For Dalesman this month, I visited Glenys Marriott, Chairman of the Upper Dales Family History Group.
The Group has celebrated its tenth anniverary by assembling over a hundred stories of families who left the Dales for new lives in America, Canada, New Zealand, and other far-flung places.
All the familiar Dales names are there, such as Alderson, Metcalfe, Calvert, Atkinson, Bell, and so on.
Glenys said, “Younger men would return to visit, and persuade another family member to go. But many people never returned. One family left a teenage daughter with an aunt. The girl never saw her parents again.”
The exhibition material includes family letters home, telling of life in the new lands. Many faced great hardships, even for hardy Dalesfolk. In one letter, written in 1849 by Jno Humphry of Low Thoresby, to brother-in-law Matthew Willis, in Wisconsin, Jno wrote, “…you send such Horrifying accounts you terrify your sister Ellen that she dare not venture over the sea into a country where the frost is so exceedingly severe as allmost to Freeze the Kettle to the Fire.”
On the whole, though, the tough Dalesfolk made a success of their new lives. And now, thanks to modern technology, families are being reunited. Glenys lives in a remote dale, with only dial-up internet access. Despite this, she has built e-mail contact with family history researchers from across the globe, and new generations of families once divided by the oceans are being reunited by the interenet.
And many of these people are now returning to the Dales to meet long-lost relatives, and see the exhibition of letters, photographs, and objects made by their forebears.
The Exhibition of Those Who Left the Dales will be opened by Lord Crathorne at 2pm on Sat 2nd October at Tennants’ Auction Centre, Leyburn, and will run to16th October, 2010, (Closed Sundays.)
For opening times and directions, see Tennants Auction House, Tel 01969 623780
There will be an accompanying series of lectures, for which places are limited, therefore booking is advised.
To order the accompanying book, book lecture places, or join the UDFHG, contact Glenys Marriott on 01969 663738. Glenys researches her maternal family line of Cumpston, and further details of the exhibition can be seen on her website at www.cumpston.org.uk