Ian Dodson Snr : The Dodson Family Tree

It 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 Dodsons, 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!

For 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 iansnr at iandodson dot com.

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Remembering my mother – IRENE 1923 – 2007

Our mother, Irene Lehane, died on Sunday 01st July 2007 at the age of 84 years at her home in 67 Finian Park, Shannon, Co Clare, Ireland. The family agreed that the many photos in existance, some over one hundred years old, would be used to tell the story of her life. And what a remarkable life it was.
Irene grew up in London in the 20’s and 30’s, an only child. At the age of 15 she was working, she met her future husband Arthur Dodson and married at 19yrs, had one child, Ian and was widowed at 21yrs. She lived through the trauma of the Second World War, the rationing, the constant bombing of London. After the war, working in London Airport, she made contact with Terry Lehane in Ballygireen Radio Stn Shannon. Irene converted to the Roman Catholic religion, despite trenchant opposition from her family, married Terry and moved to Ireland. She had nine more children and fostered another. Tragedy struck again when Irene was widowed again at the age of 49yrs.Despite this Irene had a tremendous faith in God which she tried to instill in all of us. Against all the odds she reared the family single handed finding time to do voluntary work with the Shannon Society of Care. She encouraged us in everything we did. Our Mother was a truly remarkable woman and this album of photographs features the significant events in her life together with the many happy times with her family. This is our tribute to our mother.
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Florence Dodson – Marking the grave Oct 2007

As promised Theresa and I returned to Broadway Cemetery in Peterborough on 09th Oct 2007. I brought with us from Ireland a commemorative plaque to mark the grave of my great grand mother Florence Dodson. We bought a bag of ready mixed sand/cement in a B&Q store in Peterborough, a large bottle of water in a local corner shop and with a group of vagrants drinking wine in the cemetery for company, we proceeded to dig out a small section of earth. We mixed the cement on a piece of plastic and bolted the plaque into the cement thus marking the exact location of the grave. We will return at some future date and see if it has survived the elements.

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Death of my mother Irene Lehane 01st July 2007

My mother died peacefully at home at 67 Finian Park, Shannon, Co Clare, Ireland at 12noon on Sunday 01st July 2007. She was surrounded by her family who had looked after her during her illness. She had battled bravely with cancer for 12 months. Irene was laid out in the sitting room of her home where family, friends and neighbours came to pay their respects. Her funeral took place to Lemenagh Cemetery after Requiem Mass on 03rd July 2007.
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Locating Florence Dodson’s Grave MAY 2007

My great grandmother Florence Dodson was born in Yaxley in 1871. She gave birth to Herbert in 1892 and subsequently married John William Rycraft in March 1896. Florence developed TB and entered Peterborough Infirmary where she died on 26th Sept 1904 aged 32 yrs. She is buried in Broadway Cemetery Peterborough which Theresa and I visited previously but failed to identify her grave as the graveyard was overgrown and many graves were unmarked. We went again in May 2007 and met Steve Tyler an administrator from the Crematorium who would help us to pinpoint Florence’s grave no 3222. He brought the Burial Register and a map of the cemetery and we quickly eliminated the duplicate grave with the same number. Using the map and register and by identifying the graves in the immediate vicinity we were able to pinpoint the exaxt location of Florence’s grave. We planned to return and mark the grave.
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Tracing the Challis family in Canada

My Great, Great Grandmother Elizabeth Buckea (1835-1896), after her first husband Wm Collins died, married John Alfred Challis in 1873 in Bethnal Green. They had one son John Richard Challis born on 19th Oct 1875 in Shoreditch. He emigrated to Canada where he met and married Mabel Eugenie Black (born in Jamaica) on 12th Feb 1916 in Toronto. I located the marriage certificate. They had two children Mary,born abt 1920 and John(Jack) born abt 1923. They lived at 151 Langford Ave, Toronto for many years and John and subsequently Mabel corresponded with my grandmother Elizabeth Jones in London. John Challis died on 11th July 1929 and is buried in St John’s Norway Cemetery Toronto. I have a copy of the death cert.
I have been in correspondence with Eileen White who is in charge of research at St John’s Norway and she has kindly assisted me with further information. Mabel Challis died in Nov 1963 at the age of 74 and Mary Challis died in Oct 1988 aged 68 and they are buried together. Eileen has sent me a photograph of the gravestone, shown here, (with the snow brushed off) with the names of John and Mabel engraved on it. I am now trying to trace John (Jack) Challis who moved away from Toronto to work. He would now be about 84 yrs if he is still living. He or his family may have old family photographs or letters which would be of great interest.
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The Huntsman – Issue No 53

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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