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I wish I had started a lot sooner

Discussion in 'How I got started in Family History' started by canadianbeth, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    My sister-in-law wrote something for her church and I decided to write it down for my husband as well. As it turned out, a lot of what M had was incorrect, but I have been able to do his tree back to when the family emigrated from Ireland in the mid-1800's, and one branch even further back in England. Since I was doing my husband's information I figured I might as well do mine as well and have managed to find my mother's family back to the late 1700's. However, my Dad's is another story, which is why I wish I had started a lot sooner, when he was still living. I have spent many $$ on ancestry and findmypast and have since cancelled those since there is nothing left to find. I am hoping that someone here might be able to help. Peter already did, a few years ago, when he told me that illegitimate children were registered with their mother's name. That enabled me to find my Dad's birth registration. That is all I have.

    Beth - ;)
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. annetteclaire

    annetteclaire Member

    I also wish I had started sooner before my parents died. I have my mother's younger sister who has been of great help on the maternal side but no-one on my father's side. I do not think his parents ever married and I am sure he did not know this. My grandfather had previously married and had 2 children. I found him with his first family in the 1901 census but by 1911 he was living with his second 'wife' and young daughter having previously lost another daughter aged 1. His first wife was still alive and had reverted to her maiden name and was living with her cousin 'husband' and her children. I have been unable to find marriages for either couple. I would love to know if my father knew he had a half brother and sister. Until the 1911 census came out I and my cousins were unaware that he had another older sister who had died in infancy.
     
  3. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    I knew from vague references on the part of my father that his father had been married twice and that he was the son of the second marriage. But the subject was never mentioned and no one ever asked. All I knew was that Dad had had several half sisters, one of whom was called Winnie. When I started researching the family I discovered not only four half sisters (including Winnie) but, most surprisingly, a half brother. All had long since died, being considerably older than Dad. Still, the happy end of the story is that Winnie's grand-daughter, my half-first cousin once removed, has become a close friend, and 5 years ago I went to Vancouver to meet the daughter, my half-first cousin, of Dad's half brother. The meeting was memorable and emotional to say the least. Sadly, she died only a couple of years later, but I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to meet her. Since then her grand-daughter, my half-first cousin twice removed, has been to stay with us here in Finland. I can't help wondering what Dad's reaction would have been.
     
  4. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Gillian, my father's family was not quite so complex, but I wonder what he would have thought if he had known that we had visited his childhood village and the church that he had attended also finding the graves of my grandparents. His name is included on the WW1 memorial in the church - I have never been so moved. (I am in Australia).
     
  5. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    You do mean your father's childhood village back in England, don't you? I'm sure your Dad would have been very moved if he had known how much his daughter cared. Re not asking questions while people were still alive, the half first-cousin once removed I mentioned above said that she thinks one reason is: (quote) "I think we were brought up not to actually ask some types of questions as it appeared rude. How times have changed!" I hadn't actually thought of that angle before.
     
  6. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    Apparently some things were just not mentioned, as in the case of my maternal grandmother. She had been married before she married my grandfather but I am told the subject was taboo in their home. From what one aunt told me, he was the "love of her life" but they were only married a very short time before he died. They had planned to emigrate to Canada and she decided to come anyway after he died. Grandad was also from England but they married here. I found out the name of her first husband by requesting the marriage registration in Ontario; it had her listed as widow and her married name. A cousin had told me his probable given name and I found their marriage in the BMD listings in England. I also found that there was possibly a child of that marriage, that died in infancy. Of course all the names being quite common, there is no way to go further back and it is really not all that important. I have generations of information on her side of the family.

    As for my Dad, he told me the name of his parents and that they were both from Ireland but I can find no proof of that in my grandmother's case. I might have found her in the 1901 census but her place of birth is given as England. And her birth date he gave me seems to be incorrect as well, going by what Barnardo Homes told me. His father's name is not listed on his birth registration so I cannot even be sure that the name he used here in Canada was legal, since it is not the name under which he was registered. My grandmother had three children by this man, all illegitimate, so I can only assume that Dad decided to use his name when he came here.
     
  7. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Beth, you make my family seem very straightforward. The records available on the Internet nowadays answer a lot of questions. I would never have known my Dad had a half brother if I hadn't stumbled upon his marriage registration in the British Columbia records when looking for those of his sisters. There could be no doubt whatsoever about who he was, but I'll never know why Dad never even as much whispered that he had a half brother, who was only 12 years older than him, so very much part of the family while they were growing up. He indicated vaguely that he had half sisters (all older than the brother), but dead silence about the brother. The oddest thing of all was that when I eventually met the half brother's daughter, my half cousin, in Vancouver, she knew quite a lot about Dad. So obviously her father hadn't been as tight-lipped as mine.
     
  8. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Yes, I should have made that clear. My Dad was the youngest of 13 and, as usual, he rarely mentioned his family. I have been able to put together some facts from online sources. He came to Australia as a single man in 1924 and returned to England in 1928 staying there just 8 WEEKS before returning to Australia. I have one cousin in England who told me that her mother (Dad's sister) said "Charlie just couldn't settle down after the war". He certainly moved around a lot.
    A lovely man and I have such fond memories of my childhood.......
     
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  9. chrissy1

    chrissy1 LostCousins Star

    I think we all wish we had started research sooner, even though I was relatively young when I began over 25 years ago.

    My father was an only child who was sent to boarding school and recalled little of his maternal family in the East End of London although he could name faces on a photo I have and he knew nothing of his paternal family in Yorkshire whom they never visited due to the distance. My paternal grandfather never spoke of his family and although my grandmother talked a lot of the 'Eastenders', I was a child at the time and unfortunately didn't remember the details. She lived to be 96, but regretably I didn't become interested in genealogy until after her death, by which time her family had scattered and I had no contact with most of them. How I wish I had started my research while she was alive. My mother had Alzheimer's and remembered little of her family, though her sister who lived to be 101 was helpful in putting me in touch with second cousins and providing information.

    I realised early on that my parents weren't going to be much help to me when I inquired about relations at a cottage we used to visit in my childhood whilst on holiday with my grandparents. I remembered it clearly and could describe the interior and its location in detail, yet my parents had no recollection whatsoever!!!!! (At the time they were both in their late 60s and certainly not senile.........and the cottage was owned by mother's uncle and my grandmother had been born there!) I guess that we can't remember everything we have experienced in our lives and memory is therefore selective, though odd things did trigger my parents' memories. Some 10 years after I began researching my paternal side, having been unable to locate my great grandmother's death, my father suddenly remembered that she had remarried ca 1900 and though the marriage had been omitted from the GRO indexes I did eventually trace it through the York newspaper family notices and located her death in Scarborough. My father even belatedly recalled her married surname, so don't give up on 'forgetful' relations. It might take a while, but they might get there eventually!
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. Britjan

    Britjan LostCousins Star

    Also don't ever give up on your own ability to add to your memories (and then document them, even if your current family doesn't express much interest!). I work intermittently with a group of highly creative young people who can be relied upon to occasionally ( and often unwittingly) jog my memory all through keeping up with some of their lives on Facebook!! One has recently asked me to write an account of being a lone female in some polytechnic classes and in my first management positions some 40 -50 years ago. :eek:.... Another commented on a film shoot she was taking part in earlier this week not far from my current home. I happened to glance at her educational background and saw she had spent some time at RADA. Out of nowhere I remembered my grandmother having a young man board with her c 1955-8 who was a student at RADA at the time and going with her to see him perform in "The Tempest". The recollection was so vivid I could describe what he wore!! This was the same late Victorian lady who unwittingly took me to see "Folies Bergère" at the Finsbury Park Empire when I was about nine years old . If I wasn't currently restricted to dial up because I am out in the "wilderness" I could probably be tempted to buy something off E-Bay to confirm that memory!!
     
  11. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    I am quite a young researcher (in my 30s) but I also wish I had been able to start earlier! Unfortunately, my ability to ask living relatives about their memories is limited. I only have one grandparent remaining (my paternal grandmother, who is 92) - my maternal grandmother died before I was born (my mother was 17), my maternal grandfather when I was 5 and my paternal grandfather when I was 12.

    To add to that, my mother emigrated to Australia with her parents when she was 1, and her extended family is small (she's an only child). Luckily I have found a few of her cousins, one in Wales and one in Canada, who have been researching longer than me and have been very helpful! (even luckier they're from different branches of the family) My mother also has a illegitimate grandparent, which makes her family tree a little lopsided - I discovered that he also had an older brother, from another father, which my mother didn't know about, I believe that my g-grandfather was given his father's name, like his older brother was, but unfortunately the surname is "Jones"!

    My paternal grandfather wrote up a memoir of his WWII service before he died (which included maps, photos and newspaper articles), and also inserted a brief précis of his own research into his family, including some information about his father's life, which is very helpful. That particular side of the family also has an incredibly accurate family tree which stretches back 8 generations from myself and includes quite a few extensions including all of my g-grandfather's children (to two different wives!). There are also three of my paternal grandfather's siblings still living - the eldest is 98, and of course his wife to ask.

    My paternal grandmother and her two living siblings (99 and 97 respectively) unfortunately never met any of their extended family - their father emigrated from Scotland to Queensland in the early 1900s, and subsequently married their mother and moved to Victoria (their mother married "beneath her") and never had the money to travel, so their contact with their grandparents, aunts and uncles was limited mostly to the exchange of letters. My father was in contact with one of his Scottish great-uncles, my grandmother with one of her aunts and one of my grandmother's deceased siblings with various cousins both in Queensland (their mother's family) and Scotland (their father's family) - I have been lucky to have been gifted with that particular great aunt's effects, which include letters from my g-g-grandmother in Scotland to my g-grandfather in Australia and letters from my cousins in Scotland at the deaths of the last of father's g-uncles and aunts (both dying in their late 90s). I have been blessed again by other members of my extended family - cousins on my g-grandmother's side, who have been researching themselves, and have documented and collated information on two large branches (including my mostly unknown Jewish branch - which I didn't realise actually existed) which has allowed me to add to my own tree.
    I have been able to amuse my parents when I discovered that in Orthodox Judaism the "Jewish-ness" passes through the mother's line, which would make my living, Baptist, grandmother technically Jewish (my Jewish g-g-grandmother was her mother's mother), and equally therefore make my two non-religious aunts technically Jewish, although none of us would claim this.
    My paternal grandmother has been writing her memoirs, which are incomplete, but I have been lucky enough to read, although not document as of yet, which she has also punctuated with photos and other mementos; she also knows that I am interested in the family history, and has shared stories and shown me family heirlooms, like my g-grandfather's trunk, newspapers, photos and my g-grandmother's wedding dress. I am also lucky to have an Uncle and a cousin (son of my grandmother's 97 yr old sister) who are interested in research and I can discuss various discoveries with and bounce ideas off.

    I am hopefully going to visit the old country perhaps next year and be able to visit places related to the family, some of my mother's relatives (we're not in contact with any of my father's Scottish relatives, all of those who we exchanged letters with have died) and perhaps other places to contact research - I am limited in this as well, because of the emigration of my family and a large number of them emigrating before they married (particularly on my father's side), the number of places and counties to visit are quite extensive.
     
  12. chrissy1

    chrissy1 LostCousins Star

    How lovely to have contacted some long lived relations who have an interest in genealogy..... I hope you have a wonderful trip. It puts things into perspective and brings FH alive when you see some of the places that family lived and the churches where they were baptised and married. Finding photos of places on the internet is no substitute for being there yourself.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  13. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    And now I have learned that most of the information my grandmother told my Dad was not quite true. The name she used did not exist, , at least not all of it, nor did the name of her father that she wrote on the marriage certificate when she finally did marry. And she was definitely not born in Ireland. Whether his Dad was is yet to be learned although it is doubtful. It also appears that the same person did not father all three of her children and the name she gave my Dad when he arrived in Canada was probably that of one of his sisters' fathers. DNA has been a big help in learning all this. No matches at all for the name under which I grew up.
     
  14. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    Wow... that is quite a bit of cover up! I hope you can find out what is the truth in all that!
     
  15. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    Well, I received the pdf today listing the name with which she was registered at birth. I knew the names of her parents, at least I assumed I knew, and this confirmed it, and the actual name. She just added an extra name and that was the one that I had been using these past many years when looking for her. She even used that additional name when she did marry and carried it with her to Canada. My sister was even named for her with that name. I got my other grandmother's name. :) But, knowing her proper name, and those of her first-cousin parents, I now have her tree back to 5th great-grandparents.
     
  16. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    Well that's something then! Congratulations on taking it back another couple of steps!

    I'm so glad that the majority of mine kept their birth names - I had enough trouble before I realised that my Jewish side had anglicised their names... and not their father's name, but rather their mother's maiden name...
     

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