Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Utley Cemetery, Keighley, Yorkshire

Stalkers of dead people (genealogists) are an eclectic bunch. Some are exceptionally secretive and are reluctant to share their discoveries. Others are far more altruistic.

This past week I have benefited from two acts of genealogical kindness. For many years I have known that my gggg-grandmother, Angelique LEBRASSEUR, left Paspebiac, Quebec for the Channel Islands after the death of her husband, James DAY in 1833. Two of Angelique's daughters had married into the LUCE family of Jersey, and Angelique went to live with them in St Helier. What wasn't known was her date of death, although census data suggested she died between 1841 and 1851.

There are very few online resources for Jersey other than census data and St Helier baptisms, and the Jersey Archive in St Helier isn't exactly next door. There is an enquiries and research service but there is usually a price tag attached.

RootsChat has a board for Channel Islands lookup requests so I decided to post a query. A few days went by... then a week... then ten days. Finally a reply but not an answer. Just a promise to look. And then, three weeks after my initial query... gold! A death date for Angelique DAY, burial dates for her two daughters, and collection of information for some of her grandchildren. And so, to Jerseylily (whoever you are), for your random act of genealogical kindness—thank you.

Angelique LEBRASSEUR was born in Paspebiac, Quebec about 1773 and died in St Helier, Jersey on 29 Oct 1849. She married James DAY (1768-1833), son of James DAY and Ann BURT of the Isle of Wight.

The second act of genealogical kindness involves a Yorkshire cemetery enshrouded in mist. Over the past few years numerous people have contributed photographs of North Devon gravestones to my website. Most of these contributions were the result of queries to RootsWeb's Devon mailing list. Perhaps a similar query to the Yorkshire list would garner a photograph of the gravestone of my gg-grandfather, Plateras Lawson JACQUES of Keighley. I knew that he was buried in Utley Cemetery, and knew that he had a gravestone. I just didn't have a photograph.

RootsWeb has not one, but four relevant Yorkshire mailing lists, so I posted to each in turn. I received a number of replies. Several contained rather unhelpful suggestions. None contained an offer to photograph. Then I received an email from a gentleman in Halifax, Yorkshire, commenting on how I was "not having much joy at finding a photographer," and then offering to help.

Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. This gentleman contacted the superintendent of Utley Cemetery, identified eleven graves related to my family, and obtained the relevant details from the cemetery's burial register. A few weeks later he visited and photographed each gravestone in weather that I know was less than comfortable. He also apologized for the delay in visiting the cemetery as he and his wife were celebrating the birth of their first English-born granddaughter.

Plateras Lawson JACQUES, the son of David JACQUES (1792-1831) and Elizabeth CORLASS (1794-1856), was baptised at St Andrew's, Keighley on 10 Nov 1828, and died in Keighley on 3 Oct 1870. He was buried at Utley Cemetery, Keighley, Yorkshire on 5 Oct 1870. At the time of his death, Plateras was a wire polisher. Plateras Lawson is named for his paternal grandmother Alice Lawson and her mother Mary Playtress. Plateras married Ellen JENNINGS (1831-1898), daughter of Jonathan and Sarah Jennings of Bradford in 1851. Plateras and Ellen had eight children, one of whom, Nellie, died at the age of five and is buried in Utley.

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