Box of treasures
In the August issue of WDYTYA? Magazine, Wendy Ford described how she was able to use a collection of papers to construct a public family tree. I had the great fortune to benefit from the discovery of another collection of letters, papers and photographs bought by a man named Stuart Poulton. The discovery included letters from a soldier who fought in the First World War to his mother. Stuart’s research was thorough, including travelling to battlefield sites, reading regimental records and obtaining records. The soldier, who was my paternal grandfather George William Ashby Bentley ( Will), lost his right arm in a battle near Neuve Eglise on 4 September 1918. In 2005, Stuart published Will’s story via the internet as ‘The life and times of a hero’.
A cousin of mine found the story after putting our grandfather’s name into a search engine. When I looked in October 2011 it was still available but I needed to use the Wayback Machine ( archive.org). Stuart had always hoped that Will’s descendants would find his story and when my cousin and I made contact he offered to give us the original papers.
I am sure I wouldn’t have been ablebl to piecei togetherh theh detailsdil off my great grandmother’s life without the information from Stuart’s papers.
Letters and envelopes in the box and her father’s obituary gave her maiden name (Barnard) and three of the other four surnames she used during her life. This Barnard line has proved the only one of mine that I have been able to trace back to landed gentry.
I therefore have much to thank Stuart for and hope in time that Wendy Ford’s research will result in happy descendants thanking her for sharing her discoveries. Janet James, Swindon Editor replies: I am so glad these papers found a welcome home. Stuart Poulton sounds like a bit of a family history hero.
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