Decker family of the Eastern Cape

Clyde Hannan left a comment about a school friend of his, Ben Decker, who lives in Transkei. As far as I know he isn’t related, but it prompted me to start a page for the Decker family on the family Wiki.

Val’s grandmother was Emma Decker (1900-1980), who married Joseph Theodore Christopher Chelin in Bulawayo, then Allan Dudley Greene, and finally Ed le Sueur.  Her grandfather, August Decker, came to South Africa with the British German Legion in the 1850s with his wife Mary Nevard Morton, whom he married at Colchester, Essex.  They had one son, Edwin Robert Morton Decker, and he died a few years later.

Using search engines for genealogy and family history

Over the last ten years or so Google has become the most popular web search engine — to much so that “to google” has become synonymous with searching the web. It’s become a generic term.

When Jackie Seaman announced her Growden reunion, I thought I’d do a web search for Growden, and started with Google because Firefox puts it so conveniently in the toolbar. Growden (or Growdon) is one of the less common surnames I’m researching, and we have a web page just for Growdon family researchers. But Google didn’t find it — at least not in the first 17 mages of results.

I tried another search engine, Altavista, and our Growdon page came up on the first page of results.

I tried another search engine, Dogpile, which is an aggregator of results from several different search engines, and our Growdon page was also on the first page of results, but further down.

It seems that Google is definitely not the best search engine for genealogical and family history research. Altavista ( was better by a long way, and its first page of results was far more relevant to genealogy researchers.

The first page of results on Google produced a bunch of generic surname search sites, many of them commercial. This means that they show up on search results for anyone looking for any surname at all. If you try some of them you might find they have no information at all on Growdon (or whatever surname you are looking for), but then invite you to look for other surnames. And quite often, if they do have information, they ask you to pay upfront before you can see it.

Dogpile also came up with quite few of those generic surname sites, but did have more relevant sites on the first page of search results as well.

But Altavista came up with “real” Growdon/Growden sites first — people who were actually interested in Growden family history, and had information or were looking for information, rather than generic surname search sites.

So if you are looking for family history information on the web, don’t just “google” for it — try other search engines as well. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Growden family reunion in Pennsylvania

Jackie Seaman is organising a reunion for descendants of William Growden and Elizabeth Sandercock. It will be held at Jackie’s home in Pennsylvania, USA, and anyone who is able to attend will be welcome.

Jackie writes:

The Reunion will be the weekend of July 26-27, 2008. It will held at our house which is on the north- west corner of Rounds Hill Road & Round Road, Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania 16350. With the driveway comimg in off of Round Road.We have 5.5acres so a lot of people are bring tents and campers and staying right here. Some are staying at the Best Western in Jamestown, NY, about 8 miles north. We have some that are planning to come the Monday before to help get ready and some that are planning to stay until the Friday after to help put things back to normal, and others that can only come for the weekend.

The contact person: is my husband or me,

Bob or Jackie Seaman
Address: 2549 Rounds Hill Road,
Sugar Grove, PA 16050
email address: ** <>
phone number: 814-489-3450.

Jackie is descended from Joseph Growden (child 3) and Florence Peters in the chart below:

Family Group Report
For: William Growden (ID= 2397)
Date Prepared: 15 May 2008

NAME: GROWDEN, William, Born ??? 1767? in Cornwall, England, Died ???

MARRIED 26 Nov 1792 in Cardinham, Cornwall, to SANDERCOCK, Elizabeth Couch, Born 1 Apr 1766 in Cardinham, Cornwall, Died Feb 1836 in Bodmin, Cornwall at age 69; FATHER: SANDERCOCK, Thomas, Born ??? 1737, Died Feb 1825 at age 88; MOTHER: COUCH, Ann, Born ??? 1739, Died Apr 1817 at age 78; William Growden shown in register as being “from Egloshayle”.; Bapt. 1 Apr 1766, Cardinham [letter from Margaret Foden, 6 Feb 1980]

1. F GROWDEN, Jennifer, born Oct 1793 in Egloshayle, CON, died ???
2. M GROWDEN, William, born ??? 1794 in Bodmin, Cornwall, died 8 Dec 1881 in Geelong, Victoria; Married ??? 1854 to DAY, Keturah; 6 children
3. M GROWDEN, Joseph, born ??? 1796?, died ???; Married 31 May 1818 to PETERS, Florence; 8 children
4. M GROWDEN, Thomas, born ??? 1798, died ???; Married to WILLIAMS, Sidwell; 5 children
5. M GROWDEN, Matthew, born Dec 1800 in Bodmin, Cornwall, died May 1883 in Cornwall, ENG; Married 10 Dec 1844 to DYER, Christiana; 4 children
6. F GROWDEN, Ann, born ??? 1802, died ???
7. F GROWDEN, Joanna, born ??? 1804, died 8 Jun 1806
8. F GROWDEN, Jenifer, born Mar 1806, died ???
9. F GROWDEN, Elizabeth, born ??? 1807, died ???
10. M GROWDEN, John, born ??? 1811, died 15 Mar 1812

Keeping in touch and losing touch

I sent out an e-mail message to various relations to let them know that this family history blog had moved, and 13 messages bounced — cousins who have changed their address and whose new address I don’t know. With the internet, it’s easy to keep in touch, but it’s also easy to lose touch.

It was good to see that 20 people visited the Family Wiki site yesterday, but it was disappointing to see that no one joined to make it a cooperative effort. It would be really nice to see some contributions from other members of the family too.

New home for this blog

Owing to problems with Google’s Blogger software, this blog has been moved from on Blogger. You may still be able to read older posts over there, but from now on new posts will be added here.

Some comments have been moved, but comments made on the Haloscan system may not have been moved. I moved it because I was unable to read the blog, or any of the comments, though I was still able to post there. Every time I tried to read it I got a “403 Forbidden” message.

This new site still has to be tidied up, and general information added, but I hope it will prove more reliable than the Blogspot one.

Family WikiSpaces

You may have heard of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, which is one of the most useful sources of information on the Internet.

Now we have started a family history Wiki on Wikispaces, and we invite all members of the family to have a look at it and join it.

The Hayes and Green family history space

This WikiSpace, called “hayesgreene” is for members of the Hayes, Greene and related families to post family news, history and anecdotes, and to make contact with other members of the family, and learn about the family history.

Who is it for?

It’s for any members of our families, that is, anyone who is related to us in any way. That means, in the first place, anyone descended from any of our ancestors — uncles, aunts and cousins. That includes 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, up to and beyond 15th cousins seven times removed, and their spouses, parents of spouses and children of spouses.

Who are we?

We are Steve and Val Hayes, and we live in Pretoria, Tshwane, Gauteng, South Africa. You can find out more about who we are on our family web pages, and also on our blog (which you’re reading now!)

How do I participate?

You participate by clicking on “join this space”, which you will find somewhere on the left (not here, but in the WikiSpace page). If you are already a member of WikiSpaces, your application will be sent to us. If you are not already a member of WikiSpaces you will be invited to join (and then you can create your own WikiSpaces as well). When we receive your application, we will check to see whether you are related to us in any way, and if you are, your application will be approved and you will be able to add to and edit the information on these pages. But even if you are not related, you can still read the pages.

How does this compare with a blog?

A blog is for changing information that quickly gets out of date. While you can find old blog posts, you have to search for them, and they are not always easy to find. A family history blog can be good as a record of new information found, meetings with family members, reports of family reunions and so on.

What a blog is not so good for is things like anecdotes by and ancestors, biographies, research problems and dead-ends and so on. Updating biographical information on a two-year-old blog post is not much use, because few people will know that it has been updated, and so few will read it. But in a Wiki such information can be updated and added to as more information is found, and it can be found much more easily.

So, if you are related, go and look at the HayesGreene Wikispace, and think of stuff you can add. There’s not much there yet, but there will soon be if we all get working on it.