Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Grandma I never Knew. Part 3 1944 - 1948

[I wish to say another special thanks to my Aunt and Uncle; Glyn and Wendy, this blog would not be possible without their input.]

When Iris married Idris she was aware that Idris believed he was called by God to Africa. It was not long after the ending of World War 2 that those plans became more concrete and the two of them would decide to move their small family across two continents to the country of Southern Rhodesia. [Now called Zimbabwe. (2)] Idris would move out there in advance of the rest of the family. This would allow a house to be bought and give a place for Iris and their children to move to.

Here is a photograph taken shortly before Idris departed for Africa in 1937. From left to right they are: Glyn [Idris' brother], Grethe, Price Davies, Annie Davies, Iris Davies, Idris Davies, with Wendy and Glyn [Idris son] at the front.

This was taken in Birmingham. The family are standing in the allotment (1) with the Anderson Shelter just out of sight!

In the mean time Iris, Glyndwr and Wendy moved in with Harold E Griffiths and his wife Annie. The two Grandparents lived near a highway and were quite strict with the children in telling them not to go outside and near the road system!

Iris continued to work at the Woolworths department store as a lift operator. [Elevator operator.] On occasion Iris would invite the children and her Grandpa to come and visit, showing them the controls and how everything worked. By January 1938 the time had arrived for Iris and the others to join Idris.

They set off from Birmingham via train. Iris eldest daughter, Wendy, didn't much care for trains but it was the quickest way to reach Southampton where the boat would leave. Harold joined them, no doubt wanting to make sure that his daughter and grandchildren made it safe and sound to Southampton. Wendy recalls that he stood and waved to them as the boat departed. There was also alot of excitement as they would be passing through London and the whole family wanted to see the capital!

The boat ride itself was a journey of 3-4 weeks. They sailed straight from Southampton, through the Bay of Biscay on the west coast of France, and on to Cape Town in South Africa. As they boarded the boat Glyndwr was terrified. There were gaps between each step of the gangplank and he could see down into the water between them. Finally a steward came and carried him across. The boat was large, as it would have to be, and even in 1948 it contained a swimming pool. Wendy would often be in the swimming pool though Iris remained in the lower decks for most of the trip for she was sea sick.
Sometimes they would have a crew member come to visit, either to bring food or to make sure they were okay. At these times Wendy recalls that Iris would pull herself together enough to say thank you and be appreciative before retiring for the rest of the day. Wendy discovered that being below decks caused an adjustment to the ear pressure and made the sea sickness worse. Poor Iris may have been better off staying above decks.

There was one other thing of importance that occurred on the journey. Glyndwr celebrated his 4th Birthday. What a way to celebrate!

When they finally arrived in Cape Town another train journey awaited them. This time they would travel from Cape Town to Southern Rhodesia. This would take a number of days and be very tiring for Iris and the family who were already worn out from the four week boat journey. It was all worth it though when Idris pulled up to greet them in a 1938 Ford V8 with red spoked wheels. One can imagine the look on Iris' face at being reunited with her husband after so long apart.

Wendy "Felt like a Queen" and Glyn was constantly telling his father to "Speeder faster, speeder faster." It was the first car the family ever owned and Iris must have beamed with pride. It was a nice way to say, "Welcome to Africa."

[1] An Allotment was a piece of land granted by the British Government during WW2. Some allotment sizes were larger than others. It was part of the "Digging for Victory" effort. During World War 2 German U boats cut off alot of the food supply that Britain would traditionally import from the Empire to feed its citizens. Here is a link to a video that helped promote the use of allotments in Britain during


[2] Southern Rhodesia has had many names. As a colony of the British Empire it was Southern Rhodesia, but briefly "The Republic of Rhodesia" between 1970-1980 before finally being recognized as its own independent state by the British Government in 1980.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hymns of My Fathers "Whispering Hope."

This is the second in a series of blogs based on the hymns my ancestors used to sing. Whispering Hope is a song that my Grandparents, Idris and Iris Davies were heard to sing on many occasions. They sang it at weddings, funerals and various church events. Here are the original lyrics as written by Septimus Winner.

Verse 1

"Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion,
Whispers her comforting word;
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.


Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Verse 2
If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart shrink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

Verse 3
Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come then, O come glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory
Never, O never depart.

Septimus was a famous song writer born in the 1800's. This particular hymn he based off Hebrews 6:19; "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." It was the last popular song that he wrote before his death.

This is a hymn that I do not remember hearing as I grew up but reading through it now I can see why Idris and Iris loved it. The words are so poetic and I can see how it would be powerful at funerals and weddings.

  • Monday, July 16, 2012

    Family Help

    Last Thursday my Uncle went to visit the grave sites of my Nanna and Granddad. While there he found an attendant who was able to find my Great Grandparents graves as well. I'm so thankful for this as I am not in England anymore and unable to visit possible sites. Another friend of mine is trying to locate the graves of my Great Great Grandparents in Binbrook, Lincolnshire. We're not positive they are there but we think they may be.

    Here are the pictures.

    The top half is really difficult to read but I believe it says:

    "Ada Mildred Wright, Died 6th Oct 1958 Aged 64 years. 
    George Ernest Wright, Died 7th Jan 1962 Aged 77 years.

    Below are the two pictures my Uncle sent of my Grandparents graves.

    These say:

    "May Hilton 1921-2001. 

    Beloved Wife, mother and


    "Ernest Hilton 1923-2003.

    Beloved husband, father and grandad"

    It did bring back to mind a memory of my Nanna. They have also, coincidentally, made me aware that I spell Nanna wrong but I can't break the habit of a life time.

    When I was a young teenager I remember commenting to Nanna about how much work she seemed to do for other people. Nanna was the type of person who was always visiting friends who might be sick, lending a helping hand if she could. She said, "I've never understood these people who don't look after others while they're alive and then spend all their time at the graves trying to make them look pretty. You do everything you can for someone while they're here and after they are dead what more can you do?!"

    Now that I'm tracing family history I would like to say that I do see the importance of keeping Graves clean and readable but I loved my Nanna's attitude, I like to think it has affected how I act today.
    Nanna was a hard worker who didn't like to stop. She suffered with Leukemia for a long time and the Doctors told her she had to rest. We used to live in the same town as my grandparents and once when they came to visit Granddad said something along the lines of,

    "You'll never guess what I caught her doing."

    "What?" We all exclaimed!

    "Trimming the hedge with a pair of scissors."

    My Nanna replied somewhat sheepishly, "Well the Doctor said I couldn't use the hedge trimmer and it needed to be cut."

    I hope I have inherited half of her character and work ethic. If so, I'll do well in this life and the next.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Hunting For George Part 2

    The last post on Great Granddad George Wright mentioned that I could not find him in the 1891 census and that I had heard he had fought in the Boer War. I couldn't find any information about his military record and I needed to confirm a few pieces from my Uncle. I emailed My Uncle and he said he had fought in World War 1 and that he was 'there for the Boer War' if he didn't 'fight in it.' I'm not fully sure what this means. How could a poor farm laborer from Binbrook, Lincolnshire, be there but not for the fighting?

    I also received these photographs.
    George Ernest Wright in Military Uniform
    George Ernest Wright and his wife Ada. 

    My Mum had always said he was in the army. The sign on his left arm is of two crossed anchors with a crown above it and there are three chevrons beneath it. I can't seem to get a clear enough picture of the image on his cap to tell what it is :/. Still, unless I'm completely mistaken from the research I have done this is a Royal Navy Uniform and the chevrons make him a Petty Officer 1st Class. According to my Uncle, George had captained a small ship that helped with the rescue at Dunkirk. I don't think this was military related however.

    I found this explanation on a genealogy site that was attempting to explain the uniforms and their ratings.

    From 1853 to 1907 the badge of the PO 1st Class and from 1907 to the present the badge of the Petty Officer. (With appropriate crown, that depicted is correct for the period 1901-1953)

    The site address is here:

    I'm not positive what the Chevrons mean though.

    I must confess to needing a bit more tutelage in this area. So if anyone is out there who can shed a little more light on the what my Great Granddad's uniform symbolizes I'd love to hear from you!

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Hymns Of My Fathers - "I fell in love with the Nazarene"

    This is the first in a series of blogs that will endeavor to capture the heart of some old hymns. They are not just any hymns but those which I know my ancestors sang. I will post the lyrics with some information about who crafted the hymn and why. Sometimes I may explore the words and lyrics of a tune and sometimes there may also be a family story behind them. I hope you enjoy reading about this as much I will sharing them with you.
    Harold Emanuel Griffiths
    There are many things to write about Harold but for the purpose of this blog it is enough to say this: He was a man of great conviction who became a Christian sometime after World War 1. He became a Pentecostal minister who planted churches around the United Kingdom and Ireland, in partnership with Edward Jeffrey's who started the Bethel movement. These churches later joined the Elim and Assemblies of God churches on the European side of the Atlantic.[1] Many of the churches he planted bare the name "Bethel" today. As well as a preacher he was a pianist and a singer. He composed a new tune to the formerly well known hymn of "I fell in love with the Nazarene." The words are as follow:

    Verse 1

    "The Master stood in the Judgment Hall of Pilate great and strong,

    He stood there silent and alone for all his friends were gone.

    They had scattered far and near, and left him with the throng,

    No voice of love his heart to cheer, thro' all the morn' so long."


    "I fell in love with the Nazarene, "The beautiful Nazarene."

    Whose face with glory was a-light, the fairest I have seen.

    Near his side I would abide, with ne'er a veil between,

    Since I fell so deep in love with Jesus "The Nazarene."

    Verse 2

    "His face was fair as lilies white, a halo round his head,

    While all around was black as night, their souls thro' sin were dead.

    See his hands all bound with thongs, the thorn crown on his brow,

    Hark! The Angels mournful song, "All heav'n in sorrow now."

    Verse 3

    "The angry mob cried out in wrath, "Crucify him now!"

    And so he trod Golgotha's Path, The life blood on "His brow."

    On on he trod and bear the Cross, But never made a moan

    Weak and falling from the loss, of blood yet not a groan."

    Verse 4

    And when they nail'd him to the Cross, with cruel spikes and deep,

    His face diviner grew to me, And I began to weep.

    All His anguish quite forgot, I heard him gently pray:

    "Father forgive, for they know not the wrong that they have done."

    I must confess, I don't know the original tune, and I haven't yet heard the tune my Great Grandfather composed for it. I have however convinced my Mum that when my parents are over to visit at Christmas she will play the tune for me. How do we know the tune? Harold's granddaughter sent me these images via email:

    They came with the following message:

    "I think it is an appropriate song to remember Harold by as he never got over the love of God, the wonder of his salvation and he had a deep love for the Lord. It is a moving song and anything Harold played was moving and congregations would laugh, cry or worship depending on what Harold did on the piano as he sang. When you hear this song you can imagine the power of God at work when Harold ministered in music. 

    I remember hearing Harold (tenor) and Nance (alto) singing it. I also remember hearing David singing it. He had a lovely voice, as did all of them. I suppose you know the whole family sang song items together at services."


    It has taken me a while to track down the origins of this song. I searched some of the books about old hymns from the 19th and early 20th century but couldn't turn anything up. Eventually however I found a site online that contained "The Weekly Evangel Issue 169, Dec 16th 1916." I believe this was a tract that was given out in the beginning of the Pentecostal movement to people and churches connected with it. In it is the story of Sarah Payne, a former song writer for 'the world' as she said herself. This was the first song she created after "Giving her life to Jesus." It was written within moments of this commitment and nearly burned to ashes a few days later. Fortunately for my Great Grandad and many many others, it wasn't.

    [1] An early version of this blog said he campaigned with the Jeffrey's brothers. This might be true, but I have changed it to Edward Jeffrey's because there is evidence of this in a pamphlet created to commemorate the building and commissioning of Bethel Church at Milton Hall in 1950. This church was built by Harold E. Griffiths. 

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    How I found Anney!

    I have mentioned before that when it comes to Genealogy I am fortunate to have some other family members that have done the hard work for me. Many branches of my family tree have already been explored to a certain extent. There was one significant branch that was missing; that of my Great Grandmother Simpkins. I initially put her name down as Annie in the searches I made through census records but I couldn't find her. Then I changed it to Anne but still no luck. On Ancestry a picture of a little green leaf appears if the name matches any records they have. The name didn't.

    So I waited a few weeks; in genealogy there are always more things to move on to. I'm still looking for information on Great Granddad George Wright and there are the ongoing interviews with family about my Grandma Iris, as well as many many other people to research. Within the past week though, Great Aunt Ruth sent me some information confirming Anne's father was John Simpkins and she had a sister called Lily. Great I thought, now I can search for Anne/Annie in conjunction with her father.

    I put in some simple searches and it still came up with nothing. I must state, probably much to the chagrin of my Aunt Ruth, that I was unsure whether she had given me the right names. [The moral of this story - never doubt an Aunt, particularly about her own mother!] As I looked back over the information I had gathered I realised Anne was definitely Annie because I discovered a wedding between Harold Emanuel Griffiths and Annie Simpkins from 1911. I've sent off for their marriage certificate but it hasn't arrived yet. I also realised that they definitely lived in Abertillery at some point. So again I ran the search, and this time a close match popped up. I discovered this!

    Anney, there you are. Yes, Anney...with her whole family. So this is how they spelled Annie in 1911. Or at least, that is how the person taking notes for this particular census form spelled Annie. It doesn't help that her mother was recorded as Eliz, when I had it down as Elizabeth. Which brings me back to something I read on my friend Bill's blog once. [His blog can be found at] It is also listed on the right hand side of my blog.

    He mentioned how many people in previous times didn't know how to spell their own names and had never had to write them before. Therefore many names were probably spelled phonetically, or close to it. When it came to a census the person conducting the census might have no idea how certain names are spelled. All this leads to a variety of names being found on a census for the same person. If you look closely at this particular form you will notice that John's last name is "Simpkins" and Eliz' last name is "Simkins." It's a prime example of how lax some people were on the spelling!

    Now that I had found Annie in 1911 and all of her family, I sent a quick message to Great Aunt Ruth to confirm it was the right one. It is - so I'm pretty sure that with the information from this form I can trace her back through the other records now.

    And that is how I found Anney!

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    The Grandma I Never Knew. Part 2 1938-1944

    [Let me first start by addressing a mistake I made in my first post about Iris Griffiths. I mentioned that due to her older sister Annie being partially blind and deaf Iris may have done most of the house hold chores. I have been informed by one of their sisters that Iris did not take over from Annie's duties. This makes Annie quite a remarkable person, but that is another story;)]

    Contributors to this post are: Merthyn Davies, Glyn Davies, Wendy Thomas and Ruth Salmon. Thank you, I could never have done this without you.

    [Above: Iris Davies with her 2 eldest children Wendy and Glyndwr, in Birmingham abt1947]

    After the death of William Sergeant, Iris was single for a while. By this time most of her family had moved to Birmingham and Iris went with them. No one is completely sure how Iris met Idris Davies, but it seems fair to say they may have met at Church. Both were devout believers and both had a Pentecostal upbringing with fathers who were preachers. The story of their meeting however is one that I have not yet discovered.

    On Dec 24th 1938 Iris was married to Idris and became Mrs. Iris Davies. The wedding took place at Bethel Gospel Temple, Wardend Road, Birmingham, England. Iris' father Harold Griffiths was a traveling preacher and he was due to be speaking and planting churches in Ireland both before the 24th and after Boxing Day. (1) So the 24th it was!

    Their first child was soon born; Grace Wendy Davies! The lives of everyone around the world were to be horribly interrupted shortly after. On September 1st 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain, France and most Commonwealth (2) countries declared war on Hitlers' Germany. World War 2 had begun.

    The Davies' were affected in a similar way to most of those in Britain at the time. Some family members went to war while others were involved in the Home Guard.(3) Below is a picture of Idris with his brothers DavidJohn, and Glyn. Glyn went to war, the others were in the Home Guard.

    During World War 2 Iris' husband Idris became a munitions inspector but Iris worked at the local Woolworths. Woolworths was a chain of shops in England. Iris would operate the elevators. Their son Glyndwr recalls visiting Iris with his Grandpa Harold Griffiths. They watched as she operated machines to move the Elevator. In those days it did not move at the push of a button!

    During the war Iris and Idris lived at 54 or 45 Heather Road in Birmingham and that house is still standing today. The same can't be said of every house of that street. Birmingham was bombed often during World War 2 and the Blitz. The Blitz was a series of bombing raids organized by Germany and night after night would see the bombs come down on all the major cities of Britain. Birmingham was the second most bombed city of Britain during this time period. Over 2,000 people were killed in Birmingham with many more injured.(4)

    Like others, Iris and the family were given Anderson Bomb shelters, sturdy Air Raid Table shelters, and drills in what to do when the Air Raid sirens sounded.(5) Iris' sister Ruth recalls that Iris, Ruth, Wendy and one of their neighbors would all run to the shelter.

    "We used to go down in the shelter that Idris had made in the garden, he made it very comfortable so we could play games while the bombs were dropping all around us. Idris was out & about in the Home Guard helping to dig people out that had been hit." - Ruth Griffiths

    Iris father Harold was also not with them as he was "out there praying with people who were dying."

    In the shelter they would sometimes sing to try and drown out the noise of the bombs falling and the guns firing. Sometimes they would play games like Ludo, Tiddlywinks and Drafts.(6

    Wendy remembers that the Air Raid Table was used for those times that they couldn't make it to the Anderson shelter or if the shelter was flooded. There was only one time she can ever remember using it and none of them thought it was safe. On another occasion a bomb had a direct hit on a house just four lots away, It was demolished and the windows of Iris' house came breaking inwards. As the family ran down the hallway to reach the Anderson shelter they discovered a piece of burning shrapnel had flown in with the glass and landed on an Eider Down (7) on the sofa, setting fire to it. Fortunately they saw  it and were able to put it out or the whole house may have burnt down.

    It wasn't all doom and gloom though. Wendy observes that Iris would often take her to the clinic where they would have to do all kinds of tests. Then they would have to do silly exercises like picking up matchsticks with your toes to stop your feet from becoming flat. [There's more to this story but it is related to another blog of the future.]

    Then towards the end of the war their second eldest, Glyndwr was born. It was often joked among the family that "Wendy began the war and Glyn finished it". 


    (1) Boxing day is December 26th In England.
    (2) The Common Wealth, formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is made up of a collection of countries that used to be part of the British Empire.
    (3) The Home Guard is a term used during WW2 in the United Kingdom, for those people who volunteered to serve with the military at 'home'. They were usually ineligible for military service due to age etc. and were employed in many tasks from cleaning up wreckage, last line of defence, and putting bodies back together.
    (4) This website can give many more details about the affect of the Blitz and bombing on Birmingham during WW2
    (5) Anderson Shelters were given free to many British house holds during and in the lead up to WW2. They provided excellent protection from ground shocks but had a tendency to flood during cold weather. An Air Raid Table was just what it sounds like. A table that was perhaps sturdier than your average table but a table never the less.
    (6) Ludo is a game similar to the American board game "Trouble." Opponents race their counters around the board from start to finish by throwing the dice and moving accordingly. Drafts is known in America as "Checkers".
    (7) An Eider Down is like a quilt but made out of Eider Duck feathers.

    Tech Tuesday: Using Pinterest for your Family History Photographs

    Tech Tuesday is a blogging prompt used by the Geneabloggers group and others to help inspire bloggers to post. Today my post is dedicated to using Pinterest.
    I've been aware of Pinterest for a while but I hadn't really looked into it. As I started this blog I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have another place where family members and others can just view the photographs of our ancestors. In essence, the tale of our family through pictures. With this in mind I created a Pinterest board specifically for it. The link is contained in the information section on the right hand side of this page. I will also post it here:

    Pinterest is a social networking tool based around images. People post images that fit around a specified criteria to their Pinterest site. You have to be invited to use it but you can personally request an invite through their main webpage. After my initial request it took them a day before inviting me. Pinterest is linked to a Facebook account so you have to be careful about your settings unless you want every picture posted mirrored to your Facebook timeline.

    Once on Pinterest you create something called "a board." This board can be called anything you like and about anything you like. I called mine "Tall Tales Of A Family." Original eh! You can change the name at any point but the link to the site will also change. Once a board is created you pin [upload] pictures to the site. Alternatively, if you find an image online you can pin that to the site without downloading it to your computer. Family and friends can then leave comments with each picture, a great way to share memories.

    So now I have another place online that people can connect with my family history blog. It's a visually driven site and hopefully provokes enough questions that people want to find out more.

    A word to the wise. If you are using photographs of living people, make sure to get their permission before you post it. This should be just the same as when blogging an article. Whenever I post a story that contains the name of someone living or the immediate family of someone living I make sure to give the living relative an advance copy and I do not post the blog until they have affirmed it. Sometimes they make suggestions that improve the story. Sometimes they notice mistakes and they always have the option to say they are uncomfortable with that story being put online. The same should definitely be true of their own photographs as well.

    With all that said, why don't you hop on over to Pinterest, maybe visit my own Pinterst 'board' and see how you like it.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Hunting for George Part 1

    Just a note at the beginning to say that unlike some of my previous Blogs this research is very much still in progress. Where I know 100% that it is a fact I will state so. George Ernest Wright was my Great Granddad on my Mum's Nanna's side. He was born in 1884 in Lincolnshire.[Fact] My Uncle told me that he served during the Boer War and was on a small boat that helped with the rescues at Dunkirk. This instantly intrigued me. For those who aren't familiar with these pieces of British history here is a brief summary.

    The Boer Wars were fought in the late 1800's and last Boer War was from 1899-1902. It is this last war that my Great Granddad George will have fought in. The last war was fought to regain the Boer Republics as British colonies. During the latter stages of the war the British rounded up the Boer families into concentration camps. While intended to be different to the use of concentration camps by Germany during and before world war 2 it never the less had a very similar affect. The Boers who were will fighting hit the supply trains that were due to bring food and hygiene supplies to the people in the camps and the result was very often disease, starvation and death. It was also this war that led to Britain seeking out additional allies and making more binding treaties. A condition that would lead in large part to the onset of world war 1.

    Dunkirk is considered one of Britain's greatest memories. At the onset of world war 2 many French and British forces were trapped in the city of Dunkirk. They had no where to run and only the English Channel at their backs. Winston Churchill called for the British people to help with a massive evacuation of all troops from Dunkirk and called for a National Day of Prayer as the evacuations took place. Over the course of the next couple of days over 300,000 troops were evacuated. Fisherman and boat owners from all over England sailed their boats down to Dunkirk and helped the Royal Navy rescue all of the soldiers stranded. Because of the success of this evacuation Britain and France maintained most of their military men and were able to continue waging war despite the bleakness of the situation after Hitler conquered France and mainland Europe. Great Granddad George Wright took his own boat to help with this evacuation. Who wouldn't want to know more about this person?

    I remember when I was younger, having a conversation with my Nanna about how her family had once lived in the small nearby village of Binbrook. Sure enough, George was born to James and Hannah Wright in Binbrook (Formerly Westerman) in 1884. [Fact] From this point the waters become a little more murky. The 1891 census doesn't show George living with his parents, but it does show an Ernest. I once read that the reasons we have middle names is so that "A child can know when they are in trouble." I might change that to; "So that a genealogist can know he's confused."

    Since George's middle name was Ernest it isn't a complete leap of faith to believe it might be the same person. After checking with a friend who has been doing genealogy much longer than I, he said it was quite possibly the same person. In his own research his ancestors often changed from first to middle names in the census etc. He finished by saying, "If the age is right, it's probably the right Wright." I liked that quote so I have included it!
    So in 1891 Ernest Wright is listed as six. Depending on the month it was taken he could very well have been born in 1884. However neither Ernest or George are present during the 1901 census. For that matter neither is James. His father James seems to have died in 1900. If George joined the military and fought in the Boer War he will have likely joined by 1899. So the next stop is to see if any military records can shed light on this - while emailing my Uncle to see if he can shed any further light on it. That research will have to wait for another blog!

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Grandparents. What's in a name?

    While researching my Grandparents it's been interesting just to note what names they preferred to be called.

    My Nanna and Granddad (May Wright and Ernest Hilton) were always called Nanna and Granddad and always in that order for some reason. Even now it just seems to roll off the tongue with a Nanna first, then a Granddad.

    This is a photograph taken of them on their Wedding Day, April 22nd 1944.

    Below is a photograph taken sometime in the 90's for their Ruby Wedding Anniversary. I remember when this was taken as I was there. I was due to sing a solo at the celebration and that week I had a five a side indoor football (soccer) tournament. While attempting to head the ball it hit me in the nose and scraped off my skin. So I had to sing with a nose that had half its skin gone.

    While I never met my Grandparents on my Dad's side he always calls them Grampy and Grammie Davies. I'm probably butchering those spellings because I've never written them down before. Below is a picture of my Grandparents with two dogs, Tanya and Meghan. I'm still hunting around to see if any surviving relatives have a Wedding photograph of these two love birds. Or rather, my relatives are hunting around for me, while I do the pestering!

    It made me think. I wonder if what we called them has something to do with a culture we have now forgotten? I'm sure if I do a little investigation I might identify a geographic or cultural region that resulted in these names. Dad's parents were Welsh, do any of the Welsh side of my family know if Welsh grandparents were always referred to in this way? It will be interesting to find out!

    Grampy and Grammie I wish I could have met you! Nanna and Granddad, I always will miss you! To all of you, I am looking forward to the day when we will all meet again:)

    If any family members are reading this and would like a copy of these photographs please let me know!

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Importance of Dating

    When I received a genealogy tree from a member of the family it has my Great Grand Father Harold Emmanuel Griffiths as born in 1880. His wife was left blank. When interviewing their daughter I discovered he was married to an Annie Simpkins but I assumed the dates I was given for Harold were correct. It turns out this has been a mistake - and a lesson well learned for this beginning Genealogist.

    - Always double check your facts, and when interviewing always ask for dates as soon as you possibly can! -

    Today their daughter confirmed that Harold was born in 1895 and Annie in 1896. This changes everything. I believe I may have found their marriage records for 1911. That means they married 16 and 15 respectively. The law stated the man had to be 14 and the woman 12 so this is perfectly legal. Still, I can't imagine being married at that age today! It wasn't long before they gave birth to their eldest either!

    I am still short of a picture for both Harold and Annie. Family members are searching and I hope such a blog as this can soon be graced with one.In the mean time I've sent off for the marriage certificate that I believe belongs to them. If it does then I might have a better time tracing their lineage. Annie was often referred to as Nance by her husband. This may have been a pet name for "Annie" or it may have been a name in it's own right. I'm not one hundred percent sure yet!

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    Stories that lead to stories

    One of the great joys I've experienced since starting to trace my family tree is the joy of meeting and talking with people in the family I never really knew. Not only does this speak to me on a profoundly emotional level, but it also helps out a great deal with the giant jigsaw that is a family.

    As I've previously blogged about, I decided to try and interview whoever I could about my family. To begin with, I spoke with my Mum and Dad. My parents are moving out of the country, and as they are doing so, they have dug up a few old photographs that had been shared with them. As we spoke about the photos, Dad was able to remember several little events and point out to me who the people were in the photographs. People have names, names lead to questions, which lead to stories, which lead to more things to talk about :)

    As I asked questions about Dad's Mum, Iris Griffiths, he pointed me in the direction of her sister Ruth. I do not think I have ever met Ruth but someone had taught her how to use Facebook. I instantly felt a strong connection with her as Ruth began to answer the many many questions I have about Iris, her family and life as she grew up. I now count Ruth as a good friend and I am honored to spend time each week picking her brain for little tidbits of information. As we spoke (or rather, typed) Ruth thought of someone else I should contact. She helped me get in touch with the daughter of her brother David.

    Today I had the first conversation with my "First cousin once removed." At least I believe that's the term! Her mother (Betty or Rosemary) is still alive and now I will be able to send some questions to her mother via email. Just from the few minutes I have spoken to my newly found cousin, I have already found out some great information. More details will be forthcoming.

    I'm a Christian and deeply interested in my ancestors faith as well. Turns out my Great Grand Parents on Grandma Iris' side were descended from theJews. Rosemary might be able to shed some light on this and I am super excited about asking questions and hearing the stories that will help explain this connection! So this tree here - will hopefully become more than blank slots!

    So for those who still have relatives living that can share stories you yourself have not experienced, or remember information you simply do not know - ask them about their life while you still can! This week there are more people I'm hoping to connect with. My Auntie Wendy (Dad's sister), my Aunt Winnie (My Mum's aunt), and my Uncle Michael (Mum's brother). So much to learn and so little time. I can't wait to hear from them!

    There's an old African proverb that says, "When an old man dies a library burns down." I think this was made famous during a 70's T.V. program called "Roots." I'm glad that part of the "library" these people contain can now be passed on!