Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Great Great Grandfather

This is a photo of my Great Great Grandfather, Alexander Rutherford,(1843-1900). He was a fisherman and came from the fishing village of Newhaven, Edinburgh. Not sure what the hat is he has in his hand, just wondering if he had his own boat and it was a skippers hat.

Friday, 22 April 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you Jacqueline at My Journey Back for giving me this blog award. I have not been doing my family history blog for long and feel very honoured to have been presented it.
Accepting this award comes with some conditions and you get the pleasure of reading some new blogs.

The rules of acceptance are :

1. Accept the award; post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are the blogs I have chosen, I have not been blogging that long and many I follow already have award, so not quite 15.

Thanks to all who take the time to read my blog.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Great Great Grandmother

Wilhelmina Rutherford nee Linton
I love this photo of my GG Grandmother. Wilhelmina Linton was born 1843, in the fishing village of Newhaven, Edinburgh. She married Alexander Rutherford in 1865 and they had 4 children. Alexander was a fisherman so Wilhelmina led the life of a fishwife, a hard life and the women were known to be sturdy and hard working. I think you can see this in the strong features of her face in this photo.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Never Be Afraid to Ask

One thing I have learned over the years doing my research, is that it never hurts to ask. If you think someone may be able to help you, or have some information, there is no harm in getting in contact..the worst that can happen is you get no reply.

One such instance was when I was looking for information about a photo of my Great Great Uncle Alexander (Sandy) Rutherford. Sandy, was born in 1873 in the fishing village of Newhaven, Edinburgh, and I can remember going to visit him with my gran, when I was a little girl. I just have vague memories of him, but still remember the anchor in the street near where he lived, its strange what you remember from when you are small. 
He was a fisherman and according to family members was skipper of a boat called "The Whitestar" and there was a photo of him with his boat in the Newhaven Heritage Museum. By this time I was living in England and looked forward to paying it a visit when I went home to visit family. However, much to my disappointment, I discovered it was closed for refurbishment and it was then decided it would not re-open.

I thought that was the end of it, but decided to have a go at emailing a contact for the council I found on the internet and a lovely woman called Victoria, took the time to reply to me. She could not find the photo I had mentioned, but did find 2 other pictures of Sandy and was kind enough to email them to me.

Alexander Rutherford, 2nd from right, Front Row.
The photo above is one of these (left click on image for full size). It was taken in 1951 and is of the members of the Newhaven Fisherman's Society, something a lot of my ancestors were members of.

Sandy lived to the ripe old age of 96. He was found lying in the yard at the back of the tenement he lived in and had died from serious head injuries after falling from his window. It is thought he was feeding the birds when he lost his balance and fell. It is a very sad ending for a life that was lived to the full (that story is for another time).

Sandy , how I remember him, at the age of 94

So the next time you think someone maybe able to help in your quest for information, don't hesitate, you never know what you will find.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ancestors brought to life.

It is now 11 years since my journey into researching my family history began, and when I started I had no idea just how addicting it would become. I started off with a few names and dates jotted down, from family members, and now 11 years on those few names have turned into nearly 3000!

It wasn't long before I realised that the most important part of my journey, was not the names and dates, the who married who etc, but finding out about "who they were", what their occupations entailed, their living conditions and the gathering of as much information as possible to get a glimpse into what their lives were really like.

One example of this is when a lovely man, called Terry, got in touch with me via a message board, asking if I was Tommy Flucker's grandaughter. Tommy (Thomas), was my grandfather, born in 1904, in a fishing village called Newhaven, which is now part of Edinburgh. He was a joiner in Henry Robb Shipyards in Leith and had met my grandmother while working for a short while in the Vickers shipyards in Barrow-in-Furness, before moving back home with his new wife and having a family of his own.
Newhaven Harbour today

I don't have many memories of him as he died when I was 7. He suffered a brain haemorrhage at work and never regained consciousness. I remember him as a very quiet man and can
still picture him sitting in his chair, wearing one of the many jumpers my gran used to knit for him.

After confirming I was indeed Tommy's granddaughter he sent me a lovely email, which brought my grandfather to life and am so grateful for him taking the time to do this.

Here is part of the email:

Thanks for your prompt reply, I'm delighted to hear that you are indeed
the grandaughter of Tommy, and you've confirmed and awakened many
youthful memories.
As I said, I worked as an apprentice joiner in Robb's from 1948 to 1955,
then, like everyone else was called up for National Service in the
army.  I returned to Robb's for a short while after serving three years
with the Royal Engineers, then my life took a different turn, and I
moved on.
I was a rather " Favoured" apprentice, and worked on the top floor of
the joiner's shop, I was on the bench next to Tommy.  His job at that
time was to "Break out" all the wooden mouldings for the ships under
construction, and prepare them for the French polishers.  Tommy was very
precise in everything he did, and was always on top of his job.  He was
much respected as a tradesman in a shop of over 200 joiners, who, in my
opinion, were the best tradesmen in the country.  He was known as a man
of great general knowledge, and I suspect, thought of as slightly
eccentric.  He had a very fiery temper, and could be "Wound up," if
people voiced opinions contrary to his firmly held views on everything,
particularly on the subject of his beloved Hearts.  I was on of the
"Infidels," being a Hibs supporter, but Tommy obviously made allowances
for this aberration, and took me under his wing.  At lunch times, having
our "pieces" together, and our drum (old jam tins) of Tea, Tommy would
teach me many things beyond the everyday world of a daft young laddie.
As I've said he taught me Chess, which I've enjoyed ever since.  He
could, you know, "Talk" a game of Chess, and did so with his brother in
law, (I think) without a board or pieces,, and they'd both continue the
game entirely in their heads !  He knew all about steam locomotives,
politics, and a wide range of subjects, that filled out my then empty
head.  Cycling was of course one of his great loves, touring mainly, not
racing, and it was very popular at that time, everyone had bikes and
enjoyed it.  He was so kind to me, that once he offered to cycle with me
to Ibrox in Glasgow to see Hibs play Rangers in a League decider, we
went on his Tandem, I had to bring my own saddle he said, otherwise I'd
have a sore bum ! I can remember that day vividly, Hibs won !

As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Tommy would work mainly
on time transits of the stars, at the old Royal Observatory on the
Calton hill.  I remember him making a "Black box" to measure these
transits, and claiming that the time accuracy was six hundredths of a
Tommy was very proud of his "Bow Tow," heritage, claiming that the
Fluckers came over with the Huguenots to escape persecution, and was
very well versed in history generally.  He was a good man, very handsome
in a clean cut way, and proud and protective of his daughters.  I lived
then in Newhaven Road, but my cousins the Jeffrey's, lived in 10
Hawthornvale, my uncle Peter Jeffrey was a riveter in Robbs, so as a lad
I was down the Vale regularly.
In those days (the 50's) the workers in the Yard were very highly
politicised, rationing was still in force, but we'd made advancements in
obtaining a free health service, we then got a weeks holiday in the
Summer, with pay, the working week was to be reduced from 48 hours, and
it looked to Socialists as if the workers were going to influence
politics for the good.  We were all Socialists (at least) many of us
Communists, and we sympathised with the experiments in Socialism started
in Russia and China. Tommy actually taught me the words of "The Red
Flag," the old Old Independent Labour Party anthem, including the bawdy
parody ! Relations with the shipyard management were never good, indeed
constantly fraught with tension, and fear of losing jobs, they all
remembered the Depression years vividly.  We weren't even allowed
teabreaks, (but we had them illegally!) you could be dismissed for
drinking tea, other than at dinner time, the tea urns were kept
padlocked until the hooter sounded.  Even going to the toilet was under
surveillance, you had to drop your works check at a turnstile at the
entrance to a very smelly and basic lavatory, and if you were over 7
minutes there, you were docked a quarter of an hour of pay. As an
apprentice, your time record was kept for the five years, and any late
time or absences were made up at the end of the five years, at
apprentice's pay, not Tradesman's pay.
Something else has just come to mind, I think Tommy was one of the First
of the Fluckers NOT to have gone to sea and the fishing, that must have
been a big decision in Newhaven in those days.

After reading this email, I remembered seeing a whole shelf of log books at my grandmothers, where Tommy had logged every single one of his bike rides with meticulous care. I couldn't believe my luck when my aunt told me she still had these and sent me a scan of the page with the entry for the bike ride that is mentioned in the email.If you click on the picture below you can see it full size. 

Cycle ride 1950
I am in awe of how he could play a game of chess in his head! Would love to know more about his time as a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, so if anyone has any ideas how to go about this please let me know.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

How it all began

I have been interested in history from a young age, but it was the death of my grandmother (gran to me) that sparked my interest in my own family history. She used to tell me bits about her past and how she met my grandfather, often saying it would be nice to know more about our ancestors and if the same characteristics and interests carried on from one generation to the next. I was very close to my gran and still miss her a lot, and it was during one of these times of remembering the special times we had together that I decided to start doing my family tree....I didn't realise at the time how addicting it would become...It is now 11 years later, 2,800 ancestors later and being referred to by my children as " the one who collects dead people" thought I would share a bit about the special lady who was the inspiration behind doing grandmother :)

Helen Dixon, was born 11th December 1908 in a small town in England called Barrow-in-Furness. She was the youngest of 3 children and her parents had moved there as children so their father's could find work in the shipyards that opened. Her own father was a boilermaker in the Vicker's shipyard, her brothers going on to follow in his footsteps.

Steamer Street, where Helen was born.

 Her family were not well off but she had a happy childhood, and had fond memories of accompanying her grandmother to sell her herbal beer at the shipyard gates. ( her grandmother had been widowed at a young age and made herbal brew at home to make a living). She recalled playing in the street, tagging along with her older brothers, Thomas and John (known as Jack) who did always want their little sister in tow...but she said they were happy times. Tragedy then struck the family when Helen was 24, her brother, Jack, died from Meningitis in 1932 at the age of 29 and she recalled this as being a very unhappy time in all her family's lives, with things "never quite being the same again"
Helen with her brothers, Thomas and Jack abt 1911
Helen's life was to change forever in 1938, when a Scottish man, called Thomas Flucker, arrived in Barrow to work for a few months in the shipyards. He became good friends with Helen's brother and became a frequent visitor to their house...and Helen and Thomas fell in love and became engaged to get married. Thomas came from a little fishing village called Newhaven, which is now part of Edinburgh. It was a very close knit community and it was very unusual for men to marry someone from without the village, never mind from across the border! In July 1938, they became married in Helen's home town  and then they set off for their life in Scotland. Thomas always loved cycling, and my gran used to make me laugh telling me that her honeymoon was a cycling holiday in Scotland and that there was a tandem waiting for them at the station.

Newhaven , Edinburgh, as it is today

When Helen arrived in Newhaven, she found it very hard to settle in and to become accepted, but Thomas's sister took her under her wing and they led a very happy life together, having three daughter's, including my mother. When I was 7, my grandfather died after an accident at work. He was a carpenter in the ship yards, and fell off a ladder, suffering a brain hemorrhage, never regaining consciousness. The whole family took it hard, but Helen had her strong christian beliefs and always said they would meet again one day in a better life. She stayed independent and busy, knitting, making wedding dresses, visiting the elderly for the church ( she was 80 at the time and a lot older than some of the people she visited!) and even went for swimming lessons when she was 82, successfully learning to swim.

During her last few years she lost her sight, which hit her very hard, but she insisted on being independent...firing the home-help my mother had employed to help her around the house and refusing to use her white stick...however at the age of 92 she became unable to look after herself, refusing to move into my mother's ( " I don't want to be a burden") and moved into an old people's home near my parents. Her character and personality totally changed with the move, it was like she had just given up, something she was never known for and a year later she passed away peacefully in her sleep after a bad chest infection.

So thank you gran for all the memories and for being such a special mother, grandmother and great are sadly missed and always will be xx