One of the things that appealed to the man and me about moving to Whangarei was its proximity to our family in Auckland.*

We wanted to be close enough to visit them and them to visit us. Easily.

So how has it worked out? The answer is exactly as we envisaged. The trip there and back can be completed comfortably in a day.

Having said this, we do tend to make it an overnight excursion. We have a lot to talk about when we meet! And we have got a wee granddaughter to keep close.

Family is important

Which brings me to the topic of family past.

We had a family mystery.  Sharing my great- grandparents’, Annie (d. Sep 1941) and John Downing’s (d. April 1941) grave in London Road Cemetery, Coventry, were three other people.**

Two of these people were buried on the same day in 1952: a male, Percy, and a female, Dorothy. They didn’t share the surname of my great-grandparents, or of each other. The third person was a female, another Annie, buried 1969, and she shared the same surname as Percy.

Logically, there must be a connection. And, logically, the two who were buried on the same day probably died on the same day, you’d think?

Well, this is the premise I worked on.

Close to a year ago, I tried to solve it. I  spent an inordinate amount of time going round and round in circles searching the online databases so beloved of family historians. I also tried to find the Coventry newspapers covering the relevant dates, but to no avail.

I gave up.

Last month I decided to give it another go. Within ten minutes of beginning my search, I had found the digitised  copies of the Coventry Evening Telegraph covering the dates I needed, and the death notice of Percy and Dorothy.

And just like that, the mystery started unravelling.

Percy and Dorothy did not die on the same day. They died a day apart, and, their deaths were not connected. At all. Percy’s death was after a long illness. Dorothy died suddenly.

Dorothy was Percy’s sister-in-law.

Percy’s wife, Annie, turned out to be the third female in the grave.

And Dorothy and Annie (junior) were sisters

Their mother, was my great-grandmother, Annie Downing, nee Jones.

Their father, was my great-grandfather, John  Downing.

Dorothy and Annie (junior) were, therefore, my  great-aunts, and Percy, my great-uncle, through marriage.

Of course, I have never met any of these people. They all died, barring Annie, years before I was even born.

So does it even matter?

I think so.

After all, they are family, and, as such, are very much part of who I am.

*Being close to our Auckland friends was important too.

**Up Beat