I am so desperately trying to squeeze in time to wrap up these lovely Ipswich letters. As with previous letters, I found myself a bit stumped deciphering some of Mr. Witter’s handwriting. My instinct tells me that all the places & people he's writing about must be known by Alice, my great grandmother. She left Ipswich in 1906 so I went hunting for a city directory around that time and found Kelly’s Book for Suffolk, 1900 in the University of Leicester’s specials collections. Forty five pages were tightly covered with details about Ipswich including residents, buildings, land, parliamentary representation, magistrates, local institutions, and so much more - even the county soil. I downloaded the PDF, applied the OCR in Adobe and voila, I was able to search full and partial words to confirm places & residents.
14 Chenery St.
June 20, 1927
Our Dear Old Friends
We were pleased to again hear from you both. First of all give dear Hilda a kiss and loving wishes for a happy future and may it be all brightness and free from clouds. We are also pleased to hear you are all in good health & happy and at the same time indeed. Sorry to hear of your dear Brother and Sister it must be a great trouble to know they are such sufferers. We sincerely sympathize with Jon. I hope we shall see you in 1928. We are getting old you know, but thankful to say we are still going strong. If you live to see Ipswich again, you will scarcely know the place. Every shop nearly getting new fancy fronts. A trust Company (London) have bought Footman shops, Fish & Sons, & Gardiner fur shops. Fish’s building has been sold to Boots the Chemists. They are going to have a big place there. Francis’ China shops are down & a big building nearly finished as a Bazaar, in fact there are changes everywhere.
Poor Mr. Rose opposite is dead. Mrs. Rose & her daughter still live there. The Min Lost still live in the old house but Hannah has been in bed for months & cannot do anything for herself. The Harvey family are all well. Tom is married. Florrie is married & lives near Diss. Ethel is living with Tom & his wife. Ida & her husband have a little Country Public House at Grundisburgh. Hendry’s & Anthony’s shops are down in Carr St. The Coop are building there so the shops will run from Cox Lane to Fishers Old Yard so they have some assortment of shops now. They go in for Funerals as well. There has not been much alteration in our street. My wife is feeling better but awhile ago was very grave indeed. I am about the same as usual but find I get tired quicker then I used to do. My wife wishes you to give Hilda the little hay cloth & when she uses it we know she will think of us. I don’t know of anything more of interest this time.
My wife joins with me in fond love to you all and god bless & keep you.
Your Ever Affectionate Friends
Jim & Polly
We heard a few days ago our own are all well in New Zealand. Herbert was here last week. Herberts family in Lincolnshire are all well.
Kisses all around & an extra from Polly to Hilda.
Unfortunately, I’m still at a loss for the last name of "Hannah (has been in bed for months)." I can’t find Minlosh or M’inlosh or Minlock anywhere in Ipswich I've even searched for Ni** or Mi** and no last name fits the bill. I think I've stared at it too long as I made my way through not only the 1900 Kelly Directory but also the 1901, 1911 and 1921 census trying to make out the last name and researching every Hannah! I dug through FindMyPast and Ancestry.com, even hit the British Newspapers for a bit. I though "the old house" was a clue to either where Alice lived, or the Witter's old home, but no luck at that location either. Clearly, I'm missing it, but I had to move on.
It was nice to verify all these locations in the 1900 Kelly's Directory.
- Pretty & Co Footman, general drapers & silk mercers, warehousemen & complete house furnishers located at Waterloo house, 6 & 8 Westgate street.
- Frederick Fish & Sons, dress & mantle makers, milliners & ladies’ outfitters, linen drapers, silk mercers, cabinet makers & upholsterers, carpet & furnishing warehouse. & Undertakers, 46 & 48 Tavern St. Manufctry 62 Carr st.
- Gardiner & Co were furriers & costume manufacturers Tavern st.
- Boots Cash Chemists (eastern) Limited, 52 Westgate St.
- Hendry’s shop - Robert Dixon Hendry Confectioner 56 Carr Street
- Anthony’s - Thomas Russel Anthony’s Butcher, 58 Carr Street
Someday, I'll make my way to Ipswich and walk the streets Mr. Witter has described. Wouldn't that be nice?
In the letter, Jim reported "the Harvey family is well" leading into what appear to be references to the Harvey children, Tom, Florrie, Ethel and Ida. Now, I happen to know from researching Jim's 1923 letter that the Crown & Sceptre closed in 1959 and was located at 20 Crown Street - which the 1911 Census confirms as the residence for the Harveys. So I’m about 100% certain I have the right Harveys.
1911 Census - Residence 20 Crown Street
Thomas Harvey (Head) age 54, 33 years marriage, 6 children born alive, 5 living, 1 died. Beer Retailer. Born Earl Soham Suffolk. Sarah Harvey (Wife) age 54, 33 years marriage, Born Helmingham Suffolk. Ethel Harvey (daughter) 32 Single Dressmaker, Born Earl Soham Suffolk. Florence Harvey (daughter) 31 Single, born Ipswich. Ida Harvey (daughter) 16 Single, Born Ipswich. Raymond Harvey (Son) age 12, Born Ipswich.
Just to be sure there weren’t two Harvey families with the same names & ages in the same town, I dug a bit further back and found them in a few more places. It’s fascinating to think about Thomas Harvey and how he went from bricklayer to beer retailer. The trajectory of a career is perhaps a detail that your family research might overlook if too focused on only names & dates.
1901 Census Residence 104 Crown Street
Thomas Harvey (Head) age 45. Brick Layer & Inn Keeper. Born Earl Soham Suffolk. Sarah Harvey (Wife) age 45, Born Helmingham Suffolk. Ethel Harvey (daughter) 22 Single Dressmaker, Born Earl Soham Suffolk. Florence Harvey (daughter) 21 Single, born Ipswich. Thomas Harvey (son) 13, Born Ipswich. Ida Harvey (daughter) 6 Single, Born Ipswich. Raymond Harvey (Son) age 3, Born Ipswich.
1891 Census - Residence 104 Crown Street Leopard Tavern
Thomas Harvey (Head) age 35. Brick Layer & Inn Keeper. Born Earl Soham Suffolk. Sarah Harvey (Wife) age 35, Born Helmingham Suffolk.
1881 Census - Residence Bramford Lane (5 Persevening Terr)
Thomas Harvey (head) age 25, Bricklayer Born Ipswich. Sarah Harvey (Wife), age 25 born Helmingham. Ethel Harvey (daughter) age 2 born Earl Soham. Florence (daughter) age 1 born Ipswich. Alice Harvey (Sister) age 12. Scholar born Earl Soham.
1871 Census - Residence The Low Road
William Harvey Head 44 Master Bricklayer Phoebe Wife 40 Thomas Son 13 Bricklayer William Son 12 scholar Elizabeth daughter 6 alice daughter 2 edith daughter 6 months. All born Earl Soham
Too much? I KNOW! I can’t help it! I am always overly excited to uncover details on a family, any family, related to me or not. It's ridiculous and a black hole I continue to fall into at warp speed.
I also realized I'd seen the Harvey name before on In Memoriam Cards I found among Alice's things. William Harvey (d. 21 Mar 1870) & Jane Harvey of Tivetshall (d. 17 Oct 1870) and Elizabeth Harvey (12 May 1878). Are they related to these Harveys? An exploration for another time.
That being said, even though these are not my ancestors, I still take care to create a tree for them in Ancestry.com, attach the supporting documents and upload the letters and clues I have in my possession. You know, just in case someone out there is searching for clues that I’m lucky enough to have or I need to revisit. I do hope others are doing the same.
Back to The Witters
While in Ancestry.com, I noticed that there were some glistening new green leaves on some of the Witters. It quickly caught my attention that Mr. Witter’s son, Herbert, was showing up as Herbert Salmon. Having run into the widowed/divorced wall before, it was easy to assume that Mary Witter had been previously married and had her first son with her first husband making Mr. Jim Witter the 2nd husband. Sure enough, the birth of Herbert was eleven years prior to the marriage of good old Jim Witter & Mary Ann Howard. And, sure enough, there was a marriage of Samuel Salmon and Mary Ann Howard in 1872. I also quickly found that there was another son - Herbert Praid Salmon and young Harriett was also Samuel Salmon’s biological daughter. A little more digging & there in the 1881 Census was Mary Ann Salmon, widow with son Herbert Praid age 8, Herbert Charles age 7 and Harriet age 11 months.
Why, why did she name both her sons Herbert? I'm tripping all over Herbert trying to align their locations & descendants.
Back into the black hole I go following the children I thought were biologically Jim Witter’s... Hannah was the one living in New Zealand. Perhaps she went there to be near her biological father Samuel Salmon’s ancestors? The eldest Herbert was in the military, lived in India, married a woman named Emma and in 1911 had four children that were born while stationed there Hubert Samuel Salmon, Norah Catherine Salmon, Ethel Mary Salmon and Ellen Maude Salmon. I know this because in the 1911 Census, they were all staying with James Witter & Mary Ann Witter. (I missed this in my first post about the Witters and thought Salmon was the married name of their daughter. Amateur mistake.) Herbert Praid was still in India, but where was Herbert Charles? Did Herbert Praid's kids all move back to India? Who else went to New Zealand? Will I find them as Witters or Salmon? I want to know what happened to everyone but I simply must get back to the rest of these letters and return to letters from my biological ancestors.
Happy Family History Hunting! Watch out for the black hole, rabbit hole, fork in the road...
Looking for someone? Here's a few resources I recommend:
Lonely Planet - Suffolk travel guides & Maps
FindMyPast - Subscription based access to over a billion historical records.
Ancestry - Subscription based access to over a billion historical records.
Kelly's Directory Suffolk 1900 - Link to University of Leicester online collection.
Family Search - 1911 Census and more
UK National Archive - How to Look for Census Records