This weekend gives me a chance to write about progress with my family tree.
Loads of emails asking can I find out about bits of their family - have been quite successful so far. Now well into family research networking groups, finding records has become relatively easy especially as more and more stuff is coming online. When it is distant or in-law relations one can stay impartial but I never expected to become involved with a close to home story that made me burst into tears after it was all over - was all so intense and very traumatic.
Readers of this blog will know about my mum's cousin Joan. I found all her very personal stuff which gave her peace of mind and info about her own father's family the Smallbones, going back to mid 1700's.
What a laugh we have, two generations with names like Bonaparte, Nelson, Inkerman with many of the men working for generations on the railways and others in the military - some of the war records now online about them are fascinating.
Least some of Joan's father's decendants have the historic family names as second names. However, somehow along the way the spelling of Bonaparte has been changed to Buonaparte. It's mind blowing to think of a child going to school these days with a name like that even if it is a second name.
Have printed off so many records for her the envelope is getting fatter and fatter.
Even with all the exciting stuff she still wanted me to see if I could find out what happened to cousin Ronald Blandford - she doesn't know why thoughts of him were constantly popping into her head. Kept going over my notes with her on the phone as she remembered more stuff. Joan and her memories - no dates but many stories. Then comparing my age, her sons age, great grans death plus when other family and finally my mother all went to Australia made approximate dating of events a little easier. One day she suddenly mentioned having met Ron's wife who she said was Greek.
What happened next is one of the strangest catalogue of bizarre coincidences and events I don't know how to explain it all except there had to be some divine intervention somewhere along the way. Only took me less than 10 days from start to finish all by email - just have to accept it was meant to be.
Somehow just knew the key to it all was to find the death cert of my mother & her aunt Lizzy (the one I've mentioned before who couldn't speak because of contacting diphtheria as a child). Within a few minutes of that thought, I suddenly found her death record - then Ron's birth cert and marriage cert references one after another - took me completely by surprise.
When great aunt Lizzy's cert arrived within 3 days not the usual 7 days wait, I was more shocked. Reading it - there it was, Ron's name as the informant living as I expected in Brighton and the address where Lizzy had been living.
The electoral register researchers who do look ups for that period, within an hour of my request for info about the two addresses emailed me the names of my family including Rons wife - hadn't expected a response from them for at least a week. I put the names immediately on my GU family tree. As it's online contacts flashed up - was so shocked to see a flash beside Rons and his wife's name. Turned out it was one of his daughters Julie a few years younger than myself who has been looking for him for years. What an emotional journey it was for both of us - with emails and phone calls. My sister Anne-louise and Joan kept propping me up because the stress was really getting to me - kept wondering what would happen if I did find him. Joan bless her kept repeating her catchphase "it's better than any detective story on the TV" giving me encouragement.
Julie sent me a photo of Ron's marriage to his current wife, her half brother Nick's details which she had also found researching and amazingly an old photo of our great aunt Lizzy, the sister of her gran Edith, Ron's mum. Just couldn't imagine her keeping them safe since she was a little girl together with a letter from Ron and his wife when they were going overseas.
Having her brothers name I found all the same names on the electoral registers 2003 - 2008. Took pot luck on an address which for some reason kept jumping out at me and wrote a brief letter. Within 48 hours I got an email from him confirming I'd got the correct person and his parents were retired living abroad asking why I was looking for them. Where would they be - I suddenly thought of my friend Alex a British Greek who'd probably know by the family name of Ron's wife - she usually calls at night for long chats. Was completely blown away when a few minutes later she called from work - easy she told me - Cyprus. She couldn't explain what prompted her to call me either. Still in a bit of a daze, I rushed off a long explanatory email to Ron's son not even thinking he might not know much about his dads former life and dashed out.
What a caring son he is - back home a few hours later, before I could catch my breath found an email from an excited Ron himself living where Alex had suggested saying he would take time to write a summary of his life which I could pass on to anybody who was looking for him - It was just mind blowing the speed everything was falling into place hour by hour.
All this time Julie was living a roller coaster of emotion following what was going on unable to keep the story from her work colleagues who apparently were all excited for her - she was constantly in my thoughts. Just told her I couldn't explain the heck of what was going on but my head just told me everything would be OK.
The email from Ron came the following day - just amazing he's the same age as Joan but the history of his life from his memories was incredible - after a rough start in life wasn't anything like being the bad guy he presumed we expected especially his military life after WW11 which explained a lot. I sent him Joans, Julies and my phone numbers and just waited - just knew in my heart that the situation was out of my control. I didn't even have the bottle to tell him he had two grown up grandsons as well.
Well it's good news all round Ron took the bull by the horns and contacted Julie. Just knew who it was when I got my call - he's just as chatty and open as Joan - he told me loads of stuff about my mother and gran which helped me fill in some of the family history blanks. Since then he's contacted Joan and everybody who is still alive like my aunts in Australia - says he's got a lot of catching up to do after all the wasted years.
What made me cry - Ron's wife thanking me for making her husband a very happy man and Ron saying that since his son sent him the news after my contact he has been praying that God would help Lou's daughter, me, to answer his prayers. I'm not into religion but the feeling of warmth just overwelmed me. Then again later the same day a huge bunch of hand delivered flowers from Julie was the final straw - I just couldn't stop crying.
Everything has worked out to a positive happy result but on reflection the whole story is a real longtime Fathers for Justice story. Never thought about it before but parents should think about what they tell their children when parents split up. Now with the freedom of information act it is easy to find people and information.
Since then Ron is in regular contact, has even taken to reading my blog. His wife says from my photos she can see the resemblance. My sister Anne-louise said Ron as as young man also resembles our mother which now I've had chance to look at all the photos have to agree with her.
Like so many other family members his interest in my work on the family tree has been roused after I sent him some of my stuff from the archives.
Just by chance I came across the actual marriage reference for Ruth Bibble & Angus Alexander 1817 who were my maternal great grandmother's great grandfathers parents. I've already sent it to him and so we continue....
Labels: Alexander, Biddle, Blandford, Family tree, French, Smallbone