I love everything about genealogy – the twists and turns that our family trees take, the ups and downs of dead ends, the excitement of finding something unexpected and sharing in someone elses excitement at their finds. All of these things keep me absolutely hooked.
I’m also aware how lucky I am to be living in this age of computers and online access, because many of these surprises arrive that way. I’m also lucky because I have a very easy life compared to many of my ancestors. Technology and machines have made my life a very easy one, from doing laundry to cooking and more. However I’m not convinced that they save me time…….especially the one I’m using to write this post!!
I did get a surprise last week though and I’d like to share it with you. A gentleman sent me a photograph of a gravestone from a remote area in South Africa. He wanted it to be available in case anyone might be searching for the person listed on the grave. I was very moved by his thoughtfulness, the fact that he sent it to me via Ancestral Wales because “you never know who might be looking for family” was one of the coolest things that has happened since I launched the website, and so thanks for sending it!
It reads: In Loving Memory of Ann Ellen beloved wife of Ellis Owen born in Carnarvon, Wales who departed this life at Pilgrim’s Rest Nov 1st 1897 aged 36 years. (Also their infant daughter).
If you have a connection to this family please feel free to contact me. I haven’t posted the photo because it’s tagged with a different name than the person who sent it.
The photograph intrigued me and so I did a little bit of research, and found that the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941, shows that Ann Ellen Owen, wife of Ellis Owen had a will that was probated in 1898 and that Ellis Owen was a miner.
Pelgrimsrus (Pilgrim’s Rest) where Ann and Ellis lived is in Mpumalanga, South Africa and was a gold rush town. The cemetery where Ann is buried started during that time. I can’t begin to imagine what kind of life people like Ann and others had, moving to remote areas of the world in search of a dream. These days if we want to move around the world, we can look up just about any where we want to go on the internet, but I think it took much more courage to follow a dream as Ann and Ellis did.
It’s been a dreadful amount of time since I posted to the blog. I have been working slowly but surely on the website, however going back to full-time employment has eaten into my time at the keyboard.
I had a couple of delightful suprises these past few weeks. I discovered a reference to Lewis Davies, my 3 x great grandfather in the index to press cuttings on the Ceredigion County Council website. I also found reference to a newspaper article about my Clayton family in another article. I sent an email asking how to go about obtaining the two articles, and the Aberystwyth Library kindly scanned and sent them to me. My thanks indeed for doing that. It is just so very very cool, to find something like this in a newspaper and I will be taking the time to follow up on the clues in the first article, which describes Lewis’ lengthy military career, under both the Duke of York and the Duke of Wellington. One thing led to another and I found an article about the home he built in Aberystwyth. Again I’m so grateful for the opportunity to view these articles online. I would never know these details and be able to add to the story of my family in this way.
The article in Ceredigion: Journal of the Cardiganshire Antiquarian Society was written by Caroline Palmer. It is absolutely filled to the brim with information on the house from wallpaper, to descriptions of the fireplaces purchased, and although Lewis died shortly after it was finished, his eldest son’s family lived there a long time. They worked extensively on the house and the details in the article were such that I could almost picture it all in my mind. There is a brief mention of my 2x great grandfather who was Lewis’ youngest son, and also plenty of dates to provide clues for further research. As a brief aside, I’m certainly very glad that I wasn’t one of the poor tradespeople working on redesigning the home under Lewis’ grandson and his wife. It does sound like they were quite difficult to deal with in terms of paying for any work done on the home!!
As I opened the pdf of the second article about the Clayton family, I was thrilled to see photographs attached to it. It was an article about a relative who has written a book on the Clayton and Thomas families of Aberystwyth. I had been in touch with her a little while ago and she had very kindly sent me a copy of the book.
The wonderful part about genealogy is that everytime I think I’ve reached a dead end, finds like these spur me on again. It’s like a good cup of tea when you’re thirsty!!
Here are the two links I talked about today. Even if you don’t have relatives in the articles, they are interesting to read, because they give a flavour of life as it was…
Ceredigion County Council Local History Resources: Press Cuttings Collection
Welsh Journals Online