In the beginning was the Word. And the word was… ‘curious’. Well either that or ‘inquisitive’. Took me a while to decide which was best, but anyway, you get the idea. I was trying to think of why I do what I do – all this researching and writing. And I decided it’s because I’m generally curious about… stuff. I want to know why things are the way they are. And I don’t mean in a basic philosophical way – all that ‘what’s the meaning of life’ and ‘why are we here’ stuff just doesn’t do it for me. I always thought those cocky, intellectual philosophy dudes at uni were really wasting time. Perhaps for them it was fun, but for me it wasn’t; maybe I just felt intimidated by their intelligence.
Anyway, whatever it was, I am interested in life in terms of people; I’m curious about what makes them tick, how events unfold and the issue of conincidence versus kismet; ‘synchronicity’, as my great auntie Gwen says. So that’s why I do all my genealogical research, not just because I want to know where I come from, but because I want to know how people’s lives unfold. So I do other people’s genealogy too, unravel the mystery, like a detective.
At the moment I’m trying to find out the details of an Irish ancestor, born 1857 or thereabouts, who went to live in Carlisle (in England, right near the border of Scotland). He went to America, apparently to Detroit, Michigan, in the late 1880s and had two children there with his wife – I can’t even work out where they were married, perhaps it was even on board the boat! The family then returned to Carlisle, two kids in tow, and had another two there, then this guy apparently went back to America without his wife and children and never returned. By 1915, according to his son’s marriage certificate, he had died. There are some odd things about this guy. He is shown as a Blast Furnace Foreman on a couple of different records, but on the marriage certificate, where he’s listed as deceased, he’s shown as a Master Hairdresser (whatever that is!) I wonder if he reinvented himself when he returned to the US alone. Did he remarry? Did he have other children? And now I have evidence to suggest he went back and forth between the US and Carlisle in 1895, fathering children with his wife either side of that trip, both born in the UK.
The other mystery I’m keen to solve is that of my ggg grandfather, who was born about 1828 in Shoreditch, east London, UK. He married, had a few children, and then died suddenly in 1880, at the age of 52. Even for those days, this was fairly young. When I got his death certificate, I was intrigued to discover the cause of death was ‘violent fracture of the skull – accidental’. He was a bricklayer, so perhaps a brick fell on his head. Or maybe he fell off a building site. The certificate mentions an inquest was done at the time, but I’m yet to find records of it. His wife and youngest son (my gg grandfather), who was eight when his father was killed, seemed to disappear – they were nowhere in the 1881 census. Out of desperation I eventually checked the 1881 Scotland census, only to find the mother and son living in Edinburgh, working as servants in the house of some grand-sounding widow and his bachelor son. Why did they go to Scotland from east London – it was a long way in 1880! Could it be that there was some family connection there? Is that why my great grandfather’s middle name was McDonald? Or is it connected to the mother of this bricklayer ggg grandfather, who I suspect was Scottish? How I find this out, I really don’t know. But it fascinates me!
So when is a blog over? Whenever I choose, I suppose. Curiosity didn’t kill this kat… or at least it hasn’t yet!