I enjoy following the ancestral trail: the detective story element in hunting for information and corroborating it with evidence, (I do not like to be defeated), the satisfaction of finding key facts, and writing up the information in an interesting way that appeals to others. So do read on, or even better, sign up as a follower. I would love to hear from others who share my enthusiasm for family history.
You can stumble across some amazing stories when you start to delve into sidelines of your family history.
Such was the experience of my third cousin, Stuart Smith who discovered that he was related to a man described as "possibly the greatest electronic engineer of the 20th century" - Alan Dower Blumlein.
Stuart's great grandmother was Isabel Edward from Banchory, Aberdeenshire. and Isabel's sister Jesse married the Rev. William Dower in 1865. William was appointed by the London Missionary Society as a Wesleyan Missionary in South Africa and he and his new wife Jesse set sail there in 1865.
Isabella Edward and her husband John Ingram Smith (on the right)
with William Dower and Isabella's sister Jesse Edward (left)
William and Jesse had family of eight - four daughters and four sons.
Daughter JesseEdward Dower married a German mining engineer Semmy Joseph Blumlein of Jewish descent. They settled in Britain, with Semmy taking out citizenship in 1903. a year after the birth of their son Alan Dower Blumlein.
Their son (above) Alan Dower Blumlein (1902-1942) was to make an impact on our life as we know it today. He invented stereo sound and the modern TV system while working for EMI during the 1930s and made major contributions in the field of telecommunications, electrical measurements, radar, and electronics generally, He was a remarkably versatile, and prolific, engineer. producing 128 patents in a working lifetime of just eighteen years.
Alan Blumlein's death in 1942 at the young age of 38, was shrouded in secrecy. He was killed during the secret trial of an airborne radar system, then under development. when the Halifax bomber he was on crashed in Hertfordshire, with no survivors. Wartime security meant his death was not made public for another three years - no obituary appeared in the press and no tributes were made.
It was not until 1999 that Robert Charles Alexander wrote a definitive biography of Alan Dower Blumlein, to redress the balance and recognise the achievements of a man "overlooked by history""
In 2008 BBC Radio 4 acknowledged this unassuming scientist in "The Man Who Invented Stereo".