The Family Photo Album: 15th Annual Arras Family Reunion

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922

The 15th Annual Arras Family Reunion was held on August 15, 1922, at the home of Philip D. Arras, four miles southwest of Jenera, Ohio.

Initially, I couldn’t quite read the year on the sign at the bottom of the picture:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 sign

but luckily for me, an announcement of the reunion was published in the Findlay Morning Republican newspaper (and even mistakenly appeared twice, making it possible to read portions of the announcement that were misprinted!):

15th annual reunion
Findlay Morning Republican, 15 Aug 1922

Philip D. Arras was born 14 Aug 1853, the son of Johannes and Margaret (Essinger) Arras, and grandson of Johann Peter and Anna Margaretha (Hofmann) Arras.  The latter couple emigrated from the Odenwald in Germany in 1831, bringing along several books which were still in the possession of the family at the time of the 15th Annual Reunion:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 books

The center book in the pile, which at the time was 268 years old, was a German prayer book printed in 1654 that had been passed down in the Arras family.  Henry Arras, who, as I’ve mentioned before, was very interested in the family history, was extremely proud of this book.  In 1936, he entered it in a historical display held by the annual Farmers Institute in Jenera and won first place for the oldest relic.

One of the books was also a family bible which contained entries for the Arras family since before their emigration to the United States in 1831.  My great-uncle, Theron Arras, had possession of that bible years ago before his home was broken into and the thieves stole it, amongst other things.

Here are the (very few) people I recognize:

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 zoomed section elizabeth wahl

In the section above, the woman sitting in the lower right in the dark dress, appears to be Elizabeth Ann Wahl, the daughter of Friedrich and Anna Maria (Blaser) Wahl, wife of Peter D. Arras.  I believe the man holding the dark hat is her son, Samuel Frederick John Arras.

The woman just to the left of Elizabeth looks like Wilhelmina “Mina” Arras, daughter of Johann Philip and Katherine (Heldman) Arras, wife of Christian Essinger.  Beside her may be her sister, Louisa “Lucy” Arras.  Lucy was the wife of George Nessler.

In the enlargement I posted of the books, the boy with his head just to the right of the sign is Willard Balthasar Arras, son of George Henry and Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras.  His sister, Elvina (Arras) Rausch Weihrauch, can be seen in the photograph just below, holding her infant son, Clarence Weihrauch (wearing a dark outfit and light newsboy cap):

15th annual Arras family reunion, 1922 section 2

Their mother, Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, my great-great-grandmother, is below, the woman on the upper left:

johanna magdalena arras

This reunion photo is one that I’ve always wished I could share with all the distant cousins I can find.  I’d love to be able to identify every single person in it!  Hopefully, eventually, we’ll be able to do just that.  So, can you help?  Do you recognize anyone?


Andrew McAuley Moore: The Foundry Boys

Andrew McAuley Moore, my husband’s second great-grandfather, was described as having been heavily involved in the Foundry Boys’ Association as it got its start in Motherwell.

The Foundry Boys Religious Society was initially created in Cowcaddens in 1865.  Cowcaddens, near the center of Glasgow, was at that time a slum district.  Many young boys were recruited as apprentices to the workmen at the iron foundries.

Some of these boys, free of parental oversight for the first time in their young lives, may have taken the opportunity to run a little wild.  At the very least, individuals in the community became concerned about the possibility of such developments.

The Foundry Boys Religious Society was therefore founded in order to educate and provide a healthy social outlet for these boys.  Bible classes were held as well as lessons in “reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and music” (Edinburgh Evening Courant, 20 Oct 1866).  Similar groups were formed for mill girls.

The boys were provided with military-style uniforms, much like those of the Boys Brigade, and put through rigorous drills to instill discipline.

boys brigade
Boys Brigade Uniform (

Initially opened as the Victoria Theatre in April 1871, the Music Hall on Watson Street was the site of the first meetings of the Motherwell Foundry Boys Association.  The local group seems to have had an even stronger religious focus.  Members were selected from those children not regularly attending any church, ensuring that these individuals would also receive the Christian message.

The first meeting, in May 1875, drew a group of 60. By 1884, four hundred children were members of the Foundry Boys at the Music Hall, and an additional two meetings in Muir Street and Craigneuk had been added, with around 100 children at each of these.

Each year, the children had a summer outing. Unlike the original Cowcaddens branch, the Motherwell Foundry Boys did not have to travel far to get out in the fresh air.

The three Motherwell and Craigneuk groups gathered and marched to the strains of music provided by the Hallelujah Brass Band. Frequently the destination was the gardens and fields surrounding a local “big house” such as Muirhouse or the Dalzell Estate.

Dalzell House (

There, after the singing of hymns and recitation of a prayer, the children feasted on buns and milk. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in organized games and races, tours of the gardens or orchards, or simply relaxing.

By 1886, the Foundry Boys, now alternatively called the Working Boys and Girls’ Religious Society, had grown large enough to build their own new hall, the Christian Institute.  In March of that year, the annual soiree was held as the official opening of the new building.

The annual soiree invariably consisted of allegorical speeches, followed by recitations by the children themselves.  Prizes were received by those who were able to correctly repeat the past year’s texts, as well as children who attended Foundry Boys meetings on a regular basis.  The evening’s events might wrap up with a bit of fun, such as the magic lantern show presented in 1894.

The magic lantern was an early type of projector using glass slides.  These shows were fantastically popular.

magic lantern

The show presented at the 1894 Foundry Boys’ Soiree in Motherwell was “Jessica’s First Prayer”.  This tale of an impoverished young girl, abandoned by her alcoholic mother, who teaches the owner of a coffee shop the true meaning of Christian charity was initially published in 1866 in the journal Sunday at Home.  The next year it appeared as a freestanding book and, by the turn of the century, had sold over a million and a half copies, outselling even the modern classic, “Alice in Wonderland”, published in 1865.

The work of the Foundry Boys Association in Motherwell continued into at least the early 1940s, long after Andrew McAuley Moore’s death in 1914.  He would no doubt have been proud of the lasting difference he had made in the lives of so many children.

Were any of you members of the Foundry Boys, either in Motherwell or elsewhere?  I’d love to hear more about your experiences.







Andrew McAuley Moore: DL Brotherhood Magazine

The DL Brotherhood appears to have been a sort of “men’s club” formed for the male members of the congregation of Dalziel United Free Church in Motherwell, Scotland.  The first meeting was held on November 1, 1908, according to the following article from the Motherwell Times of 23 October 1908:



The “D.L. Brotherhood for men only” is the latest innovation of the Dalziel U.F. Church.  It meets for the first time on Sabbath first in the Church at 3 o’clock for an hour.  The speaker is Mr. M’Bride, solicitor, Dumbarton.  Mr. M’Bride’s name only requires to be mentioned to secure a good audience.  The musical part has also received special attention.  There are to be two soloists, Miss Brunton and Mr Wardrop, along with an orchestra and a Male Voice Choir.  The meeting will be conducted on lines similar to other meetings for men.  But in addition there is expected to be formed beside the usual book fund, a holiday fund, a social club, etc.  One of the new halls will also be placed at the disposal of the members for their use every night.  This is without doubt a big contract, but it is well to see church buildings used as often as possible.  


Each meeting of the DL Brotherhood consisted of an edifying speech, frequently given by a visiting member of the clergy.  Topics included “A Vital Point in Personal Religion” (Jul 1909), “An Old Man’s Counsel to His Son” (Dec 1911), and “The Kinship of Nations” (Aug 1911).

A musical portion of the meeting would follow, often featuring a guest soloist.

Andrew McAuley Moore, my husband’s second great-grandfather, was featured on the cover of the December 1913 issue of DL Brotherhood Magazine.

Andrew McAuley Moore DL

The following is a transcription of the text of the article, though I have taken the liberty of breaking it into smaller paragraphs for easier reading:

“We are privileged in having the photo of Brother Andrew Moore for the front page of this issue of our Magazine.  He was born in Garvagh, Londonderry.  When he reached his majority he bade farewell to the land of the shamrock, and set sail for dear old Scotia, the land of his adoption.  

He has been closely associated with this district since he came to Scotland, and nearly all the time–35 years–has been employed by the Caledonian Railway Company, chiefly as a signalman.  For 16 years he occupied the most important and responsible position of signalman in Lesmahagow Junction Cabin, Motherwell–one of the busiest centres on the system.  

Those of us who travel by rail day after day, and with safety, perhaps think very little, if at all, about the level-headed, cool-nerved men who guide the running of the traffic on our great railway systems.  They deserve more than a passing thought, for is it not the case that many of them after years of loyal service under no ordinary physical and mental strain, find their health sadly impaired.  

Thus it is with our good brother, who has been laid aside through sickness for over a year, and it is with the deepest feelings of sympathy we think of him now, but trust that it may be God’s good will to restore him to health and strength soon again.  

Brother Moore can relate some interesting reminiscences connected with our church, of which he has been a member since 1877, and he is now a respected elder in our congregation. 

Shortly after joining our church he found a congenial sphere of work in connection with the Sabbath School Mission, which was carried on in those days in Muir Street Public School under the superintendency of the late Mr Marshall of our church.  Brother Moore has been from his very earliest years deeply interested in Sabbath School work.  It was in the first Garvagh Presbyterian Church—Rev. Thos. Madill—that he was first introduced to this form of service for the Master, and ever since he has been closely identified with the movement.

He was actively associated with the work of the Foundry Boys’ Mission in its early stages in this town, the meetings of which, in those days, were held in the Music Hall, Watson Street.  The late Mr John Colville was the leading spirit of that movement when it was inaugurated in our town, and today the mission is still a living force for good in our midst.

Five years ago, Brother Moore, along with several others, was appointed by our Kirk Session as a representative to the Forward Movement Committee, the outcome of whose labours was the establishment of our Brotherhood Association, of which he has been a member since its inauguration. 

The writer knows this brief sketch does but scant justice to the subject, and we can only, in closing, extend to Mr and Mrs Moore and their family of sons and daughters our best wishes for their future welfare.”


Family Photo Album: Poor Auntie Mary

While I’ve been here in England with my husband’s parents, a mystery has emerged.  We’ve been going through all the old albums, scanning masses of photos to upload to the Ancestry family tree.


The back of this photo has a handwritten inscription that reads, “Poor Auntie Mary, beheaded at Motherwell”.  Beheaded?!?  This is not a story that anyone in the family has heard, nor does anyone recognize the individuals in the photo.  So far we can’t agree as to whether this was some kind of odd joke or whether Mary was, in fact, the victim of a freak accident.

What do you think?  Have you ever come across a strange inscription on your photos?




A Bachelor’s Yarns: Always in Lodgings

This series is based on an autobiography entitled “A Bachelor’s Yarns” written by my husband’s great uncle, William Prouten Tucker.  William was one of a set of identical twin boys born on December 23, 1871, in Shanklin, Hampshire, England.  His parents were Richard and Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.

tucker family
The Tucker Family of Shanklin, around 1905. Top row, L to R: Frances A. (Tucker) Brampton, Nellie Ruth (Tucker) Smith, Eugenie “Tommy” (Tucker) Flux, Elsie Maria “Daisy” Tucker, and either Lewis or William Prouten Tucker. Bottom row, L to R: the other of the twins, Harry Thompson Tucker, and their mother Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.

I have spent all my life in lodgings, since the age of 14 ½ when I started work in London.  The best lodgings I ever had was in Manchester about the year 1895, when in those days 4 pounds a week was considered a good wage and you could get lodgings at 20/- a week and save money.  Today with double the wages and expenses how can one save?

I had some trouble with my landlady—so inserted an advert in the Manchester Evening News—“Gent requires apartments and board in Whalley Range District”.  I had some ½ day replies which I gave to my youngest sister—who was visiting me at that time—to go and inspect them.  In the evening on arriving home she said Oh Bill I’ve found some jolly fine lodgings for you and I promised you would call this evening.

Whalley Range is about two miles to the southwest of Manchester’s city center.  It was one of the first suburbs of Manchester, designed in the Victorian period as a “desirable estate” specifically for “gentlemen and their families”.  It is now a conservation area, with many large original houses on tree-lined avenues.

The following video shows old photos of some of the buildings in Whalley Range and what they’ve become in recent years:

After supper I went with her and had no sooner seen the landlady and the rooms than I settled to take possession at the week end.  The landlady said when we get to know each other I will let you have a key for the front door.  Strange to say she gave me the key on that same Sat evening.

She was a typical Lancashire woman, always presentable any time of the day, a fact of which her husband was very proud.  He was a Westmoreland man—not unlike General Booth in appearance, a Cabinet Maker by profession—his left arm practically useless from an accident, and yet whilst I stayed with them, in a back room he made a wonderful suite of bedroom furniture from Church Pine for his wife and told me it would be his memorial.

“General” William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army (from wikipedia)

We became very friendly.  In fact they treated me as a son and when eventually I left to go to Bolton I still kept the key and came back to them for week ends.  On one occasion I found them both in bed with colds so I had to do a bit of nursing.  Their youngest son was an agent for the Waltham Watch Co. and I bought one from him which I still have in this year of 1945.


The house was kept spotlessly clean and the food excellent and only 20/- a week.  One piece of advice the landlord gave me was if you ever contemplate getting married, call on the lady early one morning and if she’s not presentable, keep away.


To see the rest of this series, follow the links below:
A Bachelor’s Yarns: Apprenticeship
A Bachelor’s Yarns: The Encore
A Bachelor’s Yarns: Working Life

A Bachelor’s Yarns: Working Life

This series is based on an autobiography entitled “A Bachelor’s Yarns” written by my husband’s great uncle, William Prouten Tucker.  William was one of a set of identical twin boys born on December 23, 1871, in Shanklin, Hampshire, England.  His parents were Richard and Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.

tucker family
The Tucker Family of Shanklin, around 1905. Top row, L to R: Frances A. (Tucker) Brampton, Nellie Ruth (Tucker) Smith, Eugenie “Tommy” (Tucker) Flux, Elsie Maria “Daisy” Tucker, and either Lewis or William Prouten Tucker. Bottom row, L to R: the other of the twins, Harry Thompson Tucker, and their mother Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.

When the firm eventually became bankrupt I got a job at Watford in the Process Etching line and spent a couple of happy years there.  Playing football for the Fi[?] team I broke my left collar bone one Sat afternoon.  I had upset the salt at dinner and omitted to throw some over my shoulder.

These videos, posted by Glynn Thomas on YouTube, demonstrate the amazingly intricate process of creating an etching:

and preparing a print from the etching:


It was whilst at Watford that the Prudential refused me a policy and I got the wind up and made myself ill and left Watford to go home and recover from the shock.

The National Insurance Act of 1911 set up a system of national medical insurance.  Prior to this, individuals had no choice but to insure themselves independently.  The Prudential’s Industrial Branch provided insurance to the working classes with weekly premiums of as little as a penny.  By the 1900s, they insured fully a third of the British population.

About 23 years of age I was supposed to be helping my half brother in his business in the Barbican off Aldersgate St and earning little when my eldest sister gave me a good talking to re wasting my time, which so annoyed me that I decided to clear out and went to the Brixton Free Library and studied the vacancy adverts and then went home and wrote replies to two adverts:  one in Manchester and the other High Barnet and told my half sister who I was living with that I should be going to Manchester in a fortnight and sure enough I did.

William’s only surviving half-brother was Arthur John Tucker, who was a product of Richard Tucker’s first marriage to Georgiana Hill.  Arthur was a stationer and lithographer.  The process of lithography differed somewhat from etching, but William’s artistic skills would have been put to good use working for his brother.

The following video, produced by the Museum of Modern Art, demonstrates the lithographic process:

William’s eldest full sister, Frances Ada Tucker, was the wife of Christopher Brampton, who seems to have been a rather enterprising man.  In the course of ten years, he went from being a draper’s assistant to a buyer for Liberty of London, a renowned luxury department store in the West End.  Frances seems to have wanted similar success for her brother, William.  Perhaps she saw talent in him that he himself failed to recognize.

After being there a month I heard from the other firm at Barnet offering 10/- more per week, so I accepted and left Manchester.  I spent 2 to 3 years at Barnet, when I received a letter from the Manchester firm offering me a good wage to come back and as at that time I was suffering from a love affair gone wrong, I wrote saying I would come for an extra 10/- on there offer saying it was worth it to come to a place like Manchester.  The firm agreed so I went.

The 1901 Census catches a snapshot of William during this time period.  He was recorded as a boarder in the home of Frank and Katharine Royle at 86 Heywood Street in Moss Side, a suburb of Manchester.  His occupation was photo engraving etcher.  

The head of the household, Frank Royle, was a draper’s assistant.  I wonder if this played a part in making William comfortable in this home.  His own father, Richard, had been a draper and a large portion of the family pursued related occupations.  

After being with this firm about 3 years I had a spot of bother and cleared out and obtained a job with a good firm in my line of work in Bolton.  Spent 3 or 4 years there and again made trouble (deliberate) over Trade Union matter, so was on the carpet, the manager asking me to resign.

I refused and asked him to give me notice and he gave me a very good letter.  All this carries out my original Boss’s remark re “stickability”.

I’m very curious to know what kind of “trouble” William was in.  The only newspaper articles I could find about lithographic unions during this time period seemed to indicate that the conditions requested by these union members were fairly reasonable, i.e. a small increase in pay, slightly reduced hours. 

However, perhaps this is just my perception, viewed through a modern lens.  Certainly, job listings during the time period clearly indicate the feeling of employers toward union employees.  Look how many of these openings indicate a non-union or non-society requirement:

non union lithographers
London Daily News (London, England), 2 Mar 1911

I then spent 12 months in Shanklin with my Mother and youngest sister and our funds running short, wrote after a job in Manchester, obtaining which after a while I settled down and stayed in Manchester for 16 years, until again I had trouble with the Boss and cleared out for good.

By this time I’d saved a bit of cash and decided to avail myself of the chance to enjoy life in the country at my home town of which I was abnormally fond.  Was then about 53 and whilst my savings lasted had an enjoyable time and it was worth while, restoring my health which was none too good.  If I had carried on before retiring, should have been too old to enjoy sport such as Golf and Tennis.

The Family Photo Album: A Summer Storm

This series of photographs of my dad’s brother, James Robert Williamson, was taken around 1938-1939.  They were all attached together like a film strip, in the same order you see here.  There’s not much to say, except that they pretty much perfectly describe a two or three year old child: like a summer storm.

SCAN0062 (2)

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