Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson...

On Sunday June 12 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson became a public figure overnight for on that balmy Sunday evening she was senselessly and brutally murdered in the grounds of her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in the leafy suburb of Brentwood in California.

Her murder trial and that of her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman who had been murdered alongside her became known as the 'Trial of the Century' with her former husband Orenthal James Simpson as the accused.


It is hard to believe that Nicole was murdered over twenty four years ago for I can remember the BBC news reports and the iconic photographs of the bloody pathway lined with the neat rows of purple and lilac Agapanthus.


I also remember the farcical 'Bronco Chase', the sensational headlines week after week in The National Enquirer, the court testimony of Mark Fuhrman and the shock of the “Not Guilty” verdict on October 3 in the following year.

And yet what I most recall is the realisation of a grotesque dichotomy that despite the voluminous photographs of a beautiful and happy Nicole that she had in fact been abused by Simpson throughout most of their seventeen year relationship.

I just don't see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it - or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes...


Published in October 1994 and written by her friend Faye Resnick, Nicole Brown Simpson: A Private Diary of a Life Interrupted was the first book that I ever bought about Nicole and I am still reading about her.


She was the subject of my Thesis in 1999 and remains the purpose for my work ever since.

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written about the life of Nicole and of her life with Simpson and the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have frequently made her appear remote, abstract and insignificant.


Yet it is the very tragedy of her early death that makes her life a compelling human story of hope, love, obsession and betrayal and that is why I choose to remember her.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Good Grief! It's the Graveyard Squirrel...

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us? The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client, I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if the thought of death is a thought that you struggle with and have no wish to contemplate; my blog as the Graveyard Squirrel is probably not the blog for you!

For on this blog, as well as sharing the tales of and triumphs of family history, I will be sharing the images of my wanderings among the dead and my reasons for doing so are quite simple for I love nothing more than a ramble through a cemetery and I have been pottering among the tombstones for as long as I can remember.


And imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon the blog Beneath Thy Feet  and discovered that far from being the only ‘Tombstone Tourist’, I counted over 45 fellow GeneaBloggers listed on this wonderful site who all share their wanderings among the dead!

Pausing at the Grave of Lord Byron's Spouse, Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron in Kensal Green Cemetery, London...

And when I discovered the Graveyard Vlogs of my friend, author and fellow Byronian Amy McLean.. Well let's just say that my plans for an afternoon of  research mysteriously vanished...

The author Lailah Gifty Akita has written that “The graveyard is an everlasting home of every man” and I couldn’t agree more for within most of our cemeteries, you can discover evidence of spectacular craftsmanship, awe inspiring stonework, history, sublime words of poignancy and the occasional flashes of humour!

And being able to locate the final resting place of the individual associated with my research endeavours has always been important to me and when my search is unsuccessful, I usually feel a sense of disappointment as if the final piece of the jigsaw is missing.

The elusive Clarice Tibbett is a case in point for not only is she the ancestor who having ignited my curiosity years ago leading to an irresistible urge to discover more about her and having been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since; I still do not know what has happened to her cremated remains.

The Grounds of Woodlands Crematorium in Scarborough. The Remains of Clarice Tibbett Left Here in June 1962 to Where... Who Knows?

For having discovered the burial entries for her parents earlier this year in the City of Hull, I managed to convince myself that her ashes had been interred with them, but alas, after ploughing through more records in the Hull History Centre, my theory was dashed along with what remained of my clear vision and a sense of hope.

However, despite this disappointment over the elusive Clarice, I have recently discovered the whereabouts of numerous Edesons who having filled out the branches of my maternal family tree very nicely; are all to be located within the cemeteries of the coastal town of Scarborough and armed with the burial records and grid references, my journeys with the dead will begin another exciting chapter!

Far From Forgotten! The Edeson Family Grave at York Cemetery...

And so until the next time, I wish you Adieu!

Desperately Seeking Clarice!

What is Past is Prologue" so said the Bard William Shakespeare!

As well as a passion for creating 'Small Worlds' in 12th scale and occasionally scribbling about them for publication, I am also a family history sleuth who loves to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the county of Yorkshire.

Many years ago as my Grandmother would regale me with the tales of the elegant Dalby family from York and the Tibbett clan living, loving and squabbling within their adoptive land of Scarborough in North Yorkshire; I recall that it was at the first mention of the story about ‘Poor Clarice’ that my interest was really piqued.


For as every family history sleuth knows, there is usually always at least one ancestor that ignites curiosity and which leads to an irresistible urge to discover more about a life that somehow holds a peculiar affinity for you and it was hearing of the story of ‘Poor Clarice’ that 'did it' for me so to speak and I've been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since.

I began this journey armed only with lots of enthusiasm, a love of history and a little rudimentary knowledge about genealogy and I admit that the former was to prove the most essential tool as I would ‘dip in and out’ of my search for Clarice over the intervening years and usually after colliding head first into the proverbial ‘brick wall’ familiar to every family history sleuth!


And then I would hear some new nugget of information, stumble across an exciting genealogical discovery or would read an magazine article that would remind me of Clarice and I’d be off on my investigative journey again!

Upon my return to my hometown of York I was reunited with my boxes of research files and in the celebrated words of Shakespeare’s Henry V I have found myself “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”


So who was ‘Poor Clarice’?

I would love to be able to share with you the complete back story of Clarice that I have uncovered over the preceding years, alas, ‘tis not possible as there still remains HUGE tracts of her life unexplained and I believe, undiscovered for it’s all just a question of finding the correct piece of the jigsaw puzzle!


However, what I do know is she was very much a woman of her times for she was born a ‘war baby’ in September 1913, married as a ‘war bride’ in August 1944 and died a ‘1960's pill popper’ in the summer of 1962 by her own hand after several years of a consistent diet of prescribed sleeping tablets along with the controversial ECT treatment for the symptoms of clinical depression.

And that she was very much loved...

Giving the Family Tree ANOTHER Shake!

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” So said William Wilberforce, a Yorkshire lad and THE leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

If you are like me and love to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the County of Yorkshire; my new geneablog could be just what you are looking for as I follow in the footsteps of my North Riding family, and as there are plenty of them, I have many miles to travel!


Although I have been properly researching the history of my family since 2004, my interest in the gnarled twigs and broken branches of my family tree began in the early teenage years and having always been a diligent hoarder of the scraps of family keepsakes that have come my way; the process of moving abode as I did some years ago with a return to my hometown of York was undoubtedly made all the more arduous by those numerous large boxes of papers, books, photographs and other assorted genealogical matter that I had to shift down and up several sets of stairs.

During the course of this year and having discovered the identities of two more ancestors Percy Oswald Wright Edeson and William Lamb who having perished in WW1 never lived to see their 21st birthday; I have also been adding to my research into the life of Tuesday’s Child, the elusive Clarice Tibbett and as my interest has been piqued as of late by the other female ‘greats’ within my clan that I have now discovered, several Yorkshire lasses who have now made a welcome reappearance.

And having decided that I would also go in search of this female line of my family; it would be rather nice to share my musings, mishaps and occasional mastery on this blog under the aptly titled category of The Female of the Species!


NOT that I believe that my female ancestors were actually deadlier than their male counterparts…

Earlier this week I watched Who Do You Think You Are that featured the fabulous actress Amanda Redman from series one, who I adored in the BBC drama of New Tricks and I listened with interest as she talked about her need to understand why she had always reacted in a particular way and of the ‘inherited behavioural patterns’ she believes that we all possess to some degree or other.

And yes, this resonated with me for as the eldest child of five siblings; my mother having flouted the National Average UK Birth Rate; I have always pondered the reasons for my love of the sea and feeling ‘at home’ in the coastal town of Scarborough; my pleasure in reading, the urge to create my ‘Small Worlds’, my knack for floral design, my passion for history AND that I am quite unlike anyone else within my family.


For not only do I NOT look like any other family member, my interests remain unique only to myself and I have mischievously wondered if I was possibly switched at birth; although a distant family member did once describe me as a ‘throwback’, albeit in a kindly manner!

I admit that it used to bother me as I was growing up but now I glory in being different from the rest of my clan and if in these times of difficulty I can find solace in the company of my ancestors from generations past; who’s to judge?