Monday, 18 April 2011

Bringing the past to life.

Eastern Cemetery, Hull, East Yorks
In life we associate cemeteries with our own losses and they are often regarded as gloomy and miserable places to be. Yet in my capacity as a Family History Researcher, I see these places in an entirely different light, not just associated to death.  In fact they help bring the past to life and my experience combined with good information on a headstone, can open the doors to a celebration of that life and the achievements of those that have gone before us.
Several visits to local cemeteries over the last few weeks have enabled me to select an excellent example of just that: 

Ernest Hibbard (1889 - 1952) 
Ernest Hibbard
Not only is this a great example of a 1950’s memorial headstone, it tells significant information about the lives of those buried here.
Ernest was born about 1889 and married Florence Sarah, who was born about 1892. They had two children; John William, also buried here and Margaret. Ernest was the first to be buried here following his death on 29 Jan 1952, Florence followed 31 years later on 29 Jan 1952 and finally son John William on 20 Nov 2004. That gives me plenty of reference points to research from. Judging by John William’s age, it is likely that Florence and Ernest were married about 1918, though that could shift for a number of reasons. Particularly as the date is on the cusp of World War I.
So, what did I find out form this information:
First of all , Census records in my possession tell me that Ernest was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire. His parents were  John W, a Cutlery Gilder and Mary J  , his siblings Charles, Alice and Annie (aged 14) were also employed in the industry in 1901, whilst Ernest and brother Sidney are still of School age. In 1891, a child born between Ernest and Sidney is recorded; Mary. Father John W is in the same cutlery occupation but wife Mary is recorded as a grocer.
On 19 June 1919, Ernest, by now a Merchant’s Manager, still living in Sheffield married Florence Sarah Jarvis a spinster of Glasgow. The marriage was witnessed by Dorothy Jarvis and Sidney Hibbard. Florence’s parents are listed as Edwin Jarvis (Factory Manager), and Margaret Jarvis. Mother’s maiden name is unclear but it reads M S Hubbert. The marriage is in the district of Govan. I can imagine that tracing Hibbard and Hubbert to the same family line can provide its own confusions. 
Even from that little information, we can see naming patterns in the family; Margaret( Daughter and Mother) and John W (Father and Son). It is also likely that Dorothy Jarvis is a sister of the bride and we already know that Sidney is Ernest’s closest brother in age. A further search then shows Florence Jarvis on the 1901 Census in Glasgow, living with parents detailed above and siblings including Dorothy. In fact the family is shown as living in Govan and Dorothy is shown as one of 8 other siblings. 
A birth search reveals Florence to have been born on 20 May 1892, and son John William to be born on 26 Jul 1920.
Hibbard Location
That is just some basic information from a few quick searches, further searches would reveal John and his wife and more details of the family. Do court records, wills, newspaper articles exists at all. Was either John or his father Ernest involved in either War ? In short many more avenues to explore. Least of all the connections that would take a Steel Workers son from Sheffield to a Factory Manager’s daughter from Govan and finally to their resting place in Kingston Upon Hull , once one of the country’s major ship builders and ports. I think the answer lay in either Steel or the import and export of products involving the 3 cities. Ernest’s roll clearly afforded him the opportunity of travel in the UK but most of all the opportunity to meet his wife Florence who’s love is clearly there for all to see in the memorial in Eastern Cemetery inscribed: Erected by Florence Hibbard. 

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