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A Brick Wall

dinie

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#1
I\'ve just found this site and hope someone may be able to help.
I\'m trying to find my maternal grandmaothers birth. I think it was in Kent (she lived in kent as a child) about 1900/1902. She spent some time in an orphanage because the house burned down (no dates or area for this). Her father was William Robert - Dec\'d Engineer on her marriage cert and she had siblings Jack, Annie, William & Fred. I have no ages for them nor a mother\'s name. She came to the Bucks/Northants area to work ad a childrens nurse at Grafton Manor where she married my grandad Ernest Solomon Gascoyne in 1926.
I have the birth certificates for Pretoria Adams in Stoke Priorand Pretoria Adams in Wateringbury but neither of these are her. I also have a possible certificate for Pretoria May V Adams born Battle to William & Mary but the date of birth is not the date sge celebrated on.
Any help on eithertracing her or how to confirm if this is the right person would be greatly received.
Sorry to waffle but the brick wall is hurting my head now!!!LOL
 

KeithS

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#2
Hi Dinie,

This is one of my favourite problems in FHR. :laugh: :laugh:

Now we develop a little bit of lateral thinking. Consider the information you really want as being a house. If you can\'t find the key to the front door, there is always an alternative means of entry. So, let\'s look for the key to the back door.

So, the following is what I would do

1) Don\'t look for her at this time. Look for records on her siblings. If you are finding the right records, they will all have the same parents\' names. You particularly want their dates of death. These will give you their ages at death. Subtract their ages at death from the year of death for an approximate year of birth. Arrange them chronologically and look for a gap in the dates which is not borne out by the other information. This may help you to determine where in the family she was born - somewhere from first to last born. That will give a confirmation as to the most likely years of birth. Check those years in the St Catherine\'s House Indexes. If you find the record for her birth, it will give you the year, quarter of the year, registrar\'s district and parents name. it may even give you the address. If not, you will still be able to get the birth certificate BUT, do not buy birth certificates (or any certificates for that matter) unless you know it is the one you want.

2) If she spent time in an orphanage, this could have been either Barnardoes or a local authority orphanage. Both of these have records and it will be necessary to search them all. I would start by radiating out from the area she lived in at the time of her marriage.

One thing which comes to mind is:

Have you interviewed any survivng relatives from your mother\'s side of the family? You want the oldest of them. They will have memories of her and, especially if it is a lady, she may well have been in family discussions which revealed the very information you are after.

3) Another course of action is to start checking education records, again starting from the area in which she was living at the time of her marriage, and radiating out until you find it.

At the time you are looking for the information, it is unlikely that she will have moved very far from where she was raised. And that is likely to be fairly close to where she was born.

Another course of action would be to check newspaper archives to find a report on the fire. I feel it likely that her father was killed in the blaze and, possibly, both parents. This most certainly was newsworthy and would appear in a paper somewhere.

Find the record of her father\'s death. This could well crack all the problems surrounding this event. Hopefully, it will give date of death, age at death, address at the time of death and cause of death.

Please keep us advised and, if needed, ask for further help. One thing that would prove useful to us is a brief summary of what you have done to date, so that we can think of alternatives instead of advising you to do what you have already done. ;)

Good luck,
Keith.
 

dinie

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#3
Hi Keith
Thanks for your reply. The info I have relating to my grandmother is sketchy and speculative, but this is what I have learnt.
1) My first problem stems from the surname - Adams - not many of those around. I know her father was William Robert Adams, occupation Engineer, and he was deceased when she married in1926, in Northamptonshire. I do not know how old he was or where or when he died.
2) We think she came to Northamptonshire to go into service at Grafton Regis Manor and worked as a childrens nurse or maid, but am not sure when this would have been. She did say she used to go to Cranwell in Kent during the Summer when she was a child (I do not know if this was with her family or the orphanage)
3) The next major problem is she didn\'t talk to her children about her childhood, so I have no concrete information. I have spoken to my mum and all her brothers & sisters (aged 74 to 55) but none of them have anything definite. One uncle believes she was born in Swanscombe, Kent and we believe it was in 1901 because when my Grandfather retired they had to get a copy of her birth cert & this is what was on it. Unfortunately, no-one in the family has that cert now.
4) I only have names for her brthers & sister and again speculative info about where they were born. None of the family are sure about the heirachy so not a lot of help there. I believe two of her siblings were born in Brighton but again this is speculative.
I do have details of who they married, is it worth trying to trace the marriages as a starting point? I also have their children\'s names but no dates or places.
5) My mum & her brothers/sisters always say it was a Salvation Army orphanage, I cannot find any in Kent to check this. Is it possible the orphanage was in Northamptonshire and that\'s how she came to this area?
Sorry if this is vague but it\'s all I have to go on.
Thanks
Nadine
 

KeithS

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#4
Hi Dinie,

Right. Let\'s see if we can cut to the chase on this one. ;)

You already have some pretty good information. Have you tried St Catherine\'s Hous Indexes?

Some years ago, I was helping a young chap with his family research and, in his case, the help needed was more intensive because of learning disabilities. However, once shown how to do something and set a task, he could handle it quite well. Needless to say, though, he hit a brick wall. As a result, i spent some time travelling with him to the main centres for access to the indexes. We could get them in Liverpool, but could only have an hour at a time. So, we travelled to St Helens, where we could be on all day.

I started a general search of all records for the family name and we wrote out every record we found on A4 refill pads - there were hundreds. I then set to and starting writing out record cards for every entry we found. When that was done, I sat and started sorting them. First into district, then into year within that district and so on. Eventually, I had found all the names he had got. Plus, I was able to add details of 17 other individuals he knew nothing about. The end result was that, from these cards, I was able to take him back a further three generations and cracked the brick wall wide open. it involved shovelling through an awful lot of entries. But, we got there.

I think if you do a general search of birth, marriage and death entries for the names you have, covering the known years you are dealing with, in the two areas you have in mind, there is a very good chance you will find what you are looking for. The beauty of the St Catherine\'s House Indexes is that they cover the whole country (England and Wales) and are arranged alphabetically within each quarter. From these, it should be fairly easy to pin these records down. Although it will require a fair bit of time being spent doing so. There are no shortcuts.

If you are not sure of the years of birth, or place(s) of birth of the siblings, look for the entries of death. That will give you the ages at death and, from them, the year of birth. If you find more than one entry for a given name (meaning that there is more than one person in the records with that name), write them all down and then work out the years of birth from that. Next, check the birth indexes for the years you have and write down all the information for each and every one of them. When you get home, write out record cards for each one and then start sorting them, using common information such as parents\' names or locations. Consider that all children of a given family will probably have been born within within a period of 20 years. So, if you have a group which matches the names you have, and fits the time period, you only now need to look at the parents names. If they match, you\'ve got them. For the sister, the first thing you will need to do is find an emtry for marriage. This will do instead of an entry of death, as it will have her age at the time of the marriage and you can work out her year of birth from that.

Before you start any of the above, write out all the information you do have, for each name, on separate index cards and carry them with you when you go. Compare the information you have on the cards with entries you find and, you should be able to start filling in gaps there as well.

I wish I could be with you to show you the way but, I am going to have to rely on you to do as I say (no more and no less at this stage) and report back to me how you get on. There will be a lot of frustration. there will be trips when you fnd nothing. There will be other trips when you come home with lots of info. Much of it will prove irrelevant and will seem pointless. It isn\'t. Trying to identify the right records can be like trying to identify an unknown object. If you don\'t know what it is, eliminate what you know it isn\'t. That reduces the number of records that will fit and, as you cut the numbers, the process of elimination gets easier and quicker. Eventually, you will be left with only a few to check on further and, very quickly, you will identify the right ones.

Keep up the work and let me know how you get on.

Keith.
 

dinie

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#5
Hi Keith

Sorry it's taken so long to update you but it's taken me this long to find anything out.

It turns out my Grandmother was registered under her mothers name - Hill - and there was no father on her birth certificate. I also found out she had been in the Dartford workhouse, not an orphanage.

I know have details of her and her siblings including two younger sisters none of my family knew about, sadly one of them died in the workhouse, so my next mission is to try to find her birth.

Thanks for your advice, it did help me along the way. Onwards with the search

dinie
 

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