For several years I hunted for a headstone for my 3rd great grandparents, John Henderson (1811-1894) and Harriet Miller Newton (1814-1893).
I acquired their death certificates and knew that John drowned at Lesbury in 1874 and Harriet died in Amble in 1893. They could not be buried with other Henderson relatives in Amble West Cemetery as that opened in 1905, but I still kept my eyes open to see if they might have been mentioned on a subsequent memorial there. The death dates made it possible for Harriet to be in Amble East Cemetery, but that opened a little too late for John. However, I still had a wander round the cemetery and checked an online list of burials. No luck there either. My next thought was Warkworth St. Lawrence’s Church. There were Hendersons there too, but not this couple.
Then finally the penny dropped. There was another cemetery in Warkworth too, on the road up to the beach. There they were, together with two of their boys: Henry Henderson (1846-1871) and Archibald Henderson (1836-1874) – so easy to find once I finally got myself into the right place. TIt must have been tough on Harriet as she lost her son Archibald only 4 months after losing her husband.
A question from my Canadian 1C1R about her father’s origins triggered me to dig out this wonderful photo of my grandparents standing in the yard of their house in the colliery village of Radcliffe. Looking across the road from where they are standing they would see the communal water standpipe, the coalhouse, the outdoor “netty”, the midden and their garden. The picture was taken by brother at some stage after he left home, so I am guessing it can be dated close to the end of the 1960s. Radcliffe village was demolished in 1971 to make way for opencast coal mining. The whole community were moved to a new council estate in the neighbouring town of Amble.
The people in the picture are
- My granda: Jonathan Doleman Webb, 1899 – 1981. Jonty was born in Stobswood and worked at Hauxley pit. His hobby was his garden and in particular growing prize leeks.
- My granny: Margaret Jane Henderson, 1899 – 1982. Meggie was born in Amble and is related to the Henderson fishermen. She was very houseproud and could often be seen with a paintbrush in her hand, sprucing up her home.
I have been driven to distraction over the past few hours by Ancestry’s many attempts to persuade me that my ancestors come from Pennsylvania, Ontario or New South Wales. I have no issue with USA, Canada and Australia reusing the Northumberland county name. What irritates me is that ancestry.com seems unable to suggest that any Northumbrian location is English without manual assistance.
Since I was unaware when I first started my tree that this was going to be an issue, I was not too careful about adding the country name to every place name. Now I am suffering for my lapse.
Looking on the positive side, I have been kicked into rationalizing another couple of hundred place names this evening. Hopefully I have now planted my little corner of Northumberland safely back on English soil, but if you read my tree and see a foreign Northumberland has slipped past me please let me know so I can check whether it is correct.
Having been warned that the new improved ancestry.com format is very sensitive to place names I decided to tackle the tidying job on all my place names. A combination of manual clumsiness in typing, names plucked automatically from poor transcriptions and my laziness in not adding country names mean that I have quite a task ahead of me. If I don’t sort this out before switching to the new format then I am going to find many of my border region ancestors will be assumed by ancestry to come from USA, Canada or Australia. It seems to search for all of these possibilities before considering that a Northumbrian town might be in England. Tonight I dealt with the obvious mistakes, using the “resolve place names” function in Family Tree Maker. That has cut my list of unresolved place names from 485 to 338, just by clearing up spellings, commas, and adding country to some. Still have a long way to go though, as many of the suggestions made by the software were wrong, so I will have to go through the whole list again manually.
I treated myself to a new pair of specs a couple of week ago. Perhaps they will give me some new insight into this little conundrum. I am trying to find proof of whether my theory about a Gowans connection is correct. This death certificate is for William Gowans, aged 74, who died of typhus fever at Alnwick on 12 June 1841. His death was witnessed by Eleanor Gowans. I am trying to figure out whether William was my 4th great grandfather. This hinges on whether or not my probable 3rd great grandfather William Cracket married an Isabella Gowans. If that theory is correct, then the next question to work on is whether William was her father. Paper trail for these folks in the border lands is a bit thin and so far there is nothing substantial popping up in DNA matches to say yea or nay.
My second DNA success is a match that gives me increased confidence about my 3rd great grandparents John Henderson and Harriet Miller Newton. My match on AncestryDNA is descended from their daughter Elizabeth and I am descended from their son John. It was interesting to see that Ancestry only thought we had Harriet in common. The reason for this is that John was a bit of an enigma. My match has him documented with information from the census, as being born in Haydon Bridge. This is what I started out with too, but I have subsequently found a baptismal record in Kirkwhelpington which makes reference to his birth in Haydon Bridge. For more information about this match take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Henderson and/or Harriet Miller Newton” on my page DNA plus paper.
The first DNA result that I was able to make sense of gave me an increased confidence that my paper trail back to 3rd great grandparents John Thornton and Margery Hall is correct. John and Margery were married at Hartburn in 1822. I have found 8 children for them. The DNA match is between my maternal aunt and a descendent of their son Hall Thornton, born 1838, who emigrated to Lackawanna, Pennsylvania. To read more about this match take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Thornton and/or Margery Hall on my page DNA plus paper. This article explains the lines of descent.