Laurel Beechey, The World is a Stage

Doing your family history is a rewarding challenge.

Granted your detective work often seems futile as you try find g-g-great grandpa’s name and birthday, but when you do, the endorphins flow and you are pumped for more. Be warned, it is addicting.

Start with ‘You’ and your siblings and go up the tree. Follow your father’s family first as it is easiest as the last name stays the same. You want birth, marriage and death dates and places of dad, his siblings and parents. Ask them and get up that tree while your elders are still alive.

You want to get back to our 1921 census, which is the first one available and can lead you back through time to other documents and countries.

It is worth the money to set your tree up in Ancestry.ca or another genealogy site, which actually does much of the work for you. Occasionally you find others who have done part of your tree and you reap the benefit.

Dates are the keys to find and bringing your relatives to life but read the documents as you pick up parent and sibling names, immigration dates, where people work, religion and clues of a person’s life. Be sure to record them. When did they move? Follow babies’ birthdates/places.

My grandfather, Archibald Sidney Philpott Turner, was born March 29, 1885, Newport, Isle of White, England; died June 16, 1944, Sandwich (now part of Windsor, Ont.); m. Feb. 28, 1918, at St. Luke’s Battersea, Surrey, County of London, to Lily Hodgson. BORING! But one census said ‘sailor!’

Grandpa was on sail and steam ships with British Navy (deserted), US Navy (deserted), then sailed Great Lakes ships based in Windsor. He enlisted in Canada for WWI, was buried alive, severely injured and gassed. Met grandma in the hospital in England. They married and immigrated to Sandwich. Had three sons and died young from effects of mustard gas. From documents found over the years I pieced together his life. My dad was stunned at the pages of information we found that he knew nothing about.

Look up the dates in the area they lived. What happened back then? Learn about their country and occupations, then you will understand them.

Archie’s father was never talked about, but ‘George’ was found on Archie’s naval record and older censuses showed George Turner in a terrible workhouse as a child. George’s parents? The tree becomes iffy except for clues Uncle Bruce recalled at a (Canadian Navy) promotion hearing. They wanted to know if his ancestors had ‘ever cast a shadow on the fair name of Turner.’  He said no, neglecting to tell the board of two of his distant relatives: First, my great-grandfather had been as the magistrates of the time quaintly put it, stealing sheep. Second, my great-great-grandfather was put in the pillory for seven days for disturbing the peace. His sentence read “in that the accused did make a horrid noise as the Duke passed by and furthermore he did then enjoin the Duke to go and attempt a physical impossibility.”

It seems there is a run of black sheep in my family, and I love it! I have not found the documents yet, but more comes online every day! You never know what research will reveal. Get all the stories you can, while you can!

© 2021 Wallaceburg Courier Press