25 April 2014

ANZAC Day 2014

Today is ANZAC Day, a day observed in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate all those who served (or are still serving) and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. ANZAC is an acronym that stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Naturally, on a day like today my thoughts turn to my great great uncle Allan Wickham, who was killed in action at the second battle of Bullecourt, France on 3 May 1917. Although I don't like war, I am proud to honour him and all those like him who made the ultimate sacrifice in war, by fighting and dying for their country.

The photo above is of my son, a member of the Australian Air League, laying a wreath at the local ANZAC Day Parade two weekends ago. I was proud that he marched in honour of those who fought and lost their lives for their country, and doubly proud that he was chosen to lay a wreath.

21 April 2014

The Smiths

I've recently been working on some Smiths. I've done some research on Smiths before, but they were on the maternal side of my family. These Smiths are on the paternal side - Susanna(h) Smith married James Ball at Hoxton St John, Hackney on 16 April 1835.

The surname of Smith can be an appallingly difficult one to research, especially if you have a John Smith and a Mary Smith in the mix, which happen to be the names of Susannah's parents. Helpfully, Susannah's parents made my research slightly easier because they were apparently great fans of alliteration and gave all their children names beginning with 'S' - Susannah, Samuel, Shadrach and Sarah, and possibly also Seth and Salina. I don't remember where I found the names of Seth and Salina, but I'm leaving them here as possible children because their names do start with S, but do be aware that they may not be correct. I have not been able to find any concrete evidence for their existence.

This Smith family seems to be from around the Bedford/Bletchley/Leighton Buzzard area. I have not actually been able to find any birth/baptism records for them. According to the records I have found, Samuel was the eldest child, born in about 1802 in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (from the 1851 English census). Next was Sarah, born in about 1808, in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire (according to the 1851 and 1861 censuses). Shadrach was born in about 1811 in Bletchley (1851 census). And according to her immigration records (upon immigration to Australia in 1857) and the 1851 census, Susannah was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire in 1815.

John Smith was noted as a linen weaver from Leighton Buzzard on the birth record of his grandson James William Ball, (son of James and Susannah Ball née Smith). The record does not state whether John Smith was actually still living at the time of the birth in 1837. Certainly John and Mary are both recorded as dead when Susannah immigrated to Australia in 1857.

One of the reasons why it has been difficult to find information on the family is because at least all the children in the family were non-conformist in their religion - I don't know if their parents were. Although some of James and Susannah Ball's own children were baptised in the Church of England, some were not - James William Ball's birth is found on a non-conformist register. Immigration records list the denomination of the Ball family as "Independent", which is also known as "Congregationalist".

Susannah's unmarried brother Samuel was living at 16 Beaumont Square, Mile End Old Town in the 1851 English census and his occupation was "Minister of Religion (Independent) and Lecturer".

Shadrach lived with his wife Elizabeth just down the road from Samuel at 2 Beaumont Square. As far as I can tell, they had no children. Shadrach was a printer according to the 1841 and 1851 censuses, but he did much more than that according to the death notice his sister Susannah placed in the Sydney Morning Herald on 31 Aug 1860:

I don't know this for sure because I haven't yet managed to access any Congregationalist ministers records, but I am guessing Samuel may well have worked at the same church that Shadrach attended - the Mile End Congregational Church.

Sarah was a governess who married later in life, aged 40, to a twice-widowed man, William Griffith Marsh - I'm guessing she was governess to his children. I have not been able to find a record for their marriage apart from in the civil records, and it is my hunch that they married in a Congregationalist church and their marriage is buried amongst the non-conformist records. I have not found any records for Sarah having any children.

Susannah Ball née Smith (1815-23 Oct 1871) is buried in Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney, NSW. Sarah Marsh née Smith (c1808-Mar 1864) is buried in Abney Park Cemetery, a non-conformist cemetery in Hackney, in the same plot as her brother Shadrach (c1811-31 May 1860), and his wife Elizabeth. I've not yet been able to work out when Samuel died, but it was before Shadrach, and he is not buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

17 April 2014

A family heirloom - a hand embroidered doily

I was given this embroidered doily after the death of my great aunt - it had been embroidered by her mother, my great grandmother, Ellen Paterson Wilkey née Macindoe (1876-20 Apr 1967). I treasure it because of my own love of embroidery, and have it framed and hanging on the wall in my bedroom. One day, when I meet her in heaven, my great grandmother may well ask me why I stuck it on the wall in a frame instead of using it!

The other day I was looking through some books on Antique Pattern Library, and was stunned when I came across the pattern! There is only one small difference that I can find in the way my great grandmother stitched it compared to the pattern and I'm quite convinced it is the pattern she followed. The pattern is from a DMC pattern book, Drawn Thread Work, edited by Thérésa de Dillmont, and was published in about 1895. This definitely fits within the time that my great grandmother might have been stitching.

Why do I think this is significant? I'd been told of my great grandmother's sewing skills, but finding the published pattern shows me that ordinary women stitched these designs - it wasn't mass produced in a factory somewhere. She was definitely talented - it's not an easy pattern!

06 April 2014

How I am related to the embroidery thread company DMC

My sister and I are accomplished embroiderers, and I have been aware for some time that there was a good chance we were related in some extremely distant way to the founders of the embroidery thread company DMC. Last night my sister and I were talking about it, and she challenged me to work out exactly how we were related. I thought it would take ages. Happily it didn't!

DMC (Dollfus Mieg and Company) is a company that was founded in Mulhouse in 1746 by Jean-Henri Dollfus, an artist, Jean-Jacques Schmalzer and Samuel Koechlin, both businessmen. When it was founded the company was known as Koechlin, Schmalzer and Company. It was run jointly by Jean-Henri and his brother Jean Dollfus, and towards the end of the century Jean's son Daniel took over running the company. Daniel Dollfus married Anne-Marie Mieg in 1800, and added his wife's surname to his own, to become Daniel Dollfus Mieg. The company was given the new trading name of Dollfus Mieg and Company - D.M.C.

So how am I related to DMC? Jean-Henri Dollfus, one of the company founders, was the great grandfather of the wife of my first cousin 5x removed. To put it in a way that is hopefully slightly easier to comprehend, Jean-Henri's great granddaughter Sophie-Louise Dollfus married Médard Baumgarten, who was the nephew of my 4x great grandfather Gaspard Weiss.

So every time I sit down to sew with some DMC threads I will now be able to bask in the glow of my familial relationship to the company that made the threads!