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A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

Category: People (Page 2 of 10)

For Acts of Gallantry in the Field ~ Sgt P.M. Gaffaney M.M.

I’m not related to any famous generals or admirals (that I know of!), but I am immensely proud of those servicemen in my family who fought with courage and fortitude in their own way, and I honour one of them this ANZAC Day.

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

My (first, thrice removed) cousin Peter has appeared in a few posts now on this blog, and no, there was no happy ending for him.  Yet, I wanted to know about his Military Medal, and why it was awarded to him.  No published accounts mention his name or deeds, so I looked to his battalion and its account of the war in its diaries.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

On March 9th, 1918, Sgt Peter Gaffaney rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB), after two weeks’ leave in the UK. On that day the battalion had route-marched from Houlle (France) to Watten, and then travelled by rail to Ypres, so that may be where he joined up with them, before marching to Forestor Camp.

After moving to Lankhof Farm camp six days later, the battalion were then moved on to Halifax camp at short notice on March 21st, being fitted out and organised for active operations.

By March 22nd the NZRB had received orders to get ready to move south at three hours’ notice, along with other Brigades in the NZ Divison.

On March 23rd, instructions were issued for the move by rail the following day.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

March 24th
Battn route-marched to HOPOUTRE Siding & entrained there at 11.15pm for an unknown destination

March 25th-26th
Detrained at AMIENS at about 1pm 25th and bivouacked in public gardens. All surplus gear was stored and Battalion was equipped in Battle order.

…At midnight Battn proceeded by motor lorries to PONT NOYELLES arriving there at 2am 26th. Started marching forward at 2.30am via FRAUVILLERS BAIZIEUX WARLOY to HEDAUVILLE arriving there 7am after a hard dusty march. The Battn. bivouacked in a paddock in the village & the men enjoyed a hot meal and rest till midday. At 1pm marched on to MAILLY MAILLET at which village orders were received for an attack to be made by the Battn.

A large gap existed in our line at this time extending roughly from HAMEL to PUISIEUX and only two Battns of the Division had arrived – 1st CANTERBURY and 1st Battn N.Z.R.B. These Battns were astride the MAILLY MAILLET-SERRE Road – 1st CANTERBURY on right, 1st N.Z.R.B. on left in line with the windmill at Q.1.d (57.d) At this time certain batteries were evacuating MAILLY MAILLET and situation was obscure – no shelling and no sign of enemy excepting a little m.g.[machine gun] fire and sniping.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013081-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780897

1st AUCKLAND arrived in village about same time and about 13 tanks were reported in neighbourhood of COLINCAMPS. Objective given Battn was SERRE Village north along road SERHEB to K.23. Central. 1st AUCKLAND K.35.a to SERRE Village. Four VICKERS guns were allotted to Battalion and no artillery support beyond the assistance of a 4.5 Battery in the orchard behind windmill. This Battery came into action at 5pm.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

The New Zealand batteries firing at Germans near Mailly-Maillet, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013075-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23081425

..The attack was launched from the line of the two Battns holding the SERRE Road at 5.30pm. We advanced on the left of road and 1st AUCKLAND on right – soon to in front. These two lines extended on a two Coy. frontage, balance of two Coys in artillery formation. ‘C’ Coy was on right – ‘D’ Coy on left – and ‘B’ Coy. acting as a left flank guard. All went well until the line of the road Sugar Refinery – EUSTON was reached, when m.g. fire from direction of LA SIGNY Farm and Right flank about One Tree Hill became so heavy that the advance ceased, – also partly because AUCKLAND were not so far forward on the right and the left flank was not in a favourable state for pushing on. 1st AUCKLAND reported being held up at 6.45pm.

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 - APPENDIX A

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 – APPENDIX A (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London). Larger version

At this time a gap existed between ‘D’ and ‘B’ Coys – ‘B’ Coy being refused along the EUSTON – COLINCAMPS Road (APPENDIX – SKETCH ‘A’). In the dusk a connection was made with ‘B’ Coy and line was joined up & ‘B’ Coy flank was left to help defend COLINCAMPS as a report was received stating that parties of the enemy were marching on that place. The enemy had been in HEBUTERNE and COLINCAMPS early in the day but were driven out at 11am by the tanks previously mentioned, but just how far we did not know, nor how far the enemy had crept back when the tanks retired before 3pm.

The Battn. started digging in at 6.45pm. At 7pm 1st AUCKLAND came forward and took up a continuation of our line to the Right. During the latter stages of the attack small parties on Huns using m.gs up to the last minute were met with about EUSTON and K.33.a.33. Three light m.gs and one heavy were captured by us and 37 prisoners taken. ‘B’ Coy took two guns and ‘C’ Coy two guns.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013100-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22691198

As far as is known 10 enemy were killed and 6 wounded but the advance was too rapid to enable him to get any stretcher cases away. About 20 to 30 enemy retired to this next line – WATERLOO BRIDGE Hedge, but owing to the dark it is hard to state exactly how many.

Our casualties were 9 killed and 35 wounded. All but two were caused by mg. fire – the two by shell fire as the enemy has at this time practically no artillery and it is estimated that he has only two guns on the front which kept firing on the large dump at K.33.a.00,00. For acts of gallantry & good work 3 O/R [Other Ranks] were recommended for decoration. (SEE APPENDIX ‘B’)

March 27th
The night of 26/27 was spent in digging in and was very quiet and at 5am the Battn was relieved successfully by 2nd Bn. AUCKLAND Regiment and returned to support of 1st Brigade at MAILLY MAILLET.

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

APPENDIX B

Recommendation for Awards

24/431 Sgt Peter Michael GAFFANEY

During the advance B Coy, to which this sergeant belonged, had considerable difficulty in getting forward owing to the heavy mac[hine] gun fire. Platoons got mixed and disorganised and several were wounded. Gaffaney disregarding danger moved along platoon, reorganised his sections, and led them forward rushes. A German machine gun about 50 yds in fron[t] of him was causing much trouble. He went forward w[ith] a few men and rushed it, capturing the gun and the prisoners.
Whilst the consolidation was proceeding an enemy was near on the exposed left flank. Sgt Gaffaney immediately hastened a Lewis Gun forward, & secured the position.
For his initiative and gallantry he was recommended for the DCM.

Peter was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for his actions on March 26th, 1918.  He was 24 years old when he died on April 5th, 1918, and is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

I wonder if any of Peter’s family visited his grave?  Perhaps the brother listed as his next-of-kin, Francis,  a captain in the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Did he ever see his brother during their time fighting on the other side of the world? How would it feel to have your son, brother, uncle, cousin, buried so far far away? Is there anyone left now to mourn him?

Yes, there is.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Further reading:
Austin, Lieut-Col W. S., “Part 2 – The New Zealand Rifle Brigade into the Gap“, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, L.T. Watkins Ltd (Wellington: 1924), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Stewart, Col. H., “Chapter IX – The German Offensive, 1918“, The New Zealand Division 1916-1919: A Popular History based on Official Records, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd (Auckland: 1921), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

O’Connor, Paul, “The German Offensive March 1918”, From Papanui to Passchendaele,  (http://www.pap-to-pass.org/ : accessed 23 Apr 2013) [Site appears unavailable as at 2017].

Posted as part of the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

NB. Any errors in transcription or interpretation are all mine.

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In celebration of Marriage ~ Wedding Wednesday

A post to commemorate the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand today, which ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose (and in doing so, will create some interesting scenarios for us family historians!).

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900.  This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret's parents, Michael and Margaret.

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900. This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret’s parents, Michael and Margaret, in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ.  (Larger version 1.4Mb)

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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In Remembrance on this Day ~ Arohanui, Peter

95 years ago today, Peter Michael Gaffaney was wounded in action during a German offensive at the Somme. He died en route to hospital from shell wounds to the face and neck.

After our visit to Ypres, we took a three hour detour through France to visit his grave site at Louvencourt Military Cemetery.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

The cemetery, containing 230 graves, is beautifully kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and there is a register of those buried there, and a visitors book you can sign.

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

 

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To Flanders Fields

Yesterday I posted a photo of my cousin (first, thrice removed), Peter Michael Gaffaney.  I’ve shown the image before, in a post commemorating ANZAC Day – Australia and New Zealand’s “Remembrance Day”, on April 25th.

In that previous post, I gave some of the information I had gleaned from Peter’s service record.  However, the details of his time fighting on the Western Front during the Great War are merely a collection of dates and places and not much else, and I’ve often wondered about what happened out there, what battles he was involved in, what it was actually like for him and his comrades in the NZ Rifle Brigade.  I’ll never come close to really understanding, but a glimpse would be a start.

So, when a trip to visit friends in Belgium at Easter was in the offing, I decided to organise a little detour.  We’re planning to stop for one night in Ieper/Ypres, and will hopefully get time to visit both the Memorial Museum Passeschendaele 1917 and In Flanders Field Museum, and attend the Last Post at Menin Gate.  I won’t get to see everything that I’d like on this fleeting visit, but I guess that’ll give me a good excuse to go back!

 

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A fallen hero ~ Wordless Wednesday

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) is my first cousin, three times removed.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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A close family in life, and in death ~ Tombstone Tuesday

When I received a transcript of Mary Jane’s burial details from Lewisham Council, I wasn’t surprised to see she shared a grave plot. But I was surprised to find out that she was sharing it with five other people! (My previous post describes my search for the grave at Brockley Cemetery.)

It’s been a fascinating exercise to see who all these people were.

The plot was originally purchased by “Mr Rio G M Stapley” of 131 High Street, Deptford, on 12th June 1896 for £3, and the memorial on the grave is described as “Flat stone & Curb set on Landing (Full Memorial)”.

I can find no “Rio Stapley” in the censuses, but living at 131 High Street, Deptford, in both 1891 and 1901 is Michael P. Fannen, an Irish-born Roman Catholic priest, along with two other priests and a couple of housekeeping staff. Should “Rio” be “Rev”? It looks like the grave was donated or paid for by the local church, or perhaps a kind parishioner.

Person no. 1
On the 15th of June 1896, 17 year old Edmund Carroll was buried there. From checking the censuses, it appears he was the second son of John and Honorah Carroll, born in Deptford, Kent. His birth was registered in the September quarter of 1878 in Greenwich. (John Carroll was my great great grandmother’s third husband.)

Person no. 2
Honorah Carroll was buried in the same plot on 10th of February 1900, and was 55 years old. The censuses show her to be John Carroll’s wife, and give her birthplace as Co. Kerry, Ireland.

In 1901, John Carroll married Mary Jane Wright (previously Freeth, formerly Clarke), my great great grandmother.

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

Person no. 3
The third person interred was 41 year old John Carroll, eldest son of John and Honorah, buried on 8th February 1918. He was also born in Deptford, and his occupation in the 1891 census was pupil teacher.

On the 18th of February in 1918, the ownership of the grave transferred to Mr John Carroll of 180 Evelyn Street, Deptford.

Person no. 4
Johanna Colligan (transcribed as “Colhgan” in the burial register copy) is listed as the fourth internment on 16th of March 1918. She was 44 years of age, and John and Honorah’s eldest child. She married Richard Colligan in 1901, and they appear to have had three children: Honora in 1902, Michael in 1905, and Margaret Mary in 1910.

By March 1918, John Carroll had lost his wife and three of their four children.

Person no. 5
John himself joined them on 26th of January 1923, aged 76 years.

Person no. 6
The last person to be interred there was Mary Jane at 76 years of age, on 17th of February 1932.

On 4th of March 1932, the ownership transferred to Mary Freeth (no address given), Mary Jane’s eldest daughter.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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Mary Jane’s grave ~ (Not so) Wordless Wednesday

Last week I posted a couple of photos of Brockley Cemetery in Lewisham. This is where my great great grandmother, Mary Jane (Clarke) Freeth/Wright/Carroll, was buried in 1932.  I’d found her entry in the Greenwich Union death register and discovered she had been buried “by friends” in Brockley Cemetery1.  In May 2012 I contacted Lewisham Council and a lovely staff member there sent me Mary Jane’s burial details, as well as a map marked with the location of her grave. Eureka!

My mother was visiting from New Zealand at the time, and together we set off to find Mary Jane’s grave. This is what we were confronted with in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery:

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London - June 2012

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London – June 2012

You can see how overgrown the area was – it was almost impossible to read any of the gravestones, even where the inscriptions were still legible.  After an hour, we gave up the search.

My next step is to contact the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, in the hope that they may be able to pinpoint the grave location more accurately. And to buy some heavy-duty gardening tools.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Board of Guardians, Workhouse Woolwich Road (Greenwich Union, London, England), “Register of Deaths”, Mary Carroll death, 12 Feb 1932; digital images; Ancestry.com, London, England, Deaths & Burials 1813-1980 (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 23 Jun 2011).
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Revisiting the Brosnahans (plus two year blogiversary!) ~ Thankful Thursday

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

Early last year I began a series of posts on the Brosnahan family. Well, “one” of the Brosnahan families, as there were a few that settled in South Canterbury, New Zealand, around the same time. My great great grandmother, Margaret Brosnahan, emigrated to New Zealand with her older brother John in 1862, travelling aboard the Echunga. Their parents and siblings joined them a couple of years later.

Margaret’s grandson, my grandfather Dom Gaffaney, went to boarding school with his “cousin” James Brosnahan, who became a Marist priest and married my grandfather and his bride, Agnes Burke. What I wanted to find out, and the reason I started looking into the Brosnahans in more depth, was how Father Jim was related to the family – what level of “cousinage” (and if that’s not a proper term, it should be) was he to my grandfather?

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate - St Bede's College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate – St Bede’s College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

So, I began tracing all of my great great grandmother’s siblings, mainly focussing on her only brother John, and you can follow my series of posts from the beginning.

I didn’t do too bad a job I thought, had identified 10 out of 12 of John’s alleged children and their children. But, no Father Jim that I could see.

Several months later I was contacted by the wife of one of John Brosnahan’s descendents – she had some answers! (Don’t you love those kinds of emails?) Another of John’s descendents had compiled a family history in 2001, and my contact very kindly scanned and emailed it to me.

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

I’m sure there are at least two readers who have been on the edge of their seats waiting since last February to find out about those missing two Brosnahan children. (Maybe?)  Here they all are:

  • Patrick
  • Ann
  • James
  • Margaret
  • Matthew
  • Ellen
  • Thomas William
  • Michael
  • Bridget
  • Mary
  • Catherine
  • John Joseph

So the two that I missed were James and Michael, and their children.

But there was no Father Jim.

A couple of months ago I purchased a second-hand copy of Seán Brosnahan’s book The Kerrytown Brosnahans, about his family who emigrated from Co. Kerry, Ireland to an area in South Canterbury that became known as Kerrytown, not far from my Brosnahans in Temuka.  I’d been waiting to get my hands on a copy for ages, ever since I’d heard about it. And it didn’t disappoint – Seán not only writes about his own Brosnahan family, but also the “other” Brosn(ah)ans, like mine. He couldn’t find a definite link between these different families, but doesn’t discount that they may be related further back, and they certainly intermarried once they were in New Zealand.

And there was Father Jim.

Sean’s great great grandfather Hugh with his brother Timothy, were the patriarchs of the Kerrytown Brosnahans.

  • Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler
    • daughter Mary married Dennis Hoare
      • son Patrick Dennis Hoare, married Mary Brosnahan, my John Brosnahan’s daughter
      • daughter Margaret married James “Wigg” Brosnahan (from yet another Brosnahan family!)
        • son James became a Marist priest

John Brosnahan is my grandfather’s great uncle. So, how are my grandfather and Father Jim related? First correct answer wins a chocolate fish! (I may be some time working the answer out myself.)

On my two year blogiversary, I am thankful for Father Jim, cousins with answers, cousins with questions, awesome family historians who publish their research, and everyone who’s been reading and commenting on this blog.

Sources
Brosnahan, Seán G. The Kerrytown Brosnahans, R.J. & H.P. Brosnahan (Timaru: 1992).
Brosnahan, Tim. “Brosnahan Family History”, 2001; digital images scanned from original by [NAME & ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2012.

Thankful Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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Wrights of Boxford & Polstead, Suffolk, England: Burials

Around this time last year I was in Bury St Edmunds record office, Suffolk, tracking down my Wright ancestors. An IHGS assignment required me to record register events for a family over a period of at least 50 years in one parish, and then construct family trees from those events. Knowing (from census records) that my Wrights had lived in Boxford and Polstead, I chose to research both parishes. You can find the baptisms and marriages online at FamilySearch, though Boxford’s data appears to be limited in date range and includes entries taken from the bishop’s and archdeacon’s transcripts (BTs), which are sometimes noted as “Boxford BTs”, but also noted as being from “Sudbury”, the name of the deanery. However, burials aren’t included, and I thought it might be useful for others if I listed the burial entries I found.

I viewed the parish registers on microfiche, and in some cases the entries were quite difficult to decipher.  As with any transcription, errors may be lurking!

Wright burials in the parish of Boxford, Suffolk 1759-1848

Burial date Name Age Residence
3 Jun 1759 Gabriel Wright from London
14 Oct 1762 John Wright 89
26 Aug 1790 Elizabeth Wright 27
26 Dec 1809 William Wright 22 Boxford
15 Jan 1816 Mary Wright 47 Boxford
24 Oct 1817 William Wright 64 Hadleigh Hamlet
1 Apr 1819 Mary Wright 4 Boxford
5 Mar 1820 Charlotte Wright 4.5 Boxford
1 May 1820 Robert Wright 6 months Boxford
7 Jul 1834 Samuel Wright 3 months Groton
19 Mar 1835 Mary Wright 25 Boxford
19 Nov 1837 Mary Wright 2.5 Boxford
19 Mar 1848 Matilda Wright 19 Groton
6 Dec 1848 William Wright 42 Boxford
10 Dec 1848 Harriet Wright 17 Boxford

Wright burials in the parish of Polstead, Suffolk 1773-1845*

Burial date Name Age Residence
21 Apr 1773 Mary Wright
4 Sep 1788 Susan Wright 45
2 Jan 1803 Mary Wright 45
16 Dec 1804 Judith Wright infant
9 Mar 1806 Phoebe Wright 21
14 May 1809 Mary Wright 1
10 May 1810 Mary Wright 72
10 May 1810 Benjamin Wright 72
6 Jul 1810 James Wright 1
27 Aug 1810 Sarah Wright 37
20 Jun 1813 Robert Wright 5 weeks Polstead
25 May 1817 Elizabeth Wright 39 Stoke
30 May 1820 Clarke Wright 41 Boxford
19 Feb 1823 Sarah Wright 57 Polstead
22 May 1823 William Wright 78 Boxford
20 Jan 1827 Joseph Wright 2 months Polstead
13 Jul 1829 John Wright 4 Polstead
8 Jul 1845 John Wright 69 Polstead

Boxford Parish (Suffolk, England), Parish Registers, Burial entries, Fiche no. 10 (1754-1807), Fiche no. 11 (1807-1808), Fiche no. 16 (1808-1831), Fiche no. 17 (1831-1858), Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds.

Polstead Parish (Suffolk, England), Parish Registers, Burial entries, Fiche no. 8 (1772-1783), Fiche no. 11 (1783-1788), Fiche no. 12 (1789-1813), Fiche no. 15 (1813-1825), Fiche no. 16 (1825-1858), Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds.

*There appeared to be a gap in the register of burial entries for Polstead parish between 1781 and 1788.

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Bridget (Power) O’Rourke… maybe ~ Wordless Wednesday

Woman in black, Napier, New Zealand

Woman in black, Napier, New Zealand

Woman knitting, New Zealand

Woman knitting, New Zealand

One of these women could be my great great grandmother, Bridget Power. Or not.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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