Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Not to be Overlooked

Today's mail brought a reminder that local papers are an excellent source for details of families involved in war. Many families - those with young sons in particular - were, of course closely involved in that tragedy that was World War 1 and it was imperative, at the time, to try to boost morale on the home front and to give every support to the "gallant lads" - as they were usually (and rightly) described. As part of that support, interviews with parents with sons at the front - often with photographs - became a regular feature of local papers. These articles are of exceptional interest to family historians as they often give details that are not easily obtainable elsewhere.

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:

"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."

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.

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