Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lest we forget

This evening I posted this comment on Facebook,

The 28 members of my extended family tree who died in the two world wars ... the 199 Barnsley POWs listed in the Chronicle in August 1918 ... the 107 Barnsley men who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916 ... lest we forget.
 
I had just changed my profile picture to a Remembrance Poppy.


So why do long dead soldiers and sailors make me a) well up with tears and b) proud to remember them?

Some might suggest that we have been, over the years, guided to feel this way by propaganda promulgated by various political parties who use our combined feelings of sorrow over lost loved ones and guilt that it wasn't us dying, to promote nationalistic outpourings which support the policies of the current government. That some experts somewhere have decided that this is the proper and acceptable way to behave and by setting us an example and hours of television programming  to back them up we have all been encouraged to think/act the same way.  I may have been reading too much Laurajane Smith (The Uses of Heritage) and Patrick Wright (On Living in an Old Country) but have you noticed that since we became heavily involved in first Iraq and then Afganistan that the army is much more respected than it was only a few years ago and hundreds of people (I may be underestimating ...) now turn out to pay their respects to repatriated deceased solidiers, something that I don't remember happening in the Gulf War or even the Falklands.  That it is hard to find a good viewing spot to stand on Remembrance Sunday now that so many more people come to pay their respects.  Do they?  Have they come to think about the people who have lost their lives defending our point of view or have they come to be seen to have come?

A few years ago the OH and I went on one of those coach tours of the World War 1 battlefields and cemeteries.  I had persuaded him that as the hotel was in a fairish sized Belgium town he would, at least in the evenings, be able to go and have a few interesting beers, if the whole WW1 tourist bit had been too much for him.  As it turned out our guide was fantastic, really knew his stuff and how to explain it to us.  And oddly to have the lie of the Allied and German lines pointed out by waves of the hand as we stood gathered by the side of the road in the lee of the coach did seem to make it all more understandable.  Yes, in such and such a battle our men had to walk about fifty yards, but it was uphill into well dug in machine gun nests, and the ground was pitted with shell craters and bodies and they were actually WALKING upright, not crawling like they do in war films nowadays.  Oh, what a combination of bravery and stupidity ...

I recently found a listing of 199 Barnsley men who were taken as Prisoners of War in the First World War.  I'm trying to find out more about their background, their service records if I can (although 60% were lost in the Second World War during the blitz that still leave a lot available through Ancestry) and if possible how and when they were taken as prisoners.  Quite a few so far appear to have been taken prisoner in early (April ish) 1918 which was the period of a 'big push' by the Germans, a last ditch effort for them to win the war as they were really feeling the pinch at home and on the front.  Many of the Barnsley men report wounds to the feet, legs and in one case buttocks (funny now, but not at all then I am certain!) which coincide with their capture.  They simply couldn't keep up with their comrades in the retreat, they got left behind and swept up by the advancing Germans.  Some of these men had survived the horror of the Somme, no previous wounds (maybe a bit of a problem with gas ... but nothing serious ... no blighty one to send them home), no (for private soliders anyway) home leave for nearly four years (enlisting in 1914/15 in the first flush of Kitchener's Army) and now spent the last eight or nine months of the war in a Gefangenenlager, literally a camp, "lager", for the imprisoned, "gefangen".  They couldn't have known the war would end within the year, conditions in Germany were bad enough for the local population with serious food shortages so the prisoners can't have had a a very comfortable time.  A report from a returning prisoner printed in the Barnsley Chronicle notes that "they would have starved without the kindness of the Belgian citizens ". 

A relative of my OH was interned in Holland in October 1914; luckier than POWs internees (men detained by neutral countries and prevented from returning to the war), were allowed home leave.  Thomas Croft, not realising this initally had 'escaped' from Holland and reported back to the authorities in England,  they were obliged to send him back for the duration of the war.  He was, however allowed a fortnight's leave in 1816 and another at the end of 1917, beginning of 1918. Their daily rations, described in a letter to the Barnsley Chronicle, were probably generous compared to those permitted to prisoners in Germany in 1918.


I am only part way through collecting the stories of these 199 POWs.  Some of them lead me on long chases through census returns, electoral rolls and parish records finding huge amounts about their families and their life before and on their return home.  Some I am lucky to find a Medal Card - I am convinced they gave misleading information or supplied false names, but nothing new about that is there?

So why do I well up and simultaneously feel proud when I see a poppy?  It's nothing to do with national pride or sense of personal grief - it's just an overwhelming feeling of sympathy for the men and their families, their sufferings and losses, and a wish (futile I suppose) that we could just stop sending fathers, sons and brothers off to die.  But as long as we do have to (so they tell us), at least the men are willing to go and go with their heads held high. It's not a job I could do ...

Soldiers from the 5th Battalion York and Lancs leaving York for the Front in 1915 [a screen shot from a film found on the Yorkshire Film Archive website]


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Early toast

The clocks went back at the weekend, but I didn't really notice until this morning.  I think I was too tired on Sunday and the OH had already adjusted all the obvious clocks before I got up.  I must have managed to sleep through yesterday as well, but this morning both myself and the cat thought 4am was time for breakfast ... unfortunately when my stomach says eat the message comes with accompanying pain so turning over and going back to sleep isn't an option.  Toast and a co-codamol later I did try but a discovery yesterday kept running about in my brain so here I am typing at 6am.

At the Cudworth Local History Group (CLHG) we have two meetings a week, the Wednesday one is a formal meeting, and I do mean formal, the chairperson has a gavel and we have a proper agenda every week!  On Mondays however it is the Working Meeting, this is when we wheel the group's computer around from the library main room into the meeting room and scan and catalogue photos that have been donated.  When I first heard of the group's existence they had just produced a CD with nearly 1000 pictures of Old Cudworth and groups of people in Cudworth.  They used some software called Comma which had been produced in the early noughties especially for local community archive projects.  Unfortunately the producer of the software has now gone out of business, and by the time I joined them this spring the group had bought a new computer with Windows 7 only to discover that Comma won't work on it.  As a result they were cataloguing all new submissions in a Works database (yes, yes, I know that's only a flat db, no better than a spreadsheet really, but at least it gave them forms to work in).  In fact Comma was based on an Access database with a fancy front end to allow novices to save and index photos and the names of the people on them.  So I offered to write a new Access db that would allow them to do a similar job, with much more functionality than the Works db they were using.

It is now the end of October and things haven't moved on very quickly.  I have Office 2010 at home and soon discovered that the relational db I created for the group with data entry forms, a person index, the ablility to easily attach the photos and a few ideas for reports to search and display the data, did not back port into Office 2007, the suite CLHG had installed on their computer in the library.  They tell me that they didn't buy that either, it appeared on their computer after they asked the library techie to try to install Comma onto that machine for them. Prior to that they had only had Works on it.  On asking for the group to invest in at least Access 2010 I set off a long winded discussion about why they needed it, whether buying the whole suite was a better idea (I think I've touched on this in an earlier post) and whether they should claim money from a local community grant or just buy it. 

This means that on Mondays we are now saving photos to a simple Access db with only one table (yes, not much better than Works).  We can attach the pictures and printing a hard copy for the file is only one process rather then the three it was before so that's an improvement.  We can also save multiple images to a record and that's where yesterday comes in.  BS and LL are two members of CLHG who work together to discover and record the names of people in photos.  LL takes the donated pictures around to known contacts of the group, older people who have expressed an interest but who maybe can't attend the meetings to obtain the names of people inthe pictures.  BS creates Excel sheets with a copy of the picture pasted onto it, numbered circles to indicate the people and an index below.  Once these have been created an electronic copy of both picture and index sheet is saved to the Access db under one record number.  Well that's the plan anyway ...

BS and LL usually attend on Wednesdays, but yesterday they arranged to come to the Working Meeting to hand over some more indexed images and their accompanying original photos.  However on arrival we discovered that the other regular Monday attendees were unable to attend which left myself, BS, LL and one other.  We spent more time talking about the best way to organise our data than we did actual work - and in the process LL found a data stick with some few hundred images on it of Cudworth parish records.  BS and I were very excited as it looked as if they might run up to quite recently and currently Ancestry only has Cudworth records up to 1910 for baptisms, 1935 for marriages and 1985 for burials.  I took a copy and through yesterday evening sorted through the images.  The majority were burials with a shorter run than Ancestry, and there were no marriages but the banns did run on to 1991.  I was particularly interested in the baptisms, but quite a few of those images were corrupt.  Eventually I decided to download the available images from Ancestry with a view to preparing a transciption for use by the CLHG.  One of the drawbacks of the meetings in the library is that we have no internet access, even my dongle doesn't work in the room we have the meetings!  So a spreadsheet transcription/index is often useful, currently we only have burials up to 2005 and marriages up to 1935 plus an index of the Monumental Inscriptions done years ago by the Barnsley Family History Society (it's a bit out of date).

Now I'm wondering if CLHG can be persuaded to buy copies of the parish records for the church, especially the marriages and baptisms, so we can create a full transcription.  No doubt the discussion about this will carry on well into next year ...



Friday, 26 October 2012

Not a bookshop ...

My OH posted some pictures on Facebook today of my attempt to sort out my dad's sci-fi collection.  He commented that despite appearances I wasn't turning the house into a bookshop as I wouldn't want to sell any of them!  Too true.

Here's another family history story, this one is about one of my maternal ancestors, my 3x great grandfather Frederick Elstob Hutton.  He turned out to be very interesting.

Leaving for Liverpool (submitted to the Liverpool FHS in April 2011, finally published in their journal Autumn 2012)

I have been working on my family history for nearly twenty years now and have seen our methods of research change from long distance travel to mysterious archives to lazy Sunday afternoons on the laptop accessing Ancestry.co.uk. Don’t misunderstand me – I enjoy going to see where our ancestors lived, especially identifying the very street or even house. On these great occasions I usually do a little dance and then take lots of photos for my tree! In the archives the thrill of finding that elusive record made up for the tedium of the journeys and red tape of getting yet another archives membership card. However the multiplicity of resources online these days have definitely made finding those awkward ancestors – you know, the ones determined to disappear – much easier.

Last week (April 2011) I discovered that Ancestry had filmed and indexed various parish records for Liverpool. Living in Yorkshire you wouldn’t have thought Liverpool was so far to go – but somehow I’ve never got around to it, so the chance to look up my stray 3x great grandfather was irresistible. I entered his name into the Burials search box and started looking at the hits.

Let me give you a little background:
My mother’s family comes from Sunderland, Durham however I live in South Yorkshire so my opportunities to research her line have always been limited to infrequent visits to the Durham Record Office. My 4x great grandfather Robert Hutton was a Rope Maker and appears to have passed his interest in a firm of Rope Manufacturers onto his 3rd son, my 3x great grandfather Frederick Elstob Hutton (b.1808). His eldest son Robert Elstob Hutton had become a Master Mariner, the second son John Reuben Hutton was a Solicitor. Fred is listed as a Rope Manufacturer in an 1844 Directory for Sunderland. He is married to Amelia (nee Mordey) and has 6 children with her. I have found the family in the 1841 census (on Ancestry) living at Tatham Street, Sunderland.



Then oddly in the 1851 census Amelia, without Fred, is living at Olive Street, Sunderland and gives her occupation as a Lodging House Keeper. Lodging with her is James McMaster, a “Teacher of English” from Scotland.



Amelia dies in 1860 (I obtained her certificate in 2000 - aged 49 of heart disease, 10 years and dropsy 4 months) but two of her younger children are listed with James McMaster in the 1861 census, her daughter, also Amelia (aged 18, a servant and a House Keeper) and my 2x great grandfather William (a 22 year old visitor and a Mariner’s Mate). The informant at Amelia’s death is her sister Eliza Douglas. There is a gravestone in Sunderland cemetery that lists the elder Amelia and most of her children – but there is no further sign of Fred.


It was back in the days of the 1881 census on CD (from the LDS) that I found a suspicious pairing in Liverpool. Fredk E Hutton, a Rope Maker from Sunderland with a son called Reuben was listed as living in Poplar Grove, Stanley, West Derby. The age given for Fred didn’t match (51 instead of 72) but the co-incidence of the name of the son with my Fred’s elder brother was too great so I sent for Reuben’s birth certificate – they were much cheaper in the year 2000! Sure enough his father is listed as Frederick Elstob Hutton, a Ropemaker Journeyman.

I had found the missing Fred 165 miles from Sunderland settled down with a new wife and family. I don’t believe I thought much more about this as Reuben was born in 1863, some three years after Amelia’s death. I tried and failed to find Fred’s marriage to Reuben’s mother, Frances in the microfiche indexes to the GRO marriages but didn’t let this bother me too much as I was far too busy with the direct lines on my family tree to worry about a “side shoot”.

It was not after until the growth of FreeBMD on the web that in around 2005 I finally found the marriage of Fred and Frances – in Liverpool in December 1851. No! Oh, yes! Fred had married Frances in Liverpool whilst 165 miles away in Sunderland Amelia is running that lodging house and still well and truly alive. Fred was a bigamist. Again I sent for the certificate – Fred even gives his “Residence at time of Marriage” as Olive Street.


I can’t remember how long ago Ancestry started putting census returns on the web, but I do know I took out a free trial and then a subscription pretty sharpish. One of my earliest downloads, dated June 2005, is of a Fred E Hutton in 1871 living in Poplar Grove, West Derby. This time the age given for Fred is much more accurate – he is listed as 62 years old and a Rope Maker from Durham (no town given). Living with him is Frances, his wife, and two children, Reuben aged 8 and Julia aged 13. I also downloaded the image for Fred in 1861; again he is in Poplar Grove aged 52, this time with Frances, and five children. Jane aged 10, Mary aged 8, Eleanor aged 6, Julia aged 4 and John aged 2.


So Jane was born around the time of Fred’s bigamous marriage to Frances, this may explain their reason for the marriage. I suppose once he was married Fred saw no reason not to carry on and a child popped up every 2 years from then onwards!

I was able to find images of Poplar Grove on the Old Maps site, and noticed that the row of houses was situated right next to St Anne’s church. I supposed it would be likely that the Huttons had celebrated their various family events there, but put plans for travelling to Liverpool to look up the parish records very low down my to do list.



My mum was a little scandalised but thrilled to learn of this dubious branch on her family tree and we have spent many hours wondering what made Fred leave Amelia and go to Liverpool to set up home with Frances. Was it Amelia’s illness or did the Scottish lodger have anything to do with it?

You’ll be wondering what I discovered in the Liverpool parish records on Ancestry if I found all of this other information so long ago. Well, it was confirmation really, of something I had suspected but couldn’t prove at a long distance. I had found Frances’s death and sent for the certificate (she died of a stroke in 1892 aged 71) but I had never been able to pin down Fred’s death. The closest hit on FreeBMD was a Frederick Augustus Hutton aged 83 in 1882, but I had not risked my money on the certificate because of the incorrect age and middle name. Within minutes of finding the Liverpool records on Ancestry I had found Fred’s burial in the churchyard of St Anne’s, Stanley. “Frederick A Hutton [of] Poplar Grove [aged] 83 yrs” was buried on 11th September 1882. I have sent for the certificate now – there couldn’t be two Fred Hutton’s living on Poplar Grove!


The incorrect middle name seems to have been a constant misunderstanding in Fred’s second family. Also in the Liverpool parish records I found Reuben’s marriage in 1889 at St James church, West Derby – he gives his father’s name as Frederick Egustus (honestly that’s what it says!) Hutton. Reuben must not have had access to his birth certificate and the family must have garbled Elstob into Augustus after his death.

So thank you to Ancestry for publishing the Liverpool parish records – I just need to find Jane, Mary, Eleanor and Julia’s baptisms to find out where the family were living before Poplar Grove. The younger children were baptised at St Anne’s and two of the girls married there so the family had associations with the area for quite a long time. It took me twenty years of traditional methods to find the various pieces to map out Fred’s busy married life and one afternoon on the web to reprise the research and complete his story to my satisfaction. Oh and I did find two of the girls living away from home as servants in later census returns. Eleanor and Julia were maids for Hilton Gardner, the curate and then incumbent at St Anne’s following his father’s resignation. Rosa Gardner, Hilton’s wife, is a witness when Eleanor and Julia Hutton get married from St Anne’s Parsonage in 1883. Do you think the vicar would have approved if he had known that his maids were born to a bigamous marriage? Probably not!

..........................................

Now what about that - bigamy in the family!


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Further up ... and worn out

Since we got the new mattress on Sunday evening I had been feeling a bit insecure in bed ... we know our house has a slope towards the middle, a lot of houses in Barnsley are a bit wonky so despite this being pointed out when we bought it we weren't particularly worried.  It seems that over the last year I'd got used to leaning to the side in bed and I suppose the old mattress had adjusted to fit. With a new firm mattress I was constantly feeling as if I was being tipped out of bed - so I looked out a spirit level this morning (handy the OH being a joiner) and discovered that I wasn't imagining things.  The OH being himself suggested beer mats - hey this is our bed, not a pub table - and it took two stacks each nearly an inch high to correct the slope.  Wow!  I've had to crank my bed table up again to compensate.

Yesterday we went to the old house and took pictures of the rooms with 'set dressing' to make the house look more lived in.  The advantage seeing three different estate agents in the past few weeks has been that we've picked and chosen the best bits of advice from each one and combined them to (hopefully!) improve the selling prospects for the house.  If you look at the pictures carefully (when they appear on Merryweathers/Zoopla) you will be able to see that some items have mysteriously cloned themselves from room to room, and we have made good use of a rabbit covered tin (guess who?) that a fellow CAMRA member used to bring some goodies to the last beer festival set up.  It appears in the dining room, kitchen and bathroom!  Emailed to the estate agents last night along with the EPC (energy performance certificate).  Yes, that's another thing that came out from our discussions with the various estate agents - we should have had an EPC within 7 days of the house going on sale - by law.  The previous estate agents did not tell us this.

.... long time passes ...

Oh, dear the day didn't go exactly as I planned.  The above was written before 9am and it is now 10:30pm.  I started to move the bookcases - to try to get the one from the sitting room out of there so I can put sci-fi books on it.  "Scary" books are not allowed in the sitting room - and no books in the dining room.  That leaves the stairs and landing, bedrooms and office to try to soak up the 20 odd boxes from my dad's collection.  I also changed the covers in the sitting room and hoovered.  By 11:30am I had worn myself out and lay down on the nice soft sofa ... the phone rang at 3:30pm - I'd slept for at least 3 hours.

The call was from Swinton about our car insurance - because the garage and the insurance company haven't got their act together yet we are going to be stuck with higher premiums for a few months as I've effectively lost 2 years no claims until it's sorted.  This was the shunt on the way home from GBBF in August.  She must have been on the phone well over an hour with the two calls.

What a day - and I wasted so long asleep.  There are piles of books all over the landing and stairs, but I've sorted out a box to take to the charity shop.  My book catalogue is now kaput.  I might as well throw that out as well.  Or start again.  Something I've been doing since I was a child, entering all my fiction books in a catalogue - keeping track of what I've got.  It's a paper file and a card system, alphabetical by author.  I suppose I could go electronic ... I wonder if a cheap bar code reader or some sort of scanner can read ISBN codes?

We've had to put a bandage around the cat's neck as well, one scratch gets better and then she makes another.  We've cut her claws and put antiseptic cream on it, but she now has a lovely collar made out of elastic bandage!

Bed now, see you tomorrow.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

How things have changed ...

Yesterday I decided to make a collection of family history stories as part of this blog, so I dug out a piece I wrote years ago, to start it off.  In fact I believe this may have been the very first family history article I ever wrote.  It was for the Isle of Axholme Family History Society's journal The Islonian and was published in their June 1997 edition.

More About the Maws (first published June 1997)

My (first) husband’s 3 x great grandmother was Milcah Maw from Wroot, in the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire (baptism 18 April 1818).  Last year (1995) I did a family tree for a Christmas present for my ex-parents-in-law and discovered the wonderful world of family history.  Jean, my ex-mother in law, had her grandmother’s death certificate with the unusual name of Melika Martha Marsden.  The name remained in my mind all the way through my searches, it sort of ring!  I was able to trace much of the family tree in Sheffield.  All the ancestors were buffers, grinders, cutlers – the sort of trades you might expect in Sheffield.  The Marsden family were different.  They lived in Nether Edge, Cherry Tree Hill, a very nice part of town in those days 1860 – 1890  I was shown how to use the census indexes (incidentally all of the centre of Sheffield is indexed 1841 – 1871, the outlying parts depend on who did it and where you want,) and romped along through the ancestors back to 1841.  Melika Martha’s grandmother (as shown on her father Henry James’ birth certificate) was Milcah formerly Maw.  In 1851 she is called Millicent on the census.  Maybe the enumerator thought Milcah wasn’t a proper name.  I did not understand about the problems of transcription and enumerator bias then, but I do now, after a year of “Oh well, it’s near enough”.  Her place of birth is given as Wroot, Lincolnshire.  I had to look this up in an atlas and was surprised to find Wroot is only a few miles from my parents’ home in Everton, near Bawtry (this becomes important later).
A lot of my family history happens by chance discovery.  If you don’t know a thing exists, how do you know to ask about it?  Thus with the IGI, I heard an elderly man telling a lady sitting near me in the Local Studies Library about the ‘Morman Index’.  It sounded fascinating so I went and had a look.  I was amazed to find the Arts and Social Sciences Library (in the Central Library in Sheffield) had all the counties of England to the year dot.  At once I looked up Lincolnshire and found Milcah Maw at once, her unusual name stood out from all the other Maws.  Once I got the hang of the index I traced the Maw and Morris family back quite a long way through the lists of Thomases and Susannahs.
I gave my completed family tree to my ex-parents-in-law for Christmas 1995.  They were interested but not especially so, but for myself I was hooked.
The next time I visited my parents at Everton I asked if we could detour via Wroot on the way from Doncaster.  Dad complied and we found the little church at the far side of the village.  A man was just closing up the church and we asked if we could look around the graveyard.  He wanted to know what name we were interested in and when we said Maw he told us, “Ah … one of the most common names in the Isle of Axholme … lots over there behind the church, mind the brambles.”  Then he left us to it.
None of the Maws we saw that day made any sense to me but it was interesting anyway, so I decided to go a step further.  You understand that this was now going beyond a mere family tree and into the realms of “I just want to know.”
In the last year I have visited Lincoln Archives twice, read all the Wroot registers they have there, copied out all the Maw entries in the censuses in the Lincoln Library 1841 – 1891 for Wroot and looked in the Trade Directories.  I even wrote to the Maw One Name Society person in Canada but he was not interested in North Lincolnshire Maws other than to be aware they existed.  I went back to Wroot and copied down some of the inscriptions and was able to fit many of these into my mega Wroot Maw Tree (2 pieces of A2 taped together).
I have names, I have dates, now I want to know more about the Maws.  Wroot is such a little place and once it was full of Maws.  I cannot find any in the modern  phone book now although some of the gravestones were relatively recent.  I wonder where they all went?  Did they all leave for the big city like Milcah or did some go even further away, abroad even?
I hope I have explained my fascination with the Maws from Wroot.  They aren’t even my ancestors but they are my children’s.  I would like to know about Wroot in general and the Maws in particular.  My family tree has linked nearly all the Maws in Wroot into one family going back to Thomas Maw marrying Dorothy Auckland in 1668 so any Maw Wroot connection is relevant.
I also hope you see that I am only a beginner at family history.  There are many things I don’t know or haven’t tried yet.  I can ‘do’ censuses and parish records but am just beginning on wills for example.  Any help you can give will be appreciated.
So that was my first family history story, written at least 16 years ago.  Things I noticed when retyping this were how far family history research has moved on since then.  There was no mention of the internet for example and I was keeping my information on paper rather than in a computer program.  Census returns up to 1911 in England and 1940 in America are now available and can be search instantly online. 

You might be wondering whether I got any responses to the article and what more I know about the family these days.  There were no responses about Wroot itself, however I did make contact with a descendant of Maws who had emigrated to America.  Even more amazing they had emigrated in the 1850s and 1860s. 

Robert Maw left England in 1854 and then his father Edward (aged 53 at this point) followed in 1862, accompanied by a married son with his wife and children, together with Edward's surviving younger children.  He had been married three times at this point and lost all three wives.  They had borne 14 children, of whom only Robert, his brother Abraham and sisters Sarah and Alice made it to Utah.  Two daughters (one aged 22 and one just 1 year old) died "On the Plains" as they journeyed across America by wagon train.  Edward married again in Utah and had four more children.  This information was sent to me by a great grandson of Sarah Maw who is the fifth cousin three times removed of my children.  Edward Maw was the first cousin once removed of Milcha Maw who left Wroot for Sheffield.

I wonder if the Maws left behind ever heard from the emigrants? 

You can search for Mormon ancestors who emigrated to America on their Mormon Migration website.  There are passenger lists and extracts from diaries with stories about their journeys.  The IGI is now part of a huge online resource at the Family Search site.

Windows

Usual start to a day when you just want to stay in bed because of the pain ... window cleaners and a phone call.  Probably lamb chops at the weekend followed by some rather old red kidney beans were not quite the right thing for my delicate intestinal system.

I hate window cleaners - you have no way of knowing if they are doing it right and whilst they are doing the windows you can't do anything or move around the house because you know they'll be looking into whichever room you want to be in.  And you can hear out of place banging and knocking as they move their ladders from wall to wall, I just want them to go away.

You might be thinking that the above sounds a little paranoid, but when we (the children and I) lived on the estate in Sheffield odd bangs and knocks usually meant that something was being stolen from the garden or that one of our windows was about to have a brick come though it.  When I left my first husband the Council initially housed me on the 11th floor of a tower block on Norfolk Park.  The views through those windows were wonderful, across Sheffield towards the Hallamshire Hospital and Derbyshire beyond.  You could always see when it was going to rain as the cloud came down the valley first and then spread out over the city. On Bonfire Night we got the advantage of everyone else's fireworks.  Once you had reached the flat, through the grotty entrance halls and up the smelly lift, it did feel safe.  I had lots of locks on the door and of course all the windows were hundreds of feet up and facing outwards so no-one could look into them or damage them. 

Unfortunately the Court Welfare Officer decided that the flat was not a suitable place to bring up two small children (four going on five and seven at the time).  She did support my appeal to the Council for a house, but the rules were that someone in my position was only given one offer and if you didn't accept it you went to the bottom of the list.  Of course I wanted to have the children living with me full time instead of with their grandparents so I couldn't be picky about where we lived.  They offered me a three bedroom semi on the Manor.  I used to say if the house had been just half a mile further towards Intake things would have been so much better.  It wasn't the distance we had to walk to school, that was actually quite a nice steady walk even in the winter, although when the children moved up to secondary school it was a long drag when it rained.  We had some lovely snow a couple of winters and when the schools were closed we went sledging on Netto carrier bags on the field between our estate and the Woodthorpe.  It was the people in the surrounding houses, especially the children.  My two didn't go to the same primary school as the other kids on the estate, they were able to continue at the one in Intake that they had started when they lived at their grandparents, that was one of the non-negotiable bits of my housing request.  It was a decent school and fed to the City Secondary School, one of the better ones in that part of Sheffield. 

It didn't take long to realise that the family next door was one of those notorious "Families from Hell", they were even going to feature them on Panorama but the local priest couldn't get anyone else to appear on the programme with him to condemn them - we were all too worried about our safety.  Small things to start with, kids running though the hedges under my windows banging on them, graffiti on the side of the house, name calling and stone throwing in the streets.  Later it ramped up to a constant stream of broken windows, plants going missing from garden or just being pulled up, thrown around and trampled, and actual assaults on myself and the kids.  When I started seeing my current OH he fitted perspex to all the downstairs windows so that the bricks would bounce off.  We lived there for ten years.  There was no-where else to go with no savings and only a part time job.  The old Manor estate is flat now, they demolished it around us in 2003/4.  At one point the thieves took the slates from the empty house adjoining ours - it was only a matter of time until the rain started coming in.  I was holding out for the cash pay off - it helped pay my share of the deposit on the house in Barnsley.  The day we moved out the thieves broke in and stripped out the copper pipes and the hot water tank while we were between one van load and the next.  The police did nothing.

Oddly I remember the old residents differently, I had some decent conversations at the bus stop with local elderly people.  One lady told me how she'd met her late husband whilst serving in the Land Army in the Second World War, she wasn't from Sheffield, she'd married him and moved to his home town.  An old chap told me how he'd lived on the Manor since it was built and his family was moved there from Attercliffe.  How the houses were palaces compared to the dirty terraces near the steel works, but how there were no nearby shops or schools for years and how the men had to travel long distances back to work in Attercliffe which cost money they hardly could afford. 

How did decent people like that manage to have such delinquent grandchildren? The mass unemployment of the 1980s maybe, fathers and young men who lost self respect, who had nothing to do, nowhere to go, who were no longer good role models to their children.  The benefits culture, which meant that getting temporary work was worse than none at all after you'd filled in all the forms, worked the waiting days finally got some money, only to discover you had now lost your rent rebate, your free prescriptions, glasses and dental treatment, and were actually worse off. Only to lose the job after a couple of months when there was no work left and have to fill all the forms in again, serve the waiting days, wait for anxious weeks for the rent rebate to catch up again and watch the bills mounting up.  My first husband was sent on a scheme when my son was small.  They trained him for six months to be a joiner.  It took my second husband two years apprenticeship and City and Guilds training to become a joiner.  No wonder the only people who would employ my first husband afterwards were fly by night shopfitters and firms with short term rush jobs on.  While he was on the scheme we were £10 a week worse off after travel expenses and with the loss of benefits - that's a lot when your income is only £80 - I wrote to my MP about it.  All he could say was that the effort was worth making as my husband would have a trade afterwards - try telling that to the electric board or the housing association wanting their rent.  We were actually saved by my second child, my daughter, arriving part way through the time period of the scheme.  The extra child benefits made a huge difference.  So although I don't agree with people with large families living on the state I can see that you have to be really stubborn, proactive and knowledgeable about your rights and benefits to fight your way out of the rut. 

Feeling a bit better now, the pain killers must be working.  I'll give getting up a shot ...




Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Still no sleep and Edith Alice pt 2

Well I still haven't had any sleep, the cat and I are now on the sofa downstairs, we've watched Sunday's Downton Abbey and cooked the mixed beans for tea for an hour and a half.  I've sent my apologies to the friend that I transcribe with at the Archives on a Tuesday as I just don't think that going to town after about 3 hours sleep in total is a really good idea.  Whereas if I rest for the remainder of the day (not counting washing up, cleaning out the cat litter tray and cooking tea ... not all at the same time!) I should be OK for going to the Cudworth History Group tomorrow.

There's also a used 4'6" mattress on the landing which we have to get to the tip tomorrow at some point.  If it will go in the car ...  And photos of the old house to take to send to the new estate agent.  They do say if you can't sleep for worrying make a list - well I think this is it.

Ah, that was the post - and no flea preventative for the cat again.  I'll send them an email.  Another thing to worry about.

The saga of Edith Alice part 2, (incidently if you click on the pictures they open in a new window at a larger size):

The Solution to the Mystery  (originally published in 2010 - with additions 2012)
 
You may have read the earlier instalment of my story about the problems I had been having with my husband’s great grandmother Edith Alice Benson (if not you can find it in my previous blog entry "Cat induced insomnia"). Here’s a quick recap: Edith Alice was either a habitual liar or she was covering up for something as she didn’t give the same information twice on the various certificates I had collected over seven years of researching my husband’s family tree. Her maiden name may have been Green or Paget, she may have been born in Barnsley or maybe not and she appears to have ‘lost’ a husband somewhere along the way!
 
I left the story after being unable to find the family in the 1911 census despite tracing them in the Register of Electors at their Stairfoot address in 1919. The 1911 census became available on subscription (rather than pay-per-view) from FindMyPast in mid October 2009 and even though we were on holiday in Norfolk at the time I signed up online and started searching for Edith Alice from the hotel room in King’s Lynn. About two hours later my husband was startled out of his reading by shouts of “I’ve found her, I’ve found her!” I had checked the whole of Albion Road and adjacent streets in Stairfoot with no success then went back to basics and tried the various names I had looked for before, but where I hadn’t viewed the (actual) census pages because that would have cost £2.50 a time under the orginal release of the census.
 
 
Under George Albert Green in West Melton, Rotherham I found a wife Minnie and a daughter Alice, the right age, 14 years old, born Hemsworth, but with the surname Lewin. There was another Lewin daughter and then three Green children. This suggested to me that Minnie had been married previously to a man called Lewin, had two children to him and then, on his death, married George Albert Green and had a further three children.
 
One factor that argued against this theory was that in the 1911 census for the first time there were columns where each married woman was meant to give information on marriage length and children born.  The Green family state, erroneously against George, that the current marriage had been for 15 years with six children born, five still living and one dead.
 
In the 1919 Register of Electors there had been a Lewin Green listed with George Albert and Minnie at 28 Albion Road. I didn’t yet know how this fitted but the co-incidence was just too good. My next step was to try tracing backwards and I went onto Ancestry to search the 1901 census (remember I’m still in the Wetherlodge in King’s Lynn!). I found Minnie married to Henry Lewin a Colliery Sinker, living in Wath on Dearne with daughters Alice and Ada plus older son William.
 
 
This had to be the right family. A quick trip to FreeBMD confirmed that a Henry Lewin had died in the second quarter of 1901 in the Rotherham registration district and that a Minnie Lewin had married an ALBERT Green in the first quarter of 1902 also in Rotherham – so they had lied about the length of their marriage in 1911. Going back a little further I found Henry Lewin marrying Minnie Paget in the fourth quarter of 1898 in Wakefield. Well, I thought, close but nothing confirmed.
 
As my rule is never to put anything in my family tree unless I have two, or even better three, corroborating bits of evidence I decided to send for Minnie’s marriage certificates. I had my fingers crossed that by the time we had finished our break in Norfolk the certificates would be waiting for me on the doormat at home in Barnsley. The arrival of the certificates confirmed my suspicions; Edith Alice’s tendency to be economical with the truth was a family trait. On her marriage to Henry Lewin on 11th December 1898 in the Cathedral at Wakefield Minnie Paget says that she is a widow, her father is a bricklayer called Enoch but no father’s surname is given.
 
 
Henry says that he is a Bachelor, yet William Lewin his son is 13 years old in 1901 and thus not a son by Minnie.  On checking the previous census, 1891, I found Henry with a wife Jane and two sons living in Shardlow, Derbyshire.  I can't find a death for a Jane Lewin between 1891 and 1898 on FreeBMD, so was Henry a bigamist?  Their younger son, Albert Edward Lewin, born 1900 also vanishes without a trace.

Remember that Henry dies in April, May or June 1901 (the second quarter). On Minnie's marriage to Albert (why wasn’t he using George? Was he really Albert?) Green in March 1902 at the parish church in Swinton, she is again a widow, but her father's full name is Enoch Paget, occupation once more a bricklayer.  So with several young children dependant on her she did not wait long to marry again.
 
 
As Edith Alice or Alice Lewin as she is called in 1901 and 1911, was born 5th October 1898 according to her death certificate, and she is three years old on the 1901 census, she was born before the marriage of Henry and Minnie. If Henry Lewin had been her father she wouldn’t have hesitated to put this on her marriage certificates so I am assuming that he wasn’t.   Notice that in 1902 one of the witnesses is Maude Pagett (two ts) and that both Albert and Minnie give the same address, 35 Temperance Street which is in Swinton about half a mile from the church of St Margaret's.  I have not yet been able to check the parish records in Swinton to find out if any of the children were baptised there or to see if there was a record of Henry Lewin's burial.  Rotherham Local Studies library only has a copy of the Swinton registers from 1900 onwards, when I enquired they assumed the complete set would be available at Doncaster Archives.

I tracked down Enoch Paget easily enough; he was living in Hemsworth in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses. This tallies with Alice Lewin’s stated place of birth in the 1911 census. I suppose at a pinch you might describe Hemsworth as Barnsley which was what was stated on her death certificate. The family had moved from Shropshire between 1881 and 1891.

A trip to the Local Studies Library in Wakefield gave me a lot more information about the Pagets. Minnie had an illegitimate daughter, Ada Paget, in 1894 born in Hemsworth Workhouse, christened in the local church who died and was buried there the same year.  This child maybe the one death noted on the 1911 census. There is no sign of Alice in the Hemsworth parish records in 1898, but given that Minnie married Henry Lewin in Wakefield shortly after her birth she may have deferred Alice’s christening until she could claim Henry was the father although I have found no such baptism in either Wakefield or Hemsworth. Claiming to be a widow at her marriage was obviously a cover up for the small baby in attendance at the possibly bigamous wedding. So I have found Edith Alice at long last. She was born in Hemsworth (probably), her father might have been Henry Lewin (but probably not), her mother was Minnie Paget, from Shropshire who had tendency to have children out of wedlock, but I still don’t know where she lost her first husband James Hayes!

(Additional information added 2012)
I was fortunate that a CAMRA meeting myself and the OH needed to attend was held in Telford in late 2009 after I had written the above.  We made time for me to spend an hour in the Local Studies library in Telford (I had rung them in advance to check they had what I wanted) to search through the parish records for the area from which the Pagets appeared to come.  I found Minnie's baptism and her parent's marriage, but tracking back any further turned out to be tricky as Enoch himself appears to have been born irregularly (that's polite speak for illegitimate!).  On his marrige he claims that his father is Moses Paget, a miner, but no such person appears to exist.  Enoch appears in the 1851 census in Wombridge, Shropshire, as the illegitimate great grandson of Benjamin Pagett (still two ts) an 80 year old retired glass blower from Staffordshire.  I could only assume the grand daughter Sarah was his mother.

 
Sure enough, sending for his birth certificate I found that his mother was Sarah Paget (one t) and no father's name is mentioned.


However in the 1861 census Enoch appears with a different family - this time with his grandmother Ellen Hoggins and another person in the household is a Moses Hoggins, her son.  Could the fact that Enoch appears to have the middle name Moses in the 1851 census be a clue that Moses Hoggins is his father?  We will probably never know for sure.

Don't let anyone tell you family history is straightforward - as the above clearly shows there is often little truth in even official records!

Did you like that?  I can do more ...

Cat induced insomnia and Edith Alice pt1

I love my cat, she's nineteen years old and yet so small people who haven't met her before thinks she's a kitten. BUT she insists on having things her way, usually in the early hours of the morning.  She has strategies for getting you to obey - scratching the bedroom cabinets, running up and down the stairs and around the landing like a herd of elephants - how can someone so small have such heavy feet? It was food at 1:30am then clean her litter tray at 3am and now she's noisily washing right in the middle of our bed.

So now I'm awake here's the story of Edith Alice.  Some people may have read this before as it is on my family history website and it was published in parts in the Barnsley Family History journal Domus Historiae but for posterity and because I fancied tidying it up a bit here it is again:

Addictive Hobby? or Obsession? (orginally written 2009)
When I’m stuck down yet another blind alley people try to cheer me up by saying, “If it was all plain sailing it wouldn’t be as interesting”. Well, sometimes I wish the wind would get up and blow the darkness around one particular ancestor away. She is the one I always come back to when other branches are getting a bit tedious and she has cost me more in time and certificates than most of the others. This is the story of my obsession. I have been researching my husband’s family tree for about seven years (more like nine now), and more so since I moved to Barnsley. I have received a lot of help from his mum, who had the legendary “box under the bed/on the top shelf of the cupboard” of certificates and a good memory for family names and events. I am now the proud possessor of a very healthy tree for their family in all but one respect. This is the story of Edith Alice, my husband’s great grandmother. She died in 1983 and my mother in law had her death certificate. This states that Edith Alice Benson, maiden name Green was born in Barnsley on 5th October 1898. Sounds straightforward doesn’t it?


My first step was to look in the Births’ indexes for an Edith or Edith A or Edith Alice Green born on that date or thereabouts. I have learned the hard way that you shouldn’t trust what you see on any document, no matter how official it might be. Edith’s death was reported by her son Herbert, and he will have given what he thought was the correct date, but this may have been based on when Edith celebrated her birthday and the age he thought she was. The nearest “hit” I could find in Barnsley was an Edith born in 1900, and cross checking on the 1901 census this one was born in Birdwell to a Horatio (wonderful name) Green, a coal miner. There were a scattering of other possibilities from Bradford to Rotherham which I also noted. As none of these seemed 100% likely I tried to narrow down the field by searching for Edith’s marriage certificate to my husband’s great grandfather, Thomas Edward Benson. My mother in law had said that she was sure Edith had been married before and so it turned out. When the certificate arrived Edith Alice Hayes, aged 25 and a widow, married in Barnsley Register Office on 5th May 1924. She stated that her father was George Albert Green, a Boiler Fireman. She was living at 28 Albion Road, Stairfoot and one of the witnesses was a Minnie Green, maybe her sister or mother.


It was all coming together now, or so I thought.

I still couldn’t find a birth certificate for Edith and when I tried looking for George Albert Green, a birth or a marriage in Barnsley, he was also elusive. Of course he may not have always used Albert, so I did check all the George Greens in Barnsley in 1901 (remember this is before the release of the 1911 census), but there were no signs of an Edith or an Alice aged around two or three. I tried looking for Minnie Green or a marriage of Minnie “something” to a George Green. No luck. I also tried searching for Edith Green’s marriage to “somebody” Hayes and any children born to a Hayes where the mother’s maiden name was Green.

As this was a few years ago it was a long slog going through all the microfiche of the indexes, doing the same searches today is relatively easy on Free BMD or Ancestry. Again the information from my mother in law gave me a clue, but it was very tantalising. She said that Edith and Thomas’s eldest son was called Herbert, I had found a birth for a Herbert Benson in Barnsley but he was born in 1923 (earlier than the marriage date I had), and his mother’s maiden name was Padgett. I assumed this was the wrong one and that the Herbert I was after was missing from the indexes just like Edith. But at least I wrote it down … you should always write down the wrong answers you find and the records you have searched, you never know it might add up and make sense after all! The family had lived in Carlton, so I searched the baptism and marriage records for that church in case there were any clues there. I did find the baptism of Herbert Benson in 1923, but his mother was given as Alice. I began to think that Thomas Edward had been married twice, once to Alice Padgett and then to Edith Alice Hayes (née Green). You must remember that I was just at the beginning of my husband’s family tree at this point and most of the other branches were bearing a lot more fruit. I relegated Edith to the bottom of the research pile for quite a few years after these dead ends. I had high hopes that the 1911 census would “sort her out” with no problems, so I left her alone and spent many happy hours chasing Bensons around Dewsbury and Taylors around Castleford.

The 1911 census was released early in 2009, three years earlier than anticipated. I was very lucky in that Barnsley and Sheffield were amongst the first parts of the census to be released. I gave them my money and searched for the obvious family members first. It was only a month later that I tried searching for the “hard nuts”. There was still no sign of Edith Alice, George Albert or Minnie Green in Barnsley. This was the proverbial brick wall. Remembering my earlier musings about a Padgett wife for Thomas Benson I tried a few searches of Free BMD combining Benson and Padgett – lo and behold Thomas’s youngest daughter’s birth was recorded in 1934 with mother’s maiden name Padgett although the previous two children, in 1926 and 1928, had both been listed with mother’s maiden name Green. So unless Thomas was married to both ladies AT THE SAME TIME and having children by them both (… images of him popping down the road for a pint and calling in at the other wife’s house…) I was missing something obvious.

I decided to send for the birth certificate for Herbert Benson. At least it would confirm (I hoped) who his mother was. This was a major break through. The certificate showed that Herbert was born on 18 October 1923 at 28 Albion Road, Stairfoot. The very same address that Edith gives when she marries Thomas the following year. His father is clearly stated to be Thomas Edward Benson, but Thomas’s address is given in the informant section as 8 Chapman’s Row, Carlton. The mother’s details were Edith Alice Hayes formerly Padgett.


Although Edith was not married to Thomas when Herbert was born, Thomas was happy to put his name on the birth certificate, which suggests that he was in no doubt that he was the father. So Edith and Thomas had been an item since at least the beginning of 1923. Why had they not got married when she found out she was expecting? It has never been unusual for the first child to arrive “early” in a marriage, despite what our parents like us to think when we are younger. Further searches of Free BMD revealed a marriage between Edith Alice Paget (yes, no D and only one T) and James Hayes in 1917, so with my fingers crossed I sent for this certificate. On its arrival I saw that the marriage had taken place in Ardsley parish church on 15 September 1917. There was no father’s name against Edith Alice Paget, but, and this was an interesting twist, one of the witnesses was George Albert Green. Edith’s address was 28 Albion Road, Ardsley so this cross checks again, James’s address was 26 Albion Road, so the house next door maybe. Edith’s given age still supported her being born around 1898/9. Edith was staying or lodging with the Greens then, in 1917.

My next thoughts were that maybe Minnie Green was her mother and George Albert her stepfather. That might have accounted for the ambiguity of his name in different places on the marriage certificates. However I could only find one marriage of an Emma M Padgett to a George Green in the proper timescale and on sending for the certificate it turned out to be incorrect as M stood for Matilda and they had married in Dodworth in 1912. Emma M Padgett was perfectly traceable in the census living in Silkstone, not old enough to have had a child in 1898. Next I began a search for Edith Alice Paget or Padgett. There are a lot of Padget(t)s in Barnsley. But NONE of them fitted my nemesis. I have lovely partial family trees of the Worsborough and Silkstone Padgetts if anyone is interested, but no Edith Alice. I have tried looking for James Hayes’s death, but the only one who dies in Barnsley isn’t until 1933. There is one who dies the right age in Basford, but that’s near Nottingham. On his marriage to Edith he says his father’s name is Harry Hayes, a miner. I can’t find a James, son of Harry in Barnsley.

To complicate matters further on the Register of Electors for 1919, whilst living at 26 Albion Road, James gives his name as James Dawson Hayes and his wife is Alice Hayes, no mention of the Edith. It looks as if she didn’t use Edith much, she is given as Alice at Herbert’s baptism too, remember. Why is James using Dawson as a middle name? He doesn’t mention it when he marries. Incidentally their neighbours in the Register of Electors at 28 Albion Road are George Albert and Minnie Green, with Lewin Green listed in a secondary column, so they really did exist. I can’t find any Lewin or Lewis Green in Barnsley, so that clue was another dead end. The Greens remained registered at the same address into the 1930s, but I found James and Alice in 1919 only. I have tried an address search on the 1911 census, but 26 and 28 Albion Road are not listed, although the rest of the street is.

I will try again when we get more access to the census later in October. I recently sent for the death certificate of Edith and James’s second son Edward. As he didn’t die until after Edith had married Thomas in 1924 I wondered where they were living at the time and if anything useful might come to light. It turned out to be a sad story, reported in the Barnsley Chronicle of the day (9th August 1924); “Swallowed a Halfpenny - Singular Death of Monk Bretton Child”. They were living at 12 Chapel Street, Monk Bretton at this time. The newspaper says Edward, who was aged three at the time of his death, was the son of the late James Hayes and mentions Thomas Edward Benson as his step-father.


This corroborates Edith’s claim that she was a widow at her second marriage. Edward was born at the beginning of 1921, so we have narrowed down James Hayes disappearance to sometime after Edward’s conception in the spring of 1920, which correlates with the Register of Electors entries and before the winter of 1922/23 when Thomas Edward appears. His death or disappearance does not appear to be anything to do with the First World War. I know the family moves to 28 Ridings Avenue by 1926, as Thomas Edward Benson is listed there in the Register of Electors. So here I am, in the autumn of 2009, seven years down the line, no nearer to finding out about my husband’s great grandmother Edith. I will, no doubt, continue to return to the puzzle whenever I have a few moments. In fact my husband and daughter have begun to suspect that I think about her most of the time, whenever I look a bit vague they know the answer to the question, “What’s on your mind?” will be … Edith Alice!  


There's a second part to this story ... are you waiting with bated breath?



 


Monday, 22 October 2012

Rising up in the world

The new mattress, which arrived at 8pm last night, is definitely thicker than the old one, I've had to raise my bed table up by two inches so I can get my knees under it. 

Not very well today, tired and shaky.  I'd still be asleep if someone hadn't phoned at 11am asking for what turned out to be a wrong number.  Just as well really as the OH called home at 11:30am to charge something (power tools? computer? phone?  I didn't ask) and at least I'd opened the curtains and put another load of washing in even if I had gone straight back to bed afterwards.  I should have gone to Cudworth library this morning for the CLHG working meeting, but I just turned my alarm off earlier and went back to sleep.

Unfortunately there have now been two more phone calls so despite being very woozy I am awake.  Done the Monday banking, renewed my library book and checked my email.  Sorry to see that a well known CAMRA member has passed away after some days in intensive care after an accident.  It's not nice when people get taken suddenly like that ...

Everton continued to keep me busy.  Watching Strictly with my mum on Saturday night the picture started to pixellate after about an hour and by an hour and a half in was totally unwatchable.  We weren't so worried about the dancing but really wanted to watch Merlin (mum, who actively dislikes Dr Who, likes Merlin and has followed Primeval in the past - I think it's the dragons).  I rushed upstairs and fetched the small tv from the spare bedroom; it's one of those ones with a built in digi box so I hoped that if it did work it would pinpoint the problem to the downstairs digibox - rather than the aerial.  Hooray - we'd missed about 15 minutes but it was as clear as anything if half the size.  So we both had so sit on the floor about two feet from the box to watch the programme!  Could this be our mutually fading eyesight or had we just got used to a bigger picture? 

New digi box on the shopping list for next time we are in Everton then and in the meantime mum says she'll watch Strictly if she feels like it but Merlin for preference if the current box can only manage an hour before giving up.  She can always move upstairs to watch Merlin or catch up later on iplayer.  Just to prove this was possible on Sunday morning she asked me to find Merlin on the ipad for her - not a problem - and she sat and watched it from the beginning.  'S good having a mum that doesn't mind technology.

My daughter phoned me yesterday (a regular Sunday occurance now she has a landline with free weekend calls), she said there wasn't anything to talk about as I'd put it all in my blog! 

Now drooping over the keyboard, so I'll stop.  Done the important stuff, maybe my brain will let me switch off again now ...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Here be Dragons ... Everton, Ntt

Off the map for a couple of days at my mum's.  Everton is in North Notts, it's very small but has two pubs.  My OH (other half) goes to one of them so often they think he's a regular!  He's back in Barnsley doing a sponsored walk today, two breweries and one pub, with bacon butties apparently (not much good for a vegetarian), pie and peas (he'll have to wait and see if there are veggie pies ...) and a few sandwiches to finish (made by his own fair hand, so bound to be something he can eat).

When my parents moved here in 1979 there was a post office with general village shop and a butcher's as well.  The buses used to run until 9pm (and my brother and I thought that was poor, coming from a medium sized town as we did).  Now there are no shops, the buses stop at 6pm and even the petrol station has closed.  There's a 'craft' shop which does pictures and cards and where you can collect your prescriptions (the Doctor's surgery is 3 miles away in another village - one bus each way per day plus the extra 'Tesco' bus to Gainsborough on Wednesdays).  The Blacksmith's pub has a large conservatory on the back and they keep going by doing very nice (but fairly pricey) meals.  We also had the buffet there when my dad died last year.  Far too much food, but the left overs kept us in chicken legs and samosas for several months!  The Sun pub does live music in a marquee, last night they were doing covers of vaguely familiar punk and brit pop stuff - I could hear it in my bedroom!

We've just been to Sainsbury's in Worksop, a 25 mile round trip, to try to use the points on mum's Nectar card.  She can put points on in the petrol station in Retford, but can't spend them it seems.  The card had expired (again! - it did this after my dad died and I think she lost a lot of points then).  The supervisors said we had to come back within the year but as it had only been six months since mum was there they would phone Nectar and sort it out.  We did our shopping and after a bit of kerfuffle they gave us £20 off at the supervisors' desk on the way out.  These points don't seem to be worth the bother to be honest.  The OH had some on his card and we tried to spend them in a big Sainsbury's in Biggleswade on the way home from returning some beer festival equipment to St Albans.  It seems you can only use the card in the shop that you usually shop at!  In the OH's case that would be the tiny one in Monk Bretton - not the place to go for a proper monthly shop - so what's the point of saving up the points - he might as well just spend them on his next visit.

We packed the printer along with my laptop this weekend - mum had shopped in Asda last week and been told she could claim £5 off her next shop if she went online and printed off the voucher.  Well, she has an ipad, and the Internet, but no printer - I'm sure that last year they let her claim the money off at the customer service desk on her next visit, someone had set up a printer there so the non-printer/non-computer literate people didn't lose out.  This time they said she had to do it at home ... Nice green £5 off voucher duly printed and reminder given that she has to take the receipt back as well.  But what about the people with no printer?  Unfair.

Mum had also saved a cardboard collar from a bottle of wine with one of those 'Instant Win' offers for me to try for her - needless to say all I got was a "Sorry, try again another time" message.  Ah, well I can't quite see her in a pair of Levi's ...

I'm absolutely convinced that older people should be assisted to have access to the Internet, they can miss out on so many offers and services that would be useful to people whose mobility isn't so great any more or who live in rural areas or places poorly served by public transport.  Online shopping, online banking, online everything.  And by older people, judging by my experience at the Adult Learning Centre in Barnsley I mean anyone over 40, there just weren't computers when we were at school and unless you've had children why would anyone who doesn't work with them (or play computer games!) have bothered to get one in the last 20 years?  It's only with the arrival of tablet computers (ipad etc) that the Internet has become truly accessible.  Even phones weren't that user friendly really, the screens were too small for anything useful up until very recently. 

ahhhhh ... had a panic then, did a spell check and managed to delete the entire entry above, thank goodness for Ctrl + z, rescued it!

Off to help cook lamb chops ...
Bye for now.






Friday, 19 October 2012

Nope ... still waiting

In case you wondered, the men from Dewsbury didn't come back today.  Or ring, despite us giving them the proper number (the other half hadn't changed his number on Paypal so they were trying to ring an empty house).  So we'll both be waiting in tomorrow.

An introduction to the other half (OH) is in order I think - opposite sex, younger (ummm, toy boy!) and working - although that was in doubt for a while as he had been 'on the sick' for a long time this summer with a very painful right wrist - which in a joiner isn't a good thing.  Very keen on CAMRA, so keen he often has the weight of Barnsley on his shoulders, but that sense of responsibility and fair play was one of the reasons I married him.  No kids - but lots of nephews and he's very good with them too, that was another reason.  Most available beer drinking men don't seem to like children, many make no secret of the fact that they actively dislike them especially if they crop up in a pub.  He's good at IT too, but in a sensible, common sense sort of way, not over the top technical geekery.  Ok, that's enough, I sent him an invite to this blog - the first in fact so he'll read this one day.

Invites to the blog - I'm only letting a few people read this at the moment, but I'm going to continue to use initials or other evasions rather than names for other people.  You all know who I am, but that doesn't give me the right to talk about my friends and family on here (unless I'm being nice?)

Today's OU study went very poorly - I was fuzzy and tired.  Last night I misplaced the cat, today I know I made some similar faux pas but it's late and I can't remember what it was.  The tiredness has been building up for a week or so now - maybe three days a week outings is actually still too much - or it is when mixed with weekend bouts of gardening.  It's like having a head stuffed with fluff - the grey sort that collects in the tumble dryer.  That's a good analogy actually, the fluff collects because my brain has been spinning too much ...

Tomorrow we have a chap coming from our new estate agents.  Yes, I took the bit in my teeth and told the young men up the road goodbye.  Nine months and not even an enquiry about the old house - I know we're in a recession but surely that can't be right.  So this time it's a town centre office with regular ads in the Barnsley Chronicle.  And we've dropped the price AGAIN.  I won't be getting that new kitchen any time soon. 

I have been reading other blogs and someone was writing about changes to Council Tax Benefit - I met two women in the library on Tuesday who were supposed to be running a consulation about that, it must be one of those news stories that's even more secret than the voting for Police Commissioners!  No-one had turned up to talk to them as the library had put up incorrect signage!  Anyway, the blogger was talking about a consultation form she completed that asked whether CT relief should be reduced for second homes and empty houses - HA!  We got six months free when the old house went up for sale and now we are paying the full rate on two houses - the OH's wage is just a bit too much to claim benefit on this house and there's no chance of getting anything for the old one.  It used to be a year free.  Exactly what services are we actually using at the old, empty, house?  OK if it was to burn down I guess I'd be grateful for the fire brigade, but bins - no, police - no, and the other stuff  - leisure, libraries, transport are all people dependent, so we're paying our share here in Cudworth surely?

Reading back on the last two paragraphs you probably now feel you've walked in in the middle of the story - sorry about that.  Last year we bought a house here in Cudworth - near the OH's mum and in need of 'fixing up' so it would give us something to do, plus a much, much bigger garden for growing more fruit and veg.  However the old house, in Barnsley, isn't selling, and we need to sell it to pay off this one ... I was hoping for a bit left over to get a new kitchen, as one of the things that needed fixing up was the 60's style, very small, ancient-gas-cooker powered kitchen.  I have dreams of something pale green, with tall cupboards and an eye level oven, a central hob and a wall knocked though to the dining room so everything looks bigger ... ahhh.

Just seen the time, I'd better stop.  I like this.  Sort of like talking to myself, but not quite.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

A Late Night Delivery and my OU story

Not what you expect at 10pm, but last night, just as the BBC news was starting, two young men from Dewsbury tried to deliver a mattress to us - now this wasn't entirely unexpected, as we had ordered one, however it was supposed to come on Thursday or Friday, and I would have assumed during daylight hours!

Unfortunately when they fetched it from the van it was only 3' wide and we had ordered a double so after some faffing about with ebay and delivery notes they agreed someone had made a mistake and put it back on their van.  So today, instead of going to the Thurnscoe Local History Day, I am sat here waiting to see if they reappear ...

It does give me a chance to get on with the first TMA for my latest Open University module, "Understanding Global Heritage".  So far I've written some notes - an essay plan if you prefer - and that's come to 837 words ... I've only got 1000 to play with so some drastic cutting will be needed. 

I said I'd tell the story of my OU study (can you spot prevarication coming on?):

Back in 1993 or thereabouts I was told by the mother (AM) of a then partner that one of my family names, my great grandmother's maiden name, Moderate, was very unusual.  AM had recently studied DA301, an Open University course in "Family and Community History in the 19th and 20th Centuries", and she lent me her course books to read.  As a consequence of this I investigated the OU and found that people on benefits, who did not have a degree, could study for a nominal sum per module, around £50 if I remember correctly.  And that my Radiography Diploma (gained in the early 90s) was worth 180 credit points or half a degree so I would only need to study a few modules to be awarded a full OU Open degree.  I applied but the funding was limited and so I had to wait for a place until 1998.  In the meantime I started haunting the Archives in Sheffield whilst the children were at school (well, it saved on gas and electric at home too) researching their paternal family history.  It wasn't so easy to do my own as my family is from Durham and Northumberland, but with my mum's help we did make a start sending for a steady trickle of birth marriage and death certificates.

I really enjoyed my first course, DA301 as AM had done, including going to Leeds for the tutorials and meeting other people who were older than average students but still very keen to study to gain a qualification.  The course was my first introduction to writing academically and it taught me to use sources properly.  It had the additional benefit of getting me involved with the Heeley History Workshop (but that's another story ...).

I continued for the next few years with:

AA303 Understanding comparative history: Britain and America from 1760 (2000)
A427 Charles Booth and social investigation in Britain 1850-1914 (1999)
A425 Evangelicals, women and community in nineteenth-century Britain (1999)

The Charles Booth and Evangelicals courses were 30 points each, DA301 and AA303 were 60 points so by the end of 2000 I had accumulated the required 180 extra points for my degree.  Myself, my mum and dad and my two children proudly attended a graduation ceremony at Harrogate in early 2001 and the picture of me in an academic gown with a scroll (fake photo prop!) still has pride of place on top of my dining room cupboard.

So why am I still studying with the OU now I hear you ask?  As a consequence of getting a First (oh, yes I didn't mention that - absolutely amazing, really good marks in DA301 and AA303 and I got my picture in the local paper too!) I was offered a fee waiver for a part time MPhil at Sheffield University researching the development of the community in Heeley, Sheffield.  It was going to be based on analysis of the census returns (the 1891 was the most recent in those days) and family reconstitution from the parish records of Christchurch, Heeley.  While waiting for the confirmation of this place to come through I additionally studied a distance course with Oxford University, the "Advanced diploma in local history via the internet" which I also got a fee reduction for and we attended a lovely presentation ceremony in Oxford. I really felt my life had changed direction and that amazing things were happening.  BUT ... I was still claiming benefits as a single parent and soon my daughter was officially old enough not to require adult supervision and I was directed by the DSS (remember them - the Department of Social Security) to get a job 'tout suite' or risk having my money stopped.  The fact that I was studying at a prestigious University did not deter them - they weren't going to support me now I was 'available for work'. 

I was lucky enough to get a part time job at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU),in October 2001 and with the new Child Tax Credits we were slightly better off than we had been on benefits.  It soon became apparent that I couldn't work, care for my family and do research and I had to withdraw from the MPhil after two years.  So in 2003 now with a full time job at SHU I applied again to the OU to do a dramatically different kind of study.

But that's enough for now.  The guilt pangs are stabbing - I must revisit that TMA!
Bye for now.