Thursday 16 December 2010

Christmas 2010 Newsletter

Here's the newsletter (mostly) that's gone in the Christmas Cards:


Horswill, Hills, Laverick, Wake, Mangan, Tidder, Clack and many more!

Christmas 2010 News

[See last page for list of our websites]

How it started

Dad and I started looking at the family tree back in the 1980s. We even had our honeymoon (all six of us, it was one of the competition wins) a few miles from Bigbury in South Devon where the Horswills come from. We had a lot of information and, of course, Dad remembered some of his great aunts and uncles and stories passed down but we soon came up against the Genealogy Police, “That woman from Shropshire” as Dad and Auntie Mildred referred to her. I still have their letters! She kept telling us we had it all wrong so we gave up.

I was pleased when I found out we didn’t have it all wrong but sad too because Dad would have enjoyed the progress we’ve made now.

Much of that is down to the internet and millions of public records transcribed onto computers which we didn’t have back then. Now we have Ancestry and other sites and can create the tree online. It’s also easy to meet other people working on a connected tree and join them up. It’s a good way to meet new cousins. We’ve gone back to the 1600s with most branches of the family. Uncle Chick’s (Charles Docwra) tree does back to about 1200!

Horswill Family

We’ve traced the families of Dad’s great aunts Lizzie Jane and Edith and his great uncles Harry and Fred. The cousins are on Facebook if you’d like to meet them.

[omitted for privacy]

Ash/ Hannaford

George Horswill (b1851 in Bigbury) married Elizabeth Ann Ash from Cornwall. I’ve found hundreds of Ash relatives and we have two photos of her. The family moved to Durham in about 1870 and I always felt sorry for her being taken away from her family but in fact it was her family who moved. All twelve of them. Several connected families moved for the coal mining. The Geatches family, with whom we have a few marriages, moved to the US.

I’ve recently hooked up with some Ash cousins researching the tree and the Hannafords have dozens of people working on it.

Horswill II and Elsdon Family

My great great grandfather, Roger Horswill b.1829 married twice. I’m from his first marriage and there’s another branch of Horswills from his second. I met Wilson Horswill in London many years ago, It turns out he was at school with Grandad! Thanks to Lynne Horswill for unearthing old school records. So Dad did remember correctly that there was another branch of the family.

Here’s what it says in the school records:

Thomas Horswill [Grandad] born 31/3/1893 parent George,lived at 13 Neal Street Annfield Plain, left school on 1906

Henry [Harry] Horswill born 9/6/1895 parent George,lived at 13 Neal Street Annfield Plain left school 1908 to work in pit

Frederick Horswill born 4/3/1897 parent George, lived at 10 St Aidens Crescent, Annfield Plain left school 1911 to work in pit

Moses Wilson Horswill born 21/8/1923 parent William, lived at 21 Headly terr Annfield Plain left school 1912 (returned to Southmoor)

William Horswill born 13/11/1904 parent William,lived at 21 Headly Terr Annfield Plain left school 1912 (returned to Southmoor)

Robert Horswill born 12/5/1921 parent Robert, lived at 15 Lanley Terr Annfield Plain left school 1921 (moved to Doncaster)

John Horswill born .......... parent Thomas,lived at 37 Durham Road Annfield Plain left school 1936

That side of the family has a foundling in it. Cuthbert Elsdon was left at St Cuthbert’s Church in Elsdon, hence his name. And his tree stops there since we can’t go any further back. You can search for him in the online trees. He was born in 1650.

Hills/Williams Family

Due to Mum’s memory for names, as in “I remember an Aunt Louisa and an Ada”, we managed to find Grandad’s (Joe Hills) family and another second cousin also researching the tree. This branch is where you can find a Hezekiah!

Progress was slow on the Hills side. We had a photo of Nanny and Grandad Hills on their wedding day. Mum said Nan was 19 when she got married and they got married in 1914, as many people did. So we based Nan’s date of birth accordingly. And we couldn’t find her. We couldn’t find her because she got married aged 19 in 1916, not 1914.

We also couldn’t find her mother Bessie and grandmother Bess. It turns out they were both called Mary Ann. Officially that is, they could well have been called Bess by people who knew them. The 1911 census helps because you see children living in the house who were alive in living memory. This is how we found Mary Ann, living in the same house as Aunt Kate, Uncle Bob, Nan etc

We also went wrong with Nan’s father because we thought he was a Francis (and Uncle Frank was named after him). He was actually Henry James Williams, although he might have been called Frank. People were often called something quite different from their original name which can really throw you. He was from Southampton so I’ve gone back to my roots. I’ve even walked down the street where they lived in 1860. I’ve gone back to the 1800s with that branch. I’m going to find a few graves when I have time and the weather is better.

I spent a long time looking for Nan’s sister, the missing Letty. Some months into the search Mum remembered that she married a Saxby. I put this into the Ancestry records and there was Charles Saxby married to Mary Victoria, daughter of Henry James Williams. The corroboration was their daughter Maud. All in Mum’s memory. Fortunately the Saxby family are very keen on genealogy so we have more people to put in there later. I’ve only just joined up with their tree.

The story was that Letty went off with a married man and later married him. There is no earlier marriage for Charles Saxby. I checked with his family. She was estranged from the family and yet her father was at the reading of the banns and probably therefore at the wedding. Very strange!

It’s fascinating stuff. There are some loud “Yes!” moments at 3am when the dots join up.

John’s Family: Mangan, Tidder, Hipson, Clack

I used Bill Blamire’s tree to start us off and soon joined up with some keen researchers in the Mangan and Clack families so it’s a big tree with nearly 600 people. There’s the same confusion with names and “she was Jewish, you know” (No, she wasn’t, I have the baptism records …. where do people get these ideas?) but Maureen’s memory is invaluable.

The more facts you find, the more people remember. It really is essential to talk to the older members of your family while they’re still here and not make any assumptions. I found one of Maureen’s relatives in prison on a census and dismissed it as the wrong one then the next day she asked me if I’d found the one in prison!

Photo Archive Project

This is making slow progress as no-one gives me any photos! Photos put onto Facebook are amusing but useless as far as the archive project goes because the resolution is too low. You can read long essays about this on the Horswill Family Photos site. That site needs tidying up but please take a look as it gives full instructions about what to do with photos.

I think I’ll go mad if anyone else tells me they have a box of old photos. The box needs to be in my house or my computer!

Our Websites:

Main site: This is where we attempt to pull the project together and the links page takes you to the other sites, including the blog.

Private photo upload site: You will need to ask for membership of this site (which I’ll appove of course). If you are a member of Ancestry use your Ancestry log in. You can also see the Ancestry trees from this site without paying Ancestry membership fees.

You can load high resolution photos onto this site and it’s private. Only people I know to be family are allowed in. Please see the instructions on the main site. It’s essential that you put photos into an album when you upload them otherwise it takes me hours to move them. You can also download any photos you want to keep.

My Heritage: Anyone can join in on this site. You can add people, information, photos etc. and create charts and celebrity lookalikes and send messages to each other. Please join in!

Ancestry Trees: If you’re a member of Ancestry you can see our trees. Username is horswillfamily and the trees are:

Horswill and Hills Families
Mangan Family Tree

We have a blog and two Facebook groups all linked from Come along and meet some cousins!

You can help this project along by:

1) Writing down any family stories you remember. Who married who, where did they live etc

2) Sending photos!

There is lots to do in 2011!

Saturday 6 November 2010

No Evidence v. Evidence and A Cheeky So-and-So

Last week I was thrilled to find - so I thought - another great aunt. We put her photo on our Facebook group HERE and remarked on how much she looked like Nan. Well, she does indeed look like Nan but she's nothing to do with our family. Why did I think she was? Because an Ancestry member had copied chunks form our tree onto theirs - including photos without asking permission - and added our great grandparents as her parents.

I sent two messages with family info to the tree owner. He ignored me.

Today I found the mysterious Letty. This was Nan's sister who was apparently shunned by the family. Nice. Mum had remembered before that she had two daughters, one named Maud who was older than Mum. Today she remembered that Letty had married a man named Saxby. I put the name Saxby in the tree and did a few searches and found that Mary Victoria Williams (not Letty - I wish they wouldn't mess with people's names) had married Charles Eli Saxby. They had two daughters Maud and Lilian.

The problem is Mary Victoria was born in 1899 and so was Mary Frances. You don't have two daughters six months apart with the same name!

I searched for Mary Frances and couldn't find any documents. On the other hand there are several references to Mary Victoria. You can see them on our Ancestry tree if you log in to www.horswillfamily.comm our private site. So Mary Victoria wins today's prize of being my great aunt. Or grand aunt as Ancestry would have it.

So I clicked on the name of the other tree owner to contact him. He's decided he doesn't want to be contacted by anyone and he's made his tree private. Charming! Let's hope he enjoys borrowing our ancestors and their photos or - here's a suggestion - maybe he'd like to do his own research and not be so rude as to ignore contact from other members. I really think Ancestry should prevent those with private trees copying the information from anyone.

I've written to a couple of members who have Letty in their tree so we'll see what happens next.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Not Just Ancestors

It's four years ago tomorrow that Dad died. I'm writing this today because someone is about to take the back off my computer ...

The other day I had a note from an Nth cousin about the Ash family. My great grandmother was Elizabeth Ann Ash and she married George Horswill (b1851). There's a photo of her below in an earlier post. I'd always thought she must have missed her family when they moved to the north east but that wasn't the case. Her entire family (she was one of 12 children) moved to Durham. No doubt entire villages moved for the work. Dad always thought they would have heard about the coal mining opportunities as the ships passed through Plymouth and indeed that's how they would have travelled. That's another research line there in the ships' passenger records. My great great grandfather Roger Horswill went back to Plymouth to find his second wife. ie after his first wife had died, not a Mormon thing!

It was a revelation to me that the Ash family had moved to Durham. I immediately thought "I must tell Dad". It's amazing how you forget people are gone.

To many the family tree research looks dull and boring and getting people to join in is like pulling teeth. This is a shame because in another 20 years the people who can't be bothered will have their grandhildren asking "Nana, why don't we have a family tree?" Duh ....

A family tree is more than a list of dead people. It connects you to your ancestors. Not just ancestors - these people are your family and you are who you are because of them. My cousins in Co Durham live there because the family made a momentous decision to moved 500 miles 140 years ago. Finding out more and more brings me closer to Dad as if he's still here.

It's not just dead ancestors either. I've found lots of second, third and "we're sill working on it" cousins, many of them in our Facebook group if you'd like to meet them too. I found a fifth cousins three times removed of John's who worked with my second cousin. Small world ... We all pool research and find whole branches of family this way.

Dad would absolutely love all the work we're doing on the family tree. I wish we could have done it years ago so it could have joined in but the online research methods have really only come into play in the last few years.

So let's do it - join us on the My Heritage tree now: and join our Facebook group. All the links are on

Here's a nice pic of Dad:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Royal Heritage? No Thanks!

I cannot abide the "Who Do You Think You Are?" programme. It's pap TV designed to appeal to the ignorant masses. Well, no surprise there, that's what all TV is about!

They make it look ridiculously easy to find your ancestors. Of course it's easy when the professional genealogists do it for you and have access to records not available to the general public. All you have to do it turn up and say "That's fascinating!" But then a film of someone spending hours searching through the census records would not make good TV.

The programme seems to think you are only worthy if you have some foreign or royal connection. My family do not have foreign connections other that the fact that a group went to the USA to find work in the mining industry and in recent years people have moved about the globe as they tend to do. We've been in Devon (Horswills) and South East England (Hills) for hundreds of years.

We have no royal connections. We have some interesting connections (Thomas Hardy, Lord Nuffield, Titanic Survivor Alfred Horswill - more about them later) and a famous footballer (Micky Horswill) but nothing Royal. So no idle rich who have contributed nothing to society. Instead we have hundreds of years of tough manual labour. Women in service to those idle rich at the age of 12. Men - well, boys - at the coal face at 13. There was no pension scheme. They spent their whole life down the mines and that life was often a short one. My great grandfather (Charles Ormond Laverick) died in a coal mine in his forties.

The websites, blogs and Facebook pages of the genealogy companies are full of WDYTYA. I can see why they do it. The marketing teams have to be "out there" with whatever is current discussion. Their websites and blogs need to come up in searches constantly and the sad fact is people not only watch the programme but also want to read about it. This week's discussion mostly consists of inane comments about how wonderful Alexander Armstrong is because his family has royal links. Puhleeeeeeze.... who cares? We grovelled to the monarchy hundreds of years ago. Hello!! We don't do that now! He even seems to be a funnier comedian which is great PR...

We should be proud of the hard work done by our ancestors, not proud of the silver spoons.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Look who I found in the 1911 Census ...

You can make quantum leaps in your family tree with the 1911 Census. That's IF you know what to look for. I hadn't managed to find any of the Williams family (maternal great grandparents) in ANY census so it didn't look good for the 1911 Census.

I used Find My Past to look them up. You can buy credits rather than a subscription which suits me as I don't like too much going out of my bank account when not much goes in. Whilst normally it's good to have more information, with their search system sometimes it's worth just putting in names and a year of birth. It doesn't cost anything to view the overall list.

So, starting with what we know ... I put in Nan's and Uncle Arthur's names and date of birth then clicked to see the household. There was Aunt Kate too so I had the right household BUT I could see the reason I couldn't find them before. Their parents were not Francis and Elizabeth Williams but Henry James and Mary Ann Williams. Digging further back found the censuses showing they were both born in Southampton, which we knew so that was more confirmation. It's back to my roots for me then!

Mum knew her grandmother as Bessie, not Mary. Could this be because her mother was Bess? A lot of families called their children by different names, or a variation. John was "named after Bill". Don't go there ... the name changing in the Mangan family gets ridiculous. George Edward Jubilee Mangan was always known as Sam for another daft example.

For further confirmation of the Williams family I got on to Mum again. When I asked her a few months ago she couldn't remember the names of Nan's older siblings and thought the family had lost touch. I read out the names. I don't always do that as you need to get corroboration without giving the relative any clues but there was nothing to lose here. "I remember George, he worked with his Dad in the brewery. What do you call the people who make the barrels?" A cooper!! And there they are on the census under occupation: Cooper.

If you're a member of the family and you'd like to see full details on the Ancestry tree please join the private site at and you'll see it on there. Ancestry members: the tree is called Horswill and Hills Families.

The 1911 Census also provided some interesting details of John's family on his Mum's side. I found a John Hipson (John's great grandfather) who was in prison. The only John Hipson in London. I thought I'd better keep quiet about it until Maureen said "Did she find the one who was always in and out of prison?" Mind you, in those days you would go to prison for an offence that wouldn't even get you an ASBO today.

As for the Horswills - I found out what happened to Lizzie Jane. Details on the private site later.

For those interested in the 1991 Census we have a new Facebook group HERE.

Saturday 31 July 2010

I found Grandad Hills and Great Great Grandad Ash!

Yesterday was Dad's birthday (he would have been 85). So it was a good day - I'd say propitious but probably can't spell it - to work on the family tree.

Joseph Hills 1888 - 1947

I'd spent months looking for my maternal grandfather Joe Hills. We knew when he died because Mum was 19 at the time. We knew how old he was when he died so we found his date of birth. However, he was nowhere to be seen in the censuses. Then the lightbulb came on. He was Hill in the censuses and various other documents, not Hills. It's the Horswill/Horswell problem all over again!

I dug and dug and came up with two possibilities for his family. Armed with a list of potential sisters I rang Mum to ask if she could remember any of her aunt's names. Previously she'd said she couldn't remember any (although she remembered he had sisters) because the family didn't keep in touch. She said "There was a Louie and an Ada ..." Yes!! Got him!

Here's the list of his siblings from Ancestry:

The good news is I found a new second cousin, Paul Ainsworth, and he's already joined our My Heritage site and our Facebook group. He is Johanna Hills' grandson. There's also a sad tale. Johanna, who was Ada's twin, died when she was about 36 leaving 4 young children. The two older children went to live with relatives and the younger ones went to a Barnardo's home. Life was very tough when a mother died young.

Now, the Horswill family ...

There's a clever print function in Ancestry which gives you a summary tree. More about various ways to print trees later. John has a really good summary with the whole page filled. I had annoying gaps in mine so I need to find more great great grandparents.

Geroge Horswill b1851 is my great grandfather. He married Elizabeth Ann Ash who was born in 1856 in Northill, Cornwall. Here's a photo of her:
How did we know her name? Because she was on the censuses. It stands to reason then that she must have been on the censuses, living with her parents, when she was a child. Fortunately she is shown as "Elizth Ann" on the 1861 census and not just Elizabeth so she was not hard to find. In some early family trees she is shown as Ann so the enumerator probably realised she had both names and entered both. You don't see this very often.

Her father was John Ash and her mother was Susan Hannaford. Luckily for us there are dozens of Ancestry members researching these families so I was able to find ancestors back to the 1600s.

All these new relatives will eventually be put on the My Heritage tree. Some are there already. If you want to see them now, along with all the evidence, go to our private site at and you can see the full Ancestry tree (FREE!)

Cool names from this research:

We have a Hezekiah Webb on the Hills side and a Jemima Trengrove on the Horswill side.

Friday 16 July 2010

Latest Site Updates and Family Tree News

Site Updates

We now have fancy schmancy drop down menus and more instructions, particularly on how to use the MyFamily group site where you can easily upload and download photos, add comments, send messages etc etc. It's like a private family Facebook!

The page you need is HERE. Instructions with pictures (took me forever to sort that out!)

It's all a question of following the hand. Now you'll have to go and look to see what I mean...

Please join the private site asap.

Family Trees

We have two family tree sites, as you know. They are both growing at an incredible rate. You can join the My Heritage tree and add people, dates, photos etc. In order to see the Ancestry trees (Horswill and Hills Families and Mangan Family) you need to join the My Family site (see above!) and it's on there. There are over 1000 people in the Horswill and Hills Tree and over 300 in the Mangan tree. And we've been working on that one for less than two weeks.

Charles (Chick) Docwra

We've taken Uncle Chick's family back to 1350!!! What a shame he and Kit didn't have any children. I'm sure they would have been impressed.

Did you see our "Morning News" featuring them?

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We have a foundling!

Cuthbert Elsdon was born in 1650. He was a "foundling" left at St Cuthbert's Church in Elsdon so that's what he was called.

You can see him, along with the story, on our My Heritage Family Tree. Click on Family Tree then People and search for him. You'll find three people with that name (his descendants) but they give the date. So now you know that not everyone with a place name for a surname was lord of the manor ... It's an interesting tale but obviously one with tragedy behind it. I wonder if his real mother watched him grow up or indeed whether the real mother became the foster mother, as often happened.

His tree stops there!

How is this person related to us? My great great grandfather Roger Horswill had two wives. One after the other, not in a Mormon way! Moses Wilson Horswill is one of Roger's descendants with his second wife. I met him many years ago. I was following his line through the Wilsons and found Cuthbert through another Ancestry member. You can search for Moses Wilson Horswill on the tree and follow the line up to Cuthbert.

Adding Cuthbert Elsdon to the tree has brought us new members who are also researching him. Welcome!

Saturday 29 May 2010

Dad's 70th Birthday Party 30 July 1995

The photos of this party are not too good. I'll be cleaning them up and rescanning them shortly. In the meantime I see plenty of cameras in the pictures so it would be good to have everyone else's photos of this brilliant day.

Here's a Smilebox album for you:

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Friday 28 May 2010

The "Membership" Problem

There's no getting around it - peeps need to join various sites in order to share info and photos. Flickr is a great way to share photos but trying to explain how to join and then get into our albums is a pain. If you'd like to do it the info is HERE.

The best method I've found is the My Family sites. These are private sites which allow you to upload FULL size photos. Remember - you can make Sharon cry if you send her less that full resolution photos. There are also other features like the full Ancestry family trees on there and blogs if you want to play with them. You can even change how the site looks for your personal profile. No, you don't need to write an essay about yourself. Just your name will be fine - pic if you want to put one on there.

Like Flickr, there's a tag "cloud" so you can pull up all the photos of Nan etc, or at least you will be able to do that once we have the photos and tags on there!

The site are here:

We have separate sites so we don't bore you with relatives you've never heard of and also so we get double the monthly upload limit. The limit is huge so don't worry about using too much. If you do we just wait until next month, no problem.

Joint family occasions will be on both but feel free to join both group sites. Once you've done that you will find them both in "Family Groups" on the toolbar at the top when you log in to your My Family account so you only need to log in once. You can also copy albums from one group site to another. You have to redo your tags though. Nothing is perfect!

Thursday 13 May 2010

Did you know .....?

On our Horswill and Hills Families My Heritage site you can

1) Add people to the family tree
2) Edit information on the family tree
3) Change your profile photo if you don't like the one I've given you;-)
4) Check which celebrity you look like
5) Print your family tree in lots of different ways
6) See the tree in modern or classic view (button bottom right)
7) Join in discussions
8) Add articles
9) View the timeline
10)Post events
11)Invite other members
12)Add photos *

* I'm going to pay for unlimited storage as soon as funds allow - ie as soon as I can get some work done and get paid for it - so please reduce resolution to 800 for now. (The system reduces the photo you see anyway so anything higher is a waste. This is NOT the best site for downloading photos - we have other sites for that. This is for adding photos and having fun with them) You can then go nuts and make good use of the "face cloud" that detects who is with you in family photos.

... and much more! Did you see the slideshow at the bottom of the home page? Go to photos and you can see several different kinds of slideshows. Hours of amusement!

Please join in and let other members of the family know about it.

Sunday 2 May 2010

The "Official" Launch of Two Family Sites

The time has come, after many wee small hours working on the sites, to tell everyone about them! So here they are:

Horswill Family Photos

er... it's about photos! Lots of photos, lots of relatives, lots of ways to see them and lots of nagging by me in order to get hold of them in the first place.

Look around. Tell the family! Sign up for our newsletter HERE and you'll know when new photo albums are uploaded.

Horswill and Hills Family Tree

The clue is in the name ... Our family tree site is on My Heritage. The domain goes to it so it's easy to tell your family.

Please become a member if you are a Horswill or Hills or their relations. You can just look or you can join in and add what you know to the tree. Obviously we would love you to do that. Everyone has bits of knowledge that no-one else has.

Confused about how the family tree site works? Go to this page.

Lastly in this long list of links, we have a group on Facebook HERE.

I hope you enjoy the sites and will keep an eye on them as they develop. Please ask if you have any questions.

Now to get on with my business website. What's a bank holiday weekend?

Monday 19 April 2010

Permanent Tagging - what's that?

Tags are the clever things that enable you to find hundreds of photos of whoever all at once. If you click on the "Betty Horswill" tag in Flickr (more on Flickr later) you will get a whole lot of photos of my Mum ;-) The problem is someone has to add these tags to the photos in the first place. So when I add photos to Flickr I type in the tags. Even if you do this for the whole album it takes forever.

I now have the ACDSee Photo Manager which enables me to add tags that stay with the photo forever. (It adds the tag tothe image XMP file for the geeks reading this ....) So no matter where I upload the photos or whichever computer they're on the tag will still be there. You can download a free trial of this software HERE.

There's are two small downsides to this

1) It's no good me putting the tag "Dad" on a photo with this method because if you download that photo to your own computer and you're using tags my Dad is going to come up instead of your Dad which could be a tad confusing. We're going to have to have some tagging protocols like using the full name or a name by which we know them for photo purposes. For example Nan Hills will be Lizzie Hills, my Dad will get the tag John Horswill and other John Horswills will need a middle name. My Dad didn't have a middle name and anyway it's my ball so I set the tags! I'll put a list on the main site of the tags being used.

Much more on this later. Oh yes there is another downside:

2) I need to retag everything in Flickr which essentially means starting again with that and there is the small matter of work to be done this month.

Friday 9 April 2010

A "Need to know" basis?

Although this article is clearly plugging the BBC's you-only-get-on-it-if-you're-famous programme there's a lot of truth in it. See post below for the truth in their final paragraph!

Do I tell the stories about Grandad? Do I write about the very sad tale of Ellen and her baby? Close Horswill family already know these tales, indeed I've already been asked not to include Grandad in scrapbooks. Others don't know and are now wondering about what I'm talking about. Do they need to know?

All will be revealed. Or maybe not. Since we're mainly concerned with photos we can ignore some of the unsavoury bits of history.

Thursday 8 April 2010

The Genealogy Gestapo

I love being in the Horswills group on Facebook (which is partly why I'm writing here so they don't throw me out for writing this on the wall ....) and I love finding new cousins.

Many years ago my Dad and I researched the family tree. Not particularly through parish records (for goodness' sake, don't the genealogy freaks realise how many lies those contain? Duh....)but through family stories and remembrances. The best way to learn about your family is to ask members of the family but sadly we often leave it too late to do that.

My ancestors were tin miners in Cornwall and moved to the mining areas of North East England when the tin ran out in the 19th century. How do I know this? Because my Grandad told me so and my great grandfather had told my Dad. Why on earth would anyone lie about that?

Dad and I researched the family tree after I got in touch with Wilson Horswill, a methodist minister who was preaching at my local church in London. We couldn't quite work out the connection but Dad remembered a Wilson Horswill "with a funny name but they called him Wilson" . His first name was Moses, Wilson was his middle name. Dad had met him at family funerals. Guess what? That makes you family! You don't go to funerals at random, do you? Especially when you're a child. When I went to Canada in 1978 I stayed with Wilson and Ruby's daughter, Chris, and have since met up with her brother John Horswill and his wife, Dorothy. These people are my cousins. We're all descended from Roger Horswill, my great great grandather, who was born in 1829, some from his first marriage and some from his second. It's not rocket science.

Well, apparently not according to the self appointed family genealogy expert who shall remain nameless, although we could just call her M. Very apposite in a MI5 way.... I had a letter from her years ago asking for what we had. I duly sent it. Not only did she say Dad and I had it all wrong, she said it in a thoroughly nasty manner. She arrogantly declared that my new cousins were not my cousins at all. Fortunately said cousins and I had a laugh about it and made a unilateral declaration that we were indeed cousins and would remain so regardless of what some horrible woman might tell us.

There are ALWAYS complete control freaks who take it upon themselves to be in charge of the family tree. They use genealogy as a poor substitute for proper academic study. They NEVER give anyone else credit for the work, as a true academic - or indeed a true relative - would, indeed they claim it as their own. This command position somehow gives them the right to lord it over everyone else and be extremely rude. This is the kind of person whose achievements in the real world are so limited that they would consider it the ultimate accolade to be captain of the golf club and relish having the honour of a named parking space.

Of course there are lovely, charming cousins who are also researching the family tree and who are perfectly normal people but they don't get a look in, their research is never credited and they probably have a bin full of the nasty letters too.

This dreadful woman's snitty correspondence with my Dad so upset him that he gave up looking for relatives and now he's gone it makes me mad to think she stopped him finding his family before he died. It also makes me mad that she's back and about to put a lot more Horswills off having anything to do with it. There are Horswills missing from that Facebook group. I know who they are and why they're not on it. They haven't realised that it's a friendly "we are all family" thing and are wary of the Family Tree Police.

You remember my story about the tin miners? Well, apparently they either don't exist or we're not related to them. Apparently the South Devon Horswills were geographically challenged and couldn't work out how to get to the tin mines just across the river Tamar.

The Horswill family is small enough that all Horswills appear to be related and yet my family is not in it. We're the lost tribe. How ludicrous. At least we have ex FA cup hero, Micky Horswill, in our tribe. "My cousin's boy" is how my Dad described him. Good enough for me, and indeed for Micky's family who wrote to Mum and Dad for years. Anyone who declares "there are no famous Horswills" should be ashamed of herself. I find it hard to believe that anyone who can do family tree research on the internet can't use Google. But then they wouldn't want any actual facts to mess up your theories, would they?

OK, rant over, we'll see how many Horswills are still speaking to me. I hope it's most of them as the Horswill Family Photos site is almost ready for public consumption and I want to invite them on to it!

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Site Progress

I've been busily loading albums on to Flickr. If you get what Flickr is all about add my accounts as a contact to see them:

Arcadian Scrapbooks

If not, there will be notes about Flickr shortly. I'm trying to do a fancy thing with screenshots to show you all how it works and that takes forever. The albums so far are mainly weddings and anniversaries and some very old photos plus the usual test rabbits who get in there!

The Photo Log section of the site now has a live link to Photobox albums HERE. Although Flickr is more useful for this project a lot of people use Photobox for printing so we will have albums on both systems. Photobox are the cheapest and have the biggest choice of print sizes including square prints for the scrapbookers. I have nearly 6000 photos on Photobox but don't worry, I'm not going to link to them all! Please let me have your email address if you would like an invitation to Photobox with 50 free prints ;-)

There are SmileBox slideshows and scrapbooks under construction too. See post below for the latest one.

Monday 29 March 2010

Mum and Dad's Ruby Wedding

Some of our albums will be in Smilebox slideshows/scrapbooks for your amusement although if you turn your speakers up you'll find this one is rather sad to watch now that Dad is gone.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Ruby Wedding
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Wednesday 24 March 2010

Welcome to our new blog

This is the blog for the Horswill and Hills Families Photo Archive Project. Since that is a mouthful the website is called Horswill Family Photos and it's HERE, still very much under construction but those intrepid explorers who follow a trail through my blogs will now be able to see it.

Th new website is all about family photos and the stories they tell. OK, it's a teeny bit about making digital scrapbooks with photos I beg from relatives and Facebook friends. Please please please send me high resolution jpegs. That sort of whining is going to go on for a long time!

Do you like the header? It shows you the kind of scrapbooking that is to come! The photos are of Mum and Dad's wedding in 1949 and my paternal grandparents in 1929.