20000 family members

A couple of weeks ago Allan Morton in Australia sent us a family tree of the Morton family, and this morning I was going through it, comparing his information with ours and entering people he had  that we did not, and I entered the 20000th person into our family history program.

That was an interesting milestone, because we have been adding to the same database for nearly 30 years.

When we started our family history just after we were married in 1974 we did not have a computer, so kept all our records in paper files. It was only eight years later, in 1982, that we got our first personal computer, a NewBrain, but there was no genealogy software that ran on it.

osexeIn 1985 we got an Osborne Executive, which ran CP/M, and there was a genealogy program for that, called Roots/M, but as the computer had only two single-sided floppy disks, there was not much room for data, and we had different disks for each branch of the family.

The Osborne was one of the early portable computers, though “luggable” was a better description, it was bulky, heavy, and had no batteries. You had to plug it into the mains. Nevertheless we took it on holiday with us in our caravan, and spent several hours with a cousin, Don Stayt, who also had an Osborne, sharing family history information.

Our next computer was a Copam, which we got in 1987. It ran MS DOS 3.1, and had a hard disk. There was an outfit in Cape Town called the Joint Software Exchange which distributed shareware and freeware programs, and one of the disks in their catalogue had a selection of genealogy programs. I tried them all, and the one that seemed most usable was the Family History System (FHS) written by Phillip Brown. Like some present-day programs it came in two versions: a free one, which you could use with no limits, and a paid version, which had extra features. The original version also came with the GW-BASIC source code.

So in 1987 we began entering our genealogy into FHS, and we have been doing so ever since, using the same program for nearly 30 years. Perhaps that is some kind of record.

Well, it’s not quite the same.

In 1989 we got a newer version, and, having decided we liked it, upgraded to the extra features in the paid-for version. And in 1993 we upgraded to a version that was newer still.

FHS had its limitations. It did not have fields for recording religious ceremonies like baptisms and burials, and the only way of recording sources was in the notes field. But there were other programs that had those features and it was easy to export the data to the other programs using Gedcom.

And it is in Gedcom transfer that FHS excels, and has features that no other program has, which is one reason we continue to use it. If a 6th cousin twice removed is interested in family history, and asks fir a Gedcom file, FHS makes it easy to create it. It allows you select the blood relations of any person in the file — that person’s ancestors, descendants, descendants of all ancestors, but not ancestors of all descendants, since those are not necessarily related to the person you choose. You can, however, for completeness, include spouses, children of spouses, parents of spouses and spouses of children. FHS makes it easy. Every other program I have tried makes it very, very difficult.

The other thing that FHS makes easy is exporting a range of RINs (record identity numbers). So if I look at Legacy (one of the other programs I use) and see that the highest RIN is 19676, I just tell FHS to export from RIN 19677 upwards to a Gedcom file, and import those into Legacy. It is much more difficult to do the other way round — export a range of RINs from Legacy; in fact it’s so difficult that I’ve never tried it.

So we continue to enter our data into the same program that we have been using for 29 years, and have now reached 20000. And as long as the program continues to run, we will continue to enter the data into it. Well, until it reaches 32000 records or thereabouts, because that is the limit of the number of records it can hold. But we haven’t reached that yet.

 

Yooper Greenaways

According to Lois Haglund (my step third cousin-in-law once removed — see her blog here) people who live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the USA are called Yoopers. I’ve just discovered some Greenaway relations who were Yoopers, at least for a while.

My great grandmother was Elizabeth Greenaway who married William Mathew Growdon, and they came to the Cape Colony in the 1870s, where he was a platelayer on the Cape Government Railways. That was just after the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, and there was a rush to build a railway line from every port to the interior.

Elizabeth Greenaway had an uncle, Thomas Greenaway. who emigrated about the same time to the USA, to Quincy, Houghton County, Michigan. There’s another Quincy in Michigan, so the county name is important, and if you Google for Quincy, Michigan, it will show you the wrong one, in Branch County, right at the other end of the state. In fact it seems that almost every one of the United States has a Quincy, and Michigan has two.

Quincy Mine

Quincy Mine

What seems to have drawn the Greenaway family to Michigan was the Quincy copper mine.

Thomas Greenaway was born in 1829 in St Breward, Cornwall, where he became a quarry labourer. He married Margaretta Bone in 1851, and, according to the 1900 US Cenus, they had 9 children, of whom only 2 were still alive in 1900. We only have a record of the names of 5 of the children, and one of those died young.

In the 1860s the family moved to Gwennap, Cornwall, where Thomas worked as a tin miner, and in the early 1870s the family emigrated to the USA, and he was a miner at Quincy in the 1880 US Census. In 1880 their daughter Mary (a widow at age 19) was living with them, as was their daughter Maggie (10). Also living in Quincy was their son Richard John Greenaway, who had just married Polly Kinsman, and they were staying with her parents. They were also miners.

Quincy2It is said that Gwennap produced more emigrants than any other town in Cornwall, and so it is possible that several people emigrated together to Quincy.

The Greenaways did not stay Yoopers for long, however, because by the 1900 census they were in Braceville, Illinois, a coal mining town. Thomas had retired by then, as he is shown on the census with no occupation. His son Richard John was also there, still a miner, with his wife and two adopted daughters.

Unfortunately the 1890 US Census didn’t survive, so we have not been able to see what happened in between. In 1900 their daughter Mary would have been 39; did she marry again? The youngest daughter, Maggie (Elizabeth Margaret) would have been 30 — did she marry and have children? We haven’t been able to find out.

The move to Braceville was perhaps not a wise one, as we can discover from this site.

Braceville thrived until the summer of 1910 when the miners of the Braceville Coal Company went on strike. Fed up with the whole affair, the coal company simply closed and within just a few months the town was all but abandoned leaving behind an opera house, a large frame school and many empty businesses. Of these today, there is no sign other than a few slag heaps along the old highway.

Did the Greenaways stay, or did they move on again? Did they leave any descendants in any of the places where they lived, so that there might be cousins living there today? We don’t know.

 

The family ghost — it’s official!

The Ghost That Closed Down The Town: Stories of The Haunting of South AfricaThe Ghost That Closed Down The Town: Stories of The Haunting of South Africa by Arthur Goldstuck

I still haven’t finished the book yet, so this still isn’t a review, but I’m quite excited that I’ve found the family ghost, and it’s official.

In an earlier blog post I jotted down some thoughts about some familiar places that the book said were haunted. But finding a family ghost takes it to a new level.

I noted that Arthur Goldstuck has written several books about South African urban legends, and we have found several family legends about royal descent in the course of our research into family history. But a family ghost? Not till today!

Arethur Goldstuck recounts stories the haunting of theatres and film sets, mostly in Hollywood, and then he comes to a more local one, in the Karroo during the filming of The story of an African farm. It was being filmed near Matjiesfontein in February 2004. The ghost was apparently haunting both the derelict farmhouse being used as the film set and the Lord Milner Hotel where some members of the cast were staying.

As Goldstuck writes (page 170)

Local historian Rose Willis is convinced that the ‘ghost’ that haunted the set is that of Louisa Margaret Green, wife of a civil commissioner.

‘She was travelling with her husband Henry, who was on his way to become the civil commissioner of Colesberg in the 1860s, but then she fell ill with dysentery and died at Zoute Kloof,’ said Willis. ‘Her ghost has been seen often… she wears a kappie (bonnet), has a small waist, and wears flowing white clothes that look like they come from the 1860s.’

Now, ghosts or no ghosts, we’d really like to get with Rose Willis, because she could obviously tell us some things about the family history that we didn’t know. Three months ago we visited Colesberg in the hope of finding out more about Henry Green (see Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam | Hayes & Greene family history).

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, where Henry Green once lived, now a restaurant

We knew that Henry’s wife Margaret had died on 4 July 1860, somewhere in the Cape Colony, but we did not know where. If we had known, we might have made a detour in our journey to have a look at her grave. Their twin sons died about six months earlier. We thought they haddied and were buried in Colesberg, but if their mother died six months later when their father was still on his way to Colesberg to take up his post, they must have died elsewhere. So perhaps Rose Willis can clear up some of these mysteried.

I’m a bit surprised that Arthur Goldstuck, an inveterate collector of urban legends, did not pick up the Green family legend, which would have it that Henry Green was the nephew of Queen Victoria, and that his father, William John Green, was her older brother, who should have inherited the throne. This family legend has been completely refuted by Mollie Gillen in her book The Prince and his Lady, but as a legend it goes well with the family ghost story.

Just to add to the interest, the ‘ghost’ was not only Henry Green’s wife, but his first cousin. Her maiden name was Louisa Margaret Quilliam Aitchison, and her parents were Edward Aitchison and Louisa Green. They were married in London in 1856. Before his marriage Henry Green was British Resident of the Orange River Sovereignty, before it became the Orange Free State.

Even though the legend of royal descent was a dud, Henry Green did the next best thing, and married, as his second wife, Countess Ida von Lilienstein — see here Found! Ida Carolina von Lilienstein, wife of Henry Green | Hayes & Greene family history

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Namaqualand Spring: Lily Fountain and flowers

Continued from Namaqualand Spring 1

Friday 21 August 2015

We woke up in our cottage at Kamiesfroon in Namaqualand, and set off up the pass to Lily Fountain Methodist Mission at Leliefontein, which played a significant part in the Morris and Stewardson family histories. James Morris visited it a few times in the early 1840s when he accompanied Methodist missionaries across the Orange River to Namaland, where they had established a mission station called Nisbet’s Bath at Warmbad. One could see why they spoke of going “up” to Lily Fountain as we climbed up the pass over the Kamiesberg, but like most things in Namaqualand it didn’t look at all like what I had imagined. I pictured it like one of the places in southern Namibia, dry and dusty, but it wasn’t like that at all.

The road up the Kamiesberg to Leliefontein

The road up the Kamiesberg to Leliefontein

At the top of the pass we passed through fynbos and wetlands The church, which I think was the oldest Methodist Church in Namaqualand, was smaller than I had pictured it, and it was locked and there didn’t seem to be anyone around, so we took photos of it, and the village, and left.

Methodist Church at Leliefontein

Methodist Church at Leliefontein

James Morris was staying here early in 1843, and on 7 March 1843 wrote in his diary “A messenger arrived from the Baths with letter from Mr Cook and Mr Tindall with intelligence of Mr Cook’s dangerous state of health and his interntion, if possible, to get to Cape Town as quick as possible, and, as though Providence had been preparing Mr. Jackson’s health for a journey, he had been improving in health ever since my arrival at Khamiesberg, although still weak, the same evening he made preparations for the journey, with horses, to the Great River, and I offered myself to accompany him on my horse.”

Leliefontein church and village

Leliefontein church and village

Edward Cook was the Methodist missionary at Warmbad in Namaland (now part of Namibia), and died on the banks of the Orange River before reaching Cape Town. James Morris accompanied his widow and children back to Leliefontein. The Morris and Dixon families spend several days at Leliefontein in December 1843, on their way up to Damaraland to start a trading venture, supplying meat to the British garrison at St Helena. They were later joined at Walvis Bay by James Morris’s sister Frances (Val’s great great great grandmother) and her husband Frank Stewardson.

Leliefontein village

Leliefontein village

We drove over more high plateaus, with wetlands, then down a steep bit, to a cultivated farm, and then turned west to Studer’s pass, which went down quite steeply in a couple of stages. There were few flowers this side of the mountains, and people  had told us it was too early, and most of the flowers now were on the coastal side of the N7 though at the bottom of the valley as we approached Garies, we saw some vygies opening.

Vygies (mesembryanthemums) flowering on the road between the foot of Studer's Pass and Garies.

Vygies (mesembryanthemums) flowering on the road between the foot of Studer’s Pass and Garies.

We reached Garies about 12:00, and I looked for an ATM to buy airtime for my Samsung cell phone, but the only ones in town seemed to be FNB, and they did not seem to offer air time, but I bought some at a shop. They also had Flanagans chips, which we had not seen for a long time, so we bought some. At one time they were popular and almust ubiquitous, the then the Lays brand seemed to become more popular, though they didn’t and don’t taste as good.

Garies in the Northern Cape. Since the N7 now bypasses the town, children walk home from school in the middle of the road, though in my day we finished school at 3 pm, not noon.

Garies in the Northern Cape. Since the N7 now bypasses the town, children walk home from school in the middle of the road, though in my day we finished school at 3 pm, not noon.

We then drove back to Kamieskroon on the N7 and passed straight through and made for Skilpad, another place where the flowers were said to be good.

Kamieskroon seen from the road to Skilpad

Kamieskroon seen from the road to Skilpad

Skilpad was in the Namaqualand national park, so we had to pay to enter, and the flowers were indeed very good, mostly the orange Namaqualand daisies, and masses of them looking
almost fluorescent again.

Namaqualand daisies at Skilpad, looking almost fluorescent in the sun

Namaqualand daisies at Skilpad, looking almost fluorescent in the sun

There were a few white ones, but a different kind from those we had seen yesterday near Soebatsfontein
— these had smaller petals. There were also yellow flowers, but as they grew closer to the ground they were eclipsed by the orange daisies in the massed displays.

More daisies at Skilpad, Namaqualand

More daisies at Skilpad, Namaqualand

There were lots of 4×4 SUVs going round the park, and we were virtually the only saloon car there.
Did people think it was necessary to drive a 4×4 to look at flowers? Our little Toyota Yaris was dwarfed by these monsters.

More daisies at Skilpad

More daisies at Skilpad

There was a circular drive with a sitplekkie at the topwhere we ate our lunch of tomato sandwiches, and there was a little bird with a striped face hopping around hoping for crumbs.

Yey more daisies at Skilpad

Yet more daisies at Skilpad

There was a good view over the surrounding countryside, with its orange patches of flowers surrounded by dark green bush. We then drove slowly down again, reaching Kamieskroon at 4:00 pm.

Cosy Cottage, where we spent three nights in Kamieskroon in the Northern Cape

Cosy Cottage, where we spent three nights in Kamieskroon in the Northern Cape

I had a shower while Val watched tennis and cricket on TV, having been deprived of it since we were forced to downgrade our subscription to DSTV.

Continued at Kamieskroon to Robertson.

 

 

Cape Holiday 2015: a lonely Falkenberg grave

We left for our holiday in the Cape, and intended to travel down the N14 to Springbok, along almost its whole length, but a couple of months ago we had had a phone call from Ikey van Wyk, who said he had discovered the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on his farm. We stopped for breakfast at a Wimpy in Ventersdorp, and then drove down to Klerksdorp to join the N12. The road was quite fascinating, as there were lots of unusual trees. They looked like gum trees, but of a kind we had not seen before, with small shoots sticking out in clumps at odd angles.

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

Tree we saw between Ventersdorp & Klerksdorp

After Klerksdorp the country was completely different, mostly bushveld, the only variety being smaller and larger trees. This was Falkenberg country, at least the branch of the Falkenberg family that we were following up at this stage of our trip. The “stamvader” of the South African Falkenbergs was Christian Falkenberg, who came from Brandenberg in Prussia in 1858 with his wife Dorothea (born Lüthow) and son Friedrich, then aged about 3. Dorothea died in Stutterheim about a year after their arrival.

Bloemhof

Bloemhof

A few years later Christian Falkenberg, who was a shopkeeper at Tylden in the Eastern Cape, married Jessie Schultz, Val’s great great grandmother. Young Friedrich would then have been about 10, and he seems to have left home as a teenager and gone to try his luck on the diamond fields. He married twice — to Dorothea Louisa Ferreira and Sarah Whitaker Holt, and the family’s marriages took place in the towns we passed through down the N12 — Bloemhof and Christiana, where Friedrich was a diamond digger in the alluvial diggings in those places.

Christiana -- one of a string of diamond-digging towns along the Vaal River

Christiana — one of a string of diamond-digging towns along the Vaal River

We passed through Jan Kempdorp, and saw the Vaal-Harts Irrigation Scheme, with notices advertising its 75th anniversary. It was one of the things we remembered learning about in school geography lessons. We found Matopi Farm, about 20 km our of Jan Kempdorp on the way to Delport’s Hoop, and Ikey van Wyk kindly took us to see the grave. It was a single grave on the farm, surrounded by an iron railing, and the gravestone was in good condition and quite legible.

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

Ikey van Wyk showing us the grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg on Matopi Farm, near Jan Kempdorp

It seemed that Sarah Falkenberg had had another child we did not know about, who died in infancy.

Grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg and her infant daughter

Grave of Sarah Whitaker Falkenberg and her infant daughter

I tried to take a photo of the grave on my cell phone for Billion Graves, and, as usual, the program crashed. I put my phone back in my pocket, or so I thought, and took some photos with a camera, and we went on our way, back to the N14, and on to Kuruman. But when we got there, my phone was gone. I asked Ikey if I had dropped it in his bakkie when he took us to the grave, but apparently not, so I must have dropped it by the grave somewhere. R300.00 reward for its safe return!

At Kuruman we stayed at the Azalea Guest House, and went out for supper. The only place open seemed to be the Spur, and it so happened that they were offering two hamburgers for the price of one that night, and since we had ordered two Appletizers, they gave us a free glass.

Azalea Guest House, Kuruman

Azalea Guest House, Kuruman

The story of our holiday travels is continued at Ironveld and Aughrabies, for those who may be interested.

Wales and Ellwood cousins

Continued from Cornwall to Morgannwg: 6 May 2005 | Hayes & Greene family history

We left the rather bland hotel in Caerphilly just after 8:00, and went to have a look at the castle in daylight. I was interested in Caerphilly and Whitchurch because my great great grandmother, Catherine Harris, who married James Andrew Hayes, was said to have been born in Whitchurch, and her mother Sarah was born in Caerphilly.

Caerphilly Castle, 7 May 2005

Caerphilly Castle, 7 May 2005

We drove north, up the Rhondda valley stopping at Brecon for breakfast at a small cafe, as the hotel breakfast was optional and rather expensive. The town was full of secondhand bookshops, and if we’d had more time and money we might have spent a couple of days there, but instead we went to W.H. Smith and got a couple of extra films and a map of North Wales.

Cwm Rhondda, 7 May 2005

Cwm Rhondda, 7 May 2005

We had just left the town and gone about 10 miles when Val discovered she had left her bag behind, so we went back to the cafe and looked for it, and they hadn’t even cleared the plates away. There was a lot of traffic on the major roads, so we took the minor ones, which were winding and twisting. We stopped at the Clywedog Reservoir to take some photos.

Vlywedog Reservoir, 7 May 2005

Clywedog Reservoir, 7 May 2005

We reached Blaenau Ffestiniog just after noon. It was quite a big town, but mostly winding and twisting along the main road. When we originally planned our trip we had hoped to meet Father Deiniol, the Orthodox priest there, whom I had met in Albania a few years previously (see here for that story). But it turned out that the time we would be there, he would be away in Turkey. Even though Father Deiniol was away, we looked for the Orthodox Church, but could not see where it was, though we stopped to look and just about every building that looked vaguely church like. Most of them were abandoned and derelict, or were being used for something else.

Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. 7 May 2005.

Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. 7 May 2005.

We drove on to Betwys-y-Coed, which seemed to be full of tourists and tourist accommodation, and turned off just before Caernarfon to look for Deiniolen, where Viv and Geraint Jones lived. We missed the turn off were looking for, and could not go back as a lot of cars were following and there was no place to turn, so took the next turn off and got lost. We drove through some villages, and found ourselves on a hill above a village we thought was Deiniolen, but were not sure about, because there was no signpost saying that it was. Viv Jones phoned, and suggested that we should stay were we were and that they would come to look for us, but that was not a good idea, as they got lost too, but eventually they found us and led us to their farm Blaen Ce Uchaf, just outside Deiniolen, where we had tea with them and their daughter Alison, 24 years old, who was doing a PhD in Chemistry at Bangor University.

Geraint, Viv and Alison Jones and Val Hayes. Blaen Ce Uchaf, 7 May 2005

Geraint, Viv and Alison Jones and Val Hayes. Blaen Ce Uchaf, 7 May 2005

Their farm was 70 acres, and they had cattle and sheep. Geraint said it had been in his family for four generations, and it seemed rather sad that they had no other children who could work it for them, and to whom they could leave it. They worked it all themselves.

Viv and Val were second cousins on the Ellwood side of the family, and Norah Pearson (of whom more later in this series) once wrote to us saying that Valerie, Vivienne and her own daughter Maxine were all born within a few months of each other in 1948, and she recalled making matinee jackets for the three of them. Their maternal grandmothers were Martha, Bridget and Margaret Ellwood, daughters of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr of Whitehaven, Cumberland.

Viv Jones and Val Hayes, Caernafon, Wales.

Cousins: Viv Jones and Val Hayes, Caernafon, Wales.

Geraint’s sister was ill, and he and Alison went to see her in hospital, while Viv led us down to Caernarfon stopping on the way for us to book accommodation at a “Grill and Tea Room” at a traffic circle,
and then to Caernarfon Castle, where there was an Orthodox Church in the city wall. It had a sign saying that it was in the care of a monastic community that lived outside the town, but did not say what time there were services, or where the community was.

Orthodox Church in the city wall, Caernafon, Wales.

Orthodox Church in the city wall, Caernafon, Wales.

Viv left us to join the others at the hospital, and we walked round the castle, and across a pedestrian swing bridge over the river, taking photos. and as seemed usual when we reached the water, the tide was out.

River Seiont at Caernarfon.

River Seiont at Caernarfon.

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

We drove back to the tea room, but they were just closing the dining room as we arrived, and so we drove on to a pub up the road, and had lamb curry for supper, and I had Newcastle Brown ale,  my all-time favourite beer, which I had not had for many years. The second best, Lion Ale, is no longer made. When I was in England to study 40 years ago, I had often eaten at Indian restaurants in preference to English ones, because Indian food was so much better, but now the pubs are offering Indian food, though they still made rather watery curry-flavoured stew, and offered it with chips as an alternative to rice.

When we got back to the tea room Viv and Geraint Jones were waiting for us there, and Viv brought a sampler which had the name Mary Barker, and the date 1814 on it, which she had inherited with her
mother’s things, and wondered if the Mary Barker was related, but we did not immediately recognise it. Her mother, Elsie Fee, was Val’s mother’s first cousin on the Ellwood side. They then took us for a ride over the Menai Bridge, which was quite famous, to the island of Anglesey.

The Menai Bridge, 7 May 2005.

The Menai Bridge, 7 May 2005.

 

On the Anglesey side there was also the place with the longest place name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, and Geraint took great delight in saying the name for us.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Station, Anglesey, Wales 7 May 2005.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Station, Anglesey, Wales 7 May 2005.

Then we went to Bangor, to see the cathedral, and Geraint and Viv dropped us back at the tea room at 10:30 pm.

Bangor Cathedral, Wales. 7 May 2005.

Bangor Cathedral, Wales. 7 May 2005.

UK Trip 4 May 2005: Somerset, Devon, Cornwall

Continued from Hayes family in Somerset.

We had breakfast at 7:30, and left Pickford House at Beckington just after 8:00. We had had a very pleasant stay there for two nights.

Pickford House B&B, Beckington, Somerset 4 May 2005

Pickford House B&B, Beckington, Somerset 4 May 2005

We drove through Midsomer Norton, because there was a TV detective series called Midsomer Murders. Midsomer Norton looked a rather unprepossessing place, and it turned out that the detective series was filmed in Oxfordshire anyway. We drove down the Cheddar Gorge this time, and went to the post office in Axbridge, where we bought post cards, pens and stationery. We drove up the High Street and round the village. There was a field full of Somerset sheep, which seemed fatter than the Merinos at home, and at the other side of the field there appeared to be two llamas lying down, but they were so far away we could not see them very well.

Fields at Axbridge, Somerset. Is the animal by the fience on the right a llama? 4 May 2005

Fields at Axbridge, Somerset. Is the animal by the fence on the right a llama? 4 May 2005

We called at Wookey Hole, but did not go in to the caves. We drove through Glastonbury, and saw the Tor, which was not nearly as numinous and mysterious as it has been touted to be. We had read in many places that it was supposed to be spooky, and one of the “thin places” of the earth, but it looked quite ordinaryas we drove past. Nearby we passed a sign to Burrowbridge Mump, and we wondered what a “mump” could be — something like a tumulus or tump, perhaps? We saw a roundish hill off to the left, and assumed that that was it. Then we drove along a narrow road across the Somerset flats, lined with basket willows, and turned off to the left, and after about a mile climbed up to North Curry, where my great great great grandfather Simon Hayes was born about 1785.

The Somerset Leveds, with the road lined with basket willows 4 May 2005

The Somerset Levels, with the road lined with basket willows 4 May 2005

The sky was overcast and there was a chilly wind blowing. From the hill there was a view a long way over the Somerset Levels. We went to the church, and when we got out of the car we heard the sound of the wind blowing in the trees and the raucous cries of strange birds. That was numinous and mysterious, far more so than Glastonbury, and had a rather menacing atmosphere.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset. 4 May 2005

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset. 4 May 2005

The harsh cries of crows, and some that sounded like owls made it feel somehow unearthly. It was what H.P. Lovecraft might describe as eldritch. The church with its octagonal tower was grey and crumbling and covered with lichen, and looked like an abandoned building from Elidor, something from another time and place. If you are talking about thin places, this was the thinnest place I had ever been in.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset, 4 May 2005.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset, 4 May 2005.

Inside the church was also rather impressive, in a somewhat different way, and it seemed to be a lively and active parish. There was an ikon of St Peter & St Paul, and we lit candles in front of it. We had lunch in the Bird in Hand pub, ham eggs and chips, which was expensive, but much better than English food as I remembered it from 40 years ago. In Bath we had gone to a Chinese restaurant, because of my memories of the banality of English cuisine. This was a surprise, and as we continued on our travels we discovered the cooking much better than it had been in the 1960s; perhaps it was the influence of all the cooking shows on TV that seemed to have proliferated in recent years.

Pub in North Curry

Pub in North Curry

The inhabited parts of the village were not nearly as spooky as the bits around the church. Though my ancestor Simon Hayes claimed to have been born here, there was no record of his baptism in the church records, and he appears to have dropped into the world out of nowhere. Perhaps he was a refugee from Elidor.

North Curry, Somerset

North Curry, Somerset

We left North Curry by a different road, and filled up with petrol before joining the M5 motorway, which took us to the vicinity of Exeter in Devon. We turned off to Dunchideock and Doddiscombesleigh and
the sun came out again as we drove down narrow country lanes with high banks and hedges, so one could see very little other than the narrow sunken lanes ahead.

Devonshire lanes near Dunchideock,  with high banks and hedges, and no view of the countryside. 4 May 2005.

Devonshire lanes near Dunchideock, with high banks and hedges, and no view of the countryside. 4 May 2005.

We saw nothing more of Dunchideock than a sign on a hedge, and Doddiscombesleigh seemed to be little more than the pub and the church. The pub was the Nobody, and I remembered someone on the British Genealogy newsgroup saying one could get a good meal there, but we’d just had a very adequate meal
at North Curry, and so were not hungry enough. We went on to Ashton in the Teign Valley, where the Stooke family had lived.

The River Teign at Ashton. 4 May 2005.

The River Teign at Ashton. 4 May 2005.

My great grandfather William Allen Hayes had married Mary Barber Stooke in Bristol, and then run the Red Lion Hotel in Axbridge. The Stooke family goes back to the 16th century in the Teign valley. Ashton church seemed much deader than the one in North Curry, and was locked.

Ashton parish church, Devon. 4 May 2005.

Ashton parish church, Devon. 4 May 2005.

There was only one monument to the Stookes that we could find in the churchyard, that of Edmund Stooke of Rydon (1788-1860). He was the uncle of my great great grandfather Thomas Stooke, who was born in Chudleigh in 1815.

Monument to Edward Stooke of Rydon in Ashton churchyard. 5 May 2005.

Monument to Edward Stooke of Rydon in Ashton churchyard. 4 May 2005.

We then went to Trusham, where Stookes had also lived, and the church was a bit better maintained, and there were monuments to the Stooke family inside the church. We spoke to a woman there who was looking after the church.

Trusham parish church. There are several monuments to members of the Stooke family inside the church. 4 May 2015

Trusham parish church. There are several monuments to members of the Stooke family inside the church. 4 May 2005

Trusham village seemed to be a bit bigger than Ashton, and had more inhabitants.

Trusham, Devon. 4 May 2015

Trusham, Devon. 4 May 2005

We went on to Chudleigh, where Thomas Stooke had been born, and parked outside the library, where some kids were skateboarding in the street. I tried to listen for their accents to hear what local
accents sounded like, but everywhere we have been we heard Estuary accents.

Chudleigh parish churc. My great great grandfather Thomas Stooke was baptised here in 1815.

Chudleigh parish church. My great great grandfather Thomas Stooke was baptised here in 1815.

We then drove through Bovey Tracey, where a Stooke had been minister in the Commonwealth period, and on to Moretonhampstead, where I had nearly had a job as a kitchen boy in a hotel in 1966, and then across Dartmoor to Tavistock, via Two Bridges. Dartmoor looked a lot like the South African highveld.

Dartmoor - resmbles the South Africah Highveld.

Dartmoor – resembles the South African Highveld.

We drove up to the A30, and crossed Bodmin Moor and turned off to Blisland just past Jamaica Inn, and stayed at Trewint Farm near the hamlet of Waterloo, run by Mike and Carol. After dumping our cases we drove in to Bodmin, and had supper at the Weavers bar in the middle of town. They had Cornish steaks on the menu, but no Cornish pasties, so we had ham omelets.

St Petroc's Church, Bodmin, Cornwall

St Petroc’s Church, Bodmin, Cornwall

The town seemed noisy, with small motor bikes running around. After supper we drove around looking for places where the Growden family had lived at various times, and found Higher Bore Street, which was one of their homes. We drove back over the moor, though around Blisland most of the roads were narrow sunken country lanes with high banks and hedges like those in Devon, so we could not see much of the countryside.

Continued at Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, on election day.