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.

 

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.

 

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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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

 

Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam

Continued from Hermanus to Keurfontein

Friday 4 September 2015

We woke up in chilly Keurfontein, at Ghwarriespoort, and continued our journey North and East along the N9. Keurfontein, the place where we stayed, was selfcatering accommodation rather than a B&B, but that was OK — it was was a fast day, so we had baked beans on toast for breakfast.

Keurfontein

Keurfontein

About 50 km up the road we passed the Grootrivier Dam — the road goes over the dam wall. Four years ago it had been dry, and we expected that after the rain of the last few days it might have had some water in it, but there was none, and the river was the merest trickle. A bit further on we saw puddles at the side of the road, so there had been rain, but obviously it had not affected the river. Perhaps the “Groot” name was irony.

Grootrivier Dam -- as empty as it was four years ago

Grootrivier Dam — as empty as it was four years ago

We bypassed Aberdeen, and reached Graaf Reinet at 11:43, 197 km from Keurfontein. We dropped in to visit my cousin Ailsa Grobler, and this time she was at home. Last time we had visited (in 2011) she was away visiting her son Bruce, who works as a chef in Dubai. Interestingly enough another cousin on the Hannan side of the family, Ceri Duff Henderson, lives in Dubai, where she is a diving instructor.

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

There was a bonus on this visit, as Ailsa’s other son Gavin, who lives in Cape Town, was there as well. We had coffee with them and chatted for a while. Nick and Ailsa run the Villa Reinet Guest House in Graaff Reinet, and we stayed there on our trip in 2011, though only Nick was at home then. We can also recommend it as a very good place to stay, and not just because it is run by our cousins.

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Our Hannan great grandparents, William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane, lived in Glasgow, and four of their children emigrated to southern Africa, including Ailsa’s grandfather Stanley Livingstone Hannan and my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, who married George Growdon.

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

We left Graaff Reinet about 12:45, and crossed the Lootsberg Pass at 1:20 pm, 262 km from Keurfontein, and probably, at 1781 metres (5843 feet), one of the highest places on our route this day. In some places we followed the railway line, which on our previous visit had looked neglected and disused, but this time looked as if it could be in use again. The road was wide and smooth, and seemed to go almost effortlessly over the hills. Last time we had been here 4 years ago we had travelled this section in the dark. At Middelburg, which we reached at 1:48 pm, 306 km from Keurfontein, they were working on the road, and there were a couple of stop/go sections, but they did not hold us up for long. The road clearly needed working on, as it was narrow, bumpy and much patched, They had completed the sections from Noupoort to Colesberg, which were wide and smooth.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole's Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole’s Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, was resident magistrate and civil commissioner in Colesberg in the 1860s, so we visited the town museum to see if we could find out where he had lived at that time, and it appeared that the drosdy (magistrate’s residence) was next to the Anglican Church, where most of Henry Green’s children by his second wife, Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, were baptised. The drostdy is now a restaurant, but it wasn’t open when we passed through. The Anglican church next door has services once a month, when the rector of Middelburg visits.

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant. Henery Green apparently lived here when he was resident magistrate in the 1860s.

We then followed the southern shore of the Gariep Dam to Oviston. The Gariep Dam is the biggest dam in South Africa, used for water storage, power generation and irrigation. It is on the Orange (Gariep) River, which we had seen further downstream earlier in our journey when we crossed it from north to south at Kakamas, and saw it at the Aughrabies falls.

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

We went to Oviston, on the southern shore, where we spent the night at the Aan Die Water guest house.

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

 

 

 

 

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