Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I Love Books - Sharing Memories


Lorine McGinnis Schulze at http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/p/sharing-memories.html is asking us to Share Memories for our descendants. . This theme here is Books



Books are food and drink to me - a habit which began early on. It was a treat to get a book at Christmas and birthdays and choosing a new book to take on holiday was part of the anticipation of the trip. I still have my first little white bookcase - although it is now confined to loft storage. I can remember my first visit to the local children's library and the first book I borrowed - an illustrated history of England with a picture of the young Queen Elizabeth I on the front cover. Even then I loved history, especially achildren's  book series called Quennel's History of Everyday Life in England which explored life down the centuries with lovely illustrations of costumes and houses.

As a child my favourite author was one much despised then by pundits but loved by her readers - in other words Enid Blyton, especially The Famous Five, Secret Seven and Mallory Towers, also remembering as a younger child Noddy and Big Ears. Enid Blyton's books could be fought over in the library, but we were less willing to raise our hands in class and admit we read her.

I loved school stories and got very involved in the long running Chalet School series, by Elinor Brent Dyer, with its foreign setting, odd phrases in French and German, the exotic names of the characters (Elisveta, Evadne, Gisela) and the exploits of the lead character Joey Maynard and later on her large extended family. Another favoruite author was Noel Streatfield with her tales of ballet school and skating success.


For lighter relief, I had my favourite weekly magazines - "Girl", with Angela Air Hostess, Belle of the Ballet, Kay from "the Courier", Claudia of the Circus, the Picture Gallery which I cut up and put in a scrapbook, plus a series "Mother Tells You How" on domestic tips!! If you wonder how I remember all of this - my daughter gave me a a nostalgic book on "The Best of Girl" last Christmas.

Classics featured in my reading, boosted by the BBC classic Sunday teatime serials on TV - Little Women and its sequels, What Katy Did, Heidi, Sarah Crewe and The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, and Children of the New Forest; later on Charles Dickens novels - Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield and onto Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Emma.


In teenage years, I was slow to move onto adult popular fiction - Agatha Christie I think was my route, though I have never been into crime novels where there is a sudden great denouement in the final pages; also Georgette Heyer's Regency romances, the novels of Daphne Du Maurier and Catherine Cookson, and the family sagas by Mazo de la Roche, set in North America.

My tastes haven't changed much - family sagas and historical novels by authors, Anya Seton (e.g. "The Winthrop Woman" set in early New England), Cynthia Harrod Eagles' family saga series "The Morland Dynasty" which relates the story of a Yorkshire family from the times of Richard III down the centuries, Catherine Gavin (my favourite "The Snow Mountain" about the last days of the Russian Czar and his family ), Philippa Carr's royal series and an American author I have just discovered Liz Curtis Higgs, who has set her latest novel in the Scottish Borders.

Other contemporary authors include Joanne Trollope, Rosamund Pilcher, and Libby Purves.

For my non-fiction choice - history, biography, music, ballet, costumes, and crafts pre-dominate and my collection of reference books is important to me to turn to, to answer all those odd questions that crop up - the Internet has not taken over yet!

I love curling up in bed or on the sofa, or or soaking in bath bubbles with a good book and can't see that an electronic book has nearly the same appeal. However I have moved on this a wee bit, and am quite taken with the latest Amazon TV advert for a Kindle.

Now my pleasure from books also comes from seeing the delight my little granddaughter gets from her collection - Touch and Feel books were a new phenomena to me, and now she is onto the "Aliens Love Underpants" series and "Hairy McClary of Donaldson's Dairy"  - very wacky and great fun!

It is never to young to start loving books!


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Jobs - Boring, Exciting or Adventurous: Sharing Memories


Lorine McGinnis Schulze at http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/p/sharing-memories.html is asking us to Share Memories for our descendants.  . This theme here  is Jobs - were they boring, exciting or adventurous?

Does anyone remember the old Smirnoff vodka advert where the librarian (dowdy clothes, hair in a bun and of course wearing spectacles), whips off her glasses, loosens her hair,  shakes it into a tousled look, hitches her skirt and undoes her blouse buttons?

Well. I trained as a librarian and can't say that I fitted the advertising image - though I did wear glasses.  It is a profession generally associated in the popular mind with boredom,  rather than excitement and adventure - but for me it had its moments.  More of that later.




My employment history could be summed up as "Fish Girl to Family Historian ".

Fish Girl - My first job the summer I left school was helping out at a fishmonger's owned by a friend's father who was looking for some one to fill in for staff on holiday. It was totally out of character for me, but I stuck it out gutting some fish (for making herring rolls, I think), washing down the slabs and I managed somehow to cope with the cash side - maths was never my strong point and this was before the days of electronic tills. At home we ate healthily from the left over stocks of fish I took back to Mum.

Shop Girl for Cakes, Books & Tartan Trash -  For future summer and Christmas jobs, I opted for a less messy side of retail life, ranging from a busy bakery counter (dreaded having to make up the cardboard cake boxes in a hurry as I was all thumbs) to selling what we called "tartan trash" to tourists on Princes Street in Edinburgh - think garish red tasteless Stewart tartan souvenirs. 

My favourite was a bookshop where I enjoyed tidying the shelves and making sure everything was in order from the Pan and Penguin paperbacks in their familiar white and orange covers to the Classics, bound in mock midnight blue leather.     One Christmas I worked in a general stationery store that sold calculators and was clueless when facing questions such as "Why was this one more expensive and what did it do?" 

I can't recollect receiving anything that could be called "training" - you were just expected to turn up on time, wear an often ugly uniform, pick up procedures, work hard, have plenty of stamina to be on your feet all day, be respectful to superiors, especially if there was the dreaded visit from Head Office, get on with the job - and sink or swim.In no way could the jobs be termed  exciting or adventurous, though life could  be  boring if there were not many customers around. They were also a good source of anecdotes when I met up with fellow students as we exchanged horror stories of our holiday jobs. 


Stuck in a Snowstorm  - Becoming a librarian had always been in my thoughts as I grew up. I studied history at university, and as a student had various Saturday and holiday jobs in Edinburgh City Libraries, most memorably getting stuck in a mobile library on a hill in a snowstorm. - the excitement (minor)  bit!   


An American Adventure:   Here comes  the adventure (plus excitement) part  - having always lived at home, I took the plunge to move 3000 miles trans-Atlantic.   I had the chance to work in the USA for a year as part of an exchange scheme for trainee librarians and my placement was at Radcliffe College, the sister college to Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. I loved Boston and New England, and took advantage, with another British girl I met, of taking the Greyhound bus offer of "99 dollars for 99 days of travel" around the States - a wonderful time.



At the Cutting Edge - My second professional job after library school  was as Information Officer at the  Edinburgh's College of Education in Edinburgh  with a remit to set up a Modern Studies Information Resource. This was long before the Internet, and the role involved setting up project files of ephemera - mainly press cuttings, and compiling source lists for students. I got to look though all the quality daily papers - a great job and nothing boring about it.    I had always fancied working as a newspaper librarian, or as a BBC researcher, though jobs are few and far between, so this was coming close to it. 

Dumbo to Dinosaurs  - A newsletter from my daughter's primary school announced that a school auxiliary had been asked to set up a library in the school. My professional hackles arose - obviously a job that the head teacher felt anyone could do! So I got in touch, took on the role,  and I was back classifying the school collection  and creating a catalogue. As it was a voluntary task, I could take my time and have a good look through all the books, with dinosaurs seeming to be the most popular topic - not one I could relate to. 


Was the Abbey Bombed?  This was one of the very many quirky queries I faced  when working in the local tourist information centre network for over 20 years.  It was never dull as we helped visitors get the most out of  of their holiday and was a source of many  humorous anecdotes.  And the  answer to the question?   Well - the 12th century Jedburgh Abbey was destroyed in 1544 by Henyr'VIII's army which invaded south Scotland in what was known as the "Rough Wooing" as Henry  tried to enforce the marriage of his son Edward to the young Mary Queen of Scots  - some 400 years before World War Two fighter planes

 
Back to my Roots - Following redundancy, and a spell of free lancing in tourism,  I went back to my academic roots of history and librarianship,  working in the Library Service's Local Studies Dept. Not quite a full circle, but almost. My final role was as Family History Researcher at the Heritage Hub, Hawick - and how many people can say they found a job linked to a hobby - and we all know that family history can be exciting,  adventurous and never boring!



The Heritage Hub, Hawick, Scottish Borders
www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub


And the Most Boring Task? I must be lucky because I had difficulty coming up with this, and it is a relatively recent experience from the last 10 years.  No, it wasn't stamping books - the traditional image of what a librarian does, as that's always the  opportunity to chat to customers.

I had to type on an old style electric typewriter (no spell check) catalogue cards that indexed articles from the local press - somebody else did the interesting bit of going through the newspapers and selecting the items to index.   Even worse,  then I  had to stand  and file the cards in a stack of 56 catalogue drawers   - a tedious job, best done in short stints before lunch and coffee breaks.  And no-one ever consulted them, though the theory was it was an archive for the future.  Nobody seemed to thank  of applying IT to the project!
 
But, depiste this,  being a librarian has served me very well!


 





 





Y is for Yeoman, Youth and Yuletide.

My contribution on Y as we draw near the end of Aona's inspirational A-Z challenge at
http://www.gouldgenealogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge/.


 


Y is for:

Yeoman - an English term meaning a man owning his own farm, such as my great great grandfather Henry Danson of Trap Farm, Carleton, Lancashire.   


 One definition:

 
A yeoman differed from landed gentry in one major way. They both owned land (though the yeoman often much less,  but the yeoman would cultivate the earth himself,  whereas the landed gentry usually employed servants to do this. 

 





A rather dilapidated Trap Farm, taken c.1998
13 people lived here in the 1851 census - the immediate family including an uncle plus two servants.


 
Youth - old photographs of children are always appealing.   On the other hand, one of the most striking, sad aspects of researching family history is the realisation that infancy  was  precarious, with many children succumbing to illness at an early age.

Below are two photographs (unfortunately unidentified)  from the large collection of my Great Aunt Jennie Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.

 
 



Yuletide - the ancient winter festival, held in northern Europe.  It  came to be adopted as part of the  Christmas festivities - best remembered in the symbol of the Yule log

Here are two old seasonal cards in the collection of my cousin, Stuart.
t


 

Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 25 October 2012

X if for EXcitement, EXamining, EXpressing, EXploring & EXcursions - A-Z Challenge ,

My belated contribution on X as we draw near the end of Aona's inspirational A-Z challenge at
http://www.gouldgenealogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge/.


I must admit I am taking the easy way out here with the letter X and repeating  some of my family history  EXperiences first listed under E - but still worth restating nevertheless.


X is for:


EXcitement at finding ancestors who were unknown to me. After many years of appearing on message boards etc. with minimal success, my blog was discovered by three different third cousins and resulted in new photographs and new stories.  Here is Mary Jane Danson (my great grandfather's cousin), with her husband and children.
 
 
 
EXchanging Information: In pre-Internet days this activity came from joining Family History Societies and studying their listings of Members Interests. Now the world is open to us. My first venture into Internet research on my Bryning connections resulted in more information in four weeks than I had unearthed in four years. A wonderful tool - as long as you check sources!
 
 
 
EXamining Records: The fascination and pleasure in touching documents written over a century ago that relate to my ancestor's life.


Roxburghshire Militia List of 1797
Courtesy of Heritage Hub, Hawick -
www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub




EXceeding EXpectations: When I first started on my family history trail, I thought I would be lucky to trace my very ordinary Danson family back to the 1841 census. I have far exceeded that, discovering my great great great, great grandfather John Danson, born 1736, son of Peter.

 



EXpressing the family stories: Research is an all absorbing task, but turning the facts, names and dates into a family story that people are interested in reading, whether through blog or book, is my favourite FH occupation. 
 

EXcursions into Local and Social History - The possibilities are endless. for adding colour to a family story.............,,,,,
  • Was your ancestor alive when a Napoleonic invasion threatened  towns and villages ready to light beacons to warn of the French attack? t
  • Might your ancestors have seen the Jacobite army marching through Scotland and the north of England in 1745 as Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) attempted to take the Hanoverian throne?
  • What entertainment did your ancestors enjoy locally?
Concert psoter in the collection  of the Heritage Hub, Hawick www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub
 
  • The coming of the railway to a community must have been a thrilling event to witness, with local newspapers giving extensive coverage of the excitement generated.
  • Peebles Station in the Scottish Borders, c 1910.
    With kind permission of the Heritage Hub, Hawick

    www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub
  • What about the impact of the invention of the sewing machine on the task of making a family's clothes?
  • Might your female ancestors have seen suffragettes campaigning locally? 

    
  • When was your local cottage hospital built, or the local football club formed?
  • How did your ancestral town or village mark Queen Victoria's Jubilees in 1887 and 1897 and her death in 1901?

EXpense: I have read comments in family history magazines about the expense of the hobby. I have been lucky in that I have not had to spend much on obtaining BMD certificates. I can appreciate that people are on a tight budget, but it can be a question of being very focused in accessing paid internet sites - being sure you have done the background work through other means and especially that you have found the "correct" person - admittedly not easy if you are researching a popular name. But it is worth remembering so many leisure activities come at some cost, whether it be sport, music, art and crafts, collecting etc.

And finally after all of this - EXhaustion!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

W is for Weddings, Wills, War, Work and Wives: A-Z Challenge


 I am enjoying participating in this series from Aona at ttpw.gouldgeneogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge. Circumstances mean I am running behind, so here somewhat belatedly is my contribution on W.


W is for:


Weddings - always one of the most popular topics on my blog and it is difficult to select  one image. Have a look at Century of Wedding Belles for an overview.



A wedding of 1910 form the collection of my cousin Stuart.


Wills  - Quite early on in my research, I was delighted to trace through the Index at Lancashire Record Office two wills relating to my Danson ancestors.





These documents not only gave information on children and grandchildren, including the married name of daughters - some unknown to me previously, but also cast a light on what were considered important possessions at the time, with a feather bed, sheets and bedstead, desk and books, meal chests and corner cupboard  - all items of personal value cited  in the wills.   
 

John Danson's Will, 1813
So if you are lucky to trace a will, you have a unique resource which can add so much to your family history story.


War and War \Memorials  - as we move into the month of November, we think of Remembrance Day and the role our ancestors played in warfare.  I have been proud on my blog to pay tribute to relations who fought, to feature the records I have found on them and the moving war memorials around the world that remember their sacrifice. 

The War Memorial at Oban on the west coast of Scotland, with the hills of the Isle of Mull in the background.


Wives can be a rich source of blogging stories and I like to celebrate the feisty females in my own family, such as my great aunt Jennie (lright)

On my "to do" list is Elizabeth Brekall, the second wife of my great great grandfather Robert Rawliffe.  He was  widowed with five surviving daughters, and   married 35 year old Elizabeth Brekall, 20 years his junior.  As she had three children of her own, I assumed she was also widowed. Wrong! According to the marriage certificate (and earlier census returns), Elizabeth was a spinster and the children were illegitimate.  She went onto have a further four children with Robert.  



Work - our ancestors worked long hours with very little time off.  This makes it especially important to gain an understanding of their occupations and  there is a wealth of information out there to give colour to a simple job title in a census entry. 




 
In my Danson family, as the 19thcentury progressed, family life changed from one based around the land - iinstead of yeomen, husbandmen, farmers, carters and agricultural labourers, life became more urban and other occupations began to appear in the records such as railway porter, engine cleaner and pointsman - and even a tripe dealer!

My husband's Donaldson ancestors had sea connections whether as a mariner, shipwright, caulker, or river policeman.  Another  branch were miners moving between Derbyshire, Yorkshire and County Durham.

Left is an advertising blotter promoting the hairdressing business "Elise"  of my mother's second cousin, Elsie .





Worship - finding out where our ancestors wworshipped, were baptised, married and buried is perhaps one of the first stages of our family history research.

St Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lanxcashire - home of my Danson ancestors.
Photograph ttaken by my uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson  
 
And among all the W's where would we be without the World Wide Web!


Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

V is for Valour, Vessels, and Verses: A-Z Challenge

I am enjoying participating in this series from Aona at ttpw.gouldgeneogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge.  Circumstances mean I am running behind,  so here somewhat belatedly is my contribution on V. 


V is for:

Valour -  for our ancestors who served their country with distinction, including my grandfather who in the First World War  fought at Passchendaele and won the Military Medal at Givenchy.

My grandparents William Danson and Alice English
 
 
 

Vessels and Voyages   - Family HIstory take you in strange directions.  To me "snow" was the white stuff falling in winter and a "smack" was a slap to a recalcitrant child. But that all changed, as I began researching my husband's maritime ancestors and learnt about the different names for ships in the 19th century - barque or bark or barc, brig, sloop. smack and snow

My husband's ancestor Robert Donaldson (1801-1876) was a master mariner in South Shields on the north east coast of England and I was delighted to discover through Tyne and Wear Archives  details of the ships he sailed on.

The entries make fascinating reading, with all six ships on which Robert Donaldson sailed, having an eventful history and sadly coming to a sad end (though not under his charge).

  • The Thetis became a wreck after sinking off the Yorkshire coast in 1869.
  • The John was stranded in 1861 and became a wreck during a severe easterly gale.
    Twenty-eight other Tyne ships went ashore in the same area during the same gale.
  • The Emerald, in December 1855, when on passage from the Tyne to London, foundered in five fathoms on the Dough Sand (Long Sand) Thames estuary. Three survivors were brought ashore by two smacks. Eleven others were unaccounted for, including some of the crew of the rescuing smack who were in a small boat, which disappeared.
  • The Hebe was wrecked in Robin Hood’s Bay, along with other vessels on 27 January 1861.
  • The Ann & Elizabeth disappeared after leaving the Tyne in November 1863, with her captain leaving a wife and six children.
  • The William Mecalfe was Robert Donaldson's largest ship. On her maiden voyage, it transported 240 male convicts from Portsmouth to Hobart, Australia on a passage that took 102 days. In January 1855 eight of her crew were sent to goal for three months each by the North Shields magistrates for refusing duty. In October 1858 her master and one man were washed overboard. Nine days later, the ship was abandoned, with the crew taken off.
These incidents were by no means unusual and bring home the hazards our mariner ancestors faced in their daily lives.


Verses - How many people can claim to have a published poet amongst their ancestors? That is the case of my third cousin Stuart whose great great uncle was John Critchley Prince (1808-1866), well known in his time as a writer of poetry in the Lancashire dialect.

In  "Death of a Factory Child",  he addressed the social conditions of the time, with these stark lines to end the poem. :

Hard had he labour'd since the morning hour,—
But now his little hands relax'd their pow'r—
Yet, urg'd by curses or severer blows,
Without one moment's brief, but sweet, repose,
From frame to frame the exhausted sufferer crept,
Piec'd the frail threads, and, uncomplaining, wept.





 
In a much lighter vein, I came across this verse in a local history publication when researching the background of my great grandmother's Rawcliffe family from Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. It is an area of small villages, epitomised in:

Pilling for paters (potatoes)
Presall for pluck
Hamelton for bonnie lasses
Stalmine for muck

I like to think my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe (below) was a "bonnie lass" - and I am glad she did not hail from Stalmine!





I have not unearthed in my research any Villains, Vagabonds or Vagrants to add some Vivid details to my family history stories. 
 

On a more prosaic level, Valuation Rolls of Property are one of the key sets of records in establishing where our ancestors lived and their occupation, especially as they issued  annually and supplement the ten yearly census returns.

They also help us Verify facts and Validate evidence - two important principles of family history research, along with avoiding Vagueness or a Varnishing of the truth.


Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mariners and Migrants - Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

This week's shipping theme prompted two stories from my family history.  


A MARINER'S LIFE

To me "snow" was the white stuff falling in winter and a "smack" was a slap to a recalcitrant child. But that all changed as I began researching my husband's maritime ancestors and learnt about the different names for ships in the 19th century - barque or bark or barc, brig, sloop. smack and snow - an illustration of the diverse routes that family history can take you.

I traced the Donaldson family back through census returns and Scottish Old Parish Records to the marriage of Samuel Donaldson, merchant in South Leith (near Edinburgh).  His grandson Robert went from South Leith to the port of South Shields on the River Tyne and his son Robert moved to Porstmouth on the English south coast - the linking factor the sea with family occupations for the Donaldson's  and their extended family ranging from merchant, master mariner, seaman, caulker, roper, ship's carpenter and river policeman.



Master mariner, John Moffet - my husband's great great grandfather in a Napoleonic pose.


 





River Tyne at South Shields,  with the Norwegian ferries across the river at North Shields.


Tyne and Wear Archives provided information on the life of Robert Donaldson (1801-1876), master mariner of South Shields, and the ships he sailed on, listed in "“A Dictionary of Tyne Sailing Ships: a record of merchant sailing ships owned, registered and built at the Port of Tyne 1830-1930”, compiled by Richard Keys. This is a complete A-Z of Ships, master mariners and owners, detailing ships, voyages, disasters and share-ownerships, and much more - a must for anyone with maritime ancestors in this region.

The entries make fascinating reading, with all six ships on which Robert Donaldson sailed, having an eventful history and coming to a sad end (though not under his charge).

The Thetis became a wreck after sinking off the Yorkshire coast in 1869.

The John was stranded in 1861 and became a wreck during a severe easterly gale. Twenty-eight other Tyne ships went ashore in the same area during the same gale.

The Emerald, in December 1855, when on passage from the Tyne to London, foundered in five fathoms on the Dough Sand (Long Sand) Thames estuary. Three survivors were brought ashore by two Bridlington smacks. Eleven others were unaccounted for, including some of the crew of the rescuing smack who were in a small boat, which disappeared.

The Hebe was wrecked in Robin Hood’s Bay, along with other vessels on 27 January 1861. The Ann & Elizabeth disappeared after leaving the Tyne in November 1863, with her captain leaving a wife and six children.

The William Mecalfe was Robert Donaldson's largest ship On her maiden voyage, it transported 240 male convicts from Portsmouth to Hobart, on a passage that took 102 days. In January 1855 eight of her crew were sent to goal for three months each by the North Shields magistrates for refusing duty. In October 1858 her master and one man were washed overboard. Nine days later, the ship was abandoned, with the crew taken off.

These incidents were by no means unusual and bring home the hazards our mariner ancestors faced in their daily lives.


A MIGRANT'S TALE
I often wished I had emigrants in my family history to add some colourful stories. but my research had led me to assume  that all my mother's Rawcliffe family,were very firmly based in the Fylde area of Lancashire, England.

So it was a huge surprise to find, in a very casual browsing for Rawcliffes on http://www.familysearch.org/, an entry for Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe, born Hambleton 1853 and that she had died in Jamesburg, New Jersey on 24th February 1930 - the first time I was aware of any American connection. I was delighted at the discovery and keen to find out more.

Alice was the sister of my great grandmother Maria. Born 1853 at Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, she was the fourth daughter of Robert Rawliffe and Jane Carr. She married John Mason and they settled in Fleetwood where they had six children - Robert William, Jane Elizabeth, John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawliffe - all family Christian names.

The Family Search information had been supplied by a contributor. Frustratingly when I wrote to find out more, the letter was returned “not known at this address”. Further efforts to make contact with any American descendants through message boards etc.  had been slow to bring results.

What had prompted the family to leave the fishing port of Fleetwood for America and the teeming tenements of New York?   I shall never know.

American census returns on Ancestry.com showed that John Mason entered the USA in 1886, with Alice and their children following in 1887. The family took out American citizenship  and at some point moved from Brooklyn, New York, across the river to Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

Are these my American connections?

I found out through the New York Passenger Lists on the Internet that Alice was 34 when she set sail from Liverpool with six children aged 1 to 13 (and two pieces of baggage) aboard the ship Auronia. Within twelve years of her arrival in Brooklyn, New York, she had a further five children - Arthur Valentine (born appropriately 14th February), Harold Arthur Victor, Lillian Eveline, Bessie Irene and Florence Adelaide. Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy.

The photograph (left) was a bit of a mystery. It was in the collection of my great aunt (Maria's daughter) but not identified and nothing to indicate where it was taken. It must surely be of one of of my great grandmother's sisters - Anne, Jane, Alice, or Jennet? The composition of the family and ages of the children ruled out Anne, Jane or Jennet. So is this Alice and James Mason? Eldest daughter Jane Elizabeth was still unmarried in the 1920 census, so she could be the woman on the back left, and is that her younger sister and brother - possibly Florence and Harold?

It has taken a decade for me to find out more when Alice's great granddaughter  (my third cousin) found my blog earlier this year, saw the picture, got in touch and we have exchanged stories and photographs.   I now have migrants in my family history!

Alice and James Mason with their e
eight surviving children c 1920's
 

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