1st March 1999
Dear Mr. Halverson
Paul (Winstandley) has sent me copies of the information you sent him and very interesting it is. As you will realize as you read on we now know more of the descendants of Charles Houghton than we do of our own grandmother.
I enclose a booklet on “Heather” that I am sure you will find interesting. Heather is much changed. I was last there about ten years ago when I took mother to see her two surviving cousins and of course developers had been busy. Large parts of the village I visited had been swept away and replaced with modern housing.
The two photos are of Sarah Jane Houghton, my grandmother, one as a young woman and the other taken in in 1929 with me as a baby. I also enclose Family Record sheets for her and John Winstanley and their descendants as far as I have been able to trace. My mother was my father’s second wife- his first died in child birth- and I enclose the sheet for dad’s first marriage to give a record of the family in which I grew up.
There is one thing in the sketch of Charles Houghton’s life that I would query. It states that he was the only boy in the family with three sisters and that ‘not long after his father died’. According to what I have been told his mother re- married a man called Smith and they had a daughter, Edith. Ann Houghton died in 1908. My source of this information was Betty Watkins who was my only contact we had with Heather for many years and this was originally the odd letter and card to my mother and infrequent telephone calls. When mother died I kept up the contact. Betty was gathering a much data on the family as she could but unfortunately she died suddenly just over a year ago before she sent anything on to me.
Paul’s father and my mother did not talk about their early days in Llandudno but mother did let odd things from time to time and its from this that I have built up the following sketches of the family.
My Grandmother, Sarah Jane Winstanley nee Houghton was born in Heather, a small village on the edge of the Leicestershire coalfields. The only employment was the mines, brickworks or the farms for men. For the girls it was in the home or ‘in service’. Is that a phrase you would use in America? Here is an old expression for working as a domestic servant. Mother told me that village girls wanted to get ‘in service’ as while the work was hard they did have meals every day and a roof over their head. An interesting tale mother told me was, as a child she was taken by her mother on a Sunday afternoon to visit a relation who worked in a ‘big house’ (country mansion). Apparently custom after Sunday dinner the servants had the rest of the day off. They had tea there and were shown around the house by the ‘lady of the house’ and left with presents of food. I wished I had of asked who this was and where. It must have been near Heather. I believe Sarah went into service-how else did she get to Llandudno some 150 miles away?
There she met John Winstanley whom she married. Paul has told you of John but further research into his ancestry has shown he came from a family of well-known clockmakers in North Wales. Their clocks still come on the market fairly often- you might even see them in America as I saw a Welch clock in Vancouver last year. Life could not have been easy for them. Llandudno was, and still is a holiday town so work was seasonal which is probably why John was collecting seagull’s eggs when he fell and was killed. They are still served as a delicacy in some hotels.
When his mother moved to Liverpool he had employment in Llandudno and stayed with his grandmother (Ann Wragg Houghton. I assume that on her death in 1912 he came to Liverpool as mother did mention him in Liverpool. That is all I know. He was never mentioned and as far as I know had no contact with his mother. He certainly had no contact with my mother.
John Charles Winstanley son of Sarah Jane
He also stayed with his grandmother when the rest of the family moved to Liverpool. I do not know a great deal about him as we had very little contact. I know he served in both wars in the Royal Navy in minesweepers and I believe for a time in the 1914 war in “Q” ships. These were old merchant vessels with hidden guns that sailed alone in hope that a U-boat would surface to sink them by gunfire rather than use a torpedo. The disguise was then dropped and hopefully they sank the U-boat first with their own guns. I think he had a hard time between the wars and my mother did have his wife to help her in our house for a time in the 1930’s. As I said I did not see much of him but he always seemed cheerful when I did. I have lost all contacts with his family. When mother died I found a telephone number for his daughter but when I tried it was discontinued.
Hannah Jane Winstanley - daughter of Sarah Jane’s daughter
She came to Liverpool with her mother and became a skilled dressmaker. I can remember being taken to see her when she worked in a Liverpool store that closed just before the outbreak of the last war- Frisby Dykes- the name of which became famous in a wartime radio comedy show. During the 1914 war women took over many jobs that had been the sole preserve of men and she became a tram car (street car) conductor or as they were known as “Clippies’. She and uncle Bob had no children. I saw more of Aunt Jinnie, as we called her, than any of the others. She came to help mother in the house particularly after Uncle Bob died and before that when mother and father went away they would come and look after the house.
My mother. She was always annoyed that she was given only one Christian name when her brothers and sisters each had two. As mentioned she would no be questioned about her earl life and all I have is little bits that came out now and then. As you will have seen each of the children were born in a different address and mother, on visit to Llandudno, pointed out another. Years later she told us of yet another road she lived in. I have identified all the houses bar the last. She attended school in Llandudno and told of the mothers bringing the children’s mi-day lunch and leaving it on the playground wall. She also told of another school which was by a lifeboat station and the boat being taken down to the sea on a trailer hauled by a horse team as it is today except they now use a caterpillar trailer. After leaving school in Liverpool she worked for a time as a child-minder in a little ale house in the city center. From what she told us she virtually ran the place as the publican was drunk most of the time and his wife was ill. From there she went to work in a Liverpool printers and stationers- H.T. Woodrow- where she was the first female to be employed in their office and retail shop. This was in 1914. She started as the telephone operator and worked herself up to be assistant to one of the directors whom she married two years after the death of his first wife. At that time my half brothers were 14 years and 2 years old. Our life style was very different to that of the rest of her family but she did help them where she could. She employed john’s wife before the war. Aunt Jinnie after the war for many years, and through my father her husband was employed by Woodrow’s.
George Houghton Winstanley Paul’s father
I I am sure that Paul will have told you about him.
Catherine Salisbury nee Houghton -Charles Houghton’s sister, my Aunt Kit
She lived her whole life in Heather and as you will have seen had a large family. Until recently I only knew of Jack, Mabel, Madeleine and Edith. My contact was Betty, daughter of Madeleine. As a child I used to stay with Aunt Kit who at the time lived in a little on down two up thatched cottage. This was pulled down many years ago. No bathroom and a “privy” at the bottom of the garden. There was a similar cottage attached to where Edith lived. Cooking was done in the living room which also served as the village sweet shop. Once I was old enough when I visited Heather I would sleep at Madeleine’s house two fields away which I crossed on a path. If you look on the map Aunt Kit’s cottage is marked. It is in the same lane as the Primitive Methodist Chapel (19) and is the first house down the lane to the railroad line. Madeleine’s house is opposite across the fields and the path I used is marked by a dotted line on the right just passed ‘21’. Whilst there was mains water on to her cottage Aunt Kit for cooking and drinking always used water from a spring opposite her cottage. After the death of my grandmother mother and I only visited Heather once.
Charles’s half-sister, Edith had a son and daughter. Her daughter, Marie, is still alive. She will be 71 and I do hope to find her address and write to her.
|Charles Houghton Catherine Burrows Houghton|
I do hope that you have found this interesting and of help building up your family history. If you would like to hear of our further researches or there is anything you would like to know, please ask.
Thank you so much for all the information you sent Paul it was so interesting, particularly as Charles was just a name to us.
Best wishes to your family