Lost and found

Sometimes when travelling along the family history path we find people we didn’t know existed; children that we haven’t found in census returns because they were born and died during the 10 year gap; there are those that we only find because we are trawling the GRO indexes and others whom we discover through photographs.

I have one of the latter; her name was Winifred Mary Dillon and she would have been my great great aunt.  Winnie was the fourth child of Sydney Wallace Dillon and Catherine Emma Heasman and was born on the 7 September 1907 in Woolwich, London and died aged 6 on the 15 November 1913 in Hebden Bride, Yorkshire.

I first heard about Winnie from Bill Heasman who is my first cousin 3 x removed (impressive eh?) who very kindly sent me some photos a few years ago.  I had never heard of Winnie and here she looking out at me; posing for the camera with her doll outside a rather nice looking house in Woolwich.

Bill told me that he had a letter from Winnie’s sister ‘Nan’ in which she described one of her visits to Woolwich, “I remember being at Auntie Dolly’s house.  I had gone up to London with my Mum for Grandfather Heasman’s funeral.  I think I was eight (not sure) and sister Win would be five.  She lived with A[unt] Doll as you know.’

It appeared from this first hand account that Winnie did not live with her family but with her mother’s sister, Dolly (Mary Jane).  “Why?”  I wondered,  Syd and Kate’s other children all lived at home?

I looked further into Dolly and her husband Sam’s background and discovered that sadly they did not have any children of their own, was Winnie their ‘surrogate’ child? Winnie’s relationship to Dolly and Sam on the 1911 census was ‘niece’ so its certain they had not officially adopted her.  Or, was it that Syd and Kate just couldn’t afford another child and it was decided that Dolly and Sam could give her a better future?  We’ll never know.

Unfortunately Sam died in a road accident in February 1912 – I don’t know if it was at this point that Winnie went to live with her family in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire or if she was only visiting in November 1913 when she died of Tuberculosis Meningitis.  What can be said for certain is that Dolly was present at her death and was the one who informed the Registrar on the 17 November.

Whilst I’ve been writing this blog I’ve realised that I cannot finish it fully; there are details and facts that need to be discovered.

Can I find more information about how and under what circumstances Samuel Hill died? It must have been quite an unusual accident in 1912; did it make the local papers?  Was there an inquest?

Where is Winnie buried?   It must be in Hebden Bridge but where?  There are so many places it could be, for me the final resting place of someone is one of the mos important details.

The quest goes on, the never-ending search for the details of our ancestor’s lives.



7 September, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Family History.

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