England

Boles family history: St. Rita locket found at Dunkirk

Zillah Trewin Boles handwritten note – 1940

This tiny locket of St. Rita — patron of impossible cases — was saved by my grandmother Zillah T. Boles in a small envelope, with a note as to its origins on one side. My mother kept it as a memory all of her days, and now that she has gone, it is with me.

The locket came from a pen pal my mother had in Scotland when she was about 16-17. I don’t know when she and Jean Littlejohn started corresponding or for how long. When I asked my mother about it a number of years back, she said her memories had faded.

The note says:

“This locket was picked up in the street at Dunkirk as the British were retreating to the shore for evacuation by the uncle of Betty’s [my mother’s] pen-pal in Scotland, Jean Littlejohn. His small boat was hit but he miraculously escaped and swam to the transport and got back to Scotland, on a fortnight furlough. He went back to England and to Africa and was reported missing at last word from Jean.”

I’ve no idea what to do with this envelope (and its contents) other than to post the information here so it can go back out into the universe. If living relatives of the deceased Uncle ever somehow get in touch with me, I will be glad to return the locket to them. At this point, it would be impossible to find the original owner. Perhaps, when I have time, I will take a look at family trees on Ancestry to see if I can crack the case. Meanwhile… off into the universe you go, little locket.

Categories: Dunkirk, England, France, Littlejohn, Scotland, WWII | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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Monday miscellany: “Oatmeal as Human Food”

Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle and Sentinel, 10 July 1845 (Credit: Digital Library of Georgia – newspaper archives)

This 1845 article appeared in The American Agriculturist* before making its way into the newspapers. The Augusta (GA) Chronicle and Sentinel** is where it caught my eye while I was looking for articles on a different topic.

I’d forgotten that here in the US, oatmeal hasn’t always been considered an acceptable and even desirable food for humans. Back in 1845, oats were for horses and other animals, and farmers were focused on wheat and rye for human consumption. Today, many Americans appreciate its nutritious value, but it is still nowhere near to enjoying the popularity it experiences in a place like Scotland where it has been a staple for hundreds of years. The US is not among the world’s top oat producers, which include Russia, Canada, Australia, Poland, China, and Finland. Soybeans and corn are more profitable.

Perhaps, this article, which pulls on material published in Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh and London), got some Americans talking about this subject especially since a challenge of sorts was laid down. Whether anyone took them up on that, I don’t know. Of course today, somebody would—you’d see Americans of Scottish descent loading up on “oatcakes, porridge, bannocks, and brose” and those of English descent getting their fill of “wheaten abominations” before fighting it out on YouTube or Instagram.

As superior and tasty as oatmeal may be, I did enjoy reading through the rather vast list of “wheaten abominations”, most of which sound delicious ;-):

Baking bread by Helen Allingham, English artist (1848-1926) – (Public domain due to expired copyright)

  • home made bread
  • baker’s bread
  • household bread
  • leaven bread
  • brown Georgies
  • fancy bread
  • raisin bread
  • baps
  • scones
  • rolls
  • muffins
  • crumpets
  • cookies
  • bricks
  • biscuits
  • bakes
  • rusks
  • Bath buns
  • Sally luns
  • tea cakes
  • saffron cakes
  • slim cakes
  • plank cakes
  • The Highland Shepherd by Rosa Bonheir, 1859 (Public domain image on Wikimedia Commons uploaded by “botautus”)

  • soda cakes
  • current cakes
  • sponge cakes
  • seed cakes
  • girdle cakes
  • singing hinnies
  • short bread
  • currant buns

**************************************************
Having lived in England a number of years, I recognized the baps, Bath buns and Sally Lunns. But some, like “brown Georgies” and “singing hinnies,” left me stumped. Turns out that singing hinnies are a kind of scone-like griddle cake that is popular in Northern England. Girdle cakes are thin scone-like griddle cakes cooked atop a stove rather than in the oven. I guess rusks are something you dip in your tea—like biscotti? No idea about plank cakes or brown Georgies. Please illuminate me, if you can.

Well, strangely enough, while I did enjoy oatmeal for breakfast this morning, I am suddenly feeling the need for a “wheaten abomination.” Best wishes to everyone for a safe and productive week. 🙂

*Volume 4, page 163.
**Published 10 July 1845.

Update 5/21/20: Meanwhile, another curious article from a test undertaken across the pond in 1852:

The Mountain Sentinel – Ebensburg, PA, 10 July 1852 (Credit: Library of Congress Digital Newspaper Archives)

Resources:
The Food of London by George Dodd (London: Longmans, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1856) – click here
“Is Oatmeal Healthy? Hear What the Experts Say” by Markham Heid, TIME online, published August 15, 2018 – click here

Categories: England, Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Scotland, United States | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

“Broadhead Worsted Mill” in Jamestown, New York

A Broadhead Worsted Mill advertisement – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.09486
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-09486 (digital file from original print) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

If you stroll around eBay long enough looking for memorabilia related to the Brodhead family and make use of alternate spellings to increase your odds, you’ll eventually run into advertising posters for Broadhead Worsted Mill in Jamestown, New York.

No, as the spelling strongly suggests, a descendant of Captain Daniel Brodhead and Ann Tye (arrived on these shores in1664, and both from Royston, West Riding, Yorkshire) was not involved in the Mill’s founding. Nonetheless, at some point it seems likely that we, the descendants of the Captain and his wife, share a common ancestor given the Mill’s founder, William Broadhead (1819-1910), also hailed from Yorkshire (from a town called Thornton). Royston is a very tiny village located to the northeast of Barnesley, and Thornton is a bit to the west of Bradford. The two are just about 25 miles apart.

Thornton and Royston are about 25 miles apart (cropped from the “New and improved map of England & Wales ” London : William Darton, 16th April 1823; Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650)

Per the Jamestown, New York, website, William had worked in Thornton as a blacksmith before emigrating to the US in 1843. He would have been about 24 years of age when he undertook that great adventure. It appears that initially he took up similar work in Jamestown, but eventually became interested in the textile industry.

“Wm. Broadhead” Image from The History of Chatauqua County, New York, Illustrated, Boston: W.A. Ferguson & Co., 1894, p. 808

Follow the website link above for the brief version of his life and career (or read the long version below). His was a fabulous success story. Like many who’ve achieved “the American dream,” he made significant contributions to his community. His two mills “employed thousands of persons”. The impact this one ambitious immigrant had was clearly exponential.

See Find a Grave for the grave of William Broadhead and other family members
See this listing on Realtor to view the home mansion William built for his family at 130 South Main Street in Jamestown, New York

Biographical information from The History of Chatauqua County, New York, Illustrated, Boston: W.A. Ferguson & Co., 1894, pp. 808-811




Categories: 1870s, Advertisements, Broadhead, England, Jamestown, New York, Royston Yorkshire, Thornton Yorkshire | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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Guest Post: “Woodruff Ancestors” by Sue Woodruff-Noland

Today’s post was generously contributed by Sue Woodruff-Noland who got in touch with me several months ago to share some very interesting information on her Woodruff-related travels and Woodruff ancestors. We figured out that our common Woodruff ancestor is John “the Elder” Woodruff (b. 1637, m.  Sarah Ogden), so we are cousins albeit very distant ones! I hope this blog’s readers, particularly those who are Woodruff descendants, will find Sue’s post of great interest. Please feel free to leave comments in the box below.
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St_Mary,_Fordwich_Kent_-_Royal_Arms_-_geograph.org.uk_-_324710

St Mary, Fordwich Kent – Royal Arms Royal Arms dated 1688 over chancel arch, “WR”, Willielmus Rex, (King William III). No arms shown or impaled of his wife Queen Mary II (Wikimedia: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: John Salmon)

The days in Northern Michigan are still warm and steamy, but the rascally squirrels are busy hiding acorns, so I think I need to gather “acorns of wisdom” and share them with the generations of John “The Immigrant” Woodruff (1604, Fordwich, Kent, England), whose descendants are abundant.

Likely you all know the lineage from John and where your lines diverge.  From the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, my son, Andrew (the family genealogist) and I have further records provided by a descendant named Charles M. Woodruff (1851-1932) that pre-date John “The Immigrant.”  Charles states, “The facts are attested by documentary and historical records; wills, marriage licenses, church rolls, etc.  The generations from our progenitor, John Gosmer, gentleman, Mayor of Fordwich, England, 1638 are eleven generations.”

From Charles’ genealogy:

1503, Thomas Woodruff (1), Fordwich, Eng., a jurat, and “trusted envoy of ye town.”  Died 1552.

William Woodroffe (2), son of Thomas, senior jurat, “key keeper of town chest, a very honorable office conferred upon the two best men of the liberty;” died 1587.

Robert Woodroffe, married Alice Russell at St. Mary Northgate, antiguous to Fordwich, 1573; he and his brother William figure in town books as freemen; William’s line became extinct in 1673; Robert is recorded as jurat and church warden in 1584, died in 1611.

Charles then records John (5), John (6), and John (6)A.  Our common ancestor is John (5), baptized at St. Mary Northgate in 1604.  Hopefully you have been able to follow…vaguely?… along thus far.  Genealogy is not my strong suit; telling stories is.  And here is our story.

In early October 2014 I called Andrew and asked if he would like to go to Ireland to explore our ancestral homeland, Co. Mayo.  Of course, he jumped at the opportunity; he also asked to add on a week in England to explore ancestral areas there, and a two-week trip became three. (Son, Neil, living and working in China, was unable to arrange so much time off work to join us.)

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Fordwich sign (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

About 10 years ago, Andrew serendipitously acquired the 1597 Geneva Bible belonging to the Woodruff family.  Woodruff cousins paid for a specially made box to preserve the remains of the Bible (at least the first five books of the Bible are worn away, i.e., g-o-n-e), though happily and thankfully the center pages remain intact. I bought Andrew a new, sturdy backpack and on 9 May 2015 the Woodruff Family Bible began its ancestral journey back home to Fordwich, Kent, England.

1650 cottage

1650 Cottage (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

We arrived in London 10 May and did a very cursory tour of London, leaving Tuesday, 12 May for Canterbury, arriving around 10 a.m.  After taking luggage from the rear seat and the ‘boot’ to our assigned room, we set out for our ancestral village, Fordwich, about four miles northeast of Canterbury.  Fordwich is Britain’s smallest town and first recorded as an inhabited place in 675 A. D. I’m not sure if we saw the entire tiny village or not.  We walked along sun-dappled lanes, past both a large, modern home and also quaint, sweet little cottages (note the 1650 designation on the cottage pictured here!)

And then, there it was: our ancestor’s church, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church.)

St. Mary’s Church

Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church) (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

The church dates from around 1100, in Norman times. Andrew (I gained several rear shots in 3 weeks!) and I approached the church’s entry along a path through a tree shaded cemetery with assorted tombstones, many of indeterminate (old) dates. St. Mary’s closed in 1995, passing, at that time, into The Churches Conservation Trust—and for this we are very grateful on this fine Tuesday in May 2015.

The_nave_of_the_church_of_St._Mary_the_Virgin,_Fordwich_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1351266

The nave of the church of St. Mary the Virgin (Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: pam fray)

We entered the church in awe, to think that our ancestors worshiped here, may have been ‘baptized, married, and buried’ from here more than 400 years before.  Not surprisingly, we had the church to ourselves and took our time exploring the nave and North aisle (added in the late 12th century.) The tower was inaccessible and the chancel was blocked by the altar rails, which date from the 1600s and comprise thickly set balusters to stop dogs from defiling the Holy Table.  Nearby was a lectern and that is where Andrew carefully placed our Family Bible.

Woodruff Bible

Woodruff Family Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

There is a benefactions plaque upon the wall in the narthex that lists a Daniel Woodruff, but this name needs to be researched to determine if he is of our line—apparently there were a great many Woodruffs in Fordwich 400 years ago. Later, while touring Canterbury Cathedral, we spoke with a volunteer, perhaps in her 70s, who has lived in Fordwich all her life and she was not aware of any Woodruff family any longer residing in the area.

Organ

Church organ (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

Andrew and I didn’t talk much as we made our way around inside the church, each of us engrossed in our own thoughts. Like church mice, first here, then there, into the vestry, out of the vestry, and back for another look at the old organ.  I imagined someone playing A Mighty Fortress is Our God in the 1600s, if the congregation was wealthy enough to have an organ then?

The Chapel of St. Catherine, in the eastern section of the North aisle, was converted at some point in the church’s history.  The church organ is accessed here in the vestry and was rebuilt in 1889; it came from St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury, in 1908.

box

Fordwich Parish Registers box (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

The Fordwich Parish Registers box was tucked in a corner of the NE side of the nave.  Such boxes would have contained baptism, marriage, and burial records.  Where the records from this box may be stored is unknown (no docent is on site to answer questions.)  It is a lifetime endeavor for us to uncover any records and our family’s history!

bible

Close-up of Woodruff Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

Though we don’t have the records that may have been stored in the Registers box, I can clarify for you what the entry in our Family Bible reads (rather confusingly, to me):

The Age of Benjamin Woodruff.  He was born November the 26 Anno: 1744.  Being the only one of my grandfather’s family that is now liveing [sic] this March the 23 day Anno 1785.  Benjamin Woodruff was born November 26 A 1744 and died 18 October 1837.  Benjamin Woodruff’s property June 2d A 1805 (?)  Benjamin Woodruff’s property Joanna D (?) 1805 Nov. 5 died July (?) Joanna Benjamin died July 28, 1812.

The Benjamin who died in 1837 is our Revolutionary War soldier, about whom I will write a separate story for you.  I am not aware of any Benjamin who died in 1812, whether I am misreading it, or if the person who wrote it misspoke.  There are multiple Johns and Benjamins in the family, too many for my muddled mind!

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

I have about 30 photos taken in Fordwich, mostly inside the church, but about a quarter of them of the outside grounds.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit Fordwich, I think you, too, will be humbled by the history of the settlement of this once important maritime port city on the River Stour where our ancestors once lived…and where, to this day, the Cinque Ports Confederation, an annual Civic service, is still attended by dignitaries from other Cinque Ports, held in our ancestral church.

In July 2016, the Woodruff family Bible was donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where two or three boxes of Woodruff documents dating back to the 1840s are stored.  All items are available for Woodruff researchers and contain fascinating reading.

Categories: England, Fordwich Kent Co, Woodruff | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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