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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A-Z April Challenge 2020 - My Introduction.

My theme for the 2020 challenge is|:

Family History Meets Local History
Sources & Stories from England and Scotland

I want to show that Family History is so much more that the collection of names and dates.  I am a great advocate  of discovering the background to  our ancestors' lives - and much of this  can be found in local history resources.

So I shall be exploring the many diverse directions that family history can take you, and in the process perhaps provide some new ideas on blogging prompts for when you might hit the proverbial brick wall.

You might not always find specific references in the resources   to your individual ancestors,  but you  will gather a wealth of background information  to enhance your story telling.

My posts  will range in topic from  Archive Centres, Books Shelf Favourites, & Gathering Memories,  through  Infamy, Journals & Leisure  to Scottish Records, Timelines, Uniforms and Verses - and much more. 

Do join me on this  journey and I look forward to reading your comments. 

Click HERE to find other bloggers who have signed up under the Genealogy category, with thanks to Dianne  for providing this listing.  


#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Saturday, 21 March 2020

A-Z April Blogging Challenge - My Theme Revealed

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

It is some years since I last took part in the  April Blogging Challenge, because we started going away on holiday with family in April.  However here I am in enforced isolation, and it seemed a good time to give myself a new activity.   

My Theme:  
Family History Meets Local History - 
Sources & Stories from England & Scotland   

Family History is so much more that the collection of names and dates.  But what do you do when you hit the proverbial brick wall?    I am a great believer in discovering the background to our ancestors' lives - and much of this  can be found in local history resources. For example
  • Where  did your ancestor live and what kind of community was it?  Rural, industrial,, coastal, mountainous, isolated?
  •  Who were their neighbours?  Were they all in the same occuaption e.g. miners, millworkers?  Were other family members close by?
  • What work did they do? 
  • Where did they go to school?
  • How did they travel?  e.g. they might have witnessed  the exciting innovation of the railway reaching their town.
  • How might they have spent their limited leisure time?
  • What key events took place locally in their lifetime? e.g. Bonnie Prince Charlie's army marching through the Scottish Borders on the way to England.
  • Where did your ancestors worship?

Just some of the directions I shall be exploring in this challenge.   You might not find specific references in the resource   to your ancestors,  but you  will gather a wealth of background information  to enhance your blogging. 

 Some time ago,  I came across a reference to  Women Writing On Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing. It’s edited by Carol Smallwood and Suzann Holland and published by The Key Publishing House, Inc. of Toronto, Canada (www.thekeypublish.com).  

                                A  key quote in the book struck a chord with me.
                                          "The best family histories are rich in detail" 

     Researching local history along with family history can help provide this detail.
                                        So do join me in this A-Z Challenge.  

 #AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Wheel Women in Focus: Sepia Saturday

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph of three girls with bicycles, c.1925   made me take a look at  the topic of women cyclists  - or as,  one journalist in the 1890's called them,  "wheelwomen". 
Kids, Boy, Girl, Brother, Sister
 "Velocipedes"   were an early form of bicycle, followed by the penny farthing and the boneshaker.   

Vintage, Postcard, Collage, Design

 Penny Farthing, Bike, Bicycle, Old

Vintage, Steampunk, Bicycle, Patent

The introduction of the "safety bicycle" brought in the first hey days for leisure cycling in the 1890's - with women not going to be left behind.  For women, cycling  came to represent a freedom they had not experienced before, and the activity quickly became associated with the wider movement of  women's emancipation.   

But there  were public outcries at the prospect of these  changes in the social norm with much of the criticism focusing on women's dress, notably the new style of bloomers and knickerbockers. These offered more freedom for movement than women's  usual restrictive dresses, but he  fashion became the subject of ridicule in cartoon of the time.
 Couple, Bicycle, Vintage, Advertisement

Newspapers of the day  abound  with letters,  articles  and reports  on  the vision of women riding around the countryside.   

In 1894 the Society of Cyclists called  for  "Rational Dress for  Wheelwomen" 

An angry  letter condemned "a young woman who spends most of her time in riding  on a man's bicycle, has a good deal to learn in respect of simplicity and neatness of attire". 

A clergyman refused to give communion to women who turned up for church in bloomers or knickerbockers.  

However some  doctors said firmly that, " as those best qualified to judge, they were almost unanimous in declaring that the average standard of health among women, who cycle had shown an appreciable elevation."

So this was the image portrayed in advertisements and posters that conveyed a sense of fun and freedom. with illustrations of happy cyclist  enjoying the fresh air and exercise.  

As one protagonist said 

A  most exciting and delightful mode of travel.
Below cycling photographs from my local and family history:   


 Three photogrpahs of women cyslists in Earlston in the Scottish Borders 


But what of my ancestors?  No  photographs exist of them on bikes.  My grandfather cycled or walked everywhere until he died.   For years, my aunt cycled  in all weathers more than five  miles to her work as a teacher  on a bike with a basket on the front handle bars. When I came to get my first bike, the basket like hers was my "must have" item - plus a bell!

Here is an mage of my husband's Great Aunt Pat,   who road her bicycle  during the war  to her work in  the Auxiliary Fire Service in south east England - and the only photograph  I have of a woman wearing trousers - before they became a staple fashion item. 
Fast forward  more than 110 years from the first image, and here is my granddaughter in the casual dress of the day, plus the  obligatory helmet as "health and safety"  considerations reign supreme.   What a contrast!

Bike, Bicycle, Hessian, Sacking

Sources of Information:

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

 Click  HERE to see tales from other Sepia Saturday  bloggers. 

    Friday, 13 March 2020

    Cuddly Pets in the Picture - Sepia Saturday

    This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows a lovely hairy dog cuddled by two girls, c.1920  - and there is no shortage of  pets getting in the picture with  my extended family. 

    To begin with - three vintage photographs of my cousin's family:

     Here Joseph Prince Oldham, with his wife Mary Alice Knowles with their son John William and daughters  Sarah, Edith  and youngest Beatrice + of course their family pet.  The Oldham family were carters and coal merchants in Blackpool, Lancashire.

    Young Elsie Oldham, daughter of John, above. 

    William Hooker and his wife Winifred with their five children + pet.


     The prompt photograph has its caption "Three Beauties - and here are other Beauties.  

    Our daughter was 5 years old and Crufts Dog Championships Show was on television - how could we resist that combination. The result by the summer 1978  was that Beauty a golden cocker spaniel became part of the family.

    Another Beauty, an Alsatian,  was around 40 years earlier - here with my husband's grandmother Alice White, nee Armitage and her granddaughter Maureen, c.1940.


    It was a sad time when we lost our Beauty at the age of nine, and we said we would not go through that again. But surreptitious we were all looking at adverts in the newspaper.   The result was a newq pet - a blue roan cocker spaniel - Coleen.

    Colleen getting in the picture with my parents.  

    Colleen died suddenly at seven years old at a time when there were other stresses in the family. We could not imagine family life without a dog and that had to be a cocker spaniel. So within a few months we had puppy Casmir (Cass) - an orange roan cocker - she had such a distinctive colouring, she became well known around our small town and lived to the grand age of 13.  I always felt that if Cass starred in a Disney cartoon, she would be the Princess.   Judge for yourself here!

    Having  a dog means going out in all weathers,  and here in Britain we don't  let a bit of bad weather stop us.
    A wet and windy crossing to the Isle of Mull
    with all other passengers sheltering below deck.  
     Braving the elements on a windy day on Mull.

    And if you don't ave the real thing, there is always a toy dog to take for a walk.

    Granddaughter pulling her little toy dog. 

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

    Click HERE to discover other furry cuddly friends  featured on bloggers' posts

    Friday, 6 March 2020

    A Lucky Link with an Unknown Cousin - 52 Ancestors Wk 11.

     LUCK is the theme for this week's prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", and lucan play  a big part in successful family history research.

    My good luck came when an unknown third cousin, Stuart,  discovered my blog and made contact.  Even better he lived only 50 miles from me, so we could  easily meet and spent afternoons,  sharing research, old photographs and memorabilia.  As a result I was given  a wonderful boost to my blogging activities in terms of family stories and images, just when I felt I was coming to a halt with my own material. 
     Stuart's Grandfather  - Edward Stewart Ingram Smith & family, c.1916 

    Our Common Background 
    Stuart and I  shared the same great great grandfather Henry Danson (1806-1881) of Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool, Lancashire.   Henry and his wife Elizabeth Calvert had nine children - their  eldest child Elizabeth (1831-1885) was Stuart''s great grandmother, whilst the youngest child James (1852-1906) was my great grandfather - both born at Trap Farm, Carleton.

    So Elizabeth was 21 years older than her youngest brother.  She married Thomas Bailey, whose family lived on an adjacent farm with the picturesque name of Bready Butts.  Six children were born,  so cousins to my grandfather - the youngest Mary Jane in 1877, Stuart's grandmother.
     A modern photograph of Breedy Butts Farm, Carleton
    where Thomas Bailey grew up 

    The story, however, has sad overtones.  Elizabeth died in 1885, aged 54, followed a year later by her husband Thomas, leaving a family orphaned with her two young daughters  only 12 and 8 years old.  Margaret went to live with her eldest sister Elizabeth, with  Mary Jane joining  the household of her older brother Henry in Blackpool.  

    At the age of 28, Mary Jane married John William Oldham in 1905 at St. John's Church, Blackpool, but she continued to face tragedy in her life, when her youngest daughter Hilda  died aged 6 in 1915.   
    John and Mary Jane with baby Hilda and older daughter Elsie, c.1909.  

    Seven years later, Mary Ellen was sadly hospitalised and remained there until her death in 1945.   
    The Oldham Connection
    Mary Jane's husband John Oldham was the only son of a firm of well established carters and coal men in Blackpool,in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for seven  horses.

    On the death in 1939 of John Oldham, his daughter Elsie (left) took the helm with her husband Arthur Stuart Smith. She also ran her hairdressing concern her  as "Elise" run from the family home, where she promised "Bobbing Shingling and Marcel Waves." This lovely evocative advertising blotter below is in the family memorabilia. 
    Elsie Oldham, my thrd cousin's mother.


     Family history can take us in all kinds of directions and Stuart's family connections, although not my direct ancestors,  added a new dimension to my blog posts.  There was: 
    •  John Critchley Prince (1808-1866),  well-known in his time as a writer of poetry  in
      the Lancashire dialect.

    • The Smith Family with their origins  on the island of Unst  off Shetland, the most northerly island of Britain.  Many of the family down the generations had the middle name of Ingram, after the local minister. A move to the mainland took place between 1861-71. John Ingram Smith became the catering manager  at the famous Winter Gardens entertainment complex in Blackpool.  John's  son Edward Stewart Ingram Smith as a young man had a sensitive and artistic air, but the impact of serving in the First World War at the age of 44 took its toll on him.

      Ruins  of a  Smith family croft of Heogland on Unst.
    • The Dower Family  of Aberdeenshire,  with William Dower appointed by the London Missionary Society as a Wesleyan Missionary in South Africa,  setting  sail there in 1865 with his new wife Jesse. 
    William and Jesse Dower  in 1913
    • The Alan Blumlein Connection  - William and Jesse's daughter, married a German mining engineer Semmy Joseph Blumlein of Jewish descent. They settled in Britain and Semmy took out citizenship in 1903.  Their son Alan  Dower Blumlein (1902-1942)  has been described as "the greatest electronic engineer of the 20th century", notable for his many inventions in  telecommunications, sound recordings, television and radar.  He died at the young age of 38 during a secret trial of an airborne radar system.
    You can stumble across some amazing stories when you start to delve into sidelines of your family history.  Stuart's contact with me was my lucky day  - and I haven't even mentioned the war-time tales, the wealth of wedding photographs down the decades or the charming children's photographs that have found their way into my blog posts. 
     My third cousin's father - Arthur Stuart Ingram Smith (1908-1979)
    Join Amy Johnson's Crow
     Facebook Group  "Generations Cafe." 

    to read posts from other bloggers taking part in the
    2020  "52 Ancestors" Challenges.   

    Tuesday, 3 March 2020

    “Oh, I do like to be besides the seaside” - Sepia Saturday

    This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt photograph of a happy group, enjoying themselves on the beach c.1920s is the cue for a musical introduction to more happy family photographs.  Click the link below.

    Oh, I do like to be besides the sea
    I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom Prom
    Where the big brass band plays "tiddly  om pom pom......"   

    On the left, wearing the cloche hat is my husband's Great Aunt Pat, beside her daughter Annette - with unknown friends. Judging by the fashions and the age of Annette,  it  was most likely  taken in the late 1920's  on the beach at Margate in Kent,  where the family lived.

    I am a Blackpudlian - born in the famous north west seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire,  famed for its golden beaches and its tower, modelled on the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1894, Blackpool Tower  rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school. 
     A surprisingly empty Blackpool beach with the Central Pier and the famous Tower in the background.
    The earliest picture of me enjoying the beach.  I reckon this was taken May-June 1945, as my father here was in uniform.   I know that he had leave between marking VE Day in Germany and then being posted to the Far East. 
    Toddling along with my father. 

    Our own family holidays were taken in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, with all the ingredients of  traditional 1950's seaside fun  - setting up deckchairs, playing  on the beach, making sandcastles, eating ice-cream,   taking donkey rides, and exploring rock pools. 
     With my mother.  Every summer she made me a new sun dress and I remember this one in green and white  polka dots, with shoulder straps on my dress and a bolero to go over it.  
    it must be a photographic quirk that Dad appears so sunburnt in the photograph above, because he did not lead a particularly outdoor life to get that brown.  
    Digging holes with my brother.    You can tell this must be the 1950’s - those were the days before the anti-smoking  campaigns and  my father is happy to enjoy his cigarette, long before he ditched the habit.  Goodness knows why I  was I wearing a hated rubber swimming cap, as I could barely swim at this stage?    I suppose to keep dry my long hair which was  usually in plaits.   

    A happy picture of my little brother  looking very natty in his knitted bathing suit and sunhat.

    Digging for Australia? 

     Fourteen years on, and I was enjoying a  year working in Boston, Mass - with time for relaxation on Nantucket Island   - this was the life!  

    Daughter  (in the middle) enjoying a donkey ride on Blackpool beach. This was taken in Blackpool in the school  October half term holiday, so not exactly summery. c.1980.

    Quiet beaches have their appeal too - here Bamburgh beach in Northumberland (a favourite day trip away), dominated by the impressive Bamburgh Castle which can be seen for miles around

     As a child I remember having a book on heroines in history with an illustration of Grace Darling  (1815-1842), the lighthouse keeper's daughter at Bamburgh,   who in 1838 risked storms and icy seas to rescue sailors from the shipwrecked "Forfarshire.   She died of consumption just four years later and is buried in Bamburgh, with a museum dedicated to her life. 

     Across to the east coast of Scotland ad the beach at North Berwick,
    20 miles south of Edinburgh - very quiet on a June day.

     A beautiful, peaceful beach to ourselves amidst the wonderful scenery on the Isle of Iona, looking across to the Isle of Mull in the Scottish West Highlands. 

    And finally - if you cannot get to the beach, why not enjoy some sandy moments  at home?  Granddaughter having fun in her sand pit. 

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


     Click  HERE  to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers
    have been enjoying themselves.