Tag Archives: memory

A letter of Thanks dated 1916

Some of you that know me will be aware that I have a box that  has a lot of newspaper snippets and notes all ready for the day when I will get around to telling the world their story. I also have a folder in my email and a file on my laptop that has something similar, but sometimes the donor of photographs after being saved to the laptop gets separated and I am unable to acknowledge the sender or owner of the photographs…………yes, I know, but none of us are perfect!

A while ago I was sent a set of three pictures – one was of an envelope, and the other two were pages of a letter.

The letter, by a little ragged, was franked and had two one penny stamps on the top right hand corner. It was not written in a style I would have thought was used in that time but a style that was more rounded and with rounded loops on the high letters. The envelope was addressed to Nurse Howell, The Asylum, Wakefield – followed by a full stop and a confidently underscored stroke. I will leave Nurse Howell for a while and concentrate on the sender, one Elizabeth Rudd.

Elizabeth Rudd on the top right of her letter gave her address as 32, Westcliffe Terrace, Harrogate and dated it March 5th 1916. Who was Elizabeth and why was she writing to Nurse Howell?

To find who Elizabeth was we have to pry into her life by reading her words of thanks. Elizabeth was thanking Nurse Howell for looking after her sister during her last hours of life, which as she says ‘I did not know the end was quit so near….’ The nurse was thanked for her kindness for being at her patients side while her sister was not. But Elizabeth was glad that the nurse had been spared any painful suffering – Elizabeth’s sister having a peaceful end. Elizabeth went on to say that Nurse Howell was doing ‘noble work, one which required much patience and endurance…..’

Let’s go and find these two ladies!

Firstly, Elizabeth. We know where she lived in 1916, so a look at the 1911 gave an Elizabeth Rudd living at 81 Skipton Road, Harrogate, who was 28 years old and working as a draper’s clerk. Her parents were John William Rudd, a joiner and Mary Ann, and five other children in the house. Elizabeth had one sister, Maud Mary aged 23 – could this be the sister whose life had ended with Nurse Howell by her bedside?

Back in time 10 years to 1901 the family have now swelled their ranks and are living at 4 possibly Ashworth or Charlesworth Place, Harrogate. But there are still no clues as to the missing sister.

Back to the drawing board and a cleared Ancestry. I have set up the quick links and one of the links is directly into the UK Collections, but could not find the collection I wanted. So back to the home page and ‘see all new records’ Bingo, there it was, the UK, Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846 1912. My main fear was that the date of the letter was just four years after the collection date, but hey-ho, in for a penny!

I did not know Elizabeth’s sisters name therefore a general search for Rudd and Wakefield. One entry stuck out and that was for a young lady called Hannah Jane Rudd. Hannah had been admitted on the 16th of September to the W. Yorks Asylum with no year given at the top of the page and no years on the previous pages, but her date of discharge of death on 14th February 1916, does seem to lend itself to being the lady we need.

So, if Hannah Jane is Elizabeth’s sister and she is not on the 1901 of the 1911 census, will she be on the 1891 and link her to her sister? Let’s go see!

The Rudd family in 1891 were living off Grove Road, Harrogate. John William was a joiner and builder and there was a Jane A Rudd, in the house. Could this be our Hannah Jane, who was three years older than Elizabeth?

Do you know any different?

Nurse Howell, now this could be a little trickier! Presuming, a thing I know you should never do, but where needs must…………as a nurse I presume she would have been a mature person, so over 21. I know during 1916 she was working in the Asylum, and possibly living in the Wakefield area. But, was Nurse Howell, 21ish in 1916 or older?

Back again to the 1911 census and a very, very broad search for Howell, Wakefield and female………and more ladies to search through than I cared for. I selected the search to about 1870 to 1895. I hate the new search on Ancestry, the searching does not hold the same ‘chase effect’ that it used to, but we got there after what seemed like an age – I could have made a Christmas cake quicker, or it felt that way!

One entry out of all of them stood out! Harriet Margaret Howell, aged 21, giving her year of birth around 1890. She was born at Bowes Park, Middlesex but was living in Seacroft seacroft hospitaland her occupation was Hospital Nurse. Harriet was one of many nurses and ancillary staff working at Leeds City Hospitals for Infectious Diseases, Seacroft, Leeds, Mr A E Pearson, MRCS, Medical Superintendent was in charge. The hospital cared for patients with scarlet fever and diphtheria and provided care for 482. When the need for isolation hospitals lessened Seacroft was changed to a children’s hospital.

Harriet  must have moved to work in the Asylum by 1915/16 to have nursed Miss Rudd. 

Seacroft Infectious Disease ward c1900

Is the Nurse Howell I am looking for or do you know better!




Find My Past

Henshaw, Pte., Stephen

I’ve not written anything for a while, so while I’ve been away from work for a few days I thought I would put fingers to keyboard and do a few snippets, as you have already will have seen.

Normally I see interesting things and make a note to write later, this time, decided to write something from some of the information passed on by friends – I have some wonderful friends who keep cuttings for me to use as a starting point for my meanderings. This time seems to be a reverse of the norm. Whilst looking through a book I’ve had for ages and is one of many I take away with me, I found the name of a young man and was quite moved by what happened many years after his death.

Stephen was the son of Ephraim and Sarah Ann Henshaw of Quinton, being born in 1887. In 1901 he was 14 years old and employed as a brick maker. His 52 year old father was navvy on the reservoir, while his 18 year old sister was a rivet sorter.

In the census of 1911 Stephen had been married to Sarah for under 1 year, but the enumerator had struck through the written explanation and recorded just a ‘1’ in the relevant box. Stephen worked as a stoker on a stationery engine at a local brickmakers. The young couple lived at 51 Stonehouse Lane, California, Northfield, Worcestershire.

dozinghem cwgcStephen enlisted in Birmingham, serving as Pte 204232 in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The Ox & Bucks). He was wounded during the Battle of Langemarck on 16th August 1917 and lay wounded in the fields for 6 days. After being found he was taken to Casualty Clearing Station 61 (CCS 61) Dozinghem near Proven, but sadly died of wounds on 23 August 1917 aged 30 and rests in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

The book I had been looking at was by Major and Mrs Holt and in the pages I found the idea for this snippet and that Stephen’s granddaughter had been researching her grandfathers war . It was during a visit to the area and finding local historians that lead to finding the approximate area where Stephen lay for six days and nights. The area back in WW1 was known as Springfield Farm.

As many people who go on pilgrimages to WW1/2 sites will have seen, a laminated information sheet was left attached to one of the farms fence posts – a semi-permanent potted history of a family man whose life was taken away – a notice that passers by may see, stop and take a few moments to read about Stephen.

henshaw stephenWell, someone did stop and read the laminated information about Stephen’s last days – the owners of Springfield Farm (now renamed). So, when Stephen’s granddaughter returned a few years later she was shocked to find that from the information left attached to the farm fence, a memorial had been erected at the farmers’ own expense.

For further information



Images CWGC.org and http://echoesofwar.blogspot.co.uk/

A Boy Named Sue or Any Other Name That Fits!

As usual I start off doing a little project and then I go off on a tangent – I was looking for someone on a war memorial, a local one, that had a surname that I knew one of my friends was researching – I sent her a message and while waiting for the reply, the whole blog went belly up and did a full 180 ° turn – so you will have to wait for that blog.

But, while I was waiting for a reply, someone on one of my facebook groups placed a request for information on a lady who died in Egypt in 1918 – well what was I to do?  Leave her question unanswered, or go for it!  A quick search of Probate came up with nothing, a search of passenger lists came up with a few but none that I could say 100% without further information.  So the good old 1901 was consulted, but not to sure about the entries, therefore, forward 10 years to 1911 and this is where it went all wrong!!

I had been looking for ‘Abbie Garner’, she may have been known as Abbie and everyone called her Abbie, and it stuck but I checked Abigail and I should not have done……………..as one entry, an entry very near the top of the list in the 1911 census was for a George Abigail Garner – a transcription error on the index I thought, but no, it was his name, he wrote it clearly on the census and I was totally and utterly distracted from both the war memorial and Abbie.

Now I am hooked, who was George Abigail Garner and why the unusual middle name for a man and why did he give his son the same name?  Starting where I found him in 1911, we have George snr, head of the house aged 38 and working as a cooper, born in Lowestoft.  His wife, Mary Elizabeth aged 34, stated she had been married 10 years, given birth to 4 children, with 3 surviving to the 1911 census. Elizabeth Shepherd Garner is aged 10 and born in North Shields, next is George Abigail jnr, and then Helen aged 5. Finally, Robert Stephenson Garner aged 7 months.  Why does Helen have only one name when her siblings have an extra ?

A change of websites and a hit for G A in Lowestoft comes up in 1901 where Nathan Garner aged 55 is the head of the house, a town crier, with his wife Martha and 5 children aged between 20 and George, the youngest on the census aged 8. But still not a hint of a clue as to why Abigail was used as a middle name – George is not even entered with this name on the census.  Think we may have to back a generation to see what lies there.

So to Google, a wonderful too, but don’t believe all you read – verify and check with original sources where possible but if that is not possible make a note of the source and where you found the information.  A search for Nathan Garner took me to a site listing all Town Criers world wide, very interesting but I am confused as to why it had an piper playing over the page and even turning my sound off, still the sound could be heard when mousing over the information – why it was not Scottish and had no reason to be there.  I like a good tune played on bag pipes, in tune and in the right place – rant over, now back to Nathan.  Well, the site did tell me he was working as a crier in 1891.  Another link took me to a page full of Suffolk family names – this should be interesting and was.  The Nathan Garner I had been looking at on the previous site was born, as we know from the census in 1901, around 1845, but the list of names goes back one more generation, as I said I needed to do.  Nathan Garner, yes another, was born around 1829.  Back to the census.

The 1871 census has Nathan living next door to his brother, William, at 7 Nobbs(?) Buildings, Lowestoft and is a tailor, brother William is a basket maker.  Nathan jnr is 16 and working as a shoemaker.  I now know Nathan snr’s wifes name – Martha, obtained from an original document.  Next stop was to find who Martha was. A visit to Freebmd and a quick search came up with just one entry – Nathan Garner + Martha = Martha Abigaill……………..Fantastic.  So, it looks like that George Abigail Garner, even though there is a spelling variation, has the maiden name of his grandmother as his middle name – not unusual but sometimes it may raise a few questions.

George Abigail Garner had a son in 1903 and like generations before gave his son his name – George Abigail Garner.

Problem solved and back to the blog I was going to start earlier!

The Blog is back!

Due to technical problems – basically the blog decided it did not like being updated and said ‘NO, I’m not going to work’, which was a little annoying but after a break of not knowing which way to go I had decided to do a version 2 where the old blog would still able to be viewed, enabling  you to still see what I got up to in the past, but you would also be able to read about what I’ve been up to, what has interested me and what I am up to now!

So……………..when asking my son yesterday, to link the new blog to my website.  After trying to explain what I wanted him to do and why, I was told not to be daft, why should I have 2 blogs when I already had one, even though it refused point blank to update and come back to life.  After a few minutes of copying, pasting and button pressing, my blog like the phoenix rose from the ashes back to life! Who’s a clever boy then?

I am back!  A lot has happened in the world in the past 12 months – we have had the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, seen the Tower of London basque in a blanket of poppies remembering every soldier from the Commonwealth who gave his life for King and Country.  We have seen the world remember the outbreak of the Great War and many military projects have been granted funding. The funding is not a bad thing,  nor is the remembering but there have been many groups and individuals, who for many years have remembered, started and completed projects on their own without any form of help both physical and financial.  I know of a couple of local projects that a group of people have been wanting to undertake, only to be told that ‘we now have funding for that’  – lets wait and see.  A few years ago I contacted an establishment with the view to adding to a project I had done years ago.  I was told ‘oh! thank you for the offer but we are doing that ‘in-house” – that ‘in-house’ project is still to be started!

Anyway, what have I done in the past year, well, the book I told you all about, Lizzie Riach with Family and Friends, in one of my previous blogs has been published by myself and is on sale – I’m on my second print run.  I fondly remember

Lizzie Riach with Family and Friends charity cookbook

Lizzie Riach with Family and Friends charity cookbook

the day I went to the prints to collect my proof copy, I’d been welcomed as I had been on my previous visits.  Then I was handed a proof copy, my book.  I must admit I was overcome with emotion – glad that it was nearly all over, sad that some very important people would never see it but happy and proud of what I had achieved, and very grateful that a wonderful young lady had given her time to work her magic, making the book so totally different to how a self funding charity cookbook should look – it is amazing.

The book is for sale from yours truly and the profit from each book – £2 goes to Macmillan Cancer Support – now how good is that, you get the book full of wonderfully donated recipes and a charity gets your donation, everybody wins!

2014, dosn’t seem to have been a bad year but with events planned for 2015, that should be an even better year,


Faces behind the headstones

Last year I found a leaflet asking for relatives of those WW1 soldiers who rest in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetary to come forward with any information or documents they may have and as I have original documents relating to my great uncle, there was only one thing to do and that was make contact – well you would, wouldn’t you, it is only being polite after all!

I made contact and as I have a little ‘bolt hole’ quite close to Poperinghe I made several visits to my contact who at the time worked out of Toc H and had many cups of tea there, if I may say, the best cups of tea in Belgium.  So, with my documents copied and information regarding my great uncle passed on I awaited the day I could visit.  I was invited to the opening in the autumn of 2012 but a few days holiday was not available………..so I waited.

The summer of 2013 in August was very hot and on one of the cooler afternoons I crossed the border to my uncle’s ‘little piece of England in a foreign land’.  The visitor centre is situated on a parcel of land at the side of the cemetery.  I did see the work in progress last year but then it was hard to imagine the building and ideas used.  The people at Toc H had told me of the ideas they wished to use and it sounded wonderful.

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

My first stop was, you guessed, the centre and after parking my car took the short walk to the single story centre.  Inside there is a plain red wall with two rows of speakers – for the tall and the short, each tells of the happenings from the area in a soldiers words and is available in four languages.  At the rear of this wall is the main archive area, all in white with red accents.  This could be symbolic of death and blood or red for the poppies.  My aunt a nurse would never have white and red flowers together in the same vase.  The room has a central work station with banks of computers listing all the men and one woman (Nellie Spindler) who rest within the boundary of the cemetery, and is easy to search.

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

I searched for my uncle, as I expected the CWGC information was there but also my pictures but I was disappointed not to find the original documents I had taken in were not available – never mind, may be at a later date or they may save them for a display, must keep visiting.

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

The displays on the wall are ‘clean looking’ and very informative.  There are photographs or the original wooden crosses, maps and aerial photographs, Director of Graves photographs, casualty records, letters requesting monies for extra working on their relatives headstones (my family paid the extra charge).  You will have seen this if you have visited a WW1 headstone – the wording at the bottom i.e. Much loved son, Dearly loved husband and father.  One wall has a plan showing the happenings on the Ypres Salient and a series of red spikes show when the most deaths occurred.  To say the Salient was on for quite a long time the spikes occur in a small time span.

When I visit any CWGC cemetery I am either overwhelmed by the number of headstones of men, young and old who gave their lives, for example a visit to Lijsenntheok or Tyne Cot brings this home very well, but there are also small off the beaten track cemeteries with sometimes only a dozen or so men.  Moving as this can be you don’t know who the men or women were, do you?  What did they look like, what colour eyes or hair did they have, how did they comb their heir, did they have a parting?  Were they clean shaven? For some of the men this now can be answered thanks to a red box like structure in the centre.  Pictures of the men and the one woman are placed within what

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

looks like a pencilled rectangle – one space for each headstone.  I am pleased to say that my great uncle, Herbert Siddle, Pte., 242874, 1/4th K.O.Y.L.I who died of a bullet wound in his neck, is positioned on the photo wall very close to Nurse Nellie Spindler, also from Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, as it was during their time.

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

In amongst these pictures is a screen displaying information regarding a soldier who died on the date of your visit.  The date of my visit – 16 August a young man named James Ernest Gordon was remembered. But what I

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

did like was that with the press of a button, you could print out information about him for example, his parents names, that he had siblings and that a fiancee never shared a special moment at the alter becoming his wife.  That he served in the Balkans and according to his second Lieutenant and was gassed helping a wounded comrade. He was overcome by the effects of the gas but did make it to No 10 CCS, the British evacuation hospital in Lijssenthoek at 9:45 and breathed his last some thirty minutes later.

After going around the centre if you care to take a walk to the cemetery you will notice that the old car park out side the main gates (if you have been before) has gone and now a path takes you towards these gates.  The path is protected from the road with what at first glance look like rusty metal pylons, but on closer inspection you can see that every one is dated – one for each day of the events

copyright c Sklinar 2013

copyright c Sklinar 2013

that took place.  The end of the war is depicted by a gap and the rusty metal continues from 24 January 1919 until 18 June 1921 in staggered dates i.e. 1 August 1915, 1 August 1918, 31 October 1920 and finally, 18 June 1921, bringing home that quite a lot of things were still going on in the area well after the war.  From here, you enter the familiar ground of a CWGC cemetery, rows of soldiers lined up in death as they were in life.


Was it worth a visit?  Yes!

Would I go again?  Yes!, of course, as the displays could change and I may get to see the original documentation kept by his mother at the bottom of a blanket box, along with the local newspaper, his picture on the front page as KIA and the insertion by his parents and family later in the paper saying how saddened they were at his loss.


Lijssenthoek Visitor Centre click here 



And finally, my reward for a nice afternoon out – only one eaten at a time – promise!!

A Fusilier’s Postcard

A friend of ours/mine is a songwriter and musician, basing many of his songs around his Northumberland origins.  A few years ago I blogged about a mining disaster that was the basis of a wonderful and moving song and a song dedicated to my husband called ‘The Old Chateau’.

northumberland fus badge

Anyway, the moving lyrics have once again spurred me into putting fingers to keyboard, but this time based on a postcard written by a fusilier to ‘his Maggie’.  I have no idea who the writer was or who ‘his Maggie ‘ was but I have found a Northumberland Fusilier who I shall blog about!

Frederick Noel Coates – who was he, just picked out at random from Army Service Records, basically as I thought his name would be easy to follow.

Frederick was born in 1895, in Whitley Bay, Northumberland, the son of John Robson Coates and Edith Annie, his wife of 19 years.

On Sunday 2nd April 1911 the family were living at 39 Victoria Avenue, Whitley Bay.  John was classed as an Accountant, while Edith  was given no occupation, but it did give information that she had born 6 children – the eldest being Edith Vera aged 18 and the youngest was Gwendoline aged 7 months.  Frederick Noel was the eldest boy aged 16 and employed as a Commercial Clerk.  The family were looked after by 2 teenage servants.

Ten years previous in 1901, John was an accountant working for the Water Gas Company with his family living at 37 Victoria Avenue.

A few short years after the census Frederick Noel Coates on 10 September  1914 signed his Short Service Attestation Papers in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Our young man gave his age as 19 years and 259 days and employed as a Wireless Telegraphy Student and was now officially a Private in the 16th Bn., Northumberland Fusiliers.  The only other entry on ‘Statement of Service was dated 18 September 1915, but will mention that later.

His military history sheet is bare apart from the information regarding his next of kin – John Robson (surname missing , probably as we know the name of the family) 8 South Parade, Whitley Bay.  One thing that was not missing was his description – a wonderful find for any family member who has no photograph to view.  Frederick was, as we know, 19 years and 259 days old.  He was 5” 7 1/2 “ tall and weighed 121lbs.  He had a girth of 35” with an expansion range of 4”.  His complexion was fresh, he had blue eyes and fair hair and gave no religious preference and he was declared fit for duty.

You may be wondering why I wanted to come back to Fredrerick’s Statement of Service, well on the 18September  1915 he was Discharged, but for a very good reason – he was Gazetted a Commission and became Temp. Second Lieutenant.

Frederick changed Battalions and was now in the 22nd.  These Battalions were made up of ‘Pals Battalions’ and took part in many battles including 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme – the 22nd Bn., lost over 530 men on that day.

The Northumberland Fusiliers were often known as the ‘fighting fifth’ as until 1881 the regiment was the Fifth Foot, but during The Great War the Northumberland Fusiliers raised no fewer that 51 battalions making it the second largest after the London Regiment.nf_steloi

The  22nd was formed in Newcastle on 5 November 1914 by Newcastle’s Lord Mayor and landed in France in January of 1916.

John and Annie Coates lost their eldest son on 4 April 1917 aged 23.  He is remembered at FAUBOURG D’AMIENS CEMETERY, ARRAS with over 2640 other  known men and 10 who are Known only unto Their God.





Frederick is mentioned in Whitley Seaside Chronicle of the Great War

As to who was the Maggie, dearly mentioned on the postcard that could well be another story, but I do hope that  her soldier did return home.

You can listen to A Fusilier’s Postcard here

You may also like to listen to Where Footsteps Used Fall also with a WW1 theme

Sources –


Find My Past





Aunty Dolly’s little brown book

Why is it that the things you grow up with, and the people, you take so much for granted, never stopping to ask or question why, what, who and when!

My mum left me her handwritten recipe books from which I am now writing a book with the proceeds going to charity, aunty Dolly also gave me a book, about 7” x 5” and in dark brown mock leather.  As a child I just looked and thought no more about this little insignificant, slightly ragged, or well worn little book.

Before I tell you about the book I would like to tell you about my beloved aunt Dolly. She was born Frances Siddle on 16 September 1907 in Wakefield  to Agnes Siddle.  There was no father named Aunty Dolly's little brown bookon her birth certificate.  In April 1911 her mother married Ernest Wilkinson and later in the year she was Christened and between 1913 and 1929 three half siblings followed.  By 1950 she had met and married John C Kaye, a professional soldier, now he’s another interesting story.

Frances by now was known as Dolly or Do-Do and in her early 20’s worked as a barmaid in a public house at the Westgate end of Dewsbury Road.  Later, she trained as a nurse and later undertook extra training to become a mental nurse – Frances Siddle, R.C.N., R.M.N. abbreviations of which she was very proud.  In my lifetime aunty Dolly worked at Stanley Royd and was one of the shift Sisters in charge of Ward 18.  She was immaculate in her navy uniform with a starched white apron, starched cap, and when working on the ward she had her cuffs turned up with frilly white covers or when doing her office work she had her sleeves turned down with stiff white cuffs and always had her keys very close at hand.  When I, as a child, used to go with my uncle John to collect her.  We used to drive passed the gate house, where at the end of a shift aunty Dolly or Sister Kaye, would deposit her keys.  Go up the drive and then turn down towards Ward 18 under a small arch and uncle John would wait in the car while I would run to the large door and ring the bell and await the clunking of the key in the door.  Once inside I would either go into aunties office or go and sit with the ladies who lived behind the large locked door.

Aunt Dolly and uncle John became my second set of parents as I lived with them for many months while mum was in hospital with an injured leg – what more can you ask for –  one set of wonderful parents and then two others who dote on you.

Anyway, on my many visits to their house my aunt showed me the little book, I looked at the pages, thought how nice the pictures were and how I wish I could draw and paint like that, and that was that.  Now, many years later the little book has once again grabbed my attention, but as well as thinking how nice the pictures are I also wonder who wrote the words, drew the flowers and did the wonderful ink pen drawings.  How many times have I looked at the little book and never notice other

Edwin Siddle

Edwin Siddle

people with the name Siddle. Two of my great uncles have written and signed in the book along with many other peoples ditiities.  My aunts Autograph Book is full of her friends.

Charles Ernest Siddle

Charles Ernest Siddle

Charles Ernest Siddle on 19 July 1919 wrote ‘What ? Write in a book, where people look, and critics spy, not I, I’m shy, Goodbye’  A few short years later he had died.  His brother Edwin wrote multiple entries but one that makes me smile is this ‘God made the bees, the bees make honey, the infantry fill the sandbags, the R.E’s get the money’.

Edwin Siddle

Edwin Siddle

Others who have graced the pages include Nellie Winterbottom who on 22 March 1922 wrote ‘ Mary had a little watch, she swallowed it one day, now she’s taking Epson Salts to pass the time away’.  Gladys Bennett on 6 October 1922 wrote ‘ If every day was sunny, with ne’er a cloud in view, we’d soon be spending money to buy a cloud or two’.  Marjorie Holmes wrote ‘The happiest moments of all my life were in the arms of another man’s wife – my mother’.  M Harrison on 6 October 1922 wrote ‘ The butterfly has wings of gold, the firefly has wings of flame. The flea it as no wings at all, but it gets there just the same’.  I think M Harrison could have also have worked on Ward 18 at Stanley Royd.



Edwin Siddle

Edwin Siddle

G Moxon

Names and initials on the pages are :- R W, M Brear, G C Moxon, E J Tingle, A Murgatroyd, NellieWinterbottom, Irene Stevenson, A Hutchinson, M Harrison, E Morton, Annie Fraser, Ethel Oxley, M Sykes, D M Meek, E Hemingway, H Asquith, Mary Murgatroyd, Gladys Asquith, C E B, Violet, V Bell, M Garrison, Marjorie Holmes, K Hudson M Brear(beautiful pen drawing), M Johnson, Gladys Bennett and finally, G F Smith B.A., L.L.B., L.L.D., A.C.P. who wrote ‘ England has saved herself by her bravery may she now save Europe by her example’.

One of the entries is a poem of sorts and covers three pages entitled The Barnsley Disaster.  At first I thought this was just a story but that proved to be wrong.

Barnsley Public Hall on Saturday 11 January 1908 was the setting for a tragedy when 16 children mainly under 10 years old lost their lives and 40 others were seriously injured. That will be another tale but what interests me at this time are the names.  Family history does after all starts with names.

Ethel Oxley for instance was born in 1908, the daughter of Henry and Ethel Oxley who at the time lived at 19 Pilkington Street, Thornes Lane, Wakefield. Ethel at the time being the youngest of four children.

Gladys Asquith was not a local girl being born in Hereford.  Her grandfather, Benjamin Asquith was a market gardener born in Carr Gate, his wife Elizabeth was also a local girl and their son Walter.  But somewhere along the line they moved to Hereford where Walter met his wife Lily and Gladys was born in 1908 but in the next couple of years they moved back ‘home’ and Evelyn came into the world.  The census of 1911 index gives the impression that Benjamin and Elizabeth are the parents of the two young children, but I think otherwise and am taking Walter and Lily as their parents.  The family lived in a four roomed dwelling at 21 Carter Street, Wakefield.

Mary Murgatroyd – there are two Mary Murgatroyds that are within a decent age range but for some reason, call it gut instinct I am going with the younger of the two as her father was a Law Clerk for the County Council.  As you have previously read one of the entries in the book has legal initials after his name (maybe not a good enough reason but seems to fit better than the other entry).  The family were also living only a few streets away on Johnston Street.

Annie Fraser

Annie Fraser

Annie (Ann) Fraser, another writer in aunt Dolly’s little brown book was born in Wakefield along with her brother William, while the rest of the family were from Forfar, Paisley and Glasgow.  Annie’s father James was a boat builder, building seamless steel boats.  The family lived at 12 Caldervale Road, so James would have been very close to work.

Violet (Victoria) Bell was one of five children in the 1911 census to Ernest Edward Bell and his wife Lillian Gertrude – the couple being married thirteen years and he worked as an iron roller at Horbury Junction.  Again, a family that came into Wakefield.  Ernest was born in Louth, his wife in Tipton, Staffordshire  and their two eldest children hailed from Carlisle.  The family lived in three rooms at 14 Wellington St, Thornes Lane.

Nellie Winterburn was the daughter of George and Emma who lived at 3 Wellington Street, Thornes Lane.  George worked as a cloth scourer to feed his family in 1911.

I have now found out who some of the entries were written by but not how they are connected to my aunt – more research to be done. But one of the few names that evade me is G. F. Smith B.A., L.L.B., L.L.D., A.C.P – who is he and what connection did he have to my aunt.  Was the connection her friend whose father was a Law Clerk or what it a nursing connection?

Mr Smith's entry

Mr Smith’s entry

A quick search of the 1911 census has four entries for a Smith who is a solicitor, but none with the initials C. F. There is, unlike other entries, no date for Mr Smith’s entry but going by the others the dates are between 1918 and 1922.

Still more looking around to try and find the threads that crossed these peoples lives in the few years following World War one.  But as I write this something has just dawned on me.  Something I knew, but never thought of.  My aunt was almost a generation older than my father, being born in 1908 and my father in 1923.  I knew all about her but never until today did it click she lived through WW1 – she would have been there when my great grandma received ‘that telegram’ regarding her son Herbert.  There when my great aunt also received ‘that telegram’ regarding her husband George Albert Wheeldon. There when my great grandma lost another son Charles in 1926.  It sometimes takes writing things down to realise how the generations blend into one family.

So that’s the story of Aunt Dolly’s little brown book so far.

To be continued……….

WW1 casualty remembered in Golcar Parish Church

Over the past weeks, I’ve been doing a family tree for a friend and yesterday after threatening to go and visit the area and a local museum, off I went.  It was a nice day albeit a little nippy – my hands were feeling the chill while taking photographs in the churchyard…. but you carry on for the cause!

So, it’s 12:15 and the museum opens at 2pm and my plan was to photograph the family headstones in the churchyard and then cross the road to the museum that was once the home of the family I’m delving into – the Pearson family.  I’m not going to go into the family here as I still have to add some photographs etc., but that churchyard is a family tree in itself as many of the names on the headstones tie in with the Pearson tree.

I digress, as I said the Pearson people are not the aim of this blog, the true star of these lines is a young man named John T Gledhill.

Gledhill headstone. Carol Sklinar 2012

Who was John Taylor Gledhill, well he was born the son of Joe and Clara Gledhill, and lived in 1901 at The Green, Golcar.  Joe was aged 43 in the census and worked as a woollen percher.  Clara nee Taylor was aged 43 and the mother of  3 children aged between 9 and 16 (Jane, James and John).   For those of you wishing to find the family in 1901 they have been transcribed as GLADHILL.

By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 38 Knowl Bank, Golcar in a 5 roomed house.  The 3 children were still living at home and all working within the woollen industry, weaver, spinners and twisters.  The census tells that Clara had had in total 4 children but only three had survived to the census and the couple had been married 26 years (Sept Qtr 1885 in the Huddersfield Registration District).

John Taylor Gledhill joined the Northumberland Fusiliers in Huddersfield and became Pte., 290/706.  He was later transferred to the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regt.,) 16th Battalion and changed his service number to 40858.  Soldiers at this time changed their service number when they changed Battalion or Regiment and Officers during this time had no service number.  During WW2 service men and women kept their number for the duration of service and now officers had service numbers.

The service records for John don’t seem to have survived but from Soldiers who Died in the Great War I have been able to glean that he Died on 24 July 1917 .  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirms his service number for the West Yorkshire Rgt. It also confirms his date of death but also tells us where he now rests – Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery and the position within the cemetery, IV D 27 – relating to section, row and number within that row.  Each cemetery has a box within or near the entrance where you can find a plan to help pinpointing the grave.

Another source, The Medal Rolls Index told that John was eligible for the Victory and British Medals which would have been given to his next of kin.

John is recorded on the War Memorial inside the church and also on the St John’s School  Memorial, also in the church.

St John's School Memorial. Carol Sklinar 2012

What did John look like ? How tall was he ? Did he have any scars or tattoos ? With the lack of his service record I may never know. Has John ever had a visitor to his resting place in France and how many people have strayed from the path and wondered among the many headstones and learnt of Johns fate – in modern times probably not many. But today John will have his name written once more and many will now know of this young man from Golcar.

Lest we Forget

My day as a ‘Tour Guide’

It seems to have been a busy old week, with going to the KOYLI Museum on Tuesday looking for information on a WW1 soldier, work all day on Wednesday and Thursday, now that was very different but very enjoyable.

A friend of mine has been expanding his business (SeeYourPast) and I was asked if I would be a guide for a lady from Australia who wished to See Her Past.  The lady who I will call B communicated via emails to the SeeYourPast office where she was under the care of James.  At the early stages I was not involved, initially knowing only a name, Annie Eccles and an area – not a lot to go on, really! Without a little more information I could be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!!).But as emails  scurried through the air, we found out a bit more and an email giving a link to Prophet Wroe started the ball rolling.  As an name and an area was not a lot to base a days tour on.

Elephant & Castle © Carol Sklinar 2011

Now I had a bit more information I could look on the census and see where that would lead.  I started with the 1901 census as B had said that her husband family had been in Australia around 1905.  So, 1901 what did you have to tell us ? Well, Annie was there on the census and the connection to Prophet Wroe was loud and clear.  Annie was living in Melbourne House, the Temple based on the design of Melbourne Town Hall and the place where the Messiah could dwell, according to the Christian Isrealites.  There were only 2 people recorded as living in Melbourne House, the Head being Mary J Frazer, a widow aged 70, born in Ireland and classed as a General Servant (Domestic).  Annie was classed as a neice, single and aged 30, again born in ireland and again a General Servant (Domestic).

As I went back to 1891 I found that Mary Frazer had been there as the Head of the House, but there were still only 2 people in a quite large Melbourne House. But Annie in 1891 was described not as a niece but as a Servant.  It seems obvious that Mary was basically responsible for keeping the house clean, tidy and ready for visitors, while she and Annie were supposed to keep to the ‘back stairs’.

Back a further 10 years to 1881 and I was able to find the parents of Annie (B had not been able to find them).  The family consisted of Thomas, a gardener,  aged 45 from Co. Tyrone, his wife Elizabeth aged 49 from Armagh and their children, Thomas, a gardener,  aged 21 and Annie, a scholar, aged 13 both born in Armagh.  There is also a James Eccles, a shoemaker, aged 55 , born in Armagh – all living on Wilson Hill.

I now had the information to set out a days excursion for B and myself.  B new about the Underwood side so I concentrated on the Eccles who stayed behind in England and their extended lines.

Where did we go ?  I had arranged to meet B at Westgate Station and from there go for a coffee when I planned to give her an introduction to the places where we were to visit and who was connected to those places.  This did not really go to plan.  I’d spoken to someone in the The Green Room Cafe, in the Theatre Royal who told me it was open from 8am – brilliant, I thought a place to go for coffee and also include a bit of information about the Theatre.  No, what do they say about well laid plans………..as I walked passed from the car park………it was shut !!  I was not happy and although Wakefield Westgate Station did a very nice cup of coffee, the atmosphere was not the same.

While sat with out coffee I’d shown B some census extracts, Parish Register entries and a family tree I’d compiled for her.  Even after a few minutes we had found that we had so much in common.  I had been a little unsure while I sat with an A4 sheet of paper with her name in big, bold letters, but that all fell away when we started to chat over coffee.

After coffee we started back to the car park and walked  as short way up Westgate where I told her about the Elephant and Castle, The Orangery, The Westgate Run and the cattle market, woolstaplers and the large banks.

First stop was Wilson Hill.  As it happened we parked next to a rhubarb field and it seemed an opportunity to mention The Rhubarb Triangle, B was delighted by the view and the connection to rhubarb as her husbands family had always been rhubarb fans but she had never seen it grown commercially before.  Further up the hill and to the left is Melbourne House, as we know the home of Prophet Wroe, later an old folks home and now a part of a telecommunications company.  We stopped outside and took piccies, walked down to the farm buildings, the granary and other out buildings now private housing and saw 3 of the 4 gatehouses.  Just across the road we paid a flying visit to Carr Gate and the Lawns, then up the road to East Ardsley – Grand View actually.  Although Grand View is no longer there you can see the properties next door and across the road.  B walked up the road and was in awe of Old Hall which dates back to around 1622. The hall is now divided into 3 dwellings.  There were 2 fantastic and very large fire places in the end rooms with a staircase going from one side to the other – linking the two end rooms.  There was also a bedroom, panelled in oak(?) and again a large carved fire place.  I went in years ago and remember the floors upstairs sloped, making walking across the room a strange experience.

While in East Ardsley I took B to see one of the Forcing Sheds and explained the ‘forcing’ process.

St Mary Magdalene, Outwood © Carol Sklinar 2011

Our next stop was St Mary Magdalenes Church, Outwood where Thomas jnr (Annie’s brother) married Ada Hemingway.  The church was open on Thursday as it was Ascension Day and we were able to walk around at out leisure.  I was on the look out for war memorials and found 2 – the memorial to both wars with names only and a private memorial to the right of the door.  Lunch, where to go ?  I suggested The Rhubarb Triangle, keeping up the theme, so we headed there.  While waiting for lunch B and I chatted about our families and then it was time to head off again, this time to Carlton, Rothwell where some of her family lived and more rhubarb fields.  It was here that I confessed to B that I had lied to her during the morning and had a surprise for her but she would have to wait a little.

Carlton village boundary and B © Carol Sklinar 2011

Time was pressing and we headed back through East Ardsley, over the motorway and headed for Wakefield on the ‘old road’ but I turned off towards Brandy Carr and turned into the drive of Melbourne House as I had arranged for B to go inside and see where Annie lived and worked. Even though Melbourne House is a working building and is used every day as a venue for meetings, the building is wonderful.  I had seen pictures of the mahogany and ebony  staircase and clock and read about the building in a book by Kate Taylor and John Goodchild, but the black and white picture did not do the entrance hall and staircase any favours.  I thought the stairs would lead up from the front entrance but I was shocked to see them go at 90º.  If we had been able to use the side entrance, now that would have given me the staircase view I had imagined… never mind! The lady who is responsible for the building came to meet us and we told her of Annie and how she was entered in the census of 1891 and 1901 and of Mrs Mary Frazer.  We were taken from room to room, up the stairs and passed the clock that is an integral part of the stairs and into more rooms.  Back down the stairs we then ventured into the cellar, this would have been very familiar to Mary and Annie.  There was a corridor with two rooms remaining, both with vaulted ceilings and mullioned windows, now minus glass, looking onto the hall.  One of the rooms still had a large stone slab, which would at one time have kept all the fresh food cool.  Back upstairs we went into the visitors room and had a coffee –  a wonderful room to the left of the front entrance.  Time was now getting on so we said our thanks and goodbyes and after a few photo’s outside the hall we set off to Wakefield and park the car again as B had said she would like to walk up Westgate and see the buildings I’d told her about earlier in the day.

Melbourne House © Carol Sklinar 2011

It was now nearly time to say goodbye.  But I had to make a phone call to James of SeeYourPast as B wanted to thank him for all the help and pointers he had given her over the past few months.  Her train was by now pulling into the station, so I said goodbye and wished her a fantastic trip across Europe and said that I would post her all the hard copies of the information.

All in all – Hot and sunny day + good company = very good day.

I did leave B with one question to solve – Absalom and Annie crossed to Australia in 1905 and crossing with them was a child aged 1 years called Rachael .  B had believed her to be the daughter of Absalom and his first wife, but Absalom and Annie had married in the September ¼ of 1904 and arrived in Australia in on 10th April 1905 after a 90 day voyage.  So, just who did Rachael belong to?

A very big thank you to the staff of Melbourne House – THANK YOU !

For those of you who may link to Annie Eccles and her husband Absalom Underwood here are a few local names that connect :-  Bedford ; Cobb ; Hemingway ; Wood and Frost.

To become a guide for SeeYourPast or make enquiries about a guided tour click here

Unknown Soldier

Just over  a month ago I was given a framed picture, I say picture, as it is not truly a memorial.  Anyway, this picture was for a soldier who served in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry during WW1.


It would have been quite colourful, with its curled horn with a central white rose surrounded by a horse shoe shaped wreath containing the Battle Honours of the Regiment.

The framed picture must have been on a family wall for many years as the soldiers number, rank and name are very faint and I do mean faint.

Armed with a good source of light, magnifying glass, large cup of tea and a couple of tried and trusted websites I set off on my quest.

The first two numbers and the last few numbers were easy to read, it was the ones in the middle that were the problem.  His regiment was clear, he was  a Private.  His initial was clear, an old fashioned L, you know the one, similar to a £ sign.  His name, well, I decided on M for the first letter, with a L in the middle.  Variations of the names first few letters went on for a while, varying from Mc, Ma, Me and Mo.

As you can guess one of my favourite websites was getting well and truly used and I was certainly making my subscription work.  The eyes of a neighbour and fellow family historian were also called upon and she achieved the same as me.

One thing that we both felt certain about was that he did not die as the CWGC and SWDTGW have no match for any permutation of his army number.

The frame was put on my desk and left in view, but it was certainly not forgotten.  Where else could I look? What else could I do? He was an army man.  He may not have volunteered but he was called to Serve King and Country in some way but where? Who would know the regiment better than the Regimental Museum?  The KOYLI museum is housed within Doncaster Museum, being moved from The Barracks at Pontefract.  I ‘phoned, spoke to a nice man who told me he would get someone to call me back as the person who I needed to speak to was on his holidays.  I didn’t have to wait long and Steve rang – I gave him the numbers, rank and what I thought was his name.  He’d ring me back.

Guess what ?  He rang and came up with the same as me – no trace of our man.  He did however, suggest that I go over and take the picture to the Museum, so that he could possibly, shed light on the matter.  Believe you me, it needs a lot of light !

Today was the day I ventured to South Yorkshire, that OK as it was once part of the West Riding before all that reorganisation stuff in the 1970’s.  The Museum is a nice place with nice helpful staff,  but parking is ‘iffy’ as you need a voucher from reception to say you are in the library and you need to sign in but that’s not a problem, but the car park is smallish.

Anyway, Steve looked at the picture and went on the web.  He put various variations of the army number into websites and the numbers came up but with nothing matching the Regiment of anything that even on a good day you could say was his name.

Steve, who works for the library, changes his ‘hat’ and does work for the KOYLI Museum one day a week  and he told me that he thought ‘our man’ did serve, we know that, but that he could have served and done his duty only in the UK and therefore would not get a medal.

What have we come up with in the past weeks :-

We know who gave/lent me the picture BUT NOT from where it came

We know ‘our man’ served in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

We know his rank.

We know his initial

We know that WW1 service records were damaged by the enemy in WW2 and are called ‘The Burnt Records’ for that very reason.  Some were partially  burnt,  some have water damage and others were totally destroyd.

We know that he survived the war.

We seem to know quite a lot don’t we?  But the important segments still remain a mystery.

What is his true army number?

What is his name? The surname that seems to start with an ‘M’.

Who does he belong to?

I think that this picture will be picked up and put down on my more occasions before I get totally exhausted from searching.

My thanks to Steve for his time and help and the fact that he like me, will keep looking.

King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum Collection click here

National Archives – Looking for a person incl. Military, Police, Clergy, Migrants, Wills & much, much more click here