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I have done a spot of housekeeping on the website, and moved the family tree news updates for 2009 into this archive. (Follow this link for the latest family tree news.)
Christmas is almost upon us already, doesn't it come around quickly? The final Christmas family tree presentation packs full of research findings are all on schedule to arrive in time for Christmas, so there will be some delighted people out there opening their presents on Christmas Day. Always a pleasure to make customers happy.
I have squeezed in some time to add additional Blitz Victim information to the Coventry Blitz Resource Centre this week. I have added my research findings for the following family names: Farr, Faulkner, Farren, Dingley, Dennis, Dalton, Daines. As promised, I have uploaded the information kindly supplied by David Barron from Ontario about the Magson family, including an excellent photo of his Great Uncle Reg. Many thanks for sending these David.
This week I received a lovely letter from a customer I helped earlier this year, who has finally been reunited with her brother and sister after 70+ years. While I do love helping people research their family trees, I have to say that the most rewarding part of my job is when my work helps people get back in touch with long lost family members. It gives me immense pleasure to help people in this way. I will share the letter with you below, with only names and addresses redacted for privacy - it is a heart-warming letter to read.
It just remains for me to wish all my readers, customers and fellow genealogy enthusiasts a wonderful Christmas / Holiday Season, and a happy and prosperous New Year to you all.
Jane Hewitt 20 December 2009
My family and I would like to thank you for the help you gave us in the summer when I was trying to find three of my siblings.
You provided information which helped the adoption team trace two of my siblings: F, who is 82 and my brother J who is 76. I have not met F yet, but I have spoken to her several times on the phone, and she is overjoyed to be in contact with the family again.
My brother J has been to visit me and will be spending Christmas with me and my family. It has been very emotional for J as this has been his first contact with anyone in the family for 73 years.
We now have only one member of the family missing, our brother HK of whom there is no trace. My older siblings do not even remember him as a baby at home. He would be 75 now and there is no record of his death. My adoptive mother suggested he had gone to Canada so next year we will be following a new line of enquiry.
I thought you would like to know how much your enquiries had helped us, and how much we appreciated your help.
Best wishes for Christmas and the coming year.
Delighted to have published a new web page about the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral following the devastation of the Blitz. The black and white photographs are taken from my family archive. Dating back to the 1950s, they depict the construction of Coventry Cathedral as it rose phoenix-like from the ashes of destruction as a symbol of peace reconciliation.
If you own any old photographs of the Cathedral taken after the Blitz, and wish to share them, I would be interested in hearing from you.
Thanks also to Mr D Barron who kindly sent me a photo of his relative who was sadly killed during the air raids on Coventry, and some additional data for the website. I hope to publish this in my next website update.
Just a quick news update this week - research is going ahead full steam as Christmas approaches!
I have found time this week only for making a few minor tweaks and updates to the website. However, browsing through my collection of family history photos, I found a set of amazing old photos taken throughout the 1950s. They show Coventry as it was being rebuilt following the devastation of the Blitz. I am spending my leisure time converting these old photographs to electronic format. They show Coventry rising from the ashes of destruction, and it is fascinating to see familiar city landmarks being built. Not to mention all the old cars!
I will pick out some of these archive photos from my collection to publish to the website. I am thinking about putting a page together on Coventry Cathedral, and another photo gallery showing Coventry City Centre - e.g. Broadgate and Coventry Precinct - being constructed. Check out www.familyresearcher.co.uk in a week or two, as I hope to have something worth uploading soon. All the best, Jane.
I have caught up with the backlog of Blitz victim updates for the website. If you are looking for info on Blitz victims in these families: Clarke, Edmond, Edwards, Egginton, Kenney, Logan, Moffitt, Needle, Perrot or Yates families then the data is now available on the Cov Blitz Resource Centre.
This week I spent some time researching a fascinating family descended from a Native American who immigrated to the UK circa the 1860s. The gentleman concerned was converted to Christianity by the US Salvation Army and was a sailor who settled here.
I also found time to update the Dictionary of Old Occupations with another two pages of job definitions beginning with the letter R. These are now available online free of charge.
Website updates have been slower than usual this week due to extra requests for family tree research for Christmas gifts. I have found time to add more details to the Blitz pages regarding the Bedford, Bradley and Dodd families. I still have three more pages of additional notes to type up and publish, I shall endeavour to do so asap.
Yesterday's anniversary of the Coventry Blitz has lead to several people getting in touch to ask for info about their relatives killed in the Blitz. As always I am happy to help with these enquiries. As a result, I have been able to add more information to the Coventry Blitz Resource Centre pages on my site.
A big 'thank you' to eagle-eyed author / historian Trevor Harkin who spotted two names on the Unlisted Blitz Victims list which are listed right at the end on the Memorial, out of alphabetical order and under 'unidentified'. I have updated the web site to match the memorial. Thanks also to Mr Kite for sending me updated information for his family Blitz story.
This week I also added / updated data for an additional 23 victims of the Coventry Blitz, and published these under the Blitz Resource Centre.Mr West sent me a short Blitz story about his grandparents, which has now been added to the site. Thanks to everyone for their contributions. Sitting here on the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday 2009, updating details about WW2 victims seem particularly poignant, and I do so with respect to honour and remember those who lost their lives during WW2.
Found some time this week to add approx 50 more jobs to the dictionary of old occupations. I am maybe a quarter of the way through the job definitions now, if that. Told you it is a big job! Additionally, I have been researching through passenger lists from the 1920s to the 1940s for soldier's families returning from India to England via Southampton. It was interesting to have tracked down the birth certificate for a soldier's daughter born in Bangalore.
My regular research work carries apace on as usual. If you are thinking of ordering a family tree for Christmas, now is the time to get in touch.
In response to the many questions I am asked (and am happy to answer), I have written a FAQ about family tree research. For those unfamiliar with the term, FAQ stands for 'Frequently Asked Questions'. I hope the FAQ will be of assistance to people wanting to research their family tree. I have included some helpful links, such as free census searches and old occupation lists.
The highlight of this week's research had to be helping someone who had been stuck searching for a marriage record for three years. By searching through various London Parish registers I was able to track down the elusive information, much to everyone's delight. I also received a Will, and a large parcel of military records and information, including a War Diary. Fascinating stuff!
Whilst looking through records at the archives this week, searching for evidence of an ancestor for a family now living in Australia, I came across a 19th century broadsheet 'Sentences of the Prisoners' detailing local records of convicted prisoners being hanged for such crimes as breaking into a house to steal a shirt, jacket and waistcoat. Crime and Punishment was certainly more severe back then; for example, the record shows 16 year old Edward Pritchard, and 19 year old John Letman were 'Transported for Life' (to Australia) for stealing a silk handkerchief.
This week a BBC Timewatch programme was broadcast showing film footage and anecdotes about the Coventry Blitz. As you can imagine, I was glued to my TV set! The documentary was well made and is a very interesting true account of the horrors inflicted upon the people of Coventry. From time to time I am contacted by researchers who are making TV documentaries such as this one.
The TV documentary has revived some interest in the Blitz. My thanks to Tony and Kate Bennett for supplying new data for Blitz victims, which I have published today. Also, thanks to Des Kite for sharing his parent's recollections of the Blitz, including a wonderful photograph of his father in police uniform. Follow the link to read these Blitz recollections.
As promised, I have published a new page about the tragic death of William Wombwell, who was killed by an elephant in Coventry in 1849. This page includes, following a productive trip to the archives, a lengthy transcript from a historical newspaper article, recording the official inquest.
I have made several minor website improvements this week, such as checking for errors and adding some info about GEDCOM files. Mostly I have been busy progressing three large family tree projects, which are presently ongoing.
I was able to help a nice lady who contacted me for help tracing her Scottish ancestors, who said, "I have spent such a long time going round in circles.". Always a pleasure to help a fellow family tree researcher in need!
Am pleased to say that the effects of the recent postal strikes have not affected me too badly. Some minor delays in certificates arriving, but nothing to hold up my family tree work. The exception however has been in receiving certificates from Ireland, which have been noticeably slow recently.
In the course of my work, I came upon an old Scottish census record for the profession of 'Oiler', which does not seem to be included in the online lists of old occupations. I will add it to my Dictionary of Old Occupations, but this week I have taken a break from working on dictionary definitions in favour of adding new information to my online resources for the Coventry Blitz. I have updated a dozen web pages within the Coventry Blitz Resource Centre, adding details of 37 more unfortunate victims of the Blitz, as well as updating four existing records with additional information I uncovered during my research.
Visited London Road Cemetery, and tracked down the grave of William Wombwell, who was probably the only poor soul to every be killed by an elephant in Coventry. After cleaning up some litter I was able to take some photographs of the gravestone, but the light was not perfect. Time permitting, I hope to clean up the best photo and publish it online, along with some historical info soon.
I also met with a nice chap from the Friends of London Road Cemetery. We discussed creating a website for the group, to publicise what they do to help preserve this beautiful cemetery, which officially opened for burials 162 years ago. London Road Cemetery provides a wealth of info for people researching their local ancestors, and is a picturesque and peaceful place. It would be nice to see the Council invest more time and money in preserving it. I will update you on the website when I know more - at the moment I am waiting for some approved content before I start programming.
It's been a busy week. I am just putting the finishing touches to a large family tree project for someone who ordered my Gold Family Tree Package as birthday present for their father. I have enjoyed working on this family tree, which was particularly interesting because the family were largely based in Scotland over the generations, and their certificates gave a wealth of family information.
I have not neglected the website this week. Taking a welcome break from the Dictionary of Old Occupations, I have transcribed and published a list of free census search resources. It will help people trying to trace their UK ancestors. If you can recommend a useful free census site to add to my list, I will gladly include it.
Spent my spare time this weekend transcribing and publishing a further 150 - 200 old job definitions. I am maybe 10% of the way through the project, and it is slow going. When finished we should have a useful family tree research tool for everyone to use, so it's all in a good cause.
Friday morning was spent visiting London Road Cemetery to locate the grave of a customer's long lost ancestor. It was very peaceful, I saw 4 or 5 cute bunnies running around the graves. Maybe they save the Council from having to mow the grass (jest a joke). Took a while to trace the grave because the marker stone which identifies the square was helpfully fitted so that the plain side was visible and the number was obscured by an adjacent grave.
Spent the Bank Holiday weekend working on the Dictionary of Old Occupations. It is now 12 pages long and has definitions for around 300 trades, professions and jobs. Plus an overall Index page, making it lucky 13 pages so far. This seems a worthwhile amount, so I will publish these to the website today.
I have also received some additional family information on Coventry Blitz victims, kindly supplied by Ben Hobday. I have added the data to the relevant pages on the website, and offered to write up his father's recollections of the Coventry Blitz as an article to go on the Blitz story archive.
Have decided to resurrect and finish my Dictionary of Old Occupations. This is a huge index of old trades, professions etc. and their definitions, which I have compiled over several years. This project will take a significant amount of time to transcribe my accumulated research notes into a useful format for the web.
When complete, the dictionary will be a useful FREE resource for fellow Family Tree Researchers who come across archaic job titles on certificates or censuses. Judging from the amount of notes I have to work from, my final dictionary index could be one of the largest and most complete online resources of historic occupation definitions.
It's going to be worthwhile, so please bear with me. In the last week I have completed the initial list of jobs beginning with the letter A. When I have more pages complete I will upload the dictionary to the website, then update it with additional information as often as I can.
You can now get family tree news on Facebook and Twitter! I have signed up with Facebook and Twitter to post family tree news, photos, website updates and so on. Added new links to the top of this page for those interested. It's a new way to stay in touch.
Friday was a successful visit to the Archives, searching through the Parish Records for Arley and Corley villages.
It has been a slow week on the postal front due to strikes among postal workers. This has delayed some certificates in arriving.
Now that the new website is up and running, I was able to publish additional information I gathered during the summer regarding victims of the Coventry Blitz.
Added details for 27 additional victims, including multiple tragic victims for the James, Marley and Howells families. Also, updated the records of three victims with supplementary information, which was kindly provided by surviving members of the Kirk and Thompsell families. Thank you for your contributions to the site.Added details for 27 additional victims, including multiple tragic victims for the James, Marley and Howells families. Also, updated the records of three victims with supplementary information, which was kindly provided by surviving members of the Kirk and Thompsell families. Thank you for your contributions to the site.
After two months of preparation, I am delighted to announce that I have relaunched the Family Tree Researcher website.
Much of my site content has been updated, which will make it easier to find your way around and locate the information you are looking for. Visually, I hope you enjoy the new colours and design. These improvements give my site a modern look and feel, whilst retaining some of my classic sepia themes with which you may be familiar. The colour scheme makes content easier to read, and adds a traditional 'Coventry Blue' theme, which dates back to the 17th century silk dying industry.
This is the third generation of my family tree website. It is fascinating to see how the site has evolved and matured since my first family tree website was born several years ago. Learning to build websites can be fun, but my main interests are, of course, genealogy and family history.
I am planning to add more content to the website, expanding upon both family tree / family history information, and adding more local history. The website will be updated more frequently, so it is worth checking back from time to time.
If you have been tempted to discover your family tree and would like my help, please get in touch.
The legend of Lady Godiva is famous throughout the world.
This book investigates who Lady Godiva was, how the story of her naked horseback ride through Coventry arose, and how the whole Godiva legend has evolved from the thirteenth century through to the present day.