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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Reconnecting with Relatives: 52 Ancestors - Week 28

Reunion is the theme of the latest "52 Ancestor" prompt.  A challenge for me, as I come from what is now a very small family and have never been at any grand family reunion. 

Some Background  Information 
My grandfather, William Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire   was one of eight brothers and one sister. Three brothers  died in the early 1900s, but I do recall as a child visiting with my mother (formerly Kathleen Danson) her Uncle Bob and Uncle Frank, whilst  her Aunt Jennie came  back on visits from her then home in the English Midlands.  My mother's cousin  Annie  usad to come round to our home with her own children.  But we moved away  from Poulton in 1956 and that was the last contact I had with my Danson relations, other than my widowed grandfather and my mother's brothers and sisters. 

The Danson family home 1926-2001

How often are we told when starting family history to talk to relations, the older the better?  So it was Family History that gave  me the push  to reconnect.

Funerals can be a time when families  come  together and such was the case  when I chatted to my mother's cousin A.  who I had not seen since I was a child. I told her of my family history hobby.  She later kindly supplied me with memories of her father - my great uncle Bob, a postman  in Blackpool,  a 1928 press cutting of another cousin's wedding, and importantly contact details for other cousins.

Bob Danson  

Third son, Robert (Bob), born 3rd June 1881 was named after his maternal grandfather and like his eldest brother became a postman. 

His daughter A. recalled:
"He went a long way on his bicycle from Poulton over Shard Bridge, where his grandfather had been Edit toll collector to deliver the post of Over Wyre.  Later his round was North Promenade and the Cliffs at Blackpool - very windy, but the hotel people looked after him with cups of tea.  He lived to be 89 years old so it must have kept him fit, though he was told at the outbreak of the First World War,  when his brothers were joining up,  that he had a bad heart."
Annie Danson's Wedding 

 "The bride, who was given away by her uncle Mr. R.  Danson [Uncle Bob] was gowned in delphinium blue georgette, the sleeveless bodice being plain, while the circular skirt was side slashed and bordered all round with deep silver lace.  Her hat was ruched georgette to tone and she wore silver shoes and hose to tone.  Her bouquet was of pale pink chrysanthemums."  
The article goes on with further colourful details of the bridesmaid's dresses, and Annie's going away outfit.    What an inspiration for a happy blog post,  which you can  read HERE.  
The Stemp Sisters 
My Great Aunt Jennie married in 1929 Beadnell (Bill) Stemp  and had two daughters -  J. and  P - my mother's cousins, now living in the English Midlands.

I decided to phone P. - given I was not aware of any sensitive family issue, I was happy to do this and introduced myself as "A voice from the past - I'm Kathleen Danson's daughter." 

What a wonderful reception I got  - P. outlined the family memorabilia she had up in the loft  and offered to come up to Scotland to visit us,  and my husband I made a return visit the next year. The result of making contact, I received:

  •  Memories of my grandparents William and Alice Danson - my grandmother died when I was a baby.  It was somehow funny in the nicest possible way to hear my grandparents referred to as  Uncle Billy and Auntie Alice.
  • Memories of my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919),  passed down through her daughter, Jennie to Jennie's  two daughters. 
  • Two more photographs of Maria that I had not seen before.

  • A request to do some research into J. & P,'s  father Beadnell Stemp.
  • The only photograph I have  of my great grandfather James Danson (1852-1906), sitting merry in Poulton old stocks.

  • Memorabilia of the two brothers nearest to Jennie in age, including two poignant letters written by her brother George, just weeks before he was killed on the Somme in 1916.  
  • I touched personal possessions of my great grandmother, her  tea-set, bought from collectivizing coupons in a "Daily Mail" offer;  and her jewellery including items brought back from Malta by her son Frank, who was hospitalized there in the First  World War. 

    I was given a collection of some 50 postcard photographs  of Jennie's friends and their families, with many of the men in World War One uniform, so dated from c.1916.   It must have been the practice to exchange such cards between friends,  (the Facebook of the day!) and Jennie had thoughtfully  written their names on the  reverse.  
    Gertie Roskell - a popular surname in the Fylde region of Lancashire.

Other  encounters with my  mother's cousins were less successful.
With one I received a friendly  chat, a memory of me as a child in pigtails, 
a request to do research into  a sideline of the family, but nothing more in terms of memorabilia.

Whilst another cousin said he would pass my interest onto his daughter who  did family history - but there was no follow up;  and the contact with Australian relatives petered out after initial e-mails. 

But overall  I could not have asked for a better boost to my blogging activity and a more rounded view of my ancestors, beyond the purely names and dates in my family tree. 

So the message here is do not dither and delay in reconnecting with relatives - you never know what might result. 


Join  Amy Johnson's Crow's Facebook Group  "Generations Cafe 
 to read posts from other bloggers taking part in
 the 2019  "52 Ancestors" Challenges


  1. How interesting and how true...keep on connecting to learn more stories of our families!

  2. ONE photo can mean so much to us family historians. You raked in the goods. Your story should inspire everyone to make a phone call to a relative they fear might not even remember them.

  3. I have been so fortunate to find lost relatives on my mother's side and to be able to share photos and memories. We are so lucky in that way!!! I still keep looking....never give up!

  4. I love this reminder. A couple of years ago I was contacted by a 4th cousin and we have been able to share so much about our family, including lots of pictures I had never seen.

  5. Good advice! We all get caught up in the documentary research (and our other lives too) and forget to reach out. Glad your efforts were mostly successful.

  6. An excellent illustration of the benefits of reaching out to family members in a timely way. I met most of my Irish cousins through my blog, and we have since shared photos and collaborated on research, with those living near one another meeting up in person.


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