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24 Feb 2011

The strength of weak paper

My inbox has become awash with messages from new cousins, in a way not familiar since the early days of GR (not George I but Genes Reunited, then known as Genes Connected or, now, Genes Untied).

I have just been browsing the guru James Caan's book about careers in the Puzzles section at Foyle's, St Pancras International. How are these two facts connected?

Well the magic medium is PAPER. Not only was Caan's book printed on the stuff, but in addition he recommends the fusty tree product as the best way to get something to him.

So it is with the Royal Mail, which should be knighted for services to family history. I messaged cousin Julie through Ancestry and then through the ghastliness that is Mrs AOL-Time Warner (divorced) but my little dweebie message just got lost along the way. Presumably as I wasn't a trusted sender, not being, say, Mr PayPal.

Sir Royal however just picked up my letter to Julie, delivered it, and on the morning of its arrival, bang came an instant reply to my email inbox.

There are huge benefits of sharing information. I despaired at lacklustre late-night lowbrow e-mails from GR, Ancestry, often where the owner was struggling with basic family structure and should have stuck with darts. Yet, the paper correspondents are trumping me in leaps and bounds, have private houses in exciting locations, offspring in Switzerland, family Bibles and FamilyTreeMaker in the guest room and a sense of there being no rush: I suspect these were the winners of the second marshmallow in the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment. Our shared interest is building into good conversations about a variety of issues.

Julie - here is proof that our Davieses were indeed from Atherton
Debra - look forward to meeting up when we're back from Switzerland
Tim - will be chatting with my Mum (90) about the Cornish village where we came from, shortly
Tracey - your letter has made my year, mate!
Paul - my mother and I were both very interested in your letter...

And all these contacts came about by my writing letters. The last word to cousin Mike in Dorset - 'thanks for writing. We sold the rights to the china clay to English China Clay in the 1950s', and ECC do what with that clay, that's right, make paper!

5 Feb 2011

Pearced resolve

I reckon I'm edging up to 40% of my letters returning to me with news or good wishes. I'm close to nailing most of the family of Joseph Padfield who fell down the old mineshaft in 1835. He left no family at all at his death, but a few weeks later his son junior was born and that boy's 8 children made all Wessex their home. I've almost pinned down all the Pearce children, thanks to some having their babies in Chew Magna; one marrying in Bristol: registers nicely transcribed onto familysearch. And also a bit of database crunching to find Mabel Pearce's issue. I'll need to get a marriage certificate to prove one of the men's marriages but this floating tribe of relatives is soon to be boxed in.