Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors - #10 Elizabeth DAVIES 1871-1960

I had originally planned to get this post written and published yesterday for Mother’s Day (which always falls on Mothering Sunday here in the UK), please excuse me for being a little late.

Today I want to remember a woman who must have been very strong and adventurous in her life.  She was fondly remembered by her Grandchildren and even as her Great-great-grandchild, I still hear the occasional story about her.  Sadly, these stories are few and far between – and none of them are about her youth or even from when she was married.   This is a record of ‘Nain’ (Grandmother in the Welsh spoken in the part of Wales where she was born) aka Elizabeth DAVIES.

Nain was born in a small terrace of houses, which now, at least, have shop fronts with living accommodation above.  This row of houses was Mitre Terrace, now part of New Street on modern maps, in Pwllhelli, Gwynedd, Wales.

The daughter of William and Catherine DAVIES, Elizabeth was born 16 November 1871 as the sixth of their eight children.  William was a Settsmaker, a hard job involving the splitting and dressing of granite to make paving stones called sets.  Elizabeth grew up in this picturesque Welsh costal town with five brothers and two sisters.  Other than the information on her birth certificate and the two censuses that followed, nothing is known of her childhood.
In 1893 Elizabeth had found her was down to Bargoed, Glamorgan, Wales and is wed at St Cattwg’s Parish Church, Gelligear, Glamorgan, Wales on the 18 December 1893 to Richard John OSBORNE a Coal Hewer.

Elizabeth bore 11 children for Richard, three were lost in the first few weeks and months of life. The remaining eight children would all survive to adulthood.  As a wife and mother in a mining town, Elizabeth’s life would have been governed by the rhythm of the collieries.  As soon as her eldest son was old enough he would have left school and joined his father down the coalmine learning the skills he would need to follow in his father’s (also grandfather’s and uncles’) footsteps at the coal face.  Both Richard and later the eldest son Herbert would have brought home large amounts of coal dust caked on their clothes and bodies.  Elizabeth would have been expected to have hot water ready in the tin tub for them to bathe and a meal on the table when they arrived home. But alas, the mines ran shifts so while one person was finishing his shift and getting his belongings together, the other could be on his way to start work.  We should not forget that Elizabeth also had other children to take care of and to ensure that they attended school.  When the 1911 census was taken, all 10 of Elizabeth’s children (the youngest not born until 1912) were named, even the three sons that had died in infancy.  The eldest son was just 16 years old and recorded as a Hewer just like his father.
When Britain went to war in 1914, Herbert joined the Army and became a Driver.  I have been told that he drove the horses on the front lines and had gained this position as he had experience of working with the pit ponies down the mines.  The only photo I have ever seen of Elizabeth was taken when Herbert came home on leave – if I estimate the ages of the youngest four children, I would estimate that the photo was taken circa 1915-1916.

In 1918, Elizabeth’s world must have been shattered! The family were expecting to have a visit from Herbert however when Richard returned from the Railway Station alone and carrying a telegram the excitement and joy would have instantly have become grief and despair. Another child lost, Herbert was just 23 years old.  At that time, Richard had been unwell for some time and it seems he never recovered. Early in 1920, Elizabeth was widowed and had all of the still living children at home.

Elizabeth now had no husband and no relatives of her own to help raise the children.  She made a brave choice and took five of her children back up north to the area she has grown up in as a girl.  This split the family – the eldest daughter married in 1921 and another daughter stayed behind.
Elizabeth’s youngest child Mary gave an interview to a local newspaper in her old age describing how when they first moved to Penrhyn (Gwynedd, Wales), there was no street lighting as there had been back in Bargoed.

One of Elizabeth’s granddaughters (my grandmother) recalled visiting Nain as a young girl. Nain would send her down to a local farmhouse to buy buttermilk “to fatten me up” she would tell me.  I always had the impression that my grandmother didn’t like the buttermilk as she would cringe as she told me his.
Another story I have been told many a time as we passed Nain’s house in the car was that Nain us to work the level crossing at Penrhyn.  While I cannot prove this, the line was definitely in use at the time Nain lived in the area. I hope one day to be able to locate records to either prove or disprove this story.

My heart bleeds for Elizabeth and I wish I could have known her.  She took what life threw at her and raised her children the best she could.  Elizabeth die in 1960, she is kept company in her eternal slumber by her two spinster daughters Catherine Mildred (Milly) and Mary, while other children and grandchildren sleep in the same cemetery.  They all have a beautiful view of the sea, the nearby town and the surrounding farmland.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mission Accepted! - How Many Surnames in Your Database?

While reading my way through this weekends blog updates on my reading list I came across Randy Seaver's Challenge: Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- How Many Surnames in Your Database?

Task 1: Go into your Genealogy Management Program (GMP; either software on your computer, or an online family tree) and figure out how to Count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

Task 2: Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

Answer 1 and 2:  I generally work in my online Ancestry tree but since I keep it synced to Family Tree Maker (FTM), I will be using FTM  for ease.  To do this open the FTM tree and then click Publish from the bar at the top, then to 'Person Reports > Surname Report > Create Report' (see fig.1)

Fig.1 : Screen shot of Family Tree Maker 2014
Next look at the left hand panel (Fig.2) and ensure All Individuals is selected before hitting Generate Report.
Fig.2 : Surname Report Options in FTM 2014
This then produces the report (Fig.3)

Fig.3 : Surname Report in FTM 2014

Task 3: Tell us how many surnames are in your database and, if possible, which Surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!  Or 10!!  Or 20!

Answer 3: I had 7 pages of surnames, page 1 had 44 names, pages 2-6 listed 45 and page 7 had 40. making a grand total of 309 names. This consists of 1645 individuals, 851 males, 779 females.

Fig.3 above shows the most common surnames in my tree. So here is my top 20! well 21 since I have a few names with the same frequency.

With 19 individuals we have SANDS (1826-1893), KING (1824-1928), DINE (1823-1913)
With 20 individuals we have GRAHAM (1856-1951)
With 21 individuals we have REES (1808-1908), EVANS (1837-1999)
With 23 individuals we have HARDING (1861-1937)

With 25 individuals we have CHRISTMAS (1809-1935), DENTY (1786-1907)
With 26 individuals we have UPJOHN (1791-1924)
With 28 individuals we have DAVIES (1820-2010)
With 29 individuals we have GODFREY (1790-1878), ANDREWS (1844-1999), ANDERSON (1764-1876)

With 32 individuals we have STREVENS (1801-1913)
With 34 individuals we have WYATT (1823-1940)
With 40 individuals we have _____ (1790-2008) these are the individuals for whom I have no last name.
With 44 individuals we have WILLIAMS (1833-2009)

In third place with 48 individuals we have HUNTLEY (1746-1912)
In second place with 57 individuals we have OSBORNE (1842-1967)
And in first place with 77 individuals we have TOURNAY (1793-1931)

Task 4: Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in Google Plus Stream post.

Answer 4: Well if you have read this blog you will know that pressing 'Home' on your keypad will take you directly to it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

52 Ancestors - #9 George Emmanuel SAUNDERS

1879, 10 January
Tynewydd, Ystradyfodwg, Near Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales
Birth Certificate, Death certificate,
1911 Wales Census
Father: Benjamin Frederick SAUNDERS, Green Grocer. Mother : Ellen MORGANS
1881, 3 April
Not Found
1891, 5April
5 Dean Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
1891 Walws Census
Mary Saunders, 42, Wife
Jonathan Davies, 9, Stepson
Tegwedd Saunders, 9, Daughter
1901, 31 March
5 Dean Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
Cab Driver
1901 Wales Census
Mary Saunders, 54, Head, Widow
George E Saunders, 22, Stepson
Tegwedd M Saunders, 19, Stepdaughter
Jonathan Davies, 19, Son

1902, 12 November
 Lord Nelson Inn, Dean Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
Cab man 
Marriage Certificate
Condition:Bachelor, Farther: Benjamin Frederick SAUNDERS Beerhouse keeper. Wife: Eliza Ann REES, 20, Spinster of Railway Bar Hotel, Commercial Street, Aberdare. Wife’s Father: Henry REES, Licensed Victualler.
1903, 15 May
Child Born
22 Oak Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
Brake Driver
Birth Certificate,
Stepfather’s Army Record,
Death Index,
1911 Wales Census
1905, 4 March
Child Born
Stepfather’s Army Record,
Death index,
1911 Wales Census
Birth Certificate Required
1907, 6 May
Child Born
Stepfather’s Army Record,
Death index,
1911 Wales Census
Birth Certificate Required
1911, 2 April
16 Morgan Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
Omtus Interpreter – Omnibus Driver
1911 Wales Census
Rachel Ellen Saunders, 8, Daughter
1913, 7 May
 17a Morgan Street, Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales
 Brake Driver
Death Certificate
Cause: Phthisic Pulmonalis


1891 Wales Census - Class: RG12; Piece: 4444; Folio: 89; Page: 42.
1901 Wales Census - Class: RG13; Piece: 5035; Folio: 134; Page: 21.
1911 Wales Census - Class: RG14; Piece: 32496; Schedule Number: 250.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

52 Ancestors - #8 Aaron OSBORNE

Dear Ancestor,

You were born Aaron OSBORN in Gidleigh, Devon, England in 1842. The seventh of eight children, that have been documented, of William OSBORN a Stonemason and his wife Ann STATT.

In 1851 you were enumerated as living in Great Ensworthy in the Parish of Gidleigh, Devon, England with your parents of five siblings. You had two brothers who were servants in other households of the Parish, hence they are enumerated with their respective employers.

By 1861 you seem to be missing from the census. Where were you? I have tried searching with given names, surnames, surname variants and even for anyone born 1842 +/- 5 years in Devon and adjacent counties yet you are still not found.  However, your parents are enumerated with just two children at home in South Tawton, Devon, England. Your remaining siblings have either married or are boarding when the enumerator came to call.

You reappear in records on 3rd September 1864 at St Sannan's Church in the Parish of Bedwellty, Monmouthshire, Wales as a Labourer to marry Martha CHAMBERS.  She is soon with child and just 10 months after the wedding you are blessed with your first child, a son, and another six enumerated children followed.
"Wales, Monmouthshire, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Mar 2014), Aaron Osborn and Martha Chambers, 03 Sep 1864, Marriage; citing "Parish Records Collection 1538-2005," Brightsolid; Bedwellty, Monmouthshire, Wales, p. 156; FHL microfilm 2408883

1871 finds you still living in Blackwood, Bedwellty, Monmouthshire (Now Blackwood, Gwent) as a Fireman - although I suspect that this did not mean that you fought fires or stocked a fire box on an engine but was something to do with mining and the dangers that fire posed underground. I have this suspicion as by 1881 you had become a coalminer, an occupation for which you served an apprenticeship at the side of an experienced coalminer (often a father, brother, uncle or another relative).  The census in 1881 and later in 1891 give the hamlet in which you were living as Hengoed in the Parish of Gelligaer, Glamorganshire, Wales although from the street names, Hanbury Road and Bristol Terrace, I can see that you were about 4 miles north in the settlement of Bargoed (formally part of Pont Aberbargoed).

So to 1891 and your final census appearance. You are still a coalminer with a wife and five children at home along with a teenage girl, Annie L BELL, listed as your adopted daughter although no-one seems to know who she is or why she was with your family. Your eldest son by now was married and living nearby with his own wife. Another of your sons, Richard, is missing in 1891 but I suspect that he may have been working a night shift at the coal face and was missed when the enumerator came to call.
A view accross Bargoed Viaduct in the foreground with  Bristol Terrace above the railway line in the upper right corner.

Sadly in February 1896 you passed away, leaving Martha a widow.  She kept the family home for another ten years before remarrying.

I would love to know where you were hiding when the 1861 census was taken and where (if at all) your children were baptised as having spent hours bent over photocopies if the parish registers I know that they were not baptised at the Parish Church.

With Love,
Your £rd Great-Granddaughter.

A History of Bargoed

Monday, March 03, 2014

52 Ancestors - #7 William WILLIAMS

William WILLIAMS is one of those ancestors that drove me crazy while hunting for him. I had the birth certificates of all 4 of his children and his marriage certificate but still found myself stuck in quicksand with no way out. That is until I started to lock at what I knew and trying to think logically.

What I knew:
  • 18 Nov 1912 William WILLIAMS aged 22, an Engineman, son of John WILLIAMS a Fitter married Edith Florence STEPHENS aged 22, daughter of John STEVENS deceased, at The Parish Church (St Cattwg's), Gellygear, Glamorgan, Wales. Witnesses were: Elsie WILLIAMS (relationship unknown) and Isaiah STEPHENS (brother to Edith).
  • 15 Aug 1913 William's first child is born in Pengam (Glanynant), Glamorgan, Wales and registered by Edith who gives William's occupation as Colliery Engingeman (above ground).
  • 15 Sep 1915 William's second child is born in Pengam (Glanynant), Glamorgan, Wales and registered by Edith who gives William's occupation as Colliery Engingeman (above ground)
  • 1 Oct 1915 William's third child is born in Pengam (Glanynant), Glamorgan, Wales and registered by William who gives his occupation as Colliery Engingeman (above ground)
  • 20 Sep 1916 William's forth child is born in Pengam (Glanynant), Glamorgan, Wales and registered by Edith who gives William's occupation as Colliery Engingeman (above ground)

What I wanted to know:
  • Was William recorded on the 1911 Census? if so, where?
  • What was the name of William's mother?
  • Did William have any siblings? if so, what were their names?

Since William married in 1912 and his wife had only every been recorded as living in area of Glamorganshire, Wales I thought it seemed likely that William would have been staying relatively local in 1911 when the census was taken (assuming he wasn't visiting someone in other areas on census night). Also if William was 22 in 1912 his year of birth would be 1890 give or take.

Trying an exact search provided 94 results, 49 in England and 45 in Wales.
Extract of Search results for 1911 Wales Census of William WILLIAMS
of these 45, the following 2 were living in the location I thought I might find William: 1911 Wales census results for William WILLIAMS narrowed to expected parish.

At his point I decided that I needed more information; cue a visit to my grandfather to ask questions. Armed with what I knew.  As I prompted for information I received little nuggets such as "he was from Cowbridge or Bridgend" and "He had a brother Uncle Danny and I think another was Uncle Lewis or Louie!". BINGO! I had something to help - and would you believe it the William born in Cowbridge above was the right one? 
Abstract of 1911 Wales Census for William WILLIAMS from
I know not only knew what William's mother was called but also who Elsie Williams from the marriage certificate was likely to be. From the Census image I also now knew that William was one of 12 children born to Margaret and John during their 35 years of marriage. Of these 12 children, 8 were alive at the time of the census.  Looking at the previous censuses, I can account for 9 of the 12 children and see that the family moved from Cowdridge to Barry between 1891 and 1901 then from Barry to Pengam between 1901 and 1911.  This migration is consistent with the changes in industry at the time.

I have still to obtain William's birth certificate, but at least I can see the light and have pulled myself out of the quicksand with my Grandfather's rope.  I also want to locate the 3 missing siblings and find out what happened to them.