Saturday, May 22, 2010

Newspaper clipping puzzle solved

The puzzle
Back in January I found a clue to a mystery that although minor, had been puzzling me for some time. The mystery was the connection of a young man, mentioned in a newspaper death notice among my grandfather's papers, to my family. The young man had accidentally drowned overseas in the late 1970s.

Why did I think there was a connection? Well, most obviously because the clipping was kept with family papers. It also mentioned that the young man had a grandparent known as "Couper" - which is one of my family names.

My apologies for being a little coy about naming names here. I have decided not to name the people, as some family members close to the deceased man may still be alive.

The clue
The clue I stumbled across was the burial place of the young man. It appears his body was returned home to Australia for burial, as he was buried in the same plot as one of my great-granduncles. Also in the plot was the relatively recent burial of a woman whose first name was a variation on the mother's name from the death notice and surname matched the son's surname. Always check who else is in the plot!!

It looked very much as though my great-granduncle was the "Couper" mentioned, the woman was his daughter and the young man his grandson. It all looked very promising, but I wanted a bit more certainty before I entered anything into my database.

The search
The dates were too recent for birth and marriage information (births and marriages in Victoria are currently only available up to 1908 and 1942 respectively). I had an Ancestry.com subscription at the time so I checked out the Australian electoral rolls. I was hoping to find the mother living in her parent's house before marriage, then disappearing and neatly turning up in her husband's house with a new surname.

I didn't get quite what I had hoped for. I did find the couple, but when they first appeared on the electoral roll they already shared a surname and were living in her (supposed) parent's house. This was completely consistent with my theory. The only trouble was that all it really showed was that the couple seemed to have a close relationship with my great-granduncle.

I put the puzzle to the side for the time being.

The solution
A few days ago I finally found something that gave me the confidence to enter the relationships into my database. Like so much of the information I have found lately, it was thanks to the wonders of Trove! More years of newspapers have come on line since January. Enough years, that I found a marriage notice. It gave full names and parents for both partners and even had a photo of the happy couple!

If you haven't tried Trove, I encourage you to give it a shot, even if you're not Australian! So that there can be no excuses, here's the search box...





Let me know if you find anything!

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