Sunday, February 25, 2018

How Family History gets lost - The example of the Horn Family of Handside, Hatfield

Why am I starting with a post card of Ramsgate Harbour - when Ramsgate is clearly not in Hertfordshire?

In trying to identify Karaktus (the St Albans comic card artist) I have been researching the history of The London View Company which started publishing view cards of seaside resort along the South coast of England. I purchased this card because of the early date and the format of the back - which suggests that the London View Company was using a different printer. At the time I made the purchase I totally ignored the handwriting

That is until the card (and a similar one being sold at the same time) arrived in the post and I realized that both cards were addressed to Mrs S. Horn, of Handside, Hatfield, Herts.  But Mrs Sarah Horn, of Handside Farm is already featured on this web site:
William James & Sarah Horn of Handeside Farm
See HORN, Handside Welwyn/Hatfield, 19th century
Sarah was born Sarah Cox and is a cousin of mine, the common ancestor being Thomas Cox (1794-1874). I have no reference to her being connected to 22 Ridgemont Road, St Albans, but note that Ridgemont road is already  briefly mentioned on this web site in a different context. The message on the card starts "Dear C S" - presumably for "Dear Cousin Sarah" and is signed "J H", the other card addressed to Handside being signed "Jack". But who was cousin Jack?

Clearly more research is needed but the first thing to do is to find out where the cards came, and looking things up online, or in old directories, etc., can wait.

More urgently I needed to check out the source. I brought the cards on ebay from eastangwide, who appears to be selling off the contents of an old album of circa 1905 cards addressed to Mrs Horn of Handside, as view cards, with no reference to the family history contained in the collection. At least 20 cards addressed to Mrs Horn from around 1905 are currently being sold, together with some unposted Hertfordshire view cards of places within a few miles of Handside Farm which probably also came from the album. At least some of the cards were sent by relatives and the "Jack" referred to above also signed himself "J C H", Another card to "Dear Grannie" was sent by Percy Horace Webb who is on my family tree because in 1936 he sent a wreath to my great grandmother's funeral, while an undated cutting in a  Reynolds family scrap book says he died falling down the stairs at the St Albans Constitutional Club. 

I am in the process of purchasing a few of the cards (mainly the local views I haven't already got) and details will appear on my website - with a mention in this newsletter. If I had unlimited time, energy  and money I would like to expand my earlier researches into "Who is related to Who" among the larger farmers in the area to include more of the Cox and Horn family. In practice I will not be taking it much further because there are other greater priorities. The point is that the postcards Sarah Horn so carefully saved over 100 years ago will be scattered to the winds, and the family stories buried in the complete collection will be lost for ever.

It is important to realize that what has happened to Sarah Horn's postcards is not unusual. It is what is happening all the time as personal effects are sold off as part of a house clearance following a death. In fact this is how most old post cards get onto the market. I am posting this so that anyone interested in the Horn family that sees my blog can acquire any unsold cards. In addition I want to warn everyone that if there are treasured family heirlooms to make sure that either they are kept in the family, or at least a digital record (multiple copies) is kept for the benefit of future generations of family historians. 

Of course family photograph albums, especially when people are identified, need to be safeguarded as well, and there may be individual letters or other documents which are worth keeping for posterity. For some examples see my page on Ephemera.

1 comment:

  1. I have been in contact with the seller, and the album was purchased in an auction room in Bury St Edmunds, and presumably if there were any other relevant lots they were sold at the same time.


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