The Genealogy Series: The Plummer’s Of The Weald: A Butler And A Gentleman.

I admit, I have been a bit distracted lately.  Life has taken over and it has been very hectic, which has interrupted any hopes of completing crafting projects.  In the midst of all the chaos, I made a huge break through when it comes to my British ancestry.  Through various Google searches, I discovered a website called The Weald.  The Weald is named after an area in England, South of London that encompasses the counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey. The website focuses on this heavily forested, historic area and includes genealogical information on British families from the region.  I reached out to the webmaster via e-mail and he was gracious enough to provide information on relatives going back several generations for the surnames Plummer and Long.  Both of my families surnames originated in the Sussex area.  Today,  I focus on the Plummer surname and family line.  The Plummer’s originated in ancient Anglo-Saxon culture.  It was a surname originally bestowed upon someone who worked with Plumes, or feathers.  It is my Great-Grandmother’s maiden name on my Mother’s Father’s side of the family.

There are very few items around our house that I would call “priceless” As a family historian there is nothing more precious than old family pictures, and documents. One of the most precious documents is my great-grandfather and great grandmother’s wedding certificate and photo album.  My great-grandparents married in The Christ Church in Tunbridge Wells in November of 1905.  This document was passed down in my family and offered many clues that helped me get started with my family research.  It listed the names of my Great, Great Grandfather’s and their occupations.  Henry Long a Coachman and William Plummer a butler.

Plummer, Long Wedding Cert 1905

William Plummer was born in about 1835 in Shottisham, Norfolk England to parents William Plummer Sr, and Mary Plummer (Maiden name currently unknown) Not much is known regarding William’s childhood.  On November 1, 1859 he married Martha Flood in Norfolk, England.  They went on to have 12 children: William, Laura, Maria, James, John, Ruth, George, Benjamin, Ellen, Ethel, Alice, and Daisy.    William supported a rather large family as a butler.  In England wealthy and even some middle class families had servants.  The butler was the most prestigious occupation among servants and was often considered a position of “respect”.  Although the traditional role of butler was to tend to the wine cellar, they had many other responsibilities around the household and oversaw the Servant staff.  Traditionally the butler and master had a solid relationship and friendship, and would often share a drink at the end of the evening.  The butler was the most trusted of all household servants and carried the most responsibility.  In many cases, entering a life of servitude was a decent opportunity for the working man in England due to the class system.  Servants if placed in the correct household,  had decent living accommodations not otherwise afforded to the common man.  As with many instances in England at the time,  a hierarchy even existed among servants with the roles of butler and coachman among the most prestigious.

According to the 1881 English Census, William Plummer and his family lived at The Priory on Parsonage lane in Lamberhurst  The property was owned by Arthur M. Brookfield, a war hero, diplomat, and author. He was also a conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1903.  My great-grandmother Daisy was born soon after the 1881 English Census was taken, in December 1882.

1881 English Census

Pictured above the 1881 English Census featuring the Plummer family residing at The Priory in Lamberhurst, England.

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Pictured above: My great-grandmother Daisy (and dog) with sister’s Alice, Ethel and Ruth posing in Tunbridge Wells, England

Pictured Below:  Daisy with brother John Plummer

Daisy and Brother John H Plummer

My Great Grandmother was close to her brother John and her sister’s.  Even after immigrating with her husband Harry Long, an electrical engineer and family in 1925, she still visited England regularly.  My Great Grandmother lived to be over 100 years-old and resided in Vermont during her later years and is said to be buried there.  I remember her son Vincent (my grandfather) showing me a form letter from then president Ronald Reagan, congratulating his mother Daisy for living past the age of one hundred.   Harry Long her husband passed away in 1946 from a heart attack while on their way to their vacation home in Putney, Vermont and is buried with his daughter Eva Long in Englewood, New Jersey.

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Pictured above: Harry Long and Daisy Long during happier times, pictured prior Harry’s death in 1946

Pictured Below: The only picture that exists of my great-grandmother Daisy (Plummer) Long and me.  

Taken when I was 3 years-old in 1978 Vermont.  I actually have some memory of this day.

Danielle and Great Grandmother

What was your biggest family research break through?  Have you had success researching your British ancestors? What was your greatest family discovery?

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If I Only Knew Their Names

For a junior genealogist like myself, who enjoys prying into the previous lives of my ancestors, discovering a new name to add to my family’s growing tree is a feeling like no other.  It gives an identity to those previously unknown.   A researcher is doubly blessed if they are lucky enough to posses actual photographs of their ancestors and can add a face to a name. Such photographs also document the history of early photography and add an extra layer to the family story.  For me peering into the eyes of an ancestor adds an even bigger excitement and vintage photographs are genuine gifts.  Last year I attended a lecture given by photo detective Maureen Taylor.  I find it amazing that if you know what you are looking for a picture surely does speak a thousand words, but for me it is not always easy to hear them! Picking up visual cues in old photo’s is a welcomed challenge for me. I am lucky enough to have some vintage family photographs from my mother’s side of the family, but I am also unlucky to have so many unidentified photographs that remain “nameless”  Many of the photo’s were marked in ink but the author referred to them as “sons and daughters of” only deepening the mystery of these lost family members and friends.  I thought I would share some of these faces with you today, in the hopes that my fellow photograph detective’s might be able to catch some clues.

John Plummer's daughter #1

This is a photograph of my 3rd cousin (daughter of my great grandmother’s brother) I love the flapper style of clothing which would date the photograph to about the 1920’s. If I knew enough about cars, I could probably learn a lot about the photo from the car parked in the background.  I am of course intrigued by the tropical looking trees.  This family was from England, but this photograph may have been taken on a holiday.

John Plummer and Family2

My Great,Great Uncle John Plummer ( pictured above center)  is the father of the My unknown 3rd cousin.  This photograph was simply marked “brother John family and friends.” The mountains in the background offer beauty, but not many clues as to location.

I wish I knew

Finally, this photograph was found with the same book of photo’s.  This appears much younger than the rest and is one of few color photographs in the album. “The Mad Men” clothing style and home interior give this photograph an early 60’s feel.   After that, this photo and all those in it are a complete mystery, and I will be honest, I didn’t notice the dog….until now.

Do you have any mysterious family photographs?  Do you find photographs to be an exciting tool for genealogists?  I would love to hear from you!

The Genealogy Series: Greetings From Niagara Falls

It has been slim pickings lately on the upcycle front.  It seems everyone (myself included) is battling the impact felt from mother nature. Thrift store stock is limited and picked through, and the curb sides are piled with (you guessed it…snow)  Thank goodness I have yard sale season to look forward too as it is only about a month or two away.  To remain occupied, I now look around the house and get ideas on how to improve on things we already have.  One such item is my husband’s side table,  which adorned his childhood home. I have wanted to work on this piece for a very long time. This table has seen better days, and I am in the process of hand sanding it, a messy and sometimes slow process.  Working on it made me think of treasuring and preserving those family heirlooms, even if they are worth no more than sentimental value. For me, the more sentimental, the better.

Recently, I have been scanning and uploading old family photographs, and trying to unlock their mysteries. It has been a while since I have blogged about family history and genealogy but don’t let my inactivity on the subject fool you.  Sure, I take a rest from it from time to time, sleep on it, put it away, but it is always pulled back out, and revisited. I came across this wonderful photograph of my Great Grandfather Harry Long with my Great Grandmother Daisy (Plummer) Long at Niagara Falls NY.

Harry and Daisey at Niagra

Photo taken some time between 1935-1945

Many things do change with time, but natural beauty can last for generations.  Millions of people have passed through New York or Canada to see the wonders of Niagara Falls.  They pose with their loved ones in front of its massive beauty.  It reminds me that although the years become an obstacle keeping us from knowing our beloved ancestors,  the experiences and places that remain allow us to walk in their footsteps.  What is left behind allows those who have passed away to have a “voice”  This I believe brings us closer together.  Different time, but we are not so different.  I think this photograph proves that.  Just an ordinary married couple leaning into the mist as so many others have done before and after them.

The Genealogy Series: A BBC Family Mystery “Uncle Ted” Edward George Downing Liveing

I remember as a child visiting my grandfather’s house and looking through the little brown autograph book that belonged to his sister, my Great Aunt Eva Long.  It always fascinated me even then, but as a child I never asked questions and my beloved Grandfather Vincent Long passed away in 1985 when I was only ten years-old.

Vincent and Eva Long

My Grandfather Vincent and My Great Aunt Eva Long 

For years, my sister held on to the book and other documents after my grandfather passed away, until I became interested in Genealogy in 2009 and asked if I could revisit these items again.  With the existence of the internet and the ability to reach out to others and research online it seemed possible now more than ever that I might be able to unlock the mysteries of that little brown autograph book, one story at a time.

There are many great entries, but a few in particular were intriguing to me.  They were autographs of those involved with the BBC (British Broadcasting Company).  My Grandfather and sister Eva were born in Nottingham England, and before they traveled to the United States in 1925, Eva had her book signed by BBC members who worked at the Nottingham Relay Station 5NG which was started on September 16th, 1924 and was located at Bridlesmith Gate in Nottingham, England. Autographs included were Ruby Barlow (mentioned here) also known as “Auntie Ruby” a popular radio star on a show called “The Children’s Corner” featuring local “Aunties and Uncles.” Also mentioned, A character known as “Wicked” Uncle Lawrie, and Lawrie Backshaw (Not sure how to spell his name!)

ruby barlow

wicked uncle lawrie

bbc radio

One entry stood out from the rest and I had been trying for sometime to either prove or disprove family lore that an ancestor worked for the BBC.  This is the mystery of “Uncle Ted” who it appears may not have been an uncle at all.  I still have more research to completely rule out the possibility; However after reading and listening to the above recording, I  realized that the character’s featured at the BBC were referred to as “Aunties and Uncles”  I began to doubt this person who refered to himself as “Uncle Ted” Station Director in Eva’s book was her actual uncle. There are several “Uncles” that signed the book, but this one was different and attached to the book on BBC letterhead:

Early BBC Document

I wanted to learn more so I brought this document to the “Genealogy Roadshow” at this year’s Mid Atlantic Genealogy Conference.  I wanted to get some advice as I had tried researching this before and came up with very little information.  This past week I had a huge break through when the BBC  finally contacted me and is interested to know more about some of the historical items I have.  The person at the BBC asked me via e-mail if the Ted I was referring to was Edward George Downing Liveing,who went on to have a distinguished career with the BBC, and served as Nottingham’s station director at that time.  Now, I had a name to go on,  and typed it into a search engine. I found an amazing site dedicated to Edward’s family line called The King’s Candlesticks. I contacted the webmaster via e-mail and attached a copy of the document for his review.  I was so happy to receive an e-mail back, confirming once and for all that “Uncle Ted” was indeed, Edward George Downing Liveing.  He attached handwritten letters written by Edward George Downing Liveing in which he referred to himself as Ted (a nickname for Edward) and the handwriting was a match.  Finally, the mystery of Uncle Ted had been solved, and I have the kindness of strangers to thank!

The internet certainly is a Genealogist’s best friend!

BBC Member Promo Shot

BBC Promotional Shot

included in a family photo album

My First Conference: 2013 Mid Atlantic Genealogy Conference Wrap Up.

Yesterday, I attended my first Genealogy conference and it was packed with information! It was hosted by the LDS Church and admission was free!  It was an all day event 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.   I took advantage of some of the classes offered such as Irish genealogy, Immigration, Forensic Genealogy as well as local record resources, (Just to name a few!)  Many classes offered handouts with great informational website links. Vintage photo expert Maureen Taylor gave the key-note address on photo preservation and disaster preparedness planning for your priceless photos.  An especially important point due to recent local catastrophe’s such as Super Storm Sandy.

Lecture on Photo Preservation by Maureen Taylor

My favorite part of the show hands down was the New Jersey Chapter of The “Genealogy Roadshow” PBS airs a new show by the same name and it based on a similar premise.  On this day It allows the opportunity to sit with a professional Genealogist for 15 minutes to discuss a piece of research that is stumping you.

New Jersey Genealogy Roadshow

I eagerly waited in line and enjoyed a conversation with a fellow genealogist as eager to get an appointment as I was!  Due to child care issues my husband stayed back and watched the little one so I could attend, but I had to go alone.  The great thing about those interested in Genealogy is they are friendly and eager to share information with you.   I talked to a lot of great people who are passionate about family research!  I booked my appointment and returned at 12:15 to sit with Rich Venezia a Professional genealogist in the New Jersey area.  I brought to him just one of my biggest road blocks: The elusive Uncle Ted.  It was rumored on my maternal grandfather’s side that an uncle worked for the BBC when it was first founded in 1922 as the Station Director in Nottingham England. Inside my Great Aunt’s autograph book is a BBC document on letter head signed by “Uncle Ted” right before she sailed to the United States in 1925.

Early BBC Document

I haven’t been able to confirm uncle Ted is an actual uncle as I have never been able to link him to either side of the family.  He suggested an interesting concept I hadn’t thought of before: Research the neighbors and try to find clues.  He also suggested I contact someone in the BBC (I had tried before and had no such luck) because he believes someone such as a BBC historian would be interested in such a document and historical information. I also have an unknown photograph of the BBC Riding the “Magic Carpet”  I am assuming this is referring to a radio show at the time.   As luck would have it, this morning I came across a BBC Historical site seeking artifacts from BBC history,  I jumped at the chance and sent an e-mail with information.  Fingers Crossed!

Here are some great Informational websites for genealogy research I learned of at the conference.

One of my favorite speakers was Deborah Large Fox.  If you are as stumped as I am when it comes to Irish Genealogical research this is the blog for you!http://irishfamilyresearch.blogspot.com

Others of interest:

http://www.italiangen.org/  If you are interested in researching family members who lived in any of the five New York boroughs this is the site for you!

National Archives and Records administration: http://www.archives.gov/

Search old photos and find lost family members at http://deadfred.com/

Wish me luck as I am going thrifting today!  I have been “striking out” lately on finding good Upcycle candidates, but am hoping my luck will turn around today!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend my lovely readers!

The Genealogy Series: The Curry’s Of Richmond County: Part One

Recently, I took a trip to Staten Island, NY to visit some relatives and stopped by St. Peter’s cemetery where my ancestors and family members are buried.  It is a large Catholic cemetery not far from Silver Lake Park and located directly across the street from The Staten island Zoo.  My Grandparents, Great Grandparents and Great Uncles are buried there.  My Maternal Grandmother’s parents and brothers rest together in this cemetery.  I visited each ancestor, and left a small, handmade floral to pay my respects to each of them.

I would like to focus now on my Grandmother’s brothers.  My grandmother was the only girl in a family of five very larger than life brothers (seven if only two brothers had survived to adulthood.)  Today, I honor three of my great uncles: William, Joseph, and Edward.

William C Curry

William Charles Curry born October 13, 1896 “Uncle Willie”was the oldest child of Charles Curry and Julia O’Reilly.  As a young man he worked for a company called Gillespie Brothers 11 Broadway, NY, NY According to his WWI Draft Card Record.  His Eyes were brown and his hair was black.  According to family lore he was a talented amateur boxer.  He worked for years for the Staten Island Advance a local newspaper in Richmond County New York. He married Rose Zinicola born in 1909 and together they had three children, Mary, Joseph and Margaret.  William passed away in 1985 at the age of 89.

William C. Curry WWII Draft Card

WW2 Draft Card

Joseph Andrew Curry

Uncle Joe Curry

born November 29, 1905 was a decorated World War II veteran.  He was a radio operator for 20 years for the Exxon Corporation.  He worked on tankers and traveled the world.  He was a technical sergeant for the Air Corps from 1942-1945.  He received two distinguished flying crosses and two Air Medals for his service during World War II.  He never married, and in 1982 passed away after a six-day illness.  He was 77 years-old.  Joseph is buried with his brother Edward.

Joseph and Edward Curry

Edward Joseph Curry “Uncle Pie” was born June 18, 1899.  Family lore says he gained his nickname for winning a pie eating contest.  My great-uncle was a larger than life character known for his sense of humor and personality.  He worked as a dock hand for Viking Company in 1920, and Lived at 103 Monroe Avenue Tompkinsville, (Staten Island, NY) He was described on his draft card as medium height and build with blue eyes and brown hair. He is rumored to have had a child, but he and the women never married.  Edward passed away in 1978 at the age of 79.

Prayer card

Edward “Pie” Curry’s Prayer card 1978

Thanks for reading about my maternal New York born Irish ancestors with the surname Curry,  More on the Curry’s to come!

Also looking forward to the Mid Atlantic Genealogy Conference coming up this weekend!  Hope to learn a lot at my first ever genealogy conference!

Stepping through time: DIY Cemetery Flowers And A walk through St Peter’s Cemetery, Staten Island, New York

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a trip to visit my aunt in New York.  During the trip, my sister and I traveled over to St. Peter’s Cemetery in Staten Island to visit several ancestors memorials.  I called the cemetery office and spoke with Pat who was wonderful!  I e-mailed her with a list of names I suspected were interred at the cemetery. She responded back with several and provided the grave plots and locations along with a cemetery map.  I planned on photographing the graves, but also wanted to leave something for them out of respect.

I found some old artificial flowers and glass candle holders in our attic as well as some left over styrofoam packing materials.  I decided to use these items to come up with a small tribute to each grave as I visited.

DSC_0574

I had to create five total and did not have enough styrofoam for the bases.  I used two glass candle holders instead with a small piece of styrofoam inside to attach the flowers.  I used scrap fabric, paint and hot glue to put these together.  I was also stopping by to visit my grandparents and made a special one for them with my daughter’s picture in it.

Repurpused Grave Memorial Flowers

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My daughter visiting her great grandparents

Stay tuned for more of the genealogy series!