Keeping in touch with emigrants

I’ve been reading The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History and one of the articles raised the question of how long families that have emigrated keep in touch with those back in the country they came from.

Most of  of our ancestral lines have immigrants from somewhere else, and it is quite interesting to look at how they maintained contact, and how and to what extent we have re-established contact, mainly because of an interest in family history. A recent post about a Canadian Growden family is a case in point — they seem to have little or no contact with any other branches of the family, and little or no memory of where they came from.

Pearson-Ellwood

One of the clearest cases is Val’s maternal grandmother’s family. She was Martha Pearson, nee Ellwood, and both she and her husband William Walker Pearson. They came to South Africa from Whitehaven, Cumberland, England about a century ago, and were married in Pinetown, Natal, in 1913. They lived just down the road from Val when she was young, within walking distance, and when her grandfather died her grandmother came to live in a granny flat that they built on to their house in Escombe, where she lived with them for 12 years until she died in 1968.

So Val grew up with her grandmother’s stories of Whitehaven, and Martha (Mattie) Pearson kept in touch with her brothers and sisters who lived there, and some of them had also married into the Pearson family. During the Second World War some of Val’s mother’s cousins were soldiers, and visited when troopships called at Durban on the way to south-east Asia. Martha Pearson occasionally returned to Whitehaven to visit family, and we have some of her old passports. Val’s mother and aunt went with her as teenagers, and remembered some of their English cousins, though they did not stay in touch with them. Val and her sister visited England in 1971, and passed through Whitehaven, and had thought of visiting relatives there, but it was late and they thought they were old and would already be in bed, so they drove through.

When we got married in 1974, six years after Val’s grandmother had died, and became interested in family history, one of the starting points was some of Val’s relics from her grandmother — her birthday book, cuttings of newspaper marriage and death notices, and obituaries of her father Thomas Ellwood (1845-1914)  and grandfather John Ellwood (1819-1892). We wrote to the Whitehaven News, asking if any members of the family still living in Whitehaven would get in touch. From that we discovered that Val’s great-uncle Ernie Pearson had died the previous week. But his daughter-in-law Nora Pearson wrote to us regularly for the next thirty years, keeping us in touch with news of the family, so the contact was maintained for another generation, and thirty years later, in 2005 we visited Nora, and her daughters who live in Edinburgh. Whether our children will keep in touch with their children after we die remains to be seen. We also visited another second cousin who lives in Wales.

But our letter to the Whitehaven News also brought contact with a forgotten generation of emigrants, about whom Val had heard no stories as a child. A Mrs Mary Ann Tumilty, nee Ellwood,  had been visiting Whitehaven from the USA in the week that our letter was published, and when she got home she wrote to us, and sent extracts from the Ellwood family Bible, which she had, and it gave all the children of John Ellwood, Val’s great great grandfather, who was born in 1819. Mary Ann Tumilty’s parents had lived in Northumberland, and emigrated to the USA in 1923.

Hayes-Stooke

On this side of the family I’ve told in another post how my father visited England for a Scout jamboree, and met a cousin with the unusual name of Herrick Hayes, and that helped us to make contact with second cousins that we had not previously known about, though attempts to make contact with Herrick Hayes’s descendants have so far been unsuccessful.

In general it seems that, unless there is a conscious interest in family history, contact seems to be lost in the generation of the great grandchildren of immigrants, and family history research can lead to the re-establishing of contact.

Julia Bridget Hayes – ikonographer

Sell Art OnlineOur daughter Bridget the ikonographer has set up a web page to display her
ikons
.

She has been painting ikons for several years now, and is using them to
finance her studies in Greece (she is studying for a doctorate in theology at
Athens University).

What are you looking for here?

What are people looking for when they visit this blog?

According to the statistics people used the following search engine terms to find their way here:

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Some of those are fairly general, and people may have found other sites through the search term that were more interesting or useful to them.

But there are some that I wish had left a message and introduced themselves, when their search term was the name of a specific person in our family tree.

Josephine Tsegaye, for example, is my fifth cousin, so it would be nice if anyone who was looking for her had left a comment to say if they were related or not, and if she was the person they were looking for.

Joseph Theodore Chelin was my wife’s grandmother’s first husband. It would be nice to know if he was the one they were looking for, or if it was someone else of the same name.

Edward Lister Green was my wife’s great great grandfather’s brother, and we are in touch with some of his descendants, and would like to make contact with more. If would have been nice if people left a comment to say if they had found what they were looking for or not — well in his case, perhaps some did, because we have had some comments from that side of the family.

But we have quite a bit more information on some families than is posted on the blog, and if people are related and genuinely want to make contact, we would gladly share it with them.

Mysterious family and place names

When you start doing family history, sooner or later you come across mysterious names that crop up among family members, and you wonder where they came from and what their significance is.

Barlow-Jones

I was reminded of this when someone asked on the South African genealogy mailing list about the name Barlow-Jones.

I’m researching a family JONES who lived in Ladysmith, Natal.

They lived in a very big, beautiful house named Barlow House/Lodge.

Can anyone help me with history of this house/lodge. ‘Barlow’ played an important part in the family as 4 of their 13 children had Barlow as a second name.

Well we have a Barlow-Jones in our family tree, a Kerry Barlow-Jones who married a third cousin once removed named Beattie, who is related on the Crighton side. The person who asked about Barlow also had a Kerry Barlow-Jones, born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) but on a different date. No known connection between them, but one can’t help thinking that we may discover one one day. But if anyone knows about this name and its connection with the house in Ladysmith, please let us know, and we’ll put you in touch with the enquirer.

Wynn

That reminded me of a couple of other mysterious names in our family.

My grandfather was Percy Hayes, and at some point he began calling himself Percy Wynn Hayes, and he gave all his children Wynn as a middle name, and I got it too, though none of my first cousins on my father’s side did. My father’s death certificate shows his surname as Wynn-Hayes. The mystery is where the Wynn came from.

I’ve found no relatives with that name. When I was 7 we stayed at the Valley Inn, Ingogo, for a month, and it was run by some distant cousins of my father the Bradburys. There were two children there, Gillian who was about my age, and her brother Michael who was a few years older. We knew we were cousins of some sort, but did not know how. The name of the father was Wynn Bradbury, so I thought, when I became interested in family history, that if I found more about him I’d solve the mystery of where the Wynn came from. I looked up his death notice but discovered that he was actually Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury, Win for short, and that it was his wife Sheila (born Cottam) who was the relation. So the mystery of the Wynn remained unsolved, as it does to this day.

An interesting sidelight on this is where Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury got his moniker. There was, of course, a famous British Prime Minister named Winston Spencer Churchhill, though he wasn’t famous when Win Bradbury was born, back in October 1899. But October 1899 was the month the Anglo-Boer War started, and Win Bradbury was born in Ladysmith, which was almost immediately besieged by Boer forces, and Winston S. Churchill was there as a war correspondent, so perhaps he was known to Win Bradbury’s parents. And that brings us back to Ladysmith, where Barlow House was situated.

Esdaile

When thinking of names associated with houses, another name comes to mind: Esdaile.

My wife Val’s maiden surname was Greene, and a couple of generations earlier it was Green. You will find her great great grandfather Fred Green in Pioneers of Rhodesia by Edward C. Tabler, though erroneously recorded as Frederick Joseph Green. He was actually Frederick Thomas Green, but one of his daughters, I think, told Lawrence G Green (no relation) that his name was Joseph. Lawrence G. Green wrote books about African travel, several of which mentioned the Green family, and Fred Green in particular, among them Thunder on the Blaauwberg and Lords of the last frontier.

The Green family came from Canada, and spread all over the world, and
carried with them the legend that Fred Green’s father, William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, was a son of Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father. Not true, of course, but his mother, Eliza Green (Fred Green’s grandmother), had two illegitimate children, one by William Goodall, a London businessdman, and the other by Marc Pictet, a Swiss army officer.

Eliza Green later married another London businessman, Thomas Esdaile, by whom she had no children, but he became the stepfather to her children by her earlier liaisons. And ever since then, throughout the world, Green descendants have named their houses, farms, and sometimes their children, Esdaile. So in our family history research the name Esdaile is an indicator of a possible relationship, even though there is no blood relationship with Thomas Esdaile.

So sometimes one discovers the story behind mysterious names, and sometimes one doesn’t.

Many years!

Today is Val’s 60th birthday, and also her name day, being the feast-day of the Great Martyr St Katherine of Alexandria.

To celebrate Val took the day off work and we went out to lunch at a fancy fish restaurant, since the feast of St Katherine is one of the days in the pre-Christmas fast when fish is permitted.

Val Hayes 60th birthday 25 Nov 2008

Val Hayes 60th birthday 25 Nov 2008

God grant you many years!

In-laws

There was recently a discussion on the term “in-law” as in “father-in-law”, “mother-in-law”, “brother-in-law”, “son-in-law” etc.

In looking up something else I came across this entry in Fowler’s Modern English usage, which provides a good summary.

-in-law, describing relationship, was formerly also used in the sense of step- . To Sam Weller [whoever he may be] his father”s second wife was always his mother-in-law; we are not told what he called his own wife’s mother after he married. Today -in-law is never so used; my mother-in-law becomes so by my marriage, my stepmother by hers. The expression in-law derives from the Canon Law prescribing the degrees of affinity within which marriage is prohibited.

The lesson to genealogists is obvious. When you see -in-law, don’t assume what kind of relationship it refers to — always check to make sure.

This happened in our family.

In the 1861 census my ggg grandfather, Simon Hayes, was shown staying in Winscombe, Somerset, with the family of Giles Williams, whose wife was Sidonia.

Simon’s relationship to the head of the household was described as
“brother-in-law”

My first thought (and that of several other researchers into this family) was that Sidonia was Simon’s sister, and that her maiden name was Hayes.

And that was wrong.

After more research I discovered that Sidonia’s maiden name was Sweet.

Simon’s wife was Rachel Allen, and her sister Hester Allen had been Giles
Williams’s first wife, but she died before the 1861 census.

This is not a “step-” relationship, but it is a caution against jumping to
conclusions about the meaning of -in-law.

Don’t assume, always check.

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