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Friday, 6 March 2020

A Lucky Link with an Unknown Cousin - 52 Ancestors Wk 11.

 LUCK is the theme for this week's prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", and lucan play  a big part in successful family history research.

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 spent 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. 
 Stuart's Grandfather  - Edward Stewart Ingram Smith & family, c.1916 

Our Common Background 
Stuart and I  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 child 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,  so cousins to my grandfather - the youngest Mary Jane in 1877, Stuart's grandmother.
 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 seven  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 her  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. 
Elsie Oldham, my thrd cousin's mother.


 Family history can take us in all kinds of directions and Stuart's family connections, although not my direct ancestors,  added a new dimension to my blog posts.  There was: 
  •  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  - William 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. 
 My third cousin's father - Arthur Stuart Ingram Smith (1908-1979)
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 Facebook Group  "Generations Cafe." 

to read posts from other bloggers taking part in the
2020  "52 Ancestors" Challenges.   


  1. How great to meet with your cousin and share history and photos of family connections. These are so interesting to read about. Thanks.

  2. I found a second cousin by luck in an Ancestry tree while looking for a great grandfather back in 2018. Luck in that I already had her name in my tree but didn't have more than a name. Contacted her and we have shared what we can of our roots with each other. Her paternal grandfather and mine were brothers. However, her grandfather stayed in England whereas my came to Canada. She had photos I had never seen and I could share those I had from the family over here :D She also solved a brick wall for me. I have a copy of a hand written family tree pasted on from an aunt to my sister and then to me. didn't know who had done it though and found no help on-line, an new found cousin was the creator of that tree so she updated the missing links for me :D

  3. That’s awesome! It’s amazing how we never run out of material for stories— there’s always cousins, second cousins, neighbors, friends and business associates whose stories connect to our family tree!

  4. Thank you all for your kind comments.

  5. Sue,
    You were indeed lucky to have Stuart reach out to you! Through my blog, and also a couple FB groups where I had asked questions, I have met several cousins that have helped fill in holes in my tree. They are such blessings, aren't they?

  6. Finding new cousins, or rather having them find you, is definitely the greatest joy of blogging. Lovely post, Sue.

  7. I love reading about your finds. I was surprised that you spoke of BlackPool, as I have great grandfather that returned to England about 1917, he left wife and daughter in America as he had fallen and broke his hip. In those days they didn't fix them so he probably was invalid, they didn't have much money so he wanted to relieve his wife and not be burden to her. How sad, there is more to the story but not room here and just wanted to know I enjoyed your article.


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