Friday, 30 December 2016

Lost and Found

This is a genealogy post - instead of a commentary on where I have been or what I have been eating. When I started blogging family history was going to be the focus of all my posts ! Best laid plans, hey ?

Anyway, this year I have been studying our cousin matches at Ancestry, from our DNA tests taken in 2015 and have attended a few workshops and seminars to try to get my head around the science of it. Some of it is sinking in - a lot of it is still mumbo-jumbo. At the end of last year I had uploaded two kits to GEDMatch but still haven't really got the hang of that either. On there, as on Ancestry my closest matches (aside from Mum, Dad and Lauren) are 3rd-4th cousins - most are more distant. It all makes the searching to find the common link a little more time consuming. 3rd cousins share great-great grandparents. But if those great great grandparents (and we all have 8 sets of them) had even just two children, and those two children had two children each, and those four children had two children each, of their own - do we KNOW all of these people ? Remember then, that most of our great great grandparents had at least six children (not two) - and some just kept on going and had like FOURTEEN !

This year I uploaded two kits to FamilyTreeDNA - which has different tools to Ancestry, and a smaller database of testers. But again, I've not really got my head around all that it offers. 

I have actually met two 3rd cousins this year, while on holiday in the States, and spoken to another on the phone. Two of these were new discoveries thanks to the DNA test and the other confirmed our paper trail (YAY). But I have also corresponded - a little sporadically - with several others. For the majority who have responded to messages, we have, between us been able to determine our common ancestors. All that paper research starting way back before the internet has been right - so far. Thanks Dad, Chris, Bessie Peggy and Grev for all that painstaking research.

I've also been trying to fill out our tree - the more we know about siblings in each generation the more likely we are to be able to identify a common ancestor (eventually). So I have been searching people's trees on Ancestry for common families and contacting them to offer to collaborate - or to elicit assistance. I've been making fairly good progress there too.

In November I got caught up in the GRO pdf trial (Births, Deaths and Marriages in the UK) £6 for a certificate to be emailed, rather than wait for the snail mail ! Thanks twitter for alerting me to this ! The GRO had also launched a search facility on their site. Previously this needed to be carried out on a 3rd party site, and then the actual order for a certificate was made on the GRO site. The new search function had a bonus not found on other sites, in that the mother's maiden name was included in the results - even as far back as the beginning of registration in 1837. Yuss !! This meant that even if you didn't order a certificate to be doubly sure you had the right person, in a lot of cases you could confirm the children you had included with your family did all have a mother with the maiden name you suspected they should have. You could also discover children previously unknown. Those who may have been born, and died between census'. In England the only helpful census in this regard is the 1911, where wives were asked to note how long they had been married and how many children they had had - and how many were still living. Thanks to that helpfulness many families in my tree have

"Child Xxxx b. ? d. before 1911". 

But that only works if the parent was still alive in 1911. This new search enabled many people participating in the trial to find children between all of the census'.

I ordered copious numbers of certificates. I now know the birth dates of all of my grandmothers paternal aunts and uncles - and where the family was living at the time of each birth and what job their father had at the time. For most of these I already had their baptism dates from previous research. I also attempted to find the birth certificates for as many of her mother's paternal aunts and uncles (we already have the maternal ones). But I am still missing two. One was born just prior to registration beginning - I do have his baptism date though, sadly with our the birth date noted in the church register. The other is a complete mystery - she seems to have not been registered at all. I thought at first she might have been registered under a slightly different name or spelling. Her sister Emily as registered as Emma, but no. I have just in the last couple of days found her baptism though - with the surname spelt a little weirdly. I have a great great grandmother like this too ! Grrr. 

Also this year I joined the NZSG and took advantage of that membership to change my subscription at Find My Past from pay-as-you-go to annual. The things I have found !! I've searched on here before looking at shipping and church records some of which are not available at Ancestry, and exploring the 1939 register (taken at the beginning of WW2). But now, since I don't have to be too exacting about what I use my credits for, it is like Pandora's box. I have read the baptism books for each parish I could, to find the baptism dates for most children in one branch of the family. I also read the marriage and burial registers if they were available. 

What did I find that I wasn't expecting ? 

That my great grandmothers Uncle Henry had 14 children not 13, that one his children died as a result of an accident when he was a baby. How grief stricken they must have been, but yet they went on to have 9 more babies. Baby George was 13 months old and being carried by his mother when one of her other children called out to her from the top of the stairs and as she turned to reach out to the child she lost her balance, falling to the floor below. Their eldest child at this point was just 7 years old. What a thing for her, and her three younger siblings to witness. How did it affect them ? Their mother was pregnant at the time with her sixth baby, how guilt-ridden and anxious she must have felt. 

I had known about George though from census records and searching freebmd. I just didn't know the circumstances of his death or the actual date until Find My Past gave me that information in burial records and in a newspaper that reported the inquest in to his death which was held on the day of his burial. What I didn't know until I read the entire baptism register for the parish was that they had had one more child than I had been aware of. She was to be their last child. Her baptism is recorded in the register as "PB"- private, and a note was added in the margin that she had died the next day and been buried 2 days after that. In the burial register her age is given as 1 month. Once her parents and siblings had left this earth did anyone remember wee Lucy Kate ? Possibly only some of her older siblings would have remembered her in any case, perhaps only her parents remembered since these matters were not spoken of in times gone by.

I also had a penny dropping moment about one of the same great grandmothers Aunts. Why this thought did not occur to me while the GRO trial was still running I do not know. So I am patiently waiting for their next trial, or the introduction of the pdf service as a normal service. This Aunt had married and had 3 sons. They have been hard to trace into adulthood appearing on some census' and not others. She lived the majority of her life in an Asylum suffering from what I am not sure. Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that I knew when she was admitted and I knew when her youngest son was born. There was space of a few years there - plenty of time for more children to have been born from her marriage. Being able to search on the GRO and cross reference her maiden name made looking for any so much easier. 

Bingo ! Two daughters !! I read the baptism register for the parish where they lived, and there were one son and one daughters, baptised on the same day, with another son having been baptised just days before. Sadly the other daughter died aged just 9 months and does not appear to have been baptised. I have been able to follow the surviving daughter who grew up with an aunt and uncle and cousins through to adulthood and possibly her own children. Exciting - there may be more living cousins to connect with yet !

So, here are my goals for Genealogy in 2017:

  • Save money and buy AncestryDNA kits for my cousins, brother, nephews, nieces - possibly even ex-in-laws (is that a thing ?)
  • Save more money and buy FTDNA kits for a couple of strategic people to possibly follow Y-DNA lines and mtDNA
  • Keep stalking researchers with trees on Ancestry that merge with mine on single or many branches
  • Buy more certificates when I can
  • Hope that some other rellies in NZ and UK get tested - USA matches are all very well and fine, but finding the common ancestor 6-9 generations back is pretty difficult

Happy researching people !

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