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1 Jun 2011

Faith, Hope and Ancestry

I'm just so glad to have solved this puzzle, and found a decent title for the post: I don't care if it seems I'm singing the praises of Ancestry.com. Because perhaps I am! Much as I'm annoyed with the cynical moneymakers at mf.com, an extraordinary url in itself, they've run a pretty effective dragnet over the 19th century, and your ancestor must have been living in a cave with no roads nearby to have escaped entry in their database. My three Welch sisters ran the water mill at Alhampton after their father's death 1880, then drop off the radar in 1884. I was beginning to wonder which uninhabited island they'd colonised when the answer came from searching All Names on Ancestry, New Zealand! Jane Hill Welch shows up on the newly released electoral rolls up there, as, on closer inspection does her married sister Louisa Ann Smith. The third sister was sitting in Somerset making her will taking care as far as I could see not to give out any hints at all where her sisters were. But Louisa was my real target. Just 31 when she married there was a real hope that she might have family. And so the name Hope was apposite for their eldest child. We now see that Jane, Louisa and Mr Smith sailed almost immediately the minister closed the wedding service. Paperspast tells us they arrived in Christchurch 1884 only to jump on board another vessel going along the coast to Lyttleton. Mr Smith was I believe a grocer living in several NZ towns. The NZ birth indexes to my joy listed Hope and Faith as the names of the first two Smith babies. Then followed Ruby and a fourth daughter - do feel free to guess her name. I tracked the family on to Sydney where Hope marries in 1908 to Ludwig Conrad Bischoff and I'm hopeful of finding descendants.

Update: I'm meeting one in England in six weeks, who was held as a baby by her great grandfather, Mr Smith.

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