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News & Information (Monthly Update)

August 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 31/07/2020 - 22:52

Who can believe that it is already August and we should be enjoying Summer Holidays? We all hope that you are keeping well and enjoying life as much as possible. On the 1st of August some of our members will be venturing out for the first time after shielding and it will take some time to become accustomed to the changes which are taking place as we go about our lives.  We wish them well.  I hope that you have been recording your thoughts and feelings during 2020 as Coronavirus will be history one day and people will want to know how their ancestors coped.   

It’s been quiet on the web site and also the Facebook Group this month as people settle to a new way of life with different priorities.  I was told years ago not to worry if family history took a back seat for a while because it would always be there for you when you are ready to return.  I’m sure the same applies today. The only problem is trying to remember where you were when you stopped and this is why it is so important to note your sources – not only as proof for your tree but also to prevent the duplication of effort and rediscovering the wheel.

Transcriptions 

  Huge congratulations to Graham Payne for his latest offering to our website with the 
  Photographs and Memorials of St John the Baptist, the original parish church of Weston-
  super-Mare.  Coupled with a plan produced by the society in 1991 he has brought the
  history of many of the inhabitants to life (if you can say that about Memorials!)  An on-
  going project -the inclusion of more modern inscriptions is a valuable asset to family
  historians.  Available for members only this more than repays the £9.00 annual
  membership fee and is not to be found elsewhere – except by a visit to the church.

  Buckets and Spades

  The latest edition of Buckets and Spades is now available and full members can read it online.  Intended as a tribute to the 75th Anniversary of VE Day in May and VJ Day in August it contains several articles concerning people’s memories of the War and their experiences.  Thank you to those who contributed and to our editor, Sue Maguire for another memorable journal.

DNA Testing

Several of our members have been using their DNA results as a means of discovering more about their family.  In my experience DNA has been useful in confirming my paper based research but I’m still struggling to understand the basics and I sympathise with others in the same position.  I’m not particularly interested in the ethnicity results and one of my main frustrations has been the lack of, or inadequacy of the trees submitted by fellow researchers.  I found this article in familytreemagazine interesting. 

Gloucestershire Parish Registers - but it could be anywhere!

  • This isn’t about this locality but not all of our members have Somerset ancestors. Not everything in family history research is as straightforward as it seems! 
    • My grandfather, Ashton HILL, was born in 1880 in Cam near Dursley in Gloucestershire and in 1670 his direct ancestors and my 7xg grandparents were marred in the same parish.  
    • So with over 200 years in the same or adjacent parishes it should have been easy! Images of the parish records are available online for Cam and I set about trying to go back before 1670. 
    • George HILL, the groom would have been born about 1645 or thereabouts.  But that is in the middle of the Civil War and the parish clerk enters that there are problems with the records and there are large gaps around this time.

 I thought I would look for marriages before that date just in case I could find a marriage of possible parents but could find nothing by scrolling through the marriages.  However, Ancestry has indexed these records and there I found this which caused some concern!

I did not think that Cam was celebrating single sex marriages in 1641  – in 1642 Edward HILL married Henry TROTMAN and a George HILL marred Edward HILL in 1643 as well as in 1641

All was revealed when I looked at the images.  This had been taken from a page devoted the officers of the parish but how this became transcribed as marriages I haven’t a clue! – especially as there are no women involved.

There were several pages devoted to this covering the years 1599-1685

 

In 1641 Edward HILL was a Church Warden and George HILL was Supervisor of the Roads.

In 1642 Edward HILL was still church warden and his “bride” Henry TROTMAN was the Supervisor

These lists cover the parish officials from 1599-1685.  I haven’t gone through them all to discover how many marriages are indexed from them but they are a great source of parish history covering Church Wardens, Overseers of the Poor, Tithingmen, Constables and Supervisors of the Roads

Still don’t know if Edward HILL (gent) or George HILL were connected to me!

Moral – always view the original if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

  Resources online

  •   During the Lockdown there have been a number of ways in which
      information has been made available online. 
    • Jenni Phillips, a long standing member of this society and of our Facebook Group published a blog about marriages which took place in Bedminster, Bristol when the participants lived elsewhere. Part 1 is here but there are three parts and it makes for some interesting reading especially as so many of our members will have found that their ancestors married in Bristol. 
  • Although they have reopened The National Archives will continue to offer free download of some digital documents while it is restricting the access to the main collection. 
  • You have just one month until August 31st to continue the free use of Ancestry at home provided by  Libraries West as their libraries gradually reopen. 

Presentations online & Somerset Heritage Centre

  • Today I watched a presentation for Weston U3A members by Jane de Gruchie, an archivist with the Somerset Heritage Centre about “Tracing Your Somerset Ancestor”. 
    • She started by confirming that the Somerset Heritage Centre is reopening on Tuesday August 4th and that there are several changes to their arrangements.  Please visit their web site for information about days on which they are open and what you need to do to visit.   
  • Jane’s presentation covered a description of all the basic records available to assist in our research at the centre and pointed out some of the pitfalls which can occur when using them.
  • Look out for other Virtual Presentations which may be offered by commercial Research Sites
  • If you can recommend anything which you have found please add as a comment to this Newsletter.

Free Help Sessions

We have no plans yet about when we will resume the free help sessions at Weston Library but you can always post your queries on the Website under the Research Forum. 

Future Planning

  • Your committee held its first committee meeting via Zoom this week and once we got over the fact that you cannot catch each other’s eyes and learnt how to signal when you have something to say it all went well. 
    • Like other societies we were debating how best to support our membership whilst recognising that many will not be comfortable for some time about meeting in person. 
    • Our main means of communication is the website plus the printed journal Buckets and Spades for those who do not use the internet.
  • Although these monthly Newsletters or Updates rarely seem to attract any comments even when specific questions are posed perhaps this time will be different because we really do need your feedback. 
    • We were considering the AGM due in November and wondered how many members would join in if we held it on Zoom. 
    • Please will you let our secretary, Brian Airey, know if you would be happy to join in – at this time all we need is a rough idea about how well it would be supported – you are not committing yourselves but it would give us some idea if we could get a quorum using that format. 
    • You can use the “contact us” button on the website to do this and choose the Secretary under Category. 
    • It would be interesting to see how many people who live too far away to normally attend would do so this way.
  • Would you be interested in monthly meetings held this way if they can be arranged. 
    • If so, would you prefer day or evening meetings or a mixture?
    • Do we have any members who would be prepared to present their research findings as part of this format? 
    • Please let us have any ideas you have about the future activities of the society.

I will end with my usual plea that you use the Web site to assist your research.  The transcriptions of the local parishes are marvellous for those with local ancestors but we realise that many who live locally may want help with research elsewhere.  Please use the Research Forum to ask any questions you may have about your research and read some of the questions and answers which have been posted - they may give you ideas for your own research.  As Jenny Towey wrote in Buckets and Spades  “If, at first, you don’t succeed – search, search again, and then, search again.  That’s why they call it Research!”

News TopicMonthly Update
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July 2020 Newsletter
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 30/06/2020 - 19:21

As I write this, a plane has just appeared in the clear blue sky leaving a vapor trail as it makes its way towards Bristol Airport.  A very unusual occurrence during this pandemic but it seems to me to represent family history research – each family makes its mark as it travels through time but its effect soon fades – our research is to catch and preserve that trail. 

What do you write in a monthly Newsletter for a Society during lockdown?  No monthly meetings to report on or anticipate, no Family History Open Days to attend, no free Saturday Help Sessions – I could go on but let’s be more positive.  Your committee continues to watch over the society;  at our last virtual meeting it was decided to change  the name of the Monthly Update to Monthly Newsletter to more accurately reflect what it contains. I hope you continue to find it helpful but would appreciate comments of what you would like included.

As family history and local history are intertwined one way in which to enhance our study is to look more closely at the area in which our ancestors lived. Perhaps inspired by the BBC’s “A House Through Time” how about a history of your own house or that of an ancestor.  In my case very easy, as our house was built in 1935 and when we bought it in 1961 we were only the third owner and we haven’t moved since.  I’ve even found a photograph of a grandson of the original owner taken in our easily recognisable front garden which was included in a family tree on Ancestry.  Those trees do have their uses after all!

Somerset Heritage Centre

The Somerset Archives has a collection of Planning Applications for Weston-super-Mare which could be very useful if you decide to do some local research.  Just go to the catalogue and enter the address which interests you.  When restrictions are lifted you may be able to see the original plans or have them brought up to the Library when the North Somerset Archivist resumes visiting Weston.

The National Archives

By using the Discovery Catalogue of the National Archives  it is sometimes possible to discover documents which refer to your family which have been deposited in archives than the county you expect them to be.  If you happen to be researching an Amelia BEAUMONT widow of Benjamin BEAUMONT who died in Weston in 1897 and is buried in the Cemetery you can read all about her family here  in the Discovery catalogue listing  but the document is in the Manchester Archives. 

There is still time to download digital images of some documents from the National Archives free of charge.   

Newspapers

Newspapers, accessible from The British Newspaper Archive and FindmyPast can also provide information about who lived where.  Try searching with the address of an ancestor. This way you may find:

  • the usual family announcements of births, marriages and deaths which sometime name other relations.
  • reports of inquests – giving details of cause of death or life style
  • court cases affecting your family both as victims or as the accused
  • advertisements for work, for servants, for sale of houses or other property etc.

Street Directories

One resource which I am lacking during this lockdown has been Street Directories – I do miss being able to access these in Weston Library.  Very often, particularly in Weston, houses were given names but the directories of the early 20th century have appendices which list the number of the house which bears these house names.  Directories also include a great deal of information about  the administration of the town. The Weston Directory for 1941 even lists the Staff at the County School.

Weston Museum and History of Weston

  • Weston Museum has been posting a number of videos concerned with the history of the Weston and its surrounds The latest is by John Crockford Hawley about the architecture of Weston.
  • There is a fairly new Facebook Group called Memories of Weston-super-Mare which is producing some interesting views of Weston. 
  • Another Facebook Group worth a visit is Know Your Place, North Somerset  Not only does it give help on how to use Know Your Place, which I have recommended before, but there are also interesting contributions about the area.
  • Not so much family history but more a glance at the enjoyment of a children’s visit to Weston around 1960 – typical of fun at the sea-side   

The Secret History of My Family

I don’t know whether you have caught it but BBC2 is showing “The Secret History of My Family” again which is three programmes investigating the lives of differing families with common ancestors and comparing the lives and attitudes of their descendants.  You will be able to catch up on IPlayer.

Roman Catholic Records

  • Each Friday FindmyPast releases more records. Take a look to see what has been made available over the past few weeks.   Although Findmypast has just published some Roman Catholic Records there are none yet for Somerset.  -  
  • The Somerset & Dorset FHS has produced a CD of the records of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Burnham on Sea.  Looking through it – I noticed that a couple of the early marriages were in Weston Catholic Church and against some of the christenings were notes of their later marriage, even if it took place elsewhere in the country. Details can be seen in their online shop https://sdfhs.org/product-category/publications/data/  

Comparison of Genealogical Websites

Which should I use? - Ancestry, FindmyPast, The Genealogist, FamilySearch or MyHeritage.  Well, FamilySearch is free, Ancestry is free in the library (and at home during lockdown) and you have to pay for the others.  Having said that, each has its strong points and the Familytree magazine has published a comparison to them (omitting The Genealogist).  I found some interesting comments - you might not agree with them all but useful neverthless.

2020 Census

FindmyPast has announced the progress being made on the release of the 2021 census.  This of course will be the last census to become available to us as the 1931 one was destroyed and there wasn’t one taken during the war in 1941.   

Some of you may remember the excitement when we waited for the 1881 census to be released.   1881 was the first census to be totally indexed (it was done by volunteers from Family History Societies) and would revolutionise the way we researched census information.  In Weston, we had been more fortunate because of Brian Austin’s work of indexing all local censuses from 1841 which we could look at on film in Weston library. 

2020 Census and Buckets & Spades

To mark 100 years since the 1921 census, Buckets and Spades next March will be a special Census Edition and Sue Maguire would welcome any articles and items based on censuses. Any strange entries?  Any strange names?  Any different occupations etc.  Or any way in which a census has assisted you in your research.

Writing up your Research

I know that some of you have taken this lockdown time to document your own research.  It's not easy - but if you have anything you can share please consider adding information to your Surname Interests on our Web Site.  I know that some of you have done this and it does seem a useful way of passing on your findings.

I’ve been trying to write up the results of my research in a form which will be easily understood by anyone who cares to read it and in doing so have revisited some of my early findings before the advent of the internet.  I have identified places where more research is now possible – for example how can I not investigate more about this marriage - the bride is a 1st Cousin 3 times removed – close enough to be a valid DNA match.

Western Daily Press – Friday 18 October 1872

MARRIAGES

GORTZCOFF – BURROWS – Oct 14 at All Saints’. Knightsbridge,

Prince Zacharius Basilius Gortzcoff to Emily Ann, second

daughter of John Burrows, Esq., of York Street, Bristol

 

It turned out that there was a printer’s error in the announcement and the groom’ surname should have been GORTZACOFF but that was actually a pseudonym - his name should have been Basil ZAHAROFF and there are masses about him on the internet!

 

I am aware that today the speed at which some pieces of information can be located means that the beginner can get almost instant satisfaction from the results of their research.  The majority of records which we use were not compiled for family historians but to measure the number and age of the population and enable initially the Church and later the Government to manage finances.  We need other sources to put flesh on the structure given us by official documents. 

How can our society help you with your research? – why not start with the web site?  

In the top right-hand corner of our Home Page is a SEARCH Box which is really useful.   You can use it to open up the riches of our Website.

If you enter any word, name, place or occupation etc., which interests you it will show every time it occurs on the site

  • Other people who are researching the same name
  • When the word occurs in queries and answers on the Research Forum
  • When the word has been used in a Journal Article
  • When the word is in an item of Society News such as the Monthly Newsletter.

Why not try it?

Our membership is a little down on last year but when compared with other societies and in the current situation I think we are doing quite well. 

We do miss the opportunity to pass on by word of mouth the benefits of joining us. Our membership fee of just £9.00 per year is very little – less than buying a single birth, marriage or death certificate - and gives access to transcriptions of parish registers for North Somerset and beyond including an increasing number of photographs of tomb stones and inscriptions.  There is also information and photographs about the places themselves.  The Cemetery Records are invaluable to anyone who had relations who died in Weston from 1856 when all local churchyards were closed to new burials. Our records of Axbridge Union Workhouse also give details of inmates and an account of its position in the lives of many of our ancestors.  The next edition of our Journal “Buckets and Spades” will be available shortly for members but selected articles from past publications are freely available on our website.  

We look forward to meeting up again at sometime but while we are waiting why not share your research experiences with us by using the Research Forum – we’d love to hear from members about how you are getting on – and rejoice with you if you have made a break through.

As restrictions are reduced – still keep safe!

News TopicMonthly Update
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June 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 22:09

Each month I try to bring you up to date with news of developments in Family History which might benefit our members – I hope that at least some of you have time to read this and find it useful.

This month we are promised a slackening of lock-down regulations, but libraries, archives and museums remain closed to visitors. 

I wonder how many of you, like me, back in March, thought you would spend this time in lock down revising and progressing with your research.  With extra time and many resources made available online for the duration of this crisis I intended to make big strides in finding more people on the fringes of my tree who might share DNA   But……..    

In my case – I’m shielding - it wasn’t the lure of long walks for exercise, extra gardening or decorating which prevented this – it was sheer inertia and I’ve been easily sidetracked.  Lots of delightful phone calls and emails – some with family history queries which have set me off along other paths.  I didn’t intend to research the name of the horse which pulled the cart delivering greengrocery during WW2 (didn’t find it!) or the background of the Headmistress of the Infants’ School I attended in Bristol but I did – and coincidentally our families were linked by marriage!

I have however come across these resources which I recommend:

The Genealogical Index

As its name suggests The Online Genealogical Index is very helpful in locating resources online.   Committee note - We need to get our Society’s vast offering of transcriptions included on this site.  This site claims to provide links to sites online where you can find information and transcriptions.  You can search any county and place and some of the sites are local history ones which you might not otherwise discover easily.    In the past I have recommended Dusty Docs but this site seems to cover a wider area and includes many different sites

Ancestry

In researching a 3rd cousin twice removed I came across this on Ancestry – as Ancestry is still available free of charge via your local library it may be useful to know especially as Arnos Vale Burials are difficult to find elsewhere.   If you use the card catalogue and search for Bristol you will find Bristol, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1994.  You can browse this collection and by choosing Wycliffe Church, Totterdown under the County of Gloucestershire you will see the following registers.

  •        Indexed under the heading of Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1845-1868 are the early burials in Arnos Vale Cemetery from 1840-1868.  It was then called the Bristol General Cemetery.  I note that there are several burials of patients from Dr Fox’s at Brislington and as they could have come from a wide area it might answer some questions.
  •       Burials indexed Wycliffe Church Totterdown 1871-1897 has burials for Greenbank Cemetery, Bristol. 1871-1883.  These are predominantly Bristol residents.

My Heritage

MyHeritage has been offering  free online webinars and Facebook Live sessions in the past couple months. The goal of these sessions is to provide users with the opportunity to learn from experts and make progress with  research while at home. My Heritage is also attracting customers by offering free access to a different collection each day.  You will need to look at their blog to discover what is available on which day but if you have ancestors in any of these areas this will be an asset.

Family History Federation

As a Society we are affiliated to the Family History Federation and if you look under Federation Resources and Education there is interesting advice for beginners and a reminder to those of us who have been “at it” for years.  Under the title   “Everyone has roots irrespective of their background and origin”   There are 6  Guides

  • It starts with you
  • Ready to begin your research
  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Growing your tree with census remains
  • Baptism, marriage and burial registers
  • Records created after death

        Each one gives helpful background information  - They may take time to read but perhaps              may offer suggestions in how to breakdown your brickwalls.

Familysearch

I have to confess that I find familysearch sometimes confusing and I’m not sure about the accuracy of the family trees but the Federation also has this advice on using FamilySearch Family Tree to assist you to develop, maintain and use this family history website

  • Navigating the Home Page
  • The Tree - Pedigree to Person page
  • Relationships - connecting families
  • Locating and attaching sources

 A House through Time

As a Bristolian I am really enjoying this BBC programme about a house near St Mary Redcliffe.  This project - to consider the history of an area by researching the people who lived in just one house over the centuries is fascinating. It's at times like this that I wish my own home was older than 1936!   We can all learn from the resources used in this series.  This podcast about the programme is worth listening to as a background to research.

My g g grandfather brought up his family in an Elizabethan house in the centre of Bristol which was eventually destroyed during the blitz and I'm longing to get to the Bristol Archives to see who lived there before and after him.  

In the last session of this series of A House through Time, the bombing of Bristol will be discussed and John Penny, who has frequently spoken in Weston about the Weston Blitz will be interviewed.  In the next couple of days, I hope to upload an account of the Weston and Clevedon Blitz compiled by John which he has kindly allowed us to use.

Know Your Place

I have mentioned this before but Know your Place North Somerset is a marvellous site for tracing the history and development of an area.  By choosing suitable maps you can see what has happened in a place over the years and photographs are now being added to give even more information.  

The Genealogist

For those of you with relations who served in the RAF during WW2 the Genealogist has released Record Books which show details of fighter and bomber squadrons during WW2 which are really interesting

National Archives

As I mentioned in the last update and Paul recently reinforced the free down loading of digital images including Wills and some Military records from the National Archives is proving a boon but not sure how long this will last so make the most of it.

Facebook Group

We now have 216 members of this lively group - many of whom are already full members of the Society. We hope to welcome others to join us to benefit from what we have to offer at a very reasonable cost

I wish I could tell you when we will all meet up again whether for Monthly meetings or for Free Help Sessions at the Library but just watch this space. Please continue to use our Research Forum to share your research with others and also to answer queries posted on it.  No question is too silly - we all have blank moments! Keep Alert and safe and enjoy this glorious weather if at all possible.

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May 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 1:25

I’m writing this while a remarkable man is celebrating his 100th Birthday Capt (Or should I now say Col ?) Tom Moore has captured the imagination of a nation with his epic fundraising and inspiring attitude to life.  Coronavirus is bringing out the best in most people and although it is not easy and not a little scary at times  many of us have so much to be grateful for not least the way in which the NHS and all other essential workers, family and friends who are supporting us at this time. 

Because of the average age range of people who are interested in Family History it is likely to be some time before we can all meet up again whether at Society meetings or at the Free Help Sessions at the Library.  Like many of you I have been confined to barracks for about 6 weeks already and I had thought I would be able to get on with my own Family History Research but I keep getting distracted!  There are many additional resources being made available at this time.

Free Resources

  • The National Archives have released free of charge their digital collection – you can download many documents from Wills, Military records, etc.    You need to sign in but there is no charge and no wait – the documents are sent immediately.  Try searching for individual names or the places where they lived.  Some of these documents are available on other subscription sites.
  • If you are a beginner the Genealogist is offering access to  some censuses and parish records free of charge.  Called First Steps it is a useful introduction or recap to or of your research.  Try it!
  • Ancestry – The Library Edition of Ancestry is available free for you to use at home using your Library Card.  For members in this area go to this site  and follow the instructions. 

Transcriptions

  • Graham Payne remains busily transcribing and uploading records from the local Cemetery and these are so valuable.  Thank you Graham.
  • There has been much mention lately about death rates and as the Cemetery was the only place available for burial in Weston from 1856 these records are fascinating.  Have you looked at the burials for 1918/1919?  The burials in November 1918 at the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic numbered 82 whereas only 30 were buried in November 1917 and the ages were considerably lower in 1918 than in 1917.   
  • Interestingly, I am currently transcribing the deaths in Axbridge Workhouse for the same period where the cause of death is entered and in only 3 cases is influenza mentioned.  These records will eventually go on our web site.

Surname Interests and Connecting other Researchers

  • Have you checked recently to see if any other member shares your SURNAME Interests?  Just click on Members’ Surname Interests under the Main Menu on our Home Page and then click on the surname which interests you and you will find more details about where and when that SURNAME is being researched, by whom and in some cases even a family tree – Members can add a comment or can contact them through the web site.  Non members can also make contact through the web site.
  • Use this time to make contact with people who share your interests and possibly your DNA whether it is through our site, Ancestry, My Heritage, Lost Cousins, Gedmatch, Facebook etc.   You might not always get a reply, but it just might breakdown a brickwall.  The other advantage of contacting others is that they may tackle the problem from a different perspective. This has been highlighted on the Facebook Group today when one of the members in reply to a posting wrote "Well, that's something I hadn't thought of either, that's why these family history groups are so beneficial"

Family History during Lockdown

During the lockdown I had expected there to be an upsurge in an interest in Family History resulting in more use of our Research Forum but there has been little evidence of it on our site from our members.

  • Bolton Family History Society has issued these tips for people interested in family history about how to get your family motivated! 
  • How about writing your own diary of Lockdown to add to your family History research?  When writing up your family history it is helpful to have some idea of the thoughts and feelings of our ancestors.  Spear-headed by Raye Green of the Worle History Society a book entitled One Day in Our Lives has been produced by some residents of this area recounting their thoughts and activities in the face of the coronavirus on 27th March 2020.  Profits will go to Weston Hospital and it will become a valuable resource for future family historians and will answer that question “What did you do in 2020 during the lockdown?”  It is loosely based on the “The mass observation Project” which ran during WW2 when many individuals kept diaries and accounts of their lives.  
  •  The Somerset Heritage Centre is asking for contributions because as they say  We are living through extraordinary events that are affecting all our lives in ways we could not previously have imagined.  The South West Heritage Trust wants to ensure that the stories of Somerset and Devon’s people and places are recorded during these difficult times, so that future generations can find out about the challenges we faced and how our communities pulled together”.
  • If any of you are trying to encourage youngsters into family history Weston Museum has devised this learning pack (amongst others) which you may find helpful 
  • The BBC produces what they call Bitesize lessons and for a bit of light relief I suggest you try the one on Black Death! You might decide to try some of the others in this section – after all our ancestors must have lived through these times.

In my last Update I invited you all to give suggestions about the society post Covid but not one member replied! If you have any comments about what you want from this society add them to this Update.  In the meantime, Keep Safe, wash your hands and remember to post your queries on our research Forum, answer other queries and to share your experiences of new resources and breakthroughs in your family history research. 

 

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April 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Tue, 31/03/2020 - 23:25

Thank You 

I’m sure members will join with me in thanking the NHS and all Key Workers who by continuing to work are helping us to keep safe, whether medically, with essential services or by voluntarily keeping us supplied with our needs.     

While we face the uncertainty of this pandemic the Family History Society, like all groups elsewhere, has suspended activities where we meet face to face.  This should not and must not stop us communicating with each other.  We have a common interest in the lives of our families in the past and present and an opportunity to make sure that future generations have more information handed down to them. 

Buckets and Spades

Thank you to Sue Maguire who edited the 100th edition of Buckets and Spades published in March which as usual is full of interesting articles.  I was particularly interested in the one about Charlotte MORGAN, the nurse who served in WW1 and died in November 1918.  I wonder whether she died from the Spanish ‘Flu which was prevalent at that time?  Looking through the Cemetery records which are available on this site the increase in the number of burials at that time is obvious and although not all would have been from that pandemic, I suspect that many were.

Whilst on the subject of Buckets and Spades – The next issue of ‘Buckets & Spades’ is due for publication at the end of July, so the deadline for articles and photos is 15 June 2020.  Sue would be grateful for articles so that she can plan the contents.

Lost Cousins

I’ve just noticed that this must be my 101st Monthly Update and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve praised the Lost Cousins Web site during that time but for those of you who have still not yet registered for its excellent newsletters  the one published mid-March  comes with the news that Lost Cousins will be completely free over the Easter Weekend.  It’s a great way of finding others researching the same people – your “lost cousins”- and making contact with them. You will have plenty of time to fill in the census details which make the matches.

 And their newsletter published today has amongst so many other gems included an incentive to fill in your census details, and highlights a possible effect of coronavirus  in connection with postponed marriages which I hadn’t really considered but it might affect family historians of the future.

DNA

One of my “cousins” found on the Lost Cousins site has also tested her DNA.   We share a common ancestor in my 3 x great grandparents confirming our relationship. Jenny TOWEY is offering advice on DNA testing and understanding the results – Contact her through our website using the “Contact us” button at the top of the home page and choosing “Chairperson” under category.

Research Forum

A couple of new queries have been posted today - take a look at them and I hope that you will consider offering suggestions in answer to these or post new queries as you consider your own research.  The Research Forum should come into its own at this time when you have more time to question your own family trees.  It always surprises me that it is not used more or have you all finished and are busy writing up your family history research?  In which case there should be many more articles for Buckets and Spades in the near future!

Transported Ancestors

How many of you have people in your tree who were transported to Australia?  The web site Digital Panoptican has a tremendous amount of information.  Not only does it give background information about transportation, but it also allows you to search for individual convicts and in many cases see the original documents which concern them.

Death in the Workhouse

If any of you have found people who have died in Axbridge Workhouse – or Ilex Lodge as it was later called, I’d be pleased to hear from you as I’m trying to update the records on our web site.  I recently added a transcription of the 1939 Register when the building was still being used as a Public Assistance Institution and as a local Infirmary.   The purpose-built Infirmary became St John’s Hospital when the NHS was founded in 1948 and the old Workhouse became the headquarters of the Axbridge Rural District Council.

After the Virus

Let’s start planning for the future – what should the Society be doing when we can all meet up together again?  We were planning Workshops and attending more local shows to spread the word about the joys of researching your family – Let us know what you would like the society to do for you? What can you do for the Society?

Is there an area you would like to see more fully researched? 

  • We get a lot of questions about schools in the locality - is that a topic which you would be prepared to assist in researching?  Weston was a flourishing centre for private education in the 19th century.  How many young people were sent to Weston to be educated?  What about the other schools? 
  • It doesn’t look as if we shall be able to commemorate  VE Day as we had hoped – perhaps there’s some research to be done about WW2 and its effect on this area and how our families were involved.

We can’t say for certain yet when we will be able to meet again but, in the meantime, keep researching, naming your photographs, writing up your findings, asking questions of your relations. If you can’t find the answer use the Research Forum or the Facebook Group, and above all keep safe so that our families and friends stay safe.

If you have anything you would like to add to this Update – please use the comment facility.

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March 2020 Update
published by Pat Hase on Sat, 29/02/2020 - 13:07

It's a Leap Year and I wonder how many of you have relations who are celebrating their birthdays on Feb 29th? According to the 1939 Register there were 323 people living in Somerset with that birth date and of them just 26 lived in Weston and Worle at that time.  Probably a bit of useless information and of course it doesn't take into account people who are still alive and whose information is redacted. 

Locking Village Talk - Looking at Locking

At our last meeting in April we had an interesting talk about the history of Locking given by one our members and resident of Locking, Simon Begent.  He highlighted the fact that there is a local history exhibition about the village, the airfield and the former RAF Locking Camp. in St Augustine's Church which is open to the public from !0.00am - dusk on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  You are welcome to visit.   The Locking website also has a plan of the churchyard and a list of the burials there. 

New Archive Card

For those of you who are planning to visit an Archive in the near future there is a new Archive Card coming into use.

The County Archive Research Network (CARN) card ceased last November and will be replaced by this new card.  You can see more details about how to apply for a card and which Archives need one on this website

New Resources Online

It's often advisable to look again to see what new records have been added to the Internet.  You do not have to subscribe to a commercial site to find out what is new.

  • The Genealogist has released some new RAF Operations Book Records which make for fascinating reading. To find out more about these records, you can read Nick Thorne's article "RAF Operations books build a picture of WWII aircrew ancestors' action".
    • For a bit of local colour about the RAF during WW2 take a look at an interview with Arthur Spencer who was later the first Head master of Priory School about his experiences as a Navigator in the RAF  
  • Findmypast update their site each Friday and you can read about their new records on their Blog.  This Friday, being near to March 1st and St David's Day their new records include Welsh Burials.  Findmypast also has new parish records from Surrey and  Hampshire, some with images of original entries.  Findmypast also has a collection of Devon Social & Institutional Records. This set of records includes information about paupers, vagrants, apprentices, peddlers and tradesmen.  
  • Ancestry has a few new collections and Jenny Towey has recommended this article about DNA for those of you who have tested with Ancestry
  • Familysearch has this article which interested me  especially as it features Mary Berry who attended the same college in Bath as I did (a couple of years earlier) but so many of her comments ring bells with me.
  • Somerset Heritage Centre has a half-day course in reading Common phrases in Latin and English  which are found in old documents.  This will be on April 28th
  • Bristol Archives has announced that the records for Arnos Vale Cemetery can be now be seen there.  This is very welcome news and I know of several Weston people who were buried there. The catalogue entry with more details about these records can be seen here 

Technology Problems

I've been struggling with technology this week.  Just over 20 years ago I backed up some research using the backup utility included with Windows 95 and 98. Safely stored on 3 1/2 inch floppy disks! I wanted to restore this but of course I no longer have a suitable disc drive so I purchased one - only to find that the backup files .QIC can not be restored as microsoft no longer supports their own backup files!  I tried a programme which is supposed to be able to open all files with no success. 

I wish I had just saved the data as a word file - those I can open - but at least I do have a printed copy - Paper it seems is best after all.  I mention this as a warning to be aware that the speed with which technology has changed over the years and how we can get caught out by it.  If any of our more technically minded members have way of restoring .QIC files I would love to hear from them.  

Activities in March

The North Somerset Archivist visit to Weston Library is on Thursday March 5th  This is so useful if you are researching a Somerset Family or building. 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 ask for documents to be brought to Weston contact somersetarchives@swheritage.org.uk

The Dorset Family History Society is having a Family History Day on Sat March 21st at Poole.  Unfortunately we will not be represented but there are many interesting exhibitors and speakers who will be there.

Our Society Meeting in March on Tuesday the 24th March will see a return visit of Shirley Hodgson who has spoken to us before about the Home Children.  This time her topic is the TS Formidable which was a Training Ship anchored off Portishead and was used as an Industrial School where young boys who had fallen foul of the local magistrates were sent to learn skills which would suit them for a life at sea.  It was set up in 1869 and in 1870 a young Henry HASE, aged about 13, from Weston-super-Mare joined their ranks for 5 years having been caught stealing from a local shop so I have a particular interest in this talk and am looking forward to it.

The Saturday Free Help Sessions will continue as usual throughout March and we look forward to meeting up with some of you there. The Library is certainly not a quiet zone while we are in there and all the volunteers delight in suggesting ways of continuing your research.  Beginners are particularly welcome and so are those who wish to update their skills or who just to discover what the North Somerset Local Studies Library holds.

Other Society News

Facebook Group - This continues to grow and members have made some useful contacts through it.  As it is a closed group you have to join to see what it contains but for those of you who use Facebook it might be worth a look. There is a link on our home page.

Workshops - The Committee is hoping to offer some Workshops in various aspects of Family History Research and Peter de Dulin would like to hear from any member who has ideas about timing, topics and/or venues for these Workshops.  You can contact Peter here

This is your society - let us know if there is anything you would like to see the society doing to aid your research.   

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