52 Ancestors – Week Nine.

The theme for this week is Gone Too Soon.

My maternal grandmother Lily Hunt was the tenth and last child of school teachers Edwin Hunt and Margaret Morgan who married in Reading, Berkshire in 1862. The seventh and ninth children, unfortunately, did not survive early childhood. The ninth only survived a few months, but the seventh lived for two years and her death was never forgotten, even in such a straight-laced Victorian family, and my Aunt Betty remembered hearing about her in the 1930s.

Alice Katherine Hunt, known as “Eulalie” or “Little Lallie”, was a real Christmas present, a much-loved child born on 25 December 1870 in Reading. She died two months before her third birthday. I do not know the cause of her death.

My aunt passed on to me a lovely little Memento Mori, a brooch of amethyst and seed pearls containing a lock of golden hair and inscribed on the back EH.

52 Ancestors …. Week 8.

The theme for this week is “I can identify…”

Or rather, I can’t. So frustrating! Trying to identify all the family members in several photos of my father in law’s funeral in August 1953.

Squadron Leader Wiliam Frederick Hoffmann AFC (“Bill”) remained in the British Air Force after WW2, and was on holiday at Penzance in Cornwall with his wife and small son aged 6 when on the 26 August 1953 he saw a woman who seemed to be in difficulties in the water and swam out to rescue her. He lost his life but the woman was rescued.

He was given a full Royal Air Force funeral. Curiously while the funeral was reported in the newspapers, only his widow’s and his father’s names were included among the long list of Air Force dignitaries who attended. (His full story is elsewhere on this website).

So here is one of the photos and an enlargement of the family group.
I can identify some of those in the front row:

In the top photo, In the front row is Bill’s mother Dorothy “Daisy” (Darragh) Hoffmann (1891-1972) and Bill’s widow Joyce “Joy” (Attrill) Hoffmann (1921-1983) with Joy’s father Syd Attrill immediately behind them. Syd is easily identified from other family photos, as are Daisy and Joy. The man to Joy’s left is most likely Bill’s father William Hoffmann (1899-1955), a Belfast hairdresser, and almost obscured behind him, Bill’s sister Yvonne (1918 – 1977) who never married – all are in the front row again in the second photo.

So that’s Bill’s immediate family sorted.

But – who is next? Who is the tall baldish man in the second photo, in a prominent position almost next to Daisy, with a woman (his wife?) beside him. They could be Pearl and Charles Hoffmann (1892-after 1958), Bll’s Uncle, who was a dentist in Leeds. They had no children. But they are wide apart in the second photo, and the woman seems to be more with the tall man with abundant hair – perhaps he is Charles? Less likely one of these men could be Bill’s eldest brother Frederick Hoffman (1886-1975) (he dropped the second n), who went to the USA in 1916. His wife died in 1949. His son Frederick Jay Hoffman (1922-1973) and daughter Marcia were Bill’s only close cousins. I think it unlikely these cousins would travel from USA for the funeral but perhaps their father would?

Or it could be Daisy’s brother William Kendall Darragh (1883-1979) and his wife Charlotte; Bill would have spent his childhood with them. Their granddaughter thinks it is not them, nor their son Brian Kendall Darragh.

Going further back in the first photo, there is an older man with silver hair. He seems to be part of the immediate family group. The older man could not be either of Bill’s grandfathers as both died earlier, in 1933 and 1939 respectively. Could HE be one of the brothers Frederick or Charles??

I think I will leave it there. Below is a composite family tree.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week Seven.

Topic: Outcast.

I have chosen a broad interpretation – “someone different from the others” but without the usual connotations of being cast out as a pariah.

My Great Uncle George Johnston (1855-1885) certainly fits this bill. With 12 close uncles and aunts and almost 40 first cousins in Scotland, he was the first seaman in his extended family.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he was born in Tasmania, Australia a few weeks after his parents Alexander Johnston and Margaret Lyle arrived from Glasgow on the Storm Cloud in 1855 after a voyage of 71 days in the stormiest seas of the world.

He must have started at sea before he was aged 20. A number of letters George wrote to his family in Tasmania show that he spent many years on cargo and passenger boats, both sail and steam, plying between the Far East, The British Isles, North and South America and Australasia. He visited his extended family in Glasgow whenever possible and often mentioned them in letters home, making the letters a great treasure trove for this family historian!

Sadly George lost his life at sea when he was only 29. Not on the high seas in a howling storm, but off the Australian coast in reasonable weather when the powerful screw steamer on which he was second mate ran aground. He was posthumously awarded a gold medal for bravery.

His full story is at https://nancyvada.me/sailing/george-johnston-sailor-boy/

52 Ancestors … Week 6.

Topic; Social media

The advent of the Internet was one of the most significant events in my life, coming at the same time as my interest in genealogy was awakened. Early Rootsweb discussion lists (In the days before Ancestry) were rich sources of information, assistance and camaderie on a scale I had never experienced with childhood penfriends. My family trees grew and grew…

But it was more .. An Australian, I joined several international discussion lists for people with cochlear implants – at that time still a fairly innovative device – and ‘met’ Bev B., a Canadian, who invited me to make a joint presentation with her at an international conference in the USA. With the help of a Quota scholarship I travelled all over the US, attended several other conferences and met many of the people with whom I had chatted on-line. A few years later Bev planned to attend an Australian conference and asked if I knew anyone with a cochlear implant in New Zealand … yes, there was this guy on another of my lists … Bev visited him, played matchmaker and several years later there I was living in New Zealand with my wonderful new husband!