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Monday, 30 July 2012

Cousins Uncovered - 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy

Couins is the latest topic from Amy at http://wetree.blogspot.com/ in conjunction with Geneabloggers, in the series of prompts on the theme of 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy.

One of the best experiences in family history is meeting with new cousins found through your research. Tell us -  How did you discover each other? Where did you meet? What type of information was exchanged and how did it benefit your research?

My great grandfather James Danson was one of 9 children (6 daughters and 3 sons) and my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe was one of 5 surviving daughters - so there must be a lot of my distant cousins out there.

Three Sisters (and their Descendants) Traced
My first success came as  a member of the Lancshsire Family History and Heraldry Society.  Many years ago, in the listing of member's interests, three separate entries for Cardwell, Cookson and Gaulter caught my eye - all were the married names of Danson sisters - Jane, Grace and Mary.  I wrote and amazingly all proved to be connections. We exchanged information and family trees which was a great help in writing my narrative genealogy of the Danson family - and that was it!   This was in the pre-internet/pre digital photography age, and I cannot believe now that I never thought to ask about old photographs which now mean so much to me in bringing family history alive,  especially used in  blog postings.  In hindsight this seemed little more than an academic exercise in information gathering.

A Danson Bible Found 
The website www.genesreunited.co.uk revealed a query from Janet on her great great grandfather John Danson who been born at Trap Farm, Carleton (near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire), which was my great grandfather's birthplace. I had encountered so many fruitless results on this website from so called "Hot Matches" which frustratingly matched on name and date, but not importantly on place. So this contact was wonderfu

Trap Farm, Carleton
It was the exchange of archive material and family memorabilia that meant the most to me. John was the eldest son of Henry Danson and grandson of another Henry. and had inherited the family bible (previously unknown to me). It featured a beautifully written page relating to John Danson and family, including the days of the week when their children were born.

Of much more quirky interest, though, was the fact the two front blank pages had been used for what looked like writing practice by the family of John's grandfather - as described in Scibbles in the Danson Bible.

One page featured signatures scrawled all ways - ones that can be deciphered are Henry Danson, Trap, Elizabeth Danson, Ellen Danson, Carleton, Peter Danson, Ellie Simpson, Carleton, Trap, Servant, 1830.

Trap Farm was where John Danson's parents were living in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, so this record first brought to  light that  the family were there in 1830.      The fact that servant Ellie Simpson was also included in the activity and signed her name, somehow casts a lovely light on the informal nature of the household - though the fact they used a bible for this activity raises other issues!

Contact from a Nearby Third Cousin  
Sarah Alice Oldham and George Butler,
My blog was responsible for my next success in finding a new third cousin - even better Stuart lived only 50 miles away so we met and spent an afternoon looking through old photographs and memorabilia. Stuart was descended from my great grandfather's eldest sister Elizabeth, through her youngest daughter Mary Ellen who married John Prince Oldham.

Stuart's contributions to my family history has given my blogging activity a huge boost, as he had so many photographs and associated stories of his mother, a hairdresser in the 1920's, of his poet ancestor John Critchley Prince,  his grandfather, a carter and coalman and in particular a wonderful collection of wedding photographs which has provided many an attractive posting of Magnificent Hats.

My American Links Uncovered 
My most recent "lost cousin" was discovered a few months ago,  again through my blog,   after a search of over 10 years, with little success through websites and message board queries. My great grandmother's sister Alice, with husband John Mason and large family, emigrated to Brooklyn, New York in 1886-7. My family history had had no overseas connections and I was longing to extend my interest to another country - and again thanks to the internet, I have "met"  with Alice's great granddaughter Bonnie in New Jersey who has identified my Mystery Photograph and  been a great source of photographs which I am looking forward to featuring in future postings.

Florence Mason - youngest daughter of John Mason (pictured) and Alice Rawcliffe, my great great aunt.
I look forward to finding more cousins.


  1. Envious, I am. I have been yearning to make those cousin connections, but as I cast a eye backwards over this past year, I have decided that I am greedy. I have indeed made cousin connections -- just not the ones I was looking for. Me thinks I will have to learn patience and savor the connections made. Thanks for a delightful post.

  2. What a great collection of cousins you've found! Isn't it wonderful that you got the bible - never thought of such a haul from GenesReunited. Yes, it's a shame about the photos, but our skills and focus do change as we move through our family history. Great post Susan.

  3. Many thanks, Joan and Pauleen, for your comments. To be honest I did not quite realise what connections I had made until i began drafting this post. And yes, patience was called for, as the successes span very many years. I would nominate Patience for P in the A-Z Challenge series!


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