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.
This is a lovely photo, but like so many family photos there are no clues as to who the couple are or when and where it was taken.
I am not 100% certain that it is the couple’s wedding day yet, I need to do some more work on that, but it seems likely to me that this was the occasion. There may be clues in the clothing that would enable me to narrow down a timescale for the photo. The background doesn’t offer many clues, except that it was a rural location.
This photo however might embody a much deeper mystery. It has been suggested that the young woman is my grandmother’s adopted sister (or possibly her half-sister or step-sister). My grandmother Annie HEMSLEY was as far as we know an only child, but she grew up with a “sister”.
No-one seems to know exactly what the relationship was, was she adopted and if so was it official or unofficial? It has been suggested that she might be the illegitimate daughter of one of my great-grandparents siblings, but in truth she might not even have been related.
Annie’s father died young and her mother re-married, so it is conceivable that the “sister” might have come from her step-father’s family. The possibilities are almost endless.
To make matters worse no-one seems to be certain of their names. Her first name was said to be Minnie, the same as my great-grandmother (Minnie DRIVER) and her husband was possibly Fred or Stan. Perhaps the best clue is the fact that they had a garage (possibly a specialist Jaguar garage) in East or West Meon in Hampshire. If I remember the story correctly the couple did have a son.
They are such a lovely couple that I would really like to find out who they were and what became of them. So if you recognise the photo or any of the names then let me know. There are no prizes, only my eternal gratitude.
I thought that would get your attention, but first let me make this clear from the start this is purely hypothetical, I am not asking for photos of naked genealogists, honest.
Last night I happened to see part of How To Look Good Naked on Channel 4, the presenter Gok Wan was trying to get people to join his Naked Army and have a photo taken of their group of friends or colleagues naked, in the style of The Calendar Girls. So basically people doing everyday things or taking part in their hobbies, with carefully placed items covering any private bits. There are a few examples on the How To Look Good Naked website. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size or shape you are, or even what sex you are, just so long as you are prepared to show you are not ashamed of your body as it is.
This got me thinking, what if it was a calendar of genealogists? or geneabloggers?
Would you be prepared to do it? If so, how would you like to be photographed? Where would you be (provided you could get permission), what would you be doing? and what props would you use? Don’t worry I am not going to ask you to prove it (I have far too much to do already to organise a photo shoot and publish a calendar).
For my own part I know my body is not perfect, but I think it would be such fun to take part. I can see myself in a record office leaning over a large table, examining the detail of an early map with a magnifying glass.
Come on don’t be shy, let us know whether you would be brave enough to bare all!