Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Stroke Of Luck

Now that I have my two new twin grandsons, family history seems even more important. I still have not un earthed my boxes of Scottish Family History and the many notes I took from different sources but I have had some amazing luck ….all because I was aimlessly surfing the net when I was worrying about the boys arrival.

The first was with regards to my maternal grand father’s family. I knew, from Mum, that his father was Cornish and from a will and a census return, he was probably from St Stephen in Brannel. I had worked out that his father was probably a John Bullock who was married to an Honor Yelland. The clue for me was that in our family the oldest son of the oldest son had the middle name Yelland. I was left dangling, as I had no real proof that these were his parents or how to go back further. For the hell of it I Googled the two surnames and the place, added the word history, as I was actually wondering about the history of the names, and pressed GO. To my amazement, along with a lot of odds and ends, a ladies web site came up with her Family tree and all the work she had done on the name Yelland. I made contact as she had what looked like my possible great great grandfather and his wife on her tree.It turned out that my Great grandfather was a leaf on one of her wide spread branches and we in fact shared a 9x great grand father. She said I could have all the information I wanted to construct my tree ….. Wow thank you Liz.

Having had this amazing bit of luck and this hoard of information placed in my lap I never expected to have any more luck …… .but I did.

I was pondering over my late husbands grandfather who I have tried to track down before, with little luck as his life was full of tales that seem to contradict each other. (He had a reputation for tall stories!!) Having joined Ancestry .com for a free 2 weeks I thought I would try again to gather some possible leads and see what I could find in Canada and then America as it was over there that he met and married his first wife and had his first four children. I remembered his wife’s maiden name (Blum) and the names of two of her sisters from things my mother- in- law had told me about. I then worked out who the parents might have been and armed with this I decided to look at others searching for the same names as they were unusual ones.
Again I could not believe my eyes …. There was an old post (3 years old) containing the same two names. I read it over and wondered if I should make contact. The writer said these people were her great grand parents and I had worked out that they might be my late husbands great grand parents too. As I looked at the email address I became sure I should make contact as her first name rang a bell from stories about mother in-laws sisters and their children. She had been separated from two of her sisters when a child but had made contact again much later. My husband had had little contact them or their children.

I could not believe it … she made contact and. was indeed my husbands cousin. We have become friends over the net ….determined to unravel her grand father life for future generations. I think it will be great fun. She is also going to fill me in on her grandmother and great grandparents lives. Great grandfather was a soldier in the Civil War ….it so brings history to life.

Friday, 6 June 2008


Normally one traces ones fathers line first but as my father is shrouded in mystery and there was a lack of any concrete information from my mother, who sadly died in 2000 without giving away any more details, I did my research into my mother’s roots. I started this around 1997 and I persuaded Mum to jot down some of her memories in a note pad. This was almost as hard work as trying to prize out any information about my father from her but she finally agreed, continually mumbling that no one would want to read it anyway.

I stated my journey into the past by getting as much information as I could from Mum. Nana had been living with us until she died when I was 13 so seemed an interesting place to start. I knew she was Scottish, a nurse, she didn’t use her given name except when signing a cheque and she was a 7th child of a 7th daughter. This last piece of information proved to be more important than the fact that she might have had second sight due to being 7th of seven!
Mums father had died in the 1920’s and not a lot was known about his family until I started chatting to mum in depth and then lots of tiny morsels of information about both sides came to light. It was amazing that she didn’t realise how much she actually knew and how many important, facts were locked away waiting to be released by the right key. I so wish I had recorded our chats, as they were full of fun and information. Her jottings were always a little guarded, as she knew some one might read them. I finally typed them up in 2006 and I am so glad I have them. I will pop in some extracts from it as I go along.

NB Chat to older relatives, and record their memories however possible, because questions cannot be answered when they are gone.

After about a year I called on the help of a researcher, as mums roots were in Scotland and it was hard to check some of my findings. I struck lucky as he was reasonable and we worked together month by month rather than him going away and presenting me with all the facts. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did. It was like solving an amazingly complex puzzle or how I imagine playing long distance chess would feel.. I would send him the information I had gleamed from mum and the deductions I had made from pouring over the IGI. and off he went to see what he could find. I would wait eagerly for the postman so that I could continue my quest. and was saddened that, after a year, he felt we had gone back as far as we could. Many branches became dead ends by the early 1800’s but one we actually managed to get back as far as 1725.

For those who are unaware of the naming traditions in Scotland ….
It is a godsend for those researching their Scottish Ancestry, as the rules are true for 99.9% of children born prior to 1900. People gradually turned away from this during the 20th Centaury.
This is how it goes.
First Son named after … Fathers Father
First Daughter named after … Mothers Mother
Second son named after … Mothers Father
Second daughter named after … Fathers Mother

If any of these children died, the name was used again.This is why you can find 3 or even more of the same name in a list of children but it does show that each one has died before the next of that name, was born and how important the tradition was.
Up to about the1850’s most families also named
Third son after Father
Third daughter after Mother

Again,if there were a death this name would be used again.
I found this all so helpful when trying to work out families.

All the valuable information I researched , I painstakingly typed into a Family History programme but as an innocent in the world of computers I did not back it up. I then put this work to one side as I coped with the death of Mum and four weeks later, the death of my husband.2000 was a year I shall never forget yet do not want to remember either.

The next year my son got married and I began to feel I wanted to mess around on the computer again and maybe look into my husbands parents history. Alas all was not right with my computer and my son said I should backup every thing that was important if I hadn’t already. I looked blank … he looked worried. The result was that it wouldn’t let me do anything but just before it died I managed to print off a lot of the information. I was so upset with myself that I just boxed it away and never opened it again. To make things worse we moved in 2005 and I’m not sure what happened to the box,. or what box it actually was !!!!!

My mission is …..
To now unearth this box, if it still exists,
Resurrect the information I still have and input it where it cannot be lost again.
If the box has gone

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


I would like to thank Inspiration Alley for inspiring me with her Family History Blog and making me think about doing one of my own. I’m not sure I really under stand what a blog is and how one is meant to use it but I feel it is some where between a diary and a soap box, between a method of communication with and of learning from others and a way to record interests and ideas for oneself and others to enjoy.

This blog is going to be for me and my family and anyone who is curious about my Family History and my present. I will, as I get organized, scrap some of my old photos and make a gallery but I feel this blog is going to be a labour of love and will take a long time to create let alone keep on top of..