It is about time that I got around to telling the rest of the Finding Minnie story, or at least the story so far. You might remember that last time I wrote about contacting my newly found third cousin and how she thought she might have some photos of interest in her grandmother’s photo album.
She was right, they were definitely of interest because they showed my grandmother and great-grandmother along with Minnie herself and several other children.
It is fortunate that Minnie had the foresight to write names and dates in the photo album. How often do you see that? It is fortunate because I wouldn’t have recognised my grandmother in most of these, as I don’t recall ever seeing any photos of her as a child before.
There was one photo however which was unmistakably my grandmother. It was uncanny, the face looking back at me, that smiling face which I had seen so many times as I was growing up, but which I hadn’t seen since she passed away in 1999.
Annie Hemsley (dated 1927)
Apart from seeing that wonderful smiling face again it was great to see my grandmother as a child (she would have been ten or eleven when this photo was taken). I only remember her as an old woman and here she was enjoying herself climbing a tree, just being a child.
I can’t help but think see wasn’t really dressed for climbing trees, more likely dressed for going to school or church, but then children will be children, and it was just so wonderful to see her being a child.
In the end I decided I had put off for too long getting in touch with my third cousin. I had to find out if she was Minnie’s grand-daughter and if she was did she know why Minnie got left behind when her mother and four siblings emigrated to Canada in 1919.
I suppose I had been worried about how my contact would be received, if was indeed contacting the right person. Would it be ignored? Would I be told in no uncertain terms to get lost? There were no end of things that could go wrong, but of course there wasn’t really, it was just me worrying needlessly.
I received a reply to my initial email which confirmed that she was Minnie’s grand-daughter, and provided a couple of photos of Minnie and her husband, as well as filling in a few details.
I thought I could see similarities between the couple in the new photo (on the right) and the wedding photo (on the left) that had started this project a couple of months before, but that might just have been wishful thinking on my part.
My newly found third cousin also mentioned a photo album which had belonged to her grandmother, which she thought might have some photos of interest.
My grandmother’s “adopted” sister (in reality her cousin) had seemingly been left behind in England when her mother and four siblings emigrated to Canada in 1919, to be brought up by my great-grandmother Minnie Hemsley (as she would have been then).
I had been focusing very much on the Canadian side of things and neglecting Minnie. I knew she had married as it was her husband’s name that had enabled me to find her in the first place, and her death registration had led me back to her birth in Essex, but what had happened in the intervening years?
Through the GRO BMD indexes I was able to discover that Minnie and her husband had a son, that son had married and had a daughter. This opened up the prospect that somewhere out there was a living descendent of Minnie, who through Thomas and Ellen Driver (Minnie’s grandparents) would be my third cousin.
The electoral rolls, on CD and online at 192.com enabled me to pin down where the family had been living until quite recently, whether they were still there was another question. Naturally the daughter had grown up and left home, but if I was right she was still in roughly the same area, what is more I thought I had found also found her contact details online.
I knew I ought to get in touch with my third cousin, after all she might be able to fill in some of the gaps in the story and perhaps she would know why Minnie was left behind whilst the rest of the family went to Canada, but for some reason I didn’t make contact straight away.
I kept telling myself that I needed to get all the facts together first, but in reality it was probably because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself if she wasn’t my third cousin. In the end I figured that I didn’t really have anything to lose, but plenty to gain if I was correct.