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10 Apr 2014

A day of industry

An extraordinary 24 hours in the world of family history...  I found out a whole bunch of stuff.

* I had a reply from JM in Barrow whose wife was the family historian.  I was pretty sure she was the daughter of John Thompson and Mary Taylor - Mary being the one of a handful of Isabella Barton (1830)'s family to have had issue.  And so this proved to be.

* I had a reply from JD in Sherborne whose mother Ivie was born in Durban, South Africa, the child of Cornish parents.  It turns out Ivie had 5 children in the 1930s, all of whom are still living, and that she passed away in Zimbabwe.  I first heard of Ivie in the will of her grandfather, 1923, Bellevue Terrace, Tuckingmill about 15 years ago.  Only now is there this opportunity to find the family.

* I had a reply from AL in Dronfield, Derbyshire with very good information about my Kiveton Park relatives.  It turns out my Grandpa's grandma Shugg had a first cousin Grace Emmerson who lived at Kiveton Park.  This was not a country house but a mining village in the parish of Wales.  Her husband was not only a miner and preacher but builder too, and a son-in-law I understand became the colliery manager.  A granddaughter moved to the Dales immediately north of Harrogate where there are some large farms.  One of the family married in Jerusalem in 1942 when it was under the British Mandate.  The relative was working in the hospital there - it was wartime.

On the bus yesterday to a dear old cousin in the Mendips, the First Great Western bus wiggled its way past THREE of my relatives in the housing estates of south-west Keynsham.   Broad streets and plenty of bungalows with retired people actually sitting outside ('in their front gardens!').  I think K. Pearce is somewhere on Lytes Cary Road, but he didn't get my letter or so it seems.  Then there was Hutton Close which was home to my Mendip cousin's cousin Barbara, and then the very same bungalow became the property of a Mrs G. Alkins from Halesworth in Suffolk.

The thing is, GA is quite a bit more closely related, being descended from my 3xgreat-grandfather Smith's older sister, of whom he was quite fond.  To make it all worse, Smith died it turns out at the childhood home of GA's mother - who lived to 92 and who would certainly have remembered him.  I decided long ago I would no longer pursue contact with Mrs Alkins (now herself 90) because of advancing age.  It was nonetheless galling for the bus to gaily trip past Hutton Close and know that the only human memory of ggggfather Smith was there for the asking inside that bungalow.

In Bristol the same day, I twice jogged past CreedBet, which information online confirms is run by the son and grandson of my Granny's first cousin L G Creed, described at his father's death as 'turf accountant'.  Who would have thought that the betting gene would run through 2 more generations.

Two other short bits of story resolved themselves in the morning: the father and son both named Peter Hill, of Penzance were found, the father having passed away last year at Praze-an-Beeble.  I find it interesting that it was only the Rodda children who moved away from Crowan that had family there - Mary left in 1841 and Thomas the same year, yet the brother who remained has no family in Cornwall whatsoever (one, in Reading, only, and the rest in Australia).

The other puzzle being the deaths of William and Catherine Bell, Methodist minister and his wife, both of which took place in 1925 as per the Methodist records at John Rylands Library, Manchester.  Catherine's took place first a matter of weeks before her ancient aunt Jane; while William (who'd been ill for at least 15 years) struggled on till the end of the year looked after by their daughter Florence Sloss.  Catherine's early death dispels my fancy that she lived on until the war.  It renders impossible that any of the Sloss family in Bangor, Co. Down, would remember the Bells at all.  Florence's next of kin are none other than the Butler-Slosses of judicial fame.  It seems then that both Catherine and her eldest sister Arundel had, despite producing many children and some grandchildren, no heirs to continue - and that both lines are now extinct.  A most unusual situation.  The only grandson in America said he had no family and was buried by the Veterans' Bureau.  I spoke to 2 of Arundel's granddaughters on the telephone, before the line was extinguished.  But it is Catherine's line I'd really like to have known.

I messaged Yvonne F. in Florence, Massachusetts the granddaughter of Judith Marshall from Bodmin.  Judith was brought up by great-uncles and aunts as her parents had gone up to Ashton-under-Lyne with all the other children.  Judith alone remained down in Cornwall and died aged 97 in or near Newton Abbot.  Yvonne would certainly remember her.  On her Facebook page she had Exeter College listed as a previous place of study.  As I ran past this earlier in the week, I thought Yvonne would like to know.

The biggest mystery of the day to crack was the 3 Rose sisters of Decatur, Illinois.  I've been over the data, that I now have, and don't see how I'd have gotten anywhere without the October 2003 Decatur Herald and Review obituary that I located today.  I was at the British Library, renewing my pass (for another 3 years - hurrah!) and had had some success with the British papers.  I had definitely tracked down US papers from the available databases (ProQuest, Gale &c) and was determined to get something out of them again.

I followed the links to British newspapers from Newsgroup and then backtracked out of UK records to the US and was very surprised to find Decatur's Herald and Review on the list of available papers.  It claimed only to cover the last 10 years, but I found records back to 1992 or more.

My first search (under the Rose girls' father's name) yielded a result straightaway and I quickly went to the page (the above obituary in 2003) so I could capture the information before it could disappear.  The obituary (which was for the eldest Rose girl) gave me sufficient information which coupled with, and the Washington State marriage indexes up to 2004, meant I could construct trees down several generations.  The Rose girls were in a strong position to take forward the mitochondrial DNA of their ancestors the Murrows, though only the middle one is known to have granddaughters, but as these are married, the line may well continue.

Looking back over the resources, I definitely could have found this from GenealogyBank's collection (1990-) but would have had to pay a monthly recurring fee, so am kind of pleased I didn't know they had this article.

That just leaves the British newspapers, which gave my some surprising results, see next entry.

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