28th January 2007
My reason for visiting Brecon was to find Joe Groom's grave. (You may remember me mentioning Joe a couple of entries ago.) It took a while, but I found the grave. Unfortunately, the gravestone (in the shape of a cross) had been laid down on the ground for safety reasons (it's happening all over the country, but nothing seems to be done in regards to putting things right).
As you can see, the cross is white with two guns crossed over it and a Shropshire Light Infantry cap sat on top. His stone states he was a Regiment Sargeant Major, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has him listed as a Colour Sergeant, so a little more research into that is needed. The grave is a family plot and Joe is buried along with his wife and her family. Each of them are listed on the sides and back of the base of the cross.
If only my Nan was still alive, she would have liked to have visited his grave. After all, if she hadn't have told Dad about Joe then I would never have known that my Great Grandfather Alfred had taken in a lad who would be such a brave man.
Walking through the town we came across a war memorial. J. Groom was listed on it. That means he's on at least 2 war memorials, because he's also on one in his home town in Cheshire.
It's quite exciting when you learn something online, but I don't think anything beats getting out there, doing the work and discovering things for yourself.
25th January 2007
Thursday - 9.15pm : I've got more information on Frank! The Archives are very helpful. I knew he'd died of pneumonia in June 1905 aged 21 and the asylum records also confirm this. The asylum records also state that Frank was admitted in January 1894 from a local workhouse. His condition is given as 'idiocy and epilepsy'. I'm guessing the 'idiocy' was the result of having fits.
I had assumed that Frank's father had sent him to the asylum due to not being able to look after him. Frank's mother had died a few months earlier and Alfred needed to bring in money, while Frank needed looking after. Alfred must have sent him to the workhouse and I assume they thought he would be better off in an asylum. I'm going to have to see if I can look into the workhouse records to see what they say about it.
I wish we had a photo of Frank to go with his information, but Dad didn't even know Frank had existed as Nan (Frank's sister) was only a couple of years old when he died.
I went to the cinema last night. I saw Night At The Museum starring Ben Stiller. Ben is usually good for a laugh and the film certainly lived up to expectations. There is quite a cast supporting Ben... Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson, to name just a few. The start gives you a little background into Ben Stiller's character, but then the film gets moving and the museum comes to life. It's a lighthearted, funny family film. Well worth watching!
One thing bugged me throughout the film. Dick Van Dyke's character was called Cecil, but eveyone kept pronouncing it "See-Sill". Is that how American's pronounce the name? Here it's pronounced "Ses-Sill".
I hadn't been to the cinema since I saw The Devil Wears Prada a few months ago. I haven't rented any films lately either, so I might check out the rental store this weekend and see if there's anything that catches my eye.
20th January 2007
Saturday - 10.25pm : Having a tooth pulled out isn't the nicest of things to have done in the first place, but what happened to my brother this week makes me wonder if he'll ever go for dental work again. He was sat in the dentist's chair and the dentist had the instrument (Tooth pliers? I don't know what they call them) on my brother's tooth trying to pull it out. Only when he pulled the tooth the instrument went into the back of my brothers throat. Ouch! They couldn't do any more work because his throat was bleeding and the blood was in the way (not that he'd want that he'd ever trust that dentist to do any more work in his mouth). They sent my brother home and his throat didn't stop bleeding until sometime during the night. He was not happy!
I've no more news on my Great Uncle Frank, as yet. I haven't have a reply to the email I sent to the archives holding the asylum records, so I'll probably take a day off work sometime and take a look myself.
Somebody I do want to tell you about is a man called Joe Groom. He wasn't family, but he was close enough. Dad tells me Joe was kicked out by his parents and my Great Grandfather Alfred took him in (although I don't know at what age Joe was at the time). As far as I'm aware, Joe joined the Army before World War One.
Joe was in the Shropshire Light Infantry and in 1915 was fighting in Hooge, Belgium. While there, he earned himself a Distinguished Conduct Medal. The London Gazette announced people who had won this prestigious medal and on 15th September 1915 they listed Joe and an account of why he'd been awarded the DCM. It says:
For conspicuous gallantry on the 9th August, 1915, during the attack on the Hooge trenches, when he was ordered to reinforce the captured trenches with a machine gun. In the advance he came under heavy shell fire, the gun was damaged and several of the gun team wounded. Although wounded himself, he bound up his comrades' wounds, returned to Headquarters and reported, and successfully took another gun and team to the firing line.
A well deserved medal, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, Colour Serjeant J Groom DCM died on 7th April 1919. I have yet to find out how/why he died, but his grave is about an hour away from here so Dad & I plan to visit it soon.
13th January 2007
Saturday - 8.45pm : I broke my promise. I promised myself I wouldn't order any more BMD (Birth/Marriage/Death) certificates this month. I couldn't help myself! I've ordered a few more. That's definitely it for this month though. Family history is so addictive. Once you find out something you want to find out more!
Regarding my Great Uncle Frank - I've emailed the records office about the asylum records and I'm waiting to hear back from them. It'll more than likely mean a trip up to the archives in Cheshire, but I'm more than happy to do that. I'd love to know what he was doing there and exactly how long he'd been there before he died.
My parents & I are going to visit Nan & Granddad tomorrow, so I must remember to get Dad to take that 3 generations photo of Nan, Mum and me. Nan invited us around for Sunday lunch (roast chicken), so I'm going to gather some of the family history information I've collected and show it to her.
Talking of food... I can once again eat ice cream! The ice cream is called Swedish Glace and is dairy free! It's also free from cholesterol, gluten, all animal ingredients and genetic modification, as well as being Kosher approved. So it's pretty much an ice cream for anyone! I picked up a tub of vanilla flavour (as that's the only flavour the supermarket had got), but you wouldn't really know the difference between this and your average vanilla ice cream. I can't wait to taste some of the other flavours!
10th January 2007
Wednesday - 10.30pm : Another envelope from the ONS arrived yesterday. At last, Frank's death certificate had arrived! As it happens, his death was registered exactly 75 years (to the day) before my birthday. The certificate confirms he died at the asylum (which is what I had assumed). The cause of death was pneumonia, but under that (but above who the death was certified by) it says "7 days" and then "r.m.". Does anyone know what that means? Did he have pneumonia for 7 days? But what does the "r.m." stand for?
My next step on that trail is to find out exactly why Frank was at the asylum. I know where the asylum records are kept, I just need to get to and search through them.
I wish I had a photo of Frank so I could put a face to this story. Mind you, we might well have a photo of him without knowing it. We have huge amounts of photos, but don't know who everyone is. Dad has a good idea of most of them and I'm recognising more and more faces each time I look at them. Dad didn't even know Frank existed until I found him in census records a few months ago. Mind you, Nan (Frank's sister) was only 2 when he died and the fact that he spent his last years in an asylum means that she probably never met him anyway.
There's such huge age gaps in that side of the family. If you took the average person my age (mid-20s) I wonder just how many generations would take them back to the mid-1800s? In my case I only get back to my Great Grandfather Alfred (following that line of the family). Even Dad didn't get to meet Alfred and he'd lived to a grand old age. I wish I could have really known Dad's parents. They both died when I was young, but again, they had lived into old age.
I have one more certificate on order and that should arrive sometime this week. I've promised myself I won't order anymore until next month. It can get quite expensive. I always pick the expensive hobbies!
8th January 2007
Monday - 10.45pm : An envelope from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) arrived today. The certificates I'd ordered from the General Register Office had arrived... Well, two of them had. Typically, the one I'd most wanted to get my hands on (the death cerificate for Dad's Great Uncle Frank who had spent the last years of his short life in a 'Pauper Lunatic Asylum') hadn't arrived. So I'll just have to wait a little longer for that one.
One of the certificates that arrived was for the marriage of Frank's father Alfred to Mary (My Great Grandparents - Mary was Alfred's second wife and Frank's step-mother). The extra bit of information this gives me (apart from the exact date of the wedding) is Mary's father's name. Previously, all I'd known about Mary is where she was born and that Alfred had found her in a workhouse (how romantic!). In the photo on the left, Alfred is on the left (obviously, since he is the only man in the photo!) and Mary is holding the young child. I'm not sure who the girl between them is, other than I think she's one of Alfred's daughters from his first marriage.
The second certificate was the birth certificate of my Great Grandmother, Annie Sophia. The interesting thing on this certificate (or rather not on the certificate) is that her father's name is missing. Interesting, but slightly annoying as I won't be able to follow her father's line of the family. However, I do know her mother's maiden name and am able to follow that line back. Annie Sophia is on the right in this photo.
Seeing that photo of my mum (she's the baby), Nan (holding the baby), Great Grandmother (on the right) and Great Great Grandmother (on the left) makes me think I should get a photo taken of just me, Mum and Nan. I'll have to take my camera next time I visit Nan & Granddad and get Granddad to take a photo of us three.
My headache has eased, but the tinnitus is still bugging me. It's worse at night as everything is quiet. I suspect the headaches might be because the tinnitus was giving me sleepless nights to start off with, but I seem to be getting used to it.
6th January 2007
Saturday - 9.45pm : I'm impatient. I've ordered a few birth/marriage/death certificates as part of my family tree research. They may not be exciting to anyone else, but I can't wait to see them! I'm particularly interested in the death certificate of a great uncle on Dad's side of the family. He was born in 1885 and is registered as living with his parents in 1891 at the age of 6 (which isn't surprising). He was a patient in a 'Pauper Lunatic Asylum' (listed as an "imbecile from childhood") by the age of 16 and dead by the age of 20. I'm hoping to find out why. I might visit the records centre sometime to see if I can view the asylum records.
Remember when people used to keep hand-written diaries? I know, I know... Some people still do. I always used to start one, but would soon forget. I think the longest I managed to keep one was in 1999. I could tell you what I was doing most weeks of that year... if only I could find my old college diary (it's about here somewhere)! Anyway, I've found a blog which has been written by Ruth Campbell Smith between 1925 and 1927. Her granddaughter discovered her diaries and decided to share them day by day. Carol also adds her own notes to the blog. I'd have loved to have discovered something like that. It's interesting to read about what life was like back then.
It's just a short entry from me tonight. I've had a headache on and off for the past week along with almost constant tinnitus. So I'm not quite "with it" at the moment. Here's hoping it disappears soon!