Little Discoveries, Bigger Picture…

I dabble in genealogy and suddenly remembered tonight that Find My Past had offered free access to their newspaper archives over the long weekend. There wasn’t time left for any major research, so I contented myself with a slightly manic and unstructured search for a few close family members and dug out a few nice bits and pieces to flesh out the names on the family tree.

Searching for maternal granddad (who ran off with the opera!) threw up my lovely aunt’s birth announcement just in time for me to send it to her on her 80th birthday, which pleased me greatly.

I also added to the story of his touring the country with Carl Rosa and other companies, with a number of adverts and reviews. These were mostly for Lilac Time, in which he played Schubert (to good reviews) ‘Cav & Pag’, and a new one on me, the 1947 Follies. I am not sure if that is him or another singer/entertainer of the same name. A little more work needed… I was chuffed to find a couple of good reviews and one with a photograph – awful reproduction but still nice to see. I think he also sang as part of The Imperial Trio, and discovered him in amateur theatre in Halifax. I had a brief frisson of excitement when I found him singing oratorios around the chapel circuits with a Joan Hammond, but that was short-lived; ‘a’, not ‘the’ Joan Hammond!

I checked out great-granddad Marsden and found short accounts of his death and funeral in 1950; these provided the trivia that add up to help complete a picture of a person, including his 50+ years as a greengrocer, which I knew, and his membership of the Bowling Club, which I didn’t.

A great-aunt’s efforts on behalf of the chapel and missionary societies started early, I discovered from her Sunday School collected donation. I found various successes of mum and dad’s, from a grammar school scholarship for dad to RSA exams and Grade VII piano for my mum. I still have her Pitman teaching certificate – about the size of a duvet cover and impressively florid!

I found the online version of an article about dad’s appointment to the Colonial Service in Nigeria that sits as a cutting in an album with dad’s angry scribbled note ‘I didn’t say any of that stuff – the reporter must have read it somewhere and just stuck it in!’ ‘That stuff’ referred to a custom of teeth filing (presumably picked as suitably ‘exotic’) and attributed vaguely and inaccurately to the Houssa (sic) in Northern Nigeria. I also came across another paper’s very short version which despatched my dad summarily to Tanganyika along with the other Yorkshire candidate who actually was going there!

That’s all for now folks; you were warned that this is a very random blog!

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