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News & Information (Monthly Update)

November 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 31/10/2019 - 23:26

Tricks and treats are not only evident at Halloween but also in family history research. It sometimes looks as if our ancestors played tricks by purposely making it difficult to be traced when they disappear from all the usual resources.  At other times, some documents may suddenly reveal amazing information which you are not expecting – a real treat!

  • I’ve just received a Will of a maiden lady who I thought was an only child only to read that she left bequests to her six nieces who turned out to be the daughters of her two sisters and two brothers.  Not only did she name all of them but gave their married names as well – which filled in many gaps in the family.  For £1.50 that really was a bargain!  The wills are now coming through quite quickly and have given quite a boost to my research.
  • I’ve also heard via the Ancestry Site that someone has discovered that he is related both to me and to my husband.  Now that is going to take a bit of sorting out!  Who can say that they have finished their research?

Military Matters

  • Remembrance Sunday this year falls on November 10th when we remember the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts.  Not only those who fell but also those who were wounded, mentally and physically as a result of wars. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Web Site  should be the first port of call when looking for relations who died in any of these conflicts.  Don’t forget that Civilian casualties are also recorded there.
  • The CWGC site has more than lists of casualties.  My father was severely wounded on his birthday May 11th1944 at the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.  The CWGC  pages about Monte Cassino give an interesting look into this battle.  It pays to explore this site.
  • My Diary for 2020 tells me that the May Day Holiday on the 1st Monday in May will not take place next year but instead there will be a Bank Holiday on Friday 8th May to coincide with VE Day or Victory in Europe Day, which marks the day during World War Two when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe.  That weekend there will be many commemorative events as we look back 75 years to May 8th, 1945. 
  • Victory celebrations were anticipated in Bristol.  Late at night on May 7th, before the much-anticipated official announcement, my mother woke me to get out of bed to see the bonfires which had been lit along the railway line near what was then the thirteen arches in Eastville.  I sleepily said “alright” and went back to sleep!  I do remember the Street Party and the feeling of excitement during the days which followed, we as children, catching the mood of our elders.  Do you or other members of your family have memories of this time?  How should we as a Family History Society mark this occasion?

Events

  • On Saturday the 23rd November from 10.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. the Society will be having a stand at an event at St Marks Church in Worle.  Please come along and support us.  It will be in the form of a Help Desk so bring along your research and any queries.
  • We are looking to attend more local shows next year.  If you know of any Village, School, Scout or Guide fete or any other community show at which we could have a stand to publicise our society please let Graham Payne or any of the Committee know so that we can discuss this with the organisers. 
  • Please let your friends know about our Free Help Sessions each Saturday afternoon at the Library.  They do not have to be members or researching local families.  We would be happy to see anyone with a query. 

Photographers and Photography

  • The talk we had about Somerset Photographers in October was very interesting but has left me with more questions than answers.  Some years ago, I was given an old photograph album by my Aunt.  She told me that all the photographs in it were of her side of the family.  Not one of them was named. 
  • Two of them were taken by J. G. Williams, Photographer of High Street, Weston-super-Mare and showed what I believed to be a young family on holiday in Weston-super-Mare and the children had been given buckets and spades to hold during the session.   I thought that I could identify them.  I thought they were my great grandmother’s sister and husband with girls born in 1872, 1875 & 1878 and two boys born in 1880 and 1883. The boys had not yet been breeched (put into trousers) 
  • However, from the book “Secure the Shadow” compiled by the speakers about Somerset Photographers 1839-1938 I discovered that J. G. Williams left the High Street in 1874 which did not match the ages of the children.  I contacted Phil Nichols and he cast even more doubt on my identification of the family by suggesting that the style of photographs looks to date it to late 1860s or very early 1870s. Firstly, the carte has square, and not rounded, corners, and secondly the full-length poses are typical of the 1860s - see the descriptions of styles / fashions at http://www.cartes.freeuk.com/time/time.htm
  • So, I’m now looking for a family in my tree with at least 5 children born before 1872.  Back to the drawing board!

Web Site

  • I sound like the proverbial broken record here - but why are members not using the Research Forum?  We have said that the queries do not only have to be about our area as many of our local members are researching family from elsewhere.
  • There are under a handful of members who ever contribute to this Forum - either to ask a question or to give help and suggestions to others. 
  • I have just put a new item on our web site – it can be found under Information Sources, Places/Churches, and Wraxall.  You will find a document relating to Wraxall – “My Wraxall Connection” click on that and you will be able to read about part of my maternal tree – the STOKES family.  This is an experiment to see if we can add to the information and general interest available under the Information Sources. 
  • This isn’t a tree but a narrative about the place and people living there.  Could you add similar documents under other places?  Let me know what you think.  I’m working on one now for Mark and my connection with the PUDDY family – but as they frequently wandered from Mark it is proving difficult!

Next Meeting and AGM

At our next monthly meeting on Tuesday November 26th will be our AGM and a members’ evening when you are asked to contribute.  In the past we have had some fascinating items from your research.  This month you are asked if you know of any Black Sheep in your family?  Do you have Famous or Infamous people on your tree?  Be prepared to talk about your naughty and/or interesting ancestors.  The latest edition of Buckets & Spades will also be available for collection.

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October 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 12:51

Yesterday, Sept 30th, we enjoyed our Annual Lunch which took place at the Worlebury Golf Club.  Thank you to Peter de Dulin for organising it and it was agreed that we would do it all again next year so if you couldn’t make it today, we hope you can join us in 2020.

Thanks also to Peter Towey for his interesting talk about military medals at our last monthly meeting – so many of our families had people who took part in the first world war and we may be familiar with Pip, Squeak and Wilfred  and their variants but the more recent medals were new to me not being in a military family.  My grandfather’s records are amongst the lost WW1 ones but just last week I noticed that his name appeared in a list on FOLD3 via Ancestry – you need a subscription for FOLD3 but by using their Free Trial I was able to see information about his pension.

I hope some of you took the opportunity to visit some of the churches which were open during the Heritage Days in September.  Several of them had interesting exhibitions of their history on view and thanks to all the people who took time to answer questions about the places.

Next Saturday, October 4th, we will be taking part in the Library’s initiative to inspire people to take up a new hobby and of course we will be suggesting Family History could be the one to choose.  This “Fun Palace” will be operating from 10.00 – 12 noon and the afternoon Free Help Session will be running as usual.  If you can spread the word to others outside the Society, it would be appreciated.  Full details can be seen here.  

On October 12th the Weston & District FHS Stand will be at the Glamorgan FHS Open Day hoping to help all those “Welsh” people whose families came from Somerset!  If you live on that side of the Bristol Channel do make yourselves known to Graham Payne and Bill Caple who will be managing the stand.

WW2  Memories

At our last meeting it was suggested again to me that we might be able to produce a booklet about people’s memories of WW2.  Some articles have already gone to Sue for inclusion in the next edition of Buckets and Spades but I would be glad to receive any more so that we can see whether this booklet is possible.  First or secondhand memories and photographs are welcome of life in Britain during WW2. As I mentioned last month. Any accounts of the blitz on Weston or elsewhere, experiences of evacuation or the “Make do and Mend” culture, food and rationing and anything else which would give those who follow us an idea of what life was like.

Music in Weston

I have also had several queries lately about people who were musicians in Weston.  Some were of German ancestry while others were local.  Names include DEAHL, PFAFF, MOGG, BURGESS, CORELLI, WINDEATT, WAGNER etc.  If you have a musician in your family please can you let me know because this might be of interest to others.

Aspects of Family History Research

  • A couple of years ago I enrolled on the free online course on Family History hosted by Strathclyde University and found it very worth while and recommend it if you want to brush up your research techniques.  I know that some other members have benefitted from it and the next course starts on the 28th of October.  It’s a five week course and is suitable for all, beginners and those with some experience.
  • If you are following the Rugby World Cup in Japan you may be interested in the My Heritage research into the DNA of 4 former world class players.  Essentially an advert for My Heritage DNA but I still feel that the most important results of DNA testing are not the aspects of ethnicity but the connections made and confirmed by traditional research  
  • Findmypast has a free blog which has some interesting items – In particular during September it put on an article about tracing the family tree of Tess DALY who introduces the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing   It is a step by step guide to research which shows how some errors can occur on original documents.
  • We have talked a lot lately about how we can get younger people interested in Family History.  Essex Record Office has produced a series of brief power-point presentations intended for use by school teachers but the content is of interest to anyone who is researching their family and want to find more that just names and dates – these give a background into the social history and lives of our ancestors 
  • If, like me, you are still waiting for Wills and Probates you ordered way back in July – it seems that they grossly underestimated that response that the reduction in price would produce – you are encouraged to wait patiently because contacting them simply lengthens the process.   The wills I have received have given me some surprises and answered some questions.  As I probably would not have ordered them at the original price, they are well worth the wait.

Our next meeting at the Vintage Church is on the 4th Tuesday of October – that’s October 22nd – and the subject will be Somerset Photographers 1839-1939. Phil Nichols and Robin Ansell will be discussing the project of cataloguing all the known photographers operating in Somerset at that time. With Allan Collier they have produced a book and CD entitled “Secure the Shadow”, published by the Somerset & Dorset FHS which lists all the named photographers many of whom operated in Weston-super-Mare.

The Help Sessions in the Library on Saturday afternoons 2.00 ‘til 3.30 p.m. and the Facebook Group continue to attract new people and we hope that some will join our society

News TopicMonthly Update
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Addition to Sept Update
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 06/09/2019 - 20:03

The announcement that the images from the Bristol Parish Registers were going to be released by Ancestry on Friday Sept 6th came after the Sept Update was published.  More details about this can be seen on the Ancestry Blog.  I've found the baptism of one illegitimate child for whom I already had a birth certificate which named a father!   Vicar knows best?!!  He did write in the margin "Not for the Parish Magazine!"

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September 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 01/09/2019 - 0:53

On September 3rd it will be 80 years since the outbreak of WW2.  If you have any memories of this time – your own or your parents’ memories - we would love to hear them before it is too late! Thank you to Ben Simpson for his article in the July edition of Buckets & Spades. Were you or your parents evacuated?  Did you have evacuees billeted with you?  Was your home damaged during the war?  What effect did the war have on your family?  Can you remember food rationing?  Did you have clothes made for you from parachute silk?  What about Utility furniture? Etc.

This is part of a photo-letter sent to me from my father in 1945 from Italy after he had been severely wounded at Monte Cassino in 1944.  I have several of these letters which were photographed and reduced in size before sending.

WW2 Research

  • The National Archives has many research guides to assist your research into the Second World War and many of them have resources available online.
  • The National Archives has also re-issued some videocasts done for the 70th anniversary which tell the real stories behind some of the well-known WW2 films
  • Historic England has published some aerial views of Weston which includes some interesting shots of wartime Weston including air-raid shelters on the Beach lawns and Reservoirs on Alexandra Parade

Dates for September

  • North  Somerset Archivist - Thursday 5 September  will be the next archivist visit to Weston-super-Mare Library- Sessions are open from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm, and from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm  For more information and to order documents to be brought to the library contact Somerset Archives somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk Please give 2 days notice.
  • Heritage Open Days 2019 - 13 - 22 September Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE.   In North Somerset many of the Churches will be open - some having special exhibitions of their archives and some, St Mary’s Church at Portbury (for one) offering cream teas!  Take a look at all the places which will be open they include The Town Quarry in Weston, The Curzon Cinema at Clevedon, Uphill Church on the hill, The Mayor’s Parlour in Weston, etc. See Heritage Open Days for full details of places open in North Somerset 
  • Society’s Monthly Meeting - Tuesday September 24th our meeting at the Vintage Church in Hughenden Road will feature Peter Towey with British War Medals as his topic.  If you have any which you cannot identify or with a particular history please bring them along. 
  • Bristol & Avon FHS Open Day - Saturday September 28th We will have a stand at this Open Day on with many other organisations offering help with your research.  If you have even a passing interest in postcards, mining, Canadian research, Military matters, quilts, Railways, Caribbean research or maps as well as family history there will be something there to interest you.  Local History Groups, Family History Societies from Wales, Warwickshire and the South West, Record Offices and commercial enterprises which support your research will all be on hand to help you.  For full detail go to the Bristol & Avon web site  
  • Our Annual Lunch - Monday Sept 30th   The Society’s Annual Autumn Lunch will take place at Worlebury Golf Club – full details in the July edition of Buckets & Spades.  Contact Peter de Dulin if you have any queries.

Using family history research techniques for other purposes.

Many of us are also interested in house histories and research the families which lived in them.  The BBC programme “A House through Time” is an example of this and I understand that the next series in 2020 will feature a house in Bristol.  Researching a single street (a short one is best!) can provide an amazing amount of information about the area in which our ancestors lived. 

A display of Classic Cars in Weston recently reminded me that over the years, our family has owned and enjoyed a number of vintage cars.  As it was in the 1960s when we bought our first one, it was more difficult to find out about previous owners and the history of the cars. Today it is easier. Although the old log books with names and addresses of previous owners are no longer in use, it is often possible to find mention of the owners and even sometimes a photograph in newspaper archives.  Specialist car clubs have their own archives and museums and other enthusiasts have often posted histories and photographs of their cars on other sites.   I was surprised recently to find online a letter written by my husband in the archives of Motor Sport Magazine!

Researching one car gave us a happy time in Worcester Record Office looking for the original 1923 registration of a car that carried later number plates.  The records held there for cars registered in Worcestershire were fantastic and we eventually managed to get the original number back again.  That car also took us to the Museum of the South Staffordshire Regiment for information about the first owner where we also found a photograph of him.  We visited where the first owner had lived and a neighbour gave us information which led to us taking the car to see a close friend of the original chauffeur who was able to give us more information.  All very similar to tracing a member of your family.

Family Trees on Ancestry.

I recently posted a photo of my great grandmother, Annie STOKES, on our Facebook Group and have been looking at her side of my family.  She was one of 15 children and there are currently 31 trees on Ancestry which include her parents, Charles & Lavinia STOKES nee SPERRIN. 

The first one I looked at had 4 different birth dates for Charles STOKES – 1819, 1820, 1821 and 1833.  The first two dates I can understand as he was christened on the 2nd Jan 1820 at Wraxall and unless he was christened immediately it is likely that he was born in 1819.  The 1821 date was taken from an entry on the 1841 census where ages are approximated to the nearest 5 years downwards.  Unfortunately, the wrong Charles STOKES had been picked up.  This tree has chosen a Charles STOKES living in Shepton Mallet in 1841 whereas my Charles was still in Wraxall.  Just to confuse matters the researcher adds the Shepton Mallet “parents” of Charles to the tree.  I could go on, but I am now trying to get in contact with the owner of this tree!

Do check any tree before adding anything from it to your own research!

Research Forum.

I have posted a query twice on the Research Forum about Samuel STOKES (Father of the Charles STOKES) baptised in Wraxall in 1793 said to be the son of Joseph & Martha.  Neither time did I get any response, so I posted a similar query on the free Rootschat Forum and immediately had some really helpful suggestions which made me ask myself “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”  One of which was simply - did I have a death certificate which might show a relationship?  This led me to wonder whether members are not using our Forum because they think their query is too silly or the answer to someone else is too obvious?  Believe me, you can spend so much time going over in your own mind your own brickwalls but another person looking at the problem may see it from a different angle and make really useful suggestions.  A member once commented that they couldn’t answer any of the queries because they didn’t refer to their own tree.  The query might not be about your own research but in many cases you can use your own experience of how you built your own tree to help others.

Free Help Sessions

Many thanks to all the volunteers who turn up each Saturday not knowing what they are going to be asked to look at.  Today, the last Saturday in August, we looked at Indian Records – How do you send for an Indian Marriage Certificate?   We unearthed the marriage of a young woman who we eventually discovered used her stepfather’s surname when she married which was why we couldn’t find her marriage in the first place.  A young Air or Army cadet came in looking for a member of the Home Guard who had died in 1944.  The local newspapers which are on film (not online) gave us details of his inquest and funeral and our own transcriptions gave his burial in the Cemetery. 

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August 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Thu, 01/08/2019 - 18:04

It's the Summer Holidays and the schools have all broken up with Proms and Sports Days etc.  I found this photo (and it's named!) in the Pictorial Review of 1931 published by the Weston Gazette.  Anybody researching these surnames? - OVER, OSBORNE, CHARLES or ALFORD - I think that Doris OVER was connected with the Confectioners OVERs in the High Street

Wills

The notification that UK Wills from 1858 are now available at £1.50 each instead of £10.00 was put on our web site as soon as they became available at this price and caused great excitement.  Several members have already received Wills which have proved interesting.    It is likely that this price will only be held for 12 months so make the most of it.  See Who Do You Think You Are? magazine for details.

Family & Local History

I am a firm believer that Family and Local History go hand in hand and that you cannot do one without considering the other.  Many local societies have helpful websites and I have just mentioned just three societies below.  I know there are many other groups operating in our area.  Please add a comment to this Update to draw attention to others which could help other members.

  • Yatton Local History Society has a series of their publications available which can be searched and contain interesting articles about the history and people of Yatton. The first item on the page is an index to names mentioned in various publications, not all of which are online  
  • Nailsea & District Local History Society has also put a number of their Journals – The Pennant – online.  You can see them by clicking on the name of the society. Purely by chance, I note that  Pennant No 30 (the last one on the list) contains an article written by one of our members, Peter Lamb, about the MASSINGHAM Family.
  • The Clevedon Civic Society has a very strong Local History Group.  It has published PDF versions of their magazine the Clevedonian which ceased publication in 2014 but contain a variety of interesting articles about Clevedon.  They can be viewed by clicking on the name of the society and include a piece by Jane Lilly entitled “When we were very young” which may ring bells with some of our members.

Buckets & Spades

Thanks to Sue Maguire for the latest edition of our Buckets and Spades – it made for some very interesting reading about families with connections in the Weston district.  On Page 36, Sheila MILLS mentions that her great grandfather Charles DAVIS was a “Journeyman” with the trade omitted.  Looking at the 1871 census of Bedminster I see that Charles was a Carpenter.  The term “Journeyman” means that he had completed an apprenticeship but had not set up in business on his own account and so was in the employ of someone else.  One definition of “Journeyman” is that he was “paid by the day” after the French for “Day” – “Jour”  not that he travelled around although of course, he might have done that looking for work.

The deadline for articles for the next edition is 17 Oct 2019. 

If any of you are stuck with your research we have started a section in Buckets & Spades on “Breaking Down Brick Walls”  - see Page 8 -  If you contact me with your the problem I will try to offer suggestions for your research to be published in the next edition with the hope that the suggestions might give ideas to others of how to solve their problems as well.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

The Research Forum.

The Research Forum is for full members only.  When you post a query on the Research Forum please use this page and use the link on the right-hand side of the page where it says "Post your Query Now" which will allow you to give it a suitable title (with the SURNAME in UPPERCASE to attract a response. The Research Forum is open for questions about ancestors in all parts of this country not only North Somerset

Facebook Group

For members of the Facebook Group who are not also full members of the Society and who are reading this – You can post queries on the Facebook Group and hopefully other members of the Group – we now have 135 members and some are vastly experienced - will respond with suitable suggestions

Free Help Sessions

These are continuing during August as normal and are open for everyone members or not.  Just turn up at about 2,00pm on a Saturday afternoon with some facts about your family and an idea of what you hope to find out and we will see if we can help.   If you are a full member but cannot attend the Weston Library you can use the Research Forum to post your query – which need not be about the Weston area and our volunteers will use their time in the library to find an answer for you.

Brian Austin Archive

We have recently put a list of the topics of the research which Brian Austin has completed over the years on the web site.  See The Brian Austin Archive for the full index to his work and detail of how to access it.  Some of it is the result of him, many years ago, spotting documents with were surplus to requirements being destroyed by officials at the Town Hall.  Brian removed them and studied their content, noting facts which have subsequently assisted family historians piece together information about their ancestors.  Brian’s research can be found in the Somerset Heritage Centre, Weston Library and at his home and he will reply to any query if you include a stamped addressed envelope. 

Newish Resources online

  • The Genealogist has announced a new selection of records from Norfolk including Bastardy Records which should interest any of you with Norfolk ancestors - You will need to scroll down to find the article.  These also include images from the Norfolk Archives.  The latest news from The genealogist can be seen here 
  • Findmypast now includes images of Devon Parish Records in its collection of records.  See which other parishes it has available.
  • To find which new items have been added to Ancestry go to this page - Some will have just been updated but some are completely new.

Who do You think You Are?

It’s that season again. Why is it, however much I want to see these programmes, that halfway through I fall asleep?!  It’s lucky that I can always catch up with them later!  The stories behind the celebrities make for good television but I want more.  How did the local expert actually find the information they produce from out of a hat?  Why did they need the expert?  Couldn’t they do it themselves?  Or would the programme be too long?  It’s taken me years to discover some facts but that’s because when I started the documents were not as accessible as they are today.  The celebrities are missing that rush of adrenaline when you finally discover the missing link.  They are allowing someone else to find that final piece of the jigsaw.  Mind you, if someone could tell me who the parents were of Robert LONG who married Hester PRIGG in 1767 in Bitton, how many children they had and when they died, I think I could live with that!

Society meetings

The July meeting looked at the history of the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway.  My mother used to tell of a day when she was on that train somewhere near Wick St Lawrence and she became uncomfortably hot only to find that there was a fire smoldering away under her seat!  There were other tales of the train stopping for either passengers or the driver to pick mushrooms in a neighbouring field. If you would like to join a tour on Sunday 20th Oct 2019 along the route of the WC&P see here for more details 

Just a reminder that we do not have a meeting in August.  The September meeting on the 24th Sept will be Peter Towey talking about British War Medals. 

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July 2019 Update
published by Pat Hase on Mon, 01/07/2019 - 22:53

It’s July, and time for Wimbledon, gardening and holidays so is there time for Family History?  We all have priorities to make in the way we use our time, but life goes on and you are creating the family history of the future.  Are you recording the events which your descendants will search for?  With photography so easy now, are you saving and naming the people in your snaps?  Many photos are kept digitally and not printed these days and it is not so easy to identify individuals without a back to write on!  Many old photographs appear online with a request for someone to name the individuals, whether they are school photos, wedding photos or pictures of other activities, so this not a new problem. 

Kewstoke Local History Exhibition

There will be a Kewstoke Local History Exhibition in the main village hall at Kewstoke starting Thurs. July 11th to Sunday July 14th. It will be open from 10.30 am until 6.30 pm each day. Refreshments will be available.  Our Society will have a help Desk there throughout, but the local Kewstoke exhibits and resources will be plentiful and varied.   They will include a new display of W.W.1 & 2 & evacuees and where they stayed in the village. Many local family histories with photos. The usual Census entries 1841 to 1911. New information taken from the Parish Minute books. Lots of new photos and information about local buildings and events.

 Genealogy versus Family History

There has been a concentration lately on the DNA aspect of genealogy but if we think about the way in which our ancestors lived that will add another dimension to your research.  I have recently been reminded of a book published in 2016 by Janet Few, who has spoken to our Society several times.  It is called “Remember Then, Women’s Memories of 1946 and 1969 and how to write your own”  Janet worked with a group of 80  women who recounted their own experiences and consulted their diaries and photographs to produce a book which  describes life from their own perspective and may give you some tips on how to write up your own memories.  This holds good for men and women, although I suspect few men wore liberty bodices!

Serendipity

You never know what you will find when you are looking for something else!  In the Library last Saturday we were looking for information about activities on Birnbeck Pier.  We were trying to identify individuals in this photograph. 

Peter Lander of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust had already identified someone with connections to Axbridge Workhouse – but we had also found that a woman assistant on the Water Chute had given evidence at an Inquest during the same year as the photograph – 1913.  David Tyler began looking through the Weston Mercury which is available on film in the library for more information and found an account that described the circumstances when a man fell from the Old Pier.  Much to my surprise one of the boatmen who tried to rescue him was named as J. HASE.   I think I can identify this boatman as my father-in-law’s eldest brother, but I had no idea that he had a boat at that time.  By the way, the air conditioning in the Library made the atmosphere very comfortable on one of the hottest days this year.

Helping others to help Yourself

I have found that answering queries on the Research Forum, by volunteering at one of our Free Help Sessions or by taking part in the discussions on our Facebook Group often takes me into new areas that can be helpful in my own research.   I have just been looking to see what new resources were available on the various sites and found that Find a Grave had new entries on their site and one of them just might be a direct ancestor of mine who died in 1798. 

This photo was put on last year and I’ve been looking for him since the 1980s!  The site is free of charge although it is included in the Ancestry offering.  It obviously pays to revisit sites to see if they have been updated.

Family History Societies

I know I’m talking to the converted here but belonging to one or two Family History Societies can be a tremendous help in your research.  Ideally, you should join one which holds meetings in the area in which you live so that you can attend meetings and meet like-minded people who share your interests and another which covers the area in which your ancestors lived as that one is likely to have resources to help you and members who have an in-depth knowledge of the area.

You don’t have to be a member of our society to access many parts of our website.  News & Information (including the Monthly Updates) and some Journal Articles are open to everybody.  Transcriptions are free for members.  Other Societies have similar areas that are open to all.

Some examples of other Societies’ offerings:

  • The Bristol & Avon FHS has a database of information from unwanted Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates which can be searched online to give full details.  They include certificates from places other than Bristol and there is always the chance that your family name is included.  This is a Weston death certificate on this site  - there could be others!
  • The Somerset & Dorset FHS has, as part of its website, a Society Blog with articles and features about the Society  and it includes some articles from “The Greenwood Tree” their Members’ Journal which may be of interest.
  • The Devon FHS has a WWWBoard – which is a place where anyone (you don’t have to be a member) can post questions relating to Devon research. 

July Events

During July our Free Saturday Help Sessions at the Library will continue – and we welcome people with questions about their family history research and the question doesn’t have to be only about North Somerset as there is Internet access available.  If you do not live in the area and you have any queries which our volunteers at the library can answer please use our Research Forum on the Web Site to ask your questions and if we have time we can search for you.  The library has local newspapers on film but as they are not indexed, dates, as well as names, are needed to search these.  There is a complete set of Street Directories for 1900 – 1974 and Electoral Rolls from the 1940s where people can be identified.  With the Electoral Rolls don’t forget that only people who have the vote are included and the Rolls are arranged in Street order not alphabetical so searching can take time.  The library has extensive files about local people, buildings and events so if you can get there any Saturday afternoon from 2.00 – 3.30 (when we are there) or of course at any time during the week when you can do your own research you will find the visit worthwhile.

Our next monthly meeting will be on Tuesday 23rd July when the topic will be the fascinating history of the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway known affectionately locally as the W.C & P.  The Speaker will be Paul Gregory who is the Secretary of the W.C & P Railway Group 

At the July meeting, it is hoped to have the latest edition of Buckets and Spades available for members.   As usual, we will not have a meeting in August but look forward to our next meeting on September 24th when the topic will be War medals so you’ve plenty of time to discover which medals your relations received and why - and what questions to ask Peter Towey

If I have omitted any July events please add them as a Comment to this update.

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