Month: July 2017

Military Monday – Dent Stowell (1882-1948) – part 1

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Dent StowellThis is the first of a three part series about Dent Stowell, my 2nd cousin 3x removed. He was born on 14 July 1882 in Burnley, Lancashire to parents Thomas Stowell and Ann Wroe. Our common ancestors are John Stowell and Ann Riddeoff (my 4x great grandparents).

As far as I can tell Dent was the last of nine children to be born to Thomas and Ann Stowell. He was baptised on 20 August 1882 at St John the Baptist church in Burnley.

On 30 March 1900 Dent took himself to the army recruiting office in Burnley and signed up for “short service” of three years in the military. The next day he passed his medical examination and was signed fit for the army. He was appointed to the 2nd Royal Highlanders Regiment with a service number of 7778.

He joined his regiment in Perth, Scotland on 4 April 1900.

I can see from his service records available online that Dent was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 28 February 1902. Then two months later on 24 April 1902 he was posted to South Africa.

He completed his three years “short service” on 30 March 1903 and was transferred to the Army Reserve for nine years.

Back in civilian life Dent married Rose Ann Cairns on 5 January 1907 at St Matthew the Apostle, Habergham Eaves, Lancashire. Dent was 24 years old and Rose Ann was 19.

Over the next five years Dent and Rose Ann had four children:-

Mary Ann Stowell – born 16 December 1907
Dent Stowell – born 1 March 1909
Clifford Stowell – born 25 June 1910 (died December 1913)
Albert Stowell – born 20 May 1912

In the 1911 census the family are living at 2 Zion Street, Burnley. Dent is working as a “plate moulder” and Rose Ann as a “weaver”.

At the outbreak of WW1 Dent rejoined the army and was mobilised at Perth on 5 August 1914. He had several postings to France over the next three years. He was wounded in action in November 1917 and then posted home from 27 November 1917 until he was demobbed on 24 March 1919.

Here is an account of Dent’s experiences in the Burnley News of 3 October 1914.

Burnley News 3 Oct 1914 - 1WOUNDED BURNLEY SOLDIER

IN THE FIRING LINE AT THE AISNE

A thrilling narrative of incidents which have taken place at the Battle of the Aisne has been told to a Burnley News reporter by Private Dent Stowell, of 2 Zion Street, who has returned home to recuperate after having been wounded. Private Stowell is a Reservist in the Black Watch.

“I reported myself at Perth Depot, Nig Camp, Cromarty,” he said, “and from there I went to Southampton, where we embarked for France. After a short time in camp at St Lazaire, we had a four days’ journey on the railway, and then we marched for four days, at about thirty miles a day, up to the firing line, about forty miles from operations at the Aisne, where there is a firing line of 150 miles.

“We thought then that there were no Germans about, but we could see dead horses, pieces of legs, heads, and other gruesome objects. On Sunday night, September 13th, the German bullets and shells began flying over our heads. At five o’clock on the following morning, we marched out on to a hill, and laid in a trench from about 6 o’clock to 3 in the afternoon. The Germans were shelling the position all the time, Burnley News 3 Oct 1914 -2and it was not safe for anyone to lift up his head. My mate did so, and he was shot through the brain.

“At 3 o’clock, someone said ‘Retire,’ and we had almost forty yards to run to the edge of the hill. During the run a German shell burst, sending me down the side of the hill. I remained unconscious until between 2 and 3 o’clock on the following morning, I was wounded by a bullet which went into my left knee, and when I recovered consciousness my shoe was full of blood.”

STRETCHER BEARER SHOT

“While they were carrying me, one of the stretcher bearers was shot; consequently another fellow carried me down to the hospital. When we got there the bullet was extracted.”

After describing his further passage from the scene of conflict by Army Service Corps and motor wagons, and how he was conveyed via temporary bridges of boats and planks, Private Stowell retuned to his experiences in the operations against the enemy. “I eked out existence on one biscuit on the previous Saturday night,” he remarked. “In the fighting a bullet went in my bully-beef tin on my back. Much havoc was caused to my equipment. I could not get a chance to fire back. It was an artillery battle, not an infantry one. Men were mowed down like grass under the terrific fire of the Maxims.

“I was conveyed to Le Mons, where the wound was dressed. Then we went along to Nancy, where I was again attended to. Subsequently I was taken to St Lazaire. I left there last Wednesday, and landed at Southampton on Friday morning. I was treated at the Southern Hospital, Birmingham, which I left yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

“It is indeed a sight for anyone to see which confronts you where fighting operations are going on,” Private Stowell continued. “The Germans had no ‘grub’ for four days. On Monday morning, the 14th, they were reinforced with 40,000 troops, and provisions to last them six months. Every place we got into we found they had looted. We could get nothing.”

Speaking about the French people, Private Stowell remarked enthusiastically that they were very good. “They will give anything to the English troops. We lived on nothing but fruit. The Germans took all the bread obtainable. Tobacco and cigarettes were sent out, but we never got it.

“Oh, yes, we wanted it,” he continued, smilingly. “If you saw one of your men with a cigarette, you would have ‘killed’ him for it.

The massacre is awful. There are thousands of Germans now in the trenches who cannot be buried. Our men cannot go up the hill to bury our dead. Many a hundred bled to death on that hill where I was. The men are healthy enough, but they cannot get any ‘grub.’ Marching to the firing line, we average between 20 and 30 miles a day. At night we try to get into a village. We find the villages have been looted, but there are barns and haylofts we can sleep in. It is not very comfortable to be sleeping 200 in a hayloft that really only accommodates about 10. After about three hours there, we are called to march again.”

Asked as to whether he had met any other Burnley men during his experience at the front he said, “I bade good-bye to my pal, J W Hurst, of Padiham, on Monday. He belonged to the C Company. We went out together. Then his Company went one way and mine another. On Monday night 200 came in out of 1260 at roll call. There were about 30 left out of the 200 on Tuesday. As I said before, they mowed us down like grass, chiefly with Maxim guns.

“I can tell you that I did say my prayers when I got up in the morning with bullets flying round. You think any morning that before long you may be a ‘gone-er’.”

“One of the 16th Lancers was on horseback when a shell burst close to him, and left only his legs in the stirrup, carrying his body away! It is nothing to see a horse getting blown in two.”

“You get used to it,” summed up the soldier laconically. “I shot one German that I know of. I was two years and eight months in South Africa, but that was a picnic to this.”

Look out for the second instalment of the trilogy next Sunday.

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Sunday’s Obituary – Edward Dixon (1910-1939)

Edward Dixon is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are William Rylatt Dixon and Sarah Ann Britliff. Their common ancestors are John Britliff and Sarah Rack, my wife’s 3x great grandparents. See previous posts about John Britliff here and here.

Edward was born on 18 May 1910 in Kendal, Westmorland.

At some point between 1910 and 1939 Edward, together with his parents and sister, moved from Kendal to Grantham in Lincolnshire. Edward’s father was employed as a “railway carter drayman” so perhaps he moved with his job.

I have no more information about Edward until the following report in the Grantham Journal on 15 December 1939 about his death.

Grantham Journal 15 Dec 1939.png

RAILWAY GUARD AT HELLIFIELD

Young Grantham Man’s Death

After an illness lasting some six months the death occurred last week of Mr Edward Dixon, son of Mr and Mrs W R Dixon, of 29 Swinegate, Grantham, at the comparatively young age of 29 years.

Deceased was employed as a guard on the LMS Railway at Hellifield, Yorks.

The funeral took place on Monday, a service at the parish church, conducted by the Vicar, Canon C H Leake, preceding the interment in the cemetery, where the last rites were conducted by the Rev C L G Hutchings.

The mourners were:- Father and mother; Miss A Dixon, sister; Miss Shepherd, fiancee; Mr and Mrs s Dixon, Sibsey, Miss Maplethorpe, Lincoln, cousins; Mr J Shepherd, Burnley; and Mr L Huff, representing the LMS Railway at Hellifield.

The floral tributes were sent by father, mother and sister; aunt and cousins at Sibsey; uncle and cousin at Lincoln; Elenor; Mr and Mrs Shepherd, Burnley; Mr and Mrs Felstead; Mr and Mrs Rowland; Mr and Mrs Woods; Mr and Mrs Harrison, Signal Road; Mr and Mrs Bibby, Eliza and Ethel, Skipton; Miss Staniland, and Mrs Golding; fellow members of the LMS Railway at Hellifield; Mr and Mrs Morris; Mr and Mrs Woolmer and family; Mr and Mrs R W Savage; Phyllis; M A and A E Wilson and Miss Odom; Mrs C G Hardy; Mr and Mrs Thomas and Mr and Mrs Williams; Mrs Walters; Mr and Mrs W W Winn; Mrs Raines and family; Miss M E Barkes; Mr and Mrs Dixon, Kirkby Stephen.

Sunday’s Obituary – William Randles (1877-1939)

William Randles is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are William Randles and Sarah J Espley. Their common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

William was the sixth of eleven children born to William and Sarah. His birth is registered in Q1 of 1877 in Stone, Staffordshire.

Sometime in Q3 of 1901 William married Annie Cliff in Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire. They had two sons:-

Reginald – born in 1902
Harold – born in 1906

In the 1911 census William’s occupation is given as “steam roller driver”. He worked in that same job until his death in 1939.

I recently discovered a story in the Staffordshire Sentinel of 26 September 1939 reporting on the inquest into William’s death.

Staffordshire Sentinel 26 Sep 1939.png

A.R.P. WORKER’S COLLAPSE

WHEN GOING ON DUTY

TUNSTALL INQUEST

A Tunstall ARP worker’s fatal collapse was the subject of an inquest conducted by the City Coroner (Mr W M Huntbach) at Tunstall, yesterday, on William Randles, aged 62, of 4, Bath Street, Tunstall, a steam-roller driver.

A verdict was returned in accordance with the medical evidence, that death was due to coronary thrombosis.

Evidence was given that Randles had been employed as a steam-roller driver by the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation for more than 40 years. For the past seven years he had been affected by ill-health, and was recently medically advised not to undertake strenuous work. At 6.50pm last Saturday, it was stated, Randles left his home to attend to his duties as an ARP demolition and rescue worker. In the Tunstall Town Yard he was changing into his protective clothing when he suddenly collapsed in the arms of William Harvey, of 8, Darnley Street, Shelton, another ARP worker.

Randles died before the arrival of Dr Kendall, of Tunstall.

Medical evidence was given by Dr Staub, and a verdict was returned as stated.

Sunday’s Obituary – Hamlet Cocker (1855-1911)

Hamlet Cocker was born sometime in the fourth quarter of 1855. He was baptised on 29 November that year at Royton, near Oldham, in Lancashire.

Hamlet married Grace Greenwood sometime in the second quarter of 1882, the marriage is registered in Oldham. And Grace is my 1st cousin 3x removed. Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley, my 3x great grandparents.

I have the family in the census returns of 1891, 1901 and 1911 living at 317 Rochdale Road, Royton. Hamlet’s occupation is described as “cotton mill manager”. They had three children – Hannah, Amy Gertrude and Maude. Sadly Amy died in infancy less than a year old in 1885.

Grace was the next member of the family to pass away – she died at the relatively young age of 51 on 29 February 1908.

Incredibly tragedy struck the family again three and a half years later when Hamlet died on 6 August 1911 in “curious circumstances”. His death was reported in the Preston Herald on 9 August 1911.

Preston Herald 9 Aug 1911.png

DIRECTOR FOUND DROWNED

A SINGULAR FATALITY

Mr Hamlet Cocker, the managing director and salesman of the Woodstock Spinning Company, Royton Junction, and a director of many other cotton companies, was found drowned in curious circumstances. The No. 1 mill of the Woodstock Company was being extended, and Mr Cocker’s body was found in a hole, containing 16 inches of water, in the ground where the work was going on. There was no suggestion of suicide.

At the inquest Mr Cocker’s daughter said that he left home on Sunday morning to visit Woodstock Mill. Mr Granville Tither, the cashier and secretary at the mill, said he concluded that Mr Cocker had been looking to see if the rain had done any damage to the work of extension. The hole was three yards square and two yards deep. He thought that Mr Cocker was seized with dizziness and fell in. He saw him in a fit of dizziness about two years ago at the mill. A police sergeant said he considered that if Mr Cocker had been conscious when he fell in he could have got out of the hole.

The Deputy Coroner said that Mr Cocker was obviously drowned. There was nothing to suggest that he had fallen from any part of the building and there was no suggestion that he had committed suicide.

The jury returned a verdict of found drowned.

In his will Hamlet left effects totalling £8770 3s to his unmarried daughters, Hannah and Maude.

Hamlet Cocker Probate.png

Sunday’s Obituary – Timothy Eglin (1902-1913)

Timothy Eglin is my 3rd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Thomas William Eglin and Margaret Ann Bancroft. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

Timothy was the fifth of ten children and his birth is registered in the first quarter of 1902. In the 1911 census the family are living at Habergham Eaves near Burnley, Lancashire.

On Christmas Eve 1913 the family were rocked by a tragic accident which ended the all too short life of Timothy. Details of the inquest are reported in the Burnley News of 27 December 1913.

Burnley News 27 Dec 1913.png

BOY’S FATAL FALL – The story of how Timothy Eglin, an eleven-year-old boy met an untimely end at Cliviger, was told at an inquest conducted by the Acting Coroner, Mr D N Haslewood, on Friday morning, at Habergham Farm, Habergham Eaves, Cliviger. Thomas William Eglin, the father, gave evidence of identification, and Mary Eglin, deceased’s four-year-old sister, said her brother had been swinging in the washhouse on Wednesday afternoon, on a rope, which was fastened at one end to the ceiling, and at the other end to the wringing machine. Whilst he was swinging, the machine fell over on her brother’s head. Alice Eglin, an older sister, told of hearing a noise coming from the direction of the washhouse, at 3 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, and on going there she found the deceased with the top part of the machine resting on his head on the floor. With the assistance of Albert Halstead, she lifted her brother up, and Halstead carried him home. Dr. Hodgson, of Burnley, was sent for, and on arrival he found the boy dead, with the back of his head crushed in, and a cut on his forehead. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

Thomas and Margaret had already experienced the loss of another child when their first born, Robert Watson, died in infancy, less than three months old in 1895.

 

Sunday’s Obituary – Thomas Fawcett (1855-1885)

Thomas Fawcett was born in Lancaster, Lancashire – his birth is registered in the fourth quarter of 1854.

Thomas married Hannah Musgrove on 28 May 1876 in Lancaster. Hannah is my 1st cousin 3x removed. Her parents are William Musgrove and Elizabeth Leach. Our common ancestors are William Musgrove and Harriot Francis, my 3x great grandparents.

Thomas and Hannah had at least six children (one of whom died in infancy) and on Christmas Eve 1885 the children would have gone to bed excited, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. However as things turned out they would have a totally different Christmas.

I recently discovered the following article in the Lancaster Gazette of 30 December 1885.

FATAL ACCIDENT THROUGH FALLING DOWNSTAIRS

On Saturday, at noon, an inquest was held at the Town Hall, before Mr Holden, coroner, touching the death of Thomas Fawcett, table baize grainer, who met with his death through falling downstairs early on Christmas morning.

The Coroner said the jury had been called together to enquire into the death of Thomas Fawcett. The first aspect of the case, as reported to him, was rather alarming, but he believed that the medical evidence, when legally directed, had somewhat modified that aspect.

The following evidence was then given:-

Hannah Fawcett said: The deceased was my husband, and was 31 years of age. He lived in Railway Street, and was a table baize grainer. He had his supper about a quarter or twenty minutes past eleven on Thursday night, and then went out “singing” with some friends. When I next saw him, about half-past four, he was in Mr Woodhouses’s – my next door neighbour – and both Mr and Mrs Woodhouse were then in the house. He came home with me. I took him into the children’s room for the purpose of putting toys into their stockings, as he was very fond of the children, and I left him there. I never saw him again alive. I went to bed – leaving him in the children’s room – and fell asleep almost immediately, and at ten minutes past nine on Christmas morning I found him lying at the bottom of the stairs.

Thomas Winder, labourer, of Scotforth, was called to give evidence, but appeared to be under the influence of drink, and the Coroner requested the police sergeant to lock him up for contempt of Court.

Robert Woodhouse, painter, of 8 Railway Street, said: I live next door to deceased, and saw him soon after four o’clock on Christmas morning. I had not been with him, but he came with a party and sang in front of my house, and I invited a few of them in – deceased being amongst those who came in. Deceased appeared as if he had had something to drink; but I could not say he was drunk. They stayed with me a short time – not more than five minutes altogether. I did not see Mrs Fawcett come into the house. Deceased was able to walk and went out of the house unassisted by anyone. I gave them something to drink, and did not see any of the party drink anything, while in my house. They sang in front of deceased’s house as well as mine, as we lived next door.

James Gifford, cowman, of 12 Railway Street, said: Deceased’s house is between mine and last witness’s. I did not see deceased on Christmas Eve; but about a quarter or half-past nine on Christmas morning Mrs Woodhouse told me “Tom Fawcett has tumbled downstairs and is dying.” I went into the house at once to render what assistance I could, and he was dead. He was lying at the foot of the stairs with his back to the passage – his feet being towards the stairs bottom. The information was that “he was dying;” but I found him dead and cold, as if he had been dead a few hours. There was a small pool of blood underneath his head. Mr Woodhouse and I took him up and carried him into the parlour. There was no sign of a scuffle having taken place at the bottom of the stairs when I went in; and his clothes and the furniture were not disarranged.

Robert Woodhouse recalled, said he had assisted the last witness to carry deceased into the parlour, and was present when PC Baxter came. The body was in the same position when the policeman came as when they left it in the parlour, and had not been touched.

PC Baxter said: I received information of the deceased’s death at twenty minutes to eleven o’clock on Christmas day from William Fawcett, deceased’s brother. He asked me to go up to his brother’s house as he had dropped down dead. I went up at once, and found deceased lying in the parlour on the floor fully dressed – except his hat and shoes. His clothes were not disarranged. I examined his head and found a wound at the back of it which had been bleeding. The pool of blood was about a yard from the bottom step to the middle of the passage. There was not much blood then; it had dried up. He was cold and dead, as if he had been dead some hours. There was no disarrangement of the furniture. I saw a slipper about half-way up the stairs which had belonged to deceased. The stairs were not very steep – being ordinary wooden stairs. I saw no obstruction at the bottom of the stairs, and examined carefully for any trace of blood but could find none except that mentioned.

Dr Parker said: I was called in to see the deceased about ten o’clock on Christmas morning, and got there about half-past. Deceased was lying in the front parlour. I did not examine him then. I saw he was dead and had been dead sometime. Subsequently under your directions as Coroner I re-examined him at about quarter-past twelve. He was then in the same position as before, and I examined the body externally. There was a wound about the size of half a crown on the back of the head. It was almost as deep as the bone – about 3-8ths of an inch. I made a post mortem examination – being assisted by Mr ???? – and we opened the chest first. We found all the organs quite healthy, and there was nothing to account for death. We then opened the head. Beneath the wound was a fracture of the skull extending about half an inch upwards and two inches down from the wound. On removing the skull cap and in the cavities of the brain we found about four [ounces?] of blood, pressing on the whole surface of the brain substance. That of itself was sufficient to cause death and was practically the cause of the deceased’s death. The fracture could have been caused by falling backwards downstairs and knocking his head against the tiled floor. The external wound was not of such a nature as to have been caused by falling against a sharp substance, as the tissues were crushed, and must have been caused by falling against a flat [surface?]. We examined the other parts of the body – [particularly?] the hands, and they did not appear to have been in conflict with any one – and found no sign of violence whatever. In my opinion deceased’s death was caused by falling backwards downstairs. The witness Gifford mentioned something to me last [night?] about hearing a noise, but he has not said anything about it in his evidence.

James Gifford was then recalled and said he had heard a sound coming out of deceased’s house as of a [????] falling about six o’clock in the morning. It was [????] thud, and was followed by no cry for help. He had no idea what it might be, but thought, in his own mind, that the table must have fallen.

The Coroner, in summing up, said the jury had heard the evidence relating to the untimely death of the man. Deceased had been out singing till half-past four on Christmas morning, and on returning home went first to a neighbour’s house where he stayed five minutes, and where it was observed he was not quite [????]. His wife was looking out for him, and took him home. She left him, as she said, very tenderly [????] putting toys into his children’s stockings, so that when they woke on Christmas morning they might find some little token of affection from their father. The evidence seemed to show that the deceased had been in children’s room, and might possibly have gone to sleep for an hour or two. About six o\clock he seemed to have awakened, and in trying to get to his room in a drowsy, sleepy, almost helpless condition about half-way up the stairs, he fell back and fractured his skull, and so met with his death. [I am happy?] to think no one seemed responsible for the unhappy death, and if the jury were satisfied from the evidence, they would say that “the deceased met his [untimely?] death by falling down stairs.” – The Jury immediately returned a verdict to that effect.

Referring to the witness Winder, the Coroner asked Chief Constable Ward what had become of him, and was informed that he had been locked up. The Coroner asked when he might be expected to have recovered from the effects of libations, and the Chief Constable said “probably about five or six o’clock.” – The Coroner then gave orders that he might be set at liberty directly at four o’clock, and hoped it would be a lesson to him.

It’s hard to imagine what life must have been like for Hannah and the children following Thomas’s death.

After more than four years Hannah remarried to Alexander Billington, a mason’s labourer. In the 1891 census Hannah and Alexander are living together at Fosters Court in Lancaster – none of Hannah’s children are there.

In that 1891 census three of the children, Arthur (12), Agnes Ann (10) and Elizabeth Leach (8) are recorded at Ripley Hospital, Endowed Charitable Trust for Fatherless Children. Another, Christopher Nathan (5) is with his grandparents William and Elizabeth Musgrove and Florence (15) is working as a “cotton rover” and living at Adelaide Street, Lancaster.

I do wonder whether Alexander Billington didn’t want to take on the children or perhaps it was just not practical – however I do feel some animosity towards him, maybe unfairly.

Did Hannah lose touch with her children after she remarried?

In any event Hannah was dead by early 1896 at the age of 41.

I really need to do some more work to find out what became of the children after Hannah’s death. Maybe that will be the subject of another blog post.