Calling all Growdens

Here’s a call to all members of the Growden / Growdon family to help us find links between our families.

If you go to the Growden discussion forum you can find a database where we are trying to collect Growden links.

If you have any Growdons or Growdens in your family, please try to enter at least one parent-child link in the database. If you don’t want to enter your own information there because of privacy concerns, please at least add some dead relatives.

Tim Growden, on the Growden Group on Facebook, recently asked: “Is there a chance that we could figure out some sort of family tree, i know my dad would appreciate it”.

Well, here is a way to figure out some sort of family tree — if every Growden/Growdon contributes to the database.

I’m doing a one-name study on Growden/Growdon, and I hope to link the major family branches together before I die.

You will have to join the forum before you can see the database or add to it. If you are already a member of the forum, you can see the database here.

Geni.com — a flawed site

I was doing an internet search for Growden / Growdon families, on which I’m doing a one-name study in the hope of being able to link the different branches together.

I came across a reference to a Nancy Growden, in a family tree on a site called Geni.com.

I wanted to contact the person who posted the tree, but the only way I could do that was by actually becoming a member of Geni.com. It seemed easy enough to join, and looked quite interesting so I thought I might as well join and see what it was like.

But I had let myself in for a frustrating couple of days.

The registration asked me to upload a GEDCOM file, so I did.

It then asked me to identify myself on the GEDCOM file I had just uploaded by choosing my name from a list.

The choices on the list were the wrong person, or an undefined person.

But by the time it had finally assimilated the GEDCOM file it had me as the wrong person — my wife’s 5-great grandfather, born in 1640. Then began a frustrating search through help and faq files to find out how to correct this. But since I couldn’t find myself on the tree I had just uploaded, there wouldn’t be much point in trying to correct it anyway.

Eventually I decided to delete the entire thing, and try again, registering from scratch, uploading the GEDCOM file again, and waiting a few hours for it to be assimilated.

But the same thing happened, only this time it identified me as my second cousin once removed.

I decided to waste no more time on it, and delete the account for the second time.

But then I saw the message saying that I could ask for assistance in correcting the problem.

Well, I tried that, and then came the real kicker. In order to ask for help to find out how to correct the errors their clunky and faulty program had made, I would need to sign up for a “premium” account at $9.95 a month. Now that sounds like a scam. Offer someone something free, but broken. Then when they discover it’s broken and are about to toss it, offer to fix it if they agree to pay an exorbitant monthly fee! There’s chutzpah for you!

If I try something free, and it works well, and I use it a lot, I’ll consider paying for it. That’s the shareware principle. I’ve done that with two genealogy programs I use all the time — Family History System and Legacy. I used the free version of each for a couple of years, and decided I was going to go on using them, so I sent the money. But that was after I had used them and was satisfied that they worked well.

But when, like Geni.com, they ask money for something that I’ve discovered works badly from the get-go, thanks but no thanks!

And if they’ve tried one scam, maybe they’ll try two — I hope that when I closed my account they deleted my GEDCOM file and the information they imported from it into their database, but perhaps they are the kind of unscrupulous people who will keep that information and then try to sell it to someone else.

William Park of Bath, Belfast and Quebec

My great-great grandmother was Matilda Park (1828-1881). She was born in Belfast, Ireland, and married Richard Vause in Bath, Somerset, England, in 1852 and they emigrated to Natal in the following month.

Richard Vause was born in Hull, and grew up there, and so one of the mysteries of our family history is how he met and married a girl who lived in Bath. He did work in shipping for a while, and that may have led him to travel, but Bath was not exactly a major port.

Matilda was the youngest daughter of William Park (c1780-1844) and Mary Martin (c1784-1851).Her death announcement in The Times (Jun 17, 1881) reads:

On the 12th May, at her residence, Bellevue, aged 52, deeply lamented,
MATILDA, the much-loved wife of RICHARD VAUSE, of Robinson, Vause, and Co.,
Durban, Natal, youngest daughter of the late William Park, Esq., of Bath,
Somersetshire (formerly of Belfast and Quebec, Canada), and granddaughter of
the late John Martin, Esq., of Messrs. John Martin and Co., Belfast,
Ireland. Friends at a distance will kindly accept this intimation.

Also in The Times (Mar 5, 1855) appears this death announcement:

On the 1st inst., in his 35th year, Samuel Martin Harrison, Esq., youngest
son of the late John Knox Harrison, Esq., and grandson of the late John
Martin, Esq., of Belfast.

So Samuel Martin Harrison was possibly a first cousin of Matilda Park, and John Knox Harrison may have married a sister of Mary Martin.

Mary Martin is described as the daughter of John Martin of John Martin & Co, Belfast.

Matilda Park and Richard Vause were married in a double wedding ceremony, along with Matilda’s sister Octavia. The Bath Herald of 10 Jan 1852 carried the following marriage announcement

Jan. 6, at St Saviour’s, in this city, by the Rev. Dr. Stamer, Rector, Frederick Robert Hawkins, esq., of Trowbridge, to Octavia, daughter of the late William Park, esq., of Belfast.
At the same time Richard Vause, esq., of Hull, to Matilda also daughter of the late William Park esq., of Belfast.

The name Octavia could imply that she was the eighth child in the family (making Matilda the ninth), and there were certainly other siblings.

A death announcement in the Natal Mercury reports that Annie G. Barrett (born Park) sister of Matilda Vause died 19 Aug 1871 New York, aged 52. Another death announcement in the Natal Mercury noted that Alice Bruce, wife of John Bruce of the Surveyor General’s Department, niece of Matilda Vause (born Park) died 21 MAR 1877 at Rosehill, Port Louis, Mauritius aged 28. Another announcement in the same paper noted that William Bruce of the Storekeeper General’s Department died at Port Louis, Mauritius on 3 June 1885, and that he was a nephew of Matilda Vause.

A marriage register entry shows that Margaret Martin Park married James Drake in Bath in 1848.

I’m interested in finding out more about William Park, and his connections with Belfast and Quebec. There is some more about him on our family Wiki pages. We’d also like to know more about his children, and descendants of his other children, and more about the Martin family of Belfast. There is more information about Matilda Park and her husband Richard Vause here.

Genealogy bloggers group

Update 12 December 2011: The link below no longer works, and BlogCatalog is generally broken.

I’ve started a Genealogy Bloggers group on Blog Catalog, and invite people who blog regularly about genealogy and family history to visit it and consider joining it.

It provides a discussion forum, and also a place where genealogy bloggers can be seen together, which makes it easier to find each other’s blogs.

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