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Vancouver Islander reunites with lost family tree going back to 1500s

Marianne Hall lost the wallpaper with the family tree penciled in after moving

Marianne Hall, who started working on her family tree on the back of a piece of wallpaper in 1999, has been reunited with it after parting from it following a house move.

“It’s marvellous to have it back,” says Hall. “Because now I’m a great-grandmother, so now there’s another young individual who will likely be interested over the years.”

The wallpaper was found at a thrift store by Cristine Lund who was thinking of cutting up the six feet long sheet of wallpaper for lining furniture. Luckily, she noticed a detailed family tree including dates from the 1500s with a bunch of details including Anglo-Saxon names, birth dates, and dates of death.

“I was surprised at how big it was…” she says. “The dates grabbed my attention because, at quick glance, I didn’t see anything more recent than the 1800s. Then I thought that I can’t use this in my hobbies… I can’t cut it up, it might be important to someone.”

So Lund appealed to a Facebook group, where she received tips to contact the Campbell River Genealogy Society and media.

Hall’s daughter saw a segment on the TV about the mystery $2 wallpaper with a detailed family tree on the back, done in pencil. She recognized some of the names, thought the writing looked familiar and told Hall she thought it looked like wallpaper she would choose.

She decided to contact the Genealogy Society, which connected Lund and Hall.

After her aunt travelled to England in 1998, meeting with cousins, she decided to sketch out the family tree going off a rough drawing with all the information the cousins knew at the time. Unfortunately, the aunt passed away shortly after returning.

“So the piece of paper came into my hands and I thought this was interesting so I pursued it,” says Hall. “I got quite a ways back and I’m not somebody who feels like you need to get way, way back, but just far enough back.”

Most of her work comes from church records in England from where her ancestors used to live, allowing her to get as far back as the 1740s. From there, she was able to research as far back as the late 1500s.

“It was very different in 1999. You had to order in film and wait for it to come from Salt Lake City,” Hall says. “Sometimes it wasn’t easy to read the records either. It wasn’t a quick process and sometimes I’m amazed at how people use … That just goes to show you (what) a few years’ difference can make.”

Hall also expressed her gratitude to Lund for pursuing her search for the owner of the family tree, instead of using it as drawer lining. She also noted the two had a lot of things in common, calling her a new friend.

Hall plans to continue the family tree calling it a project for this spring.

“I’m always sort of looking. I like to do a puzzle. Until it’s totally done, every time you walk by it you go “hm.”

About the Author: Brendan Jure

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