I have decided to create a second genealogy blog with stories about my life for my children and grandchildren and anyone else who's interested, to read. I have been made more aware of my own mortality recently and have started to consider what is really important to me and what I can do about it. I have decided my first priority is my family and enjoying as much time as I can with them.
I will be posting about my experiences as well as re-posting some blogs from my other sites that are relevant to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day – Sharing His Story With My Family


Today I will be visiting the cenotaph in Essex with my son and his children. My son seems interested in learning about our family history, he actually took his kids to visit some of their ancestors’ graves last weekend. He is taking the kids to visit the cenotaph this afternoon and I am tagging along.

My grandfather’s younger brother, Fleming W. Hines was the first casualty of the First World War in the town of Essex and his name is on the cenotaph there.

He was born January 18, 1897 while visiting relatives in Elgin County but lived in Rochester at that time. He was the twelfth of thirteen children, the oldest being 23 years. I believe it was he and not his brother, Wm. Edgar, who, along with his sister, ate poison roots. His younger sister died within hours and the only thing that saved him was that he vomited, but he was very ill.

Fleming Wesley Hines was only seventeen when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1915. He didn’t think he was old enough to enlist so there are two sets of attestation papers, both with incorrect birth years. By the time that he was called to duty, he was eighteen.

He served with the 2nd Canadian Expeditionary Forces and fought in the Battle of the Somme, a three month long offensive which was fought in the trenches from July to October.

Private Fleming W. Hines was severely wounded on September 15th, in what is known as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. This day was the first time that tanks were used on the battlefield. Private Fleming Hines died of his wounds on September 18, 1916 in the Etaples Military Hospital and is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery.

In early September the French Tenth Army under Micheler joined the attack on a 20 kilometre front to the south. Meanwhile the British attack was renewed in north-east, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, by the Fourth Army on 15 September. This latter attack made use of tanks for the first time and deployed 15 divisions of men; even so, it gained under a kilometre of ground.

These first tanks, which totalled 50, were sourced from the Machine Gun Corps, 'C and 'D' Companies, and reached the Somme in September. Mechanical and other failures reduced the original number of participating tanks from 50 to 24. Whilst they achieved a large measure of shocked surprise when sprung upon the German opposition, these early tanks proved unwieldy and highly unreliable.

The tanks were rolled out at 06:20 on the morning of 15 September. General Gough's forces moved to force the enemy off the northern end of the main ridge and away from Fourth Army.

Rawlinson's troops were to break through the remaining enemy trench system while the French Sixth Army would attempt to clear the enemy from the British right flank. Meanwhile the Canadians were northwest of the Albert-Bapaume road and outpaced their seven tanks to capture Courcelette. Immediately south of them, the 15th Scottish Division, helped by a single tank, captured Martinpuich.

To the southeast, however, German forces in High Wood swept the ground with fire from each end, halting a number of tanks. Others found themselves lost, while yet others fired on their own infantry.

To the east progress to Flers was helped by the arrival of four tanks at a critical moment, the ruined village falling to a single tank assisted by mixed platoons of Hampshires and Royal West Kents.

from Sir Douglas Haig’s Somme Despatch:

The Attack - 15 September

27. A methodical bombardment was commenced at 6 a.m. on the 12th September arid was continued steadily and uninterruptedly till the moment of attack.

At 6.20 a.m. on the 15th September the infantry assault commenced (13) and at the same moment the bombardment became intense. Our new heavily armoured cars, known as "Tanks," now brought into action for the first time, successfully co-operated with the infantry, and coming as a surprise to the enemy rank and file, gave valuable help in breaking down their resistance.

The advance met with immediate success on almost the whole of the front attacked. At 8.40 a.m. tanks were seen to be entering Flers, followed by large numbers of troops. Fighting continued in Flers for some time, but by 10.0 a.m. our troops had reached the north side of the village, and by midday had occupied the enemy's trenches for some distance beyond.

On our right our line was advanced to within assaulting distance of the strong line of defence running before Morval, Les Boeufs and Gueudecourt, and on our left High Wood was at last carried after many hours of very severe fighting, reflecting great credit on the attacking battalions of the 47th Division. Our success made it possible to carry out during the afternoon that part of the plan which provided for the capture of Martinpuich and Courcelette, and by the end of the day both these villages were in our hands (taken respectively by the 15th Division, and 2nd Canadian Division, Maj.- Gen. R. E. W. Turner).

On the 18th September the work of this day was completed by the capture by the 6th Division of the Quadrilateral, an enemy stronghold which had hitherto blocked the progress of our right towards Morval. Further progress was also made between Flers and Martinpuich.

28. The result of the fighting of the 15th September and following days was a gain more considerable than any which had attended our arms in the course of a single operation since the commencement of the offensive. In the course of one day's fighting we had broken through two of the enemy's main defensive systems and had advanced on a front of over six miles to an average depth of a mile.

In the course of this advance we had taken three large villages, each powerfully organised for prolonged resistance. Two of these villages had been carried by assault with short preparation in the course of a few hours' fighting. All this had been accomplished with a small number of casualties in comparison with the troops employed, and in spite of the fact that, as was afterwards discovered, the attack did not come as a complete surprise to the enemy. (14)

The total number of prisoners taken by us in these operations since their commencement on the evening of the 14th September amounted at this date to over 4,000, including 127 officers.

Battle of the Somme

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Skating On The Pond

A big part of my childhood was spent on skates. I learned to skate on a frozen ditch in our yard when I was six. The next summer, my family moved into town, and we lived right next door to an irrigation pond and across the road from a large public pond.
We weren't allowed to cross the road by ourselves so we were satisfied skating on the pond next door, we could go there anytime we wanted. The edges were full of cattails, and one day, a friend of mine fell on one and got a big gash in her hand which required sitches. After that she wasn't allowed to skate there anymore.
After I was old enough to cross the road, we could go to the pond across the road and we would spend as much time as possible skating, going home just to get something to eat and warm up a bit and back we'd go. We would go first thing in the morning and clean the ice off if any snow fell overnight. There was a stone and brick cottage with a fireplace at the edge of the pond where we would put our skates on. We would then climb out of the old window frame onto the ice. I can remember my brother, eager to skate, the first to test the ice at the start of the season, more than once jump out the window onto the ice and go right through it! Not ready yet, we'd say, laughing. It wasn't a deep pond, only about three feet deep, so he would just climb out, and we'd all go home.
My brother would play hockey with his friends and sometimes, if someone had to leave early, they would ask me to play goalie for them.
I liked speed-skating most of all, my brother, cousin and I could be found late at night, having races around the pond. I haven't skated since we moved away when I was seventeen. It's just not the same at a public skating rink.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thank you Caroline for the "One Lovely Blog Award"

My blog has been graciously awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by Caroline Pointer, author of Family Stories, a very lovely blog which I recommend highly. Caroline gave me the award a month ago but, I have found that there are so many great blogs that I'm having a hard time finding blogs that haven't been given this award already. I will post a list of great blogs in a couple of weeks, when I will be recovering from surgery and will have lots of time to search. Thanks again, Caroline, I haven't forgotten about your award.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Too Few Memories

I wish I had started recording my memories of my childhood during my childhood, how much easier it would have been! As it is, my memory isn't very good so I am thankful for digital cameras, I have gotten into the habit of carrying mine everywhere with me.

I wasn't always like this, I had a photographic memory, didn't need to study for tests in school, I remembered everything that I learned. Some of my friends in school gave me the nickname "Earl Brown" because I almost never had homework and never had to study. Back when I went to school, if you got your work done in class, you didn't have homework.

One night in January 1983, I suddenly had an immense headache, bad enough to send me to the emergency after only 15 minutes. After being hospitalized for three days I was sent home, I still had a headache, but it wasn't as severe. I couldn't communicate very well, was very disoriented and had a hard time doing simple tasks. I couldn't even remember my maiden name without first thinking about what my dad's name was. I had to be accompanied to the doctor's office because I couldn't explain what was wrong with me, I couldn't form a sentence. The doctor arranged for me to have a brain scan. I got home from the scan and within ten minutes the hospital called and wanted me admitted for a CT scan as I had a tumor.

I was admitted on Friday, the day before my son's birthday, and had surgery on Monday, after CT scans and an angiogram. The surgery went well, the tumor was a mennengioma, on the outside of my brain, about the size of a walnut. I had to wait a week for the pathology report to see if it was benign. As it turns out, it was, but before the results came back I started getiing sick after a few days and they decided to re-open the incisions and give me a local radiation treatment just in case.

I went on to have a full recovery with not much damage from the tumor, but the radiation treatment affected my memory, I have a hard time learning now, I have to learn by repetition and if I stop the repetition, I forget what I've learned.

I had a back injury at work the week my grandmother died, in July of 1994, a herniated disk at the T7-T8 level, in my mid-back. I had a consult with a Neurosurgeon and she said that the risks of surgery outweigh the benefits, and would only reccommend surgery if I became paralyzed. So, I was retrained for clerical work, but the only problem was, after a couple of months of searching for employment without succcess, I couldn't remember what I had learned. I had to apply for permanent disability.

My kids used ot take advangate of my bad memory when they were grounded. They would come home from school and say they were going to their friend's house, and I'd say okay and I'd remember that they were grounded after they were already gone! After a while I had to start asking them if they were grounded before I said they could go!

To look at me, I don't look disabled, people often think that the Handicapped Parking permit is for my husband, because he walks with a slight limp. My disabilities are invisible to the eye, but they are there. I have the permit because I can't walk very far without getting back pain. But I do what I can. For instance, a month ago, I tilled my vegetable garden by hand, using a pitchfork. I took a break about every 15 minutes, I can't work for any length of time without breaks. It took me a couple of days, but I got it done. I find if I pace myself, and take breaks often, that I can do most things I used to.

One thing that I can't do that I wished I could do, is play more with my grandchildren. I would love to go biking or skating or swimming with them, but I can't. My grandson always wants me to play cars or games on the floor, which I find very difficult to do, he doesn't see why, but the older grandchildren understand about my back injury now. I do what I can, I make them playdough, watch cartoons with them, bake cookies, read to them, make crafts and take lots of pictures of them.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Remember When...We Got A Pony

One evening in the late 60's, mom and dad got all of the kids in the car and said "we're going to the Comber auction". Well, you can imagine the groans and objections, an auction is no place to take a bunch of kids, but once we found out it was a livestock auction we changed our tunes. We can go see all kinds of animals, it wouldn't be boring after all.
What we didn't know is that dad had built a stall in the barn and was planning on buying a pony.
We had a blast at the auction, watching the horses and ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep etc. being auctioned off. Dad bid on a draft pony, dappled grey guelding with a white blaze on his forehead. He was huge, almost the size of a horse. Dad was the winning bidder, he bought us a pony and saddle for $56. His name was Starlight.
We took turns taking care of Starlight, we all curried, fed and watered him, but it was my dad and older brother who cleaned out the stall every day. Since we didn't have a fenced-in yard, we tied Starlight out on a lead beside the apple tree where we had our tree-house, that was the biggest open area with a lot of shade.
We had a lot of fun riding and taking care of Starlight that summer, but, one day Starlight started acting up, there was a mare a couple of fields over that was coming into season. He wouldn't listen to us, all he wanted to do was try and get to the mare. He started running around, circling the barn and almost trampled my sister. Dad finally got a rope on him and arranged for the previous owner to come and pick up the pony that day. We all missed Starlight but understood why he had to go. It was nice while it lasted.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Remember When... The Science Fair

I remember when I entered my project in the Science Fair at Gosfield North Central School, it must have been about 1970. I did my project on "The Killing of the Great Lakes'. While the rest of the kids in the family were in swimming, I walked along the shoreline taking pictures of the dead fish and litter on the beach. It was disgusting! I wouldn't go in the lake after that for years.
My dad helped me with my backboard, which was made of two pieces of plywood hinged together. I painted it and started to put pictures on it. I had a jar of lake water and even "captured" some air pollution in a mason jar by burning some "Black Snakes" a novelty item that looks like a black pellet and when lit, expanded really fast into an ash snake with a lot of black smoke.
As it turned out, I was the First Place winner for my grade and my prize was a model replica of the Apollo rocket and lunar module, I guess they didn't expect any girls to win. I let my older brother build it and play with it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Dad's Silver Buckle

My fondest memory of my dad's silver buckle was the day of my first wedding. I was young, only seventeen, and my mom made my wedding dress. It was made of white satin and had a Chantilly lace cape instead of a veil and train. The crowning touch was the silver buckle that my dad let me use for my dress. The silver buckle was the 'something old' and the 'something borrowed'. To think that my wedding day was the first time the buckle had actually been worn in over a century! It was quite an honour and I wore it with pride when my dad walked me down the aisle.
My second wedding was 25 years later, 5 years after my dad died. I made my own wedding dress and my flower girl's dresses.

My "Silver Buckle"

Searching for family history is really addictive, the more I learn about my ancestry, the more I want to know. I am interested in how they lived, what their daily lives were like, what style of clothing they wore, what they did to entertain themselves, their beliefs, both religious and political, well, everything.
I have some unanswered questions which may never be answered such as "Why did my great-grandfather change his surname a century ago?" and "Who was Sarah's mother?" I have two Sarah's with unknown mothers, they are huge brick walls but I'm trying my best to break through them.
Family History research is very similar to detective work, you have to weed out the false leads and dig into people's backgrounds, and find out as much as there is about them. Once in a while, if you're lucky, an ancestor may become famous or infamous and there are lots of records available. Most of the time, however, the ancestor is only recorded in the census, vital records or passenger lists and immigration records.
Most people avoid cemeteries like the plague,only going when absolutely necessary, but genealogists take their cameras and go sight-seeing like tourists in among the gravestones. I've got to confess, I have arranged my vacation with a few trips to cemeteries I wanted to see. More than once I have dragged my husband from cemetery to cemetery for a hundred miles looking for a particular relative.
History and family history go hand in hand. You can't really understand how your ancestors lived their lives unless you know the outside influences in their lifetime. I am especially interested in the Revolutionary war and the plight of the United Empire Loyalists. I guess it's because my father took a great interest in the history of Canada and when we were young would take us to places which were historically significant, near or far. He would stop at every way-sign and memorial on our travels.
My dad had a silver buckle, my brother has it now, and he told us that it was from the Revolutionary war. My grandfather gave it to him, he said it had been given to him by his father. Of course, as kids, we couldn't imagine something that old, it didn't look that old. My dad kept it put away, and only brought it out to show someone and then put it back right away, it was the only heirloom from his ancestors and he was going to make sure nothing happened to it. I have since learned that that was the style of buckle in those times, and it would have been a treasured article, passed down from father to son. He treasured it as well, even more so, as he never really knew his grandparents.
I am researching my family history so that my grandchildren will know about their ancestors, where they came from, why they left their homeland, how they lived, what they did in their leisure, what they were like, well, everything. I want future generations to know all about our ancestors. My family history is my "silver buckle".