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At my new workplace I got word of a free online genealogy course through Strathclyde university.  I’d never done one before so signed up.  It’s been very interesting so far.  It’s given me impetus to organise my notes (still haven’t done that).  Of course I haven’t done anything for about a year, and have been busy with moving countries so am only just getting settled enough to do some more research.

Anyway, I did start making biographical notes on a word document starting with the Ashers. I was doing some Google searching to see if any of the places named in censuses still existed.  One street appears to have changed names.  Others, you’re not sure if what Google is showing you in street view is actually the right one, and some seem to be “new builds” rather than the building my ancestor would’ve lived in.  To be expected.

I then somehow decided to search for my great-grandfather’s twin brother, John D, and was surprised to find his name mentioned in a blog in the history of Rhyl, North Wales.  I was surprised to read that he started the Rhyl and district amateur operatic society which started in 1910.  I read that he was organist and choirmaster at St John’s church, that he was a trumpeter in the great war, and that he died in 1954!  I didn’t have any of this information so was amazed.  I had to check the death date to make sure, as the birth date was one year out.

The Google results also showed his name mentioned in a newspaper article.  Not only did the article mention him performing in a show, but also mentioned  his brother, my great-grandfather as well.  It was the right person!  I had stumbled upon the Welsh newspapers online website and was absolutely delighted, as I found numerous articles mentioning shows they had both performed in, and also mentioned John D’s future wife, Amy.  John also appears to have been a councillor.  There was also casual mention that John D was manager of the White Glove minstrels!  I laughed.  I was reminded of John Bishop on “Who do you think you are?”

After happily finding so much about John D, I turned my attentions to his brother, William D, and didn’t find so much.  Then I switched to their father, John, a postmaster in Rhyl, and found more about his career in the post office in Rhyl and Camarthen, even listing the dates he started or was promoted.  This was gold.  Years ago I had written to the Post Office Archives for information on my postmaster relatives and was told there was no record.  Not only do I have actual newspaper clippings to prove it, but here was more with dates!  I felt like thumbing my nose at whoever wrote back to say there was no record.  Perhaps they needed to do newspaper searches to fill in gaps, or perhaps they just didn’t look properly.  John snr and William D were postmasters (the latter in Ilford and Barking).

I spent most of an afternoon and evening searching and also found wedding dates for John D and John senior.  Previously I just had the year.  Brilliant.  I also discovered names of John D’s wife’s family, and although they’re not related, added them to the tree.

And then, not expecting any results, I did an image search for my great-grandfather, and to my amazement found a photo of him, along with a Powell relative and John D’s brother-in law, as bellringers in Rhyl, on the same marvellous blog on Rhyl history where I started.  I was thrilled!

I stopped there, much satisfied.  There are still gaps.  I don’t have John snr’s date of birth (just the year) or death (perhaps 1932).  I recently discovered his father’s year of marriage and death and have noted down details for certificates.

I still don’t have any organised strategy for who to search for, going from one family to another, trying to fill in gaps.  For now, though, I think I’ll concentrate on the Ashers.