December 2008

My Brick Wall

Keith Daniells

Hello to all. My name is Keith Daniells. Born in my grandparent's home in Pixmore Way, Letchworth in 1946. We moved to Australia in 1954 due to my father's transfer by his employer, then commonly known as the TAB. It was my work on family history that convinced me that I needed to return to my roots. During Sept/Oct this year I returned to England for the first time since leaving. Basing myself in Letchworth it was a thrill to be able to walk around the town of my birth and jog my memories of my short time there. I was surprised to remember so much after such a long time away.

Spending just 4 weeks there I soon realised two things. A, it was not long enough and B, it was definitely not long enough. Not when it comes to tracing your family history. I truly envy you all having so much information on your doorstep so to speak. There is only so much you can find out online. And, I have no doubt that many of us overseas rely heavily on contacts made in the U.K. both personally and through various forums.

A few sombre moments were experienced after finding 3 graves of those long past. Locating the actual homes lived in during the 1800's was also a buzz. Alas due to over planning I found I was only able to trace the lives of two family names. Not leaving time to follow up on the unexpected was a big mistake.

I started tracing family this year and to date have concentrated on the direct lines. Once I am convinced I have the correct lines I will start branching out into husbands/wives, brothers/sisters. I don't know if this is the best way but I find it hard enough and probably making a mistake when following up on one person and finding a snippet on another and heading off down that road. (Note to me. Make a note and file it for another time.) The names I am interested in are, more than likely listed in this Journal thanks to the efficient manner in which Maureen tackles her tasks. (It costs nothing to get on the right side.) I did, however, leave one out. My brick wall, one Lilian Mildred Smythe, my Grandmother.

Now, being new to RFHS I am not sure if this is the right place for a brick wall problem but, after meeting up with Avril while on my recent trip I got the impression that my life could be made miserable if I did not make an effort. So, with apologies to Avril, who I must say I found a very pleasant and helpful person (again, it costs nothing to impress) here goes.

Lilian Mildred Smythe. According to her, born Dec 13th 1897, Folkestone Kent.Married Sidney George Thomas Daniells Oct 28th 1917. Her father was Thomas Henry Smythe, an accountant who died prior to 1917. (As per her Marriage Certificate). She had 4 children, my father Sidney, John, Joan and Elsie. Sometime after Sidney G.T. died in 1932 she married, or took the name of Benjamin Prout. She is noted as the widow of Benjamin Prout, an underground coal miner on her death certificate. Also noted as the informant is Russell Neil Houghton. Russell is the son of Elsie, a cousin I never knew. His address to my surprise was 38, The Moor, Melbourn. (That is a story for another time!) He moved from the area around 2003. Her death was Oct 10th 2001.

The only official documentation that I could find, and have, is her Marriage, Death and the Birth Certificates of two of her children.

On her life story I have two items. A story on her 100th birthday, in the Dunmow Times where she stated that during WW1 she worked at the Woolwich munitions factory and during WW2 doing the same kind of work in Letchworth. Another was from a poem she wrote, of which there were many, where she states that she lived in South Wales for 21 years.

I can trace her movements through her life via the various certificates I have. What I can't find is a birth certificate or any notation of her or her father in the 1901 census or any notation of her father prior to 1901.

My father never spoke of her and all my Mum said about her was @#&!*%*!@*%^**%^@!#$@!!!!!! This was not very helpful. I don't think they got along to well.

That is my brick wall. I could add more but by this time I think Avril may be thinking it was a bad idea to mention an article for the Journal.

In closing may I say that after driving around a lot during my time there, I hate the person who painted the white circles at what seemed like every road intersection. To those who may travel out here, do not travel via Bangkok airport unless you are staying over night. It is a shocker.

And, I hope Avril has fixed her microfiche reader.

Keep on searching.

The TAB was officially British Tabulators which became British Computers and Tabulators and eventually I.C.L., International Computers Ltd.I went there as a trainee tracer in the drawing office when I left school, B.C.T. then, and Peter worked for I.C.L. for 25 years. In their hay day there were factories and office blocks all over Letchworth and now all that is left is a housing estate called Tab Close!


Royston and District Family History Society


Journal Article