Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

September 14, 2014

Certificate Frederick Swindells, a Power Loom Overlooker Found

 This lovely print was discovered in a local antique shop yesterday and I wanted to share it in case a descendant wishes to purchase it.

The handwritten label, signed by 3 men, reads:

This is to certify that Fred W. Swindells was admitted a member of the above General Union in the Leigh District on the 5th of July 1907

The bottom of the certificate reads  

"Campbell & Tudhope  Chromo Lith  Glasgow"

The Union is the General Union Associations of Power Loom Overlookers. The seller is asking $250.00 and the Antique Store is the Barrie Antiques Centre in Barrie Ontario Canada.

Being the curious sort I couldn't resist looking for Fred W Swindell on To my delight I found him in the 1911 census with his wife Emily.

He is listed as a Silk & Cotton Weaving Overlooker, age 25 and born Macclesfield, Cheshire, England but living in the Leigh District of Lancashire England.  His full name is recorded as Frederick William Swindell.

Wondering how his certificate ended up in Ontario Canada I checked immigration records on and found him visiting England in various years - and listed as a citizen of Canada. So it appears he settled in Canada at some point in time.

Update: I just found Emily Swindells arriving in Canada in 1921, heading to join her husband in Guelph Ontario. That is where both my parents were born and my roots there go back to the 1840s.

August 5, 2014

Sneak Peek Tomorrow Night's Who Do You Think You Are!

Sneak Peek Tomorrow Night's Who Do You Think You Are!
Image courtesy of TLC
Tomorrow night's episode at 9PM ET/PT on TLC and with as a sponsor features Rachel McAdams and her sister, Kayleen

Rachel McAdams and her younger sister Kayleen go on a journey together to unearth their maternal roots, since their mother knows so little about her history. First they follow the trail of their English grandfather's family, and find an ancestor who sacrificed much of his personal freedom to support his wife and children. 

Then, while tracking their grandmother's side, Rachel and Kayleen discover just how deeply connected they are to Canada and a pivotal moment in Canadian history.

Here's a sneak peek at tomorrow night's episode

June 12, 2014

Tutorial #1: Adding Facts & Photos on Lives of the First World War

Lives of the First World War is a wonderful new website but it is rather complicated to use. Since I have been using the site for some time as a beta tester, I've developed a tutorial on adding photos, documents and facts to a soldier's Life Story:
Search for a soldier of interest. Click on the name when it appears in the results page. A new page loads (image below)
If you want to add a photo you click on "upload an image" If you wish to add other evidence such as a URL or a transcription from a document you click on "Add an External Reference" Note that you cannot add a fact until you have added the evidence.

As an example I know when Leonard Peer died. But I can't add that fact until I add the supporting  evidence, such as a death certificate or gravestone or obituary.

 I want to add a photo of Leonard so I chose "Upload an image"
After uploading my image I can see my caption "Leonard Lancelot Peer" added to the Evidence list. Clicking on his name opens a new window (below) with the photo I uploaded and the option to make this photo his profile picture. There is also an option to add facts from his photo. So if his photo had writing on the back giving some information such as his date of birth or his parents' names for example, I could add those facts now. 

Now I want to add Leonard's data from his gravestone in Woodlawn Cemetery. I have the plot number and inscription. I'm not uploading an image but I am choosing to Add an External Reference. Below you can see the new window that pops up. I must fill out each field as all are required. The field for Reference Number can be filled out with "No Reference Number available" or you could put the Plot and Grave Number.
After adding a few external references I can go back and see the new list of Evidence for Leonard. This is when I get to start adding the facts from each piece of evidence.

Clicking on the Woodlawn Cemetery Records I just added brings up yet another window. This window displays the information you added earlier and has a button to select so that you can add facts such as Leonard's death date to his Life Story
And here you are in the area where facts can be added. There is a lengthy list for various topics such as family, civilian, military and so on. Because this fact is based on his Cemetery Record only, I now add his year of death. This is the window you will see no matter what evidence you click on. So if I had clicked on his Marriage Certificate Evidence that I previously entered, I would add his date of marriage, his spouse's name and his parents' names here in the Facts section.
That is all there is to adding to a soldier's Life Story. The site is not easy to use but once you get the hang of it, it is simple repetition and following specific steps. 


1. Choose a soldier of interest

2. Add EVIDENCE (documents, certificates, gravestone information, photos, URL to an online bio, etc)

3. Now add FACTS that are found with each specific piece of EVIDENCE. For example a gravestone usually provides birth and death dates, the soldier's full military file provides other details, a birth certificate provides parents' names, etc.


Do you plan on adding Life Stories or photos to several soldiers' Stories? If like me you probably won't remember who you've added and who you have left to add, here is an easy tip. Click on the REMEMBER icon under the soldier's name after you have added his or her details. By going into your Account and choosing your Dashboard, a list of all your Remembered soldiers appears.

Watch for my next Tutorial on creating a Community.

May 30, 2014

Reading 16th Century English Records

Call me a geeky nerd but I love the challenge of old handwriting. This image on the left is the baptism record of my 11th great-grandmother Martha Barrett. 

It took me awhile to find her on the page but by scrutinizing the handwriting of all entries I was eventually able to recognize her first name and the surname. This entry reads: 

28 of October was baptised Martha
daughter of Henry Barrett
Isn't the handwriting beautiful??!
I used to decipher 16th and 17th century Dutch handwriting - at first I struggled but after a few years I was sort of getting the hang of it. In fact I have some tutorials on my blog in case any of my readers are researching in the same time frame and country. If you think it will help, please see How to Read 16th & 17th Century Handwriting
By the way I was pretty thrilled to find this baptism for Martha. Next I'm going to look for the marriage of her parents. Wish me luck!

May 12, 2014

Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise

Unlock the Past Genealogy CruiseReady for a sea trip? Join the Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise British Discovery

Date: 10 nights 19-29 July 2014
Ship: Marco Polo (Cruise & Maritime Voyages)
Cost: from £1199 twin share

  • day 1 – depart Tilbury, London – 6pm
  • day 2 – at sea
  • day 3 – Invergordon, Scotland – 7.30am-10pm
  • day 4 – Kirkwall, Orkney Islands – 7am-6pm
  • day 5 – Stornoway, Outer Hebrides – 7.30am-10pm
  • day 6 – Tobermory, Isle of Mull – 7.30am-4pm
  • day 7 – Dublin, Ireland – 8am-5.45pm
  • day 8 – St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly - 9am-6pm
  • day 9 – St Peter Port, Guernsey - 7.30am-6pm
  • day 10 – Honfleur, France –  9am-5pm
  • day 11 – arrive Tilbury, London – 9am

May 8, 2014

The Childen's Home Website Now Online

The Childen's Home Website Now Online
The first phase of The Children's Home website by Peter Higginson is now live. According to Peter who also created The Workhouse website:
The Children's Homes website aims to provide information on all of the many and varied institutions that — for whatever reason — became home for thousands of children and young people in Britain. They include a wide variety of establishments ranging from orphanages, homes for those in poverty, and children with special needs, through to reformatories, industrial and approved schools, training ships, and hostels.
Peter did an amazing job with his Workhouse website and I have no doubt that his Children's Home site will be as detailed. 

If you have British ancestors from the United Kingdom you won't want to miss this. For those looking for ancestors in N. American Orphanages please see Orphan & Orphanage Records for links to online databases

Credit: Photo of orphan children courtesy of Family Tree Connection.

May 1, 2014

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online - A Contest!

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online
John Wormald age 11
Reform School 1892, and have recently published some fascinating reformatory school and prison records from West Yorkshire. The West Yorkshire Collection 1779-1914 details the crimes of thousands of boys admitted to Calder Farm Reformatory, East Moor Community Home School and The Shadwell Children’s Centre.
The records are available using these links:  
I spent a very enjoyable afternoon searching these records for my son's Yorkshire ancestors on his father's side.  They are full of details! For example I found the Reform School Record for the 11 year brother of his great-grandmother Kate Wormald. Little John Wormald was sent to Calder Farm Reform School in 1892 after a series of thefts. His records included his photo and details of his misdeeds and the punishment meted out by his parents (6 lashes of a birch rod each time he stole something). Young John was noted as having red hair, blue eyes and freckles.

The records indicate that John was hanging with a bad crowd and so in desperation his parents sent him to live with an uncle. John then stole a substantial sum of money from his uncle's coat pocket and ran off with one of his friends. It was then he was arrested and sent to Reform School for 5 years.

What I also found fascinating was that the Reform School records also had followups of the children after they were discharged. I noted that several of the boys went into the Army after discharge and appeared to have changed their lives. Young John Wormald went into the Army and there are notes for several years about his life after discharge. It seems that England was at that time trending towards actual reform and not punishment of young offenders.

If you would like to participate in a contest being offered by Olive Tree Genealogy, I am able to offer a 3 month subscription to as the prize. 

Entry Details

1. Search through either the West Yorkshire England Reformatory School Records 1856-1914 or the
West Yorkshire, England, Prison Records, 1801-1914 and choose an interesting case.

2. Post a brief summary of the case you found interesting as a comment on this blog post. Be sure to include the name of the individual and the date of his or her committment and whether the person was in the Reform School Records or the Prison Records. Also include your full name.

3. Share the URL for this blog post. You may share it using Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc, or on your own blog or newsletter.

Contest Rules:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. The  most interesting entry wins. One winner will be chosen from entries received. See details above for entry requirements
3. The contest ends at midnight EDT Monday May 5, 2014
4. You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
5. The winner's name will be posted here on Olive Tree Genealogy blog on Wednesday May 7, 2014. Winner must then contact me at to claim their prize.
Please note that if you do not already have a subscription to you will be required to create a free account in order to view the records.

April 22, 2014

The Poignant Story of a Lost Child on the Titantic

The Poignant Story of a Lost Child on the Titantic
RMS Titantic List of 1st Class Passengers Who Drowned - Allison Family UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912
A 2 year old child, thought to be lost when the Titanic sank, is at the crux of this story. Lorraine Allison and her parents were all reported as dead but only her father's body was ever recovered.

Years later a woman  named Helen Kramer came forward claiming to be Lorraine and stating she had been rescued but no one knew who she was. The Allisons were a wealthy Canadian family and refused to accept that Helen was Lorraine, believing it was a hoax to obtain money.

Helen  and her family waged a long war to be accepted by the Allison family. In the end DNA evidence revealed the truth - that she was not Lorraine. However the years of insisting she was indeed Lorraine resulted in a great deal of drama including restraining orders imposed by the Allison family.

The very intriguing and you can read more about it at Lost child of the Titanic and the fraud that haunted her family

This story intrigued me so I did a little research on the family. Hudson Allison, Lorraine's father is found in the 1901 census living in Chesterville Ontario, which happens to be where the Allison family burial ground is located. Hudson was born in 1881 in Winchester Township, Dundas County Ontario. His birth registration found on shows him given the name Hudson Joshua Creighton Allison by his parents  Jessie R. Allison and Phebe [sic] Johnston.

October 1909 saw the family of Hudson, wife Bessie and daughter Helen Lorraine sail from Montreal to England on board The Megantic. Hudson appears to have been a frequent traveler, no doubt for his business as he also appears on the passenger list for the Campania sailing from Liverpool England to New York in April 1911.
In fact the 1911 census for England shows him staying at the Carlton Hotel in London. He is listed as a 30 year old Financial Broker.

He also appears in the 1911 Census for Canada with his wife Bessie, 24, born in Wisconsin and his two children Lorraine 2 and baby Hudson 5 months old. Further research shows that his wife Bessie was born in Wisconsin to Arville and Sarah Daniels.

The Allison family memorial is found in Chesterille Ontario and shows that baby Hudson was rescued but died at the age of 18.

The Portland Press Herald printed a death notice for Hudson Trevor Allison on Friday August 9th 1929. It read:

"Ocean Park, Aug 8 -- Hudson Trevor Ellison [sic] age 18, of Westmount, P.Q, who had been passing a vacation with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Ellsion[sic] on Seaside Avenue, died Thursday after a short illness as the result of ptomaine poisoning. The body was taken during the day to Chesterville, P.Q for burial."

Photo of Allison Family Memorial by Shirley Hacket on Find-A-Grave published as permitted by photographer

April 9, 2014

One Man in England Saves 5000 WW1 Photos from Being Destroyed

One Man in England Saves 5000 WW1 Photos frrom Being Destroyed
Screen Dump from BBC News Sussex website
This is a fascinating story about an ordinary man in England who took it on himself to save and preserve WW1 photos, cards, letters and other objects from the dump. 

Bob Smethurst worked at collecting garbage for decades. In the early days there were garbage pails that had to be dumped into the trucks. As  these pails were dumped, papers and photos were easily spotted. Not wanting some of the lovely photos of soldiers and WW1 postcards he saw to be lost forever, Smethurst began saving them. Little did he know that he would end up with over 5000 photographs and letters, some of them very rare.

Mr. Smethurst defines himself as a custodian of these documents and is making plans on what should happen to the collection. 

This is a fascinating story and how I would love to visit Mr. Smethurst and look through is amazing collection.

For more details and photos see Revealed: Extraordinary collection of 5,000 WWI photographs salvaged from RUBBISH DUMPS by a former dustman and Sussex dustman saved rare WW1 photographs

March 28, 2014

FamilySearch Update: Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States

FamilySearch Update: Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States
FamilySearch Adds Close to 11.1 Million Indexed Records and Images to Collections from Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the United States

FamilySearch has added close to 11.1 million indexed records and images to collections from Barbados, BillionGraves, Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.

Notable collection updates include the 1,703,529 indexed records from the U.S., Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1846–1910, collection; the 766,368 indexed records and images from the new Canadian Headstones, collection; and the 2,917,490 indexed records from the England, Kent, Register of Electors, 1570–1907, collection. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: Hannah Philpot Golding and George Norris - Friends With Benefits?

52 Ancestors: Hannah Philpot Golding and George Norris - Friends With Benefits?
Pluckley, Kent England
I'm writing about my 3rd great grandmother Hannah Philpot Golding as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and also as part of Women's History Month Challenge

Hannah was born in 1805 in the little hamlet of Pluckley in Kent England to John & Susanna Philpot. 

Pluckley is said to be the most haunted village in England. At age 18, Hannah left Pluckley for Lenham, a nearby small town. There she married Edward Golding and over the next 14 years the couple had 6 children. When their youngest was 9 months old Edward died and Hannah was left a widow at the age of 28. 

Church in Lenham
Hannah had no family in Lenham but luckily she was able to take in laundry to support her young family. My mother went to Lenham to research my 2nd great grandmother Georgiana Golding who was born there in 1840. To our surprise Georgiana's mother Hannah was noted in the church record as "the widow Hannah Golding". My next find was the fact that Hannah's husband died some 3 years earlier in 1837. So obviously my 2nd great grandmother was an illegitimate birth. 

It took a few years to find out who had fathered Georgiana but eventually I had the proof that it was Hannah's next door neighbour, George  Norris. Hannah went on to have another child after Georgiana, and Georgiana named George as her father at her marriage to Charles Simpson, so obviously this was not a secret in the village. 

Hannah never remarried after Edward's death and George Norris remained single his entire life. I've always wondered what their relationship was. They never lived together so were they an early example of  "friends with benefits"? Was it a casual but consensual relationship? Or was it a long-lasting love that carried on over the years. I suspect I will never know. 

Kent County Insane Asylum
The last record of Hannah is the 1881 census where she is found as an 85 year old widow, an inmate of Kent County Asylum. Often paupers were sent to the Lunatic Asylum but it may also be that Hannah suffered from senility or some other disorder that labelled her as insane. It's very sad that none of her children could support her or take her into their own home. I have never found Hannah's death although she may be the Hannah Golding who died in June 1881 in Maidstone (which is where the Asylum was located).

As for George Norris he disappears after the 1861 census where he is found as a 50 year old single man living with his mother in Lenham.

March 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: Another Strong Female Ancestor Fanny Higginson born 1769

Brig Joseph Charles 1831 Passenger List
I'm writing about my 4th great grandmother Frances (Fanny) Holford Higginson as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks and also as part of Women's History Month Challenge

Fanny was born in Lower Peover, Cheshire England in 1769 to John Holford and Ann Harrison. The village of Lower Peover was in existence as early as the middle of the 13th century and it appears that Fanny's family may have lived there for many generations. Shortly before her 18th birthday, young Fanny married Thomas HIgginson who was also from the village. 

Thomas and Fanny had a large family of 8 children born between 1788 and 1802. Sometime after the birth of their youngest child John in 1802 and before 1831, her husband Thomas died. 

By 1823 Fanny's daughter Betty Bell was living with her husband and children in Nether Peover and I suspect Fanny Higginson may have been living with them. The family was stil there in 1831 when they left for America. [Source: England, Cheshire Land Tax Assessments, 1778-1832 on FamilySearch]

1831. Brig Joseph Charles. Fanny Higginson & daughter Elizabeth Bell & family
The last record of Fanny is on December 3, 1831 when the Brig Charles Joseph arrived in New York from England. She is on the passenger list as "Frances Higginson, carpenter's wife" and is listed as 65 years old. Traveling with Fanny were her daughter Betty (Higginson) Bell, my 3rd great-grandmother, and Betty's children Ann, Phoebe, 12 year old Mary (my 2nd great grandmother), Peter and Joseph. [Source:]

The group was on its way to Betty's husband Peter Bell who had settled in New York some time earlier. I often think about Fanny, a 65 year old widow leaving her home and many of her children to come to a new land. In 1831 it would have been rough. 

I don't know what happened to Fanny. Peter Bell and his wife and children left New York to settle in what was then the wilderness of Wellington County Ontario. In fact they were among the very first settlers of a new community called Arkell. 
"Peter Bell, a native of Chesshire Eng, left his native land in 1832 and after spending 6 years in New York State, came to Puslinch in 1838 with two sons, Peter and Joseph and one daughter, Mary."
[Source: County of Wellington, Township of Puslinch by W. MacKenzie, published in the Guelph Weekly Mercury and Advertiser 7 March 1907: Early Settlers of Puslinch]

UCLP 1839 for Peter Bell
It's interesting to note how pioneer memories can hit on some truths but get many facts wrong.  Peter Bell's land petition submitted in 1839 stated that he left England for New York where he bought a farm in Sullivan County. 

He lived there for 3 years then left for Puslinch Township Wellington County with his wife and 3 children. His brother-in-law John Higginson and one daughter Phoebe with her husband John Petty were already in the new settlement of Arkell and Peter requested that he be allowed land near them. [Source: UCLP Microfilm:C-1633, Volume 63, Bundle B-21, Petition 153]

Since his mother-in-law Fanny is not mentioned in Peter's 1839 petition I suspect she may have died but whether she died in New York or in Arkell is not known.

I admire Fanny greatly for the difficult journey she took as a 65 year old woman in 1831.

March 2, 2014

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month: Who Was Your Favourite Relative?

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month:  Who Was Your Favourite Relative?
Ruth Simpson 1907
Sharing Memories is a series of weekly prompts to help all genealogists (including me!) with writing up memories of our ancestors and our childhood. 

We all love to find a diary or letters written by great grandma or grandpa where they talk about their lives and share their memories. Think how excited one of your descendants will be to read about your memories and your stories! These stories will be lost after a few generations unless we preserve them. And what better way than in a weekly themed post. 

At the end of the year you will have 52 stories written about your childhood, your parents, grandparents and who knows what else.

If you write your own blog please use the hashtag #52SharingMemories if you are posting on Twitter or Google+  You can also  post your stories as comments on this blog post or in a private journal. It's your choice! The important thing is to write those memories down now! 

Sharing Memories & Women's History Month:  Who Was Your Favourite Relative?
I'm also posting this as part of my challenge for Women's History Month. See Women's History Month: A Challenge to Geneabloggers! for 10 suggestions for honouring women in March. I'm writing about Prompt #4: Write a biography of your favourite female Ancestor. Be sure to tell us why she's your favourite
Hands down it was my Grandma Bates. I think of her as Grandma Ruth but we never used her first name. Grandma was fun and lively and loved the colour red. She often wore a red pantsuit with a white blouse or a red skirt and white blouse and she always wore her ruby ring. That ring is now mine and I wrote about it coming back to me on Grandma's Ruby Ring

Born in Ramsgate Kent England in 1894 to parents David George Simpson and Sarah Jane Stead, Grandma was a sickly child and spent a lot of her days in bed only able to peek out her bedroom window.  Her family called her Dolly because she was so tiny and cute. 

Miss Mulligan's Dance Classes. Ruth is back row center
She didn't attend school when she was supposed to, being to ill to begin. But eventually she did go to the Ellington School in Ramsgate. I have pictures of her in her dance classes at the school.  

Simpson Family ca 1900
Grandma is 2nd from left
She suffered from rickets and in later life had a little twitch which I thought was quite endearing! She would have a genteel sniff and tiny twitch of her head as she was talking. 

She and my mom did not get along, and they fought constantly. Grandma was rather delicate and could become quite frightened or upset very easily. The wind bothered her and she would become very agitated on windy days. She was terrified of water and when I would visit her when I was in school she would only allow me a few inches of water in the bathtub in case I drowned. 

Her husbands adored her! She was their little princess and had them wrapped around her little finger. She married three times, and outlived all of her husbands. They waited on her hand and foot and never seemed to mind her idiosyncracies. 

I loved listening to her stories of her life in Ramsgate and about her siblings and parents. In fact she was the reason I became so fascinated with family history and stories at a young age. 

Ruth and daughters Lillian (left) & Joan (right)
Guelph ca 1918
Grandma's dad was a coal dealer, an epileptic who was often under the weather recovering from a seizure. Her mother, who Grandma said was a wonderful cook, ran a boarding house to make extra money for the family. 

In 1913 at the age of 19 Grandma sailed for Canada with her fiance Charles Fuller. They were joining her older brother Ern in Toronto Ontario and would make Canada their new home. Grandma never recovered from the terror of that sea voyage. Years later when she was in a home and near death she would tell me how much she longed to see her mother again and in a shaky voice ask me repeatedly "Do we have to go by boat?" At that point she could not remember that her mother was long gone. 

Grandma and her husband Charles settled in Guelph Ontario where they raised a family of 3 girls, including my mother. After Charles died, Grandma married a man who was hired as a guard at the DIL Munitions Factory in Ajax Ontario during WW2 so Grandma also took a job there. 

My mother followed suit and also moved to Ajax with her sister and their 4 children while their husbands were overseas in WW2. Mother also worked at the Munitions Factory during the war. Grandma didn't build bombs, instead she worked in the Cafeteria at the plant. Grandma was a bit unusual for her time as she almost always had a job of some sort. Her first husband bought her a Tobacco Store beside the Movie Theater in Guelph so that she would have something to keep her occupied. After working in the Munitions Factory during WW2, she moved back to Guelph and took a job at a large department store. She worked behind the counter of the women's dress and glove department and she loved it.

Fuller family in Guelph 1923
Baby Eileen, Ruth, Charles,
my mother Joan seated & Lily standing
Grandma was the person I went to when my mom and I would fight. As a teenager I'd take the bus to Guelph (where she lived with her third husband) and spend a few days with her sharing my frustrations and anger. It was very sad to see her later in her life as the aging process took its toll. 

My family have always told me I am just like Grandma Ruth. My mother told me that's why she and I didn't get along because I was, in her words, "...just like my mother!" 

Here's the odd bit - Grandma married 3 times. So did I. Grandma was 47 when she was widowed. So was I. 

Grandma ended up living with my widowed mother and another widowed daughter but that was quite stressful for all concerned as she and my mother could not go more than an hour without arguing. 

Eventually she had to be moved to a home in Owen Sound where she became increasingly confused and frightened. It was very difficult to visit her and see how far she had slipped from reality. She died in 1985 at the age of 90 and I remind myself she had a good long life and was loved by many. But I miss her.

February 28, 2014

1919 Letter from Canada Surfaces in Old Trunk in Australia

1919 Letter from Canada Surfaces in  Old Trunk in Australia
An old trunk in Australia held a small treasure - a letter written November 15, 1919 in Vulcan Alberta Canada. Victoria Collier wrote the letter on stationary of the Vulcan Supply Co. and addressed it to a Miss Scholz. 

The letterhead provides 3 names in its business header, one being G. C. Collier. In the first paragraph the writer talks about welcoming the boys home [back from the war] and adds "Geoff has his four brothers home now. One was killed and one sent to Siberia."

The letter gives a fascinating peek into post-war times in the small town. It also provides terrific clues to the families, providing tiny entries such as these:

"My sister Mabel is well and talks of coming out to see me..."
"Aunt Julia in England... is 85 next birthday..."

A genealogist can't let those clues go, can they? You guessed it, I had to investigate to see if I could turn up anything more on the families!

In 1911 the Collier family was living in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They are recorded as:
  • Goffrey, 22, harness maker born England
  • Violet, 21
  • Walter, brother, 20, salesman for stoves, born England
The 1916 census for Alberta reveals that Guthrie [sic] Collier, 27, his wife Violet, 26 and two sons Russell (4) and Albert (10 months) were living in Lethbridge Alberta. Guthrie was born in England and shows his immigration year as 1907. Violet was born in Tasmania and gives her immigration year as 1910.[ ]

By 1921 the family was living in Bow River Alberta and were listed as:
  • Joseph [sic], 33 born England, harness maker, owns his own shop, immigrated 1907
  • Violet, 31 born Tasmania, immigrated 1911
  • Russell, 9, born Alberta
  • Albert, 5, born Alberta
  • Ruby, 3, born Alberta 

The Lethbridge Herald of July 04, 1940 - Page 8 reveals that Godfrey's mother was visiting the family. I found evidence that she died in 1943 and is buried in Lethbridge Alberta

Searching in U.K. records found Godfrey as a young man in 1901 with his family in Dorset. His parents were William, born Buckland Newton, Dorset, and Emily Collier born
Piddletrenthide, Dorset. Their children were Charles E. 16, Harry J. 14, Godfrey C. 12, Walter G. 10, Horace A. 7, Sydney L 4 and William W. 2 [ ]

British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
According to online ships passenger lists on , 19 year old Godfrey arrived in Canada on
25 Mar 1908 on board the Empress of Ireland

Godfrey's brother Horace enlisted in the British Army in WW1 and was killed 13 October 1914. He was a Lance Corporal in the Dorsetshire Regiment.

Further research found Violet and Geoff's graves in Vulcan Cemetery, Vulcan Alberta.

Violet Nora Collier

Godfrey Cyril Collier

Finding Violet's middle name on her grave marker allowed me to find her and her sister Mabel (mentioned in Violet's letter) and their parents. Violet was born in 1890 in Frankford Tasmania to Alfred Boucher Welch and Albertina Bugg. Her sisters Mabel Dora were born in 1884 and Florence Kate in 1886. []

Violet's father Alfred Welch was from Surrey England. He and Albertina applied for land in Tasmania in 1882.  The record states that Alfred was 21 and Albertina was 25 and they had recently arrived on the SS. Garanne or Garonne [Tasmania, Australia, Land Applications and Warrants, 1868-1887] The Garonne arrived in Sydney from London England on 10 November 1882.

20 year old Violet arrived in British Columbia Canada from Sydney Australia on 21 September 1910 on board the Marama. [Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935]
Read Newly found First World War-era letter from Alberta woman a window through time to early 20th century for the complete story. You can also download the entire letter in .PDF format

February 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: Were Thomas and Lewis King Illegitimate?

Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. I'm having fun with this and I hope you are too!

My 3rd great grandfather was Thomas King born 1796 in Wenhaston, Suffolk County England to James King and Hannah Blanden (Blandon aka Blanding). In 1831 Thomas and his brother Lewis joined a small group of Englishmen and set sail for Canada. They were the first settlers in what is now Arkell Ontario. 

in my research on this family I found that Thomas' parents had undergone a Bastardy Examination in 1791 over the birth of their illegitimate daughter. 

Because parishes did not want to be responsible for the care of an illegitimate child, a pregnant woman or one who had just given birth, would be questioned by a midwife or other authority and the name of the child's father recorded. The father would then be ordered to provide financial support, either as a lump sum payment to the parish for the child until he/she reached the age of majority, or as a monthly sum (also payable to the parish for the child's welfare). In many cases the mother too would be ordered to make payments. This ensured that the child did not become a burden on the parish. 

Bastardy Examination of Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Under Oath Hannah states that on Thursday 14 October 1790 she gave birth to female bastard child at Ephraim Lockwood’s house in Holton Parish, Blything Hundred, Suffolk Co. James King was the father.

52 Ancestors: Were Thomas and Lewis King Illegitimate?

Bastardy Order James King & Hannah Blandon 6 July 1791. Justices of Peace Eloazar Davy and Charles Purvis in Parish of Holton, Hundred of Blything, County of Sufoolk hear the case brought by Robert Smith, Guardian of the Poor in Blything. James to pay 1 shilling per week to John Robinson of Southwald or to Treasurer of the Poor, for maintenance of child as long as living in the parish. Hannah to pay 6 pence weekly. 

At some point after the birth of their daughter James and Hannah may have married because they had at least two sons - Lewis in 1793 and Thomas in 1796. I have not found a marriage record for them so it is possible they never formalized their union. The sister born earlier has been elusive and I've not yet found her name or what happened to her.

Lewis and Thomas made a new life for themselves in Ontario Canada and helped carve out a settlement in what was then the wilderness. If you descend from either of these brothers you may be interested in the book I wrote "From England to Arkell: The story of two pioneer settlers, Lewis & Thomas King who left Suffolk England for the Wilds of Upper Canada in 1831 A Genealogy to 4 Generations following their descendants in Ontario, Alberta, Australia & Michigan." 

It's always fun and extremely interesting to research an ancestor who was a pioneer in some field, and then write their story.