Monday, April 11, 2016

A Little More Help From Friends

It's been almost five years that I've been at this blogging-for-genealogy project, and it's probably been countless times in the interim that I've sniveled about not hearing from the very people with whom I've longed to connect: relatives. At the very least, if I couldn't hear from relatives, at least I could hear about them. That would be snivel category number two.

Of course, that is very ungrateful of me, for A Family Tapestry has a loyal cadre of fellow genealogy enthusiasts at the ready whenever encouragement is called for. I guess I'm just a complainer at heart.

Every now and then, however, I do hear from someone, out of the blue, who has a significant contribution to add, to alleviate my genealogical struggles. On top of yesterday's breakthrough thanks to Intense Guy, I have a few more such gifts to mention besides today's post, but since we are currently focused on the Reverend P. T. Wilson and his family in India, I want to share a public thank-you to someone who popped up, out of the blue, and offered some pertinent research help.

This particular reader—Tina, from England—became as fascinated with the Peachy Taliaferro Wilson story as I had, and couldn't help herself. Because she is a researcher in the U.K., she is familiar with some resources which I didn't know about—or at least, didn't currently have access to—and contacted me to provide some leads. I asked her permission to share some of those here, so let's take a process break from our Wilson narrative to see how the British might have approached my research quandary. It always helps to broaden our genealogical horizons.

According to Tina, there is a sizeable percentage of people in the U.K. who are descended from British subjects once serving—in various capacities—in India. Tina's first suggestion, in approaching my Wilson narrative, was to try a free database from a resource known as FIBIS—the Families in British India Society. The database itself is searchable by going directly to this link on their website.

From that location, Tina found several entries that she knew would be of interest in this story of the missionary Wilson family:
  • The marriage of Rev. P. T. Wilson and Mary J. "Whitcombe" in Bhowanipore on December 19, 1863
  • The second marriage of widower Rev. P. T. Wilson and Helen Johnston in Agra on December 1, 1883
  • That Helen Johnston's father's first initial was J, and that her family was from Balgray, Dundee, Scotland

Then, because she has a world subscription to the U.K. version of Find My Past, Tina passed along information on the specifics of the death records for both Peachy Wilson and his second wife, Helen Johnston. (There was no information in India on the death of P. T. Wilson's first wife, Mary, because she died after the family returned home to the United States.) Since I don't currently hold a subscription to that service—but you may have access to Find My Past, and may be interested in checking out these record images for yourself—I asked Tina to share those links. If you are a Find My Past subscriber, you may find the record for the marriage of Peachy and Helen here. Peachy's own death record can be found here. Helen Johnston Wilson's death record is here.

For those who are keen on researching their British forebears, Tina also recommended a subscription—either by the month for those economy-minded researchers, or by the year—to The British Newspaper Archive, which, in her opinion, provides a far superior search mechanism than that provided for the newspapers included in the Find My Past collection.

Genealogical researching has always been a crowdsourced effort, accommodated by multitudes of like-minded enthusiasts willing to go the extra voluntary mile in helping each other out. I certainly appreciate and have benefited from the many suggestions I've received through the years, especially the help coming this way through blog comments and emails. Always remembering that what we blog will be digitally available and searchable for the foreseeable future, I want to pass along Tina's helpful advice—as well as my thanks for the help!—so that anyone with an interest in this family's story in the future may be able to retrace our steps and recreate the paper trail leading to the details on the life of Peachy Taliaferro Wilson, his family, and his work in India in the late 1800s.  


  1. How wonderful for others to share info they have access to! :)

    1. I certainly appreciated it! Especially the resources known to one area of the world that people from other places might not be aware of. Sharing is always a win-win situation.

  2. Excellent! A friend from England! The English-India connection is an old one.

    1. That British perspective certainly helps in this situation! So many resources we might not be aware of, stateside.


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