Saturday, June 23, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: DNA and Hair Jewellery






Intricately arranged bands of light and dark human hair in the simple locket above show that the
wearer is remembering a departed loved one. Though the notion of mourning jewellery dates back to the medieval era, it was during the Victorian age that memento mori ('remember death') reached its greatest popularity and production. Queen Victoria herself may have started the trend after the tragic loss of her husband, Prince Albert, when he was only 42. She resolved to wear black for the rest of her life.




Initially for the upper classes, remembrance pieces made out of the hair of the deceased gradually became popular and being less expensive than mourning jewellery made of jet (a shiny black gemstone) or other materials were more within the reach of the ordinary person. 

A family historian such as myself, on finding such a treasure among inherited memorabilia, would wonder what the hair could tell of the ancestor on whose head it originally grew. Unfortunately, the answer is 'Nothing', apart from an indication of hair colour or how fine or thick the hair might once have been. DNA cannot be extracted from hair found in a locket.

This is because hair is not formed from cells but from keratin.The same is true of fingernails.
DNA only exists in a cell. The nucleus of the cell has the organism's cellular DNA. It might be possible to extract DNA from the follicle cellular remains if the hair has fallen off or been torn out - root cells may then be present and these could be tested for DNA. Hair incorporated into mourning jewellery has generally been cut from the head and has no follicle left attached.







Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My ancestors worked in a dynamite factory


Workers at Nobel's Explosives Factory, Ardeer, Stevenston.
(North Ayrshire Libraries)

In the process of finding out more about my Hamilton and Gibson ancestors who had once lived in a small village called Stevenston on the coast of Ayrshire, Scotland, I discovered that several members of these families had worked at 'the dinnamit' (i.e. the Dynamite) local parlance for Nobel's Explosives Factory at Ardeer.

Census returns revealed that Hamilton and Gibson daughters as young as twelve years old had contributed to the family income by being 'carteridge (cartridge) makers' at the factory. It was an extremely dangerous occupation and the girls had to wear their hair in plaits or pigtails to lessen the risk of accidents with any of the inflammable materials used. These included nitric and sulphuric acid.

The perils inherent in the manufacture of explosives were obvious to the workers and their families. It must have been a wrench for mothers to say goodbye to young children going off to the factory to earn what was a pittance. But times were hard and every little helped to keep the family fed and clothed. My Hamilton great grandmother gave birth to fifteen children and raised thirteen of them to adulthood, no mean feat. Fortunately, her daughters survived their years at the dynamite factory despite the dangers they faced daily.

The first fatal accident at the explosives plant took place in August 1882 when a man dropped a bottle of nitro-glycerine. He was killed. Later the same year a nitro-cotton stove exploded, with the loss of two men. But the most serious accident up to that time cast a pall of pain and sorrow over the whole district when a cartridge hut blew up, setting fire to three similar huts. Poignantly, all ten fatalities were young girls between 18 and 25. Stevenston was plunged into mourning. The investigation into the incident found that a broken lever handle on a machine had fallen on to a box of dynamite causing detonation. The Company was held blameless. 

There were other incidents, some minor and some with tragic consequences, in the years that followed. The start of World War I in 1914 ended the early stage of the Nobel's Factory at Ardeer. Increasing production of explosives for military use meant a growing workforce. From January 1873 until February 1914, 37 lives were lost - less than one a year. Compared to high numbers of fatalities in heavy industries such as mining, the strict regulations enforced in the explosives industry kept down the number of deaths.




Elizabeth Hamilton
 with some of her many grandchildren.


Acknowledgement: To historian John Millar for his willingness to share his remarkable knowledge of Ardeer and environs and for his assistance with my digging into Hamilton and Gibson ancestry. His book 'In the Shadow of the Dynamite', the product of years of committed research, is packed with fascinating information.





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Celebrity genealogy


Is it just me, or are you also a leetle tired of celebrity genealogy? Been there, done that, torn up the T-shirt?

I’ve watched most of the offerings available either on TV or on DVD, from more obscure productions to UK’s massively popular offering – you know the one I mean. And, yes, they do have a hypnotic, even an addictive, attraction.

It depends, I suppose, on how critically you watch the episodes: whether the quality of the research procedures employed stand up to close scrutiny or whether you’re simply riveted by the storyline and don’t mind if the nuts and bolts aren’t screwed down tightly and the conclusion is reached by the magic of television – as seen in cooking programmes where there’s a sample of the day’s recipe ‘made before’ so we can see immediately what the finished product should look like.

I’m not insinuating that these shows are half-baked, far from it. It is evident that a huge amount of research, time, effort – and, of course, money – goes into the writing, directing and polishing of each story. However, the nature of the medium brings its own limitations. It would be impossible to include in an episode of less than an hour every tiny detail discovered during the research stage or to mention all sources consulted. If that were to be attempted viewers might well be nodding off in their armchairs. People want to be entertained. What to leave out and still retain the story’s genealogical credibility must be a daunting juggling act for scriptwriters and editors.

One obvious outcome is that ‘newbies’ – ghastly term - introduced to the world of genealogy via such programmes are left with the impression that everything is easy and they should be able to climb their family tree in no time. They begin their search armed with unrealistic expectations and wonder why the magic doesn’t work for them. There’s much said about the numerous viewers who begin taking an interest in family history because of watching these programmes but is this really the best route into the topic?

There’s no doubt that it is a money-spinner for the media, for professional genealogists involved with the programmes and for other commercial enterprises associated with family history. Whether it is of benefit to the pursuit of genealogy in general, or to the average family historian, is less simple to determine. Isn’t it merely another example of the current dumbing down we’ve already seen in printed genealogy publications where bite-sized bits of information are aimed at readers who are expected to have the attention span of a gnat?

Which brings me back to my initial question: now that the attention of a wider market has been captured by playing the glossily-packaged celebrity card, could we return to real genealogy research? If there’s one thing the latter teaches us, it is that there’s no such thing as an ordinary life – we all have extraordinary ancestors to discover and to share. Let’s celebrate them.








Monday, June 18, 2018

Passengers to Natal various vessels 1858, mention of G Caithness


1858 - ARRIVAL OF VARIOUS SHIPPING

June 22 1858 - Arrival of Pet (schooner) 100t, G Caithness, from Mauritius
June 20 1858 - Arrival of Princeza (schooner) 141t, W Lee, from Liverpool
Passengers
Rev W and Mrs Mason
Mr Atkinson
Mr Ward


A 3-master of the 1850s similar to the barque Lady of the Lake



June 21 1858 - Arrival of Lady of the Lake (barque) 321t, M Taylor, from London
Passengers
Cabin: Messrs
Carbutt
Burton
Ellington
Mrs I Taylor, Miss Taylor and Mrs MH Taylor
2nd Cabin
Miss C Burton
WF Bloy
WR BloyMessrs
Kirkham
Crowder and Mrs Crowder
Mr Gavin
Miss Hillary
Mrs Hooper and 2 Misses Hooper
Mrs and Master Little
Miss Richards
Steerage
Miss Arnold
Mr Brickhill and 2 Masters Brickhill
Mrs Flemming
Mr Glenester
Mr and Mrs Gray
Messrs Hillary (17 in number)
Miss A Jenkins
L Jenkins
Messrs Inman and Long
Mr and Mrs Meldrum
Messrs
Marshall
Milne
Gawrbee (?)
Gyles
Mr and Mrs Pugh and 2 children
Mr and Mrs Ramsay and 6 children
Jane Brunton
Maria Sydnell
Mary Wilson
Messrs Thompsit and White



Saturday, June 16, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: William Bell Gadsden 1934 Durban




His first car: June 1934. The Morris 8.

My father, William Bell Gadsden (1910-1995).



Friday, June 15, 2018

Passengers to Natal per Waldensian and Estafette 1858

ARRIVAL OF THE WALDENSIAN and ESTAFETTE Natal Mercury July 31 1858

The Waldensian arrived at the anchorage yesterday, about noon. She brings the English mail to the 5th of June. She left the Cape on the 20th, arrived in Mossel Bay on the 22nd, left on the 23rd, arrived in Algoa Bay on the 24th, left on the 27th; arrived at East London on the 28th, and left on the same day, having encountered heavy westerly winds the whole voyage.

PASSENGERS per Waldensian are
Mr and Mrs Crawford, two children and three servants
Mr Adamson
From Algoa Bay
Mr Taylor
Mr Whalley
Mr Broad
Mr Cousens
Steerage
Mr John Tweedie
Mrs Midgeley and child
Mr Lodge

It will be seen that Lord Derby's Cabinet is still on its legs; but Sir Bulwer Lytton is Colonial Secretary, in place of Lord Stanley. We fear a change for the worse.
The Agammenon and Niagara were to start with the Atlantic telegraphic cable on the 9th of June.
Captain Pilkington, civil engineer, of Cape Town, is dead.

The Estafette has arrived in Simon's Bay, from Amsterdam, on her way to Natal, with Dutch immigrants.

Consols 5th June, 96, ex div.
Rate of Discount, Bank of England, 6 per cent.
25,000 men are to be sent to India without an hours' delay.
Cape Wools, with some exceptions, shew a falling off in quality and condition, but towards the close of the sales prices somewhat rallied.
A war is said to be imminent between Austria and France. A feverish agitation prevails throughout the latter country.

The Early Morn sailed on the 30th May.
Sir George Grey is on his way to, if he has not already arrived in the Free State.
The Waldensian met the Madagascar on the 28th, about twenty-miles west of East London. All well.
The Nil Desperandum, the Irene, and the Anne Whyte were loading for Natal.
The Admiral would sail early in June.










































Saturday, June 9, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Old House Museum, Durban



The Old House Museum is a recreation of a Natal Settler homestead - in this case, the home of Sir John Robinson, Natal's first Prime Minister, and family. The site of the Old House was donated to the city by George Churton Collins and was opened as a museum in 1954.




Gleaming kitchen utensils of yesteryear, crockery, musical instruments, clocks (one from the ill-fated Minerva), costume, paintings and other items associated with settler homes invite closer inspection. In the gardens behind the museum are examples of horse- and ox-drawn wagons. A glimpse of an era more peaceful than our own.

 


Address: 31 Diakonia Street (previously St Andrew's Street)

Tel: 031 311 2261

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Passengers to Natal per The Lady of the Lake 1859

PASSENGERS FOR PORT NATAL BY THE LADY OF THE LAKE Natal Mercury April 14 1859
The following is a list of the passengers, sixty-six in number, who had engaged passages to Natal by the Lady of the Lake up to the 5th of February. The vessel sailed on the 10th, and will only call at Algoa Bay to land a few passengers for that place:



Chief Cabin
Lieutenant Goolden
Mr and Mrs Tucker and five children
Miss Charlotte Chapman
Miss Noon
Mr W Harwen
Mr T Butler
Mr NB Lock
Mr Edward Symondson
Mr E Hooper

Second Cabin
Mr and Mrs Duffy
Misses Noel (3)
Mr W Fleming
Mr Rich
Mr H Robinson

Steerage
Mr and Mrs Bancroft
Mr and Mrs Hall
Mr F Bayley
Mr and Mrs Moffitt
Mr JT Anderson
MR Harding
Mr G Brown
Mr G Deer
Mr J Forbes
Mr Glenister and family (3)
Mr and Mrs James
Mrs Orchard

Per Emigration Commissioners
Mr Tulley, wife and friends (4)
Mr P James and family (3)
Mr P Smith and family (4)
Mr R Davis and family (5)
Mr E Rogers and family (4)
Messrs
G Root
J Neville
R Broadley
R Corlett



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Natal Passenger Lists from The Natal Witness 1852


NATAL WITNESS JAN 2 1852

SAILED
Kellermont, Captain SHAW, to Port Elizabeth
Rosebud, Captain A. MURISON, to Cape Town
INSIDE
Gem, J. PROUDFOOT, agent
Devonian, E. P. LAMPORT, agent, crossed the Bar on the 21st instant.
ARRIVED 
Iris, Captain DOBSON. 
CABIN
Surgeon - Mr. J. H. H. LEWELLIN (sic), wife, 3 children
Messrs. G. T. and Henry LEE
Mr. Wm. Henry MIDDLETON and wife
Mr. VIVIAN.
Mr. Charles Thomas WHEELWRIGHT
Miss SHUTTLEWORTH
INTERMEDIATE 
Miss Sophia HAWKINS
Mr. Thomas COPE and wife
Mr Wm. Hill ALLEN
Mr. J. GRANT
Mr. T. GRANT
Mr. E. HOLLAND, wife, and six children
Mr. J. C. SLATTER, wife, and three children
Mr. Wm. SLATTER, and son
Mr. Wm. BULLOCK, and five children
Mr. WEST, wife, and four children
Mr. SIMMONS
Mr. MARTIN
Mr. WITHINGTON, wife, and two children
Mr. Jeremiah WILSON
Mr. Martin HIRSCH
Mr. Moritz HIRSCH
Mr. Samuel PARISH
Mr. George GAIN
Total - 44 (56 listed, including all the children)

NATAL WITNESS JAN 9 1852
SAILED
Jan. 3rd - Gem, Schooner, Captain GLENDINING, for Cape Town. About 20 Passengers. (Not named)
INSIDE
Devonian, E. P. LAMPORT, agent.
OUTSIDE
Iris, J. Millar, and Co. Agent.

NATAL WITNESS JAN 23 1852
ARRIVED
The Duo, brig, Captain ENEROTH, from Cape Town.
Passengers -
Messrs.
CLOETE
MEURANT (45th Regt.)
MARRU
PHIPSON (and 2 children)
FAIRBRIDGE
FENTON
Mrs. SEARLE and four children
Miss SCOTT
One servant
One soldier (45th Regt.)
INSIDE
Devonian, E. P. LAMPORT, agent
Iris, J. MILLAR, and Co. Agent
OUTSIDE
Typhena (sic - error for Tryphena)

NATAL WITNESS FEB 13 1852
ARRIVED
February 6th
The barque Trent, Captain A. COLLETT, from London. 
CABIN
Mr. J. S. STEEL and Mrs. STEEL
Mr. And Mrs. SCHWIKHARD
Mr. James MACK (Surgeon) and Mrs. MACK
Mr. W. J. WILKINSON
Mr. H. F. PAXTON
Mr. And Mrs. E. RATSEY
INTERMEDIATE
Mr. Samuel OXENHAM
Mr. And Mrs. BLOCK
Messrs. Josh. and Charles PARKER
Mr. Joseph DUNCAN
Mr. (Wm.) and Mrs. BROWN and family (six)
Mr. James WIGG
Mr. Charles SHAW
Mr. E. BELLANS.
Sailed (i.e. from London) Nov 22nd, 1851
Feb. 7 - Rosebud, A. MURISON, from Cape Town
Feb. 8 - Tryphena, A. SMITH, to Mauritius
INSIDE
Devonian, E.P. LAMPORT, agent
Iris, J. MILLAR and Co. agent
Rosebud, H. JARGAL, agent
OUTSIDE
Trent, J. BROWN, agent

NATAL WITNESS FEB 20 1852
ARRIVED
Feb. 11 - Elizabeth Jane, from Mauritius, and sailed the 13th inst. for Port Elizabeth and Cape Town
Feb. 15 - Mayflower, Captain LANGMAIR from London
INSIDE
Devonian, E.P. LAMPORT, agent
Iris, J. MILLAR and Co. agent
Rosebud, H. JARGAL, agent
OUTSIDE
Trent, J. BROWN, agent
Mayflower, J. MILLAR and Co. agents

NATAL WITNESS MAR 15 1852
SAILED
Mayflower, J. MILLAR and Co. agents
ARRIVED
March 11 - Wanderer, N. GLENDINING, from Algoa Bay. Passengers:
Mrs. ADANDORFF (sic) and two children
Mrs. JONES, five children and servant.  J. PROUDFOOT, agent.
March 15 - Larne, schooner, from London, Mr. F. SIMMONS, master, for Comoro Islands, put in for water.
March 15 - Gem, J. GLENDINING from Table Bay. Passengers:
Mr. A. J. DE KOCK and family and J. DE KOCK and family
Rev. Mr. APPLEYARD and Mrs. APPLEYARD
Mrs. SNELL
Mr. and Mrs. FIELD and family
Misses BRESLER
S. DE KOCK
Revs. DUNN, SABOR, LOGEGARY, and ALLARD
Messrs. BOMPAIN, HERBERT, MOORE, and LONG. J. PROUDFOOT, agent.
INSIDE
Wanderer, Gem and Larne.

NATAL WITNESS AUG 20 1852
ARRIVED
August 14th - Sir Robert Peel, Royal Mail Steamer, 233 tons, Captain J. BOXER from Table Bay and Algoa Bay 11 August, to this port. Cargo sundries. Passengers:
Mr. and Miss FAIRBRIDGE and servant
Mr. THOMPSON and son
Mr. SYMONS
Lieut. INGLIS, R.E.
Brings a Cape Mail. Crossed the bar on the 16th inst. E. SNELL, agent. Reports the Ceres having sailed on the 30th July with the English mail for May and June.
INSIDE
Sir Robert Peel, steamer, J. BOXER, for Algoa Bay and Table Bay To sail on Saturday. E. SNELL, Agent.
OUTSIDE
Bydal, (sic, Rydal?) for Mauritius, E. P. LAMPORT, Agent
VESSELS EXPECTED
From London - Narcissus and Hannah From the Cape - Ceres, Rosebud and City of Rotterdam

NATAL WITNESS OCT 1852
ARRIVED
October 7th - Sir Robert Peel, Royal Mail Steamer, 234 tons, John Boxer, from Table Bay. Cargo - sundries. Passengers:
Captain SMALES and family
Messrs:
KUHR
BROWN
STRATTON
AMYOT
GOODRICKE
GAIN
BUCK
and another
STEERAGE:
Mr. STRETCH
VESSELS EXPECTED:
From the Cape: Lord Auckland, steamer, Sanspareil and Sarah Bell
From London: President and Wee Tottie

NATAL WITNESS OCT 1 1852
SAILED
Sept 28 - Hannah, C. J. WEATHERALL, to Australia.
Passengers:
CABIN:
Messrs
HEAP
WHITTAKER
BROWN
Mrs. ZOHRAB and 2 children
Messrs.
JACKSON
PAGE
SCHIPPER
PRICE
ZOHRAB
SILVESTER
GORDON
STEERAGE:
Mr. HASTIE
Mr. and Mrs. WEBB and 2 children
Messrs.
SUTTIE
MURRAY
GREGORY
CLARK
BUCKLEY
DIXON
BROUGH
Mr. and Mrs. MARRIOTT and 3 children
Mr. and Mrs. WEBB (repetition ? see above - & below!)
Messrs.
DAVIS
TURNBULL
GREVILLE
KINGHAM
ABBOT
COATES
Mr. RICHARDSON and child
Messrs.
FRANKLYN
STEVENS
MCCRAE
TAYLOR
EDLIN
2 VERES
HOLLETT
JONES
LOGAN
Mr. and Mrs. WEBB (again?!)
Messrs.
BLUNDELL
BARRET
8 (?) HOWDENS
HAMLEY
WITHERS
Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR and child
Messrs.
SYMES
RICHARDSON
TAYLOR
SAGAR
Total - 70 (figure of dubious accuracy)
INSIDE
Narcissus, J. BROWN, Agent
Gem, J. PROUDFOOT, agent
Leontine Mary, S. SNELL, agent
VESSELS EXPECTED
From the Cape - Lord Auckland, steamer, Sanspareil, and Sarah Bell
From London - President

NATAL WITNESS OCT 12
SAILED
Sir Robert Peel, steamer, to Port Elizabeth and the Cape
Passengers for Port Elizabeth (in the CABIN) -
Capt. MESSUM
Rev. Mr. APPLEYARD, wife and child
STEERAGE
Messrs.
STRETCH
HIRST
CALDWELL
BRUTON
HERNES, wife and four children
For the Cape (in the CABIN) -
The Lieutenant Governor
Mr CHRISTOPHER
Mrs. CHRISTOPHER, child and servant
Messrs
BURGE
TAATS
STEERAGE
Messrs
HEYS
CROWDER
WILLIAMS
& five shipwrecked seamen (no names)
VESSELS EXPECTED
From the Cape - Lord Auckland, steamer, Sanspareil, Sarah Bell and Rosebud
From the Mauritius (sic) - Ceres
From London - President and Wee Tottie



Saturday, June 2, 2018

Souvenir Saturday: Durban's Railway Station and the Old Court House





Coloured postcard showing the junction of Gardiner and West Street. The former Town Hall, later the Post Office, is at right, the Durban Railway Station in the background - this photo was taken after two floors were added to the building in 1904.  Miraculously it has survived to the present day while other landmarks have been demolished in the march of 'Progress'. Note the double-decker tram, horse-drawn transport and rickshaws. The tree at right in front of the Post Office was known as Dead Man's Tree, a historic fig tree on which various notices were traditionally posted it was cut down in 1958 by order of the Durban City Council. 

We are fortunate to retain the Old Court House in Aliwal Street, which was once marked for demolition to provide a councillors' parking lot.  It was saved from this demeaning fate largely through the efforts of Mrs Daphne Strutt who would become curator of the museum established in the building. Later (1965) the Local History Museum, this was originally Durban's first public building dating from 1860 and it is a pleasure to see its fine colonial lines and lantern ceiling still proudly giving testament to the optimism and confidence of early Natal.



The Court House after the two wings were added.  It was Durban's Court House from 25 April 1866.  For 44 years it was the centre of legal activity in Durban. Today it houses the Local History Museum.