Heirlooms and other family news

An heirloom is an article or object that has been in a family for several generations. Most objects that might become heirlooms don’t, because they are broken, thrown away, stolen or destroyed or lost (by fire, flood, earthquake etc). So in the end, only a few may survive to be passed on from one generation to another.

bell01Those that do survive, however, often have stories attached to them, and the stories are often forgotten, so we’re recording the story of one such heirloom — a measuring tape in the shape of a china fisherwoman. It was made in Germany, and belonged to Auntie Belle.

Auntie Belle was Val’s great aunt, Isabella Carr Ellwood (1873-1958), who was Matron in a hospital in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. She was married to Jim Hurst, and they had no children. Val’s grandmother, Mattie Pearson (née Ellwood), who was living in a granny flat with Val’s parents in Escombe, Natal, travelled to the UK about the time that Auntie Belle died, and brought back the measuring tape, and gave it to Val, who was then about 9 years old.

Mattie Pearson wrote regularly to her brothers and sisters in England, and especially to her younger sister Maggie, who was married to Ernest Pearson, Mattie’s late husbands brother, which made him a double brother-in-law. The family tried in vain to persuade Mattie to make the journey home to England to see her brothers and sisters. When Mattie’s daughter (Val’s Auntie Mollie) was ill with jaundice, Mattie stayed with them to look after the children. When Mollie recovered, the family primed the family doctor, Doctor Rosenthal (who was well-known and well-loved in Escombe and vicinity) to tell Mattie that she needed a rest, and that a trip to England to see her family there would do her good. What Dr Rosenthal suggested was tantamount to a command.

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, bust before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie -- can anyone identify them?

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, just before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie — can anyone identify them?

So Mattie booked a trip on the Southern Cross, a three-week relaxing voyage in company with her old friend Mrs Mitchell who had been glad to join her on her trip, and saw her brothers and sisters. Auntie Belle died either while she was there, or shortly before, and so she brought the fisherwoman measuring tape back for Val.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

The time for such sea voyages has passed; air travel is quicker and cheaper, but far less relaxing, and if you want to go by sea, for the most part you can only take cruises to nowhere. The days of passenger ships was dying by the early 1970s.  The ship that took Mattie and Mrs Mitchell to England was the Southern Cross.  When Val and her sister Elaine travelled to England in 1971 they went on the very last voyage of the Arawa and came back in September on the very last trip of the Southern Cross.

banana1Now here’s another family artefact that will never become an heirloom because we’ve already eaten it. Our son Simon saw a food programme on TV where the presenter said that food should be artistically presented, so Simon made this artistic arrangement of bananas in the fruit bowl. But the photo might last a bit longer than the bananas.

Mention of the Ellwood family, and the fact that Mattie Pearson kept in touch with her siblings by letter for almost 60 years reminds me of changing patterns of communication. When our daughter Bridget went to Greece 20 years ago, we kept in touch by snail mail, writing almost every week. When Bridget got e-mail, it should have been easier to communicate, but it actually wasn’t. E-mail messages were much less frequent and much less informative. Now there is Facebook, but Facebook, though it allows one to share photos, lends itself to textbites rather like soundbites. You see a photo of a place and realise that whoever posted it might have visited it, but there is little description of the when, where and how, or who they were with, or what they did there.

For the last 3 weeks our internet connection has been faulty. I’ve been able to download e-mail (after 5-20 attempts), but the replies are all queued, waiting to be sent when the line is repaired (for more on this problem and the reasons for it, see Incommunicado). But in these 3 weeks there have been almost no personal messages from friends or family. There was one very welcome message from a cousin whose existence I was quite unaware of — Roxanne Williamson, née Dryden — and I’ll reply to that more fully when our internet service has been restored (if you are reading this, then it will have been restored). But apart from that all the genuine mail has been in two mailing lists, one from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and the other the Legacy User Group – a support service for a genealogy program I use. Two-thirds of the mail that we have downloaded with such difficulty is spam — things like discount offers from shops I’ve never heard of (which country is “Macy’s” in? Or “Everest Windows” or “Takahashi?).

But that’s what the state our communication has been reduced to, in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the marvellous technological aids. I can receive and send email without moving my bum from this chair, whereas to send a snail-mail letter I have to go 2,6 kilometres to the nearest post box, a 40-minute walk one way. Yet Mattie Pearson managed to write to her sister Maggie once a week, and at less frequent intervals to her other siblings, and her letters were probably far more informative.

When we first started doing family history just after we were married back in 1974 we tried to re-establish contact with those relatives, and Maggie’s daughter-in-law, Nora Pearson, wrote to us by snail mail once a month or so, long chatty letters telling about her children (Val’s double second cousins) and grandchildren, what was going on in the town, and in their church (she and her husband John had just joined St Begh’s Roman Catholic Church). Now we are “friends” with her children on Facebook, but Facebook censors the communication so we only see about 10% of what they post 10% of the time, and in spite of the wonders of modern technology, we are less in touch with that side of the family than we were by snail mail 40 years ago.

Meeting new Green cousins

Last Saturday we met some cousins on the Green side of the family that we had not met before when we met Rupert and Sarah McKerron for coffee. Rupert is Val’s fourth cousin on the Green side of the family, and though we had been in correspondence with people from that side of the family, it was good to meet some face to face.

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Val Hayes with Rupert & Sarah McKerron 14 May 2016

Rupert and Sarah have a bush cottage that they named after the Green brothers, and we met to swap stories about them.

The Green family came to the Eastern Cape about 1846. The paterfamilias, William Goodall Green, who was born in Quebec in 1790, was in the Commissariat Department of the British Army based in Newfoundland, when he was transferred to the Cape Colony, probably as part of a boosting of British military strength because of the War of the Axe (1846-1850). William Green’s wife Margaret had died a couple of years earlier, and some of their 15 children died young, but quite a number of them seem to have come to southern Africa at that time.

Henry Green, the eldest, and Rupert’s ancestor, had followed his father into the commissariat department, and accompanied a British force led by Major Harold Warden to what was then called Trans-Orangia (now the Free State province). After establishing British authority and defeating the short-lived Republic of Winburg at the Battle of Boomplaats Warden was appointed British Resident of what became the Orange River Sovereignty, and he established a capital on the farm Bloemfontein. Henry Green succeeded Warden as British Resident in 1852, but his post lapsed in 1854 when the Sovereignty was abandoned and the republic of the Oranje-Vrijstaat was established.

Another of the Green brothers, Edward, joined the Cape Mounted Rifles, took part in the War of the Axe, and was wounded in the thigh. He married Emily Ogilvie of Grahamstown, and after having two children they left, Emily to stay with family in England, and Edward to India, and later to China, where he took part in the Opium Wars, the aim of which was to persuade the Chinese government to lift its embargo in the importation of drugs. Edward Green never returned either to the Cape Colony or Canada, but eventually settled in New Zealand.

Three other brothers, Charles, Fred and Arthur, went to Bloemfontein. Arthur, the youngest, got a job in his brother Henry’s office, while Charles and Fred, aged 25 and 21 respectively, set out to the north-west on a hunting expedition. In those days elephant hunting and the sale of ivory must have seemed like an easy way for young men to earn a living. Charles and Fred Green returned to Bloemfontein as their base after each hunting season, and spent their holidays playing billiards and cards with the soldiers, and taking them on hunting trips on nearby farms. Fred (Val’s great great grandfather) seems to have planned to settle there, because he bought a plot of land in Bloemfontein.

Charles and Fred were friends with the Bakwena chief Setshele (his name is sometimes spelt Sechele), and left cattle in his care when they went west up the Boteti (or Botletle) River to Lake Ngami, where tsetse flies were bad for cattle (follow the links to read more about their journeys). On their return they found that their cattle had been looted by Boer raiders from the Transvaal, who had also wrecked David Livingstone’s house in Kolobeng, and abducted hundreds of women and children as slaves.

Charles and Fred took Setchele with them to lay his complaints before the British government, in the person of their brother Henry, but he was told by his superior, the Governor of the Cape Colony, that since the signing of the Sand River Convention in 1852 the British government took no official interest in events north of the Vaal River. Charles Green may have accompanied Setshele back home, and then possibly went to Australia, perhaps with his sister Agnes, whose first child, Caroline Wilson, was born in Sydney in 1854.

After reconnoitering trade routes to east and west, Fred Green seems to have decided that the western route was safer, and made his base in Damaraland, later called Hereroland, and now part of Namibia, and spent the rest of his life there. Charles joined him a couple of years later, but was drowned in the Okavango River when his boat was upset by a hippo in the early 1860s. I don’t think Fred ever saw any of his siblings again.

Fred married three times. We know nothing of his first wife, other than that her name was Dixon and they had no children. The second was Sarah uaKandendu Kaipukire, a Herero princess. They had a daughter, but parted when the Hereros did not want her to accompany him to the Cape Colony. One of her descendants, Mburumba Kerina, is credited with the invention of the name Namibia.The third wife was Catherine Agnes Anne Stewardson, They had seven children, of whom four died young. Of the surviving ones, Fred Vincent Green was Val;s great grandfather.

Henry disappeared for 6 years, married his cousin Margaret Aitchison in England, and returned to the Cape Colony in 1860 as Civil Commissioner and Magistrate of Colesberg. His wife and two children died soon after their arrival, but she still lives on as the family ghost. He married again to Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, and had several children by her, and many of the Green descendants in southern Africa come from them. When diamonds were discovered near Kimberley Henry Green went with a syndicate to work them, became a member of the legislative assemby for Griqualand West, and then retired to his farm near Barkly West, where he died in 1884.

Arthur Green became a photographer, and achieved some fame as a pioneer in that field. His daughter Agnes married twice and had children, some of whom were born in Canada, but eventually returned to South Africa. We met one of his descendnats some years ago, Doreen Armstrong of Pinetown, who was also interested in the family history.

Agnes Green, who went to Australia, married four times (twice to the same man). Her first husband was William Wilson, who drowned in the Tuross River in New South Wales. She next married Alfred Dawson Francis, who may have caused a stir in Durban  as Alfred Francis Dawson. He committed suicide, and she then married William McLean Thwaites, once bigamously in Sydney, and the second time after the birth of their four children, in Adelaide. Though she never returned to South Africa, some of the grandchildren of each of her marriages did. Caroline Wilson, the eldest daughter, went to New Zealand to stay with her uncle Edward Lister Green. She married  Roy Ashley Warre Brathwaite, and one of their children, Frank Brathwaite, came to South Africa and made a name for himself as a racing tipster. Arthur Walpole Francis, a son of her second marriage, lived at Langlaagte, near Johannesburg, and made contact with several of Fred Green’s family, who had moved to the Transvaal after his death. One of his daughters married a coffee planter from Tanganyika, and was caught in Germany diring the first and second world wars. One of her sons was killed in the German army during the invasion of Poland in 1939. Her letters to her sister in Sydney provide a fascinating insight into the history of that side of the family.

Another member of the Francis side of the family was Peter Bridges, whom we met in Johannesburg, and whose granddaughter Jenny was at the same school as our daughter Bridget for a while. Peter discovered that on his mother’s side he was descended from another of the Green siblings, Caroline, who married Robert Leslie Cowan and died of cholera in Shanghai in 1863.

So the Green brothers had interesting lives, and seem to have spread the family to many different parts of the world, with quite a number from several branches still living in South Africa and Namibia.

Linking the Growdens

When we started researching our family history more than 40 years ago, one of the things we soon discovered about the Growdon or Growden family was that everyone said they came from Cornwall, and that they were all related. Louise Deragowski of New Orleans, one of the first Growden researchers we made contact with, quoted another relative as saying that “they lived so close, they traded roosters”.

My mother was Ella Growdon, and her father George Growdon came from Cornwall in 1876 at the age of three, when his father, William Matthew Growden, came to work in the Cape Government Railways, building the rail line inland from East London. We soon traced his ancestry though is father Matthew Growden, and his father William Growden, who married Elizabeth Saundercock, and there we were stuck. It took a couple of years to be fairly certain my my relationship with Louise Deragowski (she was my 4th cousin). She was in contact with lots of others, including Sylvia Reebel, who researched the Pennsylvania Growdens, and we all owe a great debt to those two, because much of what we know comes from them, though they never did manage to discover how they were related.

We discovered some other Growden families, who came from the same area of Cornwall, but no links between them. We made a Growdon family web page, and invited members of the various Growden families to help us find the links between them. Then Marguerite Growden, who was originally from Australia, and is now living in Canada, discovered some Growden baptisms in Withiel, Cornwall, that seems to provide the missing links that draw all these families together.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Withiel, Cornwall, where the Growden family lived in the early 18th century.

Laurence Growden married Elizabeth Vanson in Withiel in 1719, and had four children, Laurence, Matthew, Joseph and Elizabeth. Most of the Growden families in the world today are descended from Laurence and Joseph.

Laurence Growden the younger (1721-1787) married Joanna Thomas, and they are the ancestors of the South African, Australian, Canadian, Lancashire, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alaska Growdens,

Joseph Growden (1726-1811) married Grace Jeffery and they are the ancestors of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, California, and Yorkshire Growdens.

The exception to this is the New Zealand Growdens, who are descended from Edwin Williams alias Edwin Growden, who was the stepson of Thomas Growden who married Edwin’s mother Charlotte Hawke. Edwin took his stepfather’s name and passed it on to his descendants.

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden and Lori Growden Murphy at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Louisiana Growdens: Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden, Lori Growden Murphy, and Thomas Bradley (Brad) Growden at the Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

Some of these links are based on circumstantial evidence, but they seem the most likely explanations of the relationships that we have been able to find.

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Grave of George Growden and Ann Maynard, ancestors of the Australian Growdens, in Wallaway, South Australia (click to enlarge).

Marguerite Growden, who found these links, has also written a book on the Australian branch of the Growdens, and so when it comes out a whole lot more people can find it interesting, knowing that she is writing about our cousins. Though some of the other branches of the Growden family have descendants in Australia, most of those bearing the surname Growden are descended from George Growden and Ann Maynard, who emigrated from Cornwall to South Australia in 1864.

Most branches of the family seem to have used the spellings Growden and Growdon interchangeably, and a few earlier records have the spelling Grouden. But most seem to use the Growden spelling. Our South African branch seems to have used the Growdon spelling almost exclusively.

 

 

 

Toyota Corolla deja vu

Back in 1977 we moved from Utrecht to Melmoth, where I was to be Director of Training for Ministry for the Anglican Diocese of Zululand. The parish of All Saints, Melmoth, bought a new car for us to use, a Toyota Corolla.

Our brand-new Toyota Corolla, October 1977

Our brand-new Toyota Corolla, October 1977

When we left Melmoth at the end of 1982 to move to Pretoria, the parish gave us the Corolla as a farewell gift. Well actually they gave it to Val, as her car, a 1972 Fiat 124, had been wiped out by a bakkie that came out of a track hidden by the sugar cane at high speed, and took the whole road to make the bend.

So we used the Corolla for the next few years, and when Jethro was about 12 I gave him driving lessons in it, driving around the garden. He was the only one of our children who showed any interest in that sort of thing.

The Corolla eventually got old and tired and unreliable, and about 12 years ago we sold it to the gardener.

Then Jethro saw a Corolla adverised on an online auction site. He drove down to Soweto to look at it, and decided he wanted to get it as a restoration project. It was a 1975 model, two years older than our “old” Corolla, and today he hired a trailer and went to fetch it.

Jethro brings his 40-year-old Toyota Corolla home

Jethro brings his 40-year-old Toyota Corolla home

It looks as though it is going to need quite a lot of work.

Our cars, ;ole us, are getting older. We've had the Subaru Legacy for 10 years now, and it was five years old when we got it, but it is young and sprightly compared with Jethro's new acquisition.

Our cars, like us, are getting older. We’ve had the Subaru Legacy for 10 years now, and it was five years old when we got it, but it is young and sprightly compared with Jethro’s new acquisition.

So the new old Toyota Corolla arrives in its new home. I suspect that it’s going to be around for quite a while.

Touching ground at its new home

Touching ground at its new home

Barking at beetles

Yesterday our dog Squiffylugs died. She was diagnosed with bone cancer just over a year ago, and we were told that the prognosis was not good, and that we couldn’t expect to have her more than a few weeks. So her death, though sad, was not unexpected, and we had her for another year.

In May, expecting her time to be short, we got a puppy, Pimen, so that when Squiffylugs died her father, Samwise, would still have a canine companion.

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen, watching beatles

Pimen has grown a bit, and his latest hobby is barking at beetles.

Harassed beetle

Harassed beetle

The beetles crawled out of the compost heap, only to be pawed at and barked at, and eventually our son Simon rescured them and put them over the road, where they would be safer from Pimen at least. This bettle looked patriotic, a bit like the South African flag, or perhaps it supports the ANC.

An artist in the family: our daughter the ikonographer

For the last few years our daughter Julia Bridget Hayes has been an ikonographer living in Athens, Greece. Now she has been interviewed by the Orthodox Arts Journal, and explains in her own words how she came to be an ikonographer, and what her work is like An Interview with Iconographer Julia Bridget Hayes – Orthodox Arts Journal:

Julia Bridget Hayes is a talented iconographer working in Greece. Her work is a truly wonderful example of creativity within tradition. We asked to interview her and to share these images of her work that she might become better known to our readers.

ICXC51

You can see more of her work on her blog here. Like other blogs of family members, it is also listed in the sidebar on the right — if you have a blog that isn’t listed there, please let us know and we will add it.

Since the economic crunch in Greece it has not been easy, as many people cannot afford to buy ikons, so the phrase “starving artist” is no mere cliche, though by using the internet she is able to sell her work all around the world. You can find some of her work here:

You can also help by sharing the link to her interview with other family members and friends on Facebook and other social media sites, so here’s the link to the interview again: An Interview with Iconographer Julia Bridget Hayes – Orthodox Arts Journal.

Clarens, and home again

Continued from Oviston to Clarens

6-7 September, 2015

We spent the last weekend of our holiday with my cousin Peter Badcock Walters and his wife Toni in Clarens in the eastern Free State. We had breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

And looked at Peter’s art on display at his gallery. This one was of their granddaughter Leah, when she was about 5 years old, about 15 years ago.

Leah Reid

Leah Reid

The gallery is a new venture, and also has a restaurant attached.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Some of the exhibition was devoted to his earlier book, Images of War.

Images of War

Images of War

On Monday 7 September we left, and that was effectively the end of our holiday. Once one leave Clarens, the scenery is monotonous. Bethlehem is the last place where one can stock up on food and drink, as the other towns along the way, Reitz, Frankfort, Villiers and Balfour, are not geared to catering for travellers. Villiers and Balfour used to be on the main road but now it by-passes them, and their prosperity has visibly declined.

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

And as on our last journey this way four years ago, we were struck by the crumbling transport infrastructure — abandoned railways lead to heavy goods going by road, with a consequent deterioration of the roads.

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

And perhaps the picture also symbolises the end of the line for such touring holidays for us too. It’s probably the last such journey we shall ever take, unless we win the Lotto or something.

It took nearly 6 hours to travel the 374 km between Clarens and where we live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, though that was partly due to getting a bit lost in Springs in the evening rush hour, where the signposting isn’t too good.

We saw most of the things we wanted to see — the Aughrabies Falls, spring flowers in Namaqualand, and the roads that ancestors had travelled on 150 years ago. We spenmt five days in the Cape Archives doing family history ressearch, and though we didn’t quite finish looking at everything on our list, we did see most of the important stuff.

We visited all the friends and relatives we wanted to see, or at least those who wanted to see us, many of them for the last time, as we’re unlikely to be back there again. And some, like Jean and Paul Gray, we met for the first time.

At most of the places we stayed, we left our surplus books via BookCrossing, and we managed to get some of our cousins, at least, to be quite enthused by the idea of exchanging books in that way. BookCrossing doesn’t seem to have caught on much in South Africa, at least not as much as in other places, and of the 25 books that we have “released into the wild”, we’ve only had news of one being found. Still, we live in hope.

Our puppy Pimen had grown, but was pleased to see us.

Pimen welcomed us home

Pimen welcomed us home

He also delighted in barking when a group of men with orange legs went past.

Men with orange legs

Men with orange legs