The start of it all
|1991||Mrs P Hood-Williams |
I checked the phone book for this unusual surname. This was the first letter I wrote and it led to many other discoveries.
|Mrs Sue Jones, Carmarthenshire |
After Sue had introduced the Harris family, she got talking to her mother again and more family recollections came to light. I found lots of old wills, and Sue got these for me from Carmarthen. I found a few more relatives and we chatted over the phone. Sue was very talkative and great fun. I felt rather shy when I was picked up by this glamorous woman when I was 15 on a family holiday in South Wales. Sue took me back to the Jones farmhouse and I saw plenty of old photographs plus the family bible. I remember cats entwining in the raw stillness of the Welsh valley - the ticking of clocks in the deep wooden darkness of Ty'r Wern - house in the marsh. After exchanging excitable notes and phone calls with Sue, it's funny to think that I'm discussing the Harrises with different people in 2005, nearly fifteen years later.
|1992||Annie Powell |
Sue's mother remembered all about the Hynam family. There was only one of the name in the phone book, so I called her up and spoke to Muriel Hynam who said 'I'm the only one left'. Muriel's cousin took charge of the correspondence. She was Annie Powell and knew exactly who was who. I also contacted other Hynam descendants Lilian Cooze and Peter Smith. Peter had very little regarding his grandmother, Harriet Hynam, who had died in her twenties, though he did have a card dating from just before her marriage showing she had seven years' faithful membership of the Girl's Friendly Society.
I found Tom in the phone book but only after reading the will of his aunt Miss May Harris who my grandfather remembered very well. Grandpa never mentioned Tom, but said 'oh I know who he was' when I described him fifty years later. My Dad drove us down to Topsham where we sat in a holiday caravan ruminating about Tom's boyhood and a Welsh growing-up, on the Exe estuary.
|1995||Kay Francis |
I found out that Herbert Cadogan Francis was as famous as his brother Thomas Francis, Jr., who was involved with the Salk polio vaccine trials. The last known address for Kay's husband Herbert was Nashville, and I found a number there for Kay, ringing from the callbox down the road from my parents, opposite the 7/11.
|Annette Cravens, Buffalo, New York |
Sue and I were desperate to find any more of the American Francises. Sue found Tom Francis III in Honolulu and I was put in touch with Mildred Lockwood Lacey's daughter, Annette Cravens, by the kind people at the University of Buffalo Library. Many others leads had failed.
|Adrian Uren |
I had finished doing a month of lambing on the border of Herefordshire and Powys, so I called in on Sue Farmer in the middle of Powys. They were between shows - I remember Sue poking the fire at the cottage half way up the hill on the old drove road to Birmingham. I climbed the little hill at Vaynor where Thomas Francis's parents had married in 1834, before heading down to Morriston. Adrian and the Urens were very friendly and I ended up meeting Annie Powell also. She knew Ted Uren straight away: 'you're Mildred's son', she said.
I believe it was Tom Davies who gave me the address of Glenys. She was like the narrator of the Harris family, as she'd been there right when Thomas Francis sailed to the US, and also documented the four generations of women in Morriston in 1934. I also had a letter from her older brother Hedley, the retired headmaster. They'd recently met and spent a meal 'putting the world to rights'.
I speak to Edward on the phone and he sends me a photograph of Edward Harris, Margaret his wife and their eight children. It is a lovely photograph.
|1996||Edward Harvey Martin,
It took ages to get a breakthrough in the Martin family. I had an address for the widow of Howard Martin, and his brother Edward answered the letter. He put me in touch with Brian.
|1997||David Knapman |
I receive letters from Charles Heinson, David Knapman, Albert Lowe and Douglas and Marilyn Knapman, descendants of Albert and Kate Lowe.
I was lucky enough to meet Brian and talk to him for some time on the phone about the Martin family. He is a descendant of Lavinia Martin. I met him in September 1997 and he made sense of this branch of the family. He died a few months later. He would have been glad of the eventual devolution of Wales. He told me straight away that Wales had a dictator - in the shape of the Secretary of State, William Hague.
|1998||Roy Blewett |
I meet Roy Blewett at his home in Illogan. He is a descendant of William Blewett by his second marriage to Mary Harvey. William had earlier married Elizabeth Rodda and there is a letter written which mentions 'the newly-weds' of 1850. Six years later, Roy sent me William's photograph. I remember him strongly from the phrase 'to whose care and gardenship I do commit to William Blewett my son in law'.
|Sue Jones |
I meet Sue Jones again for the first time in six years. We have tea in a Llandeilo shop and try to remember our earlier researches from those years before. I'm ready to meet her mother, Doris Hanney. Finally I meet the lady who knew them all, tutor of my grandfather, friend of Mildred Lockwood Lacey. It felt like I'd passed all the messengers and gatekeepers to get to meet her, the lady born in 1902. She kept the photo of her with Prince Charles buried behind the ones of her family. 'All the grandchildren turned out to make very good parents', she said. She mentions members of the family who had passed on seventy years before.
|2000||Elizabeth Capper and Sybil
These were grandchildren of Louisa and Lizzie Hynam who had both married into the Mitchell family. I found their address from probate records and both filled in missing pieces about the Mitchells. They were both priests living in Swansea.
|Joyce Herbert |
Joyce was a granddaughter of William Harris Taylor and I found her after quite a bit of searching.
There's a Christmas card from Marie Dickson who provides the idea for the website.