Ten years ago this summer, I had a long weekend from work and saw an ad for Ancestry.com. I had always been mildly interested in my own family history–an outgrowth of my overall adoration of history. I signed up for the 2 week free trial and have continued since.
In 1999, my mother had had a genealogy project for her graduate class and had traced her mother’s family once they arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1892. My mother’s research depended on an elder’s cousin’s materials and built upon that. Both had done the majority of their research before the explosion of online genealogy in the last decade and a half. By the time I embarked on my own journey, I nearly drowned in all the digital records.
Eliza Ann Game was my maternal great-great-great grandmother. Her daughter (my great-great grandmother) Alice left Leeds in the 1890s with her husband Daniel Trainer. They came first to Worcester, Massachusetts before coming to Philadelphia, where my great-grandfather, Harold Trainer, was born. By 1920, they had moved to Collingswood, New Jersey. Harold married Beatrice Crompton, and in 1939, my grandmother Beatrice Trainer was born.
That was the extent to which my mother was knew the family line. It pretty much ended with Eliza and her husband William, and even that information hadn’t been really sketched out in detail. The UK censuses and FreeBMD Index were not really around so we had a death certificate for Eliza in 1905, a shadowy knowledge that William had died at some point before then and what had happened to William and Elizabeth’s eldest son, John William (his death in 1922).
My mother’s cousin had corresponded with some British relatives connected to the youngest daughter of Eliza Winstanley, Ann Eliza, who married Robert Dain. From there, the cousin constructed her vision of William and Eliza’s children: one son (John William) and four daughters (Elizabeth, Alice, Clara, and Ann Eliza). And that was it. The cousin and my mother spent more time looking at the American children of Daniel and Alice, which was definitely more feasible at the time.
A few months after I began my own look into the family and became more familiar with genealogical records in the UK and how to read them, I realized that so much of what we thought we knew about William and Eliza, Daniel and Alice was completely wrong. More on Daniel and Alice later. This is Eliza’s story.