A Bachelor’s Yarns: The Encore

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.


A year after the end of my apprenticeship, I received notice and for some time worked for a cousin who was head of a printing firm in the City and lived at Lordship Lane Wood Green where I went to live with him and here I played football for Wood Green and I remember a match we played one Sat in a blizzard only 10 minutes each half.

William’s apprenticeship contract indicated a six year commitment, which would have ended on the first of June, 1892.  I was hoping to be able to find the date of the Wood Green football game William describes.  Monthly weather reports from 1884 to 1993 have been digitized by the Met Office.  Oddly, I could find no mention of a heavy snow storm in the 1890s that fell on a Saturday.  There were several that fell midweek.  The description of the collection does state that only preliminary reports have been digitized and any subsequent corrections are unavailable.  Therefore, it is possible that a storm was missed.  It is also possible that the snowfall experienced was not what we today would call a blizzard.

Amongst other printing my firm published a Music Hall paper called “The Encore”.  One day the Boss said to me Billy I want you to go with me to-night and make a sketch of the Ballet at the Alhambra.  I protested that I was no good at drawing figures but he insisted on my going.

So in the evening we went off in his brougham and our first call was at the Canterbury Music Hall—there I sat in the front watching a few turns whilst he did his business—before leaving I had a whisky at the Bar with one of the artists.

A brougham (pronounced broo-em) was a small carriage usually pulled by a single horse, as seen in this footage from the Huntley Film Archives:

The Canterbury was located at 143 Westminster Bridge Road in Lambeth.  

canterbury entrance hall
The entrance hall of the Canterbury (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/the-story-of-music-halls/)
canterbury music hall interior
The interior of the Canterbury Music Hall (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/the-story-of-music-halls/)
canterbury music hall
Southern Reporter (Selkirk, Scotland), 26 Jul 1877

According to the site www.arthurlloyd.co.uk, a wonderful resource for information on music hall performers and theatres, the Canterbury’s bar, where William had his whisky with one of the artists, was for many years a favored meeting place for music hall performers.

From there we went to the Oxford where I had another whisky, a form of drink I was owt used to and when we reached the Alhambra he put me in the [Oren] Circle to make the sketch of the Ballet—what with the whisky and my inability I produced nothing and was glad when the time came to leave and we proceeded to the Pavillion Music Hall and whilst the Boss went to interview Marie Lloyd in her dressing room I stood at the wings where I could see the audience and watched some Japanese Acrobats performing—all a wonderful experience to me—after my quiet apprenticeship.

The Oxford Music Hall, located at 6 Oxford Street, had been torn down and completely rebuilt in 1892, reopening in January 1893.  Entrances were located on both Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.  

oxford music hall
Interior of the Oxford Music Hall (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/the-story-of-music-halls/)

The Alhambra was one of the most famous music halls of the time, located in Leicester Square at the current site of the Odeon Theatre.  Both the Alhambra and its rival, the Empire, also in Leicester Square, were known for their ballet performances.  These shows often starred internationally-trained ballerinas backed by large numbers of dancers from the working classes.

The Pavilion was located at Piccadilly Circus, on the corners of Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street.  

london pavilion

In 1895, Marie Lloyd was performing one of her four nightly shows at the London Pavilion.  Marie was well-known for double-entendre.  The lyrics of her songs were not blatantly obscene, but the manner in which she performed them with nudges, winks and knowing smiles made them a hit with the music hall audience, primarily composed of the working classes and rich young men.  


When we eventually got back to Wood Green my boss’s wife asked him what he’d been doing to me.


A Bachelor’s Yarns: Apprenticeship

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’m one of those chaps either cursed or blessed—cannot say which—with what is called an artistic temperament, which probably means more or less lazy & an absence of stability. At the tender age of 14 ½ I was taken from my seaside home & apprenticed to be a Lithographic artist near Finsbury Square London.


William was indentured to a printer named Alfred Henry Bean in 1886.  In both 1881 and 1891, Alfred Bean and his family lived at The Drive, Walthamstow, approximately eight miles from Finsbury Square.

alfred henry bean
1891 England Census, RG 12/1357, f 120, p 14

The first 2 or 3 years were spent mostly in the office & was often sent errands to the City & whenever possible I would go & see the wild animals caged in Leadenhall Market, feeling sympathy for them being somewhat caged myself. My boss appeared very big to me & when he first saw me he cried what a little chap – indeed I was small but grew taller later on.

finsbury square
Finsbury Square and Leadenhall Market

The current structure at Leadenhall Market was designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones, making it the same building that William would have seen on his outings in 1886.

I remember towards the end of my apprenticeship the Boss saying I lacked “stickability” was very annoyed but have since decided he was right. At the end of my time he wrote across my indentures “These have been satisfactory fullfilled”—had he written Un in front of fullfilled he would have been nearer the truth.

He was right re “stickability” for I joined an Art Class in Aldersgate St & there obtained a first class excellent in Perspective but went to further in the subject—the same with Geometry but jibbed when I came to solid geometry—made some half a dozen attempts at the Piano & stuck at the difficult point.


The Family Photo Album: Arras Family Reunion, summer 1914

Arras Family Reunion 1914

This photo was taken on the same day as the last, at Henry Arras’s house outside Jenera, Hancock County, Ohio, in the summer of 1914.

This time I don’t recognize a great many of the gentlemen pictured.  Hopefully one of you will be able to identify these guys!

Up on the porch, Helen and Carrie Arras are relaxing on the porch swing with another small girl between them.  It looks like maybe Willard Arras is peeking out through the screen door, with another barely visible face just over his shoulder.

Oliver Arras is seated at the far left with his brother-in-law, Jacob Rausch, two to the right in the back.  Homer Arras is reclining at the front in the light-colored trousers.  Our mystery man from the picture of the nuclear family is at the back with his head under the corner of the porch.  Henry Arras is sitting at the front on the far right.

I don’t see Clarence in the photo for some reason.  Maybe he’s the one bending over in the distance.  I just hope he’s going to pick up that chair lying on its back.  It’s driving me crazy!

Harry Thompson Tucker: Cricketer’s Wedding

wedding photo group
The wedding party.  Seated at front are Louise Marion Musson and her new husband, Harry Thompson Tucker.  Standing to the right of Harry is his mother, Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.  The man visible over her shoulder is one of her twin sons, either Edmond Lewis or William Prouten Tucker.  The woman with the very large hat just over Louise’s shoulder is the bridesmaid, Miss Eugenie Tucker, Harry’s sister.  At the far left in the front row is another sister, Nellie Ruth Tucker.


cricketers wedding
Portsmouth Evening News (Portsmouth, Hampshire, England), 25 Oct 1905

St. Saviour-on-the-Cliff is located on Queens Road, Shanklin, near Shanklin Chine and the Esplanade.  The newest portion of the building, the baptistry, seen below projecting out to the left, was constructed in 1905, the year that Harry Thompson Tucker and Louise Marion Musson were married.

st saviours on the cliff
Church of St Saviour-on-the-Cliff, Shanklin

Click the following links to listen to the hymns played at the wedding:

The Voice That Breath’d O’er Eden

O Perfect Love

wedding photo
Harry Thompson Tucker and Louise Marion Musson

Horace Mew, the photographer who took their wedding photo, was also a champion swimmer on the Isle of Wight.  During the summers of 1905 and 1906, he made multiple attempts to swim across the English Channel.

channel crossing
Portsmouth Evening News (Portsmouth, Hampshire, England), 24 Jul 1906, p5


Research Vacation

As you may or may not know, my husband is British.  The rest of his family still lives in the UK, so every other year or so, we go over to see everyone.

Luckily for me, that also means a research trip!  This time, we will have the opportunity to spend a week in Scotland.  My husband and mother- and father-in-law are kind enough to have offered to watch the kids for a day so I can go to the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh.  Let me tell you…I CANNOT WAIT!

scotlandspeople centre

I have been there before, but it has been several years.  As much as I enjoy the ScotlandsPeople website, it is really nice to be able to preview all the BMD certificates I’m interested in without paying for each individual view.  I can choose some of my stickiest problems and explore until I find an answer.  (You hear that, Smiths?  I’m coming for you!)

In addition, I plan to visit the Historical Search Room for the first time.  After obtaining a Reader’s Ticket, you can view records held by the National Records of Scotland.  Some of these records have to be requested in advance as they are held off-premises.  You can search the catalog here.

The particular item I am most interested in is the paternity decrees from the Paisley Sheriff Court.  My husband’s third great-grandmother, Jean Lochhead, was widowed in her early thirties.  Her first husband, John Renfrew, had been a blacksmith in the Williamsburgh section of Paisley.  With six children to raise on her own, Jean decided to continue her husband’s business after his death.  At the time the 1841 census was taken, Jean’s household consisted of her and her children, as well as three young smiths who were likely her employees.

One of these men was John Brown, whom she would, the following year, pursue for paternity of her young daughter, Grace, my husband’s second great-grandmother.  I am hoping that Grace’s paternity decree will hold more detail than that given in the abstract available on FindMyPast.co.uk.  At this point, I have been unable to find John Brown at any point following the 1841 Census.  Grace did not use her true father’s last name or even acknowledge him in records in her later life, listing herself instead as the daughter of John Renfrew.  It seems that John Brown was likely a bit of a bum, but it would still be nice to trace his line further back and to be able to say, genetically, *this* is where our family comes from.

If we get the chance, I also want to visit the Heritage Centre at Paisley Central Library.  This location holds the poor law records for Paisley from 1839 to 1930.  Jean Lochhead resided in the Burgh poorhouse for at least the last ten years of her life.  This could possibly be a treasure trove of information.

Have I mentioned that I’m excited about this trip?!

What is your favorite research location?  Have you found an amazing record that broke straight through your brick wall?



The Family Photo Album: Henry Arras family, summer 1914

Arras Family Reunion

This photo of the Arras family was probably taken in the late summer of 1914, based on the ages of the youngest family members.  The background is the exterior of Henry Arras’s home outside Jenera, Hancock County, Ohio.

From left to right across the back row: Oliver Martin Arras, Homer Emmanuel Arras, Helen Arras, Carrie Arras, unknown, Clarence Arthur Arras, unknown, Jacob Rausch (husband of Elvina Arras)

Seated at the top of the stairs are Clara Viola (Smith) Arras, the wife of Oliver Martin Arras, with her son Howard in her lap and son Theron in the middle of the two ladies; on the right is Elvina (Arras) Rausch, holding her son, Woodrow Henry Rausch.

Seated across the bottom of the stairs are Willard Balthasar Arras; Johanna Magdalena (Crates) Arras, holding her youngest son, Theodore Henry Arras; two unidentified children; and George Henry Arras.

Maybe one of you readers out there will be able to identify the unknown individuals.  I’m guessing that they must have been rather close family members to have been included in this photo.

Here are closeups of each of our mystery individuals:

mystery kids arras 1914

mystery man arras 1914mystery woman arras 1914


Any thoughts?

Ralph’s War: His Story is Your Story

I’ve checked the passenger lists for the Aquitania (2 Sep 1918) and the Santa Paula (14 May 1919).  The following men were aboard both ships with Ralph:

Co. D, 309th Infantry

Jacob S Applegate, Portsmouth, Ohio

Co. I, 309th Infantry

Arthur J. Brandt, Jewell, Ohio
Earl Gardner, McArthur, Ohio
Eugene Elliott, Bladen, Ohio
Elmo L Graham, Ambia, Indiana
Finley V Heistand, Redkey, Indiana
Anthony Kowalski, Toledo, Ohio
Charles W Losey, Gloucester, Ohio
Earl Kemmerer, Marion, Ohio
Harvey Adler Mayer, Columbus, Ohio
Tom Melvin, Martins Ferry, Ohio
William N Miller, Spencerville, Ohio
Jay C Mullet, Columbus Grove, Ohio
Joseph Powell, Marietta, Ohio
Robert E. Peyton, Indianapolis, Indiana
Edward Schilling, Clarington, Ohio
Clarence G Scott, Ravenna, Ohio
John S Scurlock, Thurman, Ohio
John W Skinnin, Crooksville, Ohio
Guy L Sweney, Hebron, Indiana
George C Strahm, Lima, Ohio
Samuel N Storts, New Lexington, Ohio
Carl Stevens, Fairmount, Indiana
James L Steger, Paducah, Kentucky
Lon Timmons, Bruceville, Indiana
John H Webb, Columbus, Ohio
Thurman Wisenberger, Steeze, Ohio

Co. K, 309th Infantry

Ernest Bisang, Columbus, Ohio
John Buhla, Cleveland, Ohio
Linton H Cutright, Akron, Ohio
Edward F Hoffman, Cincinnati, Ohio
Elmer Mossbarger, Gallia, Ohio
Samuel E Monk, Agosta, Ohio
Harvey L Roszman, Upper Sandusky, Ohio
Leroy F Steininger, Goshen, Indiana
Harry M Swihart, Bucyrus, Ohio
Linton Vorwerck, Cincinnati, Ohio

Co. L, 309th Infantry

Samuel O Johnson, Oregonia, Ohio
George Ostenforth, Indianapolis, Indiana
Ernest Reed, Worthington, Indiana
William D Williams, New Straitsville, Ohio
Joseph A Leathers, Chesterfield, Indiana
Earnie Potts, Bainbridge, Ohio
Leo F. Rodenberg, Evansville, Indiana
Arthur F Miller, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Ernest R Spriggs, Oak Hill, Ohio
Raymond H Phend, Elkhart, Indiana
Paul L Henderson, Riverview, Ohio
Carl E Enkoff, Montgomery, Indiana
Elmer A Bader, Toledo, Ohio
Harry E Fisher, Columbus, Ohio
William E Deer, Evansville, Indiana
Oscar C Sryock, Kenton, Ohio
Joseph T Mertz, Findlay, Ohio
Frank C Miller, Marion, Ohio
Thomas H McTigue, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Jacob A Hochstetler, Morocco, Indiana
Jonathon O Metherd, Kouts, Indiana
Harry Perkins, Utica, Ohio
Hugh Caldwell, Wellston, Ohio
Orville Bobo, Athens, Ohio
Herman McCord, Kennard (listed as Ohio on one list and Indiana on the other)
Noble C Benefiel, Sullivan, Indiana
Charles D McMichael, Grover Hill, Ohio
Orville F Longley, Little Hocking, Ohio
Lawrence Holsinger, Portsmouth, Ohio

Co. M, 309th Infantry

Fred E Bauermeister, Columbus, Ohio
Russell Branscombe, Carbondale, Ohio
John Brown, Barton, Ohio
William Cutter, Cincinnati, Ohio
Lawrence Buskirk, Chillicothe, Ohio
Frank O Derenburger, Shepard, Ohio
William Hertel, Salineville, Ohio
Meredith Hardesty, Canton, Ohio
Eugene W Geiss, Cincinnati, Ohio
Carl F King, Danville, Ohio
Raymond L Nickel, Chillicothe, Ohio
Walter E Porter, Lima, Ohio
Floyd A Riley, Mt Sterling, Ohio
Earl T Slough, Defiance, Ohio
Arthur J Snyder, Mt Vernon, Ohio

The men below were members of the 84th Division who sailed out aboard ships other than the Aquitania, but returned aboard the Santa Paula:

Co. D, 309th Infantry

Vern Martin, Steubenville, Ohio
George E Bell, Kimbolton, Ohio

Co. I, 309th Infantry

Story Bails, Frost, Ohio
Lew Baker, Miller, Ohio
Solomon Baker, Grays, Kentucky
Esther Bowersock, Spencerville, Ohio
John F Boydston, Portsmouth, Ohio
Walter Evans, Oak Hill, Ohio
Frank Donley, Defiance, Ohio
Howard H Dill, Linden Heights, Ohio
Clarence J Cox, Newark, Ohio
Joe Carpenter, Frenchburg, Kentucky
Albert F Garnier, Youngstown, Ohio
James E Gromer, French Lick, Indiana
Walter Hankins, Latham, Ohio
Edward C Harrigan, Urbana, Ohio
Floyd J Huffman, Mansfield, Ohio
Harry Kasler, Zanesville, Ohio
Cary Lytle, Bainbridge, Ohio
William A Riley, Coopersville, Ohio
Thomas J Ryan, Toledo, Ohio
Albert W Six, Nelsonville, Ohio
Charles R Thompson, Pinchard, Kentucky
Lee Roy Vance, Caney, Kentucky

Co. K, 309th Infantry

Henry J Billings, Jeffersonville, Indiana
Walter Cleveland Blake, Proctorville, Ohio
Samuel J Farr, Youngstown, Ohio
Paul T Dean, Brazil, Indiana
Fred E Hovious, Terre Haute, Indiana
Alois Moeder, St Henry, Ohio
William L Price, Brazil, Indiana
John H Spradlin, Wayland, Kentucky

Co. L, 309th Infantry

Edward Harold DeVol, Arcadia, Indiana
Crosby Funk, New Holland, Ohio
John Mehaffey, Cambridge, Ohio
Herman A Fisher, Eagle Port, Ohio
James F Fink, Mishawaka, Indiana
George Henry Russell, Paulding, Ohio
John H Komray, Warren, Ohio
Fred Sloan, Jefferson, Ohio
William H Pegorsch, Toledo, Ohio
William H Touby, Mansfield, Ohio
Marion W Reed, Gillespieville, Ohio
George W Grubaugh, Thornville, Ohio
Charles Lonberger, Jobs, Ohio
Oliver Maffett, Toronto, Ohio
Charles Wathen, Parrot, Kentucky

Co. M, 309th Infantry

Elery A Beans, Sherrodsville, Ohio
August H Bruns, St Henry, Ohio
Elmer L Davis, Minersville, Ohio
Everett F Cripe, Syracuse, Indiana
Sylvester Cornwell, Crawfordsville, Indiana
Benjamin Clark, Shelburn or Sheldon, Indiana
Earl Carey, Convoy, Ohio
George Dreydoppel, Lyons, Ohio
Samuel C Hopkins, Columbus, Ohio
John McGuigan, Muncie, Indiana
Walter E Morningstar, Fayette, Ohio
John F O’Rourke, Zanesville, Ohio
Grover C Penn, Rarden, Ohio
Ira Hall Polen, Amsterdam, Ohio
Llewellyn F Shaw, Middlepoint, Ohio
Richard R Spain, Evansville, Indiana
Edward J Stevens, Birdseye, Indiana
Albert Suver, Columbus, Ohio
Leonard R Young, McConnellsville, Ohio
Paul M Yauger, New Lexington, Ohio
Porter E Willoughby, Scottsville, Kentucky

If one of these gentlemen is your relative and you have any information to share, please do.  I’d love to hear more about him!

To read the posts about Ralph’s experience in WWI, follow these links:

Ralph’s War: How it Began
Ralph’s War: Camp Sherman
Ralph’s War: The Journey, Part One
Ralph’s War: The Journey, Part Two
Ralph’s War: The Yanks Are Coming
Ralph’s War: To the Front
Ralph’s War: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Ralph’s War: One Step Forward, Another Step Back
Ralph’s War: The Grand Review
Ralph’s War: Cooties
Ralph’s War: Marching Orders
Ralph’s War: Homeward Bound