Odd stories from an amateur family tree enthusiast

The following tale comes from GSV member Maurice Duke who reminds us not to throw away information that seems to be irrelevant to your research.

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In 1983, not long after I had begun researching my family tree, I received a letter from a lady from Kurri Kurri, NSW, inquiring about a possible connection between her family and mine.

She said that her great grandfather had migrated to Australia from England in 1886, and mentioned his parents’ names.  Later, this was to prove definitive: her great grandfather in fact had the same surname as mine, but because of my ignorance at that time, I had no knowledge of the person to whom she was referring.

I therefore rang the number she had provided and informed her that I couldn’t help her. At that point, the matter ended and I didn’t think any more about her enquiry.

Early in 2017 I decided to do work on my family name with particular emphasis on my great grandfather who had come to Australia in 1856 from Ulverston, Lancashire (now Cumbria). With the aid of Bishops Transcripts and the Latter Day Saints, I was able to trace great grandfather’s antecedents to his great great grandfather who died in Dalton In Furness in 1790 after parenting seven children.

His eldest daughter turned out to be a strange lass who had two male children but no spouse; and who gave her children her surname. This of course makes me wonder what my real surname should have been. One of her sons was my great great great grandfather.

Out of curiosity, I decided to explore the descendants of her other son, my great great great granduncle. With access to Bishops’ Transcripts and LDS data, I found that the families were concentrated around Dalton in Furness, not around Ulverston on which I had previously concentrated. The two towns are in close proximity so, even with the travel limitations of the time, interchange between residents was probably not unusual. Together with the Census returns and the other sources, I was able to trace the family throughout the nineteenth century and as result, my database increased by about 250 names.

Then the miracle occurred.

Over time, I had carefully stored every piece of family history that relatives had provided me over the past 40+ years and I decided to do a massive clean-up of papers in my possession.

In the course of the clean-up, I came upon the 1983 letter – the letter I had filed and forgotten.

Names that meant nothing to me in 1983, particularly the names of the letter writer’s great grandparents, were now made familiar as a result of my recent research.

I rang the number on the original letter and the lady, now 34 years older, answered. She was amazed to hear from me but very pleased that she could make a connection with a very distant relative.

Maurie Duke

 

Post expires at 9:03am on Friday 9 March 2018

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