Monday, 29 September 2014

The Book of Me: I am a "Joiner".

Julie at Anglers Rest   has introduced bloggers to "The Book of Me, Written by You"  as an opportunity to remember, explore and rediscovermemories of our own.   Ultimately, this is the creation of a legacy for the future. 



The latest theme - Clubs and Societies  - is a natural  choice for me, as I have my mother to  thank for encouraging me to be a "Joiner".  


Because of my father's work, we moved around a lot, and Mum (left)  joined whatever women's group was there as a way of getting involved in the local community and making friends whether it was a choir, Mother's Union, Townswoman's Guild, Church Work Group, Parent-Teachers Association, Women's Rural Institute (WRI) etc.  

Whenever there was a coffee morning, bring & buy sale, spring fete, summer fete, Christmas fete, Mum was part of the activity, with her contributions for the sales tables - aprons, cushion covers, doll's clothes, soft toys and of course cake and candy. 

As a dressmaker she was often called upon to help with costumes for Gala Days and concerts.  



Costumes my mother made for for Staining Gala Day - in apple green satin
I am the little girl on the front row left.

My life as a "joiner" began, I suppose with Sunday School - though I did not have much choice in that.  The next step I was far more enthusiastic about - joining the  Brownies in the Leprechaun Six.   Here I made my first stage performance  at a Brownie concert when, clutching our teddies,  we sang "The Teddy Bear's Picnic".

I graduated to the Girl Guides and joined the Scarlet Pipmpernel patrol, sporting the red tabs on my uniform and collecting badges to sew on my sleeves.  but I never took to camping!   

 , We were not a musical family in terms of playing instruments, but music played an important part in our lives. My mother  joined local community choirs and  my father, with his brother, had sung in a  church choir from the age of seven.  

So it was not surprising that singing in a choir (school, church, community)  has been a key activity throughout my life from primary school days onwards, whether it was folk songs from round the world, spirituals, carols, sacred music, opera and operetta choruses,   or songs from the shows - musical tastes that still mean a lot to me today.

 I was very happy to be a chorus girl, with no pretensions to be a soloist - I knew my limitations!  It is a marvelous form of music making, whatever your age, a great creator of the "feel good factor",  and there is nothing to beat singing with the full blooded accompaniment of an an orchestra or  organ.   


 High school introduced me to Gilbert & Sullivan  and I was hooked, singing in most of the operas over the years.  At University, I joined the  Savoy Opera Group and the annual G & S performances were the highlight of my years there - I loved taking part in them - the dressing up (the girls made their own costumes), the singing and some dancing. 

In "Yeoman of the Guard"
My other main interest of history, meant I naturally  gravitated to local history groups and family history societies,  where I not only met like-minded enthusiasts but was given the opportunity to develop my research and writing skills through the production of booklets and articles for magazines. 

And yes, I have sat on more committees and written more minutes  than I care to remember. But  I always steered clear of becoming President or Treasurer - not a role I relished.

My last house move was two years ago to small village - and who says there is nothing to do in retirement?  My life seems busier than ever as I have joined the local  history group, a Gilbert & Sullivan concert group ( I know I am well past past the age to dress up as  a young maiden in a stage production!), and the WRI (Women's Rural Institute).  

I have never joined a sports club, but  in the cause of a healthier lifestyle, I am now a member of a  Walking Group (one of a network in my region of the Scottish Borders)  where we do a 3-4 mile walk every week - always finishing  at a local cafe  for scones and further chat.    Highly recommended!  
So Mum's example has stayed with me, and left me an important message on how to make friends and become involved in a new community.    She was an inspiration!  



Saturday, 27 September 2014

On Your Bike! Sepia Saturday

Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.




 There was just one photograph in my collection that fitted this week's  theme.  Here  is my husband as a little boy on the back of his  father's motor bike, which I am told was a  pre-war 500cc Rudge Spurts Special.

Nowadays there is a Rudge Enthusiasts Club, dedicated to the Rudge-Whitworth Motorcycles. 



No concerns in those days about health and safety and wearing crash helmets and leathers, with Neil in his school cap and coat and his Dad in a beret.  

They rode all over the North of England  together, including journeys  from South Shields to Catterick Camp  where brother Ian (below)  was doing his National Service - a 120 mile round trip - so there is the  army link with the prompt photo. 



 Click HERE to find other bloggers' tales of tents and bikes. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sibling Saturday - Five Smedley Brothers of Pennsylvania

Civil War combatants, a Yosemite traveller, a news agent and a cigar & tobacco dealer -  all activities of the  Smedley brothers shown  here in this striking collage. 

The brothers along with siblings Lydia, Amy, Abiah T., Catherine Ann, and Anna Mary were fifth generation Americans of English Quaker descent, born to Jeffrey Smedley and Catherine Denny of Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.  

The Ancestry website includes among its American records those of the Pennsylvania Quakers  and the surname  of the extended Smedley family  features prominently.  

The brothers' parents Jeffrey (below)  and Catherine married 18th December 1834.  









The 1850 census showed the Smedley family  of eight children  with only second son John Kinsey not at home on census night.  Jeffrey, aged 39 was described as a Farmer, with his wife, Catherine, eight years older at  47,   What must her life have been like with nine children under the age of 14 and with her three youngest children born when she was in her 40's ? 

Ten years on in the 1860 census, 49 year old Jeffrey was still described as a farmer, as was his eldest son Isaac, with daughter Amy a teacher.  Of his children, only John Kinsey again  was away from home, traced to Philadelphia where he was also farming.

Within a year, Jeffrey senior was dead, as recorded in the "Obituaries of the Members of the Society of Friends in America for the year 1861".  I had hoped for an obituary giving some insight into Jeffrey's life, but unfortunately  only the bare name and date was given in the entry.  

By the time of the 1870 census, his widow Catherine was living a very different life - instead of being surrounded by her family, she was living on her own.  She died in 1877 at Leopard, Pennsylvania, with the Quaker Journal giving a simple entry, with no reference to other family members, and noting she was buried in Williston Friends Ground.  

But what of their sons, with Isaac, John Kinsey and Abiah  serving their country  in the American Civil War, as told in a previous post. 


Elder brother ISAAC was born 1 March 1838 at Chester, Pennsylvania and named after his paternal grandfather. 

The USA Civil War Draft Registration Records   show that 23 year old Isaac enlisted in  the 97th Pennsylvania  Volunteer  Infantry.  He rose to the rank of 2nd  Lieut. but was honorably discharged on a surgeon's certificate at Seabrook Island, South Carolina.  

Unmarried, he sadly died of consumption om 12 February  1867 at the young age of 28, buried in Willistown Friends Cemetery, Chester, Delaware Co.  

 Second son, JOHN KINSEY  was born 10 July 1839 in Williston,
 Pennsylvania.  So far the origin of his distinctive middle name has not been traced.  It was not a name from either his parents or grandparents,  though his uncle was a Kersey Smedley.  

The young John was not with his family on census night in 1850 and ten years on aged 21, he was  a farmer in Philadelphia.

In September 1862 at the age of 23, John  enlisted in the Union Navy as a naval engineer. He  participated in blockade duties and attacks on the Confederate forts in Charleston Harbor including  Fort Sumter,  and served aboard vessels Nantucket, Wabash, Mohican and Tullahoma.

Unlike his brothers, John's life was to move far beyond Pennsylvania to Utah and California, working as an engineer, inventor and traveller.  In 1874, he  wrote an account of his journey into the Yosemite Valley in a journal still in the family safe keeping. John died in California in 1905.

John's eventful life will feature in the next posting on the Smedley family.

Brother JEFFREY, named after his father, was born in 25th May 1845 and was in the family  home in the 1850 and 1860 censuses. By the 1880 census, Jeffrey was married, his wife Sallie, with a 6 year old daughter Florence. His occupation was given as News Agent, The 1900 census again llisted his wife Sarah and  daughter Florence,but Jeffrey this time  described as a Cigar and Tobacco Dealer - an occupation which somehow fits in with his suave appearance in  this photograph. 

Records show that he died  on 12th March 1917 at Bala, Montgomery, Pennsylvania.  The  US Find a Grave Index  noted his burial at Arlington Cemetery on Drexel Hill, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 


                                     
 

Youngest brother CHARLES D.  was born 6th January 1847 - the youngest of Jeffrey and Catherine's nine children. 

In 1880 Charles was  living on his own at Eastown, Pennsylvania, described as a Dealer in Dried Goods and Groceries.  A year later, he  married Alta J. Epwright, - at 17 years old, half his age.

The 1900 census showed the  family, living at Newtown, Pennsyslvania  with five daughters (Martha, Anna, Jessie,  Helen and Ella), and  one son Jeffrey.. Like his father, Charles occupation was given as Farmer. By the time of the 1910 census, another daughter had been born - Olive,  and Charles was still farming. 

The 1920 census was much more informative than earlier ones,  and showed that the family was living in rented accommodation at Haddinton Street, Philadephia Ward 34 and  that all the family could read and write.   Charles aged 73 had had a change of occupation to that of a Watchman in the River Fuel Industry.  Three daughters were still living at home - 27 year old Helen was a nurse, 20 year old Ella a typist in a printing office, with no occupation indicated for 18 year old Olive. 

Charles died two years later in 1922, with his wife Alta living a further 32 years, dying in 1956 at the grand age of 93 -  both buried in Willistown Meeting House Cemetery, Delaware Co., Pennsylvania. 

Charles death marked the demise of the four Smedley brothers - Isaac, John Kinsey, Jeffrey and Charles.  

However there was a fifth brother  ABIAH, born in 1840, the fifth child of Jeffrey (Senior) and Catherine - his name is of Hebrew origin meaning " God is my Father".  An entry in the US Find a Grave Index brought to light that Abiah served in the  Civil War.  His record   showed that he enlisted in Company B, Pennsylvania 6th Cavalry Regiment on 30 Aug 1861 a few months after the outbreak fo war.    In 1865 was promoted to First Lieutenant.  

Abiah sadly died in 1867, aged 27,  leaving a young widow Mary and a daughter Mary Emma  born two months after his death.  Abiah was buried in
Willistown Friends Cemetery, where his eldest brother Isaac, had been laid to rest just three months earlier.    

************ 
SOURCES
  • Family notes and photographs, with special thanks to Gail - John Kinsey Smedley's great granddaughter.
  • US Civil War Draft Registration Records 1863-1865
  • US Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles 1861-1865 
  • Officers of the Continental & US Navy & Marine Corps 1795-1900. 
  • US Navy Pension Records
  • US Veterans Grave-sites
  • US Federal Census Returns 1850-1920
  • US Quaker Meeting Records 
  • Obituaries of the Members of the Society of Friends in America,  1861.
  • Quaker Journal, 1877
  • California Death Index 
  • US City Directories  
  • Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, Pennsylvania 

    Sibling Saturday is one of many daily blog prompts from Geneabloggers, 
    that encourages writers to record aspects of their family history.











Friday, 12 September 2014

Family Recipe Friday - Wartime Recipes


What were your ancestors eating in Britain during the Second World War?  How do these dishes appeal? 
  • Economy Omelet - made with dried egg. 
  • Herring Sandwich 
  • Savoury Bread Pudding - made with bread, suet and oatmeal 
  • Savoury oatmeal pancakes - made with thick cold porridge. 
  • Sago Jelly 
  • Semolina Cake 

These dishes are among recipes that feature in a little booklet published during the Second World War  by the Women's Guild in the village  of Earlston in the Scottish Borders.  (Ercildoune in the title was the old name for the village).

Treats were not forgotten, with many biscuit recipes - ginger and oatmeal were favoruites  and a "Wartime Shortie"


"Work 1 dessertspoonful of sugar into 4 ounces of margarine.  Add 1 cupful of flour and work in half a cupful of custard powder.  Roll our thinly and cut into rounds.  Bake in a slow over!


Puddings seemed to require 3-4 hours of boiling/steaming and the prospect of a "Flourless Plum Pudding" was less appealing when I saw it was made with 3 tablespoons of tapioca.  

One recommended tip for prunes advised   "No cooking or sugar required if they are soaked in water with a clove for two days."  


http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/b0/47/02/b0470242c016eea37b5298d8b579ebf5.jpgOne ingredient predominated in the recipes - dried egg.  Imported from the USA, it was  the  government response  to a wartime shortage of fresh eggs. which were rationed in June 1942.   Dried eggs were  easily transported and were "non perishable". But they were universally hated, mainly due to not being reconstituted correctly.
 

Sample 1943 rations of basics for a week for 1 person:
3 pints of milk
3 1/4Ib - 1Ib meat
1 egg a week or 1 packet of dried eggs (equal to 12) every 2 months
3 to 4 oz cheese
4 oz combined of bacon or ham
2 oz tea, loose leaf
8 oz sugar
2 oz butter
2 oz cooking fat

The Earlston booklet had an introduction by the BBC "Radio Doctor"  - Dr. Charles Hill who during the Second World War gave advice in a daily broadcast  from the Ministry of Food called "Kitchen Front".  His distinctive voice with his frankness & down to earth approach made him hugely popular.

Chapters also featured  on diet, child welfare, first aid, fresh air, care of the teeth, feet and hair. 

In the  First Aid section, along  with the standard ailments of burns & scalds, shock, stings, bleeding nose, was something that perhaps reflected the rural life of the readers; 


For  "Lime in the Eye" - bathe the eye with a weak solution of vinegar and water  (eight parts water to one vinegar),  Try to remove the lime with the corner of a handkerchief. 
Put a drop  or two of caster oil into the eye.


A Handy Hint advised  " Keep potato peelings, for after being  dried in the oven, they are useful for lighting fires instead of wood."

And not forgetting livestock - there was a recipe for  making "wet mash for domestic poultry".

The booklet is in the  collection of "Auld Earlston" - the local historical society and is an example of the fascinating little local publications which can can be unearthed and add so much colour to writing about the lives of our ancestors. 

Family Recipe Friday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers that encourage bloggers to write about their ancestors and their lives.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sepia Saturday - Take a Tour by Train


Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

There was so much to choose from in this week's prompt, but as I have never featured trains before,  it is time now to take a trip from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire Moors, to Argyll in the west of Scotland, finishing in Austria. 


In the village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders where I now live, the railway survived 100 years, opening in 1863 as part of the Berwickshire Railway. Following major flooding that hit the region in 1948, the station was closed to passenger traffic, and the last freight service operated in 1965.





Photographs courtesy of the Auld Earlston Group


Three miles from my home is the major engineering feat on the Berwickshire Railway -  Leaderfoot viaduct  The 19 span bridge crosses over the River Tweed, near Melrose.  It  was built in 1863, with trains running until the line closed in  1965.  The structure is now in the care of Historic Scotland.     A Roman bridge once crossed the Tweed here, conveying Dere Street north from the nearby fort of Trimontium. 




A holiday in 1977 saw us take a family holiday  at Grosmont on the North Yorkshrie Moors where the heritage railway between Gromont and Pickering  was a key attraction.  The railway was planned in 1831 by George Stephenson as a means of opening up trade routes inland from the then important seaport of Whitby and was first conceived as a horse drawn passenger railway.  The line opened in 1836 and closed in 1965, reopening in 1973 by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd. 

These photographs courtesy of my husband.






A visit to the National Railway Museum at York was also on the itinerary where our  daughter enjoyed playing gymnastics on the giant wheels.


We happened to be on holiday at Taynuilt near Oban in the West of Scotland where there was a small station which one night hosted the luxury Royal Scotman on a tour of Scotland,  We had a peep through the windows and saw tables being set for dinner - silver service of course1  We were most fascinated by the badges on the side of the train.  





And finally to the Austrian Lakes  and to the ""Road Trains"  which  a number of the towns have to transport visitors around. Fun for children and adults alike. 



At Mondsee the train took visitors from the main car park into the town centre.  Mondsee is probably most famous now as the location of the church used in "the Sound of Music"  film for the wedding of Maria and Captain von Trapp.   

This "train" in the spa town of Bad Ischl takes visitors round the town's attractions that include  Kaiser Franz Joseph's summer retreat - the Kaiservilla.  -  where in 1914 he signed the order that plunged Austria into the  conflict that became the First World War. Franz Lehar, composer of operetta's such as "The Merry Widow" also had a summer  residence by the river.  He was granted ho.honorary citizenship of the town and his music is remembered each year in a Lehar Festival. 


Click HERE to find other blogger tales from this week's prompt. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Military Monday: Smedley Brothers in the Civil War

You come across some amazing stories when you start to delve into  your family history and such was the life of John Kinsey Smedley - a naval engineer in the American Civil War, later inventor and traveller who wrote an account of his journey into the Yo-semite Valley in 1874.  

John Kinsey Smedley was born 10 July 1839 in Willistown, Pennsylvania   the fourth child of Jeffrey Smedley (1811-1861) and Catherine Denny (1803-1877)); with siblings  Lydia, Amy, Isaac, Abiah T., Catherine Ann, Anna Mary, Jeffrey and Charles.  He was a fifth generation American of English Quaker  heritage.  

In September 1862 at the age of 23, John  enlisted in the Union Navy,  and  participated in blockade duties and attacks on the Confederate forts in Charleston Harbor including  Fort Sumter.

He served  aboard vessels  Nantucket, Wabash, Mohican and Tullahoma.

The family is fortunate to have details of his service, written down by John's daughter Hattie and signed by him. 


A transcription by John's great granddaughter Gail  reads;
"Enlisted Sept. 1, 1862 in U.S. Navy at Philadelphia, PA.  Appointed 3rd Assist. Engineer, U.S. Navy Nov. 17, 1862.  Ordered to report onboard U.S. Monitor “Nantucket” at Boston, Feb. 14, 1863, Donald McNeal Fairfax, commanding.  Was in engagements Fort Sumter, S.C. Apr. 7, 1863 – James Island batteries July 8 and 10/63 on Stono River, and Morris Island, S.C. – Fort Wagner July 10, 16, and 18, 1863 – Fort Sumter July 20 – Fort Moultrie July 21, 1863 – Cummings Point batteries Aug. 10 and 12/63 – Fort Wagner Aug. 15 and 16/63."
USS Nantucket
 "Appointed 2nd Assist. Eng. Mar. 23, 1864.  Detached from Monitor Nantucket July 20, 1864 and ordered to Steam Frigate “Wabash”, Capt. John de Camp, by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron".
USS Wabash

 "Reported July 21, 1864 to W.K. Grozier, Executive Officer – Cruised off Cape de Verde Islands for three months.   

Detached from the Wabash and ordered to the U.S. Man-of-War “Mohican”, Oct. 30, 1864 by Rear Adml. David D. Porter, Com. N.A.B. Squadron.  Reported Oct. 31, 1864 to Daniel Ammen, com".


         
"Was in engagements at Fort Fisher, N.C. Dec. 24 and 25, 1864, also Jan. 13-14-15, 1865, ending with the capture of the Fort.  Steamed to Fort McAllister, Georgia and had a skirmish with scouting party in timber (?) etc.

 Detached from “Mohican” Apr. 26, 1865 at Boston – ordered to special duty on board U.S.S. “Tullahoma” at New York, May 19, 1865, by Thorton A. Jenkins, Chief of Staff.  

Ordered to temporary duty Aug. 6, 1865 on board U.S. Monitor “Nantucket” on trip to Philadelphia.  Detached Feb. 20, 1866 from special duty on U.S.S. Tullahoma and ordered to Navy Yard, N.Y. in connection with Boiler Experimental duty.  Reported Feb. 21, 1866 – J.W. King, Chief Engineer.

          Resigned March 13, 1866.

                                                   (signed – J. Kinsey Smedley)"

John Kinsey Smedley resigned from the Union Navy on 13 March 1866, and the family  still holds,  among the family treasures, his naval sword, sheath, and belt, shown in this photograph below.



After the war John headed west - to Utah and California - but that is for another posting! 

He died 22nd  July 1905 at Alamedia. Caifornia, buried in San Francisco National Cemetery,  with  the form for internment describing him as "2nd Assistant Engineer US Navy".  
********

Elder brother Isaac Smedley  was born 1 March 1838 at Chester, Pennsylvania and named after his paternal grandfather.  

The USA Civil War Draft Registration Records  on Ancestry.com  show that 23 year old Isaac enlisted in    the 97th Pennsylvania  Volunteer  Infantry.  He rose to the rank of 2nd  Liut. but was honorably discharged on a surgeon's certificate at Seabrook island, South Carolina.  

He sadly died, unmarried,  of consumption om 12 February  1867 at the young age of 28. He was buried in Willistown Friends Cemetery, Chester, Delaware Co.  under the title " Lieut. Isaac Smedley"  


Younger brother  ABIAH, born in 1840, was the fifth child of Jeffrey (Senior) and Catherine - his name is of Hebrew origin meaning " God is my Father".  An entry in the US Find a Grave Index brought to light that Abiah served in the  Civil War.  His record   showed that he enlisted in Company B, Pennsylvania 6th Cavalry Regiment on 30 Aug 1861 a few months after the outbreak do war and in  1865 he was promoted to First Lieutenant.  

Abiah sadly died in 1867, aged 27,  leaving a young widow Mary and a daughter Mary Emma  born two months after his death. He was buried in
Willistown Friends Cemetery, where his eldest brother Isaac, had been laid to rest just three months earlier.   

Three brothers who gave service to their county in time of war. 
**********
Sources:
  • Family notes and photographs, with special thanks to Gail - John Kinsey Smedley's great granddaughter.
On www.Ancestry.co.uk:  
  • US Civil War Draft Registration Records 1863-1865
  • Officers of the Continental & US Navy & marine Corps 1795-1900. 
  • US Navy Pension Records
  • US Veterans Grave-sites
  • California Death Index 
  • US National Cemetery Interment Control Form  

Military Monday is one of many daily blog prompts from Geneabloggers 
that encourage writers to record aspects of their family history.