt that the concierge, not Hilga, had ever had someone ask how to get to Fort Point! After trying, unsuccessfully, to talk us into visiting Golden Gate Park which by the way is nowhere near the bridge of the same name, she finally described an hour and a half walk that would take us to the Golden Gate Bridge and to Fort Point. Maybe I should have explained to her why I was so obsessed about Fort Point instead of the bridge, but she didn't seem the type to be interested. She just couldn't get past the idea that we didn't want to visit the art or science museum or listen to the free band concert that is held each Sunday in the park. Oh well, to each his own! I was off to visit the world of my ancestor!
I won't take the space to describe my visit here. I did that on my family history blog complete with pictures. Here's the link - Walking in Samuel Nower's Footsteps I will tell you this though. While I absolutely loved San Francisco and all of the traditional tourist sights and activities, I cherish the time I spent at Fort Point. I am thankful I was able to visit that little fort. I am also thankful that I married a man who understood my feelings while standing on the very ground my ancestor stood upon almost 150 years ago and who indulged me by standing on the top of the fort in the extremely cold, and what felt like hurricane force, wind so I could look down at the view Samuel Jackson Nower, my great great grandfather, also looked down upon. Every girl should be so lucky!
I do hope you will visit my other blog to read about my wonderful experience and, I also hope that the next time you plan a vacation or trip, you will be able to sneak in a little family history. I guarantee it will stay with you forever!