Yesterday, I remarked that I would need to spend the next few days getting myself organised for #AFFHO Congress2015. Those preparations would include some more work on the research project I am undertaking for my friend.
How easy it is to get off the track?
I had set myself the task of ensuring that I had completed the pedigree to 4 generations back on every side. Sometimes that involves going a little sideways to see if you can collect clues that can confirm or deny your direction being correct.
It was proving to be a little difficult to establish what had happened to each of the grandparents siblings. I had marriages and children sorted for all bar one who happened to be the second youngest daughter. I had found the announcement of her engagement via TROVE where, at 19 years old, she was declared betrothed to the son of a doctor.
No death or cemetery records in either her name or nor his.
What had happened?
I widened my search to include the father – and back I went to TROVE and the Adelaide papers. Eventually I turned up an obituary for the father of the potential groom where his widow, children and step children were acknowledged. His only son was reported to be in England working as a doctor.
Had my girl followed him there? Was there no South Australian marriage because they wed in England?
Off to search the English records – and there was the man in question. Not many months after the announcement of their engagement, it appears that he had graduated from University of Adelaide and left for England where his registration as a Doctor was confirmed. He never returned to Australia, dying quite young in 1952.
But had my girl gone too? So far there’s no suggestion that she did. Electoral rolls for the UK show our doctor firstly living in the hospital, and then at an address where there was a woman living with him with the same surname. Wife? Seems it may have been possible but he did have a sister (who was unmarried at the time of her father’s death) with the same first name. There was no UK marriage record to be found so far.
Three hours of back tracking, cross checking and searching – all to discover that it looks very much like he stood her up!
Not being a party to the family folklore, I have yet to establish whether any of this story was a subject of the family’s oral history. No doubt I will find out when I share all my research with my friend.
I’m no closer to putting all those branches in place, but I have explored a “what might have been” moment. These “off track” ventures can sometimes help to put a more human face to the facts, the dates, the official records….
It was a distraction but it certainly wasn’t time wasted.