Friday 4 January 2013

Whichever Way You Turn, falling over Ancestors in Walker, Northumberland

This morning the cat would not let me sleep – she woke me at 3am and wanted more food, then once she had eaten she wanted company.  Sitting on my chest she purred, but if I dared to fall asleep she stuck her face on mine or pawed me insistently on the neck – I did find this a little intimidating.  The OH always says just ignore her – fine for him, he can sleep through a thunderstorm, hurricane or as he often says “on the back of a galloping hedgehog”!!!  If I ignore the cat she goes and scratches the chest of drawers at the foot of our bed and it’s one of those blackboard/fingernails type sounds – there really isn’t any way for me to ignore it. 

So by 6am I had decided to give up and turn on the laptop.  Last week I split my family tree, which was getting far too big to work efficiently, into separate families – one for my ancestors, one for the OH’s and one for my children’s father, my first husband.  I have done this before and regretted it as something usually gets lost.  In Family Historian you create a copy of the original tree and then using the wizard supplied (that’s a pre-written programme for those who don’t follow techno jargon) delete the items you don’t want.  Unfortunately if, once you have tidied up the people, you then tell it to delete all sources, notes and images without links to people and it can remove something you want to keep because you didn’t link it in to a person in the first place.  Yes, yes, I know that makes it my fault for not using the programme properly and citing all my sources thoroughly dah, di, dah, di, dah … but many, many years ago when I first started family history I didn’t know the importance of recording sources and my own family tree is one of the older bits of my research so the facts often have no citations and sources such as maps and pictures are just floating around unattached.  I'm working on it ...

William Satchell Hutton, the master mariner, married Ann Bormond Smith in Walker, Northumberland in 1861.  Her family had lived in Haswell, Durham up to at least 1855 as that was the birth place of her youngest sibling.  But by the April of 1861 in the census they are in Walker on Church Lane, later Church Street, and that is the parish in which Ann marries.   

I have a map of Walker from 1864 and another from 1897 from the Old Maps site – I take screen shots of the bits I’m interested in and stitch them together in Photoshop – the more recent one have the Old Maps imprint on them (I guess they caught on to what people were doing!) but they are fine for reference.
Walker in 1864 (from Old Maps)
Family Historian allows you to add an image and then link it to a person – you can link the whole image or use a tool to outline a section specific to the person – great for family group pictures, you can draw the outlines around each face and attach them to the people in your tree and the little sections then appear on the person’s individual record and in any reports you produce.  For maps I draw around the relevant street, if the image is larger than the window on the screen when you click on the person’s name it automatically moves the image until the bit you want is on the screen – very clever – and great for maps.  You can add a fair sized piece of map and select streets or even individual houses if the map is large scale enough.  You can attach sources to an image – it sounds a bit backwards – but imagine adding the map, with the church highlighted, to the source record for the marriage certificate for William and Ann …
A screen shot of Family Historian showing a highlighting box around Church Lane, Walker
This was the address of Thomas Smith in 1861
A lot of the way that I set up Family Historian is dictated by the way in which Gedmill processes the records when it creates my familyhistory web pages.  I learnt early on not to just have one source for multiple records with images, that related to many different people – an example was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website – yes, of course cite the main site, with some relevant text, but then I create a separate source for each image so that on the web site you see the right screen shot for a casualty, not every single image I’ve ever captured from the CWGC site.   

Back in Walker - with my two map sections on the screen I decided to add some other ancestors that I knew lived in the same area.  Family Historian has a new feature called Plugins, they are like apps I suppose, other people can write them to work along with Family Historian to do small tasks.  I have downloaded a plugin which searches your whole tree for a specified word and presents you with a list – handy if you are looking for a particular place across a number of different types of events – census, birth, death, marriage etc.  I entered Walker and was surprised at the number of results.  There were a lot of duplicates, where people had remained in Walker over more than one census return they had been listed each time, and of course each child of a family was listed so in my typical large 19th century families there were sometimes eight or nine entries for one family on the list.  Even so some names appeared that I hadn’t recalled as having any connection with Walker.

On my mother’s paternal side there were the Smiths, with whom I started, the family of William S Hutton’s bride, Ann Bormond Smith, who were there from around 1861 with a brother of Ann’s remaining there until sometime in the middle of 1891.  A cousin from that side of the family turned up as well, Joseph Bormond, a nephew of Ann’s mother.  My family seems particularly fond of using family surnames as middle names – which comes in very useful when they are unusual.  Sorting out Smiths is a thankless task, but throw in a Bormond and there are no problems working out which Ann Smith you are after!

On my mother’s maternal grandparents’ side, my 3x great grandfather John Gibson lived there from before 1841, his son, another John Gibson,  moved to Byker, a few miles to the west, but his son Thomas Harle Gibson (my great grandfather) was in Walker in 1881 living with his widowed mother whose Harle family had been in Walker since around 1851.  Harle branches persisted in Walker for as long as I’ve been able to trace them.  The wonderfully named Elizabeth Decima Harle (so you know how many children were in that family!), who was my half second cousin twice removed, was born in Walker in 1901. Her family appear in the 1911 census for Walker where I see the family has been added to, now 11 children, all surviving to the census at least.

On my father’s maternal side my 3x great grandfather James Russell died in Walker in 1888, he had been living his son George who was still there in the 1911 census.  George’s grandchildren, Russells and Oswalds, more of my second cousins twice removed, are being born in the Walker area up to 1922 and possibly beyond.  One of George’s nephews, a George Deacon, passes through between 1898 and 1908 judging by his children’s birthplaces.

My father’s paternal side seem to steer clear of Walker – although there are some Dixons and Robsons who come very close (Newcastle upon Tyne) in the early 19th century!

I commented some time ago that researching my OH’s family tree here in Barnsley in great depth has led to me finding out that his lines cross and interlink and that all kinds of people are related to each other.  It may be that if only I had all the resources and time to do the same for Walker I might discover that my branches do the same, as it does seem that wherever you turned in Walker in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century you were likely to bump into my relatives!


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