What Can Your Ancestors Tell You?

Uncovering Secrets in Your Family History

Have you ever delved into the lives of your ancestors? I know some of you are thinking there’s nothing  more boring than this hobby, but I think otherwise. 17 years of research has shown me how widely lifestyles and experiences can differ in one family. You just never know what you turn up in your research. Besides, why wouldn’t you take advantage when family history research is so much easier now there are so many record sites Online. Many of them are free too!

My Alker Family

I thought my unremarkable working class family would be boring,  but I’ve found lots of interesting tidbits that expand the knowledge we already had.  I already knew my mother’s uncle, Samuel Alker, gained a BSc in Agriculture at Lancaster University, England, and worked in Argentina as a chemist at La Forestal, Guillermina, Santa Fe. Buenos Aires. We have four of his letters to my mum dated 1938 to 1942 giving this address.


Samuel Alker B.SC. Born 1878 Pemberton died in Villa Guillermina, Santa FE. Argentina in 1950's

Samuel Alker B.SC. Born 1878 Pemberton, Lancashire. England, and died in Villa Guillermina, Santa FE. Argentina August 1950.

My mum was an only child.  Her father died in 1933 when she was just fifteen. Then her mother died in 1938 leaving her alone apart from my dad. They’d married young knowing her mum wouldn’t last long.

The first of Samuel’s letters dated–22nd April 1938, after her mother had passed– demonstrates his concern for my mum. He wants to know what her husband does and what his salary is.  The other letters show the difficulties of mail during wartime, and continue to show his concern. In fact, he set up an income of ten shillings a week to my mum right through the war years while my dad was away. Samuel never married and when he died he left his money to his nieces. He bequeathed my mum twice the amount he left the other nieces, presumably because she had no other support.

I found find him on several passenger lists returning from Argentina. These entries show him as a chemist travelling first class. The first one in 1938, shows him having doubts about which country he intended as his residence. His mind was made up for him though, as his next letter explains he was told to return to his work at the onset of war. Although he died in Argentina, there is a gravestone dedicated to him at Highfield Cemetry, Wigan, England.

Samuel Alker comes from a long standing Lancashire farming family. I have traced them back to Wigan in the early 1600s. Prior to this date, there were several Alkers living in Ormskirk. I have not yet proved that my earliest Alker ancestor Thomas Alker was born in Ormskirk, but I believe he was.

When I began researching my family history, I made the choice to include all my direct  female ancestors as well as the male lines. My great grandmothers were just as important to me as my great grandfathers. While this meant an enormous amount of surnames to study, I’m glad I included them. Otherwise I would have missed out on so many interesting stories. Many sent to me from other countries.


My Barton Family

My Barton family includes several prominent pioneers of Utah. I have a letter from one of them covering the journey from Liverpool which took 5 months in all including 63 days over the plains and Indian territory  with a wagon and oxen. It’s dated 13th August 1910. John Alker born 1806 is my great, great grandfather’s brother.

Men of Utah textMen of Utah









My Thistlewood Family

My Thistlewood Ancestor was a prominent church bell ringer of Liverpool. Campanologist is the correct term. There is a plaque at St Bees, Cumberland, England that states this Liverpool team, of which my William Thistlewood ancestor was a member, rang the first peel of bells in Cumberland. This was on 9th November 1858, and they played 5040 Grandsire Triples in 3 hours, 10 minutes. Quite something I’m led to believe. This William Thistlewood was also instrumental in preventing the demolition of St Xavior church Liverpool. He organized a successful petition which led to the plans for demolition being scrapped.




My Holt Ancestors

I’ve spent many years following my Holt ancestors, alongside other knowledgeable family historians on the same path. It is widely believed by this group that my Holt ancestors are related to General Joseph Holt, Leader in the Irish rebellion of 1798. The Irish birth records of my Joseph Holt have yet to be found. I know, from the 1841 and 1851 census of Liverpool, he was born in Ireland around 1796. The naming pattern of his children and his occupation suggests  he is the son of Joshua Holt of Sandyford, General Joseph Holt’s brother. It is just a matter of waiting until the right documents come Online, and that makes it exciting. Information regarding General Joseph Holt, and his wider family, is here

I have so many stories to tell, stories I learned while engaging in this fascinating hobby. It’s also taught me a great deal about history. Why don’t you give it a go. Always start with what you know is fact, like your mother or father’s birth or marriage record. This will give at least one of the parent’s names and the registration area of the birth or marriage. Then you can search the Online births, marriages, and deaths civil registers.

About caroleparkes

My husband calls me a butterfly because I flit from one hobby to another. Apart from being a wife for 52 years, a mother of three sons, and a grandmother, I'm also an author, genealogist, amateur artist, a lover of most needlecrafts, and occasional poet. Of the above, my most enduring interest has been writing and I hope to be doing it well into old age.
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9 Responses to What Can Your Ancestors Tell You?

  1. Kathleen says:

    Carole, what fascinating relatives you have! As you know, I’m a big fan of researching family trees 🙂 Once you start you definitely don’t want to stop!
    I never heard of the grandsire triples, so interesting. I loved reading about your ancestors.
    I look forward to hearing more about your family.


    • caroleparkes says:

      I must admit I’ve been neglecting my family history of late and also my website. I must post more, and what better topic than genealogy. There are so many little mysteries and brick walls, then suddenly, someone has a little tidbit of information and it all falls into place. Must do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. davidprosser says:

    I agree that the research is fascinating Carole. I’ve done both my wife’s and my family trees ( hers go back much further as Yorkshiire kept better records way back. There’s been sadness in seeing agricultural workers going to the Poor House and the delight in finding linkage to certain noble families. Strange to see members of a family leaving for America and all settling in or around Cook County, Chicago and finding descendants of theirs online too.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx


    • caroleparkes says:

      I was surprised how many families left Britain to become Mormons, and generally by the amount of travel that went on. Of course, my family lived in and around Liverpool, one of the greatest harbours for seafaring travel. It’s no wonder they were temped to see other shores.

      There are stories in my family that say we are descended from the Liverpool shipping Holt family, but I’ve yet to find the link.


  3. marianbeaman says:

    I’ve done excavations on my family history too, finding most in agriculture on both sides of my family. You are doing valuable work here.


    • caroleparkes says:

      Only my mother’s side were farmers, my dad’s family name is SMITH. When I started my family history quest, I thought it would be impossible to trace my Smith family. There are so many families with that name. In fact, when my brother married, his wife’s maiden name was also Smith and both their fathers were named George William Smith. It does look odd on their marriage certificate, almost like he married his sister, ha ha. Luckily, my dad’s aunt was still living and she passed a lot of information onto me. Our Smiths were plumbers and gas fitters in the mid 1800s, and were relatively easy to trace, especially as they passed on the name George Henry through several generations. This does help.


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