Linking the Growdens

I spent another few hours in the LDS family history centre in Johannesburg yesterday looking at marriage registers for St Neot, Cornwall.

I knew that some Growdens came from there through my third cousin once removed, Monica Louise Deragowski of New Orleans, USA.

When we started researching our family history we didn’t know anything about the Growdens (though ours all used the spelling Growdon) beyond the fact that my great grandfather William Matthew Growden came to the Cape Colony from Cornwall and worked on the railways, first as a platelayer, and then as a permanent way inspector.

I found some British phone books in the Durban public library, made a list of the Growdons in Cornwall and Devon, and wrote to them. I got a reply from a Mrs K. Growdon in Brixham, Devon, and she said that she had had a letter from Monica Louise Deragowski asking about the Growdon family. So I wrote to her, and we corresponded for about 15 years until she died in 1993. She had written to Growdons all over the world, and sent me some information from a Sylvia Reebel in Pennsylvania, who had traced her Growden ancestors to the St Neot and Warleggan parishes in Cornwall.

Sylvia Reebel was connected to them, but her family didn’t seem to be connected to ours. What was interesting was that they had the same names, almost.

On Sylvia Reebel’s side there was a William Growden who married Ann Cocker and had children

William born 1784
Joseph born 1789
Jane born 1790
Matthew born 1792
Elizabeth born 1795
John born 1797
Thomas born 1800

On our side there was William Growden who married Elizabeth Saundercock at Cardinham, and had children:

Jennifer born 1793
William born 1794 (Monica Deragowski’s great grandfather)
Joseph born 1796
Thomas born 1798
Matthew born 1800 (my great great grandfather)
Ann born 1802
Joanna born 1804
Jenifer born 1806
Elizabeth born 1807
John born 1811

The boys’ names match — there was

William, Joseph, Matthew, John and Thomas in one family
William, Joseph, Thomas, Matthew John in the other

There are similarities in the girls’ names too, though not as great. The similarity might, of course, indicate nothing more than that those were popular names at the time, but it could also indicate that they were family names perpetuated down the generations.

There might have been difficulty telling them apart in later life had the first lot not emigrated to Pennsylvania and married and died there.

What I’m trying to do is put all the Growdens and Growdons I find into one Growdon file, and gradually link them up. I’ve got a long way to go yet, but if we collect all the snippets of information together, eventually we might join together different parts of the jigsaw puzzle.

If you’re a Growden or a Growdon or have Growden relatives, please consider joining our Growden forum, and trying to make the links.

Family honoured for memorial

I’m not sure which branch of the Growden family this is, but it seems interesting nevertheless.
clipped from
A northwest Ohio family who helped establish the national World War�II Memorial in Washington, D.C.�got special recognition Sunday.
Former Veteran Roger Durbin from Berkey, Ohio�helped come up with the memorial idea, and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur helped pave the way in Washington.
Roger’s granddaughter, Melissa Growden, was also a part of building the memorial, and she accepted the gift. “We receive phone calls, emails… People stop us on the street to say thank you,” she says.
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Growdon graves in Durban

My grandfather William George Growdon died 60 years ago, and today we visited his grave in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban for the first time in more than 30 years. My grandmother, Janet McCartney Growdon, born Hannan, had died two years earlier, and they were buried in the same grave as my Uncle Willie, whom I never met, who was killed in a motorbike accident before I was born.

Growdon grave in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban

Growdon grave in Stellawood Cemetery, Durban

William George Growdon (known as George) was born in Cornwall and came to the Cape Colony at the age of 3, where his father William Matthew Growdon worked on the Cape Government Railways as a platelayer in the Eastern Cape. George became an engine driver on the railways, until he was injured in an accident at Drummond, Natal, after which he worked in the railway stores at Greyville.

Janet McCartney Hannan was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and met George Growdon in Transvaal, and they were married at Waterval Boven in 1909. Their grave is very near the highest point of Stellawood cemetery, and it seems that the dead have one of the best views in Durban.

Cabaret in Pietermaritzburg

clipped from

Cabaret was immortalised in 1972 by the film version directed by Bob Fosse. It won eight Oscars that year, two of which went to Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey for their portrayals of Sally Bowles and the Emcee, respectively. Inevitably, any subsequent production is compared to the film, as the roles of the Emcee and Sally Bowles have to bear comparison with the iconic performances of Minnelli and Grey.
Fortunately, anyone going to Peter Mitchell’s production of Cabaret currently on at the Hexagon Theatre will not be disappointed. Caitlin Kilburn is
Based on the world described by Christopher Isherwood in his Berlin Stories, the milieu is the Weimar Republic, under a government that encouraged sexual indulgence of all kinds.

Aitchison is very good as Bradshaw as are Diana Wilson as Frau Schneider and Leo Quayle as Herr Schultz.
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Second cousin once removed James Aitchison (from the Growdon side of the family) acts in a Pietermaritzburg play.

Looking for William Growden, born c1764

Today I went to the LDS family history library in Johannesburg, and looked at the microfilmed parish register of St Neot, Cornwall. I was looking for my ggg grandfather, William Growden, who was born about 1764, and married Elizabeth Sandercock (or Saundercock) at Cardinham, Cornwall, in 1792.

I didn’t find him. There were some Growdens there but they too seem to have come from nowhere — a Joseph Growden who married an Elizabeth Cocker. Perhaps Joseph and William were brothers, but until we can find their birth and parentage, there’s no way of knowing. The film was fairly uneven. The middle of the pages was easily legible, but the top and bottom were dark, with poor contrast, and so it would be quite possible to miss an entry.

I also found a few Sandercocks, who might be related — i still have to check for possible connections.

Marty Growdon participates in AIDS Lifecycle 7

I don’t know if this Marty Growdon is related to us, or which branch of the Growdon family he belongs to, but maybe someone will know.

Marty Growdon participates in AIDS Lifecycle 7
July 22, 2008. Originally, Westwood resident Marty Growdon committed to participate in AIDS Lifecycle 7 for a week of cycling along the California Coast with his son, Mark, the first week of June. However, when his son was injured while training and had to drop out, Growdon decided to ride alone.

Although he didn�t have a riding buddy, it was not a lonely endeavor. The seven-day, 545- mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles had 2,500 participants and 500 support staff. According to the event mission statement, its purpose in part is to raise money to support HIV/AIDS services, increase awareness and knowledge of the disease and provide a positive experience for people affected and infected with HIV.

Hundermark visit

Simone and Brenda HundermarkSimoné and Brenda Hundermark visited us today. Simoné is my (Steve’s) second cousin — her grandfather Simeon Growdon (1876-1942) was my grandfather George Growdon’s (1873-1948) younger brother.

The Growdon brothers came to South Africa from Cornwall in the 1870s with their parents William Matthew Growdon (1851-1913) and Elizabeth Greenaway (1842-1927). William Matthew Growdon worked for the Cape Government Railways, first as a platelayer, and later as a permanent way inspector. Most of the sons worked for the railways as well.

Simeon went back to the UK and married Louise Quaintance in Wales, but she died soon after the birth of their only child, Alice. He then returned to the Cape and married Sarah Jane (Rose) Gibson, and had three more children, Willie, Simeon and Thelma. Simeon Junior was Simoné’s father.

Simoné and her husband live in Cape Town, so I had not met them before, and so it was good to see her and her daughter Brenda when they came to visit this afternoon. Brenda is keen on sport, and had come to Pretoria to play badminton.


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