Adding Archie to the family archives

Archie and Meggie 1949A few days ago I posted a picture of a postcard sent by my grandmother (Margaret Jane Webb, née Henderson) who was holidaying in Toronto, Canada in 1949, to her younger brother (Randle Henderson) in Amble, Northumberland. The postcard indicated that they had lost contact with their brother Archie who had emigrated to Canada and that she was planning to seek him out while on holiday. The Archie in question was their younger brother, Archibald Henderson, born 1907 at Amble in Northumberland.

The good news is that the search had a positive result. My grandparents met up with Archie in Canada. I know this now because the cousin who sent me the scan of the postcard continued to dig in her family photo box and found another gem. On the back of this photo is “Your sister and brother, Maggie & Archie, hope it reaches you before boat sails.. Sent Harriet one too.” From this we can deduce that the photo is of my grandmother and her brother taken in Toronto late 1949, before she returned home to England, and that she sent two copies: one to her brother Randle and the other to her sister Harriet. We very probably have one in our own photo box, but as that would be her own copy it may not have his name on the back.

Niagara Falls on Sunday – 1949

Postcard from Canada 1949My grandparents, Jonty and Meggie Webb (née Henderson), travelled to Canada in 1949 to visit their daughter Mary who had married Canadian Jimmy Ash and moved to Toronto.

A newly found Henderson-cousin, Jayne Handyside of Amble, has found this historical gem while rifling through her family’s old photo box. It is written by my granny and addressed to her brother Randle who was Jayne’s great grandfather. The Archie that is referred to in the postcard is younger brother to Meggie and Randle. He was born in Amble, Northumberland in1907 and emigrated to Canada.

They are clearly having a whale of a time and planning a trip to Niagara Falls, which must have been quite spectacular for them on their first trip abroad.

David Taggart Henderson (1894-1917)

WWI Plaque David Taggart Henderson 001When we cleared out my mother’s house back in 1999 we found an object in her cupboard which we were unsure about. Since neither of us lives in England, this was packed away in a box in my brother’s house and didn’t see the light of day for a while. When we dug it out again our curiosity was piqued and we decided to investigate what it was. It turned out be a “widow’s penny” given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in World War One. This discovery set us off on the next quest. Who was this David Henderson and why did we have this wonderful memento? He was clearly a relative of my maternal grandmother, born Margaret Jane Henderson, but his name had never been mentioned before.

Further investigation showed him to be my granny’s cousin, David Taggart Henderson, son of her uncle John Henderson, born (1860-1898). Cousin David was only about 5 years older than my granny Meggy, so I assume there were quite close when they were growing up. John Henderson and his wife Mary lost another child in infancy, then Mary went on to marry John Baston and have a second family.

David T. Henderson can be found on the Amble War Memorial. He was an Able Seaman in the RNVR Hood Divsion and you can read more about him at this record on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There is also a slightly damaged headstone cross memorial to him, his parents and his baby brother in Amble East Cemetery. I will add that to the blog another time.

Another month whizzes past

Views Sept 2015September is over and I have just had a quick review of my blog statistics for the past three months. Interest seems to be growing and I expect my September viewings would have been even better if I had continued to post daily for the whole month.

The little lapse in posting for the last week is because I was too busy giving a living introduction to ourViews country Sept 2015 family history to two cousins from the other side of the world who were visiting Northumberland for the first time. We had a whirlwind tour that included Warkworth, Radcliffe, Amble, Hauxley, Alnwick and Alnmouth. I am contemplating adding a new page to cover that visit after I catch up on the work backlog from taking a short break. Managed to tidy up a few branches on the family tree at the same time thanks to their input.

Northumbrian nostalgia weekend

Amusing myself at Oslo Gardermoen airport, waiting for a flight to Edinburgh. Heading “home” to Nothumberland for a long weekend to meet two Canadian cousins for the first time. Their visit will be a little shorter than originally planned as they are having to catch a later train up from London on Friday. The objective is to give them a little taste of their roots, but it will be a whirlwind tour. They are the daughter and granddaughter of my first cousin James Murray Ash (1943-2011), known to the family as Murray. Murray was born in Radcliffe, Northumberland to my aunt Mary Webb (1921-2011) and her Canadian husband Jimmy. Mary and Jimmy (James Murray Ash sr) met when he was stationed in England with the Canadian Airforce during WW2. They moved back to Toronto shortly after establishing a family, so I never had the pleasure of meeting my cousin Murray. Making up for that now by joining some of his family to show them where he was born and where my Aunty Mary worked at Alnwick Castle.

Co-operative Wholesale Society (Coop)

Amble CoopHow many of you remember being sent to the “The Store” to pick up some shopping for your mother in your childhood? The Store was the term we used for the local CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) shop. They had grocery shops, hardware shops and more.

The Coop was founded by consumers who clubbed together to enable bulk purchasing. This was a way to avoid the extortionate pricing in company owned shops, e.g. those run by mine owners where workers only had one option for where to buy their produce. By paying a minimal sum to become a Coop member, people had the opportunity to buy their groceries at an acceptable price and also earn a dividend (which we referred to as the divi). The amount paid for purchases was recorded on a “cheque” after giving your 4-digit cheque number and the dividend was paid out annually. As children we all had our mother’s cheque number firmly implanted in our minds and rolled it out regularly with every loaf of bread, quarter of bacon or bag of flour we were sent to purchase.

The photograph shows Amble Harbour Coop on the left (beside where the women are walking). This Coop was managed by my Dad’s cousin, Ralphy Tweddle, until his retirement in the 1980s. Until reminded today by Ralphy’s son Les, I had forgotten that this was one of the first shops in Northumberland to introduce a self-service system, back in 1964. Just imagine the shock to the average Amble housewife of being able to pick her own goods directly off the shelf rather than stand in a queue and ask for each individual item with her neighbours listening to what she was buying. The Coop management were clearly men of vision, ahead of their time, as they were prepared to invest in training their staff in the new system and take the risk of losing customers with such a challenging innovation as self-service.

Ralphy actually gave me a kick-start on my family history research as he told me the names of the dozen Cracketts in the banner photo on my blog. One of the girls is his mother Dorothy Ann and the couple in the middle were his grandparents, Leonard Cracket and Mary Parkinson.

DNA: John Davis and Mary

DNA match iconThis is my first DNA success story from my brother’s kit on AncestryDNA. I am very pleased about this one as it gives extra assurance that my paper trail is valid for the very common surname Davis. It clearly shows the benefits of testing siblings, as this match did not appear for my own kit.

It also demonstrates how families spread around the world can find their common roots through the versatility of DNA analysis. I was born in Northumberland, England and now live in Norway. The two kits that matched belong to people in Italy and Australia. The probable common ancestors lived in Shropshire, England.

If you would like to know more about our DNA and paper trail links to John Davis and his wife Mary take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Davis and/or Mary ??” on my page DNA plus paper.