Sunday, 28 August 2016

Marking Six Years of Blogging

Image result for sixI almost let my blog anniversary pass without noticing it - for  August 21st marked my six years of bloggng. 

It has been a great six years and has far exceeded my expectations when I tentatively wrote my first post in August 2010. 

 My main concern then was "Is anyone finding this and more importantly actually reading it?" A few arms were twisted with friends and relations to sign up as my first followers. But let's face it, although we enjoy writing,  recognition from others is a great motivator.

In my early days I was a avid reader of my blog statistics, but that went  overboard when I discovered spammers were playing havoc with my page views - fortunately once I set up comment moderation that problem has been not so much in evidence.  Now I tend to rely on comments to gauge how successful I have been in awakening interest.   

I never expected  to last this long, as I thought I would soon run out of material, but the prompts from Geneabloggers and inspiration from other bloggers has been so stimulatingDiscovering two cousins (third), one from my birth town, and one in the USA,   gave  me a shot in the arm, as they provided  me with fresh stories and an abundance of photographs.  

This time last year,  I was feeling a bit in a rut blogwise and questioned  "Is there a Life Expectancy to a Blog?  But I now  look forward with a more positive air. 
 
 
What have been the landmarks this past year? 
  • Taking part in the A-Z Challenge 2016  on the theme "I Remember.....Memories of Childhood and Beyond", which I think was one of my more successful contributions in this annual blogging bonanza.
     
  • Joining the new Facebook page, We Are Genealogy Bloggers   - set up by Lorinne  of Olive Tree Genealogy   to provide a forum for discussion, sharing knowledge and ideas on  all matters relating to the act of blogging - a great new addition that I have found very  helpful in answering my queries.

  • Setting up A Facebook page for my blog.   This was a major achievement for me, given I am not a techy person, but once done it proved easy to post  my blog onto it.    I have never  been a Facebook fan, but for some time, I was aware  I was not making the most of social media to promote my blog, and my early impression is it has given a boost to my page views. But  it will never replace my blog itself, where I particular value  the comments from fellow bloggers.
  • Developing the blog I set up in 2015 for my local heritage group  - Auld Earlston - it's a challenge managing two blogs - but very enjoyable all the same. 
And on the Down Side  
The three family history narratives I have been working on for a long time remain on my "to do" list, and I cannot say that my Family History board on PInterest has evoked much interest - I need to look at making more effective use of this opportunity, 

How has blogging changed in the six years? 
I can do no better than recommend you look  at Wendy of Jollett etc. whose recent anniversary post HERE reflects  on different aspects of blogging and how they have changed - it makes very thought provoking reading. 

As for me - there is life in my blog yet, and I look forward to another year of discovering stories connected with my family history, writing posts that appeal to readers,  and reading the posts of my fellow enthusiasts.  

 Image result for birthday
Images courtesy of Pixabay 


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Friday, 26 August 2016

The Sad Story of Edward Stewart Ingram Smith - Surname Saturday

Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923) the paternal grandfather of my cousin Stuart,  is the focus of this third part of the Smith story.  He was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In this photograph of him as a 20 year old young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him. 

This profile is the third in a series of posts on the Smith family who hailed originally from  the island of Unst in the Shetlands - the most northerly part of the British Isles.  In a number of moves and facing bankruptcy along the way, great grandfather James Ingram Smith settled  in the famous  seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire.

Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.   His Ingram middle name came from  that of the Shetland minister who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths. 

In his early childhood, Edward experienced several moves across country  as his father's hotel businesses failed.   In 1881 the family (now with six children) was in Aberdeen where his father was butler at Skene House

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father  wore the kilt until he was 17 years old, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent  and used to say that Edinburgh people spoke the best English.  

Leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. 



By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool.    

His daughter recalled that Edward was brought up in the Scottish Presbyterian Church but  converted to Catholicism for his first girl friend, without actually practising in the faith.  In 1902 in Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool,  Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior. (below)  


Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photographer is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children - son Arthur, with his mop of long fair curls,  and in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit
Ella, Edith and Arthur


Left - Edith Smith (1910-1982), dressed a snowball for a fancy dress event at Blackpool. Arthur (1906-1979)   and far right Ella (1904-2003) with her teddy. 

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool.

In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army  and he joined   the Liverpool Scottish Regiment.  He served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. After the Battle of Delville Wood, where he was wounded in action, he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how   he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9

   
But  family  life proved unhappy following Edward's  discharge. His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and childrenA news item  of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  made sad reading:


One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily survived him by a further 40 years and married for a second time.  

The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man of thirty years earlier.  

  
In Case You Missed:
An Island Family - the  Smiths of Unst,  Shetland
John Ingram Smith - From Butler to Bankruptcy                                 

Surname Saturday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers  encouraging bloggers to write about their family history 


NOTE:
The information on Edward's court appearance only came to light in preparing this blog post, and is included here with the permission of the Smith family.

I initially was looking for an item on Edward's war service and searched British Newspapers Online (included in my FindMyPast subscription), it is an extensive  resource that features many small local newspapers besides the national titles.  You can also access the  collection on the GenesReunited website and at  British Newspapers Archive. 


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Monday, 22 August 2016

Wedding Fashions - Part Two : Sepia Saturday 4

Wedding Fashions (1941-1971) is the theme of my latest post in  Sepia Saturday's August theme of Love and Marriage,  with photographs from England, Scotland, New Zealand and the United States, including grateful contributions from my two (third)  cousins who first made contact through my blog.

1941
Dorothy Lilla Oldham (1915-1989) married  Desmond Stacey in New Zealand in 1941. A branch of the Oldham family had emigrated to the country in 1906.   Look at the fancy flounces, ribbons and rosettes on the bridesmaids' skirts, echoed in the frilled puff sleeves.   Dorothy and Desmond had seven children, the eldest son, Peter, born in Fiji.

1942

A magnificent array of dresses for the  wartime  wedding in New Jersey of Ruth A. Urtstadt  and Edward J. LInke -  the parents of my American third cousin Bonny - descendants from my Lancashire Rawcliffe family.  I doubt if you would see anything like this in Britain then,  when clothing was rationed.

1946
A wintry austerity Britain in December 1946 when my uncle Charles Weston married his bride Vera.  I am the tiny shivering bridesmaid, dressed, so I was told,  in dusky pink, and holding a big posy, with my elegant mother standing  behind.   My mother often used to relate how difficult it was to get shoes to match and she ended up dyeing them - clothes rationing continued in Britain until 1949.  This was a happy day for the family as Charles had suffered harsh experiences as  a prisoner of war in the Far East. 

1963 
 A beautiful portrait of the happy couple  - my third cousin Stuart Smith  and his wife Jennifer Williams  who married in formal style May 1963


1965

The wedding of my mother's cousin Irene Danson  to  Raymond Pickup in Blackpool. A typical 60's look for the bridesmaids with princess-line dresses, short  skirts, and bouffant hair styles.  

1971
Neil and I married in Edinburgh at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.   Here is the family group with my parents on the  right, Neil's parents  on the left and my aunt and uncle (my mother's sister and brother) at each end.  My dressmaker mother made my dress and her own outfit.   


The omens were not good on our wedding day on 24th July 1971. It poured down and we have no photographs taken outside; my husband Neil looks a bit shell shocked in this informal picture; and with the Tudor monarchs all the rage on film and TV at the time, I chose to wear an Ann Boleyn style headdress - she suffered the fate of being beheaded by Henry VIII.   

A few nights before,  I had this awful dream where I turned up at the church in all my finery to discover it all shut up  and there had been some mix up over the date.  Was this an awful  portent? 

Then the evening  before,  we had a wedding rehearsal at the churchOn the way, with my mother and aunt in Neil's car, we had a blow out on the main A1 road into Edinburgh.  We managed to get a taxi and left Neil to change the wheel.  He arrived late at the church with oil over his cream Arran sweater.  He had to spend the morning of his wedding getting the tyre repaired ahead of us driving  north to the Highlands for our honeymoon.

Wedding day dawned and I was with my mother and bridesmaid fitting my headdress on,  when the phone rang  It was the car hire firm to say in the heavy rain one of their cars had broken down on its way.   It seemed to be left to me to suggest that the one car would have to do a double journey for the wedding party and of course I was late at the church.  We never did get any money back on that missing car.


As for photographs, all taken at the reception - do you notice somebody's trouser legs above our heads in the group picture?  The legs came from   a portrait of Edinburgh writer Robert Louis Stevenson.   Not quite the composition you expect from a professional photographer who had been recommended to us.  

Still we survived - and have just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary - and it rained again! 


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 In Case You Missed in this August series
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Friday, 12 August 2016

Wedding Fashions - Part One: Sepia Saturday Week 3

Wedding Fashions (1865-1938) is the theme of my latest post in  Sepia Saturday's August theme of Love and Marriage,  with photographs from England, Scotland, New Zealand and the United States, including grateful contributions from my two (third) cousins who first made contact through my blog. 

1865

My cousin Stuart's great grandmother was Isabel Edward of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  Her sister Jessie married William Dower and they are pictured here with their respective parents.  William   was appointed by the London Missionary Society as a Wesleyan Missionary in South Africa and he and his new wife Jesse sailed  there  shortly after their wedding.   In March 1870, William and Jesse set out on an ox wagon journey to East Griqualand and the town of  Kokstad, where he was asked to take on the role of pastor.  The original of this photograph is in the Kokstad Museum. 

Unless the bride came from a wealthy family, it was generally not the custom to  have a special dress for the wedding, but to wear  the finest the bride owned.  For her wedding to Price Albert in 1840, Queen Victoria wore a white dress and the early photographs taken of the occasion helped to popularize the custom of a white bridal gown.   
 
 1910

An elegant portrait of Sarah Alice Oldham on her wedding to George Butler in Blackpool, Lancashire  and what a magnificent hat!    Sarah came from a family of carters and coalmen down three generations and George also worked in the business. 

1914
Another Oldham wedding, but this time in New Zealand as James William Oldham married Edith Keymer.  I do like the simple classic lines of Edith's dress, but here is the style for magnificent bouquets. 

James'  parents Alfred and Sarah Oldham emigrated to  New Zealand in 1906, where they ran a wholesale tobacconists and stationery business on Karangahape Road,  Auckland Following James death the family moved to Sydney Australia where his descendants still live today. 


1915
A simpler style for the wartime wedding for my husband's great aunt Violet Hibbert, daughter of a miner. She  married Frank King in South Shields, County Durham.





1918

The wedding of Florence Adelaide Mason to Charles Urstadt in New Jersey, USA.  
She is wearing  such a distinctive  headdress that I wondered if it had any links to Charles' German background. And again what huge bouquets! 

 Florence (1898-1963)  was the eleventh  child of James Mason and Alice Rawcliffe - my great grandmother's sister.  They emigrated, with six children  from Fleetwood,   Lancashire to New York City  in 1888, where they had a further five children, before settling in Jamesburg, Middlesex, New Jersey.  




1919

Beatrice Oldham (sister of Sarah in the second photograph)  married Jack Clarke in 1919 in Blackpool, Lancashire.   I feel the significance of the date after the First World War is not lost in this photograph where there is a air of informality (shorter skirt, trilby hat etc.), compared with the opulence of Sarah's dress above.

 1929

A local  newspaper report gave an  over-the-top account of the dress at my great aunt Jennie Danson's wedding to Beadnell (Bi) Stemp at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 
Jennie was " stylishly gowned in French grey georgette, veiling silk to tone. The bodice which was shaped to the figure was quite plain, with a spray of orange blossoms at the shoulder, while the skirt, which was ankle length, was composed entirely of five picot edged scalloped circular frills, and the long tight sleeves had circular picot edged frilled cuffs in harmony. Her hat was of georgette to tone with uneven pointed dropping brim, having an eye veil of silver lace and floral mount. She carried a bouquet of pink carnations with silver ribbon and horseshoe attached."

 1930
The wedding of my uncle Fred to Fanmces Green in Leicester in ghe English Midlands.  My father is the rather stern looking man on the far left, carrying the trilby (or panama?) hat, with,  I think,  his brother Charles behind him.  My grandmother is in the cloche hat next to the bridegroom and unfortunately I have been unable  to identify my grandfather - he could be the man hidden at the back. Fred's sister could well be one of the bridesmaids and I have no idea who the young boy is.  I presume the older couple on the right of the photograph are the bride's parents.   This is one of very few  photographs  I have of  the Weston family, prior to my parent's own marriage. 

 1931
The wedding of Albert Leslie Williams and Hilda Florence Coombs in London, the parents ff my cousin's Stuart's wife.  It is two year's after my great aunt's wedding above and in another part of the country, but Dutch style hats for the little bridesmaids are still in fashion. 
1931
 
The wedding of Henry Robinson and Florence Riddell in Blackpool Lancashir,  with Elsie Oldham (niece of Sarah and Beatrice above)  the second figure on the left - I presume as chief bridesmaid.   I feel rather sorrow for the girl on the right on  her own, looking rather spare.  
1938
  
 A low key April wedding for my parents John Weston and Kathleen Danson  at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. My grandmother Weston  is weeing her fox fur a popular accessory in the 1920's-1950's


 A telegram sent to my parents on their wedding day.  


Part Two of the Love and Marriage series will look at Wedding Fashions 1941-1971 

In Case You Missed