Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Do Not Disturb - I'm counting relatives

I like to look over statistics of my family research activities. It's a sign of achievement and I like to check how many are lost in the event of a computer or software package breakdown. Believe me there's been two this year and I think I contained the losses to about 50 people (at the cost of a new software update and a new computer). So as at today I have 6147 people in the tree.

Don't get me wrong I don't just collect names for the sake of collecting. I believe that if you research up-and-down and across a family you find much more and reap the benefits.

·         Breakthroughs eg when you find brother John was staying with widowed sister Sue and her family

·         Insight into family trades, names, movements

·         DNA spinoffs hopefully

So this year has seen me put some 1000 extra people on my tree bringing the total to 6147. I also discovered it was necessary to expand the tree when my husband and I did a DNA test. My fourth cousins or closer matches have grown from 49 to 70 in a few months. I'd like to think some of this has come from my expansion in the tree but I've had very little success there. Indeed it's from the popularity of DNA testing. I suspect, judging from the people saying they have bought testing kits for Christmas on various DNA facebook sites there should be an expanded “number of cousins” in about a month or so. So here's hoping for a decent match.

To continue my statistics -My DNA test showed 58% Great Britain and Scotland, 34% Irish and 8% other the regions including 4% Europe East 2% Iberian Peninsula and 1% Scandinavian.

I suspect that with my high percentage of Irish origins I will have to make researching Irish records my New Years Resolution. Also my Family Tree Maker program records my To Do list –yikes. I've got 83 look up's and tasks and they're only the ones I've written down.

My statistics will not include how many hours spent at my computer. It’s off the Richter scale. However I'm pleased that my blog has hit 60 posts and is had more than 6100 hits.

So as at the end of this month I have a tree spanning back 26 generations with two 22nd times great-grandfathers and one 22nd times great grandmother

de Stradlegh, Walter
22nd great grandfather
de Somerville, Robert

22nd great grandfather
de Moiz, Isilia
1128 AD
22nd great grandmother

It is on the Strelley side and they're pretty well documented due to land entitlements and inheritances.

I'm also pretty proud of the fact that I've found

·         14/16 second great grandparents

·         27/32 three times great grandparents.

·         38/64 four times great grandparents

·         27/128 five times great-grandparents dating back to early 1700s

·         And all the Great greats up to the 22x mentioned above.


Meanwhile it is 207 days until we board the Pacific Aria for a cruise around New Guinea including Milne Bay war sites. Over in New Guinea they happen to be celebrating the 75th anniversary of WWII next year. As well as the anniversary, the cruise also doubles as a genealogy conference with Unlock the Past so we get a holiday, hopefully learn a bit during the sailing days, and see some sites

Steve’s dad saw during his stint in New Guinea.

If you are looking for a worthwhile project you might like to go to the
Imperial War Museum’s Lives of World War One site and remember a loved one or two from England’s WWI. I’ve uploaded several stories and remembering 40.

Happy New Year to all my fellow researchers and readers. Here’s to a great year searching for stories.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Making The Most Of Christmas

It's Christmas time..... a time when we catch up with old relatives, long lost cousins, aunts and in-laws.

It’s the perfect opportunity to seek out those who can contribute to your genealogy bucket list for 2017. Perhaps you will be in contact with the oldest members of the family, those who have incredible memories of things past or the  holders  of the "family valuables" and by that  mean the photos and the memorabilia. This is your annual opportunity to engage people in conversation about visiting family townships, graves etc. Don't be put off by those rolling their eyes and running a mile from you.

I took some photos of my Grandfather when I visited my Aunt and she recounted his death (several times LOL)
Here's a few tips on how to gain interest and information.

  • Seek out the oldest relatives.
  • Talk about family traditions. How did they come about?
  • Ask who was here in the past. 
  • Take along a  piece of memorabilia to share/get the conversation started.
  • Bring a plate of something grandma used to make or use her old tablecloths, bowls etc. That might get the memories working.
  • Engage the cousins, auntie's and uncles. It may jog their memories, remind them of facts, fire up their interest.
  • Ask people to update your tree with births, deaths and marriages.
  • Make up bonbons with family history facts or questions inside.
  • Laminate some placemats with fun questions such as "Who is the practical joker of the family?" "Who got into the most trouble?"
  • Pull out the old photo albums.
  • Take a pen and paper handy write everything down and check the facts with some others who were on the conversation.

To all my readers- Many thanks for your interest and Merry Christmas. Plenty more family stories, World War One stories and hints to come next year. Feel free to comment or contact me with any special requests.

Enjoy Christmas as a special family time and have a Happy New Year. What are your 2017 family history resolutions?

Robyn xx

Friday, 11 November 2016

Making Sense of World War II – Flying Officer Frank Trevor Kelf 1923-1960

Recently I read A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson for my book club. It is the story of Teddy and his life pre, during and post WWII. While it flipped backwards and forwards from Teddy’s childhood, through the war, his marriage and children the part of the novel that hit home most with me with was Teddy’s wartime experiences as an RAF bomber pilot. I continually transposed Teddy with my Uncle Frank. 

Frank Trevor Kelf was born on 28 March 1923 and joined the RAAF in 1941 as a Flying Officer When he left for training in Canada on one of the US Army troop carriers Frank carried with him a diary and a small camera. Frank, aged 18 travelled from Sydney to Dunnville, Canada via Cuba, Guantanamo, the USA, Montréal and finally arrived in Dunnville, Ontario where he did his major training in flying and map reading.
Later he went to London and finally was stationed with the RAF in Grangemouth in Scotland in 1943 where he was shot down once, crash landed twice, once after an engine failure at takeoff. By the end of the War he had 510 hours flying and 65 hours operational flying. After his last crash he professed his nervousness during operational flying and was somewhat doubtful of ever wanting to fly again. His Commanding Officer said “he has however at all times been and extremely good officer.”

Initially his diary entertains us with his “Contiki holiday”. Frank was continuously chronicling the minutiae of his tour of duty. The stuff a young backpacker would write in postcards or posts on Facebook to the friends back home.  We heard about most the thrills and spills, girls and pubs. He celebrated his 20th birthday and reminded us he had missed two Christmases at home but was welcomed into the homes of others.

His annotated collections of photos take over from where the diary leaves off and are a mixture of larrikin and perhaps the dawning horror of war.  For example, his squadron photos begin to be a countdown those who are “lost” with “x”s through the men’s pictures.

His artistically composed photos of aircraft are interspersed with smoky lines of a friend’ aircraft after being shot down. Interspersed with graphic photos of dead Germans and injured Japanese planes are shots of the “Boys Own Adventure”, a visit from the King and Churchill, dead Germans, crashed planes and photos taken on missions.

Later in March 1944 when he is posted to India, Libya and Burma he revels in the sights of snake charmers, camel trains, Hindu culture the Taj Mahal and the Himalayan foothills amongst other things.
At the conclusion of the story Frank’s life departs from Teddy’s. (Both are shot down and while Frank moves to India, Teddy is a prisoner of war.) 

A God in Ruins continues to chronicle Teddy’s life through marriage to old age. It is clear both Teddy and Frank suffered from their experiences and memories of that time. No doubt Frank came back a very different person to the beloved son who went away to serve his country. Back in Australia in 1945 he married Betty and later Aileen and fathered three lovely children: Jillian, Airdrie and Chris. He joined the N.S.W. Fire Brigade and went to the airport fire service. Sadly the demons of war haunted this man who charmed people all over the world and his life ended too early in 1960. Frank succumbed to his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Our finest memory of Frank is his portrait in the Australian War Memorial painted by war artist Sir William Dargie. He was attracted Flying Officer Frank Kelf by the kerchief he wore. Overall we have some strong memorabilia, his photographs, his diary, his observations and sense of humour. Teddy’s story was fiction but Frank’s is real.
We are thankful for Frank's legacy of his diary and his annotated photos.
The night my book club met I couldn’t wait to get the discussion of Teddy’s exploits over. I wanted to pass around my “show and tell”- Flying Officer Frank Trevor Kelf’s memorabilia.
 11/11/2016 Lest we Forget

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

One hundred years ago...10 soldiers died at Thiepval. Frank Buxton 1890-1916

On 2 October 2016, it is 100 years since Private Frank Buxton 4129 lost his life in the Great War. Born 1890, he was the nephew of my husband's grandmother Emily Hudson.

Frank the son of Walter and Emily Buxton was part of 1/5th Cheshire Regiment. Prior to joining in Nov 1915 he lived with his parents and siblings, three brothers and one sister, in Bank Street Cheadle

It was a reserve Battalion converted to a pioneer regiment after the many young men in the area answered the call and rushed in to enlist. Its primary role was construction rather than fighting meaning its role was construction of tunnels and trenches. Franks previous occupation as a gardener was entirely appropriate to the task.

After training in Cheshire he would've made his way over to France. Probably by August 1916 his regiment would've also become fighting replacements for those killed in the heavy losses on the Somme in July.

His battalion moved into forward positions south of the village of Montauban on 30 September. Their role was to dig new assembly trenches in preparation for another attack.

Frank was one of 10 members of that Battalion who died that day. Five died of wounds after being evacuated from the trenches. 4 others besides Frank were killed in action. John Hartley for the Cheadle and Gately War Memorial’s website reported that his Commanding Officer had written to the next of Kin

"it it may be of some consolation to you to know that his death was painless being killed instantly by a bursting shell and he was carefully buried behind the lines by his comrades”. He was aged 26.

The register of soldier’s effects shows that his mother, Emily was his soul legatee.

The 1/5th Cheshire's fought at Ypres, the Somme, Arras, Cambrai, the Canal du Nord and Mons.

His Somme grave is located at Thiepval Memorial near the village of Thiepval. Index number MR 21 part VII. Panel reference is Pier and face 3C and 4A.

The Memorial has over 72,000 grave sites- 90% of whom were lost between July and November 1916.

The historical information on the Memorial site states that the offensive had been going since July.

 Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.”

RIP Frank Buxton 1890-1916

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Small farming community, East Meon is the setting for unravelling family mysteries....

We are claiming George Dovey b 1867 in East Meon as one of ours. That is, he is a first cousin 2x removed from my husband.

At first it was the case of mistaken identity. Originally we had claimed him as my husband’s grandfather – George Ford- thinking his baptism in 1867 was an adult baptism but that is not so….
George Ford of East Meon led us a merry chase when we looked for his origins.
All Saints Church East Meon has witnessed many baptisms

To recap, George Ford as we know him is christened George Wilkes (his birth is registered as George Wilks), son of William Wilks and Harriet Wilks nee Foard. His mother died in 1859. He is known to have had two older brothers William and Charles Ford born of different fathers illegitimately. Theirs was a small community, of poor farm labourers.  Brother William had joined the Army but appears to have been stationed around the village. George had lived in East Meon from his birth 1851 to 5 January 1868 when his brother William Ford signed papers for his enlistment into the Royal Navy at Portsmouth that day in 1868.

Our first document for George ford is a naval record which has father William Ford followed by his marriage certificate. This marriage certificate has George Ford marrying Alice Barter with father William who following on from the naval record we assumed was a William Ford  

The conversation may have gone something like:
"I'm his brother William Ford. Me mam’s died and I’m bringing my brother George to sign up for the Navy."
"Okay. Father's name?"
"Right then George (Ford) your brother has vouched for you. Welcome to the Navy"

George signed on the dotted line, William had got his age wrong by about a year but neither has noticed the incorrect surname. From then George is known as George Ford, Seaman and the Ford name carries on.

However during this time of discovery George’s great grandson Chris, visited the village of East Meon curious to find a George Ford. He stumbled upon a baptism record with William Ford fathering a son, George Dovey to Mary Dovey. Get it? He would be George Ford and the only George Ford born in East Meon at the time. Looked like a possibility. Mary was a neighbor to the Fords .Only problem was a discrepancy in the birth date. We claimed him as my husband’s great grandfather.
The rear recording has Mary Dovey and William Ford as parents to George-  Illigitimate baptised 3/11/1967

Subsequently we found the real George Ford as George Wilks who was the only legitimate son of Harriet Ford and William Wilks born in East Meon in 1851.George's story and that of his brother William is documented in my Blog How I discovered we are not the Fords

That left us with distinct possibility that our William Ford had fathered this George Dovey. 

George would have been a cousin to my husband's grandfather. As none of his parents seem to claim him –we will.  His mother, Mary Dovey seems to have dropped off the face of the earth after the 1871 census. She is a servant at the home of George Findley a music teacher in 1871 while son George appears in the 1871 census with his grandparents Thomas Dovey and Mary Ann Titheridge.

1871 census featuring young George
In the 1881 and 1891 census he is with his Aunts, Mary Ann Dovey unmarried and Harriett Port nee Dovey at Basing Lodge. Meanwhile, William Ford who was discharged from the Army by this time for being melancholic, was convicted of setting fire to the barn at Basing Home Farm in 1880 and subsequently jailed. Same place as George was living.

1911 census -George with a single son after his wife was institutionalised

Then George married Fanny Quinton Hayes in 1893. but here's where it gets complicated. His Uncle George Dovey married Mary Ann Titheridge's sister Phoebe who died. She was Mary Dovey's Aunt incidentally. Uncle George then married Ann Hayes who already had a daughter –one Fanny Hayes.

George Dovey and Fanny had 7 children (2 dead by 1911 census). After the seventh child it seems Fanny sadly was put in an Institution from 1907 for 30 years until she died in 1937 as a pauper. . Perhaps Fanny suffered from post natal depression something that is very easily diagnosed and treated today.
George Dovey and Fanny Quinton Hayes had the following children:

SYDNEY GEORGE DOVEY was born about 1894 in Froxfield, Hampshire, England.
He appears 1901 at Basing Park Lodge with parents and brother and in 1911 aged 17 with father as a - farm labourer at Privett

WILLIAM EDWIN DOVEY was born in 1898 in East Meon, Hampshire, England. He died in 1904 in Petersfield, Hampshire.

THOMAS SAMUEL DOVEY was born on 03 Jan 1907 in Privett East Meon, Hampshire, England. He died in Mar 1978 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England.

ROSALINE MARY DOVEY was born in 1896 in Petersfield, Hampshire. She died in Jul 1897 in Isle of Wight, Hampshire.

BERTHA VIOLET F DOVEY  was born in 1901 in Petersfield, Hampshire. Bertha is on 1911 census in another household as a border. She married William H Walker in 1927 in Petersfield, Hampshire. William and Bertha had a daughter DORIS M WALKER was born in Dec 1927 in Petersfield, Hampshire. She died in Dec 1981 in Alton, Hampshire, England (Age 80).

MABEL KATHLEEN A DOVEY was born in Jan 1903 in Petersfield, Hampshire.

ELLEN ELIZA A DOVEY was born about 1906 in Privett, Hampshire, England.It is possible she could have been a child who died aged 1 in Pancras making her the second child dead as per the census but it is also possible she is in the 1911 census as Helen Dovey  living with Aunt Eliza Carter widow and Cousin Lillian Carter.

From what I can gather some of the children were farmed out or perhaps adopted as they don’t come up in census or other records.  

The Doveys, Titheridges and Fords are long term families in the East Meon district. As you see from reading my previous blog and this one they were reasonably poor farm labourers, often illegitimate and often in poor circumstances being looked after by family or the poor house.

Anyway it seems we can put the mystery of George Dovey to bed.

Tip of the Day:
The final discovery of George Dovey's life came from revisiting the story. In this case the village was reasonably small- I was looking for farming families in the East Meon area and their movements. I found the links between the Titheridges, Doveys and Fords and their close relationships during census taking.