Monday 3 December 2012

This might be quick ... and some sudden deaths

I'm due at the hospital this afternoon for the most invasive test I've yet experienced - no, I'm not going to tell you what, but it's to check if my Crohn's Disease has reactivated and I've been drinking prep to clear my bowels since 6pm last night so you can make your own conclusions!

So forgive me if I rush off to the smallest room and don't get this finished ...

Last night I started to collate the collection of old newspaper cuttings I'd made over the weekend with my two days worth of subscription to the British Newspaper Archive.  They tend to fall into three separate groups, cuttings related to my family history in Durham, mainly Sunderland, cuttings related to the OH's family history, mainly Barnsley and cuttings related to Nelson Street, Barnsley - because I became really interested in that street and its pubs last week. 

Crossing over the collections are cuttings about deaths - these seem to be reported in old newspapers much more frequently than births and marriages - and of course any death of a gruesome or criminal nature is the very stuff of journalism, today as it was then no doubt.

Here's one, vaguely related to the OH and Nelson Street.

Yorkshire Evening Post 15 May 1893 (from BNA)
Uriah Brettoner lived on Nelson Street in 1851 - he was an iron founder's journeyman then, although at his marriage two years previously he had given his occupation as book keeper, which sounds as if he might have been trying to appear a little more classy than he actually was.  He has three daughters, all of whom lived to marry (I think), but he seems to have been closest to the middle one, Alice, who is the wife of the son-in-law mentioned in the cutting.  Uriah's wife had died quite a few years before and since then he appears in the census living with Alice and George Firth and his grandchildren, including little Uriah George Firth, obviously named for his father and grandfather. 

The Brettoner stone in Barnsley Cemetery
The family who live together are buried together and are commemorated on a lovely big gravestone (yes, I know, but I do get excited when I find a gravestone!) in Barnsley Cemetery.

And what I am sure was a rather more unexpected death is reported in the same paper a few years later:-
Yorkshire Evening Post 25 May 1897 (from BNA)
Arthur Kellet was only 23 years old, his parents John and Ann had 11 children and were unlucky enough to see 3 of them die before them. Of all their losses Arthur's death must have been the most uncommon, the family might have known he was delicate in some way, if his heart disease was long standing, but we do still hear of apparently fit young people being taken in this way.  If his ill health was known about he wasn't letting it stand in the way of him living a normal life, but I do wonder how his sudden collapse affected poor Emily Rowe the bereaved sweetheart.  The other Kellet children who died prematurely were firstly their eldest son George, who died aged about 7 years old in Retford before the family moved to Barnsley and then their fifth son James was killed, aged 14, in tragic, yet not uncommon circumstances in a mining accident.

Barnsley Chronicle 20 May 1882
This cutting is not from the BNA but from the microfilm copies of the Barnsley Chronicle kept in Barnsley Local Studies and Archives (sadly closed until May 2013 currently).  Note the uncertainty of the spelling of Kellet - one t in the first cutting and two in this.  Some members of the same family went on to spell their surname Killet, which causes me many problems when trying to track down all the branches in census returns and birth, marriage and death records. My OH's great, great grandmother was a Kellet, and the aunt of the deceased young men mentioned above.

Finally, before I have to get ready to go to my doom at the Northern General Hospital, here's a story that has nothing to do with my family history, but a lot to do with Barnsley and the history of coal mining and miners.
Northern Echo 30 December 1875 (from 19th C Newspapers
John Normansell lived on Nelson Street in the 1860s and 1870s, though I've not found him at home on a census return.  His story as told above in the Northern Echo is a classic tale of getting on in life by your own sheer hard work.  I do wonder what he might have achieved for the miners if he hadn't died so suddenly.  His home at the time of his death is now the headquarters of the National Union of Miners at the bottom of Victoria Road, Barnsley, built in 1874 and listed Grade 2.  Other newspapers of the day report his death as a consequence of contracting either pleurisy and/or brain inflammation after visiting the Swaithe Main colliery and descending the shaft "to ascertain the cause of the explosion", a disaster that occurred on 6th December 1875 killing over 140 miners, men and boys.  

Don't worry, I'll be back with more before you know it!

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