Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Ancestry.com

I took advantage of the free access to additional records over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend to see if I could expand on the family tree that my father had put together many years ago while my grandparents were still alive to help him with what they could remember. The information that I had allowed me to locate the 1911 census forms filled ou by two of my great grandfathers. One of these was particularly interesting. Apart from someone transcribing one of my great aunt’s names incorrectly (they had typed it as Jessie where my great grandfather had hand written Sissie), I found the address where they were living even more interesting as two of my Great Aunts were living at that same address through the seventies and eighties right up until they moved everyone out of the whole street to modernise the entire block (the terrace houses in that street consisted of two small rooms downstairs, two small rooms upstairs and a small attic room. In 1911 there were eight members in the family with two more (including my grandmother) being born after that. My grandmother had also mentioed a further six children all of whom died young.

My grandmother had said that she thought that her grandmother’s name was Nannie and that was what my father had recorded along with a couple of other names from that same generation one of whom had the surname Smoker – which I had assumed was their married name. Several other people had already attached that particular census record into their family trees and they all had the name listed as Fannie (so my grandmother had mis-remembered the first letter of her grandmother’s name). I was then able to locate not one but two marriage records with the first in 1861 to my great great grandfather (who I found out died the same year that his son was born) and the second in 1879 to someone with the surname Smoker (so the person my grandmother remembered wasn’t her grandmother’s sister, it was her grandmother’s sister-in-law or grandmther’s second husband’s sister-in-law. The limited information that I had access to from these other family trees also gave me the names of several of my great great grandparents and even a couple of great great great grandparents (presumably taking that part of the family back into the 1700s but to make further progress there I’d have to pay for access to further records.

Unfortunately even with the additional information made available over the weekend I was unable to make any progress regarding the two people that I would most like to find out about – my mother’s father’s parents. My grandfather was brought up in an orphanage as his parents were killed during the first world war during one of the bombing raids that Germany made over the south east of England. I know that there were 556 civilian deaths from the Zeppelin raids and a further 800 or so killed by bombs dropped from planes, I also know what my great grandparent’s surname was and can guess at their approximate ages based on my grandfather’s age and his memories of having a younger brother who was sent to Western Australia. I have not yet been able to find any record of their deaths though – although the searches that I did have led me to another web site where I might eventually manage to find them.

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