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More Eureka Moments

Thanks to all who contacted us after the Eureka Moments blog posted earlier this month. The personal stories highlighted proved so popular that we decided to reproduce more. In this week's examples, we hear from a New Zealander who found her family in London's Brompton Cemetery, a Briton who had success in another 'Magnificent Seven' cemetery, and an Australian who reconnected with his Scottish roots.

Tree growing among gravestones in Brompton Cemetery, West London
New Zealander, Vicki Houlbrooke (nee Leach), was searching in central London burial records for her Westminster ancestor, George Leach. She had a transcript of the headstone, found in a letter from her Grandad's Great Uncle Fred, but there were no clues as to where the grave was located. The transcript read:

Sacred to the memory of Mary Maria, Wife of George LEACH, of Vauxhall Bridge Rd, Pimlico, Who departed this life Sept 3, 1856, Aged 66 years. It is finished. Also Mr. George LEACH, Husband of above, Who died Dec 26, 1866, Aged 74 years, He rests in peace. In loving memory of Mildred LEACH, Wife of John LEACH, Who died Oct 5th, 1894, Aged 77 years. Also John LEACH, Husband of above, Who died May 16th, 1899, Aged 84 years.

Vicki told us, "I purchased George Leach's death certificate, hoping it would tell me where he was buried, but I was mistaken. Our New Zealand death certificates do have a place for burial information. So I tried to decide where they might have been buried, using census records that showed where they lived, and emailed the Cemeteries Team at the City of Westminster for information, but never received an answer. That was back in 2007!"

Finally in November 2013, Vicki saw that Deceased Online had digitized the records of Brompton Cemetery. A few clicks, and she found all the missing Leaches, including "great uncle Fred": "I was very excited. It was a real breakthrough. I bought some of the records. They were dissenters, which I had half suspected - another confirmation. My nephew in London is going to try and take a photo of the headstone for me, which will round my research off nicely."


Burial entry of George Leach, Dissenter

This reminded me of Jan Ellis's successful discovery at Brompton Cemetery, which was featured on the BBC London News website in June 2013. Jan recently found a famous ancestor, the playwright John Maddison Morton (1811-1891) in our Kensal Rise collection, as well as a brother that had died quite a few years earlier. Jan emailed, "This was another great find as I was only aware of John having one other sibling which wasn't him. By all means I haven't stopped yet, it's a great site to work with, so thank you very much." 

Kenneth G. Eldridge from New South Wales, Australia contacted us about the success he had in our Scottish collections: "I struggled, with limited success, for many years with research into my HELMAN family. One day I came across deceasedonline.com and rather hopefully typed in HELMAN. While I had some basic info on branches in the UK I was surprised to see a familiar name in Scotland. I followed through on your site and found a wonderful image of the headstone of one of my relatives on whom I had never found any info.  Here was his full name, age, date of death and similar info re his wife of whom I had known nothing."
Image of the headstone of Cyril B. Helman that Kenneth Eldridge found at Deceased Online

Kenneth followed this up by contacting the daughter of a relative in the Clackmannanshire grave. She put him in touch with cousins from Scotland, England and the USA, and the research continued.

Kenneth concluded by telling us, "Since then (early 2012) I have published a book on the HELMAN family and much of what is in it came through that wonderful moment on deceasedonline.com when I saw the image of that grave in Tillicoultry, Scotland, a place I had never heard of or knew anything about. Well done deceasedonline.com. Thanking you for allowing to share this defining moment in my research."

Please do keep sharing your discoveries with us. It's very exciting to hear of successes and see images of Deceased Online users visiting ancestors' graves. Feel free to email or to add your photos on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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