Tuesday, 24 April 2012

As one mystery is solved . . .

another one takes its place :o)

I've often said that my Mum & Dad should have named me Patience & then there may just have been the slightest chance of me actually living up to my name :o) As I've got older, the saying *everything comes to he/she who waits* seems to be coming true. I'm not as impatient as I was when I was younger & I don't seem to mind waiting for things - although there ARE a few exceptions :o)

One of the things I've waited oh-so-patiently for, is to solve a mystery in my family tree & just a few weeks ago, I finally did so, after searching for more than 10 years. (See where the patience thing is heading, now ?!)

I don't know about other people who *do* their tree, but over the years, I've become more attached to some people than I have to others. Some people seem to draw you to them in a way that can't really be explained & I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Sarah, one of my great grandad's sisters. I always thought she had a terribly sad life & I just felt so sorry for her.

She was widowed young & had to bring up 5 small children on her own for a few years. For over 10 years, I'd searched for her husband's death, & although I knew it was between 1901 & 1907 because he was in the 1901 census & Sarah remarried as a widow in 1907, I couldn't find it.

When Sarah remarried, she had 4 more children, but out of all of her 9 children,  5 died before they'd really had a chance to live.  The only son from her first marriage was killed in action in 1915. He was only 18. Her oldest son, a twin, from her second marriage died as a tiny baby, her second daughters from each marriage, including the twin to the baby son, died when they were 8 & her eldest daughter from her second marriage died aged 7. I can't begin to imagine how she managed to survive all that. She must have been beyond heartbroken.

Anyway, I always hoped that, although it was only short, she'd had a happy & loving first marriage. How wrong can you be ?! :o)

My desk is what I call *organised chaos*. I know what's on it & I know roughly where things are. I make a note of something, put it down & it eventually gets buried by other notes :o) BUT - I know it's there. Somewhere :o) Every now & again, I have a bit of tidy up & about 6 weeks ago, I came across the note I'd made of a death registration for a little girl who had the same name & was the same age as one of Sarah's daughters. I had a sneaky suspicion that it WAS Sarah's daugher, but as the death was registered in Gloucestershire & Sarah & family were in Kent, I was unsure, which is how it came to be buried at the bottom of my note mountain :o)

I decided to throw caution to the wind & I got the death certificate. Yes, it WAS Sarah's daughter, but OH MY !!!  The certificate gave her father as Sarah's husband, but it also said he'd been in the navy & was deceased. The certificate also said that Sarah's daughter had died of tubercular meningitis in Bristol General Hospital & she had been admitted from the orphanage there. HUH ??? What was she doing in the orphange when her mother was alive & kicking ?? WELL . . . . :o)

It turns out that Sarah's husband had deserted her & their 5 children - aged between 2 months & 6 years - he'd enlisted in the navy as a single man, said he was 5 years younger than he really was AND he used an alias !!!!   No wonder I'd not been able to trace his death  !!

Poor Sarah had to rely on Parish Relief & the kindness of friends because she was left destitute. With a tiny baby & 4 other little children, she couldn't get work, so she had to have her 3 oldest children admitted to an orphange so that they could be looked after & educated.

She was unable to afford the train fare to get them there, so the local NSPCC Inspector asked the NSPCC to pay it, which they did. He took the children to the orphanage & got them settled & he also wrote to them on Sarah's behalf, saying that she was a respectable woman caught in a situation that was not of her making. It turns out that this Inspector had had cause to *admonish* Sarah's husband several times over his treatment of  his family. The fact that he died 8 weeks after deserting them, means, as far as I'm concerned, he got his just desserts :o) He died in hospital of pneumonia, though, nothing terribly painful or lingering !! :o)) Personally, I'd have smacked him over the head with a shovel, just to make sure !!! :o))

Sadly, two of the three children admitted to the orphanage died - the daughter aged 8 & the son in France in 1915. I don't know if he saw his Mum before going off to war, because he left the orphanage as an apprentice to a shoe maker & went to live in Wales. Only the eldest child returned to Sarah & that was just 2 days before her 17th birthday. She has now become my new mystery. All I know about her is the date she returned home. I can't find a marriage or a death for her & a friend checked the Australian records in case she ended up over there with her aunt, one of Sarah's younger sisters. She really does seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Along with a couple of others who seem to want to stay hidden :o)

So, back to the patience thing. Family history is not for the impatient, it's not for the disinterested or for those who can't be bothered. It's for those who like to get their teeth into a good mystery but who don't mind finding out that, for hundreds of years, their ancestors were nothing more exciting than agricultural labourers, housemaids, gardeners, char women or painters & decorators. It's for people who aren't shocked or offended at finding out that their great great gran had a baby before she was married or that great uncle Herbert ran off with the wife of the local butcher. But, most of all, it's for people who don't mind waiting TEN YEARS (or more . . .) to solve a mystery & then start all over again with another one :o)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Life & hobbies

As well as getting on in the garden, I've been catching up on my Family History, cardmaking & knitting. It seems the days are whizzing past & sometimes, after what seems to have been a particularly hectic day, there doesn't really appear to be anything to show for it. So, I now TRY to split my days into sections, a bit like like the timetables we used to have at school. If anything HAS to be done - i.e. shopping or appointments, then I try to get that done first thing in the morning. That way, it gives me the rest of the day at home to do what needs doing there. I spend a lot of time running between the house & the *husband hut*, making sure Shaun's OK & hasn't had yet another fall or fallen asleep at his lathe, still holding onto a particularly nasty looking pointy metalled object. AGAIN. Honestly, he's turning me into a nervous wreck & I'm getting greyer by the day. By the end of the year, I may well have turned to drink !! :o)

Once the shopping & the dreaded housework (shudder !!) has been done & I've made sure 'imself is settled with his wheelchair or Zimmer at hand, I then go hunting for card making inspiration. Sadly, most of the time I don't find it. I think it must have upped & left, which really would explain why I always feel sadly lacking, in OH, so many ways !! :o))

BUT - I needed to make a couple of cards recently & as I'd been given a lovely box of pearlised cardstock for my birthday back in January, I decided I'd try to use them. The biggest problem for me was that they were tall, thin cards & as I tend to use cards that are square, it was a bit of a challenge considering my total lack of inspiration & imagination. However, I managed to come up with something & although I think someone else could have done a much better job, I was quite pleased with the way they came out.

I find that once I get an idea in my head, that's all I can do :o) I can't seem to vary it very well, but I've also found that if I do a card based on me - plain & simple, cheap & cheerful (sometimes !!) - then it's usually OK.

I do wish I could do more artistic cards though. Some of the cards my friends do are just amazing - they belong on the wall of an art gallery, not on a mantlepiece for a few days & then chucked in a box or thrown away. I keep every card that's made for me, because I appreciate the thought & the time that's gone into making it.

The evenings are when I do my knitting. Again, it's not something I'm particulary brilliant at - I do wish I was really good at something (other than talking the hind leg off a donkey, that is !!)  - but I enjoy it & find that it helps me relax a little. As I've probably said before, I don't *do* big things. I get bored quickly & I get impatient when things take a long time. I know my limitations, so I try to stick to things that don't take more than 2 or 3 days at the most to complete. The majority of things I knit only take a couple of evenings, so probably no more than about 6 hours & that suits me fine. There are a few things that take longer, but I find that if I do a couple of quick things between the longer things, I don't mind it so much :o)

This little heart with a *kiss* is a Christmas tree decoration. It's just a jokey thing for Shaun, a silly thing to remind him of something years ago :o)

This bird is also a tree decoration. It's not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but I LOVE it :o)  Shaun's NOT so keen, but for some reason, I really love it :o) It's different, it's quirky & somehow, I managed to give it knock-knees when it doesn't actually HAVE knees !!! :o)

My oldest grandson is 3½ & he is obsessed with Harry Potter & super heroes such as Iron Man & Spider Man. My daughter bought a cheap pair of reading glasses, popped the lenses out & gave them to him to wear & she bought him a little super hero cape, which he says is his invisibility cloak :o) . Shaun made him a little wooden wand on his lathe & as he has a small scar on his head in the same place that Harry Potter has, he really thinks he's Harry Potter :o) However, he didn't have an owl, so he asked me to knit him one, but it had to be brown & stripy. I don't know why, but there you go. You can't argue the logic of a 3½ year old once he's set his mind on something, can you ? :o)

I found a very simple pattern that didn't require any real shaping & nor did it need wings, although you could always add some if you wanted to, I suppose :o) He loved the finished article, but I think the buttons I used for its eyes make it look somewhat startled !! :o)

For some peculiar reason, this owl is called *Red Wing*. It's not red & nor does it have wings, but apparently, it's got something to do with super heroes. Hmmm. As I said, you don't argue with the logic of a 3½ year old :o)

I couldn't make one for Grandson 1a & not for Grandson 1b, so this is the one I made for him.

They're small enough for little hands, but big enough to hug.

On the family history front,  a couple of weeks ago I made a significant discovery, something I'd been trying to find for over 10 years, so I was well chuffed. However, as time is now getting on, that will have to wait for another blog :o)