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Thursday, 31 May 2012

A is for Adventure, Alice and Archives - Family History through the Alphabet

Having enjoyed a quick sprint through one A-Z challenge from Ros at http://genwestuk.blogspot.com/, I could not resist joining in a further one from Aona at Genealogy & History News with  her Family History through the Alphabet Challenge at

Enjoy reading!.

A is for:
My great grandmother Maria Danson, nee
Rawcliffe with her grandaughter Annie Maria
Adventure - when I started toying with the idea of tracing my family history, how little did I know on what a journey of adventure it would be - finding my way through the resources; alighting on surprising coincidences such as my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe (born the same day as my daughter 114 years later; discovering I had American connections, hitting obstacles, with the birth of my grandmother and the name of her mother remaining my major brickwall; being at times astonished, puzzled and moved by what I am finding. The Adventure continues...

Alice Mason nee Rawcliffe
with husband James
and 3 of their large family

Alice is the sister of my great grandmother Maria (above) and her story of Adventure particularly fascinates me as she emigrated from rural Lancashire with six children under 11 (plus 2 pieces of baggage) to join her husband, John Mason in the teeming tenments of Brooklyn, New York in 1887. They had a further five children including Arthur Valentine, born appropriately 14th February 1888. To add to the story, after many many years, I have recently had contact from Alice's descendants in America (thanks to this blog) and am looking forward to discovering more about my American connections.

Archives - I had to include this under A,   as I used to work in the Heritage Hub, Hawick, home of the Scottish Borders Archive Service. Again it is a story of Adventure exploring the unique records and touching pages that record details of our ancestor in their own lifetime, whether it be a poor law entry, a school record, or a will.  
Reproduced  with kind permission of the Hreitage Hub - www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub

Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Pigeon Sent the News - Sports Centre Saturday

My father John Weston (1912-2003) always had an interest in journalism and I persuaded him to write down memories of his early life in Brosely, near Ironbridge, Shropshire and of his war-time experiences. 

I love this childhood anecdote. 

"I was mad keen on soccer, so much so that I had a trial at Birmingham with the English schoolboys.  My teacher took me in his car to that and to a second trial at Shrewsbury.    

One Saturday when I was working as an errand boy, two directors from Birmingham Football Club came to see Dad and Mum to sign me on   - they refused, saying I was too young to be away from home.   I was not told about this until later and sulked for a month!

But a bit of glory followed, when my school team entered a cup competition.  I was vice-captain and we got to the final - and won the cup, the first ever for  Brosely.

One of the supporters took a carrier pigeon along with us and set it loose at the end to let Brosely know the result and to prepare a welcome, as we were bringng home the cup! "

Postscript - apparently a photograph was taken of the team's success, but  no pictures of my father's early life passed down the family. I have very few photographs prior to his meeting my mother. Family memorabilia (including Dad's church choir and football team photographs) were thrown out by his  widowed sister-in-law. How sad! 

The earliest photograph I have of my father (on left) with his brother Charles, c.1930's

Sports Center Saturday is one of many daily blog prompts from  www.geneabloggers.com,
encouraging writers to record their family history and family memories.

Friday, 25 May 2012

My Home Town - Sharing Memories

Lorine McGinnis Schulze at http://olivetreegenealogy.blogspot.com/p/sharing-memories.html is leading a series on Sharing Memories.  Here the topic is "My Home Town".  

Blackpool  Tower
The first decision on this posting - which is my home town? 

I was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, and have fond memories of my early  childhood there in this seaside resort, famous for its Tower, completed in 1894.

But the place I call my ancestral home  is the nearby small historic town of Poulton-le-Fylde, where my mother's Danson family livd for at least eight  generations - the subject of many a blog posting.

I left Poulton when I was 13 as my father's job took us to York and then Edinburgh where I finished my formal education.

Marriage took me to Hawick, Roxburghshire, the largest town in the Scottish Borders,  famed for its quality knotwear, rugby teams and heritage.  It became my home for forty-one years, the longest I have lived anywhere.

Then just four weeks ago, we moved 25 miles north to Earlston in Berwickshire in a house that ticks all our boxes and is only 15 minutes walk from our daughter and family  

Earlston Woodland Walk 
Earlston is somewhere between a large village and a small town, with gardens and war memorial in the Market Square, two grocers' shops, baker, butcher, craft shop, hairdresser, church, primary school and High School, cafe, chippy and Chinese take away, and,  if you fancy a drink, a choice of the Black Bull, White Swan or Red Lion - plus good bus links to other Border towns and Edinburgh. 

It is  friendly buzzing community serving the surrounding agricultural area.

The big event next week is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Street Party (just hope this good weather continues), with a picnic and barbecue, stalls, entertainment, and, in the evening a  ceilidh (concert) with a final fireworks flourish.

And 10 days later, the Olympic torch passes through Earlston.

It promises to be a great introduction to life in our new home town.   

Leader Water at Earlston


 Countryside around Earlston

 Old Earlston Bridge, built in 1737

Copyright © 2012 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved

Monday, 21 May 2012

A to Z Challenge Catch Up Time - Final Sprint Q to Z

I had been following Ros's series  at http://genwestuk.blogspot.com/ on an A to Z Genealogy Challenge - interrupted by a hectic house move plus computer problems.  So here is my final  belated  quick dash through Q to Z.  

Q is for Queries, Quandries and Questions.  Family historians are always searching for answers.  We can often trace the "What, When, Who",  but the "Why" is far more difficult and we can only hazard a guess at motives for actions.

R is for Research, References, Registrars, Railways, Regional Names and Receipts - a small piece of ephemera that yet adds to an ancestor's story.

Receipt for my graandmother's wedding dress material, 1907
S is for Sources (the bedrock of family history research), Sisters, Signatures, School Records, Sasines (Scottish property records), and Statistical Accounts (an invaluable contemporary picture of Scottish parishes, with the first edition published 1791-1799.
The 9 MacFarlane sisters (Bridget, Kate, Mary, Annie, Ellen, Sarah, Jane, Maggie and Jemima).
with their brother Patrick and mother Annie, 1912.  
T is for Timelines to put our ancestors' lives in the wider context of local, national and internatonal events of the time;  Taxation Records, Telegrams, Travel and Toys.

U is for Unmarried and Umquhile - often found in old Scottish documents, meaning "the late, departed, deceased".  

V is for Valuation Rolls of property

W is for War Memorials, War Records, Work, Weddings, Writing, WDYTYA and of course the World Wide Web - where would we be without it?

X is for the sidelines of family history EXcitement, EXhaustion, EXamining Sources, EXchanging Information, EXcursions into social, military, house history, EXpertise and EXceeding EXpectations.

Y is for Yeoman  - an English term meaning a man owning his own farm, such as my great great grandfather Heny Danson of Trap Farm, Carleton, Lancashire.  I can do no better that quote Ros's definitition -

A yeoman differed from landed gentry in one major way.  They both owned land (lthough the yeoman often much less), but the yeoman would his had to till the earth, whereas the landed gentry usually employed servants to do this. 

Z is for being a Zealot and reaching the Zenith of family history research - do we ever get there?

I have had fun writing this series - Thank you,  Ros,  for the prompts.