Last week, I mentioned that I was going to meet up with a distant relative, Steve Leake at the weekend who had recently contacted me regards assisting him with some genealogical research into his Van Ristell family in India.
I had never come across the Van Ristell family before, so when I contacted Steve for further information, my chin hit the floor when he emailed to me a photo of my great grandfather, John Walker Campbell.
Steve had thought that the photo was of his gt. gt. grandfather, Albert Edward Van Ristell. At the time neither of us realised that the connection that linked us both was that Albert Van Ristell's wife, had married John Walker Campbell's youngest sister, Caroline Campbell.
When I emailed the exact same photo back to Steve, we knew we had to talk. It was then that Steve searched through his records and made the connection between the Van Ristell's and the Campbell's and we discovered that we each own copies of the same photographs.
We have now discovered that we share common ancestors in the Campbell family from Ghazipur and Patna in Bengal.
On Sunday when we met up, it was a great day with us both sharing information and photographs and filling in gaps in one another's family trees. We chatted and theorised about different family members over four and half hours that flew by much too quickly.
Since that first initial contact, between us we have managed to track down even more family members in the last week whom we hope will be able to shed even more light on this branch of our family.
Steve is due to fly out to India next month in search of our ancestors and I have given him copies of records and maps in my possession so that he can go there with confidence to different cemeteries and search for some of our ancestor's graves. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that he can find their graves and that they will have headstones on them.
We have already discussed making a trip to India together, possibly next year to carry out further research over a much wider area in search of the Campbell's and other family members.
In the meantime, we will try to gather as much information as we can about our family and the other branches that married into the Campbell's in the hope that we can finally identify the many faces in our photo albums that are currently unidentified.
After 38 years it appears it feels that the Campbell's are finally coming out of the woodwork... or should that be the ether?