Ian Dodson Snr : The Dodson Family Tree

Irene 1939It all started in the kitchen of my mother’s house in Shannon on a Sunday afternoon in the Spring of 1998. I was visiting with my wife Theresa, son Ian and some of my brothers and sisters were there. My mother was recounting stories of the war years, the nightly London blitz, meeting my father, falling in love and the deep sorrow when he was killed in Sicily. Tales of the blackout, bomb shelters, ration books, the struggle to survive, the funny moments and the sad moments.

They were all there – the Dodson’s, the Robinsons, the Smiths and the Jones, the family intrigues, the births and the marriages, and the dates recalled with the precision of Big Ben striking the hour! Suddenly someone said “All of this will be lost if we don’t write it down”. I got a sheet of my mother’s notepaper and I recorded the first few names and dates. The Dodson Family Tree was born!

Ian snr at Arthur's graveFor several years it was left aside, a page added here, a name added there. However trips to Yaxley England, Canada and Southern Italy, where I knelt beside my father’s grave for the first time, have started me on an exhilarating journey into the past. What started as a collection of names and dates has come alive, for these are real people, my people, who experienced the same emotions, dreams, joys and sorrows as you and me. I hope that my children’s children will make this voyage of discovery with me. To contact me, please e-mail ian at iandodson dot com.

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Dodson Family History(2005)

Dodson Family History Res copy Having spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months, often late into the night, scanning old photographs and typing copious notes, I have now in 2005 produced a Dodson Family History. This document of 50 pages includes 9 generations of the Dodson family commencing with George Dodson (1761-1839). I have been greatly helped by my mother’s photos together with the memories of my Aunt Margery who was able to recall in great detail the early days of her life and that of her Mother Mabel and Father Herbert Dodson and her sister Muriel and brothers Eddie  and Arthur (my father).  There are notes on each descendant in the direct line including pictures and copies of documents. I have sent copies to Margery and Muriel and to my cousins Arlene, Jackie and Anita in Canada and to my mother in Shannon. Copies have been given to Karen, Ian and Suzanne. I will be bringing a copy with me when Theresa and I visit Paul in Australia from 19th March to 21st April 2006.

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The Canada Connection

Richardson Bible 2 copy When Theresa and I visited Canada I was excited about meeting my Dodson aunts and cousins who I had not seen for many years. We were not disappointed as everyone made us so welcome. I sat with Margery on the settee as we explored the Dodson history over three days. Her memory of childhood events and wartime experiences and romances was as sharp as a pin. Arlene provided some great family fotos and showed us some new tricks in a wheelchair. Our stay with Jaqueline was delightful and when she produced the Robinson/Richardson family bible which yielded so many facts about Mabel Robinson’s family I was astounded. I never knew it existed and the old photos were a bonus. Reminiscing with Robert and Muriel about the war years, their romance and marriage was so interesting and I really appreciated receiving my father Arthur’s wallet from Muriel. And finally a visit to Anita who was so welcoming to her home on Vancouver Island and more fotos for the family tree.

Let us not leave it so long again.

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Margery Dodson & Blackie Page Married 19th July 1943 Southall London Lived in Edmonton Alberta Canada

Margery Blackie Wedding copy

My Aunt Margery Dodson’s early years are fully described in my Family Tree Archive and what an interesting life she led especially during the Second World War years. Engaged to an officer in the Army, Dudley Seaton, subsequently posted to the Desert, fell in love in London with a Canadian pilot Milton Paige (killed in a raid over Denmark) and marrying his brother Blackie Paige and officer in the Canadian Army who took part in the Normandy landings. They had one daughter Arlene born 08th April 1944. The family lived in Canada after the war with Blackie joining the RCMP and living in remote areas of Canada. Margery became secretary of the Alberta War Brides Association. Blackie died suddenly in December 1995.

We visited Canada in 2003 where we met and stayed with Margery and Arlene in Edmonton Alberta. Arlene was married to Ed Kozubach and they had two daughters. Arlene spent much of her life in a wheelchair but came to the airport to meet us on her own in her van which was equipped with a hoist. A very independent lady . I sat down with Margery for three days and had a very interesting chat about her life which I wrote down for posterity.

Over the following years Arlene’s health deteriorated with longer spells in hospital.            Arlene died aged 65 years in Edmonton Hospital on 12th January 2010                                       I continued to correspond by email with my aunt Margery now in her nineties.                   Margery died aged 95 years in Edmonton Hospital on 01st January 2014  

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At the graveside in Bari, Southern Italy (2004)

Ian snr at Arthur's grave
It was with some apprehension that I approached the War Cemetery in Bari. This was the end of a long promised journey. Such a peaceful place, so many headstones, all these young men, what a waste. Theresa and I searched for Arthur’s grave, pausing to read the inscriptions, over 2000 in all, and suddenly there it was beside his friend Jack Holt. They both died together in Sicily in April 1944. As I knelt beside my father’s grave, such mixed emotions, the regret at not knowing him, the desire to find out all about him, the need to make sure his sacrifice was not forgotten. I thought of the words spoken at a remembrance ceremony attended by my mother and recorded by her.

“They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”

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Keeping up with the Jones’ (2004)

DaveAngie Jones copyWhen Theresa and I were in London in 2004 we visited my mother’s first cousin Don Jones in Dagenham. This led to a contact with Don’s brother David who was also researching his own family history. Since then we have been in contact by e-mail sharing information on the Jones family. David has carried out most of his research on the ground in London, which he has shared with me, while I have had the benefit of my mother’s memories of her mother (Elizabeth Jones) and great grandparents (George Jones and Emma Jane Collins). My mother’s collection of photographs has also helped to fill in the gaps. I have yet to meet David Jones and we hope to get together when I am in London in Sept.

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The Huntsman – Issue No 53 (2005)

The Journal of the Huntingdonshire Family History Society featured my letter to the Editor – A Satisfied Member – I joined the HFHS in Dec 2004 hoping to make use of the Society records and member services to further explore the origins of the Dodsons of Yaxley. Little did I think that, when my family interests were printed in issue 51 of the Huntsman six months later, I would get an e-mail from Margaret Long of Yaxley alerting me to the research she had carried out some years ago for James Dodson of Bath. I was astounded to find that his grandfather Samuel Dodson(1868-1946) was a brother of my great-grandmother Florence Dodson(1871-1904). We are both descended from their father George Dodson, landlord of the ‘Bluebell’ inn at Yaxley and his wife Margaret (Smith). Following an exchange of e-mails we met in Bath in Sept. last year and James opened a bottle of champagne in honour of the occasion. My wife Theresa and I spent a very enjoyable day with ‘cousin’ James exchanging family data. James is coming to visit us soon in Ireland.
This is all due to the HFHS and Margaret Long of Yaxley whom we also met on our trip. We plan to be in Yaxley again soon and hoping it will coincide with a Society meeting in Huntingdon.

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Meeting David Jones after 60 years! (19Sept2005)

George & Emma Jones 60th Wed copyTheresa and I travelled by train from Woking to London to meet David, my mother’s first cousin, on 19th Sept 05.We met at the Family Records Centre in Myddleton St. This was the first time we had met in over 60 years although to be honest we cannot remember the first occasion. We are both in a family photo taken in 1943 to celebrate the diamond wedding anniversary of George and Emma Jones at Forest Gate. I am a baby in my mother’s arms and David is sitting at the front of the family group.
We had a lot of catching up to do. David is retired and living with Angela and has been doing a considerable amount of work on the Jones family tree. He has spent a lot of time researching records in the FRC and the London Metropolitan Archives and exploring graveyards in the Greater London Area. We visited the FRC and the LMA which are adjacent to each other and he outlined what records are available in each. We had an enjoyable day together. Since I returned to Ireland Dave has identified 62 Buckea family members, some of them related to Elizabeth Buckea (mother of Emma Jane Jones). This should keep us both occupied for some time to come.

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Visit Yaxley and meet Margaret Long (Sept 2005)

Bell Inn c1900 Yaxley(Smooth) copy Theresa and I were delighted that we included Yaxley on our itinerary. We met Margaret Long, a wonderful lady, in her home and she made us very welcome. We discussed the Dodson family over tea and she was able to provide a copy of the photograph, taken c1900, of the Blue Bell Inn (Landlord George Dodson c1860-1895). Also a map of Yaxley c1904 showing the various pubs and a copy of the liquour licences issued in 1878. Also an extract from George Dodson’s grand- father’s will (also George Dodson) made on 16th Oct 1826. We discovered that Margaret and Eric Day had co-authored a beautiful pictorial history of Yaxley entitled ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ which was now out of print but she had a copy which she showed me.

St Peters Churchyard copyMargaret brought us to St Peter’s Church where we met Church Warden Stephen who gave us an expert insight into the history of this fine building. We viewed the baptismal font where so many Dodson children were baptised over a period of a hundred years. When we left Margaret it was with regret and with an invitation to come and visit us in Ireland. We will meet again.

We then had an opportunity to see the present house formerly the Blue Bell Inn situated on The Hill beside The Green. I walked around the area and took some photographs and thought that I must be walking the same paths as George Dodson’s family including Florence my great grand- mother over a century ago. I will visit Yaxley again next year.

FOOTNOTE: I received a phone call from Margaret when we were back in Ireland to say that she had sourced a copy of the book ‘Portrait of Yaxley’ for me and that made the whole trip worthwhile.

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Meeting James Dodson for the first time.(24thSept2005)

126_2620 copyWhile on holidays in the UK Theresa and I visited Bath on Sat 24th Sept 05. We followed the directions given by James and having parked the car we met James Dodson on the street. He brought us back to his appartment on the ground floor of one of those magnificent Bath terraces. He opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the meeting of two branches of the Dodson family after a period of over a century. We then spent several hours exchanging family information and found that James is 67 and has 4 children. He grew up in Thrapston in Northamptonshire and his father Samuel Warren Dodson died when he was 8 months old. His grandfather Samuel Dodson was a brother of Florence Dodson my great grandmother. James is a zoologist who has retired from lecturing for some years and is pursueing his interests in archaeology and history. He provided lunch in his appartment which we thoroughly enjoyed. Theresa was impressed by the beautiful sash window with working shutters which looked out over a green with the river beyond. Having recorded our meeting on camera we took our leave. Thank you James for your hospitality and we look forward to you coming to Ireland to stay with us possibly in May next year. I know we will return to Bath. A great Dodson family day all due to Margaret Long in Yaxley who put me in touch with James. Thank you Margaret.

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