This is my post for week 13 of Shauna Hicks challenge for 2014. Shauna said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.
My story this week is about a man I never met but with whom I corresponded for many years. It is about how his personal name allowed me to know I was going to make a connection to my family.
William Lee Dawson had moved from Kilronan in Ireland to Franklin in Tasmania in 1854. After his death in 1871, his wife Emma moved to Melbourne to be closer to her siblings. Her four children Catherine, Harry, Louisa and Robert ended up living in Victoria, northern New South Wales and western Queensland. By the late 1800s cousins were scattered over three states.
More than 20 years ago, I was attempting to find descendants of Robert Ernest Dawson. I scoured electoral rolls in vain to find a clue to connect with family members.
I came across a name - Franklin Heathcote Dawson. I stopped my search and wondered if he might be the man I was looking for. I hoped he might be my grandfather's first cousin. My grandfather's second name was Franklin. I knew that Robert Dawson had been born in Franklin in Tasmania and his wife Nelly Spinks had been born in Heathcote in Victoria. Was it possible that they had named their son after the towns in which they had been born? The electoral roll was not current. Did he still live there?
I wrote to Frank and yes he was who I though he was. We continued corresponding for many years. He shared many stories; his father holding a man down so his father could amputate his leg; stories about growing up at Glenlinton near Whittlesea in Victoria; the death of my great grandfather who was visiting his brother over Christmas 1916; the suggestion that there was a family connection to Ned Kelly (he was right) and his experiences as a pilot during the Second World War and with ANA after the war.
I'm so pleased his parents named him after the towns in which they were born. I am truly thankful for all that Frank shared with me.
Thank you Franklin Heathcote Dawson (1910 - 1996).