Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Memories

Happy Easter!
I created this collage today.
It's a fun thing to do with old photographs.
I confess I don't remember this Easter. It was shortly before Leona was born in May that year.
I loved the dress my Mom bought for me. It was pale blue, with hand embroidered birds.
I assume I was crying in the picture above because I wanted to eat the chocolate bunny.

The professional photo, now faded, was taken in January 1962. I believe the dress was purchased at Helen's Dress Shop on Hastings in Burnaby BC.
It was a beautiful dress. I still have it.
Although I can't remember this Easter, I do have happy memories of other Easter times. It's my favourite season in the whole year.
Enjoy your old photos, and have fun with them!

By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Monday, March 27, 2017

Family tree tip!

A genealogy tip:

For all those of you out there addicted to family tree research, I would highly recommend Ancestry if you can possibly afford it. In August 2015 a relative (cousin of some kind) contacted me because he studied my Roberts family tree on Ancestry and realized we are related. He shared his photos and info with me, and I did likewise. This was highly satisfying I can assure you! He and his wife are visiting Vancouver in August to meet us and other family members in person.
For the past week I've been updating my Cork family tree. Emma Cork (1851-1931) married one of the PALMER family, and they are my great great grandparents, so I was working on her massive side of the family. There is a ton of info on Ancestry for the Corks, but they all had huge families with the same names of course, so it's hard to pin everything down. I used to copy family trees and save the info but that is NOT a good thing to do. I have to find my own documentation and this takes hours and hours.
I noticed that Emma's parents on some family trees seemed to have moved to the USA, along with many of Emma's siblings. So I contacted one of the owners of one of the trees, and she replied to me yesterday, stating that we are indeed related, and she has been researching the Cork/Palmer line for 40 years! She says that yes indeed, Thomas and Hannah Cork (Emma's parents) are my Corks too, so that opens up a whole world of possibilities, as they lived in WI. 
I find this hobby VERY ADDICTIVE.

By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22, 1917 to February 22, 2017: Rest in Peace, dear William.

100 years ago on February 22, 1917,
my great uncle, William Joseph Williams
gave his life in WWI, age 24, in Salonika, Greece. 
He fell in a skirmish against the Germans, and was
hit at close range in one of his legs. The newspaper clipping below gives a good description. His leg had to be amputated, and William didn't survive.

William was born in Blaenau Ffestiniog,
North Wales in 1893. I haven't yet sent away for his birth certificate, so I don't know the date of birth.
He joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers in Wrexham, Wales and on Sept 5, 1915 was sent to France.

I only have 2 photos of William, so I did a bit of photo-shopping and added William's head to this lovely Royal Welsh Fusiliers head shot of another soldier!

I had thought maybe this year, 2017, I would visit William's grave but I don't feel like that part of the world is safe at the moment.

William was part of the Machine Gun Corps during the last few months of his life.

The above clipping states William passed away 
"on the 6th day at the Casualty Clearing Hospital", so this means he would have been injured on Feb 17, which was his older brother's birthday.
(my Grandpa John Griffith Williams)
It also states that Miss Ellen Roberts, William's aunt, was the only person that the sender of the news had an address for, although the person knew that
"your nephew used to write to his girl very faithfully".
The clipping is cut off at this point. I'd love to know who wrote the letter, but I haven't yet been able to find it online. That sentence makes me cry every time I read it.

The above is the UK army register of Soldier's Effects, for William Williams. His brother is the one who received them, Robert David Williams, who was on the HMS Violet. 

Henry Hargreaves (should have initial C not E) was the chaplain and wrote this lovely letter.

I recently was given a link to the Welsh newspapers online which shows the above, "Williams, 14842,
W. (Blaenau Festiniog)" under
No wonder I couldn't locate an obituary without any help! This was found in The North Wales Chronicle.

And this is where William is buried.
His plot is in section D, #828.

I'm so thankful I purchased the photo of his
grave, from the War Graves Photographic
Project online.

William's medal index card, showing his enlistment and his date of death.

I created a collage for my Facebook page, to remember great uncle William.
I've done my best to learn all I could about you, dear William. One day I hope to meet you in Heaven.

By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our visit to Florence May Palmer's grave in Humboldt SK.

To date, this is the crowning achievement of all my genealogy research!
This past June I began to consider, "What if I asked family members to contribute to purchasing a grave marker for my great grandmother?" This is Florence May (Bellamy) PALMER, who is buried in Humboldt Public Cemetery in Saskatchewan. I had asked Robert if he would drive to SK on our upcoming trip in July to Calgary, AB. Florence is my great grandmother; my Dad's grandmother.
I'd joined a FaceBook SK group which was very helpful, and Gord Neish who works at the Naicam Museum had posted a price list and a contact for Forever Memorials for those of us who wished to have our loved ones remembered in this way.

Florence had died 85 years ago, on June 20, 1931.
I felt it would be fitting, provided others helped pay the cost.
I'm not sure why Florence's children didn't rally together and do this years ago; it would have been much cheaper. I know to begin with they had a rough life, but in later years some of them were well off. I guess she was out of sight and so out of mind, although I know that my great Uncle Syd Palmer and his wife Joan visited the cemetery in the 1980's.

Here are a list of the donators: 

My parents, Jack & Susie Williams
My uncle Harry & aunt Lil Williams
Denise Surowski (Harry & Lil's daughter)
My uncle Bob & aunt Marilyn Williams
Heidi Wallace (Bob & Marilyn's daughter)
Jacqueline Vesterinen (great uncle Syd Palmer's daughter)
My aunt Audrey & Fred Town (John & Alma May Williams daughter)
Robert & Loretta Houben (Florence Palmer's great granddaughter)

It's thrilling what a group of people can accomplish!
Thanks to Jennifer Flasko of Forever Memorials, I arranged everything by email!
First I had to find out if Florence's grave could be found, so I contacted the city of Humboldt to see who was in charge of the cemetery. It turns out the city is. They sent me a form by email for me to sign, so that Jennifer would be able to install the marker. I sent it back by email after signing it and scanning the form. Next everyone very quickly sent me paper cheques, which Robert scanned into his cell phone and deposited to our account. I had already mailed the amount owing to Jennifer, as I was very anxious to have the marker installed before I reached Humboldt at the beginning of August!
I trusted everyone to send in their cheques and they promptly did so. 

Just before I left on our trip to Calgary AB on July 22, I emailed Jennifer one last time.
Unfortunately, Saskatchewan had so much rain this summer, she hadn't been able to install the marker because of 7" of rain! But she promised she would have it done in time, and she did.
On August 1 we traveled from Calgary to Humboldt. That's one long drive!
After checking into our hotel, we hurried to the cemetery before supper.
I was so anxious to see it!
(In the photo above, I'm talking with my Dad, Jack Williams, and describing his grandmother's grave to him.)

Alas. I didn't even know where it was.
My heart fell. I told Robert to start at the back, and I'd start looking at the front.
Before long the awful brutes of mosquitoes had found me. Ack! I tried looking for a new marker, but was being eaten alive. I waved to Robert, and he came running as he thought I'd found it.
He didn't say a word, but I told him we'd have to come back in the morning as I was being bitten too much. He said "Well, I didn't find Nellie's grave, but I did spot a new one that said Florence May Palmer." 
I just stared at him, and then I shrieked. 
For some reason he thought I was looking for Nellie Williams grave. (buried in Spalding)
So the whole point of this story is this:
When your spouse helps you on a long trip like this, please make sure you understand the full NAME of the person you are seeking, and much time will be saved!
Anyhow, all's well that ends well.
Florence Palmer's grave marker is in a plot of un-marked graves, so Jennifer made sure her stone was elevated so the grass mower wouldn't run over it. 
This was a very thrilling moment for me.

By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Visiting your ancestors in cemeteries.

There are a few graves I haven't visited yet, and hope to remedy it soon.
One is the un-marked grave of my great grandmother, FLORENCE MAY (BELLAMY) PALMER.
She is buried in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, many miles from here.
Recently I had asked my Williams/Palmer Facebook group members if they would consider making a money contribution towards getting a grave marker installed on Florence's grave.
Many agreed, and so they sent me generous cheques for $50 each and I quickly had enough to send to  Forever Memorials in St. Front, SK, who have made a monument and will be installing it later in July. I think it's thrilling that Florence will have a name and date at last!
The marker will be black granite and state:
Nov 20, 1883 - Jun 20, 1931
When I visit her grave I will put the vase and roses on it, along with her framed photo, and take many pictures. She is the only one of our family in Humboldt Cemetery.

Another grave I haven't yet seen is in Bigstone Cemetery in Spalding SK.
That belongs to my paternal grandpa's first wife, ELLEN (EGERTON) WILLIAMS, known as Nellie. She was buried with many other people with one large grave stone.
Her name is "Mrs. John Williams" with the date 1926 on the grave.
I blogged about discovering her grave online, HERE. I've learned so much more about here since that time! I'd love to write a book about her and her adventures in Canada.
Although it's sad she died, I'm so glad she did, as I wouldn't be here if she had lived.
Just think about it....

By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Friday, June 17, 2016

Florence Bellamy Palmer, my great grandmother.

My great grandmother, Florence Bellamy, born on November 20, 1883, in Roath, Cardiff, South Wales, to William and Elizabeth Bellamy. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Vesterinen.

Here is the register of birth, so that I could order her birth certificate.

Here is the first census on which Florence appears, living at #396 Zinc Street in the parish of Roath, Cardiff, South Wales. Her father, William, works in coal but I can't make out his profession. She has 3 brothers; Joseph, William and Edward, and 2 sisters; Deborah and Elizabeth.

In 1901, Florence is 17 and a servant at #10 Preswyfla Street in Cardiff, South Wales.
Her employer is George B Newton and his wife Kate. The census has the family split on two pages, which is something you have to watch for when searching for your family!

The 1911 Welsh census which shows Florence married to Herbert Palmer, with three children; Herbert, May and Norman. (May is my grandma) Here she is age 25, but it should read age 27. Maybe she didn't wish to appear as two years older than her husband, who was born August 11, 1885 and was age 25.

Yesterday, June 16, 2016, I had the delightful thrill of discovering my first family member in the newspapers! The Naicam Progress newspapers are online at this link.
Some of the years have been digitized. I knew Florence had died on June 20, 1931 which was 85 years ago, so I looked at the newspaper closest to her date of death and her obituary was on the first page! I was quite thrilled to find her.
By Loretta (Williams) Houben

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 1916.....100 years ago: The Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland happened 100 years ago on this day.
6,097 British lives were lost. Over 2,000 Germans died.
I had never given much thought to this battle until I recently discovered that an ancestor perished on board one of those ships. I've blogged about Alfred George Palmer before, so I won't repeat all the details here. Please CLICK HERE to read that story.

If I ever return to England I'll try to look up this memorial.
I think it would be thrilling to visit it and pay my respects.
I found a battle fleet chart online, and you can see the Broke ship in the 4th Flotilla:

Here is a LIST of men killed on board HMS Broke.

By Loretta (Williams) Houben