December birthdays

There is a genealogy blog carnival, in which people are asked to blog on family members who have birthdays in December, so here are some of  our family members with December birthdays:

Ralph Carr (1818-1862)

Ralph Carr was Val’s great-great grandfather, born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England on 19 December 1818, the son of Ralph Carr and Mary Walsh. He was baptised on 24 January 1819 at Holy Trinity Church, Whitehaven.

Like his father, he was a seafaring man, and in those days Whitehaven was quite a busy port.

He married Isabella Little at St Bees, Cumberland, on 20 August, 1846. They had six children, Mary, Ralph, Edward, Elizabeth Renney, William Edward and Thomas. Mary Carr (1847-1897), the eldest, who married Thomas Ellwood, was Val’s great grandmother.

Ralph Carr died on 4 May 1862 on board the schooner Hematite of Whitehaven during the passage to Oporto in Lat 43 2 N Long 9 4 W, in the 42nd year of his age. He was buried on the west side of the harbour at Corunna, Spain, near to the grave of the celebrated General Sir John Moore who was killed during the retreat of the British Army to that place during the Peninsular War against Napoleon, which is the subject of a well-known poem by Charles Woolfe.

William John Crighton (1842-1886)

William John Crighton was Val’s great great grandfather. He was born in Cape Town on 25 December 1842, the son of Henry Crighton and Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme. The family were saddlers and leather merchants, and William followed in the family business. They lived in Woodstock, a couple of miles out of Cape Town.

William John Crighton married Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917), daughter of William James MacLeod and Mary Kerwick, in January 1866. They had eight children: Mary Frances, Isabel, William John, Frank Percy, Daniel Jhon, Charles Joseph, James Percival and Percival.

The eldest, Mary Frances, was Val’s great-grandmother, who married Frederick Vincent Green.

George Coenraad Behr (1846-1902) and Charlotte Christiana Johanna Behr (1851-1944)

Not an ancestor, but the double brother-in-law of William John Crighton, George Coenraad Behr was born on 23 December 1836 in Cape Town, the son of George Hendrik Behr and Maria Magdalenia Steinhobel. He married Harriet Crighton (1851-1919), the sister of William John Crighton, and they had ten children.

George Behr’s sister, Charlotte Christina Johanna Behr (1851-1944) married Henry Joseph Burnard Crighton (1845-1887), the brother of William John Crighton and Harriet Crighton. They had no children. She also had a December birthday, being born on 21 December 1851.

Disk crash and lost e-mail

I’ve had quite a lot of computer problems recently, including a dying hard disk. I won’t go into the details here — if you really want to know you can read them on my general blog at Notes from underground: Frustrating computers.

I managed to replace the dying disk drive with a new and bigger one, and restore backed-up data to it, but lost most of my e-mail for the last three months, from 1 September to 7 December, including messages in my “to-reply” folder.

I didn’t lose anything in my family history data files and notes, as I back those up and transfer them every day to my laptop computer, so the biggest loss is the e-mail, and in family history most of it relates to the Sandercock family, as we started the Sandercock mailing list in October. Most of the list mail is accessible on the web, but some people sent me things privately. So if you sent me something and were expecting a reply, and don’t receive one, please, if possible send a copy of your original message, or at least a reminder.

I also received something on the Descendants of Edward Sandercock and Elizabeth Higgs from an anonymous correspondent. It had quite a lot of new material, which I have entered into the family file, but am unable to attribute it to any source, because I no longer have the original e-mail.

Cooperative family history

Last year we started a family history Wiki, in the hope that it might make it easier to cooperate with others in gathering family history. The Wiki format, which has been so successful in compiling Wikipedia, one of the most useful encyclopedias the world has ever seen, seems ideal for family history, where members of families all over the world  can contribute different parts of the family story.

Daily page views of our Family Wiki 2008i

We began the family wiki in May 2008, and it seems to have attracted plenty of visitors right from the start — more than this blog, in fact. I thought we might get 2-3 visits a day, perhaps 40-50 a month, but it has been quite a lot more than that, rarely dropping below 25 page views a day.

Daily visitors in 2008

Since each visitor usually looks at more than one page, the actual number of visitors is also quite interesting. It seems that it has rarely dropped below 20 visitors a day.

OK, not everyone who visits the site is related. Some may see a surname that they are interested in, but find that it is a different branch of the family, especially with common surnames. They might come, look at the index and a couple of pages, and see there is nothing connected with them, and leave again.

Edits and Editors - 2009

That is rather discouraging.

You can see how discouraging it is by seeing the number of page edits, which has dropped since it started. Also the number of editors is revealing. Only one other person has contributed anything to the pages, and I’ve had to write all the rest myself. The essence of a wiki is that it is cooperative, and many people contribute something to the full story, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. But surely some of the people who visit find a family that is connected to theirs, and could contribute something to the story. And only two left messages.

There is also the question of where visitors come from.

Where visitors came from - 2008

Most of our families were originally from the UK and Canada, and some are from Germany. Some were Huguenots who went from France to Prussia in the 17th century, and spread from there to other parts of the world. The recent generations are in Southern Africa, but we also have others in places like Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Most visitors are from the USA, probably because more people there have internet access than those in other places. But there are relatively few from some of the countries where most members of our families came from or are living now.

So if you go to our family Wiki and find you are connected to any of the families there, please consider contributing something, however small. Ask if you can become an editor — if you can show you are related, we’ll make you one right away. And add something to one of the pages — an anecdote, an extract from a will, whatever. It doesn’t have to be perfect — that’s the beauty of a wiki. Someone else can polish what you write, and one story sparks off another memory, so someone else can expand it and put it in its context, and that way we all benefit.It can be a legend, a rumour, a story you were told, a black sheep in the family. If it’s a legend or a rumour, just label it as such — those things too are part of the family history.

Of course if we are sixth cousins we’ll have a relatively small proportion of our families in common. So what do you do if you want to write something about one of your relatives who isn’t related to us? Why, start your own family wiki, of course, it’s quite easy to do, and then we can link them for the common relatives.

So please, don’t just be a leech, sucking information from web sites without giving anything in return. You can learn lots of things from the web, but you can also pass on sometrhing of what you have learned so that others can benefit. Please visit our family wiki, but if you are related, please contribute something as well.

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