Articles, History, People, Stories

Hidden Stories in Family trees

At the end of the nineties I researched my family tree and being the curious type, I ended up doing four, my parents and my husband’s parents. Each one totally fascinating and each had curious tales to tell.

My father was very dark skinned. Out of us four children, only one of us has the same skin tone. I remember going to cabaret shows with my Dad in the seventies and eighties, and the comedian would say on seeing him enter– ay-up the Arabs have arrived. Not very pc now, I know!

His mother, my grandma, was also dark skinned, as were three of her six children. We were lucky enough to have a photo of her mother and it was clear it where it came from. When I researched the family tree, I couldn’t find anything. Recently my sister did a DNA check via Ancestry and Turkish blood came up. I’d love to find out who it was and the story behind it. Perhaps it was a illicit liaison somewhere.

We already knew Mum’s dad didn’t not know who his father was. He was born in 1904 and it was always suspected the father was the doctor she was a nanny for. On her death bed my grandparents begged her to tell them who it was, she refused and took her secret to her grave.

Why would she do that? What harm could it have done seventy years later? I think I found the answer. Just before he was born, according to the 1901 census, she worked as a domestic servant to a large family in the town. They owned a business, the head of the household was the brother of the mayor, who was a local businessman. I reckon it was him, or one of his sons that did the deed, possibly against her will. There are many stories about domestic servant’s becoming pregnant. The family were, seventy years later, still prominent in the area, and she possibly still felt some misguided loyalty. That would make more sense, wouldn’t it?

When I did my husband’s family tree, I knew he was an only son, of an only son. That made me realise my own son, was the last of the line. The original Mossman was Scottish and came to Manchester when his parent’s died to look for work. He married his landlady’s sister and they had four sons and a daughter.

James Mossman - b 1837

Out of the sons, the youngest didn’t marry. The others did. There was Robert, my line.

Robert Annie, Jack and Molly in the back yard


The next one was Harry, he had two sons. The oldest died in a prison of war camp and the youngest died at a school’s sport’s day

Cyril and Arthur Mossman

James emigrated to Australia and was never heard of again. So I concentrated on him because the photograph shows him with a family before he left and it was possible he went on to have more children. I traced him, and he did have sons. I put out an expression of interest and was contacted by a grandson and it turned out he had exactly the same name as my son. What a conincidence!

Jim Mossman 1927

My husband’s mother was interesting because she lost her mum to asthma when she was eight, and didn’t have a good childhood because her father passed her around to relatives to look after. He was a hard working man, active in World War 1, and on the Homefront in World War 2. Eventually he realised his daughter needed a mother and married a woman he not love.

There are many more interesting stories in my tree, as I’m sure there are in yours. Is there any you want to tell us about?

Meanwhile, The Magic of Stories also contains poetry, and each poem tells a story. This is just one of them.

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