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29 Oct 2010

A photographic haul at the station

Very excited as just come back from trip to cousin in Devon with large haul of 500 digital images- photos, postcards, documents, letters. It is pretty comprehensive for my Carlines and Aireys, who were Northcountry folk, while our component branch rested for the main part in North London. There were some oddities - my grandmother turns out to have been baptised at the church where I have for the last two years helped run a Cub Scout Pack. My small cousins are evidently at school in a very lovely setting in Dorset which I know intimately from having walked around it with my sister on our 'early morning runs'. Kath Davies writes a letter of condolence to her aunt on the death of her uncle. Kath's last remaining child died a week ago, (74 years later). Kath could never have written that letter of condolence.

Finally there is a photograph for grandma's grandma Ellen Carline, and she is sitting in her chair to boot - was the photograph thus taken at home? I have seen the chair, a Windsor, much more comfortable than it looks. Ellen looks a stoic as well she might having seen off an alcoholic husband yet provided so fully for her children that her estate was not finally resolved until 1976, three-quarters of a century after her demise, and around the time of my own birth. I was further able to compare her photograph with that of her cousin W B Hannan, the Jamaican farmer, and I was pleased to report a significant similarity. Their cousin 'H E C' sends a postcard of the Eyam Plague memorial service of 1902 with a pinhole through the likeness of herself and her (deceased) husband. Having scanned in the image, I'm now not sure where the pinhole was.

Another postcard begins with the words 'Dear Cousin' and is signed E Turner, of Woodseats, Sheffield 1911. It may be that the word 'cousin' is my fevered imagination, but I'd like to yet think that Mrs Turner might prove to be a granddaughter perhaps of John Bagshaw, needle grinder of Sheffield - Ellen's uncle (update: unfevered and corroborated).  It's most pleasant to have this deluge of information from the past, though I'm sanguine that it may be the last for a little while.

3 Oct 2010

Meat in your surname soup

I am focussing these days on my father's family in Manchester and the northern towns. They possessed common lastnames but no middle names. They left no wills. You can't search through the small and neighbourly parish records as you can in southern villages, nor are they in and out of each other's houses at census time.

You really have to work to tease out the data.

Yet I have traced marriages for these people with rather common names: Ann Gibson, Jane Bell, 'Sarah Stevenson', John Jackson, Elizabeth Ann Jones, Edward Jones (no relation).

Thanks to the census, principally, one can follow families through fairly persistently. It would have been an impossible exercise without today's finding aids:

* the census (for a birthplace for Jane Bell)
* a parent's will viewed for free at LDS (for Sarah Eleanor Stephenson)
* checking the original registers having found a possible marriage in a named parish on LancashireBMD (for Edward Jones)
* the 1900 census for the US (which told me that John Jackson had married about 1878 and that his wife's name was Mary Jane)
* the Ancestry probate index which allows you to search for a few towns (like Birkenhead) but mostly only counties: it yielded an administration for J T Jones in Birkenhead with his daughter Elizabeth's married name
* the Newcastle Courant newspaper available free at BL/LDS which yielded an announcement of marriage for Ann Gibson with the crucial information: daughter of Charlton

All these tools helped enormously, yet they've only recently become available, due to the rising revenue from family historians, which stems in part from the hard work of those who have transcribed records accurately and shared them freely.

Mystifying motives: the 1911 census index

Interestingly the 1911 census has twice listed relatives on the form and then these were crossed off so they DON'T appear in the index! One of these was Ellen Elizabeth Cooke (really Cook) who was a nurse in Stoke on Trent living with her aunt Hannah. Ellen must have got called in to the hospital or something as she is deleted from the form and missing entirely from the indexed census. Very strange. Without that deleted line I would never have found Ellen's lovely granddaughter a piano teacher in Derbyshire who has her photographs and stories.
Ellen was born in 1881, and her parents died shortly afterwards. She isn't living at home in 1891 nor in 1901, so without the 1911 census, we'd never have known about her.

Reply from BrightSolid 18 Sept 2010
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Good afternoon,

Thank you for your email.

If the entries are crossed out on the original page they will not be included in our transcript as the individuals would not be present when the census was being recorded.

Best regards,

FindMyPast Support Team

Comment
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Here’s my gruntworthy reply from the usually on-the-money bright solid. The whole point of the index and indeed the interest family historians have in the data, isn’t to know precisely whether a given relative was at home though this is nice, nor to have an exact list of who WAS at home (with the implicit assurance that those who bedded down elsewhere must strictly be omitted). No! It’s to capture all and sundry data which could be useful genealogically. An index which omits this data to satisfy notional and conflicting criteria does not serve the genealogical community well!