The snow drops are out in my garden and snow is gently falling, as I write this on the last day of January. This month has flown by, but that is the way time seems to go during Lockdown – days blend into each other and all the plans I have when I wake in the morning seem to be still plans in the evening! The occasional zoom meetings and many phone calls and emails keep me in touch and I am grateful for those, and for the way in which researching my own family (and others!) has given me an escape from the reality of life during a pandemic.
Can I gently remind members that their annual subscriptions are now due. Normally many members renew at the January meeting, which of course did not take place, and it may have slipped your minds. If you can renew as soon as possible it will save administrative work sending out individual reminders. Thank you to those who have already renewed.
We offer a warm welcome to New Members and hope that their time with us is productive and useful for them. Take time to make yourselves familiar with the website - there is a lot on offer. Add your SURNAME interests to the lists so that others researching the same name can find you and share information. Use the search button at the top right-hand corner of the home page to see if your particular interest, whether it is a surname, occupation, place or event etc. is mentioned anywhere on the site. Use our Research Forum to breakdown your brickwall.
For those who are not yet members I would like to point out that annual digital membership is very low, just £9.00 per year which as I have pointed out before, is less than the cost of an individual civil registration certificate. For that you will have access to our Journal, “Buckets and Spades”, the next edition being due in March, access to the transcriptions of parish records for most of North Somerset and the Axbridge Registration District and access to the Burial Records of Weston Cemetery, from 1856, when local churchyards were closed. Local members also have access to our Library.
The Society’s Library is in danger of being lost unless we can find a member who is prepared to give it a home. One big advantage of volunteering to do this is that whoever holds the library has immediate access to the books. We have been asking for someone to come forward for some time and we will have to make a decision soon about what to do with these books. Please contact Brian Airey for more details about what is involved.
We received a valuable suggestion from a member that members may own resources such as Street Directories, and they would be prepared to do look ups for other members. To set this up on the website would have incurred a cost and the committee were uncertain about how many members would have taken advantage of it. This is a shame because the closure of the Public Library has meant that access to Street Directories has been curtailed. However, the Research Forum could be used for requesting help such as from a Street Directory. Please make use of the Forum for furthering your research. Why is it underused – nothing at all in the last month?
Buckets and Spades
The deadline for the next edition of Buckets and Spades is February 15th and Sue Maguire, the editor, would be pleased to receive copy for this or future editions. Your family history research and how you went about it would be interesting to other members.
Many sites are increasing their resources during the pandemic. Here are just a few, perhaps you can add others.
- Just last week the Somerset Archives advertised a free session entitled "Somerset Family History: Online Q & A" on 11 February 10.30am - noon. This proved so popular that it was quickly full but you can add your name to their waiting list for a repeat event.
- Weston Town Council has posted this very interesting background to Milton Road Cemetery and some of the people who are buried there.
- Weston Town Council also has a page devoted to honouring those for whom Blue Plaques have been erected in the town.
- Know Your Place North Somerset has an interesting Facebook Group where the benefits of using this fantastic tool can be discussed
Sometimes you may want to while away some time watching a video or a recorded Zoom presentation about family history research, many of which are now available on You Tube. Although these are mainly from Findmypast the content is varied and can be viewed without having a subscription.
- This introduction to the Electoral Registers which are available at the British Library is eye opening about what is actually available and how difficult it can be to use the records. I found it particularly interesting because at about 25 minutes in they start to research a man by the name of Thomas William ALDWINCKLE. This name was familiar to me as a Miss Marion Gertrude ALDWINCKLE was the founder of Westcliff School in Weston, who I had already researched and Thomas was her Uncle!
- If you have Irish ancestors this presentation entitled “Irish Family History is Easy” may dispel some of the myths about the difficulty of researching Irish Records.
- I think I may have suggested this one before but as a background to Social History and an understanding of how the conditions in which our ancestors lived affected their lives this discussion is thought provoking and interesting.
- Many of us have found ancestors who married on Christmas Day but why did so many choose that day to tie the knot? Christmas Day Weddings may answer that question.
RootsTech in February
Normally this would be a live event in Salt Lake City but this year there is a free Virtual Event taking place 25-27 February – you can register for free and then join in as much or as little as you wish. Their publicity answers the question - What’s Included?
- Celebrity keynote speakers
- Dozens of classes to choose from taught by presenters all over the world and in multiple languages
- An interactive expo hall with companies from all over the globe
- Fun cultural activities/demonstrations geared to celebrate traditions from around the world
I hope that the vaccination roll-out continues to work well and those who qualify are accepting their vaccination. I have been very impressed with the efficient and caring way in which our local centres have been operating and it reminded me of this certificate I posted on Facebook a short while ago which confirms that young Master PENNY had received his smallpox vaccination at a time when that vaccination was compulsory, and parents could be prosecuted if their children were not vaccinated.
Long Lost Family
I watched an edition of this ITV programme which was concerned with using DNA to identify WW1 soldiers whose bodies have recently been discovered in France over 100 years after they were killed. It is available on the ITV Hub for 30 days
Peter and Jenny Towey are sharing their expertise in this field and one thing I have realised is that it is essential to have researched all the descendants of my ancestors in order to identify a possible match. If the match is a 3rd, 4th or 5th cousin then there are many places in each generation where the surname may change. I recently had a match on My Heritage which has me researching their tree to see if there is a connection and if there is it will break down a long standing brickwall! I’m still waiting for a reply from them to see if I’m on the right lines.
You do not have to be a member to join our Facebook Group. Our aim is to be available to quickly answer queries and make suggestions about future research. In this way we hope to attract full membership of the Society and to support all who share our interest in Family History. We would welcome more contributions and queries both on the Facebook Group and on the website.
This time last year we had no idea that we would be in this situation now with no face to face meetings and we sincerely hope that it will not be too long before we can meet up again. Please let us know how you are getting on with your research, either by an article for Buckets and Spades, use of the Research Forum or on our FaceBook Group. We would like to share your successes and frustrations as you unravel your family. Happy Hunting!