Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Fathers and Grandfathers:

Here is a photo of my father's family taken during the 1920's
before they left Wigan, England, to come to New Zealand.

From left back.. Uncle John, Aunty Lizzie, my dad Harold, Aunty Florence and Uncle Richard.
In front are my grandmother Elizabeth (nee Booth), Aunty Bessie, and grandfather, Richard Marsden. Aunty Maud, my grandfather's daughter from his first marriage, is absent.
Maud and Richard did not move to NZ with the family, but came some years later.

Aunty Florence was a seamstress and came to NZ on special sponsored scheme.
I wll talk about their journey out to NZ another time.

The Booth and Marsden families were originally from Standish.
One of my great-grandfathers was a blacksmith there and the other a stone mason.
My father was 19 when he came to NZ.
He became a farm owner on the Manukau Peninsular
and sadly died the day before I turned 16.
Some of his health problems were related to having worked down the mines from an early age.
Now here is my mystery.
This sketch was the work of my grandfather Richard Marsden.
It is dated 7/ 1900. and titled 'Byers Green, Durham'.

I wonder if anyone can tell me anything about this house in, or called Byers Green.
A bit of a long shot..but you never know...

I discovered there is a village called Byers Green near Durham. Mo and I stayed there in 2002 but we did not find the house.

This picture was in our family home as long as I can remember, and is in my own home now.
My grandfather was working in the coal mining industry around Durham and married a Durham girl. Sadly she died in childbirth.
My grandfather returned to Wigan with his baby daughter and married my grandmother.
Strange to think, if his first wife had happily survived.. I would not be here today. What a thin thread of chance our existence hangs by.
I love the picture but I may never know why my grandfather sketched it.
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  1. What a beautiful family photo to have J, I can't remember meeting your Dad but I may have. It would be wonderful it would be if someone could tell you about the house.

  2. Such a lovely family photograph to have and to cherish and to have this wonderful sketch from your grandfather is a treasure indeed. I do so hope that someone reads this post and sees the sketch and can tell you a bit about the house. That would be wonderful indeed for you and for your family as well. I'll keep that hope in my heart for you.

  3. A wonderful post! They had to be very special people to leave familiar England to take up a life on the other side of the world.

  4. Not too familiar with Durham and therefore can't help with identifying the house. But thanks for a fascinating post based on such a memorable family photograph.

  5. What a beautiful family photo! I hope someone out there can fill in the missing pieces for you, a long shot, but you never know. And, yes, our lives hang on a thread...I'm sorry for those who died, but happy you're here.

  6. Interesting post indeed!

    Thanks for sharing:)


  7. I found a website and checked to see if by chance your "mystery" was posted. Perhaps someone connected with the site or a genealogist living in Durham or Byers Green could identify the dwelling.

  8. Beautiful family! How frightening and yet inspiring to leave everything you know behind and begin a new life literally on the other side of the globe. Sounds like a very enterprising family. Beautiful sketch, too. Do you have more of his artwork?

  9. I am always so amazed at our ancestors who left the familiar to move to new countries. How hard it must have been for your grandfather to have been left with a tiny daughter at the death of his wife. That happened to one of my grandfathers, too. The photograph is wonderful and I love the drawing! I hope you can find the exact location (if it still exists) and why your grandfather drew it.

  10. I'm left fascinated by the mystery house.

  11. This website might interest you ~ especially one of the pictures on said page (be sure to look at page 1 also);

    And maybe this map;

    I hope you find the house. I wonder if it may have been a miners cottage, but it looks a bit grand for that. Not many of them still exist now though :( My other thought is that it might have actually been somewhere near the pit itself. There is a mining museum in Durham ( I wonder if they might be able to help you.
    Your grandfather was a fantastic artist that is for sure!
    Good luck uncovering his story.. :)

  12. Thank you everyone for wonderful comments.
    Thank you Meri and Caroline for the web references. I will be interested to follow up these.