Members’ Meeting: held on Thursday 26th March

Thirty members attended a lively meeting with individual members presenting family stories. The evening was organised slightly differently from usual. We had the members’ stories followed by tea or coffee and the evening finished with a presentation on George A. Ward 1780 – 1860, who lived and worked in Wisbech: Judi Upton presented a detailed summary of his life using a wide range of resources to illustrate and confirm the information. This included John Peck’s diary entries, newspaper reports, legal documents, wills and photographs.
Some ”distant” members sent information in and there were displays of information to look at.
We had a real variety of stories with lots of local names and places mentioned. We started with the tale of grandparents who lived apart in Spalding and Fleet; then we saw a wedding photograph of the Friend family taken in 1903 in the orchard area near Sandyland . Another member sent in a photograph of a wedding that took place in Elm between members of the Hunter-Rowe and West families.
Another member told the story of her great grandfather “Potato Joe” Bettinson who farmed in Outwell, Upwell and Friday Bridge: he pioneered the introduction of Scotch seed potatoes, sugar beet and carrots and was also renowned as a horse breeder and for pedigree cattle. Another tale was told of a night time skating party held on the Well Creek in 1912.
Another member told the tale of her father’s 22 year service in the Gordon Highlanders and about his decision to marry based on a photograph he saw while serving in India.
Bridget told some anecdotes about her family including one about her grandmother who decided to teach her husband a lesson by making it seem as if she had gone missing as the result of a fire. He spent hours looking for her only to find her safe asleep in her bed!
Another member showed us a report from The Times published in the 1830’s. Her ancestor had been interviewed to find out the effects of the new Poor Law which had had a really detrimental effect on living conditions. The interview was very detailed and gave lots of information about life and living conditions specific to her family.
After last month’s meeting when we were encouraged to “sort out our family histories” a member who was sure he had no local family had discovered an ancestor living in Guyhirn – he had done some further research and found out that he had originally come from the Buckinghamshire/ Hertfordshire area.
This is just a brief synopsis of what was a very interesting evening with examples of different ways of presenting a life story or an incident.
[Margaret Lake ]

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