Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

She was known as Nana to the family, my great-grandmother was born in Manchester, England.  I have her registration of birth where she is named Sarah Esther Letitia Brown, daughter of John Brown and Hannah Brown formerly Duckworth.  The name Sarah only appeared on her birth and death certificates, she was always known as Esther Letitia on all other documents including her marriage to John Davies at age seventeen on 16 February 1879.  John was an illiterate widower who had fathered fourteen children with his first wife. John was forty-three when he married Esther and three living children were older than his new bride.

Why did Nana marry a man old enough to be her father?

Why am I drawn to Nana as my favourite ancestor?  Esther Letitia Brown is the only great-grandparent who was still alive when I was born and I do have some memories of her.  I was only seven years old when she passed away on 5 November 1952.  I remember being told to be quiet when we visited my grandparents' house on Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria because we couldn't disturb Nana, who lived with Granny and Grandpa.

Another reason I chose Nana as my favourite ancestor is because she was brave enough to move on and venture forth from England to Toronto to Edmonton and finally to Victoria.

I have many facts and stories about Esther but there are many questions still to be answered, including her trip back to England from November 1910 to June 1911 with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  Why? During that time the rest of the family moved from Toronto to Edmonton.  At some time Nana had a double mastectomy, was this done while she was back in England and was she an early cancer survivor?  She has been referred to as a nurse and a midwife, did she have any training or was it just life experiences that prepared her for those roles?

I hope to answer some of the un-answered questions about my great-grandmother before too long and finish writing her story.

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