Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Using the Flipboard App

As the title suggests, I want to talk about the 'Flipboard' app for Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone. Flipboard collates information from the web and puts it into a magazine format. A quick search on the internet tells me that it is also available for Android. Here's a brief video I made to explain how it works!

I love things like this: That make navigating stories in a blog easier! So in a nut shell - you download the app from the app store then when it loads in your phone or on your iPad find the search bar in the top right hand corner.

You can type anything into the search bar. So to find my blog I typed "Tall tales of a family." To find my friend Bill's stuff I typed "West in New England." Then a list appears and you select the blog or video or magazine you wish to see. Once you have selected that it will open up the blog site in magazine format.

If I want to create a specific magazine - like one specifically about the series I created on my Grandma then I click the little 'plus' buttons you can see appear in the image above. Each 'post' should have it's own 'plus' sign. Once I select this button it gives me an option to put it in an existing magazine I have created or to create a new one - I get to title it etc.

In the picture above you can see that I have three magazines. One is the stories of "The hymns of my fathers." One is "The Grandma I Never Knew" and the other is just a 'favourites' where I put my favourite selections from all over the web. It's not specific to genealogy - hence the "Man of steel" image. Once you have your magazine created you can select to view it and then on the left hand side is the option to share it. You can share it on a social network or you can share it via email like this:

Once it is shared a link is created that you can then send to others as well. The link for the magazine about "The Grandma I Never Knew" is here:

You can't see it without the actual Flipboard app but if you have the app go ahead and try it.

It might seem like alot of work but I'm always looking for ways to engage my generation of genealogists and those that are even younger than me. If they already have this product and you've created your 'magazine' it's so easy for them to add and see any updates. I've already had friends of mine that aren't generally interested in 'genealogy' begin reading my blog and the stories within because of this discovery.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 1

“The Grandfather I Never Knew” Part 1

Idris Davies was born on December 2nd 1914 to Price and Annie Davies. His birth was registered in the borough ofMerthyr Tydfil on the 11th January 1915. [1] His hair would become dark, nearly black and his eyes were blue. He had what can only be described as ‘A real welsh nose.’ At the time his father, Price Davies had been asked to pastor at Aberaman Assembly. Idris had an older brother, David John Davies and a sister Mair Davies who had died in 1910. In 1917 the family moved to the Old Prince Of Wales Public House. This had five living rooms and the front part, where the bar used to be, was used as a meeting hall for a new church congregation. [2]

His mother Annie used to make jam[3] and store it in the pantry for later use; strawberry was the preferred flavor and at age four while Idris was sleeping his parents stepped out for a short while. Idris awoke and made his way into the pantry where he began to open the stored containers and with a spoon he ate all of the jam. By the time Price and Annie returned home they found him on the floor unconscious.

They immediately called for the itinerant doctor and nurse, which must have been done by running to the local clinic since they did not have a phone. By the time the doctor. and nurse arrived on the scene there was little that could be done and they pronounced him dead, apparently issuing a death certificate. Price and Annie were devout Christian believers and they invited a small group of people from the church over to the house, wanting them to pray for Idris before they gave up on him.Annie had witnessed her own miraculous healing when younger and they hoped for the same thing to occur now. [4]

As Idris’ children, Glyn and Wendy, remember it being told to them; "this small group of Christians was delightedly disturbed when a voice was heard from the bedroom in which they had placed their child. Idris was singing loudly, “I’m three three three, I once was lost and now am found, Christ has set me three.”" Yes, the pronunciation of the word ‘free’ had changed but his family was ecstatic. They believed God had healed their son and brought him back from the dead.

Now fortunate to live the rest of his life, Idris was mischievous and full of fun, like any young boy would be. When living in Brynithel and Six Bells they would fill up buckets of water and spread it over the ground so that it would freeze at night creating an ice slide. The boys would get someone to chase them who did not know about it and at the last minute the person doing the chasing would turn and Idris with the others would slide on down and make their escape.

While in Brynithel, aged 7, Idris became a Christian and was ‘saved’. While it was at Six Bells that Idris was baptized in Bethany Baptist Chapel at age 11. [5] Both these events set the scene for a life of missions and church work but before much of that could occur Idris must first navigate his way through such major cataclysms as World War 2

[1] Birth Certificate for Idris Davies, registered 11 Jan 1915, Ref No 11a 1603, County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil U.K. Certified copy in possession of author

[2] Much information is provided courtesy of "A TESTIMONY and a brief record of the of the BEGINNING of the PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT in the MERTHYR BOROUGH,BEDLINOG AND THE ABERDARE VALLEY by PASTOR PRICE DAVIES – annotated by RoyDavies

[3] Americans use the word jelly.

[4] There is no death certificate to officially document this miracle, it is likely that before the records were sent to authorities they had realized the mistake in certifying him as dead and did not send his name with the records. There is however a record of Annie’s healings, to be found in 'The WesternMail', 'South Wales Echo', 'South Wales Daily News', 'Merthyr Express', and theWelsh language newspaper 'Tarian Y Gweithwyr' in September 1905.

[5] This is again found in the written Testimony of Price Davies.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Healing of Annie Griffiths Part 1

This week I decided to go through some old posts and start citing sources I have used. So with the best of intentions I opened an envelope my parents had left me at Christmas. Within were several birth certificates and a copy from a 1905 "Christian Herald" a religious newspaper published in the United Kingdom. I glanced at it and realised it cites several Welsh daily newspapers in recording the healing of my great Grandma Annie Davies nee Griffiths. [There are two sets of Griffiths in my Dad's family tree and so it becomes confusing very quickly.]

The article states:

"Under the title of 'A Modern Miracle at Merthyr,' the daily papers report: "An unusual occurrence has taken place at Penydarren, near Merthyr. A young lady, twenty four years of age, named Annie Griffiths, living with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Griffiths, at 74 Brynhyfryd Street, who had been laid up with an affliction of the hip for some weeks, and who it was thought would not recover the use of her limbs without the aid of crutches, got up completely cured as the result, it is claimed, of faith-healing. Two ministers, the Revs. Mr. Owen, of Elim Baptist Chapel, and MR. Francis, Aberdu, Cabdiganshire [Possibly reads Casdiganshire], visited her, and prayed earnestly for her recovery on the Saturday evening, , and shortly afterwards she got up, dressed herself without assistance, and came downstairs. The following day she took part in all the chapel services, and is evidently completely cured, for she can walk about the neighbourhood, to the astonishment of the residents, without assistance, and looks in better health than ever. She is a young lady of a religious turn of mind, and regards her recovery as having been brought about by the intervention of the Divine will. She says her faith was strengthened owing to the reading in a pamphlet of a similar recovery. Miss Griffiths, although deeply interested in the revival, did not take an unusually prominent part, but in the course of the year her interest in religious matters has become more intense, and her pastor had been much distressed at the fact that she was so very ill."

It is followed by another short article:

"The Doctors Testimony

Dr. Morrison, of Merthyr, said that he diagnosed the case as one of tubercular disease of the hip-joint. His opinion was confirmed by his chief, Dr. Cresswell, and he last saw Miss. Griffiths on Friday, Sept. 15. On September 18 he was astonished to see her walk into his surgery without the trace of a limp (see picture below). "I am cured now," said Miss Griffiths, in reply to the doctor's question. "You have been very kind to me and done all you could for me, but of course you are only an earthy physician and I took my case before the heavenly physician, and here I am well." Dr. Morrison added: "There is no humbug about it. She walked into the surgery apparently well."

The picture supplied is here:

There are other newspapers that record this. I believe my great uncle Roy did the research to discover that 'The Western Mail', 'South Wales Echo', 'South Wales Daily News', 'Merthyr Express', and the Welsh language newspaper 'Tarian Y Gweithwyr' printed accounts of the event. I know my Aunt Norma has a copy of the article from 'The Western Mail' and I am inquiring with the British Library about the others. I hope to post them here when I have received them.

All of these confirm what my Great Grandfather Price Davies [Annie's husband] recorded in his personal testimony shortly before he died. He wrote in a document entitled,


"...In 1904-1905, at number seventy four Brynhyfryd Street, [i] Penydarren, Merthyr Tydfil, where Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Griffiths lived with their family, their daughter Annie Griffiths was bedridden with a Tubercular Hip (Hip disease) a large growth on her hip and the one leg shorter than the other, she was a helpless, hopeless cripple.  The doctors gave no hope of her ever being able to walk again.  The family were members of Elim Baptist Chapel, Penydarren, where Mr. Thomas Griffiths was a deacon, the minister was the Rev. O. M. Owen [ii] who had been wonderfully blessed of God during the early days of the Welsh Revival, and he was for many years the Secretary of the Keswick Convention at Llandrindod Wells.  Mr. Owen was very friendly with the family and used to visit Miss Griffiths often and was very much grieved and burdened at seeing her sad plight and suffering as she was.  He was spending much time in prayer with God on her behalf and also on behalf of the family as a whole.  On one of his visits he asked Miss Griffiths if she believed God could work a miracle in our time and heal her.  She said “Yes Mr. Owen, I believe God can do all things.”  “Well Annie,” he said, “I don’t believe it is the will of God for you to be lying there suffering like that.”  He gave her a tract to read that told of a young woman that had been healed in answer to prayer of Spinal Trouble.  He also asked her to read some Scriptures especially James 5: 14-16 which she gladly did. 

            One Saturday night, Miss Griffiths was in fact due to go into hospital the following Monday so that she could be made more comfortable on an Air Bed and also that her mother might be relieved a little; that evening another Baptist Minister from Aberduar, West Wales called.[iii]   His name was Mr. Francis and he was on his way to Fochriw to preach but lost his connection at Dowlais Top and so called at Mr. Owen’s house.   During their conversation Mr. Owen asked Mr. Francis if he believed God could perform a miracle today in answer to prayer.  “Of course I do, why not?” said Mr. Francis. So Mr. Owen told him about Miss Griffiths.  They decided there and then to visit the home and have a definite time of prayer with her father for her, so they came.  After a little talk with Miss Griffiths the three of them knelt and prayed that God would touch and heal her. 

            These are Annie's own words to me, (after the ministers and her­ father had prayed for her and as she was about to ask the dear Lord to heal her), she felt the Lord was there by her bedside and laid His Hand on her head and the Power of God came upon her and went right through her whole body and took the disease away, the bed itself shaking with the Power of God.  Glory be to God she was Wonderfully and Miraculously Healed.  She told the ministers and her father that if they would leave the room she would get dressed.  Praise the Lord for ever.  One minute a helpless, hopeless cripple unable to move without help, the next minute Gloriously Healed by the touch of God.  Hallelujah.

            She asked her mother for her clothes and then got up and dressed; then she walked from the front room where her bed was, through the middle room to the kitchen.  When her father saw her, he leaped for joy shouting “Hallelujah” with a loud voice.  Mr. Owen asked her if he would see her in the meeting, the following, Sunday.  Her father said “You tell Mr Owen that you will be there before him tomorrow morning” ... and she was.  Praise God.  Oh what a stir that miracle caused in the Borough.  Elim chapel was thronged with people night after night for weeks, Open Air meetings were held on the bottom of the street. [iv]  I remember Dai Ruth (D. R. Williams) taking his coat off in one of those meetings and laying it on the ground for people to kneel on it and get converted.[v]  That miracle was published in the Daily Papers and the Christian Herald.[vi]  I remember reading the report in the South Wales Echo September 1905.  Some may ask “Are healings permanent?” Annie Griffiths was healed of a Tubercular Hip when she was twenty one years of age, she passed out of this life to her reward in heaven at seventy eight years of age with never a return of the complaint.  Diolch Iddo Bendigedig."

Roy [A second cousin I believe] made some annotations to describe more of the historical settings and facts concerning the comments in this part of Price's testimony. Where these annotations were made has been indicated in the text. I'll be sharing those in part 2.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Faith and Family History

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to write regarding matters of faith within this family history blog. To date I've focused most of the posts in this blog on my Grandma Iris Davies nee Griffiths, although I've written a few posts about other research. Moving forward the people I write about will be expanding, beginning with my Grandfather, "Grampy" Idris Davies. Idris, like a great deal many of my ancestors was not only a Christian but in the ministry. In fact if you look at the more recent part of my family tree it is full of people in the ministry. My parents are missionaries to Bulgaria, my Uncle is a Chaplain, and he and his wife were missionaries to Africa. Many of my great Uncles were preachers, both my great grand parents on my Dad's side were ministers and so forth.

The result of this is that the more I research and interview family members, to glean stories passed down from one generation to the next, the more I discover stories of miracles. These range from healing's and mass visions confirmed in newspapers, to testimonies either written down or told to another family member about people being raised from the dead. All of these make blogging about my ancestors intriguing, enlightening and spiritually enriching. I now find myself with a question to face moving forward: how will I describe these miracles to you the reader?

I've decided how.

I will share them as they have been passed down to me. If there is evidence outside of just family interviews to support the story then I will make a small annotation and details will be available in a footnote at bottom of the post. Personally, I choose to believe these stories and they encourage my faith. I do not want to interrupt future posts with discussions about whether they are true or embellished, I'm simply going to tell the story. Then I'll leave it up to you, the reader, to make your own decision.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Celebrating - and considering another benefit to blogging family history.

Today the pages viewed on my blog passed 3,000. I missed the early celebratory marks of one and two thousand. I'm truly thankful to the family members and fellow genealogy bloggers that have commented on and followed my blogging. It's an honor to have such great friends in the family history blogging community and to know that many in the family feel my research has, as it were, 'brought the family closer together.'

I wanted to celebrate this landmark by re publishing the most popular post. It was a surprising one but the page with the most hits is one which talks about the hymn my great grandfather wrote his own music for; "I fell in love with the Nazarene." I think it's popular because there's very little information on the web about this song. In fact if you google the song title my website is often in the top 5 hits. This led me to realise another side benefit to blogging about family history. Sometimes it's just possible that what you write adds to the history and knowledge of the world.

The stories you type and the interviews you conduct are all valuable in more ways than to just your family. They contribute to a growing body of information that when pooled together increases the richness of society and the uniqueness of your families smaller or larger role in it. It seems even more fitting to re-post this again having now found out that Idris Davies also sang this version of the song.

- - - - -
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 the Jeffreys' brothers who started the Elim and Assemblies of God churches on the European side of the Atlantic. 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 Granddad and many many others, it wasn't.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Researching with interviews and photographs.

One of the first tips given to me as a want to be 'family historian' was to start with those that are still alive. I have never been more thankful! If you are familiar with my blog at all you will know that to date it mainly covers the story of my Grandma. The Grandma I never knew. Her name was Iris Davies nee Griffiths. This year I hope to start the story of my Grandpa, Idris Davies. The mini biography I have written was put together using interviews of family members; Ruth one of my Grandma's younger sisters, and Iris' three children. I am sure there are others out there that knew my Grandma but as of today they have not yet contacted me or returned questions about her life.

I remember when I started out asking my friend and avid genealogist Bill West how to best interview people. He hadn't been able to interview many family members himself but did give me a few tips such as showing the family member some photographs and seeing if that sparked any memories. For several months my Dad, Aunt and Uncle were instantly inundated with photographs and requests to Skype with me and share their thoughts. It was a great idea, thank you Bill! If you want to read more of his genealogy journey you can discover it at West in New England.

I knew that I had best make a record of all the interviews I conducted no matter how informal they might be so I created some word documents. The first one contained something like this:

House in Rhodesia 18 – Merthyn and his mum

Rhodeisa 17 – 4 Taylors Avenue, Morningside Umtali – sunken garden in front – use to fill up with rain in the rainy season and the ducks would swim in it.

Rhodeisa 16 – Car – Wendy with the Plymouth 1963 – Straight 6 Engine. Bill Mundell, Idris worked on it to get it fixed for Wendy to drive back and forth to work. Dad was messing around as they did. She worked at Eagles High School in the Vumba. It was about 30-45 minute drive from their house. [Can google it]

Eagles High School was the place the Elim missionaries were massacred in 1979 [Double check date of massacre]

Rhodesia15 – Idris downstairs bay window at 4 Taylors avenue
Idris built it! – google earth it

Rhodesia 12 Wendy at 4 Taylors Avenue

Rhodesia 11 – Idris and Iris at Kingsley Fairbridge Memorial – Christmas Pass Umtali

Rhodesia 10 – Flossy the Dog, Wendy and the other 2 women?

Rhodesia 13 – Chinky the cat 4 Taylors  avenue – bay window

Rhodeisa 9 January the house boy – serving tea or elvenses on Saturday morning

Rhodesia 8 – Idris, Iris, Glyn, someone else, January and Flossy

Rhodeisa 7 – Wendy, around 63? – Either just before or after going to England to study. 63 if after
Rhodesia 6 – Merthyn Davies on left – rest not sure?

Rhodeisa 4 – Iris and Glyn or Merthyn

Rhodesia 3 – 4 Taylors avenue Iris and Norton/ Or BSA Motorbike of Idris or Glyn?

Rhodesia 1 – NO idea

I essentially numbered all the photographs I had and made a summary of all the comments the person I was interviewing made. In later interviews I started recording them word for word. At first glance it doesn't seem like I received much information from them. However, I had an address for the house, the name of several people from many photographs and the name of a house cat and dog. I was fortunate that there were so many pictures to begin sparking the memories. I understand not all can have such fortuitous beginnings.

From here I was able to take specific photographs to specific people. So when I interviewed Glyn I first showed him the photographs that he might recognize and then I asked if he remembered who else was in them or what was going on at the time. Other questions followed:

1) Was this what life in Rhodesia was like?
2) Are there any stories connected with that motorbike? [Short answer - yes and they will come out in another blog post.]
3) Do you know the name of the tree or flowers? - And this led to a story about how much my Grandma loved gardening.

Here are the pictures I began my genealogy search with.

In the course of my questions and research I also discovered much more about Rhodesian/Zimbabwean history than I ever expected.

I can go on and on about this but I shan't. For now at least. There's more to come.