October 12, 2012

Sepia Saturday #147: Short Service




The man in the picture is my husband, Kevin’s, Great-Great Grandfather. He was born in the Parish of Ashford, in Kent, England.  He apprenticed as a saddler while a young man and joined the Buckinghamshire Rifle Volunteers at the age of 20. From there he went on to join the 7th Hussars and was with them for 3 years, 352 days.

In August, 1905, he signed up for “Short Service”, i.e. 8 years in “the Colours” and 4 years Reserve, to the Hussars of the Line and remained with them until he came to Canada.  He died in 1929, of Broncho-Pneumonia at the fairly young age of 49. Presumably, he was gassed in the First World War, and had problems with his lungs ever after.

A sad death, surely, but not nearly as sad as that of his father, Frederick “Chas” Hall, of Easton, Kent, who was a Bricklayer, and who must have followed the boom of the building industry to Bethnal Green in London. The boom started to decline sharply in the early 1900s, and Frederick died there on Dec 5, 1912, at the quite young age of 59.  Many youngish men took their own lives under these circumstances and it is not outrageous to think Frederick might have been one of them.  He did still have a large family to feed, and if he had lost his job, it is likely that his wife and children could have been forced out onto the streets to cadge for food.  Either that, or some disease or flu might have been the cause. of his early demise.

The worst place one could end up was The Workhouse.  These were state-sponsored institutions which were more like voluntary-prisons.  Not that people were keen to go the The Workhouse, but many of the children and aged population had no choice if they wanted some sort of roof over their heads.  They were put to work, doing hard labour and fed the worst food imaginable; living conditions were desperate. 

Fortunately, for Fred Jr., he was able to not only get out of London by signing on with the military, but he was also eventually able to emigrate to Canada and have a fairly decent life, and a family of his own, before he died.  His son,  Frederick Albert Hall (Kevin’s Grand-Uncle) went on to follow in his footsteps, serving in three Canadian militia regiments during his own life. He died at age 78, in 1983. Kevin’s Grandfather, Charles Herbert Hall, also served overseas in World War II. He died at age 84, in 1992.

The military figures largely on both sides of Kevin’s family.  Sometime in the future, I’ll explore that here.

N.B. The problem with sites like Ancestry.com, is that they provide too many possibilities.  I fell asleep last night pondering how on earth a young man in the Bethnal Green area could apprentice to a Saddler of horses?  Further digging has proven my suspicions correct: Frederick "Chas" Hall was NOT a bricklayer! According to the 1901 Census, he was first a Railway Porter, and then by 1911, was working as a Bargeman at Eton College (not sure what that really means, but it provide an answer for where Fred Jr. worked with horses).  Frederick Sr. was also married a SECOND time and had a new daughter.  Frederick Jr. was long gone by then, but the chances of his father being the man who died at Bethnal Green, are slim to none!  Thus, my further research has rendered a goodly portion of this post MOOT!

Ah, such is the path of the Amateur Genealogist, eh?  The road is fraught with both brick walls, AND red herrings!


I neglected to mention to anyone who stumbles upon this post, that other fine (and perhaps better documented) articles can be found at the Sepia Saturday website.



Thank you for reading and following on this mad journey and tune in next week, as I continue to host the "calls" for Sepia Saturday while Alan Burnett is cruising the Caribbean.


Kat

32 comments:

  1. Great portrait. What the photograph doesn't show, naturally, but which I discovered from his Attestation Paper, is that he had a "Tattoo Jap Dragoon on left forearm. Lady on R. forearm." Not unusual for one who had spent a good many years in military service.

    Thanks for sharing both the image and the back story.

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    1. Thanks, for locating Fred Jr. on the Canadian website. I don't know how you found him, when I failed to do so, but I am grateful that you did!

      Kat

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  2. I enjoyed reading this military genealogy of your in-laws. I'm intrigued by the different forms of service, terms like Hussars and Short Service. All new to me!

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    1. Thanks, Wendy! They were pretty new to me as well!

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  3. It's good that the son put a year on the photograph. Again, the story contained many new facts for me. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Peter, you are so right! It is a gift to find a date on a photograph, isn't it?

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  4. He certainly has a military bearing in that photo.

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    1. That is true, Postcardy. Today's young men could take a page out of the books of military men, on that score.

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  5. I share the same problems with you in using Ancestry.Com. I once had a name and date in my tree wrong and boy did I get a chewing out from another member researching the same family. I found out that a lot of Ancestry.Com is only what someone else puts in. Now census records and some other resources are legit but it can cause a lot of confusion. I love doing it and you have done a great job on this piece. I enjoyed reading it. I also have learned several new things from this theme this week.Blessings
    QMM

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    1. Ah, QMM - I have had the "chewing out", as you call it, as well. Really makes you feel embarrassed on the other side of your screen, doesn't it? Thankfully, we never have to meet these "experts" in person.

      Thanks for reading! Blessings to you too!

      Kat

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  6. The Workhouse - what a horror. Your description of a voluntary prison seems pretty accurate. I guess when you're starving you do anything to keep alive. Canada was fortunate to welcome such admirable new people into it's citizenry.

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    1. Oh, I know, Helen! The Workhouse was a nightmare existence. If you're interested, I wrote a poem about Bethnal Green when I moved by an episode of the BBC "Who Do You Think You Are".

      You can find it here:

      http://poetikat-km.blogspot.ca/2012/03/blythenhale.html


      Kat

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  7. That's a proud stance if ever i saw one! I think he qualifies for this week's theme on the basis of the moustache alone. Sad to think that he died at what was, by our standards, a quite young age.

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    1. Nell, it really is quite the moustache, isn't it? I'm not one for facial hair on men (or women either, come to that). Maybe in that time, I would have been more attracted to it. He was a good looking fellow, despite the "Imperial".

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  8. A great photo! I especially like his spurs. Given the number of horses used in WW1 and earlier, a saddler was a useful trade, a bit like auto mechanic. Brett's discovery of the hidden tattoos adds a wonderful dimension to Fred Jr. too.

    I agree about searches on Ancestry.com. They could use some extra custom filters on some of the records. With so many father/son combinations using the same name, same military, and same location it can be very challenging.

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    1. Mike, one of my worst problems with Ancestry is that the family names are very common on my husband's side - Hall and Wilson, and on mine, both the surnames and the given names are repeated again and again! Much confusion ensues, until you wade through all to the truth.

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  9. I so enjoyed your closing quote, and just as often it's that one thing we accidently stumble upon that makes us continue to dig into the past! Such interesting information, you did well in researching. It's funny a workhouse has never been the best of places to be right! Thanks so much for picking up Sepia Saturday and keeping us all afloat.

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    1. You're very welcome, Karen! I was happy to take it on.

      Glad you enjoyed my wrap-up comment. I could have lied and led you all to believe that what I had written was absolutely true, but it's not in my nature to deceive.

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  10. You seem to have the same problems with Ancestry as I do. I have to visit the local library to use it or its charges are much to high before you can confirm a family connection, Census records have proved much better where I can see that my father's trade was saddler and harness maker. He worked with horses in WWI. You have much more research to do - good luck with it.

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    1. Bob, you have the luxury of being on-the-spot in the UK. From Canada, it is much more difficult to trace the relatives overseas without relying on the online data that is available.

      I think being in the field of war, and being responsible for a horse might have made things just a shade more tolerable. The bond between man and horse had to be very strong indeed. Then again, to lose your horse to an attack must have been devastating in its own right.

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  11. Photo is really interesting. You even found a military man with a mustache! Ancestry can be frustrating. I usually search the records and take the rest with a HUGE grain of salt. Searching on the specific database of interest can also help eliminate all the red-herrings.

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    1. Very true, Liz! One needs to keep a giant bucket of salt at the ready!

      As for specific databases, I have trouble staying focused on one area (that's just my personality). I have had my greatest successes in the Danish Archives (in Danish, and all) because I am forced to deal with one thing at a time.

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  12. Great photo! What I noticed were his spurs. I wonder what is he holding in his hands. I see a hat, and possibly gloves. But what is the other item?

    And awesome job Brett Payne on finding his Attestation Paper!

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    1. You know, Jana, I think it might be a cane and a pair of gloves!

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  13. After reading the comments, it appears many of us have had the same frustrating experiences with Ancestry. I utilize the site more as a way to connect with researchers and find new photos of my families. Seems the best way to research is still the old-fashioned method of visiting courthouses, archives, etc. and looking for the records yourself.

    Very nice photo of your husband's great-great grandfather. He had quite a moustache! Thanks for taking over while Alan's away.

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  14. Queen Bee - Oh, if only I had the opportunity to do so! Unfortunately, at this point in time, I am rather captive to my immediate locale, and can only hope that sometime in the future I will have occasion to do on-the-spot research on the east coast of Canada and abroad.

    Thanks for your comment!

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  15. Kat, you are so funny! I have had that happen to me too; think I'm going down a great road of investigating and then the truth is revealed after several hours of hard work. What a great story you have shared with us all in all and I am glad that you ammended it to tell us the rest.

    Kathy M.

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  16. Thanks, Kathy! Some say, "funny", others, "weird", "nuts", "batty" ... the list is endless!

    I am honest to a fault. Most of the time.

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  17. A fine picture and I must say, great footwear, better than some other regiments. Your research may have misled you for a while, but it gave you the opportunity to tell about one reality we may not be privy to. That's good. And keeping your journey honest is encouraging for others who try doing the same. I gave up [for now], but yes, one can get lost in there... for a long time!!!
    I wonder, since military is so prevalent in your family, if any were seen at those Veterans events we see, like we will soon see in a couple of weeks, maybe even in Ottawa?!? Any pics?
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  18. Sadly,The Army Was Probably Seen As A Practical Routine Away From The Horrors Of The Workhouse.
    Some Sad But True Facts Here.Yes {as T-Bear says)Its Important To Keep The Journey Real.

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  19. I sure agree with you about Ancestry. But in spite of the problems I still enjoy it. That is a great photo and the stories (and corrections) that came from it. I'll add my thank you for taking over Alan's job, also.
    Looks like we have a lot of likes in common- Ancestry and "Dog Shaming"!
    Barbara
    P.S. How were the muffins?

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