Welcome to a new Month and a special mention for our Welsh members who will be celebrating St David’s Day today. Even if many will have discovered that they are not Welsh at all but have come from other parts of the Country including many from Somerset, you can wear your daffodil with pride!
The high spot of last month just has to be our first Society Meeting via Zoom. It was a very successful meeting with an interesting and informative talk from our Vice-Chairman, Peter De Dulin about the 1939 Register. Thank you to all concerned for arranging it and the Society hopes to run Zoom meetings on the 3rd Thursday of each month from now on. We welcomed some members who would not normally be able to attend local meetings and it was great to match names with faces. An email will go to all full members advising them of the contact details each month. If you did not receive one last time, please check that you have not changed your email address. If you have any ideas of topics for these meetings, please let Jenny Towey know. Please note that the meetings are on the 3rd Thursday NOT 4th Tuesday.
I wonder how many of you have benefitted in the last few days from the wonderful selection of talks available from Rootstech which will still be available for another 11 months. Perhaps you could recommend some of the talks you have found helpful to other members?
- On March 21st the 2021 Census will be taken – I know it has been suggested that you copy your form to preserve in your own Family History Archives. You might consider asking whether other members of your family might do the same and let you have copies of their entries – it will save your descendants having to wait 100 years to access them!
- I admit to having waited avidly for the release of the 1881 census and here we are, 40 years later, looking forward to the 1921 Census for England and Wales which will be released in January 2022, initially by Find my Past. I think I know where my parents and grandparents were then but 3 of my great grandparents were still alive and it would be interesting to find out exactly where they were living and with whom.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- There was an interesting query on our Research Forum about some military graves in Milton Road Cemetery which revealed a piece of WW2 history which I had not really researched before although I had seen the graves in question. At one of our Zoom meetings hopefully will be a speaker from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – their site seems to have more information on it every time I go to it.
- There will be a War Graves Week in May to raise awareness of the work done by the Commission. Their project for Wild Flower Gardens has already been oversubscribed.
Newspapers and Coroners Reports
- A posting on our Facebook Group led me to the report of an Inquest in a local paper. This reminded me that although Coroners Records have in the main not survived, amazing detail can often be obtained from the newspapers. I find that although Find my Past does have access to the British Newspaper Archive, the search facility is so much better on the BNA site.
- Many of the sites containing searchable resources update regularly, including the Newspapers so it can be productive to search again for mention of your families, remembering that newspaper entries can have errors in them! One small thing I have become aware of recently is the use of the phrase “of this town” sometimes used in Family Announcements. I spent some time looking for a man at an address in Weston only to find that although the notice was entered in a Weston newspaper it was under a heading of Somerset Events with a sub heading Burnham and he was from Burnham on Sea!
Newspapers are also very helpful at giving information about leisure time activities – often listing sporting teams, winners of flower shows, competitors at Music Festivals etc.
From documents found with my great grandfather’s photographs I have found out that he was a fisherman. This was at the start of the First World War but presumably that was not going to stop him fishing.
For several years Samuel Thomas LONG had been a member of the Bristol West End Angling Association – he was also their Auditor – and their very posh Member’s Ticket for 1896, apart from their Rules and Regulations, listed the Railway Arrangements whereby the Midland Railway Company issued 3rd Class return “Fishing Tickets” at preferential rates to members provided that they showed their Membership Cards, Fishing Rod and Tackle at the Booking Office! Although the newspapers did report their annual fishing matches, I cannot see that he ever won a prize.
Local History Groups
I know I have included this before but do not overlook the Local History Groups covering the area in which your ancestors lived. In many cases they have web sites rich with historical information about their home places.
- You probably know of my interest in Workhouses and Axbridge Workhouse in particular. There are a number of Axbridge records including, births, baptisms, deaths and censuses which I have transcribed and made available on our web site for members. Find them under Axbridge Poor Law Union in Main Menu
- The Somerset Archives have released some searchable Somerset Workhouse Admission and Discharge Transcriptions for the whole of Somerset under their Index to Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers from 1836. It is not a complete listing because not all records have survived and there is a 100 year cut off, but very useful if you have lost someone.
Buckets & Spades
Look out for the latest edition which you should be receiving shortly. Please consider how you can contribute to the next one. It is always interesting to read about other people’s family history and how they managed to find that elusive ancestor.
We now have 319 members. and it is interesting and encouraging to see how links are being made between local families. I am posting advertisements from a 1911 book about Weston which have been jogging memories of long-established trades people in the town and of how life was before our time and of course before WW1. These have generated useful discussion.
- Graham Payne is still busy with the transcriptions and photographs of Memorials which are very well received by our members. In particular the transcriptions of the burials in the Milton Road Cemetery are in great demand by full members as they answer so many questions about what happened to their relatives after 1856.
- Bill Caple is still adding pictures to the Places covered by this Society. Go to Places/Churches and click on the name of the Place not the church. They give literally a snapshot of where our ancestors lived. If you have any which could be added I'm sure that Bill would love to hear from you.
Finally, the future is looking more promising now, provided we do not let go too quickly as soon as the better weather comes. We all want to meet up again but let’s not lose the advantage the vaccination programme has given us by rushing things. In the meantime, please keep in touch through the Research Forum, contributing to Buckets & Spades, contacting us through the web site or the Facebook Group and join in with the Zoom Meeting on Thursday March 18th.
Yesterday, I had to add the death of a very dear first cousin to my family tree and although not unexpected, it has triggered a whole range of happy memories, from childhood escapades, through teenage confidences, to marriages and the sharing of family gatherings when our children were small to our last contact, a Zoom meeting over Christmas. A whole generation of memories to be cherished – that is what family history is about - not just the framework of names, dates and places. It is recognised that it is more difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to catch the underlying aspirations and feelings of our ancestors but it is those which makes each family different and separates genealogy from family history.