Friday, December 16, 2011


From Paul A. Winstanley
Epsom, England  19 October 1997
Dear Mr. Halverson
Charles   Catherine Burrows Houghton
This letter will not, I hope, be too great a shock to you but I am a fairly new family researcher, and my researches have led me to check what I have discovered from other sources here against data on Ancestral File in the LDS Family History Center in London.  Your name and address were on file as the submitter of that data.  Let me explain what I have, to see if it corroborates your own information.  I am afraid some of my information is rather heart-rending, but comparing it with what I understand you put on file seems to prove beyond doubt that we are related, either to you or your wife’s family.
My paternal grandmother was born, Sarah Jane Houghton.   We knew nothing about her at all except she came from Heather (pronounced Hee-ther) in Leicestershire.  Search of all the birth and census records revealed she was a daughter of a coal miner, George Houghton, also from Heather.  I now have a birth certificate showing Sarah was born 13 January 1869, and she had a sister, Catherine, two years younger, and a brother, Charles born around 1874, which ties in with your information.
Sarah’s parents, George and Ann Wragg, were married in at Heather on 19 October 1868.  The marriage certificate shows George’s father also named George.
Charles Houghton
Ann Wragg was born on 6 July 1849 at Heather, daughter of William Wragg, a farm worker, and Jane Wragg, formally Copper.  You have Jane born at Shenton, Leicestershire, but I can’t corroborate that at the moment.  William Wragg was almost certainly the son of Charles and Elisabeth Wragg of Heather. The 1851 census return shows Charles as a farm worker then aged 70, born at Walton, Derbyshire.  This tie in with your date of birth for him of 1781.  Elizabeth is aged 71, born at Polesworth, Warwickshire. 
The census for 1881 shows William Wragg as a widower aged 70, which ties in your date of birth of 1811.  Living with him are his daughter Ann Houghton, a widow, and her children, Sarah (my grandmother), Catherine and Charles.  Also resident were Sarah Wragg, who was William’s unmarried daughter aged 41, and five more Wraggs- William aged 18, Frederick 15, Joseph 11, Elizabeth 7 and Ernest 4.  These are described as grandchildren of William, but no parents are shown.
It turns out that George Houghton, Ann’s husband, was killed at the age of 31 in a mining accident on 20 July 1874.  This is a variance with your date of 1894.  A search for a report of the accident in the British Newspaper Library archive found that the local newspaper for that area the “Leicester Daily Mercury” , carried the story on 22 July 1874.  There is no doubt of the date.  I enclose a copy of the report, together with a transcript as the copy is poor, I am sorry to break the news to you if you did not know this before.
Leicester Daily Mercury,
Wednesday 22 July, 1874--Two colliers, one named George Houghton, age 33 of Heather was at work in the Ibstock Colliery Co. pit at Ibstock, when a quantity of stones or bind fell from the roof upon the two men, inflicting grievous injuries to them.  Upon being extricated it was found Houghton's back was broken.  Both were promptly attended to by Dr. Thomas of Ibstock.  The poor fellow Houghton lingered up to 3 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, when he expired.  He leaves a wife and three children.
Charles A.  John   Wilfred Houghton
So far my family researches have proved to be interesting, but rather sobering.  You may be interested to know that Sarah Jane Houghton was married to John Winstanley in Llandudno, a coastal town in North Wales, on March 24 1890.  He also died tragically, on June 9th 1897.  My father did not know how he died, and my cousin, Trevor only knew that he had fallen in to the sea.  When I found out the date of his death, a further visit to the British Newspaper Library revealed that he had fallen off Great Ormes Head, and was the lead story in the “Llandudno Advertiser” of 10 June 1897.  Great Ormes Head is a rocky headland jutting northward into the sea to the west of Llandudno Beach, and is now a nature reserve.  John Winstanley fell several hundred feet into the sea.  He, with two other men, were after seabirds’ eggs, in which I am told there was a trade at that time.  Maybe it supplemented the family income to collect them and sell them to the hotels and restaurants.  Llandudno is a popular tourist resort. 
Are there not some eerie coincidences in the lives of Ann Wragg and her daughter, Sarah Jane Houghton?   Both women were six months pregnant when they married; both lost their husbands in tragic accidents; as widows, both were left with three young children and both men were aged 31 when they died. 
Sarah Jane Houghton Winstanley
My cousin also said it was family hearsay that Charles Houghton, Sarah’s, brother, had emigrated to to Salt Lake City as a young man, and that he or his son joined the US Army and visited my grandmother in England during World War One.  By then she would have been living in Liverpool, England.  I thought if this were true it would be nice to follow it up and make contact with any living descendants. I was therefore delighted to find the information you had deposited at the Family History Center.  I am told the Carbon, Utah is a coal mining area.  If so it would be a logical place for the son of a miner to go.
Trevor has found that the widowed Ann Houghton remarried, and had more children by her second husband.  Some of the descendants still live in Heather.  You may know all this already of course, but if not I could provide further information, if you are interested.
I look forward to perhaps hearing from you.  I should also be interested to know if you have any further family details to add to your emerging picture!
Yours sincerely
Paul A. Winstanley 

More Genealogy by Paul
Winstanley Clock
Following up the family clock-making at Holywell in North Wales has been quite interesting.  We located a Winstanley long-case clock at an auction in Chester and it now graces now dining room.  It’s also gratifying that the letters and articles I have written for magazines produces such interesting feedback.  We’ve just had a letter from Oxfordshire describing how the writer bought a Winstanley clock in near derelict state, had it restored and gave it to his son in Australia as a wedding present.  And from Ohio in America came news of an English brass clock dial, not by Winstanley, but with “Winstanley and Holywell” engraved on the reverse some fifty times!  Obviously an engraver’s practice piece.  (I offered to buy it from the American owner but he wouldn’t part with it!)
This was spent in Wales, the new-found ancestral homeland!  I got quite emotional standing outside the house where my father was born, looking out over Llandudno Bay. I doubt whether Dad ever remembered it or ever knew where it was.  And I certainly don’t think he knew something else we discovered- that one of his aunts used to run the donkeys on Llandudno Sands!  The current donkey lady knew of her and even produced a photograph of her.  There was also a photo of her, with a string of donkeys and her mother (she was the one with the hat0 IN Llandudno Museum.  I didn’t get a free donkey ride though!
Merry Christmas 

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