Friday, February 24, 2017

New Photographic Discoveries: Great Uncle, David John Davies

Following on from yesterday, today I take a look at all the photographs I gained of David John Davies my great uncle. Not to be confused with David John Davies my great great uncle. The younger one was named after the older by his father, Price Davies.

Until I researched Redemption Tidings I had the following pictures of David John.

David John (Left), Glyndwr (Center) Idris (Right) Date: Circa 1940

David John and his father Price Davies. Date: Unknown

I am now able to add the following photographs to those two.

David John (Front row, second from left) 1938

Not a picture of him obviously :) But a church he pastored in Donington, U.K. 1955

David John first man on the right. 1957

David John (Second from left) and wife Elizabeth receiving flowers. 1959

David John. Man in glasses at the back. 1959

David John, third from left. 1959

David John, first on the left. Baptismal event. 1960

David John, second from right. 1965

David John, front left. 1967

David John, front left. 1971
I feel fortunate to have pictures from his younger years and older years. There are many stories behind them, but I'm still piecing those together. 


Pictures used with permission of David Gee foundation and AOG U.K

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Photographic Discoveries of Great Grandfather Harold E Griffiths

Early last week I dived into researching the old Redemption Tidings of the Assemblies of God, Great Britain. I did not expect to discover anything more than some history on my great great uncle, D J Davies. Instead, I found a treasure trove of history as I discovered many more details about my families involvement in the early history of the Pentecostal movement in Great Britain, particularly as it pertained to the establishment of the Assemblies of God denomination. Amidst the magazines there were several photographs of varying degrees of quality.

Here's the photographs I discovered of my great grandfather Harold E Griffiths. All photographs are used with permission of the Donald Gee Foundation and the Assemblies of God in Great Britain. 

Harold E Griffiths, first left on the front row. 1947

Harold E Griffiths, front center, fourth from the left. 1950. His brother Rhys Griffiths is at the door. 

Harold E Griffiths. 4th from the right at the back. Next to the door. 1953

Harold Griffiths, center - playing the piano accordion. 1953

Harold E Griffiths at the very back - Prestatyn. 1967 

The stories behind the photographs will have to wait for a future blog post. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 8

Another significant event that occurred early in the 1950s was an accident that happened to Idris. He worked for a company in Palmerston that sold mechanized machinery. One day he was operating a crane and attempted to lift something with it that was too heavy. The crane crashed over and Idris was admitted to hospital. This event caused the ulcer that prevented him from eating much of his favourite foods all the time and triggered the rest periods he sometimes took during the building of the house in Umtali.

Despite this unfortunate event he was known to call for English pancakes (Crepes) on his own and other people's birthdays. He would also drink a lot of milk on these occasions. It wasn't always the best idea due to the stomach ulcers he suffered with but it seems he had a bit of a sweet tooth. Welsh rice pudding was also a favourite of his, as was custard pie. He would often try and sneak a Fanta or Vanilla milkshake as well. On occasion he would take the family out after church on a Sunday and buy one slab of vanilla ice cream for desert. Eating ice cream together as a family was a treat I also enjoyed growing up, so Idris must have passed it along to my dad, Merthyn.  One of Idris' favourite main meals was fricadles, which is a type of meatball. 

In the early 60's Idris' eldest child, Wendy, was married in Cheltenham 1964. Idris and Iris were unable to make the wedding. Idris had to console Iris who was upset over it, but they were able to make the local newspapers with their international call to their daughter on her wedding day.[1] 

Their eldest son, Glyn, went off to bible college in the United States. (66-69) Their daughter Wendy had already left in the 50's to join Cardiff College of music. Before leaving, Glyn brought Norma to visit the family, and early in 1966 they were married. Idris never knew quite how to respond to Norma but his wife exclaimed on the first night, "Glyn, you must marry this girl." 

Idris and Iris with Glyn and Norma in Bulawayo
Despite the long distances and expensive rate of international phone calls, Idris must have been in touch with his brothers about the wedding of his son because his older brother David John Davies[2] posted a congratulations in the weekly Assemblies of God magazine, Redemptions Tidings.

Posted in the 1966 March edition of Redemption Tidings
It's possible the communication was through letters; Iris' sister Ruth would often contact them in this way. 

One of Idris' hobbies was reading westerns. Both Glyn and Merthyn would borrow these books from him and read along. He particularly enjoyed Louis L’Amore and Zane Grey. Perhaps the Louis L'Amore appealed to him as he added historical details and wrote about a family leaving England to travel to the United States and set up a home there. Much as he left to set up a home in Southern Rhodesia. Idris would mainly find the time to read on holiday and would then devour these books. He also introduced his son Merthyn to the Hardy Boys.

As far as holidays were concerned there were a few primary locations. While they lived in Umtali they traveled often to Biera in Mozambique and later when they had moved to the west they often went down to South Africa and Amazimtoti. Glyn and Norma, when they returned from America, sometimes went with them. 

While on holiday Idris would go swimming with his youngest son, Merthyn. One time when visiting Biera, his son taught him to body surf. In a form of tubing they would go out into the sea and then catch the waves, holding on to a tube and running the wave back towards the shore. While doing this Idris was knocked over, and so his son taught him to body surf to land so he wouldn't have to swim the entire way. 

Once they moved to Bulawayo it took much longer to reach Biera so they would travel to Hot Springs[3] instead, a place where people still relax today in the heated pools of water, waterfalls, lakes and geysers that spring up from the ground. 

[1] Wendy remembers reading about the phone calls being in the local paper but to date I have been unable to locate the actual articles. 

[2] Idris' older brother David John Davies was named after Idris' uncle who died suddenly in 1931 from Pneumonia.

[3] Nyanyadzi Hot Springs are still known as a tourist attraction in Zimbabwe today. One tourist describes it this way in the online magazine "All Africa."  "Recently I visited Nyanyadzi Hot Springs in Manicaland. At the centre of the breathtaking Eastern Highlands geomorphology dominated by craggy mountains, tour filled lakes, sparkling rivers, spectacular waterfalls, glorious forests, rolling moorlands and dramatic gorges lies a hot spring with water at boiling point, that villagers believe is boiled by mermaids."

Much information for this blog post comes from a series of interviews with Glyn Davies, Norma Davies, Merthyn Davies and Wendy Thomas.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

David John Davies - Cause of death

"On February 4th 1931 my brother Pastor D. J. Davies, Ystrad Rhondda died and on February the 9th was buried at Penrhys Cemetery - Pastor Tom Mercy, Cross keys, and Pastor Clement Morgan, Dowlais, officiating; when there were about one thousand people at the graveside." - Memoir of Price Davies [1]

Reading that began my journey to discover David John Davies. Price Davies' grandson, Roy Davies, also added this annotation to the memoir several years later.

"The March 1931 issue of Redemption Tidings, the official magazine of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland, reported that the Assembly Hall where the funeral service was held was crowded out and hundreds of people failed to get admission. According to Ron Evans, a member of the church in Ystrad Rhondda of which D. J. Davies had been pastor, satin cloth bookmarks with details of his death and funeral were produced to commemorate his work. Ron Evans’s father kept one in his bible for many years afterwards but later it was lost."

My last blog post on David John Davies tells the story of how I located the March 1931 issue. It also transcribes the text of the article. I still didn't know how he died though.

Having located that particular issue of Redemption Tidings I was then able to find an online archive of previous and future issues of the magazine.[2] I downloaded them and ran a search on "Davies" to see what showed up. There I found the sad story of David John Davies' death.

This article is found in the March 1931 Redemption Tidings Ambassador, a weekly magazine that had was only published for a couple of years by the Assemblies of God in Great Britain. Here is a transcription. (I have not corrected any spelling mistakes.) 

Ystrad (Mount Zion)

It is with greatest sorrow that we report the home-going of our beloved Pastor, Mr. D. J. Davies, on February 4th with tragic suddeness. 
Sister Davies was very ill and he left her to go to the Executive Presbytery Meeting at Manchester.[3] He returned with a chill, went to bed and in five days died at her side, no one realising the end was near--of bronchial pneumonia.
We have lost a father in Isreael, one who showed to all that it was possible in these days to live "Sermon on the Mount".
There was only one Mr. D. J. Davies. He was laid to rest on February 9th with kingly honours, at Penrhys Cemetery. Like Moses of old he rests on the hill-top, in view of the scene of his many labours for the Master. His funeral showed us how much he was loved, when great and small, rich and poor, saints and sinners met to pay their last tribute. What a gathering! What a lesson to learn therefrom. The world acknowledges that it pays to serve Jesus. Our loved Pastor stood meekly, quietly, steadfastly against all criticisms, controversies with nothing more or less than "The Spoken Word." His favourite reply was "The scripture saith."
The prayers of the saints have been effectual, our dear Sister Davies is better though not yet in our midst. She ever stood shoulder to shoulder with her lost loved one who lived to do "His sweet will," and we pray that by God's grace she will again come forth with us, to carry on much aggressive work, following on what has already been labour fundamentally wrought with much success on Full Gospel lines. 
We feel we have lost our pastor at a time we needed him sorely, but His grace is sufficient and we say
          Had He asked us well we know, we would say, oh, spare this blow. Yes, with streaming tears would say, Lord, we love him let him stay, but we bow and reverently say, Thy will be done.
          John Harvey, Sec.

There we have it. He died of Bronchial Pneumonia and it was very sudden. 

Later, on march 18th 1931, the Redemption Tidings Ambassador magazine contains a message from David John's wife.

Her message can be read in the top right hand corner, "Sister Davies (Ystrad) wishes to thank all kind friends and relatives for their prayers and love shown in her sad bereavement."

Price Davies adds in his memoir that: 

"The following week Mrs. D. J. Davies, with the Elders and brethren of the Ystrad Assembly sent a letter to the Elders and the Church at Penrhiwceiber asking them if they would please release me and let me come to be in charge of the work at Ystrad until Mrs. Davies who was ill in bed at the time, could take over. They kindly granted their request. I was there for two months under much blessing from the Lord."

Still sick and in bed at the time of her husbands death it must have been a shock for his wife Edith. I am glad that her brother in law Price was able to take up some of the work in Ystrad and at least relieve her of that stress. 

There is one other thing I would like to take note of. Price Davies was only requested until "Mrs. Davies...could take over." This was 1931 and the church was seemingly perfectly okay for a woman to be leading them. [4]


[1]  Towards the end of his life Price Davies decided to write a record of significant events he could recall occurring in the Welsh Revival and his life since. It is called, "A Testimony and a brief recording of the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement in the Merthyr Borough, Bedlinog and the Aberdare Valley." It has been passed around my family and an electronic copy was handed down to me about 10 years ago. 

[2] This online archive where I found Redemption Tidings is held by University of South California. The copyright of all Redemption Tidings issues is held by the Donald Gee Center at Mattersey Hall and the Assemblies of God, United Kingdom. The particular issues that the articles in this post are taken from are no longer under any copyright at all. 

[3] During my research of the Redemption Tidings and re reading of Price Davies' annotated memories I have discovered that David John Davies was one of the original executive board members of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain. The reason he set off for Manchester was to meet with these original executors (In many ways founders of the Assemblies of God).

[4] There were several times during my reading of Redemption Tidings volumes that it was indicated women led various churches throughout the movement. Whether they were full time ordained ministers or lay ministers I do not know. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Treasure That Keeps On Giving

Earlier this week I blogged about finding the article for my Great Great Uncle David John Davies' funeral. I was left with two more questions: how did he die? Who did his wife remarry?

I've discovered both, although I don't know much more than that about the second. The reason I discovered both is that through talking with the publisher of "Heroes of the Faith" magazine I was led to an online digital archive of old pentecostal magazines. The archive is kept at University of South California.  Redemption Tidings (The one that records David John Davies' funeral) is in the archive. To date I have searched through 24 volumes of it from 1924 - 1950. 

I began by searching for more on David John Davies and then his wife. This led me to discovering mentions of my Great Grandfather Price and even a couple of my Grandfather Idris. Then on a whim I searched for my other Great Grandfather involved in the early Pentecostal movement and found him as well.

The copyright is out of date but I wrote to the British AOG who published Redemption Tidings just in case there was a problem and they have given me permission to write about anything relating to my family that I find in the Redemption Tidings archives as long as I don't make money off it. They also gave me permission to do so for those articles that are still under copyright, which was very nice of them!

To date I have found 40 mentions. Many of them are just references to preaching, some contain photographs, some addresses and there's the occasional reference to bible passages they spoke on. There's even a written account of my Great Grandmothers healing and of course on David John Davies' death. From all of this I should be able to record some of their movements and places which they lived. This is invaluable since the 1931 and 1941 census' in Britain don't exist due to WW2. 

The search engine on the site allows you to download whole volumes or perform searches for key words. As I searched for "Davies" I also found myself discovering the story of two missionaries called "Davies" who travelled to Japan, and were there as WW 2 began. The tale of their return across war torn seas was enthralling. Another side benefit to the research. 

I haven't finished searching yet so I will keep working on it. I won't share pictures here because they will all come out in blogs in the future. I never thought it would lead this far and it's a pleasant surprise, if your ancestors were involved in the early American or British pentecostal movement I can recommend the archive as a place to search!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 7

The Grandfather I Never Knew Part 7

For ease of reading I have posted links to the previous 6 parts of this series.

With the house at 4 Taylor Avenue built, church meetings continued to take place there. This was a great blessing to Idris and Iris who wanted the place to be used as often as possible for these purposes. On 28th June 1960 Idris received this letter from two congregants

“To Idris,

To remind him of the part he and Iris have played, and are still playing in showing by word and by deed that there is no better life than that which is in Christ;
to tell him that the warmth and love found in his home has left a permanent glow in the lives of these two souls, who are endeavouring to emulate this Godly attribute;
to show him that though he is in Christ, he is also in our hearts;
To express in such inadequate terms the gratitude of us both for the “nursing(1)” and “bottle-feeding”1 he so painstakingly gave us as babes in Christ;

With fondest Christian love

Tom and Joy

Job 42:10”

Job 42:10 reads as follows: And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Original Letter from Tom and Joy(3)

Another member of the church, Howard Amm recalls the time he was baptised there with 7 others.

“Yes we were the first group of about eight or so young believers to be baptised on Whit Sunday (21/5/61) in a font especially built by Idris in his backyard ... an amazing experience followed up by many of us being baptised in the Holy Spirit2 at the pastor's (John Stegmann) manse across the road after the evening service ... an awesome day in my life ... funnily enough I don't remember all those who were baptised that day but I do remember a young pastor from SA whose name was Gerrie Hawes who was here at the time ... really great days ... some others who were there which may bring back some happy memories were Vera Potgieter and her young sister, Billy Morgan, Marilyn and Caroline Bush, some Welsh (They were actually Scottish.) friends of Idris and Iris Davies' from Salisbury who played the violin so beautifully…”

Staying in touch with the family in England was important but much more difficult to do in the days before cheap international calls, the internet and Skype. When phoning overseas you had to book a call for a specific time and it was £10 for just 3 minutes. Idris and Iris set off on a trip to England around 1962, visiting Iris’ sister and Idris’ brother while they were there. I believe this was also the last time that they saw Iris' father Harold before he died.


  1. It is not uncommon for new Christians to refer to being nursed spiritually. This comes from the scripture 1 Corinthians 3:2
  2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a pentecostal tenant, where they believe the Holy Spirit gives them each of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the bible. 1 Corinthians 12 mentions these: 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages.
  3. As of 2017 the letter is in Glyn Davies' possession. Glyn is the eldest son of Idris and Iris Davies.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

David John Davies - Following the Trail

My Great Grandfather left a short personal 'testimony' of what occurred during and after the religious movement known as the Welsh Revival. His grandson Roy passed it along to my parents who passed it along to me. Hidden within this are a great many place names and tantalizing tidbits of information not just from a grander historical narrative, but from a personal family perspective. One such moments references his brother David John Davies who was also a pastor.

Roy took this testimony and annotated it with historical evidence and further short biographies of people and places mentioned. One such reference read, "The March 1931 issue of Redemption Tidings, the official magazine of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland, reported that the Assembly Hall where the funeral service was held was crowded out and hundreds of people failed to get admission. According to Ron Evans, a member of the church in Ystrad Rhondda of which D. J. Davies had been pastor, satin cloth bookmarks with details of his death and funeral were produced to commemorate his work. Ron Evans’s father kept one in his bible for many years afterwards but later it was lost."

I never expect to recover one of those commemorative bookmarks, but I had the issue of an old Pentecostal magazine I could begin to track down.

I ran a quick google search and soon discovered Redemption Tidings was also the name of an old hymn book that the Assemblies of God in the United States published. Wrong Redemption Tidings. I continued to search and discovered that getting an old copy of the Redemption Tidings in question was notoriously difficult. I contacted several people I know who are pastors within the Assemblies of God in Great Britain today and none of them were aware of any. To be honest, most didn't even know such a magazine existed.

I kept searching and eventually found a place that I could buy the entire digitalised collection. Unfortunately it was quite expensive. I intend to buy this collection later because several of my ancestors worked with the Assemblies of God and the early Pentecostal movement which this collection documents. There's an outside chance they might be mentioned in them. For now though, I did not and do not have the money to buy it for the one article in one issue that I was after.

I stored the link to the digital collection on my research list and continued to search. I ran across a magazine called "Heroes of the Faith." I read it initially because it was documenting the life of the Jeffrey's brothers. Within the magazine was a short piece snipped from my Great Grandfather's story about how he baptised them both. I stored it as source evidence for later. Then, at the very end of the magazine, was an old one-page copy of a Redemption Tidings. I quickly found the editors email and sent him a message asking if he had access to the digital copies and if he could possibly locate the March 1931 issue.

The next day I received an email with a copy of the magazine, inside of which was the brief summary of David John Davies' funeral.

A digitalised copy of the original Redemption Tidings
announcement of David John's Funeral
Here is a transcript.

"With Christ"
Mr. D. J. Davies (Yystrad)

There was a very large and representative gathering at the funeral of our beloved brother D. J. Davies, Pastor of Ystrad Assembly, who was also a General Executive Member and also Treasurer of the South Wales District. Our beloved brother was among the first in South Wales to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that for more than twenty years he has laboured untiringly and unceasingly in the Rhondda Valley. He was admired by all for his pure life and character. He stood definitely for a life filled with the Holy Ghost. His Assembly at Ystrad of which he was the founder and Pastor will greatly miss him.

On Monday February 10th he was laid to rest at Penrhis Cemetery. The funeral was presided over by T.Mercy, Secretary of South Wales District, assisted by E.C. Morgan and members of South Wales Presbytery. The Assembly Hall was crowded out, hundreds failing to get admission, while a very impressive service was held. Our brother was held in very high esteem, all that took part, Bros. W. Attwood of Risca, D. Davies, of Aberamann, L. Jenkins, of Newbridge, A. Griffiths, of Gedreaman, J. Lickey, an Elder of the Assembly, spoke in very high esteem of their association with our brother, how he has helped and encouraged them in their difficulties.

Our South Wales District will miss our brother as Treasurer and as a counsellor, and the Assembly at Ystrad will miss their Pastor and Leader. Our sympathy is extended to his dear wife who has stood shoulder to shoulder and has laboured faithfully with him since the Welsh Revival."


I want to make a few small notes about this article. The first is that the cemetery in question is actually spelled Penrhys, not Penrhis as the article states. The Welsh and English language have often clashed over spellings. 

Second, I have put in a request at Find A Grave to see is his headstone can be found. I am also not sure how he died, so I will try and discover this. 

Thirdly, I understand that his wife, Julia Edith Davies, re married and emigrated to America. I hope one day to reconnect with that side of the family as all I have at present is one picture of David John Davies. 

David John Davies May 4th 1879 -  Feb 4th 1931

Friday, February 10, 2017

Find A Grave - My First attempt.

Most family historians and genealogists these days know about . A place that helps people find the gravestones of family members and ancestors they are searching for. A week ago I put in my first request, which was for someone to photograph my great grandfathers grave, Price Davies. He and his wife Annie are buried at Pant Cemetery in Myrthyr Tydfil.

Since I had done that I decided it would be only right to see if I could help fulfill someone else's request. I signed up to be a contributor and set off for the nearest graveyard that had a photograph request. It was Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery and it was within 2 miles of where I live.  I jotted down a couple of names along with the birth and death dates. Then I set off.

The cemetery is attached to a funeral home so I spoke to someone at the home who asked for the details and then did the research for me to find where in the graveyard the likely people were buried. It took about 20 minutes and then he came back to let me know their locations and sent me on my merry way to find them.

Twenty minutes later and I had photographs of two graves. One had the dates right but the name was slightly difference. I therefore checked back with the website and the person who made the initial request to find out if that was possible a maiden name or a remarried name. It was. I have now added the picture to the site.

So I am happy to announce that at least one of the graves I found matched a request. For the second I have to do some double checking as well. Armed with new details I am going back to see if this person is buried next to a possible husband so we can confirm whether that one is also correct.

All this to say, I am glad I was able to help out. I know a picture of my great grandparents grave is important to me and I will be checking up on Find A Grave a few more times to see how I can help others.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 6 - The House That Idris Built

The Grandfather I Never Knew Part VI - The House That Idris Built

4 Taylor Avenue, under construction

Around 1950 Idris decided to work on building a house, it would become home at 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali. from scratch for the family. His inspiration was the house the family had lived in when in Birmingham. A neighbour named Mr. Richard (Dick) Vairy drew up the plans for the house. He happened to live on the same street and was also the building inspector for the entire town. They used to be neighbors to Idris, Iris, Glyn and Wendy. This was when the Davies’ lived at 21 Plantation Drive. Later Dick would build his own family house down the street from Idris’ new one. Idris had to borrow £3,000 to start work on the house. This must have been mainly for materials since he did all of the labour himself. When he had lived in Birmingham he had a job as a painter and carpenter. He was good at it. The finished product was a 3 bedroom, 2 storey building, with 1 ½ bathrooms. The downstairs bathroom had a toilet and a washbasin.

His daughter Wendy remembers it being the exact same design as the house in Birmingham but twice the size, making it possible for the addition of a small veranda on the front.

Chinky the cat next to the lower Bay Windows.

A view from the front. The family enjoy the lawn.
You can see both upper and lower bay windows. 

Wendy sat in the front of the house.

Idris looks out the lower bay window. 

It had two bay windows facing the front, one on the bottom floor and the other on the top. These were glazed by a Mr. Bodtga. These were leaded windows and therefore similar in design to stained glass. Inside the house a large dining room/sitting room area that could be separated by doors if so wished.

The dining room had French windows that looked out onto the back. Just outside was a concrete base that Idris had always intended to act as the flooring for a glass room that would then have a balcony above. This addition was never complete though. The French windows were the only ones of their kind in Umtali and Idris hired a glazer named Bodtga specially for the job.

There was a well somewhere on the premises and Idris would draw the water from the well to help with the construction process. Later the well was used to fill the baptismal font when they had baptism services at the house. Iris also used it to help water her garden. She particularly loved the rose garden she planted.

I believe this man's name was January.
The table he is serving from now belongs to Glyn and Norma

You can just make out Iris and Merthyn.

When completed the house became the meeting place for the first Assemblies of God congregation in Umtali. Idris built a font on the grounds specifically for when people wanted to be baptised.

Howard Amm remembers that there were about 8 people in the first group of young believers to be baptised there and it occurred on May 21st 1961.

Completed house at 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali. 

Idris suffered from stomach ulcers and when he pushed himself too hard they would act up. Towards the end of building the house they did so again. His response was to eat bananas and milk. This would apparently prevent the flare up from being so severe.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bronwyn Mary Davies

Bronwyn is the name of my auntie who died at one month old. Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) I had previously heard little bits about her but knew very little. Uncle Glyn, Auntie Wendy and Dad all told me she was born with Down Syndrome and died of Pneumonia. This was only a couple of years before Dad was born.

On January 24th I discovered that FamilySearch has a copy of the microfilm for the complete death records of Zimbabwe from 1904 to 1976. I decided to dig into them and see if I could discover a death certificate for Bronwyn. At the time I only knew her name as Bronwyn Davies. Glyn thought she died in 1954 but he couldn't recall a funeral. I was unable to check immediately with Glyn's brother Wendy who was older when Bronwyn died and might be able to recall the year of her death more definitively. So I started the search at volume 1 of 1954 and fortunately discovered Bronwyn in volume 2, nearly 300 records later.

Here's what it says:
Christian Name: Bronwyn Mary Davies
Sex: Female
Usual Place Of Residence: 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali
Age: 1 month
Birthplace: Southern Rhodesia
Race: European
Whether Single/married/divorced or widowed: Single
Occupation: Nil
Date of death: Eleventh of August 1954
Place of death: 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali
Intended place of burial: Umtali Cemetery 
Cause of Death: Dehydration, Hyperpynexia, pylorostenosis and mongol
Duration of last illness: (3 weeks and 4 weeks.)
Name and place of residence of medical practitioner: Dr. R. Levitt, Umtali

Original Signature: Davies
Qualification: Father
When Registered: 12-8-54
Number of entry: 275/54

A few notes about the cause of death. Dehydration I think we are all familiar with. Hyperpynexia is used to describe a high fever, usually about 106 degrees.  Pylorostenosis apparently has to do with the the inability of the pylox valve in the stomach to open and pass food off to the duodenum. Mongol is a word they used to use to describe Down Syndrome.

The current practice of doctors is to list the cause of death first, then the contributing causes and then any underlying cause, condition or disease. I do not know if that was the practice in the 1950's but if so then in this case it would be death by dehydration, with high fever and Pylorostenosis causing the dehydration, with Down Syndrome being an underlying factor. 

Since the date of registration is written in British format, it is the 12th day of August 1954 that the doctor was notified. 

It has always been believed she died of Pneumonia with the underlying issue of Down Syndrome. I don't know if that would fit with what is recorded here or not. Back then many people ascribed respiratory problems to Pneumonia, whether that was the technical medical truth or not.