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15 Oct 2016

Who Exactly are Rachel's Kids? A 1911 Mystery.

Take a look at this pair of census entries lovingly curated for you.
The couple concerned marry in 1908 in Builth, and the 1939 register for Bristol, lately released, reveals a daughter Heddus Rachel born 1919 in Bristol (deceased), who suffered a family tragedy.  We'd prefer not to contact this branch.  Looking at the census we see that two children are listed, but where are they!  They will be gone from the family home by 1939 and we do not have any family wills to help us.  Also - the various obituaries for the Roberts family members in Bristol steadfastedly omit our missing two.

Combing through all the births in Builth Wells from 1908 to 1911 we home in on apparent 'twins' Eira and Melfyn Powell born early in 1911.  Sure enough, neither one appears in the census with alternative parents, and Melfyn goes on to become a baptist minister with a connection to the Bath/Bristol area.  This sounds highly likely as Rachel's brother and nephew were both baptist ministers in Bristol.  Eira is a mystery until we find her marriage under 'Powel' which reveals her date of birth to be different from Melfyn's.  So, not a twin after all.  Coupled with the fact she stayed in Builth, she is eliminated.

So who is the missing (elder) sibling to Melfyn?  We have just two likely years to search, births in 1909 and births in 1910, and this time we home in on BRISTOL.

I count up 27 possible Powell births in Bristol. I can eliminate Maurice Vyvyan Powell (1909) as he is an illegitimate relative on a completely different branch whose son used to live ten doors away from me.  That just leaves 26.  It's time to harness a splash of intuition to speed up the process.

Although many of these Powells in Bristol are likely to be of Welsh origin, mine had so recently left, their hair likely still smelt of Welsh rain. .... My main candidate slid rather than jumped off the page, being Gwenyth Joyce (1910), who it turned out was a full 16 months older than Melfyn despite her birth being registered just a year prior to his.

My weak theory that Gwenyth was the missing Powell gained traction when, like Melfyn, there was no trace of her in 1911.  Finding her marriage in Bristol gave no extra bite as unlike the brother she was already born in Bristol, so the marriage was hardly proof.

Worriting away at Gwenyth and keeping her on the Searchlist eventually paid off.  Whilst Gwenyth's address in 1939 appears to bear no relation to her 'mother''s address at the same time (in Baptist Mills), persistence was about to be rewarded.  By the way, whoever said patience is a virtue was not a family historian - that sounds awfully too much like sitting around on your B-hind, while another's persistence and impatience is about to win through.

I had already gone deep with Gwenyth - finding her marriage, her 1939 entry, her husband's death (not easy given the name of Smith) and now I checked out her husband's probate entry.

Picture my surprise when we get a match.

In both cases, 1939 entry for Gwenyth's mother and 1963 entry for Gwenyth's husband - the same precise address is given: Seymour Road, Bishopston.  Despite the married name of Smith, I have just found family members on Facebook, and there are both Scandinavian and Baptist connections (again) to bolster up the family tree.

All thanks to a couple of squiggles in 1911 indicating Rachel Powell, formerly Roberts, had unknown children born 'somewhere in the world' within a vague timespan.

Now to send a second letter to the Roberts family researcher who lives 5 miles away as I'd like to make contact there, and can only imagine my previous letter got eaten by a hungry hound.

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