Gravestone of Gladys Nourse

Recently a picture of the gravestone of my great-aunt Gladys Nourse popped up on FamilySearch, with no indication of its location. It solved one family history mystery for me, because for over 40 years I had been looking for her date of death, but had been unable to find it.


The inscription reads:

In loving memory
of
Gladys Nourse (nee Vause)
Born 10th June 1891
Died 27th February 1964
Loving mother of Joy Gazzard and
Peggy Kyle

I had had a rough idea of when she had died because in January 1963 my mother and I had taken by grandmother Lily Hayes to tea at the Pepperpots in Kloof, then a pleasant country tea gardsn, but the site is now in the middle of a car park for a shopping mall. While we were having tea and cream scones, and warding off the bees that wanted to share it with us, my gran told us something of the family history — about her grandfather who was mayor of Durban. Afterwards we took her to see her sister Gladys, who was ill. And that was the last I ever heard of great-aunt Gladys while she was alive. I don’t recall ever meeting her in person, though I may have done when I was much younger (about 4 or 5).

I had heard snippets about her at various times. My father had once told me my uncle was a famous cricketer, Dudley Nourse. Much later, when we started doing family history, I discovered that Dudley wasn’t really an uncle, but was great-aunt Gladys’s stepson, from her husband Dave Nourse’s first wife. But Dave Nourse was a cricketer in his own right, having played for Natal for many years, and closing his first-class career by scoring 55 for Western Province against Australia at the age of 58, and at age 55 he scored 219 not out for Western Province against Natal (his old team).

When I was 12 I went to spend a holiday with some friends at the sugar experiment station at Mount Edgecombe, and my father told me that his uncle named Wilkinson owned a large house at Ottawa nearby. My friend and I rode over to Ottawa on bicycles to see it, and we saw it beyond a river, but we would have had to climb a steep hill through the bush to reach it. Perhaps it was just as well we didn’t, because I later learned that great-aunt Gladys had had a rather acrimonious divorce from Gilbert Wilkinson, her first husband, before marrying Dave Nourse.

Much later, in 1987, we spent some time with a cousin of my father’s, Don Stayt, who was also interested in the family history, and we spent a pleasant few days swapping floppy disks on our Osborne portable computers to share our discoveries. He was able to tell me more about great-aunt Gladys’s side of the family, but we still did not know when she had died.

Now I’m in contact with some cousins from that side of the family on Facebook, which does make it easier for family members to stay in touch.

So here’s the family, as we have it now:

Family Group Report
For: Richard Wyatt Vause  (ID=  232)
Date Prepared: 28 Sep 2017
NAME: VAUSE, Richard Wyatt, Born 10 Feb 1854 in Durban, Natal,
Died 28 May 1926 in Durban, Natal at age 72; FATHER: VAUSE,
Richard, Born 2 May 1822, Died 29 Aug 1886 at age 64; MOTHER:
PARK, Matilda, Born 29 May 1828, Died 12 May 1881 at age 52

MARRIED 3 Feb 1881 in St Paul's, Durban, to COTTAM, Margaret
Ellen, Born 25 Apr 1860 in Manchester, Died 7 Aug 1891 in
Pietermaritzburg at age 31; FATHER: COTTAM, John Bagot, Born
30 Jul 1836, Died 3 Jun 1911 at age 74; MOTHER: HERBERT,
Adelaide, Born 10 Oct 1831, Died 10 Aug 1909 at age 77

CHILDREN:
1. M VAUSE, Richard John Wyatt, born 23 Mar 1882 in
Pietermaritzburg, died 19 Aug 1924 in Bloemhof, Transvaal;
Married 7 Jul 1920 to HOOLE, Mabel; 1 child
2. F VAUSE, Ruby Wyatt, born 21 Mar 1883 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 7 Jun 1961 in Durban; Married 28 Apr 1904 to STAYT,
John; 3 children
3. F VAUSE, Lilian Wyatt, born 18 Sep 1884 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 9 Jan 1971 in Durban; Married 9 Jun 1904 to HAYES,
Percy Wynn; 3 children
4. F VAUSE, Kathleen Wyatt, born 30 Apr 1887, died 13 Aug 1887
in Pietermaritzburg
5. F VAUSE, Violet, born ??? 1888, died 4 Jun 1889 in
Pietermaritzburg
6. F VAUSE, Gladys Vere Wyatt, born 10 Jun 1891 in Natal, died
27 Feb 1964 in South Africa; Married 15 Feb 1911 to
WILKINSON, Gilbert Anthony Marshall; 2 children
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Michell family of Cornwall

We haven’t made any startling family history discoveries for a while, and recently I’ve been working on the Michell family of Cornwall. My great great great grandmother Mary Michell (1791-1873) married Richard Greenaway at Blisland, Cornwall in 1812, and they had nine children.

Mary Michell herself was the daughter of Benjamin Michell (1767-1848) and Elizabeth Lego (1762-1837) — I wonder if there is a rich relative somewhere who made a fortune out of children’s toys! I’ve been following up some of Mary’s siblings, and quite a number of their descendants seem to have emigrate to Ontario in Canada and then skipped over the border to Michigan in the USA. Several branches of the family seem to have changed the spelling of the surname to Mitchell, and even those who didn’t often had it recorded with that spelling by census takers and the like, so Michell was probably pronounced the same as Mitchell, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

So quite a number of Michell descendants ended up in Osceola County, Michigan.

Osceola County, Michigan, was originally called Unwattin, and is shown as such on this 1842 map.
By Henry Schenck Tanner – File:1842 A new map of Michigan with its canals roads distances by H.S. Tanner

The US and Canadian branches of the Michell family lived about 320 miles apart, though both were quite a lot further from Cornwall.

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.