Sunday, 30 June 2013

Monk Bretton War Memorial - War Memorials Online

Two posts in one day!  Yes, well it seemed sensible to split up the posts chronologically - I took the photos of Monk Bretton War Memorial yesterday and today I'm dealing with them.  I did try last night but was so tired after my afternoon out that I fell asleep over the laptop again - hmmm ... it's a sign!

I took nine photos with my Billion Graves app and once I'd checked them I uploaded them to the website.  I tried linking all the photos together, but then found that when I unlinked them (to do a minor tweek) I deleted all the names I'd added so far.  So I decided to leave them as separate images.  Actually on the map you can see which images were taken of which pillar - the GPS is really very good.
A Google Map snip of Cross Street, Monk Bretton, Barnsley showing three blue Google tabs in the memorial garden.
Photo map of the pictures I took of Monk Bretton War Memorial

In the Photo Map view of the Billion Graves website there's an indicator for each pillar and one for where I took the long shot I included in my last blog post.  I have created Monk Bretton War Memorial as a cemetery in its own right - but as yet the photos still seem to think they were taken in Barnsley Cemetery ... I've emailed their tech support, but I think it's just a matter of waiting until they've approved the addition of the new cemetery and then the photos will 'know' where to go by their GPS tags.

In trying to find out more about Monk Bretton's War Memorial I have been Googling all morning and checking through my favourites for mentions of War Memorial sites.  I wasn't getting anything for a local society - maybe they just haven't got a web presence, after all Local History Groups are all volunteer run and usually by older people, who may not have the skills to put together a web site.

Cudworth's War Memorial on the other hand produces lots of hits.  The Barnsley Family History Society have a transcription of the names.  A hit on the South Yorkshire Times site from 2003 describing how the Cudworth Local History Group successfully applied for money to refurbish the memorial.  Their subsequent book, "Lest Cudworth Forgets" (Clark & Hayhoe) came out in 2005 and provides information on many of the names on the war memorial in St John's churchyard. 

War Memorial Sites include 'Roll of Honour' which has good coverage for many parts of England, but not so much around Yorkshire unfortunately.  It does include 77 different memorials for Yorkshire, which sounds like a lot until you compare that to Lincolnshire, for example, with 284 submissions. There is 'North East War Memorials' site which covers the area "between the Tweed and the Tees", I submitted information about my WW1 soldier James Nutley to this site a month or so ago having found a good picture of his memorial on there.  The Imperial War Musuem has an online database of memorials, this site specialises in listing all memorials, no matter what their form.  Their listing for Monk Bretton's War Memorial is factual and relevant, but does not include any names. I did however learn that the memorial in Monk Bretton is NOT in its original site, having been moved to the opposite side of the road at some point to facilitate work on an underground reservoir. 
Monk Bretton War Memorial on its original site (from Yococo)
I found a picture of the memorial in its original location on the other side of the road on the Barnsley Council YOCOCO site and in the book "Royston, Carlton and Monk Bretton" (Elliott, 2000).  That castle-like object in the distance is a folly or observatory erected by a Victorian worthy, the Reverend Mr Wordsworth.

A new site to me was the 'War Memorials Trust'.  They are a charity which provides help and information to people who want to conserve their local memorial.  On their home page was a link to 'War Memorials Online' a DIY site supported by the aforementioned War Memorials Trust and English Heritage which allows anyone to upload information about war memorials.  Having the necessary information to hand I submitted my photos and a list of names to the site for the Monk Bretton War Memorial.  You should be able to find my work here or by searching on the site.

It was very easy to use - I think I might go out and do the Cudworth Memorial later in the week - after all the more places a thing appears on the web the easier it is for people to find.  With that in mind I am also sending my information to the Roll of Honour site by email.

Looks like I've found myself another project!

A disability adapted afternoon walk to Monk Bretton War Memorial and Experience Barnsley

The OH likes to go on long walks, once upon a time I could go with him - I could walk ten miles and it was OK.  Nowadays just getting to the local Co-op is difficult.  But yesterday we had a free Saturday, not something that happens very often, so I wanted to spend time with my husband.  I also wanted to go for another look around Experience Barnsley, as I hadn't really had time on Thursday when it opened and to take some pictures of the War Memorial in Monk Bretton following a query from a friend.

 Two pillars in a walled garden, a bench between.  The bases of the pillars are inscribed with names and there are poppy wreaths around the bottoms of the pillars.
The War Memorial at Monk Bretton

Because I can't walk very far or fast we came up with a cunning plan ... we would walk on the normal roadside footpaths, not the countryside shortcuts the OH likes so much - there are a few stretches of the Transpennine Trail around Barnsley and lots of disused railway lines.  Whenever I got tired I would hop on a bus to the next important stopping point and wait for the OH there.

I managed from our house to the bus stop for the Monk Bretton bus near Redfearn's Glass - that took me half an hour for a mile, not bad, but bear in mind I'm fresh at this point and I had the OH to lean on. There is a bus that runs from Cudworth to Monk Bretton, but it only runs two or three times a day, and the other Cudworth buses don't cross the route of the Monk Bretton buses - you'd have to go all the way into town and back out, so this was the easiest way to get me there. The OH left me at the stop and carried on walking.

I soon caught a bus and waved at the OH as I passed him - unfortunately I missed the best stop for the War Memorial and had to walk back a bit ... drat!  Wasted energy.

I took photos of the Memorial, that's the one of the whole thing above, and individual photos of the eight sides of the bases of the pillars where the inscriptions are.  I used my Billion Graves app, I wrote a blog about using this app a few days ago.  I did have to repeat one photo when I realised there was a name, out of order, on the bottom of one pillar, partially hidden by the poppy wreaths.
A close up of one side of a pillar base, showing names from K to Mac of the 1914-19 war dead.
Slight adjustment to wreaths so I could photo Samuel Gammons' name

The OH had caught me up and walked with me to the next bus stop - I was seriously flagging by now and we decided our next meeting point would be the bus station in Barnsley.  I did have to wait for him some time there, however there are plenty of seats and I have some magazines on my tablet for just such occasions. 

I had regained some 'zing' by the time the OH found me in the bus station.  We walked slowly up to Experience Barnsley for a leisurely look around.  We also popped into the Archives where I enquired if anyone is currently researching the Monk Bretton War Memorial to their knowledge - no-one was aware of anyone, although there is a Monk Bretton Local History Group. 

Barnsley Historian listening to Cudworth voices at Experience Barnsley.
Listening to Memories of Cudworth at Experience Barnsley

I found the button to press to listen to the voices of the members of the Cudworth Local History Group describing their memories of Cudworth.  I remember them talking about this at a meeting not long after I joined, some students came down and recorded them talking, they weren't quite sure what for ... well now I know.  And it was lovely to hear DW, FW and BS chatting away while sitting in the museum.

That's another good point - there are lots of benches, some with activities set into them and others with panels to read.  Very use friendly for people who can't stand for long.

I slowly made my way back to the bus station - the OH had to leave me to run a few more errands and then he was going to walk home - walking saves money on bus fares AND is good exercise (for him).  As for me when I got home I went flooop! and had an ice cream!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Experience Barnsley: the Opening of Barnsley's New Museum and Archives

Before we go any further I want to say that I am behind the idea and aims of Experience Barnsley wholeheartedly.  I am also a regular user of Barnsley Archives and Local Studies and am looking forward to visiting them regularly in their new home.

Four leaflets arranged in a fan, Experience Barnsley, Barnsley Museums Summer Events 2013, Barnsley Museums and Archives and Local Studies.
A selection of informative leaflets available from Barnsley Museums
However this is my blog and the views I express are my own opinion.  I am not employed by Barnsley Council, although I sometimes volunteer at the Archives I receive no remuneration for mentioning them in my blog posts.

One final thing ... I am disabled.  I have an assortment of conditions that lead me to be very tired most of the time, my ability to concentrate on work, especially close written work, is limited to about three hours a day at home.  Add a journey before and after that, say a commute to work or an expedition to an Archives and you can cut down the time I'm actually fully functioning to two hours or less.  Some days I am very, very ill indeed and cannot leave the house, and on days before and after a 'big adventure' I usually spend the whole day lying on or even in bed building up some energy beforehand and then recovering afterwards. 

OK - that said I have been really looking forward to the Archives reopening.  I had a ticker on my blog page counting down and I've been posting links on Twitter, Facebook and here to any news stories I've found.  Strangely, yesterday morning I went completely the other way ... I think it was like waiting for Christmas when you are a child, wondering and anticipating the presents you will get and then at the last minute dreading that everyone (including Santa) has forgotten you and there will be nothing there when you go down to the living room on Christmas Day morning.  I spent the morning listening to both Dearne FM and BBC Radio Sheffield catching news announcements and pieces on Experience Barnsley from 8am.  I hadn't meant to get up that early, part of my plan for lasting out the afternoon involved a 10am alarm, however some inconsiderate soul had decided to strim the grass in our street at 7:30am and it was very, very loud.  By the time I left the house to get on a bus to town I had become very, very upset at the thought that my anticipation might not have been worthwhile and disappointed that I hadn't been able to play a bigger part in the preparation - however I'm glad to say that despite the last minute rush it seems to have gone very well.

We, the OH and I, had walked up to the Town Hall to have a peep at how it was all going a couple of times in the week.
A view uphill towards the library showing many,many high viz clad men working hard with diggers and wheelbarrows to get the gardens ready.
The Town Hall Gardens on Saturday before the opening

This is what it looked like on Saturday 22 June at about 12 noon.  We counted at least 40 men in high viz working hard with diggers, wheelbarrows and a huge tarmac laying machine to get everything ready for Thursday.
Taken from across the road, the picture shows several vans, men planting small bushes and watering the plants in.
The Town Hall Gardens on Tuesday before the opening

By Tuesday the paving seemed to be finished, all the soil was in place and the men were planting small shrubs along the edges of the pathways.  Note that bench in the foreground across the road from the gardens ... it features in my plan for Thursday.

The completed Gardens, sculpture to the left, Barnsley Live gazebos being set up to the right and an old time carousel at the top.
The Town Hall Gardens on Thursday from the bench!
At 12:30pm on Thursday I took up my position on the bench previously spotted and waited to see what was happening. 

I'm sorry but as you may have gathered I don't have any pictures of the inside of the museum as it was being built or set up ... someone else will have to document that ... as I didn't donate anything, am not on the Steering Group or similar and I don't work for the Council I wasn't allowed a preview.  There are pictures of the exhibits in the various news reports I linked to in my last blog about the museum.

I had walked up from the bus station in Barnsley and circled the site slowly taking some pictures from all angles.  The area of the Gardens was cordoned off with pedestrian barriers and dotted with security guards.  The big sculpture, Crossing (Vertical) by Nigel Hall, has been climbed at least once since its installation and it seemed to have one security guard permanently watching it all afternoon.

At around 1pm school children began to arrive - some had instruments, and did indeed play later - I don't know who they were or where they were from, sorry, so I can't give them a name check.  It sounded very nice.  Various crocodiles of school children approached regularly after that ... I watched some having their photos taken on the Town Hall steps before they went in through the front door.

Barnsley Town Hall, built in the 1930s of white Portland Stone it has a central clock tower and four story high wings.  In front is the War memorial, a cenotaph like sculpure in sandstone with a bronze of a WW1 Tommy resting on his rifle with bowed head.
Barnsley Town Hall and War Memorial from my bench
As you can see from the photo above it was getting a bit dull, in fact it did start to rain about then.  I had my trusty hat (see my profile picture) and a waterproof jacket so just huddled down to wait. 

You can see the themed 'Experience Barnsley' planting in front of the Town Hall in the picture above and the War Memorial, which commemorates men lost in both World Wars, and forms the centre of Barnsley Remembrance services every November.  Experience Barnsley is on the ground floor, that's the row of windows level with the door in the middle at the front - however the entrance to the museum is to the left off the new Town Hall Gardens.  It used to be the door you went through to get to the Register Office, for people who know Barnsley.  The museum takes up the whole of the back of the Town Hall on that floor.  The Archives is on the same floor at the front and right hand side of the building, so the windows behind the foot of the War Memorial are part of that area.

A plan of the three levels of the Town Hall open to the public.
3D plan of the areas in Barnsley Town Hall
The plan shown above is from the centre of the leaflet about the Archives and Local Studies which I picked up in the Town Hall reception yesterday.  It is oriented the same as my photo, the Archives is indicated by the red arrowed box on the right.  I can't find an online version as yet (the Council's Museums and Galleries information page hasn't been updated since last year), but if I do I'll post a link to it here.

Around about 1:40pm the security guards opened up the barriers and I was able to approach the Barnsley Live black and white gazebos on the right of the Gardens.  I had met up with a couple of ladies from the Cudworth History Group and together we asked a guard where we should stand - he replied that we were a bit early and suggested we nip off and have a cup of tea.  FW and MG had already had lots of tea and said they were staying put!  I'd been there over an hour at that point and wasn't missing anything.  All the guard could suggest is that we sheltered under one of the gazebos, it was still raining, and keep the roadway clear.  People began to gather, mostly older, retired people, and some disabled people.  The school children I'd seen going in earlier where brought out and lined up ready for the ribbon cutting.  There was a last minute influx of smartly dressed people from the offices around about, mostly council workers and people on late lunch breaks I think.

A group of people, mostly facing left stood on a slope, a black and white gazebo labelled Barnsley Live and a woman struggling with a large cardboard box.
Safety scissors being handed out to the crowd
A woman came around handing out little blue plastic safety scissors.  The idea was that Experience Barnsley would be 'opened' by the whole town by everyone in the crowd cutting a part of the ribbon.

Two big reels of red ribbon with the Barnsley Town Hall logo and the words Experience Barnsley
The ribbon - there's quite a lot! (from Twitter I think)
Word had gone around, and the term used in the press cuttings was 'swathed', that the ribbon would be wrapped around the Town Hall ... maybe it was the rain, or the small number of people who had turned up, or maybe they decided it was just impossible to organise but instead a man reeled out a snaky path of ribbon amongst the crowd in the Gardens. 
People lined up down the side of the Town Hall under the gazebos holding the ribbon with their blue scissors poised
Getting ready to cut the ribbon outside Barnsley Town Hall
There was a BBC TV crew at the top of what used to be 'Lancaster Gate' (it used to be a car park) and the announcements were made by Simon Hirst, a Barnsley born DJ.  At the countdown's end everyone cut their section of the ribbon.

The other side of the ribbon loop, the ribbon has now been cut and people are holding drooping sections of it severed from each other.
Cutting the ribbon - the aftermath
The bits of ribbon and the scissors quickly vanished from view, bundled into peoples' bags and pockets I suppose.  The security guards advised us that the children would be going inside first and asked us to form an orderly queue against the wall of the Town Hall.

It wasn't long before I was going up the steps into the building and I asked if I could just go straight around to the Archives.  No problem, and I was given clear directions by one of the guides.  Now I don't want to grumble, but I am going to .... the front doors were open all this time ... bear in mind that I hadn't been allowed to see the Archives during their set up and I didn't know how the doors were to be arranged but I had expected some kind of wall or barrier (or at least a security guard to negotiate) between the front doors and the Archives.  As I walked around within the building it was apparent there was nothing of the sort - and I could have got straight into the Archives without waiting in the queue by using the front doors of the Town Hall.  Hrrrumph!

A group of people (named in caption) in the reception area of the Archives.  Soft chairs to the right and pictures on the walls.
Archives Staff, Michael, Mark, Gill, David, Joan and Paul (photo from Twitter)
It was great to walk into the new Archive department.  I had been squinting through the windows for months watching the floor cleaned and bookshelves being fitted.  The OH got a preview a couple of weeks ago as his firm does Council work and he had to go in to reassemble a big map table for them.  But this was the first time I had seen the new facilities.  I should note that it is being referred to as a 'Discovery Centre' in the Experience Barnsley publicity material.

The staff were all there; the picture above appeared on Twitter a couple of days ago and I have blatantly 'stolen' it.  It shows them standing in the new reception area, which will be open seven days a week, along with the rest of the museum.  The regular opening times will be 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, with the reception open so you can 'find out more about our collections and services' on Sundays. 

I met up with some friends inside, and found a seat.  Bear in mind that I'd been standing, well, leaning on a wall, outside since 1:40pm when they opened the barriers and it was now about 2:30pm.  I was shattered. 

I'll post some pictures of the new department another time - it was too full of people milling around yesterday to get good shots.  Similarly I will visit the museum, maybe with the OH at the weekend and take some pictures there.  John Tanner has invited me for a tour around - to explain how it will work and what they have tried to do to bring Barnsley's history to its people.  I am looking forward to that and I will no doubt share it with you all in another blog post.

One last photo snapped on my way home ...

Angled shot of the displayed photos at the foot of the sculpture outside the Town Hall
Timeline display of photos around the foot of the sculpture
The yellow sign at the foot of sculpture reads, 'Danger Do Not Climb'!  The photo collection is nice though, and waterproof, so I guess they are staying for a while.  Barnsley through the ages, very thought provoking.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Happy 120th, the Anniversary of the Consecration of St John's Church, Cudworth, Barnsley

Today we went to see the local church - at the Cudworth Local History Group meeting a few weeks ago the chair, who is a regular churchgoer, had informed the group that in honour of the 120th anniversary of the church it would be open for visitors for a few hours each day in the week leading up to the celebration.  I have been living in Cudworth for nearly two years now, but hadn't managed to see the inside of the church yet, although I've been for quite a few walks around the cemetery or churchyard attached.  I arranged to meet up with LL, the main history researcher for the group so that I wouldn't have to brave the lion's den alone.  As it happened the OH was also able to accompany us - he is still recovering from his hospital trip last week and has been off work for a few days.

At the very end of the post I linked above I mentioned the idea of buying the microfiche copies of the parish records and the local non-conformist records too if we can to provide the Cudworth History Group with a full set for reference.  LL and I thought our visit to the church might give us the chance to ask the incumbent if he could give his permission for the Group to buy the copies from the Archive Service.  I was also quite keen just to see the inside of the church, as it was where the OH was baptised.
A colour photo of a small church from the north side - there is a chancel and a porch, no tower or spire, but a little bell tower? at the junction of the nave and the chancel roofs. In the foreground is neatly mown grass and a few old gravestones
St John's Church, Cudworth taken recently

The OH and I walked up to the church in good time and decided to take the opportunity to snap some more gravestone pictures for Billion Graves.  He has put the app on his new Samsung 3 phone where it works in, as far as I can see, exactly the same way as on my Samsung tablet.

By the time LL arrived we had taken around 30 pictures each, although I had decided that I would take two pictures of each grave, one close up for the inscription and one at a little distance so the whole grave and its context was included.  So that will only be about fifteen transcriptions that need doing on the main website.  
A greyscale photo from an old postcard of St John's Cudworth from the South West, a good view of the West window and the bell tower at the far end of the Nave roof. The war memorial is to the left
St John's Church, Cudworth from an old postcard

We were greeted by two very friendly ladies as we entered the church, they gave us a printed guide leaflet and jumped straight into showing us the church's treasures.  St John's was built 1892-3 on land given by Mr Andrew Montague of Ingmanthorpe Hall, Wetherby; before this Cudworth had been in Royston parish.  The church was consecrated on 29th June 1893.  A full description of the establishment and history of the church can be found in 'Cutha's Worth: The Social and Local History of Cudworth' by K.E. and C. Gorman (2007).
Photo of a commemorative crucifix with inset enlargement of detail on brass plaque - see caption
Cross commemorating the loss of Bernard Jaques Joyner
in France 30 July 1916
Regular fundraising events over the years provided parish rooms and an organ for the church and donations and bequests from local people have furnished the church with some beautiful items.  Little brass plaques abound commemorating the gifts, on the door as you enter the church, the candle stick by the font (presented to the church in 1962 along with the font cover), on a crucifix in the Lady Chapel (a dedication to a soldier who died in the First World War), on the wall at the rear of the chancel and even on a picture on the wall.  
Father David in clerical dress holding out a brass plaque.
Father David Nicholson showing us the dedication plaque from the pulpit

The Parish Priest Father David Nicholson made a special effort when he realised how interested we were and went to find the memorial plaque that had been on the pulpit prior to its removal from one side of the nave to the other.  
A double stained glass window showing St Michael and St George
Stained glass window commemorating Cyril Barraclough
serving in the RAF who died 3rd November 1943

There are some lovely stained glass windows dedicated to local men killed in the Second World Wars and others given by local families to remember lost loved ones.
Small highly decorated religious image in wooden frame.
Russian style religious icon
I was impressed to see an Eastern style icon on one window sill, the leaflet noted that it was given to a Fr Bell, who had been a curate at the church, whilst he was serving as a chaplain in the First World War by a Russian sea captain in thanksgiving for his ship having been spared sinking.

The recent baptism and marriage registers were on display in the church.  The chair of the Cudworth Local History Group was able to look up the baptisms of her grandchildren in the 1990s. Older records have, of course, been deposited at the Archives, but we did ask Father Nicholson if he would give us the necessary permissions to buy microfiche copies and I believe he agreed in principle.
View of the church wall from inside the church hall, tables laid with photographs for browsing and display of wedding layout.
The church hall is built against the south side of the church and is lovely and sunny

After we had finished the tour of the church we went through into the new church hall for a cup of coffee (or tea) and a browse through lots of photographs of the congregation at various events over the years.  Trips to Walsingham seem to be popular - it is a place of pilgrimage for Anglican churchgoers.  We even found a newspaper cutting with a picture of on of the OH's relatives being presented with a prize at a church fundraising event.  He quickly took a photo of the photo for me to add to his family tree!

What a lovely afternoon - and everyone was so friendly, really nice.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Saving pictures of Gravestones in Family Historian

I've said it before, I like gravestones.  A few days ago I started using the Billion Graves app on my Android tablet to photograph and upload pictures of gravestones in Barnsley cemetery to the Billion Graves website.  I wrote a blog post about using the app and the Billion Graves people have been kind enough to link to the post on their social media.

The cloud of labels on my blog today
Labels on my blog today
I was wondering how many blog posts I'd written about gravestones, or which included gravestones, so I decided to use the label facility on Blogger to tag my posts.  I've tried to keep the list of labels or tags (it seems they are pretty much the same thing, it just depends which blogging platform you use) fairly short for simplicity.  You can set the labels to display as a cloud, so that the ones with more posts appear in larger font than the ones with fewer posts.  And you can add more than one label to a post, or none if you wish.

Having gone through my posts to date it looks like I have just seven posts which include gravestones, the category Research Methods is the third most popular after the obvious Barnsley and Durham tags.  (I did wonder about just having a North East tag ... but the advice on Geneabloggers was to avoid combination tags) I've defined Research Methods as those posts where I talk about searching for information on ancestors in various different ways, cross referencing sources and making sure the facts all fit for example.  The category Tools is for when I write a post that talks about using some kind of computer software or a particular website, such as Billion Graves or Family Historian, my family tree programme.  I've set the labels cloud to display on the left hand side of my blog - once the Archives reopen on Thursday next week I will remove the ticker and everything on that side will move up a bit.  So it won't be as crowded as it looks at the moment.

After I had uploaded my gravestone photos to Billion Graves I began the task of saving the pictures of the gravestones relevant to the OH's family tree into Family Historian.  I thought I'd write down how I did this ... not just for your benefit, dear reader, but also because it's getting a bit complicated these days and writing down my method means I can come back and look it up in the future if I forget some part of the process.  A bit like a mini User Manual ....
The grave of George Swallow, Florence and William Hannam

I start by opening the image in Adobe Photoshop and cropping it down to the relevant part, trimming off the OH's feet for example and removing surplus background.  Sometimes I take an additional picture of the gravestone in situ, to help find it again or if it is particularly decorative - I can save more than one picture to a source - but we'll get to that in a moment.  If the inscription is difficult to read I use the various tools on Photoshop to try to make it clearer, changing the brightness and contrast and so on.  Once I am happy with the picture I save it to the Gravestones folder within the Media folder for the OH's tree with a meaningful name such as 'Swallow and Hannam', the surnames shown on the stone in the photo above.

Tree diagram showing Florence Larkin's two husbands
and her children
Within Family Historian I then find the first individual named on the stone and display a section of their family tree, hopefully showing everyone included in the inscription. Florence Larkin was married twice, firstly to Alonzo Swallow, who died in the First World War and secondly to William Henry Hannam.

I've just discovered that labels also make it easier to find a blog post in the Blogger dashboard so you can copy the URL to make a link here to the older post. I just used the label WW1 to filter the relevant posts out of the 122 on my blog list - then it was easy to find the one about Alonzo. I suppose I could have used the search functionality on my home page too.

Selecting the three individuals that are named on the gravestone (holding down the CTRL key to allow me to select more than one) I can then add my 'Gravestone Photo' flag to the record. It looks like a little gravestone, and you will see that it is attached to Florence, William and George in the snip from Family Historian above.  The other little flags tell me I have various census returns entered for Alonzo and Florence (yellow tabs with numbers), their marriage entry  (a purple M tab), that Alonzo was a soldier in WW1 (a little Tommy ion) and that he was killed or died during a war (a poppy).

Next we update the individuals identified with the information from the gravestone, so in this case the dates of death of George Swallow, his mother Florence Hannam, nee Larkin, later Swallow and his stepfather William Henry Hannam.  A source record is created in Family Historian for the gravestone and it is cited for each of the dates of death.  The image of the gravestone inscription and any other images can all be attached to the source record.
Displaying the multimedia window in Family Historian, showing the Swallow and Hannam gravestone with the text for George Swallow outlined by a box.
The Swallow and Hannam gravestone image open in the multimedia window,
a box has been drawn around the text referring to George Swallow

Opening the image in the multimedia window I can draw a box around the each individual's text on the stone and link it to their record - so now not only has the gravestone been cited as the source of the death date information for each person, but in each record there is a clipping of the gravestone image containing the appropriate text on the stone.  This is the same technique that allows you to link the face of each person in a group photo to their own record.
The multimedia window again, with the matching Gravestone source record open
for transcription of the text on the stone

Finally opening the source record on top of the multimedia window I can transcribe the inscription into the Text from Source field on the source record.

Since our trip around Barnsley Cemetery this week I've added a further stage to the process. The plot and grave number for each person is recorded in their record under Grave Location - this is the information I used to print out a list of all the grave sites I knew of in Barnsley Cemetery before we went for our walk.  I can now add the words 'photo taken' to the Grave Location fact in each person's record - if by any chance I hadn't already found their burial record ... if I had just come across the gravestone by chance and had not ever tried to find this person's burial I would have to look them up in the Barnsley Cemetery burials transcription to get the correct plot and number information and add that first.

The criteria for the Grave Location query to include burials in Barnsley, but exclude those which have been annotated 'photo' or 'grass'
Grave Location Query criteria in Family Historian
Now next time I go to Barnsley Cemetery I can run the Grave Location query excluding all the plots where we have already found and photographed the stone or that we have found and discovered nothing but grass (as I have annotated them with the word 'grass'). 

It is all very scientific and therefore it's bound to go wrong!  We did find one gravestone, the one for ex-soldier Riley Smith, whose First World War story I wrote a few days ago which only contains his name, despite the burial records stating that his wife Lily is buried there too.  Maybe the family couldn't afford to have Lily's name added to the stone? 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Experience Barnsley (#NewBarnsleyMuseum) and Barnsley Archives to (re)open on 27 June 2013

I'm really looking forward to Barnsley Archives reopening as part of the new Experience Barnsley museum in Barnsley Town Hall ... if you are viewing this post before Thursday 27th June 2013 you will see my ticker to the left of this post telling you how many days, hours and minutes there are until it opens - if you are reading after that date I don't want you to miss out, so this is what it looked like tonight ...
Countdown Widget (from MyCountdown)

I've been searching the web for the last week looking for articles on the new Barnsley Museum (that's #NewBarnsleyMuseum if you tweet).  There seem to have been a couple of press releases, a big one in May which made a double page spread in the local newspaper the Sheffield Star, followed an interview with Jemma Conway, the Community Heritage Curator, which generated some more press coverage.

There's been a Facebook page run by John Tanner, the Museum and Heritage Project Manager, since January 2011.  He's been putting a new picture or two on every day for the last few weeks.  He tweets too using @EBMuseum again commenting nearly everyday at the moment.

This week Barnsley Council actually updated their web page with the latest news, they are a bit slow, but they've got around to it just in time. 

The most recent news is that on Thursday 27th June 2013 Barnsley Experience will open with,

"a colourful public celebration at 2pm. The Town Hall building will be swathed in a giant ribbon which members of the public will be invited to cut ceremonially to open their museum.
Thousands of visitors are expected to pack the new town square outside the Town Hall which will have a free children’s carousel, musical entertainment and attractions to represent Barnsley throughout the ages, from an animatronic dinosaur to giant stilt-walking sportsmen."

A broad red silky ribbon with the Barnsley Town Hall logo and the words Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre
The ribbon which will be wrapped around the Town Hall
I've found a picture of the ribbon on the Facebook page.  What I hear is that we will all be allowed to cut a section out of it to take home and keep as a souvenir. 

The same information was printed in today's Barnsley Chronicle, the local weekly newspaper and appeared on several other local websites (eg Barnsley News and Sport and the Sheffield Star)  - so I guess that was this week's press release. 

When I find out more I'll let you know - and I'll take some photos on the day (I hope).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Using the Billion Graves Android app in Barnsley, Yorkshire

Yesterday the OH had a day off work - this meant he and I could spend some time together - not a common occurrence!  I asked if we could visit Barnsley Cemetery where I wanted to look for a few more family gravestones.  I don't like going on my own as 'youths' hang around in there and besides having someone to hang onto is a necessary part of my life these days.  I decided I would use the opportunity to test out an app for my tablet.

I have been aware of the Billion Graves website for a little while - I recently found a photo of an ancestor's gravestone on the site. 
Result page from Billion Graves showing a small image of a gravestone and the information for death date and location listed on the left.  There are also a variety of advertisments.
Billion Graves result for Robert Elstob Hutton

I'm lucky that Robert Elstob Hutton (whom I've written several blog posts about, here and here) has a distinctive name.  And that so far there are not very many gravestones included in this site for England. 

Headed "Search our records" there are then fields for First name, Last name, Birth year,  Death year and some for Location - explained below.
Billion Graves search box

The search page allows you to refine your search by Country - and in the dropdown in this box it is obvious that the majority of the gravestones on the site are in the USA so far - then by State - and in this box you can pick England - and then by County - which does have a good list of English counties, but beware if you are searching Yorkshire as it not only has an listing for Yorkshire, but also for North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

There's a second tab which allows you to look up cemeteries, I checked to see if Barnsley Cemetery was already on the list and didn't see it (note the way I've phrased that!) so after creating my own account I added the cemetery.  You simply enter the name and address (apparently if you are actually in the cemetery it finds you using the GPS on your device) and then fine tune the position on a Google map window and confirm that this is indeed the right place. 

I uploaded the app to my Samsung Galaxy 2 7" tablet and off we went ...

I use Family Historian and had prepared for the trip by printing out a list of all the various family gravestone locations in Barnsley Cemetery to work from (OK - I'll confess it ran to seven - yes 7 - A4 pages in size 9 font - I'm a bit keen on gravestones ...) and a map of the cemetery showing the plot numbers and letters.  I was particularly keen to search the newer gravestones on this trip, we had found some 19th century stones a few years ago, but since then I've put my hands on information about more recent burials and had a hit list of a dozen or so I wanted to try to find.
Barnsley Cemetery plan of plots (from Barnsley Archives)
Billion Graves app dashboard
Striking off across the cemetery we entered the numbered sections - I suppose that, in common with other cemeteries Barnsley grew and grew as more burials were added, the original lettered sections end on a distinct line running across the middle of the site and then above that line the sections are numbered.  In the sections from 16 onwards the graves are laid out in an entirely different way too - back to back!  Unfortunately this arrangement doesn't appear to have added much stability to the stones as many, even of the newer ones, have fallen over or been broken off their bases.

The Billion Graves app opens on my tablet to a 'dashboard' of colourful buttons.  Photos was obviously the one I needed so when we found our first gravestone that's the one I clicked.

Billion Graves is designed so that users can just photograph all the stones in a cemetery, upload them in a batch and then transcribe them later.  You don't even have to transcribe them yourself as a option for users to build up credits in the system is to transcribe other people's uploaded images.  Building up credits gives you access to certain bonus features, such as setting a watch on a particular surname - these features can also be purchased for a monthly fee.

You'll have to forgive the next screenshot - trying to mock up the taking of picture of a gravestone in a cemetery whilst sat at my laptop at home isn't easy. The Samsung tablet's screenshot is taken by pressing the two buttons at the same time - and I seem to turn the sound up or the tablet off more often than taking a screenshot, plus I'm using the image of one of graves we found yesterday on my laptop screen so that at least you've got a gravestone picture to look at, fiddly ...
Screen shot of my tablet whilst taking a photo of a gravestone
The big green button on the right is the shutter button - quite handily placed for your right thumb if holding the tablet horizontally.  I did find that this way up the photos defaulted to the correct alignment in the app, holding it vertically you had to rotate the photos afterwards.  If it's green that means the GPS signal is good and the photo will take (can you just see the text under the button "GPS Very Good"?) - if your device is having trouble finding a GPS signal the button will be yellow and the photo won't take.  The chain link icon in the bottom right allows you to link the next picture you take to this one, useful if you have inscriptions on grave plot borders or a big monumental gravestone with more than one side to it.  It toggles on and off each time you click it.  The X at the top left closes the camera screen and returns you to a summary list of the photos you have taken which are still stored on the device.

I found that I kept taking pictures of my feet whilst I was walking between gravestones ... note to self: turn off the tablet between pictures and hold it so you don't press the buttons accidently.  Also having GPS turned on does use up battery power - though we managed two hours of intermittent photo taking and my battery was only half used.  The Billion Graves site does recommend one of those travelling battery chargers for your device if you are planning to be out all day.

There are various settings on the app to manage the photos - you can upload them straight away - obviously you'd have to have access to the internet to do this.  You can review them after you've taken them and then upload them.  I did this - it allowed me to delete the shots of fuzzy grass, my feet and the total blackness of shots of the back of my clipboard!  You can set the app to keep the photos on your device after you've taken them ... handy if you also want to copy them to your own files for attachment to your family tree, or it can be set to delete them after upload to save space on your device. 

When I connected my tablet to my laptop I found my images lurking in:


but it may be different on your device.

The images taken are not very large, they varied between 105 and 299Kb yesterday.  The OH was following me around taking pictures with his camera, and of course the quality of those was much better. 

A comparison of two photos of the same gravestone - described below.
The image taken by Billion Graves on the left, that taken on the OH's camera on the right
The images are of sufficient quality to read the text - but I would recommend always getting in as close as you can to the inscription - long pretty shots of the gravestone in its setting don't give you enough leeway to zoom into the text when you are trying to transcribe it later.  The image on the left was taken in Billion Graves - the picture has started to pixilate as I zoom in to read the inscription - at the same zoom the OH's picture of the same gravestone is still crystal clear - but then it is 3.04Mb compared to 223Kb!.  You could always take the long shot and link it to the close up for the best of both worlds - and swop to the camera in your phone for a better picture to save when you find a 'good' gravestone (good being defined as one that makes you go oooooh! and do a little dance much to the embarrassment of your nearest and dearest!)

Uploading the pictures to the internet when I got home was simple, open the app on the tablet, click the Photos button on the dashboard and either upload the whole lot in one go (use the arrow pointing down to a line icon - oddly the usual symbol for downloading ...) or open each picture and upload it  - you just touch the image and an option box opens, upload, delete or view.  On my tablet view was very, very disappointing - I only got a small thumbnail image, no larger than the one already displayed.  I did think I'd done something wrong and had taken really small pictures until I found them in the file system of my device and was reassured that they were fairly decent images.

The Billion Graves system (website and app) work together and once the images are uploaded you can open your account on a computer and transcribe them.  As all the pictures are GPS tagged they are automatically assigned to the correct cemetery ... if the cemetery has been created correctly.

This was when I found that Barnsley Cemetery had been created at some time in the past by someone who maybe, charitably, wasn't sure what they were doing.  They had correctly placed the Google tag on the cemetery and then had messed it up completely by entering what I can only assume was their home address, somewhere in Lancashire!  Hmmm, the joys of open access databases.  That was why I hadn't found it on my previous search, because I'd looked in South Yorkshire not the whole of England.  Fortunately you can amend the info on cemeteries on screen - even other people's entries.  So I did ... and I requested that the surplus Barnsley Cemetery I'd created earlier be deleted.

Screenshot of the Billion Graves website showing my dashboard - I've uploaded 32 images and visited 2 cemeteries
The dashboard of my account on the Billion Graves website (my email address has been hidden)
Transcribing the images is a doddle - your pictures are saved under your login and you can access them from the Photos on your own account.  Ones that haven't been transcribed are shown with a little pencil superimposed on the image.  As you can see in the screenshot above I've uploaded 32 images, transcribed 74 (not all mine - I had a bit of a dabble with the un-transcribed ones) and visited two cemeteries.

Helpfully the images are saved in your account in albums - I think - labelled with the day of upload or maybe capture - as I've only used the app on one day I'll have to get back to you on that detail. 

A Google map section showing Barnsley and Cudworth with lots of little red tags on the cemeteries I visited yesterday.
Billion Graves Photo map showing my uploads
I also love the photo map option on the Photos tab, clicking that opens a Google map section which shows the sites of your uploads.  I've got a big red cluster over Barnsley Cemetery and a scattering over St John's Cudworth, the local churchyard.  All my own work!
My gravestone tags in Barnsley Cemetery (from Billion Graves)
As you zoom in the tags separate until eventually you can see the individual locations of the gravestones photographed.  Clicking a tag opens a popup image of the gravestone and an invitation to "View full size", clicking that takes you to the full information for the gravestone and its images.

The My Uploaded photos infomation screen in Billion Graves - five names have been transcribed and three photos linked to this record.
Screenshot of part of the information page for some of my gravestones
 - note the linked images (from Billion Graves)
I have added the transcriptions of the five people named on this elaborate monumental type stone to three linked images, the front of the monument, the side with an additional inscription and a long shot showing more of its design.  The Billion Graves website says that you can rotate the images before you upload them from the app, but I can't see that option on my tablet, maybe it varies from device to device.  That means that my long shot, taken with my tablet held portrait wise, is showing as rotated anti-clockwise in the thumbnails. You can rotate an image whilst viewing it - note the blue icons to the bottom right of this screenshot. You can also zoom into the images with the -ve and +ve magnifying glass icons. 

As the above is on my account I can open the transcriptions again to edit them.
A screen shot of the editing form in Billion Graves open to allow amendments to one record
The editing form in Billion Graves

The various fields and their uses are explained in Billion Graves own documentation (I checked, you can access this page without an account).  Adding a Family Search ID to the record is apparently a very new feature - I'll have to try to find a gravestone in Barnsley to try it out on. 

Overall I have been very happy with my first trial of the Billion Graves app and website - as more people engage the quality of the images and the transcriptions may vary, but as the system purposefully only allows the upload of GPS tagged photos via the app you can't add photos that have been taken previously, which I believe can be done on other sites such as Gravestone Photos and Find a Grave.  This should ensure that the location of the images at least stays accurate even if the transcriptions vary.  There do seem to be a huge backlog of un-transcribed images however - taking the photos is much easier than transcribing them I suppose and people probably think that they'll get around to it one day ... or someone else will do it for them.

I don't know when I'll get a chance to photograph more gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery as it's a couple of bus rides from here and as I mentioned earlier I really don't like going there alone, however St John's churchyard is just up the road from me so I will probably be visiting there again and taking a lot more photos for Billion Graves whenever I get the chance and I fancy a walk.  It's a good excuse to go out too!

Monday, 17 June 2013

World War One Soldier's Story - Riley Smith from Barnsley POW

Last year I was searching the Barnsley Chronicle in the Archives for mentions of my husband's family during the First World War when I came across a list of Prisoners of War published on the 24 August 1918.  It was a huge list of names, and very tempting to any family historian.

A snip of part of the article on Barnsley Prisoners of war from the Barnsley Chronicle.  The heading and the top of the M index
Barnsley Chronicle 24 August 1918 (from Barnsley Archives)

The list states it is of "Prisoners of War from Barnsley and District: List received up to Tuesday August 13 1918" and then goes on to solicit further information from readers about any other prisoners that might not appear on the list.  The article is two full column lengths and a part column in the Chronicle, which is a broadsheet newspaper, so you can imagine how long the list was.  I have logged 199 names in an Excel spreadsheet and found more information about seventeen of the men so far.

Smith, Riley, 1588, Y & L Ret, Depot Des Prissonniers de Guerre, Philippopoles, Bulgaria (King's Head Hotel, Barnsley)
Barnsley Chronicle 24 August 1918 - entry for Riley Smith (from Barnsley Archives)

This entry reads, "Smith, Riley, 1588, Y & L Ret, Depot Des Prissonniers de Guerre, Philippopoles, Bulgaria (King's Head Hotel, Barnsley)"

It caught my eye because of the pub name, the King's Head Hotel, Barnsley. This pub no longer exists, but it was on Market Hill.  The address at which he was imprisoned also leapt out as there are only two prisoners on the list who were held in Bulgaria, the other being Ernest Lomas, also in the Yorks and Lancs, and I wanted to know how they got there.

I was able to find Riley Smith's World War One Service records and Medal Card on Ancestry without too much trouble - handy having an unusual name.  He enlists in 1915, but maybe because he was a married man, he was allocated to the 15th York and Lancs battalion, the reserve although his regimental number is 14/1588 suggesting he was initially enlisted in the 14th battalion, the 2nd Barnsley Pals.

Born in December 1887 in Barnsley, the son of John Smith and Mary (maiden name Riley), Riley Smith was baptised at St Mary's church in Barnsley the following January.  John Smith had a Grocer's shop on New Street (in the vicinity of the Gala Bingo building) in the 1891 census and was listed as a Butcher and Slaughterman  in 1901 census. 

Marriage entry from St John's Barnsley.  17 Aug 1908.  Riley Smith m Annie Crampton. He's a butcher, she's a domestic servant.
1908 Marriage Entry at St John's, Barnsley for Riley Smith and Annie Crampton (from Ancestry)
Riley marries Annie Crampton in August 1908, when his occupation is given a Butcher and his address 31 Bond Road, Barnsley.  This address is a end terrace house towards the top of Bond Road, which is in the Old Town area of Barnsley.  A nice little house in a nicer part of town, a pleasant suburb I expect in contrast to the packed courts and lanes of New Street and the town centre. 

A snip from the 1911 census for Riley Smith, his wife Annie and two children
1911 Census for 11 Blenheim Road, Barnsley (from Ancestry)
Within three years Riley and Annie have two daughters, Jessie born in 1908 and Lily born in 1910.  In the 1911 census the family are living at 11 Blenheim Road, which is a mid terraced house on the edge of Barnsley town centre, near to St George's church.  Riley completes the census return himself, declaring he is a Butcher and that their house has four rooms.  He signs the return - the 1911 census is the first time we are able to see the actual handwriting of the householder on the individual household schedules, prior to this the entries we see in the 1841-1901 census returns are the transcriptions by the census enumerator into his books from the individual returns which were then destroyed.

The First World War breaks out in August 1914 - the general feeling is that it will be over quickly, there hadn't been a long drawn out European war for many years.  Young men in Barnsley rush to volunteer to join the army, keen not to 'miss out'.  By the beginning of 1915 two new battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment, the 13th and 14th, known as the 1st and 2nd Barnsley Pals have been recruited and are in training at Silkstone Camp. 

Part of a WW1 Service Record, burnt around the edges and blotchy.  Described below.
The Descriptive Report on Enlistment from Riley Smith's Service record (from Ancestry)
World War One soldiers' records were stored in central London during World War Two, and unfortunately the building was damaged during the blitz.  Over 60% of the records were destroyed and many others were burnt or water damaged.  The above snip is from Riley Smith's record - one of the surviving records but you can see the damage to the top and edges of the sheet of paper.  Riley was 28 years old when he enlisted in November 1915 - he volunteered, conscription did not begin until the following year and even then married men were exempted for a little while longer.  Knowing that conscription was coming in he may have decided to volunteer while he still had a choice about which unit to serve in.  He was enlisted into the 14th York and Lancs with service number 14/1588, and reports to Silkstone to join the rest of the battalion but seems to have been transferred to the reserve soon afterwards. 

The Descriptive Report on Enlistment shown above gives all kinds of interesting family information.  Annie is given as Riley's next of kin and their home address was 3 Elder Place, off Castlereagh Street.

Large scale map snip showing Castlereagh Street, Barnsley and little Elder Place just off it to the north.
Map snip from the 1890s showing Elder Place, centre
Elder Place is not very large, nestled between Castlereagh Street, Nelson Street and Blucher Street.  Whichever house No 3 was it was much smaller than any of Riley's previous addresses and probably a back to back - I'm guessing the three squareish shapes at the top of the yard are the houses, with privies to the right and some kind of industrial buildings at the opening of the yard.  A ring road, the Westway, runs right through this area now with the Holy Rood church and the Salem Chapel still surviving on either side of the dual carriageway.  The map above is part of one of a collection held by the Barnsley Family History Society, donated to them after an office clearout you can see where someone has drawn a couple of rough lines to show the route of the new road.

The Smiths now have four children, Jessie and Lily, plus John born in 1912 and Edna born in 1915.  The birth dates of each child and the date of Annie and Riley's marriage are all included in this document.  As I suspected on seeing the age of Jessie in the 1911 census she was born just two months after their marriage - but this wasn't an uncommon occurrence then or now!  Annie must have needed to be a strong woman to face seeing Riley go off to war leaving her with four children under ten years of age to care for.  I hope she had support from family. 

Blotched and water damaged, this snip shows details of Riley's service, described below.
A section of Riley's Casualty Report from his Service Records (from Ancestry)
Another smudged and blotchy page from Riley Smith's Service Record shows that in late 1916 he was posted to Sunderland to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.  He arrived in Salonica (now Thessaloniki) in September 1916.  The British had a force in Greece to "help the Serbs in their fight against Bulgarian aggression" (The Long, Long Trail).  Forces would have been sent to join them periodically to help hold the position and in 1916 the position was dug in and reinforced. 

Although it is very hard to read Riley's record notes that he was reported 'Missing in the field' on  11 October 1916.  The next note says that he was 'unofficially a POW' and then in March 1917 he is recorded as 'officially accepted POW war office no.5572'.  The date of his disappearance does not tally with any of the battles in that area, there were some advances between the 30 September and 4 October, but then it is (relatively) quiet until the middle of November.   We can only assume that he was assisting in recovering wounded or dead after the captures of Karajakois and Yenikoi in northern Turkey, on the edge of the Black Sea, near the border with Bulgaria.
Map of Bulgaria, northern Greece and Turkey (from Google Maps)
There is very little information on line about what might have happened to Riley next - there is one more clue in his records.  The word Phillipopolis is entered just below the official recognition of his capture, this tallies with the entry in the Barnsley Chronicle.  The name of this Bulgarian city, has changed over time, it is now Plovdiv, and can be seen at the centre of the map snip above.  It was the site of a large Prisoner of War Camp according to a discussion to be found on the Great War Forum.   You can also see Thessaloniki to the bottom left of the map snip where Riley disembarked from his ship and the actions in that area when Riley may have been captured are on the curving edge of the Turkish coast with the Black Sea to the right of the snip.

Riley spends the rest of the war in what were apparently very harsh conditions, with little food and poor accommodation.  He is returned to England after the Armistice in November 1918.  He does not claim to be suffering any disability or illness that would have given him a pension although a wound is noted on his record dating from his capture.

He returns to his life in Barnsley with Annie and the family in March 1919 when he is discharged.  They have no further children, and he dies in 1931 aged just 43 years old.  He is buried in Barnsley Cemetery and the address given as his place of death is 3 Elder Place.  The family lived for at least another eleven years in that little house off Castlereagh Street - and he died relatively young.  Was his health affected by his imprisonment?   Annie dies in 1971, she does not remarry and she is buried in the same grave as Riley.  By this time she is living in Kendray a large council estate built in the 1930s to the south of Barnsley, a much nicer environment than Elder Place I am sure.

On another occasion I will try to find out what happened to the other Barnsley man held in Bulgaria, Ernest Lomas - unfortunately his service records do not appear to have survived the blitz.