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Family Trees From The Garden of England

  • Local History Museums & Family History

    Family history is much more than names on a chart. Fleshing out the bare bones of your family tree is the most rewarding and interesting part of family history research. When it comes to this aspect of research there are inumerable sources of information to help - trade directories, alumni lists, social, economic and local histories, apprenticeship records and much more. An invaluable source are the local history museums all over the country. An example of the 'gems' that can be found in such places happened to me on a recent visit to the village of Much Hadham in Hertfordshire. My family lived here and the surrounding villages for many generations on the maternal side but the Howletts had only arrived in Standon in the early 1900s from Norfolk via London.

    My great-grandfather, Arthur Howlett, was in the Royal Observer Corps in World War Two and the local history museum had collected some oral histories from villagers during their project on the war. Imagine my delight and excitement to find mention of Arthur Howlett in one of these reminisces.

    "One night Arthur Howlett saw lights flashing during an Air Raid, while he was coming home from Standon, near what is now Howe Fencing. He contacted the police and two men were arrested, presumed Fifth columnists".

    This was accompanied by a photograph of Arthur with the rest of the men from the Observer Corps, a photo that I already had in my collection. However, a further photo was discovered of my grandmother, Arthur's future daughter-in-law. This was one I had not seen before and was a picture of her with her fellow workers in the Land Army. She had come over from Ireland to join but that is another story and one I am in the process of researching. I will now have a priceless photograph to accompany that aspect of my research that I otherwise wouldn't have had if it wasn't for the Much Hadham local history museum.

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