I’m feeling optimistic. The clocks have gone forward, there is evidence that Spring is well advanced, we have celebrated Mothering Sunday with Simnel Cake and are now looking forward to Easter. Today, the seasons do not affect our lives in the same way as they did our ancestors when they were dependent on them for their crops and livelihood but there is a certain uplift to the spirit at this time of year. Perhaps I’m going to break down some of my brick-walls this year or am I being just an April Fool?
Breaking Down Brickwalls
On Findmypast there is an item entitled 20 Things to do when you are stumped which I have found helpful. It includes various links to other helpful articles. No 16 on this list is
16. Write a Family Sketch
Begin writing a family sketch, focusing on the family that has you stumped. Include each detail you have uncovered about the family as you write, and look for any patterns or potential contradictions in your data. Documenting each name, date, and relationship as you write helps to ensure your research is accurate and can often identify areas that could be researched further.
If I have a family history problem to solve; I try to explain the situation to another person – it could be as a Research Query on our Web Site – but by the time I have written down all the facts the solution often identifies itself.
The Web Site & Research Queries
- This month there have been just 7 queries posted on the Research Forum and 4 of them have been initiated by me and 2 by Bill Caple! – Doesn’t anyone else have any queries?
- Whilst thinking about the web site – don’t forget that the search facility at the top of the home page can be used to find out whether the site contains information about names, places and events you may be interested in.
- If you have any problems in using the web site please contact Paul Tracey or Graham Payne who will be pleased to help you
Know Your Place & Using Maps for Research
I hope that some of you have been able to find some interesting facts about this area by using Know Your Place. I gather that the presentation at the last Society Meeting was fascinating and for those who missed it or want to find out more about it Know Your Place – West of England includes an introductory video and links to enable you to research the area where you or your ancestors lived.
- 50 years ago I was told by an elderly neighbour that our houses had been built on some tennis courts and, low and behold, the maps prove just that!
If you have a subscription to The Genealogist it has just introduced their Map Explorer which also offers comparison maps but for the whole country – useful if your family is not local and especially good for London families with the Lloyd George Domesday Survey 1910-1915. You can access these videos without a subscription
- I’ve just found the map showing exactly where a relation of mine, Frances COLES lived and where she was killed in Whitechapel.
My Family & Jack the Ripper
Knowing that I had an interest in Jack the Ripper, I was recently given a new book about his first five victims. It is called, “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold and I found it enthralling. The author has meticulously researched the lives of these women up to their deaths and as a social history it is a brilliant insight into their real lives and the circumstances of the society in which they lived. They become living breathing women, not the mutilated corpses depicted in the newspapers, and I found myself wishing that I could learn about my own ancestors’ lives in the same detail. Of course, a lot of the information came from the evidence given at their inquests, but other research into the way women were treated and lived during the Victorian era widened the scope.
I was particularly interested because Frances COLES, a first cousin of my great grandmother was murdered in Whitechapel in 1891 and the press concluded that she was another victim of Jack the Ripper. Using information from her inquest and coincidentally many of the resources available to Hallie Rubenhold, I had compared her life with that of her cousin, my great grandmother, in Bristol. The awful inevitability of the downward spiral of her life (together with her parents and siblings) drew many similarities with this book which I can thoroughly recommend.
Have just received a notification that I have a DNA match with a possible 3rd Cousin and he has a tree on MyHeritage containing one person – himself! That’s not a tree – not even a twig! However, he has a match with someone else who does have a tree with seven people on it including my original contact. With some additional research I have been able to identify our common ancestors who are my 3 x great grandparents but I still haven’t heard back from either of these matches to confirm my research. One thing I have noticed is that the age of those who have tested tends to be younger than the majority of family researchers. Is this a way of encouraging younger people to become involved in research?
We now have nearly 100 members of our Facebook Group – and we welcome anyone to join who has an interest in researching their families from this area of North Somerset. There is a link to the Group from the home page of our web site and there have been some interesting photographs posted by the facebook group. The Facebook Group also advertises the activities of the Society and welcomes visitors to the Library Free Help Sessions and to the monthly meetings, encouraging them to become full members of our Society.
Buckets & Spades
You will now have had the March edition of Buckets and Spades – Thanks to our editor Sue Maguire who is now looking forward to your articles for the July edition. Please consider writing up your experiences in researching your families. How did you do it? What difficulties did you overcome? What resources did you use? Were your family stories, handed down through the generations, accurate? Do you have photographs? Were they named?
Dates for your Diary
- The next meeting of the society will be on the 4th Tuesday of April when we welcome back Lynda Hotchkiss with another of her talks – this time entitled “Time Gentlemen Please”. At the time of writing I have no further information about the content of this talk but going on past experience it will be entertaining and relevant to Family History research.
- Looking further ahead, there will be an exhibition in Kewstoke Village Hall from the 11th to the 14th July organised by the Kewstoke Local History Group at which our Society will have a Help Desk run by Graham Payne and others. More can be seen about the Kewstoke Group which has an impressive collection of data about the Village. Past Exhibitions have been well worth a visit – even if you have no family connection with Kewstoke the information which they have collected will interest you.
- If any of you know of events or resources which would interest our members please add them as comments to this update.