Apr 072021
 

We have reached the fifth of our interviews with members of the Society for One-Place Studies! After last week’s visit to Australia and our chat with Jennifer Jones (Axedale OPS), this week we return to England. Our guest is someone who has not one but two one-place studies, one well-established (Rillington) and the other quite new (Thorpe Bassett, adjacent to Rillington in North Yorkshire). Please welcome Pam Smith!

Let’s kick off in the usual way, with a fun or interesting fact about yourself.

I love brass band music – marching or seated! Childhood days spent with my paternal mining grandparents in South Yorkshire. Think ‘Brassed Off’ and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Also my maternal great grandfather was a band major in the army.

What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

Professional genealogy took me to Rillington taking images of the community for overseas clients and I subsequently became hooked on the simplicity of the village and its history. To cut a long story short, I founded a local history group with three other residents and the voyage of discovery progressed further and faster as personal reminiscence and testimony filled in the gaps between the records.

When did you start your one-place studies?

Rillington commenced in 2004 and the latest is Thorpe Bassett in 2020 during the lockdown gap last summer.

As someone with lots of OPS experience, what advice would you give to those starting out now?

Don’t rush it. Consider what you want to get out of it first. Why did it develop where it did? Is it a population study including migration? A series of house histories? Or topics such education, poverty, religion, transport, trades? Or all of the above and more. Do one thing and do it well, remembering to record source citations for every event and fact so it is ready for when you publish your book!

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourites and why?

How long have you got?!

My preference is record linkage between several sets of records and here are four  of my favourites:

  • Hearth Tax returns and parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial to discover more about the social context of the place in the Restoration Period.
  • Tithe Map and Apportionment Schedule and the 1841/1851 census – using these names and properties can be connected by where they lived in Victorian times.
  • Valuation Office Survey 1910 and the 1911 census to link names to properties together with a description of the building in Edwardian times.
  • The 1939 Register and the National Farm Survey 1941-43 are especially valuable for a rural study which contains many farms at the time of World War II.

All with as many maps and old postcards as you can muster.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

There are so many so I’ll share the most recent! Discovering that Hugh de Menyll had joined the Crusades in 1276 after laying ‘violent hands’ on Robert de Okham, the first Rector of Rillington.

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

Background information is the first step.

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

That would be Enos Piercy, tailor 1823-1905 – a much loved churchwarden (for 60 years!), sexton and organist for St. Andrews Church. The stories he would have told! He would have known everyone and everything and had a starring central role in village life.

A random question: What is your favourite animal?

Cats – their combined daft antics and independence mirror my own personality.

Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting as Covid-related restrictions are lifted?

To get back to the archives! This year I’m studying the Diploma in Genealogy at the IHGS, Canterbury while focussing the portfolio element on my One-Place Study. The Borthwick Institute for Archives, the Special Collections Research Centre, Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds and East Riding Archives are on my list.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Pam, and sharing insights from one-place studies old and new!


Photos supplied by Pam Smith.

Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member? Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton

Mar 312021
 

Welcome to the fourth in this series of interviews with members of the Society for One-Place Studies! Last week we travelled to America to hear from Eric White (Richmond, Maine OPS) and this week we are on the move again, to Australia. Please give a warm welcome to Jennifer Jones, who is carrying out the one-place study of Axedale in Victoria.

I am nothing if not consistent, so I will begin by asking you to tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.

We live in a fairly isolated area, in Central Victoria, surrounded by National Park. Our house is entirely off the grid, which means we have no power connected to our house. Power is supplied from solar panels and batteries. For those days when sunshine is rare, we have a generator to provide power. Contrary to what people think about this type of life style, we are able to have all the usual mod cons.

What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

I have been interested in starting a One Place Study for many years, but couldn’t decide on a place. When I moved to Axedale, I knew it was the Place that I had been looking for. I have no family or family history connection there, but from the moment I moved there, I felt a connection. I no longer live there but still live fairly close by, and feel that connection through my OPS. Finding the stories and building up a picture of the people who lived there in a particular time, keeps me interested.

When did you start your OPS?

I started my one place study in 2014. There have been a few periods over that time, when I’ve had to put the study into hiatus, due to work commitments.

Tell us a little bit about your OPS research and what you are concentrating on at the moment.

As I’ve had a few gaps along the way, I would still say I am in the beginning stages of my One Place Study. Due to Covid I haven’t been able to do any hands on research, so for the past year I have been mainly recording Axedale burials and stories of the people taken from newspapers.

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourites and why?

I love using Trove, which contains collections of newspapers, magazines and much much more. It’s an entirely free service which is an added bonus. I’m looking forward to being able to get back to the Public Records Office of Victoria which is an archive of government records.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

There are many old bluestone buildings around Axedale, which are still in good condition and beautiful, but until I started my One Place Study, I didn’t realise the quality of the bluestone or its importance to the development of Axedale. While researching, I have found many reports that the bluestone from Axedale is of excellent quality and considered the best bluestone in Australia. Some say there is no better bluestone anywhere in the world. This is little known amongst locals and caused quite a bit of interest when I published an article on the OPS blog.

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

Trove for newspapers and photos

Public Record Office Victoria for passenger lists, wills, inquests, land records and more

Royal Historical Society of Victoria for Victorian history and heritage

Birth Deaths and Marriages Victoria

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I would like to talk to Napthali Ingram who lived in Axedale in the 19th century and was the owner of the bluestone quarry and the Quarry Hotel. I’m sure he would have many stories to tell about his business and also about the locals. The Quarry Hotel is a landmark of Axedale and I’m sure has seen many interesting times.

A random question: Vegemite – love it or hate it?

An every day food. Love it!

Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting when Covid-related restrictions are over?

Firstly, I’m looking forward to going to Queensland to visit my son and grandchildren. I would love to do a research trip to Scotland, when international travel is allowed. In relation to my one place study, I’m looking forward to more chats with locals about the history of Axedale and their lives.

Thank you for talking to us Jennifer, and for those who might be wondering, Vegemite is like Marmite (made from yeast extract) but is, according to The Culture Trip website, “more intensely gobsmacking”.


Photos supplied by Jennifer Jones.

Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member? Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton

Mar 242021
 

I hope you enjoyed last week’s ‘Q and A’ session with Lucy Sarson (The Crescent, Taunton, OPS)! For the third of our series of interviews with Society members, we have crossed the Atlantic and called upon Eric White, who last year started his one-place study of Richmond, in Maine, USA.

You know by now how this is going to start! Please share a fun or interesting fact about yourself.

My wife and I have a 13 year old West Highland terrier. He’s doing great for his age, beyond being mostly blind and deaf. We recently got a second dog – a two year old Chihuahua mix in the hopes that the younger dog would bring a little life into the older pup. So far the Chihuahua seems to be taking his cues from his older brother. Now we have two dogs who sleep the day away!

What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

I’ve researched my family history for about seven years. One branch of my tree moved from Massachusetts to a small town in Maine in the early 19th century. The more I study that branch of the family, the more closely they seem to have been intertwined with the community.

When did you start your OPS?

I started the research for my OPS in the summer of 2020 during the COVID-related restrictions. I had been toying with the idea for a while, but was unsure how to really get started.

Tell us about your first steps – what are you concentrating on in the early stages of your research?

My family history research gave me a general familiarity with Richmond, Maine. I started the more dedicated study of the town itself by creating my own transcription of the 1850 census. It includes 2,057 residents within the town with information about their professions, age, gender, race, place of birth, value of real estate, if they were married within the year, if they attended school, and more. I hope to be able to sort and analyze the data to get a snapshot of the town, and then eventually see how it changes over time once I create a transcription of the 1860 census.

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourites and why?

So far my favorite records are newspaper records. I love the way that a single newspaper clipping can add so much depth to a study that might begin with censuses and vital records. Recently I have also discovered copies of letters from and to residents of Richmond that provide another glimpse into the life of the town.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

Since I am relatively new to this research, my ‘wow’ moment is still realizing just how much I can add to my family history research through my OPS. That epiphany is still dawning on me as I flesh out my OPS.

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

I start with the census records and city directories on Ancestry. Next I explore newspapers on newspapers.com, genealogybank.com, newspaperarchive.com, and chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. The resource that I think can be most overlooked are the smaller archives. Nearby museums, libraries, and universities can have a wealth of forgotten records. But sometimes it is helpful to cast a wider net as well – I finally tracked down an important record related to my Richmond, Maine OPS in a theology library 1,200 miles away in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

When I perfect the quantum flinghopper on my time machine, I plan to have a wide-ranging conversation with my third great-grandfather, Marshall Spring Hagar. He was the first of the Hagars to move to Richmond and quickly became a leading figure during his 2+ decades there. I think that I have just scratched the surface of his many business pursuits and adventures.

Wishing you all the best with that quantum flinghopper Eric! Now, a random question: What was the last book you read?

Right now I am reading Ships, Swindlers, and Scalded Hogs: The Rise and Fall of the Crooker Shipyard in Bath, Maine by Frederic B. Hill. Bath is a close neighbor to my OPS. Richmond, Maine was a shipbuilding town in the mid-19th century, but it was only a fraction of the size of Bath. I've taken a ton of notes on local history items that I need to follow up on to see how they impacted Richmond. But the last book that I have finished reading was Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune. I’m in a two person book club with my nephew. We are working our way through the entire Riordan catalogue.

Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting when Covid-related restrictions are over?

Not related to my OPS, but one of my big trips post-COVID will be to Egypt and probably a Greek isle or two. I’d also like to visit Scotland sometime soon as well.

Thank you Eric for being our third interview guest, and our first from America!


Photos supplied by Eric White.

Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member?  Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton

Mar 172021
 

It’s time for the second of our series of interviews with Society members, following on from our chat with Julie Groom (Long Buckby Wharf OPS) last week. Completely Covid-compliant, this interview has been conducted by email.

This week’s special guest is Lucy Sarson, who is carrying out the one-place study (or street study) of The Crescent in Taunton, Somerset, England.

I’m going to start with the dreaded ice-breaker again – tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself!

I learnt to dance with Anton du Beke before he was famous!

The wrong one became famous! What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

I started doing a One Name Study on my surname, Sarson, in 2016. I really enjoyed doing this research and my partner suggested considering doing some research on a local street to me. So I walked around the area where I live in Taunton, considered different aspects such as the residences, other significant buildings nearby such as places of worship, public houses, other social amenities and decided on The Crescent. It is an interesting street nearby to where I now live and I thought that its proximity and the Georgian style of the buildings would see some interesting families and their stories being discovered.

When did you start your OPS?

I started in Spring 2018 and joined the Society for One-Place Studies in July 2020.

Tell us about your first steps – what are you concentrating on in the early stages of your research?

I began my research by focussing on collating the census records for number 1 The Crescent, and investigating each family methodically, using a range of different records and resources, which gave me a good basis to start blogging my study. I have now collated and transcribed all the census records onto a spreadsheet from number 2 to 22 The Crescent, ready to work down the street!

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourite(s) and why?

Census returns, trade directories from the University of Leicester website and the British Newspaper Archive. These three record sets can give a good overview of families in an OPS before investigating individuals in families in more extensive records around key life events.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

I have only researched one house of the 22 which are on The Crescent. However, I very much enjoyed learning about the very first family I researched, the Lewis family of 1 The Crescent. Josiah Lewis (1845 - 1915) was a very prominent business man, a tailor with a shop in North Street, Taunton, who became Mayor of Taunton in 1904/5, was a trustee of the committee who established the town’s public library, a committed Baptist Christian along with being a freemason, a member of the local YMCA and a Justice of the Peace. His wife, Ellen Norah, supported her husband’s community efforts actively as well as raising 9 children and looking after a household and overseeing the work of housemaids. It was interesting to piece together a timeline of his works from the British Newspaper Archives, although I have not yet detailed all this on my blog, I hope to create a section on my work-in-progress website of newspaper articles relating to The Crescent’s families or which mention The Crescent.

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

The British Newspaper Archive, the South West Heritage Trust’s online archives catalogue and Historic Environment Record (HER) for Somerset, DiscoverEverAfter.com for burial information in Taunton cemeteries, online Historical Directories from the University of Leicester website, and planning applications on local council websites – they are awesome and detailed sources of information.

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

Josiah & Ellen Norah Lewis to understand more about them, their motivations in serving their community in such an extensive way and what it felt like going from living in a poor rural community of agricultural labourers in Wincanton to being Mayor & Mayoress of Taunton.

A random question: which country is your dream holiday destination?

I love to visit cities and explore their historical places. I have visited Italy & the Czech Republic in recent years. I am also looking forward to visiting the Caribbean one day!

Which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting when Covid-related restrictions are over?

Rugby, where my family now mainly live, Cornwall, which is a place I love to visit for long weekends with my partner, and London, to see friends and go to the theatre again!

And finally, I believe you have something else you would like to tell us?

Yes! My partner and I are happy to take photographs around the Taunton area for folks who have links here, particularly of headstones – they would need to find a plot number on DiscoverEverAfter.com and let us know the details. Also when the Somerset Heritage Centre reopens, we are hoping to visit monthly and could photograph a few documents for people; for this a document number from the catalogue would be needed.

Thank you Lucy for being our second interview guest, and thanks to both you and your partner for the photos of you in your one-place study and the kind offer you have just made!


Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member?  Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton

Mar 102021
 

Welcome to the first of a series of interviews with Society members, conducted by means of a list of questions emailed to our interviewees. My hope is that these interview posts will help us get to know each other and our studies better, share a few tips and insights, and have little fun in the process.

And now, a warm welcome please for our first guest, Julie Groom, who conducts the Long Buckby Wharf one-place study in Northamptonshire, England.

Let’s start with the dreaded ice-breaker – tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself!

I once completely stripped down a Mini, taking it back to a bare shell, prior to it being welded and resprayed.

Cool! What got you interested in one-place studies – and what keeps you interested?

My interest in a one place study started with realising I was indirectly related to a large amount of the residents, and a couple of my direct ancestors were land/property owners there.

When did you start your OPS?

I properly started a year ago, at the beginning of 2020.

If you were starting your OPS now, with the benefit of hindsight what (if anything) would you do differently?

My first steps were to hoover up ALL the information. In hindsight, a terrible mistake! Now I’m trying to concentrate on finding the stories, one at a time, with researching particular buildings as a side project.

Of all the different types of records you use for your one-place study, which are your favourite(s) and why?

Favourite records are probably the parish records, luckily for me all digitised at Ancestry. Although the wills are amazing for discovering previously unknown links between people.

What has been your favourite OPS discovery or ‘wow!’ moment?

One of my favourite discoveries, which took ages to verify, was that indeed all the Thompsons are related which means I’m indirectly related to even more Wharf residents! And finding out which local landowner was responsible for there not being a railway station at the Wharf. (Richard Worster who was a partner in a canal carrying company – didn’t want the competition!)

The canal at Long Buckby Wharf by Julie’s late uncle
Gerald Groom, used with Julie’s kind permission

Name your go-to websites for one-place study research – or tell us about some brilliant online OPS resources which you think are overlooked

Ancestry first and foremost because of the parish records, FindMyPast for nearby parish records (my people can also be found in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, and down to Hertfordshire) and newspapers, FreeREG, Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, Google Books, Google Maps, NLS maps, British History Online, and Geograph for pictures.

If you could go back in time and meet someone from your one-place study, who would it be and what would you talk about?

My 2x great grandparents Edward Groom and Elizabeth Thompson, and Elizabeth’s father and grandfather, both named John. I’d like to know everything! How Elizabeth managed without modern conveniences and healthcare, how did either of the Johns end up owning property, what day to day life was like.

A random question: what music do you listen to while researching and writing your OPS?

Bizarrely I listen to Celtic music while researching and writing about my place in Northants!

And finally, which places – related to your OPS research or otherwise – are you most looking forward to visiting when Covid-related restrictions are over?

One day I’d love to be able to get up to Northants and actually visit the Wharf (I’m in Dorset, it’s a bit far for a day trip), and Long Buckby, and the Northamptonshire Archives.

Thank you Julie for being our first interviewee and getting the ball rolling!


Would you like to occupy the hotseat and take part in a future interview as a Society member?  Let me know and I will send a set of questions winging its way to you by email.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator, Society for One-Place Studies
One-placer for Fawsley and Waters Upton