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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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

The Genealogy Series “A Typical English Girl”: Eva Daisy Long

As much as I enjoy crafting, I also am passionate when it comes to my family history and genealogy.  I started my family quest back in November of 2009, after re-discovering a box of old family heirlooms and an autograph book from my Great Aunt Eva.  With the advent of the internet, researching one’s family history has become easier than it was previously. Record Items once attainable only by visiting local county vital statistics offices, and via library micro film are now available on many online records websites such as Ancestory.com.

Today, I am beginning a new feature on my blog called the Genealogy Series.  My goal is to feature  biographies on various ancestors of my daughter, and family. I also want to place them within the history of the time in which they lived.  This, I believe is a fitting tribute to all of those ancestors who are not much different then ourselves, except for the times in which they lived. It is also a wonderful project to share with you when I am in between various art projects.- Like now.

My first biography features the relative who started it all.

Eva Long

Eva Daisy Long was born in Nottingham, England in June of 1906 to parents Harry Long an Engineer, and Daisy Plummer.  Eva worked a job as a stenographer (typist) in England before coming to the United States with her family and her brother (Vincent Long born in 1909, my maternal grandfather) Eva was 19 when the family sailed together to America in 1925 aboard the USS Ohio.  Upon arrival, they settled in Woodside, Long Island, (Queens) NY.

In 1927, At the age of 21, Eva was diagnosed with advanced stage Tuberculosis. TB, was the biggest health crisis in the UK and around the world at that time.  During the 1920’s, treatment options were limited, and the disease often times proved fatal. Effective antibiotics to fight the disease did not become available until quite a few years later.   Upon the families request,  Eva was admitted to The Reception Hospital in the town of Saranac Lake, NY.  At the time Saranac Lake, NY a small town nestled in the Adirondack mountains,  was known for it’s cutting edge treatment of TB.    It was believed that the colder air in the New York Mountains, was more breathable and helped in healing and treatment of the disease.

Eva Long Admission Card, 1927

Above: Eva Long’s admission card to a sanitorium at Saranac Lake, NY.

It was while Eva was here she kept an autograph book from 1927-1929.  The book also has entries from 1925, before she left England for the United States.:

Family History 047

Journal entry dated April 14th 1925 wishing Eva well on her journey from a family friend

She was referred to in her autograph book as”A Typical English Girl”, and dressed the part in  flapper style clothing popular during that era. She also wore her hair short.  A modern look at the time that according to family lure, my great-grandmother “despised”!

Photo’s of Eva:

Eva Long Saranac Lake, NY

Eva and friends taken at Saranac Lake, NY

Above: Eva Pictured with Friends Saranac Lake, New York

Eva’s last autograph book entry is in 1929.  What happened to Eva after this time is unclear; However I think it is safe to assume her disease had progressed, and at this time could no longer live life to the fullest.  She made many friends at Saranac Lake, and appeared as though she enjoyed her time here.  Sadly her life was cut short on March 24, 1931 at age 24.  She passed away in Saranac Lake, NY and is buried next to her father, Harry Long at Brookside cemetary, Englewood, NJ,

It is unclear if Eva ever got to return home to her family.  My grandfather was very close to his sister, and suffered from TB himself, but he recovered.  He found it hard to talk about these events according to my mom.  He held on to her personal items, until he passed away himself in 1985.  I have many memories of my grandfather, but an interesting memory is, he always kept a separate fork, knife and spoon that only he ate from,certainly a fear of spreading his TB to others he loved remained throughout his life.

Autograph Book Entry

One of many entries in Eva’s autograph book featuring hand drawn artwork

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An entry from a  friend who resided with her Abbott Kinney (listed with her on 1930 census records) notice the quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, a famous resident of Saranac Lake, NY

See more of the “Eva Long Autograph Book” uploaded to the digital archives of the Saranac Lake NY Historical Society Wiki an amazing site run by wonderful folks.  Be sure and check it out!

Anyone else have a similar ancestor in their tree?  I would love to hear about it!