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Sunday, 11 March 2018

52 Ancestors: Wk 11 - A Lucky Link with a Third Cousin

LUCK  is the theme for this week's prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's  "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".

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 spend 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. 

Our Background 
We 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 chld 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,  the youngest Mary Jane in 1877, Stuart's grandmother  and so cousin to my grandfather.
 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 around 7 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 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.


Family history takes us in all kinds of directions and Stuart's family connections, although not my direct ancestors,  added a new dimension.
  • Poet 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  - Wiliam 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. 

 Arthur Stuart Ingram Smith (1908-1979)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks



  1. Poor Stuart in those tartans at such a young age...or was that his father, having first name of Arthur? What a great combination of stories, and now you've preserved them for others. It keeps me going some days.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Barbara. Yes, the final photograph is of Arthur, born 1908, so the father of my third cousin, Stuart. I was surprised to,see him in a dress, as I thought the practice of putting little boys in dresses until they were “breached” had died out by that date. The tartan no doubt reflected the pride in the family’s Scottish ancestry.


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