Archive for the ‘My Genealogy’ Category

Following Robert Thompson

In My Genealogy, Thompson on April 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM

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There is a curious grave near my Thompson ancestors’ grave in Reading, Berkshire, England.  It bears only the name Elizabeth Gill.  Is it coincidence that she bears the same surname of one of the Thompson wives?

That’s what started my little search this evening.  A quick glancing search through various online digitized records and there was a link between an Elizabeth Gill and a Robert Thompson.  Aha!  I have a (well, many actually) Robert Thompson!

So, I followed his life online.  How strange it is to follow a person’s life in 10 year increments (census to census), to boil their entire life down to a few pages of census printouts, and a couple of  entries.

It turns out this is not the Robert Thompson associated with Elizabeth Gill.  He is, however, my second great granduncle and it was about time I got to know him better.

He, like his siblings, was born in Devizes, Wiltshire in the 1830s.  In the 1850s he’s away at school with his brother, and by the 1860s he has moved, with the rest of the family (parents, siblings, etc) to Reading, Berkshire.  Like many of the siblings he followed in his father’s shopkeeping/selling footsteps.  He is listed in the subsequent census as a Pork Buther, Pork Curer, and Shopkeeper.

In his 30s he married a young woman named Rose.  She was from an adjacent county.

Through the years the couple had several nieces and nephews stay with them, including one, a Mabel Skinner (I haven’t fit her into the tree yet), who was with them at age 6, and remained until at least age 16.  It seems they never had any children of their own, and Rose confirms this in the 1911 census when she writes “none” in the column requesting the number of children born alive.  She’s a widow at that time.

Robert died in 1906, in Reading.  Rose lived until 1927 when she too passed away in Reading.  They both serve as yet further examples of the importance of following the dead-end branches of the family tree.  This couple has much more to tell more, and hopefully I’ll find out much more as I continue my research.


Hidden treasures

In Deacon, My Genealogy, Uncategorized, WWII on January 30, 2011 at 5:12 PM

This is the second time I’ve scanned this particular photo album.  The last time was over a decade ago.  And while I may have known at that time that there were negatives, which I was then unequipped to scan, in the back in a pouch, it seems I didn’t investigate the pouch any further.

Just now I pulled the negatives out, as I can now scan them.  But in with the negatives was a card, a Train Berthing Card, from 1946.  And beside it was a well-worn, folded newspaper clipping.  On the back it bears the date Saturday, Jan. 26, 1946, the Halifax Mail.  This was my biological grandfather coming home after WWII!  The title, “The Long Voyage Is Over” may have particularly reflected his own feelings as we know from his letters that he was rather seasick on the way over a few years earlier (not to mention finally being home, of course).

On the back is part of an article “Dockyard Men Ask 40 Hour Week” which is rather interesting as well:

“…Lashing out determinedly against critics of the plan who aver that industry must revert to peacetime levels of wages or close down industries, Mr. MacIntosh pointed out that the struggle to give workers “a little more time for leisure, for recreation, for study, for rest…without the necessity of the night and day toil that has meant so much drudgery in the past.” will not be won without opposition from big business magnates…”

It rather speaks to the adjustments that had to be made when the mean came home after the wars.  Interesting tidbit, I thought.

Taking a peek around the side of a brick wall

In Deacon, My Genealogy on January 15, 2011 at 9:41 AM

I spent a couple of days following down some Deacon-cousin lines in hopes it might shed some light on my brick wall.

I got to know (fellow genealogists, you know what I mean) several Deacons in those two days.  I watched as they were born, grew up, married, had their own families, and finally died.  They became my family.  I admired as one family, starting in Tintagel, Cornwall, went to Beesands, Devonshire and then onto Newton Abbot, St. Austell, Heavitree and Paddington.  The family dispersed and moved from slate quarrying to fishing to being In Service.

This reminded me how easy is can be to do this research at times, in fact many times.  It also contrasted with the research on my great-grandmother/brick wall.  Sometimes it is goood to be reminded of the other world, where folks registered and were registered where and when you’d expect them to be, and just how difficult your own research has become.  And while my research in those two days has not seemed to have shed light on my brick wall, it has rekindled hope nonetheless.

My Painters

In My Genealogy, Painter on September 16, 2010 at 9:41 AM

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It occurs to me that I have not written much about my Painters lately.  These are the folks who arrived in Saskatchewan ’round about 1903 from Missouri, possibly with a side trip to Oklahoma first (family rumours, no proof as yet).  Before Missouri they came from Virginia, or more correctly, what is today West Virginia.  That was about 1837.  Prior to Virginia…well now, there’s a mystery.  It seems likely, from perusing kinfolk’s research, that they may have come from Pennsylvania in the late 1700s, and prior to that, from the area we now know as Germany.

Somewhere in there, and it seems to be isolated to just their time in Virginia, some of the family used the surname Bender instead of Painter.  I wish I could find out why, but so far, no idea.  We do know that George registered his marriage to Sarah Smith under both George Bender and George Painter.  That was in 1809.  Once this George and Sarah took their entire family to Missouri, they all used Painter.  So it is, to me, a curious thing.

Another curious thing is how all their children, save one, were literate.  Well, rather the fact that their son Samuel H. could not sign his name (he used an “X” to sign documents) is the actual curious fact.  Now I can’t prove or disprove that he knew how to read of course.  It appears that the other siblings could all sign their name and presumably read as well.  So perhaps he was left-handed and writing posed a challenge for him.  I’m not sure being left-handed carried the same stigma in Virginia and Missouri as it did in other places, but it does seem to have been universally frowned upon.  In any case, I do know that further generations had their fair share of left-handers and I, oddly enough, skate like a left-hander (spin and jump rotations done “backwards”).  I tell folks I’m left-footed…lol.  Well, anyways, there’s a theory about poor ole Samuel H. Painter.  Don’t you just wish sometimes you could sit down at the dining room table with these ancestors and have a chat?

Deacons, Kestels, Hutchings and Williams’, Oh my!

In My Genealogy on September 7, 2010 at 8:58 PM

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Today I started a project, an attempt to sort out all these Cornish families who seem to have intertwined, intermarried and generally made things difficult for my family research.  I figured if I could take one of the lines back far enough, and then work all the branches forward, well, I might chip away at an old brick.  I realize this might sound like just throwing more bricks at the brick wall, and I cannot say it’s not a daunting task.

I had hoped that going back to the early 1800s or late 1700s would be far enough.  But some preliminary research in parish records and I can see I really need to go back to the oldest records accessible–the 1500s!

So this has me re-thinking my plan.

I am curious, though, as to why a mother would give the surname of her mother’s new husband to one of her sons…yes, I mean you Lucy Deacon (nee Kestle) naming your son William Hutchings Deacon.  What the heck is up with that.

There are many instances, and these I can understand, of the woman’s maiden name being used as middle names for most or all of the children.  That’s actually a bit of a helpful practice.

But then there’s Mary Kestel Hutchings, who appears to be marrying Thomas Williams Deacon in the mid-1800s…Kestel and Williams, Hutchings and Deacon, all had already married into each other for generations it seems.  How many cousins are marrying cousins, and how close cousins?

Time for bed, my head is reeling!

Little Blue Letters home, WWII

In My Genealogy, Treasures on June 24, 2010 at 8:06 AM

I’ve had the honour lately of reading many of the letters my biological grandfather wrote to my grandma while he was overseas during WWII.  He and grandma married about two months before he was shipped overseas.  They both turned 21 while he was over there.  The letters talk of his different postings and “joe jobs”, getting and giving the latest “gen”, the shows put on in the local town for the boys and the friends he’d made both in training and while over there.  But mostly they talk about his love for grandma, his contentedness at being a husband, his loneliness for her and frustration with the distance between them.  They read almost as a diaryand as the letter dates move onward, I can read how he is changing, become more mature and changing from a lovestruck boy into a husband.

Perhaps most striking to me is, however, how much he  is a part of me.  The way he writes, the things he chooses to write about, his outlook on life, and even the “blues” he suffers from time to time, all ring true in me.  I feel I know a man I never met almost as well as I know myself.  But perhaps that’s the romantic in me too.

Of course, I’m also armed with the knowledge of how long he ends up staying over there, how long it will be until he can hold his “little wife” in his arms again, and how short his life would be after he arrived home.  His dreams of a couple of children and a home of their own….well, they were not to be.  They did conceive one child before he fell so very ill and died when that child was just 13 months old.

So I wonder what he would have been like as a grandfather, what type of person he would have become as he aged and how our lives may’ve been different had he lived.

Grandma did not like to talk about those times or about him, which, frustrating as it was to me as family historian,  I’m beginning to understand a little better now.  They must have been wonderful & yet painful and frustrating times.  From being a new bride being left alone for several years, to finally having him home, to his falling ill and being in hospital for months before he died.  And those last ones happening while she was raising a toddler.  Memories left lying quietly, not relived simply because a granddaughter keeps asking questions.

Luckily grandma did find love again, and married the man I know as “grandpa”, and he too was a wonderful man who took us grandkids to the local corner store, pointed to the candy aisle and said “pick out what you want”.  So while I will never really know my biological grandfather, the grandpa I had was a kind and marvellous man in himself.  Even if I don’t have his genes to give me some extra height.  😉

Treasure is an Unknown postcard, Plymouth

In Deacon, My Genealogy, Treasures on June 3, 2010 at 8:22 AM

This postcard was found in my grandmother’s things.  It has a carefully placed pin or tack holes at the centre top and bottom, leading me to believe it was pinned up at some time.  Grandma never went to England.  And some quick research on phone numbers in Plymouth leads me to believe this postcard predates her birth.  Some more admittedly hopeful elimination and I believe this postcard belonged to my mysterious great-grandmother.  Is this yet another clue to her secretive past?

Are there any postcard afficiandos out there who can perhaps tell me any more about this postcard?  I wonder how common it was in the early 1900s to have postcards made up of restaurants/businesses.  Can the interior of the restaurant tell me anything about what sort of restaurant it was, what clientelle it may’ve attracted?  What ever happened to Jones’ Restaurant at 3 Union Street, Plymouth?  Would the “85” (or “B5”?) in the corner itself be simply a photographers mark on the negative, or does it have other meanings?  Perhaps it’s just me being optimistic, but is that a man sitting in the back booth at the far right side?  Other than the telephone number, are there any other things that might point to this postcard dating to the 1905-1908 time period, or any other time period?

A simple postcard, so many questions.

So I attended a lecture I didn’t think interested me…

In Deacon, General Genealogy, My Genealogy on May 2, 2010 at 5:50 AM

at the NGS (National Genealogical Society) Conference yesterday.  You see, I don’t have an Illegitimate births in my family tree.  Or so I thought.

My brick wall, my great-grandmother, Miss Elusive herself, well, I had two expert opinions on her case this week.  Yup, looks like she’s illegitimate.  This they got from the fact that her Father’s name and profession or left blank on her marriage certificate (this is in Wales).  So suddenly, a session I had completely discounted as of interest to me, became very interesting indeed!  Funny how quickly we family historians can change our minds and find ourselves learning a subject we never thought we would.  Love it!!

Mystery pics–Wordless Wednesday

In My Genealogy on April 13, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Wordless because I don’t know who they are, when they were taken, or where.  Two boys or a girl and a boy?  Shorts or short-pants?

Same goes for this one.  Anyone out there have any clues?

Topic courtesy of Geneabloggers.

Happiness is…

In My Genealogy, Treasures on April 10, 2010 at 6:53 AM

Oooooooooooooo!!  Look at ALL that stuff!!!  Pictures, documents, letters, cards and who knows what else!    Yup, that is three boxes of grandma’s things sitting on my table, kindly lent to me by relatives, waiting to be scanned and documentented.  A genealogical treasure chest to be sure.  If you don’t see or hear from me in the next while, you know what I’m up to.  Too bad there aren’t daily ScanFests.

Oh, and don’t panic, the can of air in the background is for an iPod Nano repair I’m attempting.