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Thursday, 17 May 2018

A Journey into Rocky Memories - Sepia Saturday

Take a journey into rocky memories with this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, as we visit India,  New England . the  Scottish Borders, the Lake District,  Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire, Staffa off Scotland's west coast and Marsden Rock at South Shields, County Durham.  Beginning with an ideal match with the prompt photograph.


My husband's uncle Matty (Matthew Iley White) of South Shields, County Durham is among this group of soldiers perched on a rock in India.   Matty  served in the  Durham Light Infantry in India 1933-1937, as listed in his service book below. 

Boulder Rock near Waterville Valley, New England. We had visions of getting lost on a walk  in the woods here, relying on the signposting rather than a map. Fortunately we made it back to our hotel.

 A 1930's photograph of my mother (left) and father (right) , but I have no idea who the girl in the middle is.  I am also guessing that it was taken in the Lake District which they often visited and where they got engaged. 
A large rock in the Lake District - near Keswick c.1988  I don't know how I was adventurous  enough to climb to the top - I could not do it now. 


To North Yorkshire  - and the Brimham Rocks, huge balancing rock formations  with spectacular views over the Niddersdale Moors. With a labyrinth of paths and plenty of hiding places, be warned,  this is a great place to lose children who can hunt for rocks with weird names such as  Dancing Bear, The Eagle and The Gorilla, The Smartie Tube and balance on the Rocking Stones.  In the care of the National Trust. 


Little  daughter  on a little rock surveying the land above  Hawick in the  Scottish Borders, c.1976.  It must have been a good summer as the  countryside  looks unusually  dry.  

A windy day as daughter, now a lot older, is perching again on a rock on the Isle  of Iona, looking across to Mull.  

Staffa lies 9 miles off the Isles of Mull and Iona.  Its most famous feature is Fingal's Cave,  a large sea cave located near the southern tip of the island some 60 feet high.   The sight  of the rocks and the sound of the sea inspired composer Felix Mendellsohn to capture his visit  in 1829 in "The Hebrides Overture". Other famous visitors made the journey there =  John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, Joseph Turner and Robert Louis Stevenson.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were rowed into the cave on the royal barge in 1847. 
Approaching Fingal's Cave on the Island of Staffa.

A view from the top - quite a climb on steps cut into the rocks,  with a rope to hold on to  as a safely aid! 

One lost sheep - perched high  on the Isle of Mul


A journey  to South Shields at  the  mouth of the River Tyne - home of my husband's mariner ancestor

Marsden Rock is a 100 foot sea stack which lies 100 yards off the cliff face.  Believed to be once  a smugglers' haunt,  it is now the home of seabird colonies.   In 1803 a flight of steps was constructed up the side of the rock. In 1903 several choirs climbed onto the rock to perform a choral service.   My husband spent his childhood here, with the beach a favourite playground. In a way this is an historic photograph, as in 1996 the arch collapsed, splitting the rock into two stacks. The smaller stack was decreed unsafe and demolished.  
Among the cliff face rocks at Marsden  c. 1983 

 Daughter (left) with her cousin and dog Cindy - with matching hairstyles!  c.1983 

Copyright © 2018 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share 
their family history and memories through photographs

Click HERE to discover other bloggers' rocky photographs

Monday, 14 May 2018

A Tribute to Five Generations of Mothers: 52 Ancestors - Wk 19

""Mothers' Day  is the theme of week 19 of Amy Johnson Crow's prompt series "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".

Profiles of Mothers in my family history have featured prominently  on my blog,  including in the  "52 Ancestors" series.  Here I pay a photographic tribute  to five generations of mothers in my immediate family.   

My Great Grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919).
Maria Rawcliffe was the seventh  of eight daughters (five surviving infancy) and her  mother died when Maria was six years old. Not surprisingly her father went on to marry again and Maria became part of an extended family that included four half sibings and three step siblings.  Maria married my grandfather at the age of 18, and they had ten sons (two died in infancy) and finally an only daughter.  Two sons lost their lives in the  First World War.  So Maria's life provided a  great source for my family history stories.

Widowed Maria with her granddaughter Annie Maria, c.1916

My Grandmother Alice Danson, nee English,(1884-1945) 
Alice's early life remains a mystery and is my major ancestral brick wall, for, in over twnety years of researchh, I  have been unable to trace a birth certificate for her and so  find out the name of her mother.   The suspicion is she could have been illegitimate and that the  father's name given on her marriage certificate was a false one for the sake of respectability.  The  1911 census gave her birthplace as Bolton, Lancashire and I was always told we shared the same birthday - September 23rd - and this was confirmed by the 1939 Register.  Alice died when I was a baby, so I never knew her and her children seemed reluctant to answer any of my questions on  her life before she met my grandfather.   

Given that Alice is wearing a corsage, I always wondered if this was a wedding photograph. Why did I never ask a question about this? 

Alice with her four children, Edith, Kathleen (my mother), Harry and baby Billy.
Taken 1916 when William was due to go to war. . 

My Mother - Kathleen Weston nee Danson (1908-1999)   
My mother was apprenticed as a tailoress at the age of 14, and I often think of her motto as "Happiness is Stitching".  She was a very talented lady in all kinds of crafts and created a home-based dressmaking business. She  was still making her own clothes and a patchwork quilt in her 80's.  She was also a "joiner" - as we moved around with my father's work, and she gave me a lesson in joining in local activities, making friends and creating an interesting  life for herself.


Myself  -  with My Daughter

My Daughter with Her Daughter 



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Friday, 4 May 2018

"Oh, I Do LikeTo Be Beside the Seaside!" - Sepia Saturday

A happy group of people enjoying the seaside, smile  at us from this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph, which looks to be taken in the 1920's. I have the ideal match below. .

On the left, wearing the cloche hat is my husband's Great Aunt Pat, beside her daughter Annette - with unknown friends. Judging by the fashions and the age of Annette,  it  was most likely  taken in the late 1920's  on the beach at Margat in Kent,  where the family lived.

I am a Blackpudlian - born in the famous north west seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire,  famed for its golden beaches and its tower. Modelled on the Eiffel Tower and built in 1894, Blackpool Tower  rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school. 
 A surprisingly empty Blackpool beach with the Central Pier and the famous Tower in the background.
The earliest picture of me enjoying the beach.  I reckon this was taken June 1945, as my father here was in uniform.   I know that he had leave between marking VE Day in Germany and then being posted to the Far East. 

Toddling along with my father. 

Our own family holidays were taken in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, where a great friend of my mother ran a small hotel. All the ingredients of  traditional 1950's seaside fun were there - setting up deckchairs, playing  on the beach, making sandcastles, eating icecreams  taking donkey rides, exploring rock pools. 

 With my mother.  Every summer she made me a new sun dress and I remember this one in green and white  polka dots, with shoulder straps on my dress and a bolero to go over it.  
it must be a photographic quirk that Dad appears so sunburnt in the photograph above, because he did not lead a particularly outdoor life to get that brown.  

Digging holes with my brother.    You can tell this must be the 1950’s - those were the days before the anti-smoking  campaigns and  my father is happy to enjoy his cigarette, long before he ditched the habit.  Goodness knows why I  was I wearing a hated rubber swimming cap, as I could barely swim at this stage?    I suppose to keep dry my long hair which was  usually in plaits.   

A happy picture of my brother  looking very natty in his knitted bathing suit and sunhat.

Digging down to Australia?  

Little Gloria, here is   engrossed in something in the sand but keeping a firm hand on that big ball!   c.1935.   

 My daughter  (in the middle) enjoying a donkey ride on Blackpool beach. This was taken in Blackpool in the school  October half term holiday, so not exactly summery.

Daughter  and her cousin with their dogs on the beach  at South Shields, County Durham, with Marsden Rock in the background. 

 A beautiful, peaceful beach to ourselves amidst the wonderful scenery on the Isle of Iona, looking across to the Isle of Mull in the Scottish West Highlands. 
Our dog enjoying the water on Mull, with the ferry to Iona in the background. 

And if you cannot get to the beach, why not enjoy some sandy moments  at home?  Granddaughter having fun in her sand pit.     


 Finally join in the  seaside fun, with this popular music hall song from 1907 - "Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside".

Video for song oh i do like to be beside the seaside


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs.


Click HERE to head off to the beach with  other Sepia Saturday bloggers. 


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Edward Smith’s Life in Portraits: "52 Ancestors" - Wk.18

"Close Up" is the theme of week 18 of Amy Johnson Crow's prompt series "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".  My focus is on my cousin's paternal grandfather Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923).   The many portraits of him in the family's phonographic collection depict a sad tale, tracing his life from a handsome young man to a man haunted by his war experiences.  

 The Smith family hailed originally from  the island of Unst in the Shetlands - the most northerly part of the British Isles.  Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.  The Ingram middle name came from  that of the Shetland minister who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths.  

John  in a number of moves and facing bankruptcy along the way,  settled  finally in the famous  seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire where he became catering manager at the  Winter Gardens entertainment complex. 

Son, Edward was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In these photographs of him as a young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him. 

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father was proud of his Scottish heritage,  wore the kilt, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent  and used to say that Edinburgh people spoke the best English.

Leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. and was bought out by his parents.

By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool.    

His daughter recalled that Edward was brought up in the Scottish Presbyterian Church but  converted to Catholicism for his first girl friend, without actually practising in the faith. At the age of 31, in 1902,
Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior. (below)  at Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool, 

Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photography is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children, notably son Arthur, with his mop of long fair curls, and in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit. 
Ella, Edith and Arthur

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but he was affected by the chemical use, illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool. 

In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army  and he joined   the Liverpool Scottish Regiment. 

 He served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. After the Battle of Delville Wood, where he was wounded in action, he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how   he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9 stone. 
Edward is the figure on the far right of the he back row, 
standing slightly apart from his much younger colleagues. 

But  following Edward's  discharge, family  life proved unhappy.   His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and children.  A news item  of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  (traced on FindMyPast) made sad reading, when he appeared in court charged with failing to support his family.

One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily found happiness in a second marriage and survived Edward by a further 40 years.

The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man portrayed thirty years earlier.  


 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks