Tag Archives: finding minnie

The hunt for Patrick Vaughan’s service record resumes

14 Feb

My attention had now turned once again to Patrick Vaughan, the second husband of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan, and trying to find his First World War service record.

I had discovered that Patrick was a Canadian and an attestation record on the Library and Archives Canada website proved to be a good match, but I wasn’t 100% certain that this was my man. If I was going to order a copy of his full service record then I needed to be absolutely certain that I had the correct Patrick Vaughan.

My first attempts to find out more about Patrick were largely unsuccessful, I didn’t really know where I should be looking. There were a couple of interesting possibilities hidden behind pay-walls, but by and large nothing that seemed a good match, until I stumbled across a headstone for a Patrick Vaughan on Find A Grave.

This headstone was in Taber Cemetery, and Kate and her family had been heading for Taber when they landed in Canada, this seemed a good match. Furthermore, this was a military headstone, presumably erected by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, and it gave a the same regimental number as the attestation record.

This looked like the missing link I needed to confirm that the attestation record was for my Patrick Vaughan, but still I wasn’t certain. If only there had been some mention of Kate on the headstone, but it only had a date of death (2nd September 1934). I was still left pondering whether I had enough evidence to order the service record.

Then came my eureka moment. I was soaking in the bath, but my brain was still in Canada, trying to justify the cost of the service record. Then it occurred to me, I had the perfect way of confirming if I had the right man. Patrick had signed his attestation form and of course he would have signed the marriage register.

If I could match those two signatures I could safely order the service record in the knowledge that this was my man. It was so simple and so obvious, I didn’t leap straight  out of the bath, but when I did get out I made a note to check the original marriage register when I next go to the East Sussex Record Office (the copy of the marriage certificate I have doesn’t have the actual signatures of the bride and groom).

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Taking my first steps in Canada

13 Feb

Kate Vaughan (my 2x great-aunt) and four of her children sailed to Canada on the 19th September 1919, leaving behind her daughter Minnie to be looked after by my great-grandmother.

Presumably her new (and second) husband Patrick Vaughan had already returned home after serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

I wanted to find out more about Patrick and what became of the family once the had settled in Canada. Given that Kate took four children to Canada it seemed quite likely that I would have some cousins out in Canada (even if she didn’t have any more children with Patrick) that might be able to tell me more about the family.

The problem was that I know almost nothing about family history research in Canada and I knew very little about what became of the family after they arrived.

The passenger list had told me that they were bound for Tabor (or Taber) in Alberta but of course there was no guarantee that they actually ended up there. Of course I also knew that Patrick had been a soldier, and hopefully there would be a record of his service that would give me some more clues.

A good start was finding that Library and Archives Canada have digitised attestation records from the First World War and they are available to search on their website. There is really only one likely record for Patrick Vaughan which provides a few interesting details, but of course it doesn’t mention Kate, his next of kin was his sister Elizabeth.

Although it describes him as a widower, which matches his marriage certificate, the age given is about three years out. Interestingly it states that Patrick was born in Ireland, where his sister still lived.

Unfortunately Patrick’s full service record has not been digitised yet. I could wait patiently for it to be done or I could send the LAC some money to get them to digitise it. I never like parting with my money unless I am 100% certain, and there is just not enough information yet for me to be 100% certain, that this is the right man.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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I need to find out more about my grandmother

12 Feb

All the work I have been doing “Finding Minnie” and the subsequent blogging of the story has brought back into focus one of the big weaknesses in my family history. It is something that I have known for a long time, but perhaps not really acknowledged fully.

The more I began to dig around the story of Minnie, the more it became obvious that I have some big gaps in the knowledge of my grandmother’s life. Those gaps haven’t stopped my research, I know all the basic facts that I need to build a family tree, but I am missing background on her early life.

When I say early life I really mean from when she was born to when she married my grandfather at the age of sixteen. My knowledge of her first sixteen years is pretty much limited to her birth and baptism records, and as she was born in 1916 I don’t even have a census record for her.

I am not sure how much more information can be found, school records and church records are obvious sources that need to be investigated, but it would also be good to confirm exactly where she lived and what work did she do after she finished school?

Further information can probably be learnt (or implied) by looking into the lives of her parents (like using Electoral Rolls), but there may be other sources that I haven’t yet considered.

I don’t really know much about High Hurstwood, Sussex where my grandmother was born and presumably grew up, I really need to find out more about the village and village life. This might present further opportunities to find out more about my grandmother.

One big question that I would like to answer is how did my grandparents meet? My grandmother was from East Sussex and my grandfather from West Sussex, many miles apart, what brought them together in a geographical sense?

Further to this lack of knowledge there is another problem. Much of the information I do have after their marriage is not recorded in my database. From things such as baptism and school records for their children I have addresses that should be recorded and dates when the family moved house.

To some extent this problem doesn’t just apply to my grandmother, but to all my grandparents, but I have to start somewhere and it is a natural addition to my ongoing work on “Finding Minnie”.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Revisiting the outgoing passenger lists in search of Kate

11 Feb

Having failed to find a record of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan leaving England for Canada, I turned my attention to the other end of the journey and found a passenger list on Ancestry that showed Kate and four of her children arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 27th September 1919 aboard the White Star liner R.M.S. Baltic.

Armed with this information and the fact that they had sailed from Liverpool, I knew I ought to now be able to find a record of Kate and her family leaving England in the outgoing passenger lists on Findmypast.

Knowing the name of the ship made it pretty easy to narrow down the search, searching by ship name brought up a list of ships and selecting Baltic then brought up a list of years, clicking on 1919 brought up a list of sailings for that year. In the list was a departure on the 19th September 1919, the same date that had been recorded on the remaining fragment of the Driver family bible.

The bible had been correct all along, if only I had been able to search on that exact date I could have saved myself a lot of searching. I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet though, I still had to find Kate and her children in the passenger list, but at least now I only had 47 pages to go through.

I clicked through page after page, scanning the list of names for something that looked like the surname Vaughan. I hadn’t been able to find Kate in a person search, so I was looking for something that might have been mis-transcribed.

I wasn’t until I neared the end of the list that I realised I was getting closer and more pieces of the story began to fit together. The last few pages included the hand-written words across the top “Canadian military dependants forwarded by Can. Govt.” This made perfect sense and confirmed my suspicions, Kate’s husband Patrick Vaughan had been a Canadian soldier and the family were now travelling to Canada to join him.

Sure enough there was Kate, or at least it had to be Kate, the handwriting was not clear and the surname was spelt wrong, but it looked like Vaghan P Mrs. Disappointingly it didn’t list each child, but only gave the number of adults and children in the party, three adults (Kate and her two eldest children) and two children.

Although the passenger list didn’t give me any further information I had at last confirmed when Kate left England and that I needed to be looking in the Canadian archives for a record of Patrick Vaughan’s army service and to find out what became of Kate and her family after they settled in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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At last, proof that Kate did go to Canada

9 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible told me that my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan went to Canada on the 19th September 1919, but I couldn’t find any record of her leaving England in the passenger lists on Findmypast.

I had found no trace of Kate and her family (except Minnie) in England and furthermore the bible had proved correct in the past so I felt sure Kate had gone to Canada, it was just that I couldn’t find her.

I knew that my best bet would be to try to catch Kate as she got off the ship at the other end. Of course I didn’t know for certain that the other end was Canada, what date she would have arrived and on which ship or with whom she arrived, but using the information in the family bible would give me a starting place.

Fortunately Ancestry have a collection of Canadian Passenger Lists and so the search began again. What name would she be under? Did she travel with her husband? Did she have her children with her?

This time I was more successful. It was quite straightforward to find Kate because she was travelling with her four children. Having said that it wasn’t all plain sailing because a couple of the children were not under the names I would have expected. In fact none of the children had the surname I would have expected, they were all listed under the surname Vaughan, whilst strictly speaking they should have been under the surname Allison.

The family consisted of Kate Vaughan (Housewife, aged 42) and Kate Vaughan (aged 15), Cecil Vaughan (aged 13), Lawrence Vaughan (aged 8) and Nora Vaughan (aged 6), and they arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Baltic on the 27th September 1919.

At last I had confirmation that Kate and her family had gone to Canada, but there was also confirmation that Minnie hadn’t gone. This was the first time it really struck home, Minnie had been left behind. Perhaps I would never find out the reason why, but sitting there looking at that list of names on my screen I couldn’t help but think it must have been an incredibly traumatic thing to do for all concerned.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Kate went to Canada, so why can’t I find her?

6 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible gave me the clue that I needed as to what became of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan and her family. It claimed that she went to Canada on the 19th September 1919.

Whilst the words scribbled on the front page of a bible were a good clue, they need to be verified and also I needed to confirm who else went with Kate to Canada.

It seemed likely that her daughter Minnie Allison had not gone and thus ended up being adopted by my great-grandmother, but had Kate’s other children also emigrated with their mother? Hopefully finding the passenger list for that journey would provide some answers.

Findmypast.co.uk has outgoing passenger lists covering the period 1890 to 1960, so in theory it should have been relatively easy to find at least Kate among the lists, but of course it wasn’t.

Despite trying all the combinations I could think of I couldn’t find Kate. I knew I couldn’t rely on her giving the correct age, so keep that aspect of the search pretty open, but there were plenty of different names she could be travelling under. I assumed she was travelling under the name Vaughan, but when she didn’t turn up under that name I wondered whether she might have been using the name Allison or Driver.

Whichever name I used I couldn’t find Kate, or for that matter her husband Patrick or any of her five children. Unfortunately there was not an option to search by a departure date, only the year of departure otherwise that would have saved me some time.

I began to wonder if the information in the bible could be relied upon had the writer got the correct year and what if it wasn’t Canada she went to, but completely the opposite side of the world? Perhaps it was a different Kate? So far I had found the bible to accurate, so I felt I shouldn’t give up on it just yet.

I remembered the title of a podcast from The National Archives I had listened to a couple of years ago Every journey has two ends. If I couldn’t find Kate leaving England then perhaps I would have more  success finding her arriving in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Yet another lesson learnt the hard way

5 Feb

Having come to the conclusion that Patrick Vaughan (the second husband of my 2x great-aunt Kate Allison) was not English, due to a lack of any trace of him in the British Army WW1 Records or any civilian records, I had no option but to move on and hope that something else would turn up that might give me a clue as to where he had come from.

Had the newly married couple had any children? When and where did Kate’s children get married? When and where did Kate and Patrick die? All questions which should have been easily answered by the GRO BMD Indexes.

Apart from Minnie Gladys Allison, whom had started this research off, I could find no trace of any of the Allison family or Kate and Patrick Vaughan in the indexes, or any combination of the names.

It was then I remembered a rather tatty piece of paper in my possession, a couple of pages from a family bible that gave a few details about the Driver family. I wrote about this piece of paper before, but had largely neglected to follow-up the information written on it. One piece of information on there suddenly took on new significance.

Suddenly it all made sense, this was why I couldn’t find any trace of the family in England, she had gone to Canada, presumably with her new husband and children. Once again I had found the information I was looking for right under my nose.

Last year when I wrote about the tattered remains of this family bible I had even commented on the fact that Kate and her brother Asher had gone to Canada, but had never followed up on the information.

It wasn’t as if I actually needed to do the research at the time and find them in passenger lists, just putting a note in my database that would have reminded me that the bible said she had gone to Canada could have saved me many hours of fruitless searching when the time came.

Yet another lesson learnt the hard way, but at least I was back on the trail of Kate, Patrick and family.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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