Friday, December 28, 2007
I had forgotten though, that I had asked my mother the same question about 25 years ago - and, over Christmas, I found her notes which I have now added to the Church Street School groups which are tentatively dated 1910 and 1914.
I am pleased to say that as a result, most of the girls on the 1914 group and some on the 1910 picture, are now identified for posterity.
It's a reminder to us all that now is time to put names to all those family photographs we can identify now but will be more difficult - perhaps impossible - for future generations if we don't do it now.
Friday, December 7, 2007
One source they do have which I found most useful and convenient was a set of microfiche of the wills proved at Leicester Probate Registry which run up to comparative recent years. Up to now, many of us have used the Postal Searches & Copies Department at York to get copies for a relatively modest fee but now, at least for Leicester wills, these details are even easier to obtain. I don't believe that a similar facility resource at Nottingham Archives yet - lets hope that we will see them there soon.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
But, if I was asked to describe my favourite tasks I would have to say its finding long-lost relatives with a Beeston connection. But the irony is that although we are dealing with more recent times, the task is very much more difficult than tracking ancestors in the 19th century - the census is not yet available, there are restrictions on some records, indexing of records is not as complete and - a huge problem - people are much more mobile. But there are also big pluses - notable the Internet which is making available information which has been hidden for decades and sometimes centuries, people interact with social networking site and Google helps us to find traces and connections that would have been invisible before.
This year, so far, there have been several such searches, all of them successful. Some required great sensitivity and caution because of the personal issues involved, another - seeking living descendants to settle an estate in the States - took six months but successfully reunited a family some members of which had not not moved far while others, who seemingly vanished, were found half way around the world.
But it was one that I was able to solve in the last month that has given me particular pleasure. A contact from a Belgian local history group asked for help to locate a member of a Lancaster bomber crew who were on a Cologne raid when they were brought down in June 1943. Some of the crew lost their lives but some survived and were captured - but not before they were helped by a local family which still retains a vivid memory of one survivor. He had been tracked to a post-war address in Beeston but he had soon moved on from there. I hope to publish the full story in due course but suffice to say, I was very pleased to be able to track the gentleman to an address on the south coast and a reunion is being planned.
Certainly, it was a very great privilege to help with this request in particular.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Originally, he and his wife were buried on the lawn at their home but were later re-interred in Wilne Churchyard near Draycott in Derbyshire. I have often visited this churchyard - I have ancestors there too. Its a little remote, being pretty well surrounded by gravel workings but the church still seems to have an active congregation.
Last Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining but the long grass in the churchyard was very wet and, in turn, my shoes were getting very wet as I struggled to find the memorial. I knew it was overgrown and I hadn't found it when I came across two locals who had come to tend a grave. As is so often the case, a friendly question received an equally friendly response. They knew where it was and insisted on taking me there. Its a very big memorial but it sadly its gradually being taken over my trees which are growing through the grave site - its a great pity.
At least I got my photograph which I have now added to the story which you can see at http://www.beeston-notts.co.uk/bunning.shtml
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The ceremony - as is becoming increasingly common (and popular) - was not held at a church or at a Register Office, but at one of the growing number of fashionable locations newly licenced for weddings - in this case, a hotel.
As I watched the ceremony and the signing of the register, naturally my mind turned to the implications of all these trends to the family historian of the future.
Today, most family history research requires us to have a good grasp of "location" - there is a continuous need to know "where" so that we can track our ancestors in the available records, many of which are tied to the Parish where they lived. While that is often a tremendous advantage, if they move - or if they came from elsewhere - it can become difficult to track the move with confidence. That's particularly the case if the move involves a change of County - mainly because of the way our historical records were made originally and are stored today. While it is certainly the case that the more global search facilities that have emerged over the last five year or so have alleviated the problem greatly, on the fringes, it remains a problem.
Things have changed dramatically during my lifetime. When, as a teenager I sat in the pews of the Beeston Parish Church and listened to the calling of Banns, it was pretty rare for one of the parties to be not "of this Parish" but 20-30 years later, with much greater individual mobility, the opposite usually applied. Most married someone from outside the Parish. The Vicar even had his little joke, complaining that they were all "away matches" this week.
Now, however much the changes are popular and in tune with modern thinking, more often than not, the old norms do not apply - we can no longer expect to find the wedding taking place in the bride's local Parish church - which would have traditionally been the first place to look - and might be in any one of diverse locations, many of them hard to predict but just as likely as a place of worship or the Register Office. And the need for residence in the Parish is no longer a requirement - just notice given to the parties' local Registrar - and then the venue can be anywhere in the country.
It all seems a nightmare when we think of using our traditional methods, but actually it is unlikely to be a problem. Technology will undoubtedly make direct access instantly available, "location" will be irrelevant - if you know the names, they will be found, wherever. Of course, this will bring its own problems - all details will potentially be available to anyone which many will find unacceptable, and rules of access will probably need to be established.
One thing for sure though - family history research will far less interesting !
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
In Beeston, the newspaper at the time of WW1 was the "Beeston & West Notts Gazette & Echo and Beeston Times & Observer", which can be found on microfilm at Beeston Library and there is a partial index on cards that can often be found to be of use.
The enquiry today came from a lady who had found an article, dated August 1917, covering the three serving sons of a Mrs Moore of Beeston. Each of the three was described but notes from the description of one of the eldest son serve to illustrate the detail that can be available:
This information - along with the details of the other son, enable me to help the enquirer to the next step in her research. Of course, newspaper reports are notorious for inaccuracies and everything should be checked wherever possible - and in this case there were several unexpected twists before the family structure was uncovered. Nevertheless, this example certainly illustrates what an excellent resource this is to help bring our ancestors to life.
"Cpl William (Billy) Moore awarded Military Medal. Civilian life a lace draughtsman and manager for Messrs Widdowson of Sandiacre. Attended Chilwell schools, Secretary Beeston Friendly Society, Beeston flower show, married 2 children of 36 Derby Street, Beeston - now a bombing instructor."
Monday, October 1, 2007
Many of the Club's members were to serve in the First World War. By 1916, 126 present and former members had joined, some - including Pearson himself, were not to return.
For almost a century, the youth organisations that are based at that building have been a undoubted force for good in Beeston with generations of young people benefiting from their training. Now that they are soon to move to new premises on Nuart Road - on part of Roundhill School field - it is pleasing to know that the present name "The Pearson Centre for Young People" will continue. Pleasing also to have played a small part in the arrangements for the day by putting the organisers in touch with a member of the current generation of the Pearson family who will be welcomed as part of the official opening on February 2nd 2008.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Can anyone identify the organisation or the location ?
However, there is another problem - as it popularity grows, the more enquiries I receive. Great ! I welcome them and enjoy trying to help and I don't want to put unreasonable limits on this. But it does mean that formal additions to the web-site get put aside for a while.
Having given this situation some thought, I have decided to start this blog. I expect to use it to publish a journal of things about Beeston in the past that I am looking at currently and which may be of a wider interest or attract input and comment. Some of it - but by no means all - may eventually evolve into more formal pieces for the site but, either way, it will create a record of much that might otherwise be lost.
Feel free to contribute your comments to any post. At least for the time being, these will be moderated before they appear in the blog.