Six degrees of separation
I have been totally engrossed in doing family research this week, not just my family but I have been working on a tree for a friend. It's true to say I have been surprised, amazed and shocked by what I have discovered this week so will try to record a little here on my blog.
Firstly it's worth noting that it's only six months ago I upgraded my membership of the site to a worldwide subscription and am very pleased I did. The USA records contain much more information than are available on UK censuses. In the UK we have the 100 year rule which means we'll have to wait until January 2022 to be able to view the 1921 census. Of course the 1939 register is available but many records remain closed for people born less than 100 years ago until proof of death is verified. Searching for information in the 20th century can be very frustrating. Anyway the USA records are much more useful in tracing family members.
Not directly my family but I discovered the husband of a niece of a 4th cousin born in 1917 in Yorkshire. I found him on the 1939 register but struggled to find his birth until I realised he was illegitimate and must have been adopted by his mother's new husband. He emigrated at the age of 29 and married shortly after arriving in America. It was from US records that I found his wife's name, his mother's maiden name and the names of his siblings all born and living in the UK. What I then found surprising was at the age of 80 he was convicted of killing his wife but found to be mentally ill when he drowned her. Annoyingly when I tried to access a website to read about the case I was blocked from doing so by GDPR rules because we're in a country belonging to the EEA including the EU. OK, I accept that our privacy is important.
Now for the amazing. The tree I'm building for my friend unfortunately didn't produce the information she was initially looking for but she was still interested to find out about the paternal side of her family. I'd already discovered some distant cousins of my own living in the area she lives in some seventy five miles away. I'd confidently discovered my friend's great grandfather but going back another generation I discovered her great great grandfather married to a lady with a surname that seemed familiar in my own family tree. Back to my own tree I looked again at the 1851 census and my distant cousin was newly married living with his in-laws and his wife's younger sister who went on to marry my friend's great great grandfather just seven years later. Although my friend and I aren't directly related what are the chances of that happening. A really lovely online friend who I've only met in person a couple of times when she comes camping in my next of the woods. Methinks she should take a DNA test as there is a remote possibility we could actually be related :-)
As I continued to branch out on my friend's family tree I discovered a shocking case at the end of Queen Victoria's reign. Life was grim anyway but I read the story of a man who earned good money as a bricklayer but used to drink away his wages. His boss would sub him money so he took home very little money on pay days. His two year old daughter died of starvation just half the body weight of a normal child. Her father was found drunk in bed with the body of his dead child and his emaciated wife who died several days later herself. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to fifteen months in prison with hard labour, not nearly a tough enough sentence in my opinion The details of the case are in newspaper cuttings which made for very upsetting reading. The remaining children were taken into care and the baby of the family went on to marry my friend's great aunt.
So following all that computer screen time this week I will be doing something different this weekend. On a rare day out this week I bought a couple of tins of paint and two rolls of wallpaper to freshen up our bedroom now that the en-suite room has been refitted. Just plain wallpaper, no matching necessary, paste the wall not the paper so shouldn't be too much of a challenge. It won't even be worth a photo when it's finished as it's all very beige like the curtains and carpet and me :)