retouching family photos

I have been researching my family history for over 14 years now and have received some very old and battered photos from family members on various branches of your BUCK tree. It is always a great delight when they come to light as it appears no-one in the immediate family owned a camera until well into the late-1930s. Very early images are rare and they are all professional studio shots or taken by freelance street photographers.

My grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974) served at Gallipoli in WWI, [you can read more about him here]. I was frustrated for many years that I could not find anyone in our large family who had a photo of him in uniform.

At our family reunion in 2006 I was chatting with my cousin Peter and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a small, faded and very scuffed photo of an Aussie soldier. I was over-the-moon to see it was signed E. C. BUCK. Woohoo! I was dancing around like a crazy lady.

Peter allowed me to take a high-resolution scan of his tiny original and I decided to create a portrait in honour of Private Ernest Clive BUCK, that I could frame and give to each of his children and grandchildren.

Thanks to my career as a graphic designer, working on complex photo retouching projects, I have the skills I need to bring my grandfather’s portrait to life. I set to work in Photoshop, adjusting tones, layering, recreating sections of his uniform and slouch hat, replacing the background and finally hand-colouring his portrait. This project took over 16 hours to complete. It’s unfortunate that the bottom of the image was so damaged that I had to sacrifice the signature, but the new proportions suit a standard 6×8 photo frame.

Buck_EC_1914_Original_Retouch

Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1914 – most likely taken in Sydney, Australia shortly after he enlisted and received his army uniform.

A couple of years ago my cousin Chris sent me a scan of this torn and battered photo he was given by our grandfather Ernest. Here is Private Ernest Clive Buck taken about 6 months after the one above, I think he posed for this photo when he was stationed with the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in Cairo on training manoeuvres in early 1915.

I retouched the large creases and scratches and the missing top corner, but decided to keep the age and character in this photo, so I retained the battered frame edges.

Buck_EC_1915_Original_Retouch

Private Ernest Clive Buck, circa 1915 – possibly taken in Cairo, Egypt before embarking for Gallipoli during WWI.

Next is a portrait of the BUCK family on holiday at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in about 1915 or 1916. They are Ernest BUCK’s mother, brothers and sisters and friends. I believe it was taken by a street photographer who touted for business in vacation towns. He would have set-up his large format camera on a tripod in the street, taken the family’s portrait for a fee, and then sent them the prints by post.

This image was scanned from a modern colour 4×6 print owned by Honour Stroud, a cousin of my father. I don’t know if the badly cracked and discoloured original still exists. It would be interesting to see if the original has any photographer’s details on the back.

I spent about four hours working on fixing this photo, it was quite tricky repairing the large cracks running through faces.

Buck_Family_Katoomba_original_retouch

Buck family at Katoomba circa 1915-1916 – Back L-R: William Buck, Ida Buck, a friend Lizzie Malloy, Jessie G Earls (Buck), far right back – Honor Stretton (formally Buck, nee Sutton). Front L-R: Bertha Legge (Buck), Jessie’s husband Arthur Earls, William’s wife Sadie, and Bertha’s husband Byron Legge.

The last image was emailed to me a few years ago by my second cousin, John Archer. This appears to have been taken in a family backyard in about 1926 using a hand-held Kodak Box Brownie camera or similar. It is a portrait of the daughters, daughters-in-law and two granddaughters of Robert BUCK and Honor SUTTON. Ida, Jessie, Bertha and Sadie are also in the photo above.

The only retouching I did to this image was adjusting the brightness and contrast, fixing a few scratch marks and recreating the section of brick wall and wooden fence at the torn right-hand corner.

Taken at one of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings, unknown, Bertha Legge, Sadie Buck, Ida Archer, Agnes Earls; Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls, Betty Hastings. If you can fill in any of the “unknown” names, that would be appreciated.

One of the regular “get-togethers” of the Buck Sisters, circa 1926 – (L-R Standing: Mabel Hastings (Eggins), unknown, Bertha Legge (Buck), Sadie Buck (Roberts), Ida Archer (Buck), Agnes Earls (Buck); Seated: unknown, Gwen Archer, Jessie Earls (Buck), Betty Hastings.

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Original Photo Sources: Peter Stroud, Christopher Landers, Honor Stroud, John Archer. Retouched images by Susan Buck – I am happy to provide family members with high-resolution digital images of any of these photos for their family albums.

letters in jane austen’s novels

I hope my ancestors, Susanah and Jane WELLINGTON, were as fond of the novels of Jane AUSTEN as I am. Letters and letter writing play a vital role in the plots of all of Jane Austen’s works. Letters are keystones in the plots of EmmaNorthanger Abbey as well as Mansfield Park.

Mr Darcy writes a letter to his sister on a small portable desk. Still from Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

Mr Darcy writes a letter to his sister on a small portable desk. Still from Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

Pride and Prejudice includes a letter from Darcy to his sister Georgiana; the pivotal letter from Darcy to Elizabeth; the pompous letters from Mr Collins; and of course the poorly addressed letters from Jane to Elizabeth informing her Lydia has gone off with Willoughby.

Catherine Moorland writes a letter to Eleanor Tilney. Northanger Abbey (2007) starring Felicity Jones.

Catherine Moorland writes a difficult letter to Eleanor Tilney. Northanger Abbey (2007) starring Felicity Jones.

In Sense and Sensibility the lovelorn Marianne Dashwood sends letters to the fickle Mr Willoughby without a reply. When he finally does write to her, his manner is cold and hurtful as he delivers the news of his engagement to Miss Gray. Colonel Brandon also receives an important letter as the group of friends is setting out on an excursion and he leaves immediately without an explanation.

I think my favourite letter of all is from Persuasion, where Captain Wentworth writes to Anne Eliot while she is in the same room speaking with his friend Captain Harville on the constancy of hearts and natures of women and men who have truly loved.

"I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago." Captain Frederick Wentworth writes his love letter to Anne Eliot in a scene from the BBC teleseries of Jane Austen's Persuasion.

“I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.” Captain Frederick Wentworth writes his love letter to Anne Eliot in a scene from the BBC teleseries of Persuasion (1995) starring Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root.

These sorts of letters definitely need a suitable writing desk complete with paper, quill and ink-well. This post at Jane Austen Today gives a good account on how letters were written, sealed and delivered. If you would like a more detailed account of the importance of letters in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, you can read the Jane Austen’s World blog.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. Jane Austen TodayJane Austen’s World.

lasca – a cowboy love poem

When I began researching the life of my grandfather Ernest Clive BUCK (1895-1974), I asked my dad Tom and my uncles Ron and Mick if they could tell me some of the things they remembered about their dad. They recalled that “BUCK” as he was known, was a hard-working bloke, he was a builder by trade and also worked as a fisherman on Tuggerah Lakes. He would often sit on his verandah in the afternoon with his friends who dropped by and they would tell tall tales.

Grandad Ern Buck and Buttons the dog on the veranah.

Grandad Ern Buck on his verandah, circa 1965.

Uncle Mick remembered the lines of a poem BUCK knew by heart and would often recite when friends and family were gathered:

It’s all very well to write reviews, and carry umbrellas, and keep dry shoes, and say what everyone’s saying here, and wear what everyone else must wear; but tonight I’m sick of the whole affair. I want free life, and I want fresh air;
And ’Laska!

From the words above I thought the poem was about Alaska, the great white north, but when I started to research the lines I found it was a poem by an Englishman called Frank DESPREZ (1853-1916). Desprez’ ballad-like poem, Lasca, is about a fiery Mexican girl and her cowboy sweetheart caught in a cattle stampede in “Texas down by the Rio Grande.” The next few stanzas in the poem confirm the cowboy theme:

I want free life and I want fresh air;
And I long for the gallop after the cattle,
In their frantic flight, like the roar of battle,
The mêlée of horns, and hoofs, and heads
That wars and wrangles and scatters and spreads —
The green beneath and the blue above,
And dash and danger, and life and love —
And Lasca!

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This vintage postcard paints the scene beautifully. [http://secretosdemimemoria.tumblr.com/post/8075419196]

Lasca used to ride,
On a mouse-gray mustang close by my side,
With blue serape and bright-belled spur;
I laughed with joy as I looked at her!
Little knew she of books or of creeds;
An Ave Maria sufficed her needs;
Little she cared, save to be by my side,
To ride with me, and ever to ride,
From San Saba’s shore to LaVaca’s tide.
She was as bold as the billows that beat,
She was as wild as the breezes that blow;
From her little head to her little feet
She was swayed in her suppleness to and fro
By each gust of passion; a sapling pine
That grows on the edge of a Kansas bluff
And wars with the wind when the weather is rough
Is like this Lasca, this love of mine.

The full poem is about 12 stanzas long and full of passion, excitement and danger. You can read the epic ballad of Lasca by clicking here Cowboy Poetry at the Bar-D Ranch.

Lasca was first published in a London magazine in 1882, it was very popular in many parts of the English-speaking world including Australia. It was reprinted often during the next 50 years, sometimes in an abridged format to fit a magazine column or with a publisher’s deletions and changes. In 1919 an American newspaper claimed that ‘there is scarcely an American who has not read the poem, recited it, or committed it to memory’.

A 1919 silent film, Lasca, starred Edith Roberts and Frank Mayo. [The Newark Advocate, December 5, 1919]

An Ohio newspaper published this advert to promote the 1919 silent film, Lasca, starred Edith Roberts and Frank Mayo. [The Newark Advocate, December 5, 1919]

The 1919 silent film called Lasca made by Universal Pictures appeared in theatres in Australia in mid-1920. Granddad would have been 25 years-old, two years back from the war, and may have taken a girlfriend to the cinema to see the well-known story of Lasca played out on the big-screen. I wonder if the movie was as exciting as the poem?

The promotional blurb for the film billed it as “A Dramatic Tale for Lovers”:

A beautiful story within a story. A tale so rich with romance and so wonderfully told as to challenge the admiration of all photo play lovers. The narrative of a Spanish girl whose wondrous character enriches the memory of all heroic souls. As beautiful as the fairest flower, As fragrant as the scented dew of a June morning. Story by Percy Heath—adapted from the poem by Mr. F. Desprez. A picture you’ll love. SEE IT with your family.

Universal Pictures reprised the storyline in 1931 for their film Lasca of the Rio Grande which starred Johnnie Mack Brown as Miles Kincaid a Texas Ranger, and Dorothy Burgess as the dance hall singer Lasca. In this version all characters survive the cattle stampede but Lasca loses her life then she steps in to save the man she loves from being killed by his rival, the bandit Santa Cruz, played by Leo Carillo.

Universal Pictures, Lasca of the Rio Grande, 1931

Universal Pictures, Lasca of the Rio Grande, 1931 was based on the Frank Desprez poem.

A search of Australian newspaper archives reveals Frank Desprez’ Lasca was a stand-out favourite in this country. It evokes the spirit of the frontier and outback much like our great Australian bush-ballads such as Banjo Patterson’s The Man From Snowy River and Clancy of The Overflow, and also Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country. Granddad BUCK would have learnt the poem while he was at school. Lasca was often recited with passion at school poetry competitions, at distinguished literary evenings, as well as on less formal occasions such as a gathering of friends on the BUCK family’s verandah.

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Sources:  A comprehensive history of the poem and its author Frank Desprez at Cowboy Poetry at the Bar-D Ranch; Kirkpatrick, Peter. Life and Love and ‘Lasca’ [online]. Sydney Studies in English, Vol. 36, 2010: 127-149. ISSN: 0156-5419. [cited 16 Aug 13]; Australian Poetry Archive; official Dorothea Mackellar website.

diseases and remedies of the 1800s

This quote by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), English philosopher, essayist, and statesman, often rang true in the 19th Century.

This quote by Francis Bacon (1561–1626), English philosopher, essayist, and statesman, often proved true of those poor souls who were unfortunate enough to pick up a tummy bug or a fever during the 19th century.

A novel side-track on the road to researching my family tree is the amazing first person information I have found. Letters and journals which give a personal narrative of the social and cultural world my ancestors inhabited. I believe it’s called Historiography – studying the social history on a personal level rather than on abstract and analytical circumstances.

If you have read my blog you will know a bit about my 3 times-great-grandfather George WELLINGTON and his large family who lived in Somerset between 1780 and 1850. I have written about sad letters George wrote to his daughter in 1840 which give an insight into his family life. I am also sharing his daughter Susanah’s journal entries and examining the social and cultural aspects of her life from her diary.

TRADE_Apothecary_01

Given George WELLINGTON’s profession as an apothecary and druggist and his knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants and inorganic elements, you would think he and his family might have had a life expectancy over and above the national average. You’d be mistaken.

The last article I posted, susanah’s journal – births, deaths and marriages, got me thinking that maybe George’s profession was not so beneficial to the health and well-being of his family.

  1. Was the frequency that George Wellington come in contact with sick people a risk to his health and the health of other members of his family.
  2. Were the remedies doctors and druggists prescribed to their patients in 1833 worse than the diseases they were treating?

George WELLINGTON and his first wife Elizabeth EDWARDS had eight children: two died soon after birth; four died aged between 29 and 36 years; Elizabeth EDWARDS died giving birth at the age of 43 years. George and his second wife Elizabeth SAMSON had eleven children: three died as infants; and one died at the age of 18 years. Was a 25% infant mortality-rate normal for the time?

There were some very serious diseases floating around in the early 19th Century. Smallpox was beginning to be controlled by the new practice of vaccination. But, outbreaks of influenza, measles, scarlet fever, typhus and whooping cough still regularly took the lives of tens of thousands people – young and old.

In the 1830s and 1840s there were three massive waves of contagious disease. The first, from 1831 to 1833, included two influenza epidemics and the first appearance of cholera which spread from India up through Europe to the British Isles and through trade routes to the rest of the world. Before it ran its course the disease had claimed over 52,000 lives. The second and third waves brought rolling epidemics of typhus, influenza, smallpox and scarlet fever in 1837-38 and 1846-47.

L0006579 Engraving: 'Monster Soup..." by William

A woman drops her teacup upon seeing the monsters swimming around in a drop of Thames water. During the 19th century, sewage and waste contaminated the rivers, making them a prime source of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Etching by William Heath, London, 1828. [www.wellcome.ac.uk]

Cholera was spread by contaminated water, so it affected mainly the poorer and crowded neighbourhoods where public water sources were easily fouled with effluent. Influenza had no economic or social barriers and was spread through close contact with those already infected. A steady stream of coughing and sneezing customers seeking a remedy from their local chemist might increase the spread of infection to other members of his family. But a large family group socialising with their neighbours and gathering in church each week is just as likely to lead to contact with these serious diseases.

Three of the WELLINGTON children who died as infants may have contracted whooping cough, measles typhus or influenza. A solid dose of the flu would undoubtedly kill a small child if left untreated. It is the most probable cause of death of Alexander Samson WELLINGTON who was laid to rest on 10 May 1833 aged just 1 year and 8 months.

The symptoms of the influenza are set out in a pamphlet entitled Rules for the Successful Treatment and Prevention of the Influenza the Prevailing Epidemic which I found in the Wellcome Trust’s online library. In 1833, doctors could not agree on how people contracted the disease, but opinion was that it was propagated by an air-borne contagion.

Some of the symptoms are listed as follows:

The disease commences with the usual symptoms of the common cold, in conjunction with others that are distressing to the patient and alarming to the physician; such as great languor, lowness and oppression, anxiety, with frequent sighing, and violent headache. The pulse is peculiarly quick and irregular, and at night there is often delirium. Sometimes there are severe muscular pains, both general and local.

 The pamphlet goes on to describe the best way to treat the disease:

… our principle object is to clear out the bowels, to promote a determination to the surface of the body, to support the strength of the patient, and to alleviate the hoarseness, cough and oppression at the chest which usually accompanies this complaint.

Extract from a pamphlet on treatments for influenza in 1833 [wellcomecollection.org]

Detail from a pamphlet on treatments for influenza in 1833. Many of the ingredients are quite toxic to humans.  [wellcomecollection.org]

Ingredients such as acetate of ammonia and powdered rhubarb are purgatives which will bring on diarrhea. Sweet spirits of nitre or nitric acid is a highly corrosive mineral acid. Camphor when applied to the skin acts as a vapour rub and as a steam vapour can be beneficial, but if taken orally is poisonous in large doses. Calomel is mercury chloride, which when taken internally is a laxative and disinfectant. Calomel was an ingredient in teething powders in Britain until 1950 and caused widespread mercury poisoning in infants. It was also widely used until the early 20th century to treat syphillis, and was administered to patients in such toxic quantities that their hair and teeth fell out.

If flu symptoms persisted and signs of inflammation of the lungs showed themselves, it was recommended that a course of four or five leeches, or a blister be applied to the chest to relieve the oversupply of blood in the body; bearing in mind to keep the bowels completely open. These don’t seem to me to be treatments designed to support the strength of a patient already weak with infection and fever; and who is now suffering from dehydration, a serious case of diarrhea and mild anemia.

Sick Infants and toddlers did not really stand a chance. They were treated with syrup of squills, an extract from a bulb that grows in the mediterranean area. It was prescribed to babies with whooping cough and croup to induce vomiting. In order to prevent too much inflammation to the stomach, it was frequently combined with a potion of opium or syrup of poppies. Opium was the universal pain-killer of the early nineteenth century. It was used as readily as we use aspirin or ibuprofen today. 

I’m starting to see how disease made such an impact on the lives of families living in the early 1800s. In his book The Healthy Body and Victorian Culture, Bruce Haley sites:

A Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Gt. Britain, by Edwin Chadwick included figures to show that in 1839 for every person who died of old age or violence, eight died of specific diseases. This helps explain why during the second and third decades of the 19th century nearly one infant in three in England failed to reach the age of five. Taken together, measles and whooping cough accounted for 50,000 deaths in England and Wales between 1838 and 1840, and about a quarter of all deaths during this general period have been attributed to tuberculosis or consumption.

The statistics now add up. I am not surprised that only nine of the nineteen WELLINGTON children born between 1799 and 1840 survived into their 50s, 60s and 70s. Five children died as infants; a daughter Mary died aged 33 during child birth; the eldest son George died of heart disease at 36; his brother William died of consumption aged 36; Sophia aged 29 and Susanah aged 18 also died of consumption or pulmonary tuberculosis.

It may be said the accepted medical treatments prescribed by doctors and druggists in the 1800s were harsh and often hurried patients to their deaths. The secret to living through this era was “being strong enough to survive the disease and the remedy”.

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Sources: The Victorian WebThe Healthy Body and Victorian Culture, Bruce Haley; you can view a PDF of the Rules for the Treatment and Prevention of the Influenza pamphlet as well as other library resources and images at the Wellcome Trust websiteSusanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney.

liebster blog award

liebster-award2

A while ago I received a Liebster Blog Award nomination from one of my fellow family history bloggers. Liebster is a German word meaning beloved, and the award is used to highlight smaller, lesser known blogs with less than 200 followers.

The Liebster is an award you accept with the intention of paying it forward. When accepting, you choose 5 to 10 other blogs you like and you feel are deserving of more subscribers and pass the award on to them. It’s sort of like a tech-savvy chain letter but without the annoying threat of horrible consequences and bad karma if you don’t pass it on. You are not obliged to accept the award or to even pay it forward. It’s just a way to get the word out about new blogs your followers may enjoy.

In order to accept my Liebster Award I must do the following:

  1. Thank and link the presenter of my award in my post.
  2. Post 11 random facts about myself
  3. Answer the 11 questions created for me by the award giver, and create questions to be answered by the bloggers which I nominate.
  4.  Link the blogs I enjoy and choose to nominate to this post and tell the nominees that I’ve nominated them for a Liebster Blog Award.

Thanks Kassie aka ‘Mom’ for nominating me, I will wear my badge with pride. Kassie’s blog Maybe someone should write that down is full of great advice for the family history blogger.

11 random facts about me:

  • I love being overseas on holiday on my birthday, and traveling alone is perfectly fine with me. Some of my best travel memories are of trips I have taken by myself.
  • I like swimming in the ocean and snorkelling, but scuba diving scares me.
  • I hate exercise for the sake of it. I don’t understand people who like to jog or run.
  • I want to be able to speak Spanish. I have tried for many years to learn the language, I’m still working on it.
  • My favourite colour is that in-between colour which some people see as green and others see as blue.
  • I can change a flat tyre on my car.
  • I’m overly judgemental of people who don’t use apostrophes correctly.
  • I like urban street art.
  • My new addiction is Vietnamese rice paper rolls.
  • I don’t like loose paper clips and rubber bands. They give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • I’m not comfortable with lists that have eleven points. Ten seems to me to be a  sensible number for a list, but I’m going to soldier on and follow the rules.

My answers to the questions put to me:

1.  If I weren’t blogging about this stuff I would be: wasting my time on other things.

2.  Who are you named after? I’m not named after anyone in my family. My mum wanted to call me Sally and my dad didn’t, so they agreed on Susan.

3. I would like my epitaph to read as follows: Time passes, memories stay, loved and remembered.

4.  Favorite quote:  You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss).

5.  Something I will never understand is: how the quest for money rules the world.

6.  If I could run around all day, dressed any way that I pleased I would wear: A saucy pirate wench outfit and hide a pistol in my garter. Aaarrgh.

7.  What class do you wish you had paid more attention to in school? I guess maths and commerce – then I might understand how money makes the world go round.

8.  Do you write full time? No, writing is a challenge for me, I have a full-time job as a graphic designer. I usually think in images not words.

9.  What’s your dream job? I would love to be a curator in an art gallery or museum.

10. Where is your dream Writer’s Corner? I have always dreamed of spending a year with other artists and writers in an old villa in Cascais, Portugal.

11.  What’s the craziest thing you have ever learned about your family? My grandfather Ernest was born in the same year his father Robert died (at the age of 74).

Sometimes it’s not apparent if a blog has a subscriber count under 200. Give or take a follower or two, these are some of the blogs I think are worthy of a Liebster Blog Award:

The Resident Judge of Port Phillip. This is the research blog of Janine Rizzetti, who is writing her thesis on Justice John Walpole Willis, the first Resident Judge of Port Phillip between 1841 and 1843. Janine is a thorough researcher and posts interesting stories of the colony of Melbourne. She also reviews history books.

Locksands Life. Roger is the self proclaimed “happy nerd”. He blogs on his life going up in England in the late 1940s, 50s and 60s. Roger weaves stories around his interests in mechanical-all-sorts: automobiles, bicycles, clocks, gramophones, even pre-industrial water mills. Oh, and trains, lots of trains.

Fit, Feminist, And (almost) Fifty. Two feminists in our late 40s who lead active lifestyles and have set themselves a goal: to be the fittest they’ve ever been in their lives by the time they’re 50. I’m in the same boat but often too lazy to paddle. I’m trying to follow their fun posts on how to live a fit and happy life.

Tree Rings. Dave Weller writes about the various branches of his family. Very thoughtful posts and he includes some wonderful old photos in his Wordless Wednesday posts that always put a smile on my face. I love the cheeky boy sitting in a wagon.

Apples and Anarchy. I love this blog! Natalia lives in New Zealand and is into natural foods and health psychology. Her posts are a mix of nature, gardening, healthy living and tasty recipes. Try her gluten-free Spiced Carob and Date Cake.

This Handcrafted Life. Monica is a decorative painter based in New York City. She blogs about some of her paint projects, her lovely illustrated travel journals and pinhole camera photography.

What Do Ya’ Reckon?   Mrs Bushranger shares her poetry, photography, humor, and her wonderful artwork.

Tracking Down the Family. Jennifer is an Australian family history writer who I have just started following. Her Family History Though the Alphabet posts are just lovely to read.

Bhutan Chronicles. The stories and experiences of a couple living in the land of the thunder dragon. Glorious images and stories that leave me wanting to pack my bags and hop the next flight to the top of the world.

Among My Branches. William Kernan puts a lot of thought into his family history stories. I am not sure I would have the patience to hold off publishing a story until it coincided with the same day in history e.g. 340 years ago today.

The Other Half of My Tree. Dianne Hewson is an Aussie who writes about the fearless pioneer women on her family tree.

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Now while we are talking about blogs worth reading, I’m going to sneak in two blogs I know have more than 200 subscribers but, you’re going to love them. I promise.

A Hundred Years Ago. Sheryl’s daily comments and observations on her grandmother’s diary entries are always entertaining.

Streets of Salem. Beautiful . . . just beautiful.

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Here are my 11 questions for my nominees:

1. What inspires you to blog?
2. How long does it take you to write an average post?
3. What is your favourite line from a movie?
4. Is there anything you can’t do anymore but you wish you could?
5. What is your favourite quote?
6. What would you like to achieve this year?
7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
8. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
9. If you could live in any period of history which would you choose?
10. What book reminds you of your childhood?
11. Recommend something everyone should try once in their lives?

the four yorkshiremen

As a child growing up in outback Australia, I addressed my cards and letters to my grandma Gwen at “Tredegar”, Front Street, Glasshoughton, via Castleford, Yorkshire. When I asked my mum about this strange word she told me, “Tredegar is the name of grandma’s house”. I thought this was an odd name for a home, but if my mum elaborated on the reason behind it I do not remember.

About thirteen years ago my sister and I were listening to our mother José and her cousin Paul reminiscing on their family stories over dinner at a restaurant. Tales of rationing during the war; having to carry their gas masks to school; their granddad and uncles coming home from the colliery black from head to foot, coal dust everywhere; how the kids of today wouldn’t believe you if you told ’em. This was all sounding too much like Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen Sketch, and we told them so.

Well, this only encouraged them, and they told us the tale of their granddad Robert MATTICK who after marrying Mary PRICE in 1900, “walked all the way from Tredegar in Wales to Featherstone Colliery in Yorkshire to take up a position of Colliery Deputy”.

That’s a hard slog on foot, especially if you have to deal with temperamental English weather. The distance between Tredegar and Featherstone is about 250 km (156 miles), “as the crow flys”. The estimated road distance can be around 290 km to 315 km (180-195 miles) depending on the route taken.

Robert Mattick's walk_1900

Mum and her cousin Paul could not recall how Robert’s wife Mary arrived in Featherstone. Did she also walk, or did he send for her later and she made the journey by train?

The MATTICK family came from Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire before they moved to Monmouthshire in the mid-1800s. There were several large coal mines opening in and around Tredegar and Bedwelty at this time. The shafts of the New Tredegar Colliery were sunk in 1854 and Elliot‘s Colliery was sunk in 1888.

The mines were beset with geological problems, mainly landslips and flooding. Early in December 1875 a minor gas explosion occurred near to the coalface of New Tredegar, badly injuring two men. The mine shafts were inspected and found to be free of gas. However, the manager decided, as a precaution, that no men should enter the pit for at least 24 hours. His orders were disregarded and the next morning, under the instructions of the overman, the hewers descended the pit as usual. At 8.00 am a major explosion occurred and twenty men were killed instantaneously, with another two dying later from their injuries. The dead included six young boys who were working down the mine.

The Bedwelty Colliery, Tredegar, Monmouthshire. Funerals of the colliers killed in the late fatal explosion.

Bedwelty Colliery, Tredegar, Monmouthshire. Funerals of the colliers killed in the explosion.

All the miners employed at the South Wales and Monmouthshire collieries received a 2½ per cent reduction in their wages on 1 September 1892. The reduction, affecting about 100,000 workers, was made because of the continued depression in the coal trade. The Welsh miners’ wages had been reduced 20 per cent, during the previous two years.

It was more than likely the depressed and dangerous state of the coal industry in Wales that induced Robert MATTICK to take the risk and relocate to West Yorkshire.

Coal had been mined at Featherstone since the 13th century. Ackton Hall and its Featherstone estates were sold in 1865 and from that time mining developments were rapid, and the population boomed. The new town of Featherstone was developed in the field near Ackton and provided the miners and their families with good quality housing and social services.

The Durham Mining Museum website has a list of mining occupations and describes the role of the Colliery Deputy in 1892:

The deputies go to work two hours before the hewers. Each deputy, during the absence of the back-overman, is responsible for the management of the district of the pit over which he is appointed. Their work also includes that of supporting the mine roof with props or wood, removing props from old workings, changing the air currents when necessary, and clearing away any sudden eruption of gas or fall of stone that might impede the work of the hewer, or in delegating these duties to others. 

Mattick_Robert_Deputy Ticket_1912

Robert worked as a deputy at the Featherstone Main Colliery and several other mines in the area including the Haigh Moor Mine and the Silkstone Pit at Flockton. In 1901, the average wage of the West Yorkshire miner (according to a writer in the Colliery Guardian) was £6,10s per calendar month; giving an average rate of £78 per annum. A colliery deputy would have received maybe a pound or two more per month.

It doesn’t sound like enough to support a growing family, but they weren’t so hard up as to live in a “shoe box in middle o’ road”.  Robert secured a job as deputy at the new Glasshoughton Colliery near Castleford. In 1917 he paid a £50 deposit on a house and shop at Front Street, Glasshoughton. The family settled in and named their home “Tredegar” after the town in Wales.

So far this story has been about Welshmen not Yorkshiremen. Well, Robert and Mary had six children – four Yorkshire lads and two Yorkshire lasses:

  • Laura (1901-1989) married Walter ALLSOPP and had one son: Paul ALLSOPP
  • Billy’ William Hugh (1903-1991) married Caroline BRADBURN and had two children: Patricia and Terry MATTICK
  • Bobby’ Robert (1904-1986) married Beatrice STARKEY and had two children: Mary and Billy MATTICK
  • Gwen’ Annie Gwendoline (1907-1992) married Frank ATKINSON and had one daughter: José Mattick ATKINSON
  • Jack’ John (1908-1983) served in WW2 and was briefly married to Sylvia MILLAR
  • Joe’ Joseph (1910-1985) married Lilian BURROWS and had two children: Megan and John MATTICK.
Robert MATTICK and his four sons, in order of age, Billy, Bob, Jack and Joe.

Robert MATTICK and his sons. Four Yorkshiremen in order of age, Billy, Bobby, Jack and Joe. The dog’s name was Lady.

The above photo is of Robert and his four young sons. The family grew up in “Tredegar” house at Glasshoughton, they married and worked hard in the pits or in industries that supported the collieries in West Yorkshire. They were a close family and raised the next generation to be educated so they wouldn’t have to work down the mines.

Mattick cousins – three of Robert and Mary's grandchildren - Paul, Pat and José.

Mattick cousins – three of Robert and Mary’s grandchildren, Paul, Patricia and José.

Robert and Mary MATTICK were fine, upstanding folks – though not very tall in stature, as the photo below illustrates. Their son-in-law Frank was 6 feet tall, and seven-year-old José was already head-height with her grandparent’s chins.

Mary and Robert Mattick in 1943, with their son-in-law Frank Atkinson and their granddaughter José.

Mary and Robert Mattick in 1943, with their son-in-law Frank Atkinson and their granddaughter José.

My mother grew up in “Tredegar” house and was very close to her grandparents and her mother and father. She remembers being at school during WW2 and having to practice air-raid drills, and carry her gas mask around with her where ever she went. She used to tell us of the hard times of food rationing and how she would be lucky to get one orange a year – usually in her Christmas stocking. She remembers her grandma on her hands and knees each day, with a bucket of water and carbolic soap, scrubbing the coal dust off the front stoop.

Life was often hard, and some weeks they would have been glad of the price of a cup of tea. But you know they were happy in those days. And you try and tell the young people of today that – and they won’t believe you.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sources: Durham Mining Museum website; Welsh Coal Mines WebsiteTroveThe Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Thursday 29 September 1892; Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 5 January 1901; http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cmhrc/prints.htm#1870-75

fence sitting

My sister and I at a country sports carnival. My sis is not generally a fence sitter (metaphorically or literally). Not since she fell off a similar rail at the Hebel Gymkhana and hit her head.  Mum and dad had to drive 70km on gravel roads to the nearest hospital to get her forehead stitched up,

My sister and I at a district sports carnival in Queensland. Sis is not usually a fence sitter (metaphorically or literally), she is very decisive and a “go-getter”. I remember she fell off a similar rail at the Hebel Gymkhana and hit her head when she was about four-years-old. Dad and mum had to drive 70km for two hours on gravel roads to the nearest hospital to get her forehead stitched up. They left me (supervised) at the Gymkhana and I think I won a ribbon for third place in the barrel race.

I know the idiom “sitting on the fence” means not making a decision – not taking a stand one way or the other. What I’m really good at is “phaffing about” or procrastinating – not doing one thing or any of the other things.

I’ve lots to do and the time to do it, I’m just not getting it done. I have “several irons in the fire” so to speak; quite a few projects “on the go”, but they have all “broken down in the back straight”. I feel like I have lost my focus, kind of like all these mixed metaphors.

  1. My last blog post was over three weeks ago. I have four draft articles nearly there, but not quite. Do I really need to rewrite tweak that paragraph again? I guess so.
  2. I’m taking on the Family History Writing Challenge for the month of February. Mercifully it’s the shortest month and I am committing to write at least 250 words a day for 28 days and post at least four articles a week. Ok, I know what you’re going to say: “it’s no longer the 1st of February in Australia.” But I’m sure it’s still the first of the month somewhere in the world.
  3. I should be completing the second draft of the layout and design of a book this weekend. It has a tight production schedule, why am I still “fiddle-farting about”?
  4. My dining room table is piled high with stuff I need to either sort out or throw out, e.g. the Christmas cards I didn’t send. Sorry folks, may I belatedly wish you a happy New Year, a beaut Australia Day, and send you my best wishes and good fortune for the Chinese Year of the Snake?
  5. Then there’s last year’s tax return which is way overdue, not to mention the one for 2007 that the tax department keep sending me gentle reminders about.
  6. I’m seriously turning into a freaky reclusive hermit. I need to answer my correspondence and call my friends while they still consider me a friend.
  7. There are second or third cousins, several times removed, who I connected with a few months ago and who have some really interesting family history to share. I should be updating my research and sending them the information I have.
  8. I have invited the amigos over next week for Mexican & Margaritas so the dining table needs to be cleared. But I can’t just clear all that stuff into a cupboard for the night, my cupboard is jam-packed with last year’s stuff {whimper}.
  9. And, I seriously need to exercise. I know I am always saying it and not doing it, but I have a goal now. I’m travelling to Vancouver, Canada in six months time and I need to be fit enough to keep up with the biking and hiking cousins on our sightseeing trips.
  10. Oh yes, and I’ve put my hand-up and volunteered to be on a committee planning the Wyong Pioneers Association centenary celebrations. I need to write up a marketing plan so I have something useful to contribute at our meeting next month. Thankfully the centenary isn’t until 2015. Plenty of time . . . right?

Ok, I know this post is boring and of no interest to anyone (except for the cute photo of me and my sister). I’m really writing it so I can get “all my ducks in a row” and end up with a solid “to do list”.

I think it’s working, “my arse is in gear”, I’m getting down off my fence and “hitting the ground running”. When I click the publish button I can tick “numero uno” off my list and will have started on “numero dos”.

Here I go, wish me luck with the rest!

two penny worth of arsenic

Coronial inquest by Mr Richard CAINES, coroner of Somerset – 30 June 1830

At Trent, near Yeovil, on Mary SYMES, aged 47.

The deceased had latterly been an occasional servant at the public house in that parish, but had left about three weeks, not being able to perform her work; having got better, she applied to be again employed, but was told she was not wanted; since which time she had done but little, and had received some parochial relief.

On Friday last she went to offer service at Yeovil, and on her return showed a paper containing some powder, which it appeared she took, and died in about two hours afterwards.

George Edwards WELLINGTON and his brother, sons of Mr WELLINGTON of Yeovil, druggist, proved that on Friday last she bought at their shop two penny worth of arsenic, saying that it was to kill rats, and that it was for Mr WHITTLE.

It was proved that the deceased was of weak mind, and in great poverty, and the Jury returned a verdict of Lunacy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Yes, you guessed it – my ancestors sold the arsenic to the unfortunate Mary SYMES.

Arsenic was used in the manufacture of practically everything in Georgian and Victorian England. It was used as a green dye in cloth and wallpaper manufacture, in food, beer, cosmetics as well as rat poison. As evidenced in the inquest above, you could buy arsenic over the counter at your local chemist shop for “a penny worth an ounce.” In minute doses it’s a slow and silent killer that can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and just one hundredth of an ounce is enough to kill. The “two penny worth of arsenic” poor Mary SYMES bought and consumed was enough to kill 50 people and all the rats in Trent and Yeovil combined.

arsenic+vial

For an interesting read on arsenic and the history of poisons in the Victorian era you might like to view Jen Newby’s blog post Arsenic Century. Jen writes about women’s history because, as she says “our great-grandmothers weren’t all chained to the kitchen sink“.

[Sources: Somerset Inquests and Murders 1825-1830; The Arsenic Century by James C Whorton]

the runaway apprentice

Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, dated 14 June 1773.

Richard Wellington - runaway apprentice

Ran away last Monday, from his master, Francis Pyle, of Tallerton, in the county of Devon, Richard Wellington, his apprentice. About nineteen years of age, five feet eight or ten inches high, in his walk stoops a little forward, and bends his knees inwards; straight black hair, and is of a tawney complexion. Carried off with him a light coloured drab coat, let out by the sides, very short, with yellow metal buttons, an old scarlet waistcoat, and a dark colour’d coat and waistcoat, with yellow buttons, figur’d; had in his shoes, when he went off, a pair of double ring’d brass buckles. – Whoever harbours or employs the said apprentice after this notice, shall be prosecuted as the law directs. Or whoever shall bring him to his said master, shall receive a Guinea reward.

Well I’m intrigued, and I bet you’re wondering where the rebellious, raven-haired and pigeon-toed Richard WELLINGTON fits into the family tree.

Richard’s parents were John WELLINGTON (1727-1759) and Sarah LEY (1729-?) who lived in Talaton, Devon in England. I don’t know what John did for a living, he may have been a farmer at Talaton – a small rural town about 20 kms north-east of the port of Exeter and approximately 10 kms west of Honiton.

John and Sarah WELLINGTON had 4 boys (John 12, William 10, Richard 5 and Simon 3) and Sarah was again “with child” when her husband died in early November 1759 at the age of 32. His death must have been a devastating blow to Sarah who gave birth to another son Michael in April 1760. With a family to support she would have found life difficult even if they had freehold land and John provided for her and the children in his will.

Their eldest son John was 12 and probably still at school. As first-born he may have been received a sum of money in his father’s will to secure an apprenticeship with an apothecary in one of the larger towns in Devon or Somerset.

Craftsmen usually took on apprentices at about 13 or 14 years of age, although it was not uncommon for children as young as 10 to be indentured in some trades and the term of the apprenticeship was commonly 7 years or until the child reached the age of 21. Masters required a premium to be paid by parents for securing their child’s livelihood. A father’s early death could mean a low premium and poor trade for a child of prosperous parents if provision was not made in the man’s will.

Premiums paid in trades in the mid 18th century varied greatly depending on where the business was – boys bound to London apothecaries had premiums of between £150 and £200 while provincial masters took £50 on average.
Examples of the range of premiums paid to various trades circa 1750:

  • £10-£100 – stationer, printer, bookmaker
  • £20-£200 – apothecary, attorney, hosier, jeweller, draper
  • £30-£100 – Ironmonger
  • £50-£100 – artist, coachmaker, conveyancer, sugar baker, timber merchant.

A high premium did not ensure comfortable living conditions for the child. It compensated the master for an apprentice’s errors made as a novice; it provided a child with food, room and basic board in the master’s house or workshop, instruction in a profitable livelihood, and established him in a prosperous career with appropriate marriage and social prospects. Apprentices weren’t paid for their work, except occasionally in the last years of their apprenticeship.

The following is an extract from a parish apprenticeship indenture dated 1 October 1694, at Stockleigh English, Devon. The apprentice could well be an earlier ancestor:

Between Richard Moorish, Churchwarden, Thomasine Bradford, Widow, and William Quicke, Overseer, of the one part, and Henry Bellow, Gent, of the other – binding Susannah Wellington apprentice to Henry Bellew to the age of twenty-one years, to be brought up in housewifry & found in meat, drink, apparel, lodging, hose, shooes & all things fit and necessary & at the end of term to discharge her well apparelled.

An indenture in the early 1700s had the Churchwarden Thomas WELLINGTON binding a poor parish apprentice until the age of twenty-one:

Indenture made on 6th June, eighth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1709, between Thomas Wellington, Churchwarden, and Henry Bellow and William Morish, Overseers for Stockleigh English Parish, and Mary Pope, Widdow, have bound Joan Drew to Mary Pope till the age of twenty-one years to be brought up in huswifry.

Another indenture two years later, had Thomas WELLINGTON taking on a parish apprentice until the age of twenty-four. Joan and Elias DREW may have been from the same family and fell on hard times due to the death of a parent:

Indenture made 4th April 1711, tenth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1711, between John Brown, Churchwarden, and John Bradford and William Blackmore, Overseers, Stockley English, and Thomas Wellington, Yeoman, of the said Parish and County (of Devon) have bound Elias Drew, Parish Apprentice, till the age of fower and twenty years in husbandry, Thomas Wellington providing for him and to discharge him at the end of term well apparelled.

Still another contract in 1742, had a James WELLINGTON taking on an apprentice for the parsonage. This one was quite firm in its conditions that the poor lad should no longer be a financial burden on the parish:

Indenture made sixteenth day of September, sixteenth year of George II., King, etc., A.D. 1742, between William Wyat, Churchwarden of Stockley English, County Devon, and William Wyat, and Robert Avary, Overseers, etc., bound John Pomeroy, Apprentice to James Wellington, for the Parsonage, until the age of twenty four years, the Apprentice to do as Statute requires. James Wellington to instruct or cause to be instructed in Husbandry work, and find him the said Apprentice, competent and sufficient meat, drink and apparel, lodging, washing, and all other things necessary and fit for an Apprentice, he not to be any way a charge to said Parish, or Parishoners of the same, and to save the aforesaid harmless and indemnified during the said term. At the end of term to provide the said Apprentice double apparel of all sorts, good and new, one for the holy days and another for the working days.

We know that our John WELLINGTON from Talaton completed his apprenticeship and became a qualified apothecary and druggist. He set up a chemist shop in Chard in Somerset and married Molly BOWDEN in 1772 at the age of 25 years.

He appears to have over-extended himself, as I found a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury of 10 May 1773. John WELLINGTON, druggist of Chard – bankrupt. This turn of events may have been a contributing factor in his younger brother Richard’s elopement from his master one month later.

From my research at Devon Records Office I found Francis PYLE was a gentleman freehold farmer in Talaton. He held deeds for land and estates within the Hayridge Hundred during the late 1700s. Richard WELLINGTON would have been apprenticed in a trade on the estate or farm such as blacksmithing or husbandry.

Richard was totally reliant on the good will of his master. Fellow workers or members of the master’s family may have bullied the young man. He could have been mistreated, become very unhappy or homesick and have only one means of escape which was to run away.

The Runaway Apprentice - copyright Susan Buck 2012

At the age of 19, Richard was not the only apprentice to feel the need to spread his wings and experience some of life’s temptations. The Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury was a regional newspaper published in Dorset whose readership also included the counties of Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. During 1773 there were at least 40 notices posted by masters whose apprentices had eloped or run away.

By 1773, Richard had already worked at least 5 or 6 years as a farm apprentice with still another 2 years left to serve. He would have toiled long hours and resented his lack of leisure and personal freedom. He probably read about his eldest brother’s bankruptcy and set off to walk the 30 km to Chard to visit him. Or Richard might have longed for more excitement in his life and headed to the busy port of Exeter in the hope of gaining paid employment on a ship or by joining the navy.

If Richard did run away to sea (which is the most likely scenario) he made sure he was going to be “well apparelled”. I can find no further records on Richard WELLINGTON’s life after this notice so I don’t know if he ended up a sailor or returned to farming.

There is better news on his brother John WELLINGTON, the apothecary and druggist of Chard. It appears he traded his way out of bankruptcy, as a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury on 26 September 1774 announced payment of a dividend to his creditors.

In 1777, after 5 years as a bankrupt, John was expanding his business and advertising for journeyman coopers and cabinet makers. It appears he learned from his early mistakes and went on to become very successful. He was the founder of a family dynasty of pioneering chemists in Devon and Somerset.

John WELLINGTON died in Chard in 1827, at the age of 79. Three of his children (John, George and William) were druggists and grocers in South Petherton, Yeovil and Chard. They were also respectable civic leaders, each holding office on their town councils.

[Sources: www.familysearch.org/Apprenticeship_in_EnglandApprenticeship in England, 1600-1914, Joan Lane;  Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury or Western Flying Post 1773-1778; index of adverts at this link]; Erskine-Risk, J. Apprenticeship indentures from Stockleigh English Parish Church. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 33 (1901) pp.484-494. [Index].

proof of life lived

What is the earliest record that proves you are who you say you are?
What can you produce that shows where you come from?

For most of us living in a western society it will be the registration of our birth. Or possibly, our adoption records. For some of you young’ens out there it might even be a black and white ultrasound snapshot of you inside your birth mummy’s tummy.


My earliest record of life is this telegram sent to my grandmother in England which pre-dates the formal registration of my birth by about a month.
It says a lot – the time, date and place I was born, who my parents were as well as my grandma’s name and where she lived. Most importantly it says I am part of a family. This little slip of paper is gold to me.

From the minute we are born our parents-slash-guardians begin filling in forms and registration papers in order to sign us up to the life we have entered. By the time we finish primary school our mums have worn out five ball-point pens (and their next-to-last nerves) dealing with all the paperwork involved in getting us kids enrolled in everything from local community and school groups to federal government programs.

Where does all this paperwork go?

We could assume that by the time we reach 18, and are required to fill in and sign our own forms, there is a massive filing cabinet in a basement of a government building. Attached to it is our name stamped out on a dodgy dymo label. The drawers are chock-full of all the “necessary paperwork” of our childhood. Immunisation records, old dolomite savings bank books, school excursion permission slips, as well as regional swimming carnival ribbons and Year 8 school reports (Susan has an aptitude for history, but needs to apply herself in maths).

I know of some keen parents who lovingly save all the treasures of their offspring – baby’s first hair cut, toddler’s first shoes, kindergarten drawings in scrapbooks, best and fairest trophy for under-ten soccer. Well, these parents tend to start out super-keen with the first child, but by the third one they are lucky to remember to bring a camera along to Billy’s Year 6 prize-giving ceremony.

Then at some point there is a clean-out. We grow up and move out, and our parents decide to de-clutter. They ask us if we want to keep any of this “stuff” and, as young know-it-all teens, focusing on our future and not our past, we say “get rid of it”, or we box it up and store it on the top shelf in our parent’s garage for ten years.

When we are ready to claim our early lives, we find the box got wet at some point and now everything smells of mildew, the head has fallen off our swimming trophy and a mouse has shredded our diaries and school certificates to make a nest for it’s family.

So we’ve lost a few treasures of our youth, there are still the family photo albums, right? Sure, they’re full of fading “kodak moments” of birthday parties, family weddings, and class photos – none of them are captioned (who’s that guy? where was that taken?), most are not dated and there are just so many of them. In 50-year’s time when our parent’s minds have faded and we are doing a final de-clutter of the family home, no-one will remember who, what or when, and most will be tossed out.

And heaven help the descendants of the digital camera and email age. Does your grandma still cherish the SMS text message your dad sent her when you were born? I know you have thousands of family photos stored on that computer – but have you backed them up? What happens in a couple of year’s time when your computer’s hard drive fails? Where are your memories then – the proof of your life lived?

Yes there is facebook, blogging, “the cloud”, flickr and other electronic media. All exciting and easy-to-use methods of publishing. I’m a convert! They are great ways of storing your photos, publishing your journals, and sharing your life with your family and friends . . . and the rest of the planet. Whatever you do, don’t forget your passwords will you?

I understand not all of us are interested in keeping every treasure from our past – me neither. No, I’m serious! You’d be surprised at the amount of “my stuff” I throw out, give away or recycle. I live my life in the present and looking forward, I’m happy for my memories and life experiences to last as long as I draw breath, and hope I will be remembered fondly by those who knew me personally.

It’s just that I love social history, I like to collect “other people’s stuff”, to learn about their life experiences. That’s what I love about researching my family history, the detective work that brings an insight into how my ancestors lived their lives.

So at the end of my life what will there be to prove who I was? What will I have produced which shows where I came from?

My memories, my life experiences and my family history research.