.jump-link{ display:none }

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Happy Easter To All My Blog Readers
I am afraid it is little like Spring here in the Scottish Borders with a week of  rain, snow, sleet and hail, with very occasional glimpses of sun. 
So here are some Spring pictures, taken in Hawick  last year,  to remind us what may be around the corner.


Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Convivial Drink? Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

Two men out for a drink - whether it be tea, coffee or something stronger?  I have the ideal matching photograph  that I have wanted  to feature for some time. 

I must admit I took this photograph rather surreptitiously in a cafe bar in Munch Square, in Bavaria, Germany.  The two men looked so genial sitting there with their huge beer tankards.  Combined with the sign,  this seemed such a good photograph to take to typify the Bavarian scene.  Meanwhile we were indulging in a drink and "kuche" - cakes. 
Another invitation for coffee and cakes in Bavaria.
 Spoilt for choice! More indulgence  at cake counters in Austrian cafes -
and we were regular visitors!
More celebration  of the grape (below) in one of the many examples of art
on buildings in Austria and Bavaria.
Click HERE to find out how other bloggers were enjoying a drink. 

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Lancashire Lass in New York - Fearless Females

Fearless Females is a blog In honour of National Women's History Month in the USA. Suggested by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist, it provides 31 Blogging Prompts for March.   
March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors?

The research into my Rawcliffe ancestors had led me to assume that like all my mother's family, they were very firmly based in the Fylde area of Lancashire, England.

So it was a huge surprise to find, in a very casual browsing for Rawcliffes on http://www.familysearch.org/, an entry for Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe, born Hambleton 1853 and that she had died in Jamesburg, New Jersey on 24th February 1930 - the first time I was aware of any American connection.  I was delighted to find this unknown American connection and began a new challenge to find out more using www.Ancesstry.com.

Alice was the sister of my great grandmother Maria. Born 1853 at Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, she was the fourth daughter of Robert Rawliffe and Jane Carr. She married John Mason and they settled in Fleetwood where they had six children - Robert William, Jane Elizabeth, John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawcliffe - all family Christian names. In the 1881 census, John was described as a general labourer.

The New York Passenger Lists online revealed that John Mason had sailed from Liverpool to Brooklyn, New York, in 1886 followed by 34 year old Alice, a year later travelling with 6 children aged 1-13 and two pieces of baggage.   What on earth was life like for them all on the voyage? If only I could discover why they took this step of adventure from a small Lancashire community to the teeming streets of New York!
The Family Search information had been supplied by a contributor. Frustratingly when I wrote to find out more, the letter was returned “not known at this address”. Further efforts to make contact with any American descendants were slow to bring results.

American census returns on www.ancestry.com   showed that within twelve years of her arrival in Brooklyn, New York, Alice had a further five children - Arthur Valentine (born appropriately 14th February), Harold Arthur Victor, Lillian Eveline, Bessie Irene and Florence Adelaide. Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy.    The family took out American citizenship in 1895. 

The 1900 census for the City of New York, Brooklyn showed a large Mason household of 10 iiving at 72 Hall street in what was probably an apartment building with four other families at the same address.  John was described as an insurange agent.   By 1910 he was a   labourer in the Customs House, with eldest son Robert  a driver - fruit producer and eldest daughter Jenny (Jane Elizabeth) aged 34  a label paster - canned goods and son John a shipping clerk.  At some point the family moved across the river to New Jersey where they were for the 1920 census.  Eldest and youngest sdaughters Jane and Florence were still living at home - both operators in a snuff factory. 
The photograph above was a bit of a mystery. It was in the collection of my great aunt (Maria's daughter) but not identified and nothing to indicate where it was taken. It must surely be of one of of my great grandmother's sisters - Anne, Jane, Alice, or Jennet? The composition of the family and ages of the children ruled out Anne, Jane or Jennet. So is this Alice and James Mason? Eldest daughter Jane Elizabeth was still unmarried in the 1920 census, so she could be the woman on the back left, and is that her youngest sister and brother - possibly Florence and Harold?

Florence Adelaide, with her father
John Thomas Mason. c.1905 .
The mystery was solved last year,  when Bonny, the granddaughter of Florence Mason discovered my blog and got in touch - she had the very same photograph, but mounted with the name of a photographer in Brooklyn, New York - and she sent me more family photographs.

Florence  looks to be about 7 years old, so taken c. 1905 - and what a magnificent hat for a wee girl - and her skirts look surprisingly short for the period.

I was also delighted to get this larger family group photograph (below) from Bonny, showing all eight children of Alice and James Mason, with Florence in the dark dress sitting at the front. Alice died in 1930 and James 7 years later, both buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Jamesburg.

Top - Robert, Jenny (Jane Elizabeth), Mother Alice, Father John, Harry
Bottom - Thomas (John Thomas), Alice (Margaret Alice), Florence, George and James
It is all thanks to the power of the Internet
that I discovered the story of my American connections.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sepia Saturday: Monuments to Famous Men

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

I came  close to giving this photo prompt a miss,  with nothing in my collection on photographers photographing or cherry trees blossoming.  Then inspiration struck and I decided to pick up on the Washington Monument and feature three Scottish monuments to famous men.  

William Wallace - the Scottish Patriot who became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.[ He  defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Wallace was captured  In 1305, handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him summarily hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason
His statue,  commissioned by the Earl of Buchan, at Dryburgh in the Scottish Borders   was the first monument to be raised to Wallace in Scotland.  In red sandstone and 21.5 feet high, it  was placed on its pedestal  in 1814.
 Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), the Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet. The monument in the Victorian Gothic style was  inaugurated in 1846 in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.   One of Scott's most famous poems has stayed with me since school days.

O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,

Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword, he weapons had none
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
James Hogg  (1770-1835). known as The Ettrick Shepherd, was a poet and novelist . He was born into  a farming family in the Ettrick Valley in the Scottish Borders.  After leaving school at the age of 7,  he became a shepherd. Largely self-educated he began publishing poems and longer works and rose to become a star of the Edinburgh literary scene and a friend of Sir Walter Scott. and Robert Burns.  His statue, in the Yarrow Valley of Selkirkshire,  overlooks  St. Mary's Loch.  Here are the first  two verses from one of his most popular poems.
Where the pools are bright and deep
Where the grey trout lies asleep
Up the river and over the lea
That's the way for Billy and me
Where the blackbird sings the latest
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee
That's the way for Billy and me
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved
Click HERE to see how other bloggers have captured this prompt.

Do the Eyes Have It? Fearless Females 24.

Fearless Females is a blog In honour of National Women's History Month in the USA. Suggested by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist, it provides 31 Blogging Prompts for March.  
March 24th - Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your ancestors?

Is there a physical resemblance here between my great grandmother, Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (above), my mother Kathleen Weston, nee Danson (below) and myself as a 3 year old?

I am thinking particularly of the distinctive eyebrows and eyes. I leave others to judge!

I have told the story in previous postings on an apocryphal family story that Maria's dark looks came from Spanish Armada sailors who were ship wrecked off the Fylde coast of Lancashire, settled there and married local girls - an event which took place 270 years before Maria's birth in 1859, so how true could it be?


Friday, 22 March 2013

April A-Z Challenge - Anticipation


I took part in two A-Z Challenges last year on the family history theme and found it stimulating and fun  to come up with topics for each letter. 
Rather than repeat myself, I am focusing this time  on A Sense of Place - a vital element in developing a family history story through our knowledge and understanding of where and how our ancestors lived.

 So I will be 
  • Featuring places connected with my own family history
  • Highlighting places with happy memories that are part of my own life.
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal. 

By  chance this week I found out that the study of place names is called "Toponymy" , so become a "Toponymist"  and find out more on a journey from Auchenshuggle  to Zetland.

It  will certainly be a challenge to keep up with the pace of a letter a day, but watch this space. 

The Journey Starts on April 1st  

The carpet of crocuses at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire where my Danson ancestors were baptised, married and buried, from John Danson christened there in 1736 to my own christening over 210 years  later.
Photograph taken by my uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

My Mother - A "Joiner" & A "Shining Star" - Fearless Females

My mother, Kathleen Weston, nee Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire (left) was both a "Shining Star"  and a "Joiner". Because of my father's work, we moved around a lot, and Mum joined whatever women's group was there - Mother's Union, Townswoman's Guild, Church Work Group, Parent-Teachers Association, Women's Rural Institute (WRI) .

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.  

For Mum was also a "stitcher" and was always making something.  She entered WRI competitions, taking part in a catwalk show to model an outfit she made and the  Alice in Wonderland collage (below) , made for my daughter,   won a national prize in a competition for "Tomorrow's Heirlooms. 


Below are more exmaples of her talent.
Costumes for Staining Gala Day - in apple green satin
I am the little girl on the front row left.
An embrodered traycloth
All the family moves meant I was at three secondary schools.   Later in my life, Mum's example stayed with me, and left me an important message on how to make friends and become involved in a new community.    An inspiration!
Fearless Females is a blog In honour of National Women's History Month in the USA. Suggested by Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist, it provides 31 Blogging Prompts for March.

March 17th - What social groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? 
March 18th - Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

Adaped from posts first written in March 2011.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Sepia Saturday - Women on the Warpath

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

This week's prompt featured the Potddam Conference of 1945 when the leaders of Britain,  USA and Soviet Russia met in the aftermath of war.

I decided to follow the political theme with a postcard of a suffragette meeting in Hawick in the  Scottish Borders in 1909.  
A suffragette meeting, at Towerknowe, Hawick in the Scottish Borders, 1909.
Note - the number of men there.
Photograph by permission of Scottish Borders Council Museum & Gallery Service
 from the Hawick Museum Collection.
We tend to associate suffragette marches with London  and the cities, but the scene above   was in the small mill  town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders (population  in 1911 - 16,877,  where women were an integral part of industrial life in the manufacture of tweed and knitwear.
The main source of documentary  information on early local suffragette activities in the Borders was "The Kelso Chronicle", regarded as a bastion of reform. 

The earliest reference to women's suffrage in the Borders  were found  in a report published by the newspaper  in 1871, with  a public meeting held in Hawick in the Exchange Hall in 1873.  Although suffrage bills in 1870, 1886, and 1897 had been presented to Parliament,   all were  defeated.
Many of the Border towns were aligned to the law-abiding National Union of Suffrage Societies.  However the 20th century saw a dramatic change in the campaign  with a new militant form of protest.   By  1903 Emeline Pankhurst, believed that years of moderate speeches  about women's suffrage had yielded no progress and with her daughters Adela, Christabel and Sylvia,  she founded the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU)  dedicated to "deeds, not words".   The WSPU had a charismatic leader, who inspired an almost fanatical devotion to the cause.  It also adopted a public identification  with its colours - Violet, Forest Green and White (symbolising Votes for Women), which they used as ribbons, sashes and badges on  their white dresses.   
Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst  (LOC)
Emmeline Pankhurst  - http://foter.com/Suffragettes/

In February 1909 "The Hawick News" had a headline which read "Suffragette Invasion" - the occasion the campaign for the Border Burghs election. Emmeline Pankhurst addressed a crowded meeting in  Hawick Town Hall on 27th February 1909.  A piper marched around the platform  and the audience sang the local song "Votes for Women".

Rise, ye men of Border burghs.
Show yourself in your true colours
As you've done in days gone by
Stand by British Liberty
"Votes for Women" loudly defying
Stubborn foes you'll put to rout
Vote  and keep the Liberals out

"The Hawick Epxress" of February 26th 1909 reported that "The Suffragists are extremely busy in connection with the elections and have taken  a shop on the High Street as their headquarters,,,,,the window is smartly decorated with suffragette literature and pictures  and they are reported to be doing a roaring trade in the sale of "Votes for Women" badges".

 Mrs Pankhurst returned to Hawick in August 1909 when she called on women to join a large demonstration in Edinburgh. 
In the Borders, more militant protest hit the headlines in April 1913 when the "The Kelso Chronicle" of April 1913 proclaimed   "Militant Suffragism coming Near Home". 
"There was considerable commotion in Kelso on Saturday morning when it became known that a couple of women, presumably suffragettes, had been caught red handed in an attempt to destroy by fire the new stand which had been erected in the paddock at the Racecourse.......The fire was subdued before any damage could be done and the the suffragettes arreste3d.......In the walk down to Kelso Police Station, the Ladies beguiled the time by giving lusty voice  to the suffragette song " March On. 
The women  were conveyed to Jedburgh and apprehended before the  Sheriff.   A big crowd collected in the vicinity of  the court room to catch a glimpse of the daring but mischeiveouly disposed females." 

The protesters  were committed to prison and taken by train to Edinburgh,  They  were found guilty as charged and sentenced to nine months imprisonment in Carleton Jail, Edinburgh.  However they were liberated within a week having gone on hunger strike.  The terms of their temporary release  stated that they must return after a stipulated number of days - an instance of the infamous "cat and mouse"  policy.
Emmeline Pankhurst died in 1928,  the year when women  were granted equal voting rights with men.  It was  the  part women played on the home front during  First World War that was widely regarded as the  major factor in the  change of attitude to their right to vote.
But Emmeline's  role  is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain - and the Scottish Borders played its  part. 
With grateful thanks to local historian Gordon Macdonald
for his research  on this topic in his work
" Universal Suffrage - A Borders Perspective"

Click HERE to find the views of other bloggers on  this week's theme.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wedding Bells: Sharing Memories

Pauleen at Family Across the Seas recently wrote about her wedding day and her various snapshot memories.   Her post struck a chord with me and prompted me to think back to my own wedding day to record in my Personal Memories series.  It too had its eventful moments!

The omens were not good   on 24th July 1971. It poured down and we have no photographs taken outside the church; my husband Neil looks a bit shell shocked in this picture; and with the Tudor monarchs all the rage on film and TV at the time, I chose to wear an Ann Boleyn style headdress - she suffered the fate of being executed by Henry VIII.

To give the background, I lived and worked in Edinburgh, but my parents had moved south some 18 months previously.  There was no question that Ihe wedding would be anywhere but Edinburgh, but arrangements did not go smoothly.

  • A month before the big day, our landlord gave us notice to quit the flat I shared with three friends.  Panic stations!  A friend kindly offered me a bed for the few weeks but I was moving 50 miles south to Hawick in the Scottish Borders  where Neil worked, so I had to plan  what stuff I needed in Edinburgh  and then for the wedding and honeymoon, and  what could be taken to Hawick.  Plus I was now going to be leaving for the wedding from the reception hotel.   I seemed to be dividing  my time between three places.   Talk about a stress full time!

  • Then I had this awful dream where I turned up at the church in all my finery to discover it all shut up  and there had been some mix up over the date.  Was this an awful  portent? 
  • The evening  before we had a wedding rehearsal at the church - St. Peter's Episcopal.  On the way, with my mother and aunt in Neil's car, we had a blow out on the main A1 into Edinburgh.  We managed to get a taxi and left Neil to change the wheel.  He arrived late at the church with oil over his cream Arran sweater.  Was this a further portent?  He had to spend the morning of his wedding getting the tyre repaired ahead of us driving  north to the Highlands.
  • Wedding day dawned and I was with my mother and bridesmaid fitting my headdress on when the phone rang in my hotel bedroom.  It was the car hire firm to say in the heavy rain one of their cars had broken down on its way.   It seemed to be left to me to suggest that the one car would have to do a double journey for the wedding party and of course I was late at the church.  We never did get any money back on that missing car.
  • As for photographs, all taken at the reception - do you notice somebody's trouser legs above our heads - it was a portrait of Edinburgh writer Robert Louis Stevenson.   Not quite the composition you expect from a professional photographer who had been recommended to us. 

 My aunt, Neil's parents, the happy couple (at last!), my parents and my uncle.
On a more lighthearted note, I have a memory of the policeman on traffic duty on Princes Street saluting me in the wedding car  as we waited to turn.  I felt like the Queen. 

As for the wedding itself, I got what I wanted - a musical service, performede by a minister whom my family had known for many years. Just for the record -  Mozart's Trumpet Tune and Air, Praise my Soul the King of Heaven with choir descant, Love Divine all Love Excelling to the arrangement by Charles Stanford,  choir anthem 23rd Psalm sung to Brother James' Air, and a triumphant exit  to Vidor's Toccata.   I was very happy!. 

Incidents did not end there.  From the reception we took a taxi back to Neil's parent's house to collect the car safely locked in the garage  (away  from any idea his brother may have  of decorating it).  We drove to our honeymoon hotel in a rainstorm and then Neil discovered he had come away with the garage key - so we had to drive back to Edinburgh the next morning to return it. 
Still we can look back now and laugh,  We  proved love  conquered all, as we  celebrated our Ruby (40th wedding anniversary), in 2011 with a holiday in Austria, looking older and greyer, but on a much sunnier day.



Saturday, 9 March 2013

Sepia Saturday - Rivers with Memories

Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.

I don't have any appropriate vintage photographs  so  instead am featuring rivers and ferries  that hold family  memories. 

River Tyne at South Shields, 
with the Norwegian ferry across the river at North Shields.
My husband's ancestors (Donaldson, White and Moffet) were all mariners working out of South Shields, County Durham.  Their extended family occupations ranged from merchant, master mariner, seaman, caulker, roper, ship's carpenter and river policeman.
There is nothing like family history for extending  knowledge in diverse directions. To me "snow" was the white stuff falling in winter and a "smack" was a slap to a recalcitrant child. But that all changed as I began researching my husband's Tyneside ancestors and learnt about the different names for ships in the 19th century - barque or bark or barc, brig, sloop. smack and snow.

Master mariner, John Moffet - my husband's great great grandfather
 in a Napoleonic pose.

River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire where my father grew up -
as described in Dad's Broseley Boyhood.

My father, John Weston as vice captain of Brosely School Football Team, 1926.

The River Teviot at Hawick in the Scottish Borders - our home for 41 years.

Leader Water at Earlston in the Scottish Borders where we now live.
The Water is one of the many tributaries of the 90 mile long River Tweed.

The Cal Mac ferry sailing towards  the Isle of Mull in Argyll, Scotland.
A beautiful. peaceful  and  atmospheric  scene to remind us of holidays in the area. 

This has to be one of my best loved holiday photographs. 
The Ramsauer Ache at Ramsau - a small village near Berchtesgarten in Bavaria, close to  the Austrian border.   The church of St. Sebastianwas was built in 1512 and extended in 1692 in the baroque style.

 The ferry on Wolfgangasee, near Salzburg, Austria
where we celebrated our ruby wedding anniversary.

Click HERE to find out how other bloggers enjoyed Down by the Riverside.