Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Del Monte man

I grew up with Del Monte canned peaches and pineapples, this was because during most of my childhood my Dad worked for Del Monte Foods.
In the early sixties he helped to set up the company in Great Britain and in 1965 he traveled to the U.S. to study the latest sales and merchandising techniques being used by supermarkets in New York, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and California. After his tour he attended a two week sales training session from Del Monte in San Francisco both as a student and as an instructor and then he travelled back to New York to attend Cornell University's annual National Sales Trainers' conference.
In 1967 Dad became the Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland so we moved to East Kilbride, near Glasgow. Dad was very successful in Scotland and was able to increase sales of Del Monte in this area, as well as playing lots of golf.
Whilst sorting through papers and photos belonging to my parents I found a couple of letters congratulating my Dad on his good work as well as some photos of him giving training sessions and a newspaper article about his trip to the U.S. which was featured in the Grocer of October 1965.
Dad was a great salesman and could sell anything, in fact later in life he worked for awhile for a cemetery selling grave plots.
In the 1980's there was a commercial for Del Monte - " The Del Monte man says yes", for me Dad was the Del Monte man.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

George Robert Strickland - Eulogy 19th December 1927 - 18th December 2017

George Robert Strickland or Bob as he was more familiarly known was born on the 19th December 1927 in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. He was the youngest of 7 children having 4 elder sisters and two brothers. Bob's father was badly injured during the first world war and was unable to work so their family had to live off of his war pension.
Less than a month after Bob's 12th birthday on a cold January morning Bob's elder brother Fred came downstairs to find his father dead. The 2nd World War had just broken out a few months before and both Fred and Norman had joined the navy.
Bob's elder sisters were either married or living away from home so it was up to 12 year old Bob to help look after his mother who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A year later on the 8th April 1941 Bob's mother also passed away, Bob was 13 years old and an orphan.
After his mother's funeral he was taken up to South Shields to live with his father's sister Annie. He wasn't happy there so after a year he decided to return back to Hull.
Hull was an important port, and because of this it was regularly bombed so when he arrived back at his old home everything was dark because of the blackout. Bob found his way to his married sister's Lilly's home and was able to live with her for awhile.
During this time Bob did all sorts of jobs, he learnt to drive whilst delivering laundry in an old ambulance and he even worked at Hull Fair on the dodgem cars.
Bob was 17 at the end of the 2nd World War but still had to go into military service, after military training in England he and his fellow comrades were shipped off to Egypt, during his time in Egypt Bob learnt a little bit of Arabic, even if it was only swear words.
After returning home from Egypt Bob decided to attend a school to learn typing and shorthand. It was here that he met his sweetheart and wife of more than 67 years, Doreen.
Bob and Doreen were married on the 25th March 1950 at St. Peters Church Anlaby.
A year and a half later their first child was born, John Robert Strickland, then two years later they were blessed with a baby girl Denise Violet Strickland.
For a while it seemed as if their family was complete, then in 1960 two LDS missionaries knocked at their door and were able to answer questions that no one else had been able to answer. Bob and Doreen and their two children were baptised and became members of the West Hull branch. A year later in 1961 they were once again blessed with a daughter, Debra Anne Strickland.
Shortly after Debra's birth Bob's work necessitated that he would have to move away from Hull, first to Little Neston in the Cheshire Peninsular and then to Sutton Coalfield near Birmingham. Bob began work with Del Monte (canned peaches etc) who had just begun to open up their offices in Great Britain. After another move to Sunbury on Thames Bob was eventually promoted to regional manager of the company in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the family moved up to East Kilbride in Scotland.
During all of these moves Bob and Doreen lost touch with the church and became inactive, during a business trip to the States Bob was able to visit Salt Lake City and writing home to Doreen he said - "There is something about this city that makes you feel different. We must attend church when I get back and start living a better life, one that makes your family better." Close quote.
Even though he said this it wasn't until they were living in Scotland and two Jehovah Witnesses knocked on their door, that the ball was set in motion, Doreen told them that they didn't go to church but that they were LDS, and these two Jehovah witnesses then rang the doorbell of a neighbour a few houses further along and she also told them that she was LDS, they told her that they had spoken to a neighbour who was LDS. This good sister quickly came around to our house and invited our family to a fireside and from that moment on we became reactive in the church.
On the 8th November 1969 our family travelled down to the London Temple and we were sealed together for time and all eternity.
After several business trips to the States Bob had developed a great desire to emigrate to the United States. In 1971 the opportunity arose, Bob sold his house and gave up his job and he and Doreen, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, and their three children moved to California to follow the American dream. Three months after arriving their 4th child Kim Doreen Strickland was born in San Pedro. What a blessing was that latecomer to Bob and Doreen in their later years.
Things didn't turn out as planned in America and Bob returned to work for Del Monte and they eventually moved him to Toronto, Canada. Both John and Denise remained in California and Denise met and married her husband Mario Gomez.
After a year in Canada, Doreen returned to Great Britain with Debra and Kim and Bob returned about a year later. Eventually Bob and Doreen were able to emigrate back to the USA with Kim, first to California and then to Arizona.
During his life Bob served faithfully in the church in many callings, he was Branch President in Scotland and Bishop of the Bedford ward in England. He has touched many peoples lives for good and shared his British humour. Even in his last week he was able to bare his testimony to his family.
Bob loved to play golf and he was also a wonderful magician a member of the magic circle. In his younger years Doreen was his assistant though he always accused her of killing his white rabbit with kindness by over feeding it, those who know Doreen can understand how this happened. Bob could perform marvellous tricks with cards but he also loved practical jokes and as a child we quickly learned never to pick up a silver coin laying on the table or you might just get an electric shock.
Bob was also a wheeler and dealer and was always buying and selling cameras or watches etc. Even as a young boy of about 5 his mother caught him outside trying to trade his grandfather's silver watch for some marbles.
Bob had a full life, he almost reached his 90th birthday but died just a few hours before, I like to think that his parents and siblings wanted to celebrate this birthday with him. His body was worn out but his spirit lives on.
He will be missed greatly by us his family, he was a loving husband to his wife Doreen, after 67 years of marriage and the ups and downs that every marriage has they still held hands. It was very emotional last week to witness how tenderly Mum and Dad said goodbye to each other.
Dad was also a great father to us four children, I can remember as a child feeling safe and protected on his knee, I loved to give him big kisses which he would give names to such as a smasher, or a smacker.
Dad has also left a great legacy of grandchildren and great grandchildren -  John and Joan's children Richard, Tracy, Lorna and Rachel. Denise and Mario's children Mark, Nathalie and Matthew, Kristin and Susan. Debra and Leen Arie's children Esther, Arjen and Laura and Kim and David's children Breanna, Aaron and Kelsey.Dad was very proud of each of his grandchildren and what they have accomplished in their lives and they also have fond memories of a fun Grandad who taught them to play cards or allowed them to decorate his face with flowers.
From these 12 grandchildren have come up to now 20 great grandchildren, Dad's memory will live on in these children.
I am so thankful for the knowledge that we have that this life doesn't end with death, a few days ago my sister Kim rang me up crying, she was feeling very strongly the miss of her Dad. I told her that for me it was different because I have lived far away from my parents for 36 years and that each goodbye at separation from them during all those years was like a death, but they were still there, just far away. I said to Kim that Dad is still here, he is just far away in another place where the internet connection isn't so good or is maybe just one way.
Dad we love you and will miss you but we know that you are close by and will keep an eye on your family. Love you Dad!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Memories in stone

In my last blog that I wrote about my great grandmother Rose Tozer, I mentioned that her father William Frederick Tozer died when she was only two years old.
When I first started researching my family history about 40 years ago Rose Tozer's birth certificate was one of the first documents that I ordered, at the time I was living with my parents in Bedford, England. All of my grandparents were from Hull in East Yorkshire so I was surprised to discover that Rose was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Since Wellingborough is located quite close to Bedford we decided to visit the cemetery there on a Sunday afternoon on the off chance that maybe we might find a gravestone of one of Rose's family.
It was quite a large cemetery so when we arrived we spread out in different directions, to be honest I didn't even know whether the Tozer family had lived in Wellingborough for long and whether they were living there when William Frederick died, in fact I didn't know at the time when he had died.  It was a lovely surprise then, when after only ten minutes of searching my Dad and younger sister Kim called over that they had found a grave stone of William Frederick Tozer!
William had died in 1872 so it was just over a hundred years after his burial that his great Grandaughter, my mum, and his great, great granddaughters were able to stand before his grave. It was a lovely grave, with the words " In affectionate remembrance of William Frederick Tozer who died 15 May 1872 aged 32 years."
Underneath were written the words " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"
William Frederick was a painter and decorator so I always wondered whether he had fallen off his ladder or something but after ordering his death certificate I found out that he died of Otitis (an ear infection) of two weeks which had then spread to the brain. This was in the days long before antibiotics and must have been excruciatingly painful.
In my next blog I will share more about William Frederick Tozer, his family and his occupation.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Rose Tozer - my great grandmother


Of course we can't know all the facts of our ancestor's lives, but as we put together the puzzle pieces of the information that we find we begin to get a small glimpse into their life.
My great grandmother's life began with sadness and ended in tragedy and in between she had more than her fair share of trials.
Rose Tozer was born on the 9th October 1871 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire , the third child of William Frederick Tozer and Eliza Lowman Challis. Her father had his own prosperous painting and decorating business and was even chosen to decorate the interior of the new Corn Exchange in Wellingborough.
Sadly just seven months after Rose was born her father contracted an ear infection which without antibiotics spread to his brain and caused his death, he had just turned 32. William left a Testament bequeathing all his household goods, furniture books etc and the sum of twenty five pounds to his dear wife and his three children.
Even though Rose's mother Eliza was from Ramsgate in Kent she had a younger brother Joseph Robert Challis who was living in Hull, East Yorkshire. Possibly Joseph heard about someone who needed a housekeeper and recommended his sister, because in 1881 Eliza and her three children were living in Hull where she was working as a housekeeper for Prussian born merchant Solomon Henry, Rose was 10 years old. I don't know in which year Eliza and her three children moved up to Hull, if they were living by Solomon Henry in 1874 then they would have been present when a fire broke out in Solomon's warehouse next to his house on Gibson street which was stocked with Russian yarn, hemp, flax and rope. I also wonder whether Solomon was a friendly man to work for because I found an article in the Hull Daily Mail of January 1866 in which he was charged with brutally assaulting his wife and was in prisoned for 21 days. Solomon died on the 16th December 1881.
Rose's mother Eliza remarried on the 14th December 1889 to grocer and widower George Dunn, Rose would have been 18 and was probably living and working elsewhere. In the 1891 census she is recorded as being a domestic nurse and was visiting with her brother Frederick Tozer and his young family at 5 Sydenham Terrace, Hull. In March 1899 Rose was working as a domestic servant and she was lodging at 27 Strickland Street. It was here that she admitted to stealing a gold ring from one of the other lodgers but thankfully she was given a second chance as it was said that she had borne an excellent character previous to the event.
A year later on the 2nd of June 1900 Rose married a young man from Batley, West Yorkshire, his name was Harry Popplewell. Harry was 23, and 5 years younger than Rose, he had been working down a coal mine since at least the age of 14. I don't know what had brought him to Hull and how he met Rose but I remember my Nana telling me that his parents weren't happy with the marriage and resented Rose.
They married in Hull at St. Silas Parish church and Rose's brother William Henry Tozer was one of the witnesses. After their marriage they moved to Harry's home town of Batley and 6 months later Rose gave birth to their daughter, my grandmother Violet Popplewell on the 12th December 1900, maybe this was the reason that Harry's parents weren't so happy about the marriage.
Two years and two months after the birth of daughter Violet, Rose's husband Harry died of silicosis, a disease of the lungs caused by his many years of working in the coal mines, he was only 25 years of age.
As a young widow and mother Rose seems to have followed the path of her mother and taken up a job as a housekeeper to a recently widowed father of 6 daughters living in Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. Before the year was out on the 30th January 1904 she was married to this widower whose  name was William Whiting.
It was a busy life for Rose, not only had she her own daughter Violet but 6 headstrong step daughters ranging in age from 3 to 13 years to raise and she also had three more children to William Whiting, Ivy Maud in December of 1904, William Lloyd George in 1910 and Hector in 1914.
According to my Nana, Rose also helped to run a small Bed and Breakfast at the house they were living at, number 40 Quay Road, with all the extra work that it entailed. At the beginning of the 20th Century trips to the sea side were becoming ever more popular and Bridlington was becoming a favorite holiday address.
Rose's marriage to William was not very successful, it had obviously began as a marriage of convenience and apparently William was a ladies man and probably had some affairs, and I am sure that Rose must have felt that she was being used as a free child minder and housekeeper. Rose probably had her faults as well as I have heard from one of William's granddaughters that Rose drank and once she was so angry with one of her step daughters that she cut off her hair.
On the 25th of April 1917 William Whiting sent in a petition to divorce his wife Rose, accusing her of committing adultery on several occasions with a certain William Henry Wood. William was awarded custody of his two eldest children to Rose, Ivy aged 12 and William Lloyd George aged 6, Hector aged 2 was allowed to remain with his mother. It must have been heartbreaking for Rose to leave her children but in those days women didn't have any rights, Rose moved back to Hull with my Nana, Violet and young Hector, I have no idea whether she was allowed to have contact with her other children though I do know that my Nana kept in contact with her step sisters in Bridlington and would often visit them. William Whiting remarried shortly after the divorce came through but that marriage wasn't very successful either and didn't last long.
Rose lived the rest of her life in Hull where her mother and brothers were living, daughter Violet married in 1922 and had three children who Rose was able see. In 1927 her mother Eliza died at the age of 85 and just three years later on the 5th of December 1930 Rose decided to end her own life by putting a cushion in her gas oven and turning on the gas. She had been feeling depressed and young Hector who would have been 16 at the time had borrowed her last bit of money. At the time of her death my Nana, Violet who was at home with her three young children remembers seeing a silver rainbow on the Christmas tree, Nana would often cry around Christmas time, thinking of her mother. 
Rose was only 59 when she died maybe if she had lived I would have met her, my Nana gave me a small cut glass perfume bottle with a silver lid that was from her mother, when I open the lid I can still smell her perfume. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Lightening and Windmills

This newspaper article is from the West Kent Guardian and is dated 5th September 1835

William Freeman was my 4th great grandfather, he was born around 1772 and died on the 19th May 1841 in Upnor, Frindsbury, Kent.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


My husband is a real Dutch Miller and his family have been Millers since 1818, so I was pleased to discover that my maternal line also has several Millers.
In a previous blog of July 2016 I shared a newspaper article about my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin who had been a Miller his whole life but died resulting from a fall on the stairs in the Mill. Robert's father,  Robert Orwin was also a Miller and he married a Miller's daughter, Sarah Freeman daughter of William Freeman of Frindsbury in Kent.
Several years ago I discovered a book in the bookcase of my father in law, 'Watermills and Windmills - a historical survey of their rise, decline and fall as portrayed by those of Kent' by William Coles Finch, first published in 1933. What a lovely surprise to discover that the author had interviewed an eighty one year old Miller friend called John J. Freeman who was the first cousin of my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin, his father Thomas Freeman was the brother of Robert Orwin's mother Sarah Freeman.
During one of the interviews John J. Freeman told the author that his Grandfather had built the House Mill in Frindsbury, Kent and that his Grandmother was the mother of twenty-six children! She lived to 101 years of age and was "a veritable Amazon," a masterful woman of wonderful personality.
I have been able to confirm that Sarah Freeman's mother, also named Sarah did infact live to be 101 she died on the 13th February 1873 and was living at the time with her widowed daughter Esther Duly. That would put her year of birth as being 1772, and according to census returns she was born in London, or more specifically according to one census, Tooley Street, which is Bermondsey, South London.
Up until recently I had only been able to find the baptisms of 11 children born in the Frindsbury area, alot of children but not the 26 mentioned in the book. I had also searched for a marriage between a William Freeman and a Sarah sometime before the birth of the first child that I had found who was born in 1800, but I couldn't find any that fitted, until I realized that the chance was great that William and Sarah did infact have more children who where born before 1800 in another area and that they where married much earlier.
I eventually found a marriage in 1787 between a William Freeman, widower and Sarah Walker, spinster in Bermondsey, London, could this be the right one? I also found the baptism of a Sarah Walker on the 9th September 1772 in Bermondsey, this fits with the date of birth of our "Amazon"! I still need to confirm things but I have been able to find a few more possible Freeman children who where married in Frindsbury but I haven't been able to find their baptism as yet, and whether I will be able to find 26 children is another question.
Another fact gleaned from Finch's book was that the uncle of John
J. Freeman was killed by the revolving sweeps of Kimmin's Mill in Frindsbury, the sweeps reached very close to the ground and were the cause of the fatal accident.
I had always assumed that the uncle was an adult working with the Mill when this accident occured, until very recently I found a newspaper report via the website Britishnewspaperarchive . The accident occured in September 1813, William's young son George who would have been 2 1/2 at the time, had wandered away from home and was hit on the head by the sweeps and died shortly afterwards. How sad to loose your child in such a way and once again shows how dangerous windmills can be.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Dad - George Robert Strickland

 My Dad, George Robert Strickland was born on the 19th December 1927, the youngest of seven children. He was named George after his mother’s half brother George Curtois and Robert after his father, though as a child everyone called him broncho because he was always suffering from bronchitis, later he was called Bob.
 Dad had four elder sisters, Annie the eldest would have been 17 when he was born, Alice 16, Grace 14 and Lily 11, so he had lots of mothers to help look after him, one of his sisters remembered accidentally sticking a safety pin in him whilst changing his nappy. Dad also had two brothers, Frederick who was exactly seven years older and Norman who was 5 at the time.
One of Dad's earliest memories was playing for hours with his toy cars under the table where he would have his own little town, a bit like his great grandson Julius.

The Second World War began in the September of 1939 when Dad was 11 years old, then a few weeks after Dad's 12th birthday his Father died and then fifteen months later his Mother died of cancer. Dad remembers the day that she died, his aunt Annie was staying to help with the care of his mother and Dad was asked to go to the hospital to pick up his mother’s ration card. During his journey home he passed a clock and can remember looking at the time, twenty minutes to three, and as he looked at the clock the thought entered his head that his mother had died. When he arrived home his Aunt came to the door and confirmed his fear, she had died around the time that he had looked at the clock. 
Dad was 13 when his mother died, so after the funeral there had been a discussion as to whether he would go to Chesterfield to live with his uncle George or return with his auntie Annie who lived in South Shields, it was decided that he would go with Aunt Annie. Dad finished his schooling in South Shields and then got a job delivering newspapers, but he wasn’t very happy living with his aunt so after a while he decided to travel back to Hull. He arrived back at their house on Southcoates Avenue to find it looking dark and deserted, he stood for awhile outside remembering his mother in the last days of her illness, eventually he knocked on the door of the neighbours and heard that Alice was away and that both Fred and Norman were at sea. The neighbours gave him a key and he let himself in but the house was cold and creepy, he didn’t feel like staying there on his own, so he decided to go round to his sister Lily’s house at 71 Hopkins Street. The streets were by then completely dark because of the blackout and Dad had a large suitcase with him that he had to drag along, but thankfully Lily was home and surprised but pleased to see him.

In the next couple of years Dad had many jobs such as butchers assistant, grocers assistant, builders assistant and a projectionist at the cinema. When he was 16 he got his provisional drivers licence and applied for a job at a laundry. When they asked whether he could drive he replied yes even though he had never driven a car in his life, he was told that he could start on Monday. When he arrived on Monday morning he saw a large van which resembled an ambulance and he was told that an elderly man called Tommy Anderson would be showing him the route. Luckily for Dad Tommy drove first, but around midday he said that Dad could take over. Dad put the shift into first gear and then started jolting down the road like a kangaroo. Eventually he got the hang of it until he had to turn a corner and tried to do this in third gear, he spun round the corner and almost rammed a horse and cart off the road giving both Tommy and the horse a near heart attack. Luckily the roads weren’t very busy in those days and within a short time Dad had learnt to drive and was doing the rounds on his own.

Just before the end of the war the government asked Butlins to take their amusement rides out of storage and to travel around Britain with them to help keep the people away from the coasts and the dangers of sea mines. Dad joined this travelling fair in Hull and travelled for several months around with them working on the dodgem cars and other rides. At the end of the European war he was back in Hull and was able to take part in all the street festivities. He was then offered another job by Butlins, to help get their holiday camp in Filey back in order for the opening of the summer. After a few months he got another job as a Taxi driver in Filey. One evening in August 1945 he went to pick up a young lady at the air force base, when he arrived he was told to go into the mess hall because an important announcement was about to be made. Everyone was listening to the radio, then it was announced that Japan had capitulated and the war was over, it was quiet for a few minutes until it had sunk in and then everyone started clapping and cheering.

Dad worked for a short while longer in Filey and then at the age of 18 he went into the National Service, he spent 6 weeks training in Northern Ireland and then a further 3 months in Cirencester. After his training he was shipped over to Egypt and got very seasick on the way. Dad didn’t enjoy his time in Egypt, it was dirty and hot and you had to watch out for scorpions, but he did learn to speak the language a little, at least he learned to swear in Arabic. Whilst in Egypt he was diagnosed with a mild form of tuberculosis, so he was sent back to Britain to get better.
After spending some time at a sanatorium Dad returned to Hull and decided to go back to school, he enrolled at the Greg School of typing and shorthand. This must have been one of his best decisions because whilst attending this school he met and fell in love with one of the other students, a young girl called Doreen Orwin. Bob and Doreen married on the 25th March 1950 in St. Peter’s Church in Anlaby.