Archive for the ‘Deacon’ Category

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.

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!!

Madness Monday–Grandma Deac

In Deacon, My Genealogy on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

She looks kind enough, from stories she was a very nice woman, but she is driving me crazy….

The “facts” as I have them for this particulary circular madness:

Beatrice Annie Deacon, aka Grandma Deac (pronounced deek), working backwards (from copies of original documents):

Death Registration, 1968, lists maiden name Walsh, born England, birth 6 Oct 1882, parents born England (names unknown)

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, lists maiden name Walsh, born Dublin, Ireland

Son’s death registration, 1947, lists maiden name Walsh, born Ireland.

1941 National Registration, lists birth Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, entered Canada 1913, birth 6 Oct 1891

Son’s birth registration (husband is infomant), 1923, maiden name Deacon, born Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, age 41 (ie b. 1882)

Stillborn baby’s death registration (husband informant), 1921, mother listed as Agnes Catherine, born Ireland.  Agnes Catherine, I believe, was to be the baby’s name as I’ve found Mass being said for her in other documentation.

Daughter’s birth registration (husband informant), 1918, maiden name Deacon, born England.

I have been unable to find her on any passenger list in 1913 (or surrounding years), but unfortunately not all lists survive.

There is an old postcard from Jones’ Restaurant in Plymouth, Devon dating from around 1907-1914 time period (judging from telephone number).  Family stories indicate they may have met in Plymouth.

Mr Deacon, working backwards (from copies of original documents:

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, father born Cornwall, England

Son’s death registration, 1947, father born England.

His own death registration, 1926, born England, Occupation Waiter, father Kestel Deacon born England 5 Jun 1882,  mother not known, “in Canada” 13 years (1913).  (Beatrice is informant)

Will mentions only wife by name and “my children” (not listed), 1926.

Son’s birth registration, 1923, father English, born Cornwall, England, Waiter, age 42 (ie b. Jun 1882). (He is informant)

Stillborn baby’s death registration, 1921, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Daughter’s birth registration, 1918, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Passenger List, 1913, Wm Deacon, Waiter (both Occupation from which he came and intended occupation in Canada), England, married.  Oh, on the exiting Passenger List he is 26 years old (ie. b. 1887).  When he arrives in Canada 9 days later he is 32 years old (ie. b. 1881).

Possible Marriage registration, 1909, Wales, resides Plymouth, Waiter, father William Kestel Deacon, Labourer.

So those are the “facts” such as I have them.  I have been to Dublin, Ireland and searched for Beatrice Annie’ Walsh’s birth registration.  It does not exist.  There is a candidate or two in England however.

So, is Grandma Deac Irish or English, Walsh or Deacon, or something entirely different altogether?  HELP!

In the 1911 English Census is a William Henry, waiter, and his wife Beatrice Annie Deacon.  He is born in Cornwall, she in Devon.  They’ve been married 2 years.  Shortly after the census they have a son, Lawrence Deacon born at the same address to William Henry, waiter, and Beatrice Annie, nee Deacon.  I have no Lawrence in my tree, no Lawrence’s death is registered in England or in BC (I might have to check Ontario).  There are no family stories of a son that died.  There is available online, however, the story of a Lawrence Deacon who was hung for murder after WWII in Manitoba, Canada.  His mother, Beatrice Deacon (aged 35), and he (aged 8 ) came to Canada from England in 1919.  They were going to her mother in Manitoba.  I have been unable to find any other Lawrence Deacon’s born around 1911 anywhere in England.

Searching for any other Deacon Waiters brings up no other leads.  There are other William Deacons, but they are blacksmiths or in the navy and can be followed through the census’, not marrying a Beatrice or not marrying at all.  Beatrice Walsh searches lead nowhere (there are some, but not born in Ireland).  Beatrice Deacon searches lead me back to the Beatrice Deacon in Plymouth in 1911 with her son Lawrence.

I suppose the trick is to discern what is “fact” from what is “fiction” in the documents I currently have.  I have racked my brain for other documents that might exist.  Mr Deacon’s employment records with the CPR, if they still exist, are not accessible (the CPR archives adamantly insist they are not available for research).  The son’s military records reconfirm the Walsh-Dublin, Ireland information.  English WWI records were mostly destroyed in the Blitz so I’m unable to confirm or deny any military service on Mr Deacon’s part.  The postcard I have for Jones’ Restaurant on Union St in Plymouth gives me a rough date of 1907-1914 (from the telephone number), but no such restaurant is listed in online historical directories for Plymouth.

Other family tidbits:  Her daughter was named for a much-loved deceased brother.  She was in a hospital growing up, presumably for something like TB.  She had the following growing up:  a pony, an irish setter, and a nanny who smoked corn cob pipes.  Or, she was an orphan growing up.  After her husband’s death in 1926, she withdrew the children from public school and put them into a private Catholic school.  She was apparently a very devout Catholic as well as anyone can remember, and both she and her husband are buried in the Catholic portion of the cemetery.  Her husband, on the Passenger List, is listed as C of E (Church of England, Anglican).  He died in the local public hospital, St. Paul’s, run in conjuction with the Catholic Church (perhaps she converted/returned to Catholicism through this time?  The nuns felt for her, a widow with young children, and she got a job in the kitchen at St. Paul’s after her husband’s death).

So very many “ifs, ands, or buts”.  I feel fairly confident about the 1909 marriage being them, largely due to the unusual name of Kestel.  But anything else in England or Ireland is questionable.  I’ve tirelessly searched census after census in Canada, the UK and Ireland for anyone who resembles them.  I’ve searched out leads through marriage witnesses who, quite nicely, lead back to the Deacon family of Cornwall.  Grandma Deac, for whatever reason, obscured her family history, and apparently she did a very good job of it.

Perhaps, one day, someone researching a collateral branch of one of their trees will find a missing Beatrice Annie and a mystery will be solved.

Lost Family

In Deacon, My Genealogy on January 28, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Watching Ancestors in the Attic (History Channel) tonight reminded me of my grandaunt’s baby girl.  The story goes that she was adopted out through, possibly, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.  The family who adopted her may have moved to Victoria.  I have searched, off and on, to find her or any family she may have had.  No luck yet.

It’s another tragic story in the Deacon recent-history.  My grandaunt loved and was engaged to the baby’s father either at the time or shortly afterwards, however the baby was born out of wedlock, and being a good Catholic family, that was a no-no.  As it happens, the baby’s father died of pneumonia within a short time, before they had married, at the tender age of 21.

The story continues.  My grandaunt loved kids.  She did marry later, but it ended up  she could not conceive–she had ovarian cancer.  That cancer took more than a decade before it claimed her life at the age of 38.

Her brother, my grandfather, died of Banti’s disease at age 24.

This is my brick wall family.  My grandfather and grandaunt’s mother was Beatrice Annie (or Anne).  Paperwork I have says her maiden name was Walsh, and that she was born in “Dublin, Ireland”.  She had only the two children, and one stillborn in between, that I am aware of.  Their father, her husband, died in 1926 at age 45 (intestinal blockage–can you imagine?) when the kids were just young.  She herself lived to 75 or 85, depending on which document you believe regarding her birthdate.  They seem to me to be a family who went through more tragedies than many.

My brick wall & Irish research

In Deacon, My Genealogy on January 6, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Great-grandma Deac was, supposedly, born in Dublin in October 1882, and has a maiden name of Walsh.  I say supposedly because I have been to Dublin and done the research and can find no record of her.  In any case, I’m always on the lookout for new Irish sources being made available on line.

One of my favourites of course is the Canadian-Irish joint project to get both the 1911 & 1901 Irish censuses indexed and images online.  The 1911 is now fully searchable at with both transcriptions and images of the original householder forms available free.  I have to say I am quietly proud of our Canadian government for having the foresight to participate in this project.

Today I found another promising source.  Right now it “only” has church records from Counties Kerry & Dublin, but it sounds like there might be more in the future.  It’s funded by the Irish Minstry for Art, Sport and Tourism so is government funded, and it’s free.  It appears to offer transcriptions only at this point, but it does give references should one wish to follow up.  Find the site at

And yes, I’ve searched for grandma Deac to no avail.  Hope still lives.

New Year’s Genealogical Goals

In Deacon, General Genealogy, Thompson on December 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

I’m not usually one to do New Year’s resolutions–as my dad would say, I once made a resolution to never make resolutions and have kept it to this day.  However, goals are always a good idea.

I will finally order my grand-aunty Fran’s birth registration this year to see if it will shed any light on my secretive (aka brick wall) great-grandmother Deacon.  “Grandma Deac” has woven a pretty intricate trail, even if she didn’t mean to, and I have been on it for a decade or so now.  If nothing new comes up on said birth registration, then I shall let grandma Deac keep her secrets.  For now.

About two years ago I started getting copies of all the required documentation to prove my research.  I will continue this, as well as scanning (join Miriam over at AnceStories the last Sunday of every month for ScanFest) and transcribing it all into my program (Rootsmagic).

I would like to find out what ever became of my aunts Annie (nurse)  & Mary (music teacher) Thompson after World War I.  That will mean learning a few new research techniques, as I have not needed to do much research in the more modern era (what do you do when there are no censues?!).

I hope you and yours have a Happy and Healthy New Year!