A bit of Eastern Cape history

My great grandfather William Matthew Growdon came to the Cape Colony in 1876 to work on the railway being built inland from East London. My blogging friend Deon Strydom posted a photo of an interesting cottage built for those working on the line with a link to a site saying where it is and how to get there Tracks4Africa Padkos – Gangers Cottage (Historical Building):

When the railway line between East London and Queenstown was first built it bypassed Stutterheim by several kilometres. It was built during the Frontier War of 1877-1878 when the gangers (railway workers) were in danger of attack by Xhosa tribes. To protect the gangers, fortified ‘gangers cottages’ were built. Cottage No. 17 is situated on the Komga road which branches off the main road at Dohne Station. The cottage was declared a National monument on 3 December 1976. There are four tambours one on each corner, with slits so that the gangers could defend themselves against attack.

There was something of a frenzy of railway building after the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley — not that railways were needed to carry the diamonds, but rather to take mining equipment, and food and goods for the miners. Though the railways were owned and built by the Cape government, there was a certain amount of competition between the lines from the various ports.

Great grandfather William Matthew Growdon came from Cornwall with his family (my grandfather George Growdon was 3 years old at the time). He had been a stonemason in Cornwall, so perhaps he had a hand in building this fortified cottage too.

Railway workers' cottage near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape

Railway workers’ cottage near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape

Interestingly enough some of William Matthew Growdon’s descendants are still living in the vicinity of Stutterheim, and if you are passing you can go there to stay in a somewhat different kind of cottage. The place is The Shire, just outside Stutterheim, where my cousins Hamish, Monica and Rob Scott live.

Click on the links for more pictures and stories.

 

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.

 

 

 

Shirt-tail cousins and El Paso, Illinois

About 40 years ago I made contact with a Growden cousin in New Orleans, USA, who was also interested in family history, and we corresponded  fairly regularly until she died in 1993. She wrote to people with the Growden or Growdon surname all over the world, and one of them was my uncle Stanley Growdon, who told me about her.

Louise Deragowski with her great grand-niece Kristin Marie Siegrist (now Kristin Hammock) , Christmas 1981.

Louise Deragowski with her great grand-niece Kristin Marie Siegrist (now Kristin Hammock) , Christmas 1981.

She was Monica Louise Deragowski, born Growden, and eventually, after some research, we found out that we were 4th cousins, and though she died more than 20 years ago, I’m still in touch with some of her nephews and nieces in Louisiana and Texas (she had no children of her own).

In our correspondence she sometimes used expressions that were unfamiliar to me. One that she repeated several times, that she had heard from someone else, was that in their native Cornwall the Growden families “lived so close that they traded roosters”. I should have asked my mother about that — she was a Growdon, and had at one time kept a poultry farm, and even went on a poultry management course at Potchefstroom University. But I forgot to ask her, and now it’s too late.

One of the other expressions Louise Deragowski used was “shirt-tail cousin”. In one of her letters she mentioned speaking to such a cousin. I’d only just made contact with her, and was a bit too shy to ask. But I’ve wondered on and off what it meant, and whether I have any cousins that I could speak of as “shirt-0tail cousins”

At one point an English usage forum in the Internet was discussing cousins, and I thought that might be the place to ask, so I did. One of the American participants said he had no knowledge of the term and said it must be South African. I said Louise Deragowski lived in New Orleans and was from El Paso, Illinois, and had never been to South Africa in her life. I thought that someone from those two dialect areas might be able to explain the expression. But the same participant then accused me of inventing a place with a Spanish name in Illinois, so I’ve given up that as a source for learning anything about English usage. Like many other Internet forums, it seems to be increasingly populated with people spoiling for a fight, and I’m not really any the wiser about the meaning of “shirt-tail cousi9n”.

But that has now set me off wondering a bit about El Paso, Illinois.

Louise Deragowski was born there, and it was her mother’s side of the family who lived there. Her mother, Izetta Louise Porter, was born there in 1890, and she somehow met Arthur Franklin (Frank) Growden, who was born in Franklin Country, Tennessee, in 1887. So perhaps Tennessee is another place one can look to for the origin and meaning of “shirt-tail cousin”. I also wonder whether he was named after the place he was born in. But I doubt that that had much influence on Louise Deragowski’s family, as her father and mother did not get along, and he left them during the First World War, so she never knew him when growing up, and only made contact with him again as an adult. After Frank and Izetta split up he married Flora Myers Butler and went back to Tennessee.

And then at some point Izetta Louise Growden and her children moved from El Paso, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana (why?), where most of that branch of the family still live, except for some who moved to Texas after hurricane Katrina (I think).

Louise Deragowski’s grandfather, Arthur Matthew Growden, was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1861. He went to America to study at the Sewanee Institute in Tennessee. Afterwards became a travelling preacher and evangelist. He went to be a missionary in Papua and Samoa in about 1910, and returned to Tennessee for the last year of his life. His grandson Jim Growden (Louise Deragowski’s half brother) is a Baptist minister in Tennessee.

Anyway, Louise Deragowski, though she had no children herself, was one who, through her interest in family history, drew and held together several of the far-flung branches of the Growden family. The family scattered from Cornwall, and she linked cousins (with or without shirt-tails) from Alaska to New Zealand, from Australia to South Africa. And having a photo of her taken on Christmas day, I thought Christmas day was a good time to post it.

 

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.

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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.

Growden siblings

Brad Growden of New Orleans just discovered that today (or was it yesterday?) was world sibling day. He’d never heard of it, and neither had I, but it was a good excuse for posting this photo of himself and his siblings on Facebook. Trouble is, stuff posted on Facebook is often impossible to find after yesterday, and this one was too good not to share, so to all Growden and Growdon cousins out there, here are your New Orleans cousins.

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

Arthur Bruce Joseph Growden, Vicki Growden, Lori Growden Murphy and Thomas Bradley Growden at Southern Yacht Club, 2 June 2013

For those who want to know the details, Thomas Bradley GROWDEN (& siblings) and Stephen HAYES are 4th cousins 2 times removed.  Their common ancestors are William GROWDEN and Elizabeth Couch SAUNDERCOCK, who were married at St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, Cornwall, England on 26 November 1792.

Brad is descended from William, the eldest son of William Growden and Elizabeth Saundercock (or Sandercock), who, with his son Henry, emigrated from Cornwall to Australia. Henry Growden later moved to New Zealand, and his son, the Revd Arthur Matthew Growden was a missionary who travelled all over and eventually settled in Tennessee, USA. One branch of his descendants moved to the New Orleans area of Louisiana, while another went to Alaska. Brad’s great-aunt, Monica Louise Deragowski, who collected much of this family history, said someone had once told her that in Cornwall the Growden families were so close that they traded roosters. That certainly isn’t the case today, where the different branches are widely scattered.

My own branch are not so widely scattered. Matthew Growden, the fourth son of William Growden and Elizabeth Saundercock, seems to have stayed in Cornwall all his life, and died in the Bodmin Workhouse at the age of 83. His son William Matthew Growden (my great grandfather) emigrated to the Cape Colony in about 1876, where he became a platelayer on the Cape Government Railways, eventually rising to the rank of permanent way inspector.

So, does anyone know if there is a world cousins day?

 

Adding Growdon and Sandercock to Find A Grave

I’ve been adding pictures some of our Sandercock and Growdon gravestones to the Find A Grave web site.

You can see them here.

All our branch of the Growdon/Growden family are descended from William Growden and Elizabeth Sandercock, who were married in Cardinaham, Cornwall, in 1792, so most of the Sandercocks buried in the Cardinham churchyard are related to us too. Some Sandercocks also married members of the Riddle family, but the Riddles are not direct ancestors (so there is no chance that we might be descended from Lord Voldemort!)

St Meubred's Church, Cardinham, Cornwall -- ancestral bums sat on these pews

St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, Cornwall — ancestral bums sat on these pews

We visited Cardinham in 2005, and took several photos of gravestones, and Find A Grave seemed to be a good way of sharing them. If you have any photos of gravestones, you might like to share them on Find A Grave too.

St Meubred's Church, Cardinham, Cornwall

St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, Cornwall

There are other Sandercock families from other parts of Cornwall, but we have have found no links to them (yet). There are also Growden families from the nearby parishes of Warleggan and St Neot, but we have found no links to them either.

Tombstone Tuesday: Growdon, Queenstown, Eastern Cape

Having just written a blog post about my great grandfather, William Matthew Growdon (or Growden), it seems appropriate to include a closer view of his tombstone in Queenstown Cemetery.

William Matthew Growdon’s grave in Queenstown Cemetery, Eastern Cape

His wife Elizabeth Growdon (born Greenaway) died some 14 years later, and was buried next to him. She was born in St Breward, Cornwall. Her brother William Greenaway also came to South Africa.

Elizabeth Growdon, born Greenaway (1842-1927), Queenstown Cemetery

When we first visited the cemetery in 1975, we found the graves quite easily. We took black & white photos then. In 2011 we visited again, and had some difficulty in finding them. Memory seems to play strange tricks. We took a number of colour photos this time, and also noticed that several of the graves nearby had been vandalised. We took some photos to show the graves in relation to surrounding graves, to make them easier to find next time (if there is a next time).

Queenstown Cemetery, May 2011

 

 

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