Apr 192021
 

February’s blogging and social media prompt was a tough one. #OnePlaceTragedies was not a topic for everyone understandably, especially given the current worldwide situation. The posts that have been shared are very moving, and show how a tragedy can affect both the community and the place. Many thanks to everyone who felt able to write a post for this prompt.

To bring some light into the darkness of the tragedies, a bonus prompt of #OnePlaceJoys was introduced to add a little levity and happiness. I’m going to include both prompts in this round-up, just so we’re not swamped with misery and grimness.

This post is part one of a round-up of those stories, set out in alphabetical order of place name.

Aldenham in Hertfordshire, England (Dave Annal)

The story behind the stone. The dangers of playing on a frozen pond, and the headstone recording the deaths of 3 children and their mother in 1880 that led to the story being discovered.

Axedale in Victoria, Australia (Jennifer Jones)

Axedale - Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Fatal Accident at Axedale 1886. Farmer James Conroy fell over the culvert at Axe Creek, after spending a few hours in the local Perseverance Hotel.

Deaths of Two Children 1874. Newspaper reports of two unrelated babies who died a day apart.

A #OnePlaceJoys post on the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

Railway Disaster Inquest 1900 and Disaster: New Years Day Excursion to Axedale Station 1900. ‘A shocking railway fatality’ when a vehicle was crossing the railway line when it was hit by a train carrying children on a Sunday School outing.

Badingham and Cransford in Suffolk, England (Elizabeth Walne)

One-Place Tragedy. School mistress Annie Backhouse came from Bradford originally, and came to Badingham to teach around 65 children. The open fire in the schoolroom was the cause of her death, horrifically over 2 months after the accident.

Batley in Yorkshire, England (Jane Roberts)

A St Mary’s School Sensation. Rumours abound about the sudden death of 12 year old John Woodhead – was it pneumonia or did the school teacher strike him?

Hidden Behind a Name. William Townsend or McManus? A very well researched tale of William’s life and death in service on 2 March 1916 at the Somme.

Bledlow in Buckinghamshire, England (Julia Wynn)

Bledlow Tragedy. The brutal murder of farmer John Kingham, and the ensuing court case. Who was responsible for his death?

East Lulworth in Dorset, England (Martin White)

@EastLulworth Moses Roberts, 33, a carpenter, was sadly killed at East Lulworth on 29 Dec 1848. He was cleaning out Brand’s new oven when the arch fell on him.

Great Ellingham in Norfolk, England (Heather Etteridge)

Horseplay in the Village after School Board Election with Fatal Consequences. A simple trapping of his hand in a trap (cart) led to lockjaw and death for labourer Charles Halls. The trap was being used to drag the clerk of the School Board round the village in an unusual local tradition.

Long Buckby Wharf in Northamptonshire, England (Julie Groom)


The canal at Long Buckby Wharf - Photo courtesy of Julie Groom

This is my study and with a canal and a railway, I unfortunately had far too many tragedies to choose from. I have added some #OnePlaceJoys to balance it out.

A double funeral. My great great grandparents Edward and Elizabeth Groom.

#OnePlaceJoys A sumptuous repast... Brewery employees are treated to a sumptuous repast in celebration of their Director’s marriage.

Sad fatality at Long Buckby. 2 young children were drowned in the brook and had an unexpected tribute paid to them.

#OnePlaceJoys Local success... a local chap won prizes at the Crystal Palace International Poultry Show.

Stanley Major. The youngest of the family, Stanley was the third  Major lad to die while in the service of the Army.

#OnePlaceJoys Daventry Horticultural and Floral Society  The young ladies of the Wharf took the prizes for best device in cut flowers.

Sudden death from apoplexy. Eli Marriott’s sudden death left a widow and 8 children berefit.

#OnePlaceJoys Harvest Thanksgiving. The first Harvest celebration in the new Mission Church.

Accident on the London and Birmingham Railway. Blacksmith John Tilley was killed by a train near the Wharf.


Part two of the round-up coming shortly!

Julie Groom
One-placer for Long Buckby Wharf

Apr 142021
 

After quizzing Pam Smith (Rillington OPS and Thorpe Bassett OPS) last week, today we head further north. Our destination is North Walls and Brims, Hoy, Orkney, and our interviewee is Society member Jane Harris, who conducts the one-place study of that location.

We start once more by asking for a fun or interesting fact about our guest – what have you got for us?

Huw Stephens, former Radio 1 DJ, is one of my former (French) pupils.

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

I studied the 1861 census population of North Walls and Brims for my project on the Strathclyde University postgraduate genealogy certificate and I’ve never really left those people behind. My father, who dearly loved his native island, died while I was working on the project so it’s partly a tribute to him too. What keeps me going? My own curiosity and the handful of folk who supply me with random fascinating information from time to time.

When did you start your one-place study?

I finished the initial project in 2009 and have moved on from there in fits and starts.

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

If I were starting again, I’d be collecting memories and photos as fast as I could; so much is disappearing. Then I’d be making them available to stimulate more recollections. I’d also have a good look at the different software offerings to see what would enable me to make the best use of time and reduce the notebooks and bits of paper.

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

That’s a hard one. Censuses, obviously, as that was my starting point and also because they give a snapshot overview as well as fascinating detail. Kirk Session records too – I have an index for the years when they record more than just Church business – from membership details to morality cases, there’s a lot there. I’m fortunate that the local newspaper, The Orcadian, reported in some detail the proceedings of the Crofters’ Commission (later Scottish Land Court) so a much less common source. The almost-verbatim records give voice to crofters applying for a rent reduction with detail on how long they had been in the croft, what they, and often their fathers or grandfathers had done to improve it, as well as little on economic conditions sometimes. There’s humour as well, like my great grandfather’s answer when asked what other income or work he had: “What do you expect a man of 75 to do?” The application records survive but they lack the colour of the hearings’ reports.

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

As I said, I started off with the 1861 population of North Walls and Brims, so making the connection between one of them and people I knew or knew about is quite exciting. Rather surprising really for someone who as a child found adult conversations very boring with all the “Wasn’t she a sister of...” and “Didn’t he marry...”. Ah well, age catches up with us all.

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

ScotlandsPeople, ScotlandsPlaces, National Library of Scotland Maps and The Statistical Accounts of Scotland 1791-1845 (far more than statistics) for a start. An overlooked site? Maybe HistPop, I’ve found it very useful for context for my place: census reports for the whole of Scotland (and England and Wales), breakdown of statistics by county and so on; Registrar General’s annual reports for Scotland as well as for England and Wales; legislation and more. The site is often “busy” but there is an alternative.

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’d try and kill two birds with one stone so it would be Hugh Rosie or Ross, my x2 great grandfather. I’d want to know when exactly his family moved from Stroma, Caithness, to North Walls and why (was it the clampdown on smuggling?); how did life in North Walls compare with life in Stroma; what changes did he see in the 55 or so years he lived in North Walls, did life get any easier. I’d also want to get the exact locations of some of the crofts that have now disappeared.

Your random question is: What was the last book you read?

Seven Sacred Spaces by George Lings.

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

The local ScotlandsPeople hub!! Orkney, France, any Scandinavian country.

Thank you Jane for telling us about yourself and your one-place study with some great answers to our questions!


Photos supplied by Jane Harris.

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

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