Sunday, 4 September 2011

A story to tell

I grew up only knowing one set of grandparents, my father's parents.  My mum's mother had died of cancer when I was seventeen months old and had spent her last six weeks of life at our home, with me running in and out to her.  My grandfather had not come home after being demobbed from the war when my mum's youngest brother was just one month old leaving the family in a right old mess.  He and my grandmother never divorced and at one time it was hoped that they would get back together again, but sadly that never materialised.  As a result a whole load of family history had gone missing.  My Grandad George Thomas was one of a larger family from out Tealby way but we had no photographs, my mum certainly did not know her paternal grandmother as she had died by the time she was born, seemed to remember something about her granddad (my Great Granddad) i.e. that he had a big bushy beard that he used to tease her with by rubbing it into her face which she hated.

So I never really knew Grandad George, and perhaps saw him only twice as a youngster when we had bumped into him.  So much so, I decided to put that right after I divorced and I went looking for him, and blackmailed my cousin into taking me to meet him.  She unhappily agreed reluctantly indicating that she was not coming in at all costs, but in the end came in as well and my Granddad was overjoyed that I had gone looking for him.  He was by then a widower and not in the best of health, and even though I never saw him again, as a result of that meeting I did rejoin him with my mum   and she and my dad used to visit regularly.  He had to have his leg amputated due to gangrene and whilst he was recovering from the surgery to cheer him up they took a soft toy that I had had a go at making which was a parrott, but it was more like an over-sized chicken and he laughed his head off.  Sadly he passed and I went to his funeral which was organised by his second wife's family.    I only had one photograph of him, which was taken with me and nothing else.  [Apparently after his funeral a small brown box was passed to my younger uncle, and because he did not really know who was in the photographs he last week passed it on to my mum knowing that my mum might know].

A few years passed, my OH being a fishing nut got friendly with a new fisherman here in Peterborough and he and his wife became firm friends.  He and his wife came from Lincoln and we got talking on a night out - and it became apparent that he knew very well the Granddad that I didn't i.e. Grandad George Thomas - apparently he used to play darts with him and came up with some photographs for me of him (mostly Darts team pictures, but he spoke very highly of him) .we subsequently got copies of the same.  How strange that someone who we had had no connection with and became friends out of the blue with should be able to provide valuable information to me.  On further talking it also became apparent that not only did this friend know my Granddad George Thomas, but that my Dad's father Grandad Horace (known affectionately as Pop) had trained him as a fitter at Rustons in Lincoln.  Now that is what I call a small world and serendipity intervening.

That box was opened this afternoon whilst I was at my mum's and consists of a lot of photographs of extended family members who up to now had only been names, My Great Aunty Ethel and My Great Aunty Ada (and some of their children and husbands), as well as photographs of Granddad George, and photographs of what we believe to be his father as a young man and as an older gentleman and one obscure photograph of the family which we think has a photograph of Great Grandma - so another chunk of the jigsaw has now dropped into place. 

My mum had up to now only been able to give vague details as apparently when they were younger they didn't talk about family history like we do today.  I have asked my mum to go through the photographs and pencil the names of the people who she recognises onto the back of the photographs so that I and my brother have some idea of who is who. 

There was also my grandfather's Army Service Record book, with his demob papers.  Great Granddad George Thomas was in the Royal Artillery.  [Strangely my brother was in the Royal Artillery as was a cousin on my mum's maternal side and both served in Germany at the same time] 

The Demob papers were the start of all the problems from my grandmother and my aunties and uncles and mum, as my grandmother Dora was not aware that the had been demobbed. He just did not come home.

Those photos and that information have at long last found their way back home to my mum to add to the photographs that have come her way of her mum and dad as youngsters (via other cousins) and photographs of her grandmother's family.  It would seem that her family are very firmly Lincolnshire born and bred going back quite a few generations.

So out of the blue again, we have had more information come to light and it has been lovely to put a face to a name, especially after all these years and to see where some of the family likeness' have come from. 




  1. awesome, i love family stories. i too only new one set of grandparents, my mums mum died when mum was ten, her dad died when i was a baby. sort of like yours, but with a twist. we know very well all that side of the family, right back to newton abbot (yes england) but my dads father walked away from his family and only recently has my sister discovered a whole lot of rellies we never new, apparently great granddad had about 3 wives, all dying giving birth, so there are heaps of them, then he ran away to nz with wife no 3 or 4 and my granddad, leaving all the others behind. Ahh families !!

  2. I'm so pleased these have come to light and have been passed on to your Mom. I know the frustration of 'not knowing' and worse still 'not asking' when I had the chance. The chances are now gone, and the finding out is sometimes impossible. What a shining light your family have been given, and how wonderful that fishing has helped to fill in so many gaps!

  3. a lovely account tricia, of jigsaw pieces falling into place. You'd be surprised at how many coincidences there are in your writing with my life too!

    Leanne x


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