Q if for:
Questions, Queries and Quandaries at the heart of our family history research. So many avenues are open to us now, beyond the traditional local and family history society magazine pages, with online message boards, social network sites etc.
We can generally find out the "who, where, and when" about our ancestor's lives, but the "why" remains a mystery and we can only hazard a guess as to motives.
Why was 6 year old John Robert Donaldson left behind when his parents moved 350 miles south?
John was born in 1854, the son of Robert Donaldson, a shipwright, and Isabella Walton of South Shields, a town on the north east coast of England, dominated by the sea and maritime activity. An obvious next step in research was to find the family in the 1861 Census, but frustratingly, in the days before online records, this proved impossible to trace. Yet all the indications were that direct Donaldson descendants had remained in South Shields down the generations.
It was only much later the opportunity to do national searches online revealed that by 1861 Robert and Isabella were at Portsea in Portsmouth on the south coast of England. With them were two young sons Thomas, aged 4, born South Shields and one year old Frederick W. (Walton perhaps after Isabella's maiden name?) born at Portsea, indicating a move c.1857-1860. But there was no mention of their eldest son, John who would have been 6 years old.
How had the family travelled 350 miles from South Shields to Portsea, by rail or more likely by sea? Was work the reason, with Robert now employed at Her Majesty's Dockyard as a shipwright? Why was John not with them?
Maria was only 4 years old when her baby sister Martha died, so could hardly have remembered her, but did she, for some reason, adopt her name as her own?
|Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919)|
with her only daughter Jennie (after 8 surviving sons)
and granddaughter Annie Maria.
These Questions remain mysteries and I may never know the answers - another factor that makes family history so absorbing.
I am still on the Quest - and not for Quitting.