Casting around

National Storytelling Week is this week so get writing yours!

I have just watched the Rootstech (2013) opening speech where the head of Familysearch talked about his thoughts over the past year – about what our great grandchildren would like us to have told them and to  have preserved for them to find, and about the importance of family stories.  In this National Storytelling Week why not make a start on your own story or write up your family history research and think about what you would like your ancestors to have told you.

From 26 February we will be starting our Great War Stories series with one post a month devoted to stories about the people who were affected by the Great War.  It is our own mini version of the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War.

Casting around

is a guest post by Ken Horton who has had problems because of the number of Hortons in Yorkshire.  He says there are scandals in his family and hopefully he will write about them in a later blog post for us.  This I think is just to set the scene:

…………..My research started when a friend asked me something about my parents and I realised that I knew nothing about either of them before they married or even afterwards; this was after just after my retirement and of course apart from a few cousins none of the ‘old’ family were alive so there were few if any.

I started by obtaining their marriage certificate which left me with more questions than answers as with a Mother born in the Yorkshire village of Conisborough and Father in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield why had they married some fifty miles north?

I knew Dad had been in the First World War and Mother I remember had once said she met him when nursing, but no dates or place names, the marriage certificate only revealed that Dad was a chauffeur so I had to assume he lived in for his job in Tadcaster and probably Mother was in service somewhere in Boston Spa where they married .

The dissatisfaction with this scant information led me to seek my Grandfather’s details by gleaning this from Dad’s marriage certificate but again the information was sparse and he had a middle letter N in his name which no one knew.  So it meant going back further to find Grandfather’s birth certificate but there were quite a few E. N. Hortons who qualified and so I finished up looking into Great Grandfather’s details in order to be certain I was following the correct person who turned out to be Ernest Newey Horton.

Acquiring certificates is also a costly business if you have a dilemma such as which one to choose when there are 16 Charles Horton’s all around the same birth date and from the same location, which do you send for at around £10 each ?

By this time I was also acquiring some family history to go with the bare B.M.D details and this made me decide to start recording historical notes as I realised that none of my immediate relatives knew anything about the old family firm or the family..

Great Grandfather, Charles B Horton, had a brass casting business in Sheffield.  He also had thirteen children and most of his sons worked in the family firm up to the time of his death.   Great Grandmother (Elizabeth Newey) continued it for a time but eventually several sons broke away to form their own brass casting firms; all this was slowly revealed as the census details step by step showed the changes of addresses and also the changes in family members at the family home over the years .

I had assumed that we were all a Sheffield family steeped in the business of Brass casting and Nickel Silver but as I researched Great Grandfather Charles and his siblings it turned out that they had moved from Aston in Staffordshire and some of the male members of the family were also Harness Makers.  This made me look further back and I found that the trade of Harness Maker was in fact the original trade of Great Great Grandfather John Horton going back to Aston in 1740!  And guess what trade Great Grandfather married into? He married the daughter of a Buckle Maker!

The trail has been long – over ten years –  and as I had used several links were made to other second cousins and their family trees which turned up lots of information on Great Aunts and Uncles I would never have discovered otherwise, several from America .

From the start I used paper files and the main family tree chart has arrows directing viewers to other charts ( 7 of them ) as it is impossible to put all this with the additional families onto one sheet of paper.  With the 8 ( some folding ) charts there is also a photo gallery, the history of the main family business and notes on the family members working at the firm over the years and many of the other members ( mainly daughters ) and their short histories all in a rather thick A 4 binder.

I have attempted to put all this onto a disk using commercial tree software but as each branch of a family is created a new tree is started and it is very difficult to see an overall picture even in the descendent chart format and there is no provision or anywhere far as I could tell to include general notes, so all the historical information had to be split and put into each individual’s personal entry.

I must add that I have used a lot professional help and my thanks go in particular to Jacqui Kirk in her professional guise who has done a tremendous amount of the work necessary to determine the provenance of many of the entries.

Some time ago I told Jacqui that I had finished the tree for once and for all but no  – work still continues – it is true that you have never finished………….