Cottam – a typo spotted

I just had an e-mail from Rick Cowey, whose eagle eye had spotted a typo in the birthdate of one of the Cottams — Mary, daughter of Richard Cottam and Margaret Bagot. I had her birth date as 1858, when it was actually 1830, and once the right birth date was there, a lot of other things fell into place, like her marriage to John Worrall, and her children. Rick also kindly sent me images of her appearing on the 1841 and 1881 censuses, the first in Manchester, and the second in Middlesex, where the family moved to in the mid-1860s.

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Back on the Web

I’ve given up Yahoo! as a bad job.

It’s nearly 2 weeks since our Web pages on YahooGeocities became inaccessible, so I’ve decided to move them to Bravenet.

It will take some time to move everything across and ensure that the links work and so on, so please be patient! But it will also make it possible to update some of the material, including the family tree stuff, so in the end it may turn out to be a good thing.

Anyway, please bookmark the new site, and feel free to sign the guest book, or add a comment either here, or there. To add a comment here, just click on “Comments” at the bottom of each entry.

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Falkenberg breakthrough – after 30 years

When we first started doing family history, soon after we were married, we asked Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur about her ancestors. She often couldn’t remember their names, but she remembered what they had died of and what pills they took. But she did tell us that her mother was Jessie Falkenberg and her father was Edward Decker (and that he had died when she was about 8, at Covimvaba).

About a year later, with special permission from the magistrate (I was banned at the time) we went to Cape Town on holiday, stopping to visit relations and do family history on the way. We visited Violet McDonald, a Growdon relative, in Queenstown, and spent a morning looking through the parish registers at St Michael’s Anglican Church, and right away got lucky. We found not only Growdons, but Falkenbergs as well. lots of them. Jessie Decker, nee Falkenberg, was there, though it turned out that her full name was actually Justine, along with several brothers and sisters. Her father was Michael John Christian Falkenberg, and her mother was also Justine, alias Jessie.

We recorded all this, and went on to Cape Town, where in the archives we found more about them in death notices and immigration lists.

Michael John Christian Falkenberg came from Germany in 1858, with his wife Dorothea and 3-year-old son Friedrich. But at some point his wife had died and he had remarried to Justine Schultz, who had come over on the same ship with her family, but was 9 years old at the time. He married her when she was about 15, but we still have not been able to discover where.

On our way home again we called at Stutterheim, and there found a grave for a Frederike Falkenberg, born Luthow. The age was right, so could she have been Michael John Christian Falkenberg’s first wife? But the name was different — Dorothea/Frederike?

We traced descendants of both wives. But ancestors were harder. They were in East Germany, and the government there did not encourage genealogical research, and communication was difficult. But a Mr Hans Georg Bleibaum in West Germany was interested in South Africa-Germany connections, and offered to help. He sent a parcel of groceries to an East German researcher, who found the Schultz ancestors, and then a Martin Schultz who married a Marie Payard and traced the Payard side back to the Huguenots in the 17th century.

But the Falkenberg side was a dead end.

Then, last week, along came Peter Woddow. He asked in a South African genealogy mailing list about Germans from the Ueckermark who had settled in South Africa. I mentioned the Falkenbergs to him, and within a short time he had confirmed for us that Frederike and Dorothea Falkenberg, born Luthow, were one and the same person, solving the mystery of the grave we saw in Stutterheim more than 30 years ago.

And now he has given the parents, brothers, and sisters of Michael Johann Christian Falkenberg, which we had despaired of ever finding.

Oh, incidentally, on our trip in 1975, we also visited King William’s Town and found the baptism of Val’s grandmother’s father, who turned out to be Edwin, not Edward. Edwin Robert Morton Decker, to be precise.

Satterley, Luscombe, Hayes, Capel and more

I spent some time yesterday and the day before at the LDS family history centre, looking at films of baptism registers of Bovey Tracey in Devon, and some Bristol ones.

My main interest in Devon is the Stooke family most of whom lived in Ashton and Trusham in the Teign valley, ancestors of my great grandmother Mary Barber Stooke who married William Allen Hayes.

But Bovey Tracey is nearby, and a Stooke relative was vicar there in the 17th century, and I found lots of Satterleys and quite a few Luscombes, both families that married into the Stooke family, though none of those I found seem to be related.

The microfilm was of a transcript made in the 1920s — useful in that it was probably easier to read than the old handwriting.

In Bristol I looked at registers from St John the Baptist, Bedminster, and St Mary Redcliffe. I didn’t find much, but did find one interesting marriage: Henry William Andrews married Joanna Wickham Capel in 1853 at St John’s, Bedminster.

There was a Margaret Jane Capel who married John Hayes and their son was William Wickham Hayes. And John Hayes was a witness at the wedding of Henry and Joanna. Margaret Jane Capel had a sister Joannah, could it be the same one? But the age was wrong. Well, she fibbed, saying that she was 28 (her husband was 25), but actually she was 31. So perhaps it wasn’t the right one.

Quick check of 1881 census.

Joanne Andrews, born Winscombe, age 60, housdekeeper for Revd Morely Saunders of Clevedon. So yes, it is the same one. Fibbed about her age at her marriage, but not at the census (husband seems to have died by then).

Yahoo pulls the plug

About 10 years ago I started a personal Web page at Geocities. The site grew as I shared information, including our family tree, with other people. Eventually Geocities was taken over by Yahoo, and yesterday, suddenly and without warning, Yahoo blocked access to my web pages, and to my e-mail address ( everything else linked to that Yahoo ID.

The implication is that I had somehow violated their terms of service. I’m not sure how I might have done that, but the only thing I can think of is that someone sent me one of those address update thingies, through a web site called Plaxo. I thought I would try out the Plaxo thing — it’s a sort of on-line address book, like the one Yahoo has, but with automatic updating. It had an option to import my Yahoo address book, so I did that, and the next thing I knew was that my Yahoo membership was terminated.

So the problem seems to be one of these turf wars between Internet companies. I can’t think of what else it might be.

One of the things affected was a Growdon/Growden family mailing list on YahooGroups, which I will no longer be able to maintain, and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have access to it.

But for the moment this blog is still a contact point, thought a blog is a poor substitute for a mailing list.

Hayes family news

A couple of days ago I had a phone call from my second cousin Jane Conway in Bristol, quite out of the blue.

We visited her a year ago, and it was the first time we had met her. So it was good to hear from her again. Her grandfather, Cyril Allen Hayes, was the brother of my grandfather Percy Wynn Hayes.

She reported that Derek Scott, husband of another cousin, Gillian Bain, had died a week earlier at the age of 83. Derek was a musician, and wrote the music for the Muppets TV show. Gillian was a ballet dancer, with the stage name Sidonie Darell.

Cousin Jane is going to America soon, to help her daughter, who lives there, move house.

And today is our son Jethro’s birthday.

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Cornwall families — Growdon, Couch, Sandercock

Yesterday I managed to get to the Family History Centre in Johannesburg for the first time since Holy week and Easter, and looked at bits and pieces in the parish registers for St Mabyn, Cornwall, where I found a few Couch families, none of which seemed definitely related, and a couple of Sandercock ones, and an Elizabeth Growden, daughter of Jane, whose abode was given as Bodmin, and may have been one of ours. Elizabeth grew up to have an illegitimate child of her own, Rebecca Growden, about 25 years later.

We got a new car on 13 April (also my 65th birthday), to replace the Mazda that was stolen a year and a day previously, and that might make it possible to get out and do some more family history research, but our son Jethro took the Toyota Venture off to Durban on holiday in Bright Week, so I’m still stuck at home until he returns. I had thought of going down with him and visiting family and friends in Pietermaritzburg, and doing some research in the archives and libraries there at the same time, but it was not certain how many people I wanted to see were going to be there, so in the end decided to stay home.