In a typed notebook entry dated April 1967 (just a few months before her death), Gail Henderson wrote:
I have been interested
in genealogy for some time. However I am finding that mere names
and dates, etc. are not nearly as fascinating as old letters,
photos and, best still, family secrets and tales of my ancestors.
I recently visited my grandmother, who is now 87 and possibly reverting back to her second childhood. I took advantage of this and made notes, verbatim, getting her to talk about her past. She had many vivid memories, although dates etc. were inaccurate and names were often confused. However I seem to have obtained an extraordinary amount of information.
Gail's typing continued, on her visit to her grandmother, Emma Breach Powell
|That generation were
certainly loyal to each other, and any family disgrace was quickly
hushed up. Even now she was reluctant to tell me several things.
What follows is a rough summary of what she told me:
Henry Powell born 1848 married Mary Anne Frankling in 1875. They started off married life in London, where both their parents and grandparents came from. Very ordinary people, tailors, warehouse men, clerks etc. I do not know what work Henry Powell was doing in London, but at some stage he moved down to Taunton with his family, where he had a factory. He made quite a bit of money; when he died, aged 81, he left £11,532. She remembers her father as a very strict man who would never listen to people, especially servants tales, however he improved greatly when his grandchildren arrived. She says she does not remember anything of her mother, except one visit to her, when in hospital. This was some place in Exeter which included a hospital, nursing home and mental home. What she remembers of this visit is her mother saying "Oh yes, that's my little Emma. Oh, no, that's not my girl." This must have been when she was 13 or 14. Before this, her mother was frequently getting ill, going away to hospital and coming home again. She was obviously a schizophrenic, always quarrelling with the servants or accusing them of putting poison in her tea. Finally, when she was about 12, she remembers an occasion, sitting on the doctor's knee, while he was discussing the situation with her father. He said "You'll have to put her away, she can't stay here or you will never keep any servants". It seems as though the only reason her father did not want to put his wife into an asylum, was because of the money he would have to pay. She was only taken once to see her mother and does not know if any of the others saw her, but she believes her father visited her. Her mother was dying around the time of her own marriage, and she thinks she died the day after her wedding.
At this point, the remaining handwritten notes had not been typed. They are transcribed here by GHH, as far as possible, exactly as written, including the underlinings. Where it has been necessary to add any explanatory notes, they are in brackets and italics [like this]
Waiting for her to die when I
got married - Died day after marriage.
Henry - 2 or 3 sisters and brothers
in London. [Presumably
this is referring to the father, as her brother was always called
Harry by the family].
A brother with his wife "Aunty Pop"
Bishop Fox's Girls School - sometime -> 17
Wellington Road (Willoughby) age 17 = 1897
About 26 when went to Ashleigh - if I do the housekeeping I must have 2 servants. Grandpa never thought about this.
Arthur - Mount Terr.
wouldn't come home or get up in the morning.
Bank; heavy work where they made trains.
Harry hated the housekeeper.
Emma and Harry -> Ashleigh.
Rose Walling said "No I'm not going to live with Mr. Harry". She remained at Mount Terr. with Grandpa.
?Used to go and see Maud.
Aunt Emma wanted to adopt me 12-14 Paddington
Always getting ill and coming home again. Upset all servants, paranoid said poison had been put in her tea.
About 13-15 when mother in home
Exeter (hospital, home for mad people). Dr said "you'll have to put her away, she can't stay here"
I believe Grandpa went?
(see letter) "baby of 10/12 when I had him first"
Governess, Dame School in Taunton. Ardingly (Godalming). "Not much education at all". Only there about a year - came home and started work in a factory and hated it so much. Didn't like being stared at by the work people. Always very fly and disliked working among "factory girls" after being to school. Waiting for his age to get into the Army (19?) - Quite happy in the Army - shot in leg in France and had to come home (hospital in Taunton). P/C to Emma "Now I've got a blighty one". Didn't like it at home - his father had his housekeepers and always throwing cushions etc at them!! -> Canada.
Passed away in hospital on Jan 10th 1966. R.W.Powell late of R.R. 2 White Rock. Mr. Powell was a veteran of 1st World War and is survived by 3 brothers and 1 sister, several nieces and nephews. Burried at Veteran Memorial, Fairmount, Building Park, Broadway.
Governess, schooling (weekly boarder). Went away fairly early to business. Babcock & Wilcox in Nottingham.
Weekly boarder. Always a worry to his father. His father said he wouldn't have him in his factory because he wouldn't get up in the morning. His father gave him an awful time because he wouldn't look after the business properly. Went into the bank. Police always after him -
1) some incident of him stealing sweets (chocolate) from a shop counter.
2) Maud, Arthur, Emma, Dick and father in Weston Super-Mare for a holiday. Stole a solid silver mustard pot from someone's sideboard - in prison for a month. His father never gave him a chance to live his own life. Wouldn't have him home after this, knew some friends who would take him in to do some work -> America
406 Pine Street, Kelso, Washington, USA
? schooling in London
Didn't want to stay home to do the housework, but wanted a ladies life. Seemed to stay with relatives in London "expect Grandpa asked them to have her". Left England for America. ?married before or after she left. Wrote Emma a P/C "I am married and going to have a baby" received from America.
Father very strict. Never listened to his servants tales. "Didn't appreciate me". Improved greatly when he became a grandfather. ?left his wife. Had housekeepers.
Mother. Never remember my mother. Only saw her once -> Exeter
neither nursing nor mental home.
London Wellington Rd ?Taunton
1) Woodbine Lodge [in Wellington Road]
2) Willoughby (built for us) 3 storeys and was too much as Arthur was at boarding school.
3) 6 Mount Terrace - very small 2 storey house. Housekeeper there.
One of Grandpa's travellers (I was growing up) said "You have to come down and see the house I have chosen for your father" - which was Ashleigh and last they lived in.
Servants getting pretty awful. Harry suggested "perhaps Emma can do the housework". My father's business was doing better at this stage.
a list of birthdays
Look at Powell family vault at Highgate Parish Church. [This note is enigmatic. It will have to be followed up to see if there is a connection between our branch of the Powells and those in Highgate]
Gail's notes (partly typed and partly still handwritten) on her visit to her grandmother, Emma Breach Powell, covered Emma's siblings and parents. These notes have been edited and included in separate documentation about the Powell family. There is an unsolved "mystery" surrounding Emma's sister Maud, who went to the USA and later sent Emma a Postcard saying "I am married and going to have a baby". Nothing more was ever heard of Maud. Was this because of an unexpected pregnancy? Did her father know in advance? Who paid for her to go to USA?
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