Tuesday, May 17, 2011

putting clues together

Current work: new Medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: finished Milly Johnson, Here Come the Girls (very witty, very warm – great read and a definite quartet of happy endings)

According to my mum, one of her great-grandmothers was a Danish midwife. My uncle, however, heard a different story: that one of their great-grandfathers was a Danish sea captain. I also have a theory that the creative/arty gene is on my mum’s side (she also used to write, and her mother played the piano). As my mum and grandparents are no longer with us and my aunts and uncles can’t tell me much, that leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions and a pet research project (to be worked on ONLY when I have hit daily targets, so it’s my carrot), i.e. to find out a bit more about her family. They’re split between London and Hampshire, which means I can’t use the archives locally; so, at the moment, I’m using the internet.

So far, my research has turned up some interesting little things (like the fact that my great-grandfather James was a jeweller’s carman - I knew he was a hansom cab driver, but apparently it was for a posh London jeweller). And my great-great-grandmother Emily was a witness to her daughter’s wedding and signed her name on the marriage certificate with a cross; this was as late as 1905 so I was quite shocked, until I thought about it and realised that she probably wouldn’t have gone to school. (She did however run her own business – she was a laundress – and apparently, the area in which she lived was known for its laundries, which dealt with Southampton’s ocean liners.)

Genealogy is all about putting clues together, but also about making sure that they’re the right clues. So it’s supposition and a hunch, then finding the proof for it. And then sometimes you get stuck. Which I am, at the moment, so I’m waiting for a birth certificate and a marriage certificate to arrive; then I can hopefully work back through the next layer.

Is anyone else out there doing a bit of family research? Have you discovered anything interesting? (This is a question with my “nosey genealogist” hat on, btw, not “author as magpie”! Though I do have a bit of a lightbulb flickering...)


wannabe a writer said...

Hi Kate

I was really interested to read your post. I'm keen to do some research on my family tree but its something that is continually put on the back burner as the present gets in the way.

I'm really lucky, my family were Cheshire farmers going back through the centuries and so as land owners have a bit more written about them. In fact I have inherited a family tree going all the way back to William the Conquerer but what I would love to know more about these people - not just their names and dates but what their lives were really like. I'm promising myself that I will find out one day. So keep going - you never know there might be a book in it.


Morton S Gray said...

Hi Kate,

I have been researching for over thirty years now. You can't beat a family history search, particularly a tricky one.

What they say about family stories is that there is always a grain of truth - like the old lady remembering her grandparents and saying that they lived in a beautiful castle. It turned out that they were pawnbrokers.

If I have learned anything over the years, it is that some ancestors want to be found and some don't. Good luck with your quest. Mx

Kate Hardy said...

Linda - wow, how exciting to be able to trace your family tree back that far! Maybe there are letters from your ancestors in archives, or there might be something about them in the estate roll books. On my dad's side, they're all farmers, but not landowners, so there's not much info apart from census returns.

I do know what you mean about things being put on the back burner. So many things and so little time to fit them in!

Good luck with your research :)

Kate Hardy said...

Morton - your comment that "some ancestors want to be found and some don't" is fascinating and is definitely making a lightbulb shine in the back of my head!

And 30 years? That's a lot of dedication on your part - kudos to you because it isn't easy! Good luck with your research, too :)

Morton S Gray said...

Hi Kate,

I know my comment about ancestors wanting to be found or not is strange, but I have found it to be true. My one ancestor seems to feel neglected if I don't work on him and over the years has 'drip fed' information to me. I can now check his signature over his lifetime and know what was in his house from the sale after his death. I made him the topic of a recent WI talk just to keep him happy. http://mortongray.blogspot.com/2011/02/valentine-talk.html

Happy searching. Mx

Anonymous said...

For the past couple of years I've done bits of research on both sides of my family> And found out one or two facts/oversights. It's been fun...
On my mum's mum's side, there a couple of presbyterian ministers - one was kicked out of the church for 2 situations with women (the family historian couldn't any information about this character). The local online Presbyterian archives were invaluable.
Another ancestor was one of the city's Suffragists, who brought up 2 nephews.
On her dad's side, the grandfather married the housekeeper, who was later done for sheep stealing!!!
These are only the ones who emigrated to New Zealand.
Our local library has lots of research stuff for family trees.
Like Wannabe Writer, it's fun getting to know the people I've been researching. When you can only find one photo of a 23 year old who died of wounds on his way back to NZ during WW1...

Kate Hardy said...

Morton - my great-grandmothers on my mum's side are being a bit elusive. They've both got really unusual surnames, so either someone can't spell (despite the registrars both having beautiful handwriting), or I need to coax them a bit.

And how lovely that you've been able to do talks on it.

Kate Hardy said...

Anon (I'm assuming you're the NZ commenter who told me about parapointing, yes?) - what fantastic material and so much colour! And hugs on your WWI ancestor. That's hard.

I was thrilled to discover photographs of my great-grandparents on my dad's side, after some very idle Googling - and discovered that a distant relative in Australia had already done the family tree back to the 1600s. I was able to fill in some bits for him and send more pics, which was nice, so it felt as if I'd done something in return.

Morton S Gray said...

Kate - if you want me to have aquick look for you I will just e-mail details to morton.s.gray@btinternet.com mx

Mia said...

Yes, I am one and the same.
That beach that brother had his accident on is the same one that Burt Munro years before raced his bikes on - if you watched the video 'The World's Fastest Indian'.
It's funny what gets 'forgotten' about with family histories. I have mentioned to mother and aunt about the over-amorous clergy in the family. Like the person who documented the family history at one stage they conveniently 'forgot' to mention it to another close family member researching the family.
It's all history, rather colourful, but personal history.
As for my favourite rose. Sharif Asma.Beautiful perfume. Makes great Rose Petal Jam (over-boil it, it's still equally as good as Turkish Delight).