Hi There!

The Older I get the More and MORE Stuff there is in my life … more stuff to store, more stuff to clean, more stuff to remember … you get the idea…. More and MORE Stuff.

I’m hoping to sort through some of my stuff; get rid of some stuff; repurpose some stuff and maybe even be obsessive enough to catalogue some stuff…


  • First … in case I can’t remember some stuff, there will be the possibility of there being a record somewhere about it
  • Because it will help me figure out what stuff I have (some seems to be missing??) and don’t have but would like to have… and
  • For sure I’d like to get rid of some stuff – downsize is a big catchword for those in our senior years!
  • And it will hopefully help me clarify just what stuff is important to me (that seems to change depending on where you are in life) and what stuff isn’t.

I’ve never been good at doing anything Every Day … so I don’t know how often I’ll get around to writing new blog entries. First job is to figure out how to use WordPress… make a few entries and baseline each page and launch the site. Then we’ll see if I can establish a rhythm.

The point! you ask… well, as I mentioned, getting rid of some Stuff …. We’ll see if this project can help me do some of that (hahaha! who’s laughing?) AND, more importantly, perhaps, to share memory tricks and ways to remember and ways to stimulate our memories … Because for me, my most important stuff has memories attached to them; memories I don’t want to lose.

  • For instance, within my vision, there is my mother’s pink elephant, and a host of other personal belongings that have “stories” attached to them;
  • My dad’s ashes are in front of me too… and beside me, boxes and boxes of stuff relating to his care for the past decade: stuff to purge; stuff to sort… lots and lots of stuff … some to keep to remember … to include in the family history binders;
  • Then there are my many collections of stuff… china springer spaniels, garden books, craft supplies are a few examples… obsessive collector? Yup. Maybe we can talk about ways to deal with that issue!
  • Mostly, I hope to help you deal with Your Stuff by dealing with some of My Stuff!

Let’s see where this all goes … will I have less Stuff or more Stuff next year this time? What will we have talked about?

If you are past 50; likely you are well aware of how much stuff accumulates…

Some of it you never want to part with and some you wish you had never owned but just how to get rid of it? Yard sales… what a lot of work! Hmmm. I’ve recently given all my father’s clothes to the Canadian Diabetes Textile Recycling bin… I kept his hat… the special one – it’s on the urn!

Shipwrights Arms

Pre 1890 Shipwrights Arms is the building behind the horse. Photo from the Kent Pub Wiki:
Originally provided by Bob Lee to that website. No other source given. ONLY photo I can find ANYWHERE.

Remember Mary Ann? She and her husband George William Hodge ran the above tavern for just over two decades in Ramsgate, Kent, England from 1850 when it opened to 1871, the year George died.

The previous Shipwrights Arms in Ramsgate had been run by the Harlow family. It seems to have closed its doors in 1849. The brewer, and owner of most of these pubs, would have been responsible for the transition to the new location, which was across from the Customs House on Harbour Place. The street was widened in the 1890s, and renamed Harbour Parade. The buildings in the photo were all torn down and replaced. The new Shipwrights Arms kept its street address but was shifted over to the corner make room for the new Customs House. The Queens Head, which you can see in the picture, kept its location and its address, but the building was also replaced. The new Customs House was in between the two taverns.

This was George’s second career. He was the son of pianoforte maker named William Hodge. William was originally from Knowstone, Devon, and had come to London sometime before 1814 to work as a carpenter. He married Sarah Walker in 1815 and they had four children, one of whom died in infancy. It seems William worked for over 40 years on pianofortes … he died in 1862. His daughter Sarah married James Moutrie, another pianoforte maker, and his sons William and George both learned the trade at an early age. The whole family was involved in the developing pianoforte industry in St. Pancras, London, England.

George worked in the piano trade in St. Pancras up until a few years after his marriage to Mary Ann. He was almost 30 when he switched gears to publican. They had ten children together. The first three were born in London, but the rest were all born in Ramsgate. Lots of children, meant lots of help with the work, but only once they were old enough to be useful. It sounds like a busy twenty years. The youngest, Fred, was seven when George died.

After George’s death, Mary Ann left Ramsgate and started a lodging house in nearby St. Peter’s. She does that for a decade or so, and then, with three of her then adult children, she embarks on the Lusitania for Tasmania (1884).

I so admire this woman. She was 60, and was going to immigrate to Tasmania? Fred, her youngest and a bachelor, and her two youngest daughters, Emma and Florence, and their husbands and children, all went together. A total of twenty family members are shown on the passenger list: six adults and fourteen children. One of Emma and Tom’s babies didn’t make it and was buried at sea.

Mary Ann returned to England at some point. We can’t find her return trip home. It looks like she waited until her kids were settled before she left, but we can’t be sure. We know she was “home” by the time she was 75. She spent the last chapter of her life living with her eldest daughter, Sarah Mary Ann, in Margate, Kent, up until her death in 1912 at 89 years of age.

A full life by anyone’s standards.

I descend from Mary Ann and George’s second youngest child: Charles Samuel Hodge. He died before I was born, but Eliza, his wife and my great grandmother didn’t. I was blessed with hearing stories about Mary Ann when I was a child. Eliza had worked for her, as her “lady’s maid” we were told. That’s how she had met Charles! Eliza lived a very long life. She died two weeks before her 107th birthday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. But that’s another story!

Technical Difficulties

Sometimes it seems the technology that is supposed to make our lives easier makes life harder instead. It seems that way MOST DAYS for me lately.

Operator error a factor I am sure.

Tried out One Drive and document sharing . Do not go there! Not unless you and your co-conspirators know what they are doing. My document ended up corrupted.

And, so it would not PDF.

A week and a half thinking it was my Acrobat Pro at fault. WASTED time.

And of course suckered into a purchase of the NEW now monthly subscription so I can finish my project.

The document Still would not pdf. Another few days rebuilding it … and “Uncorrupting” it.

Then a paper jam ends up killing the printer. So, no luck printing a hard copy.

Are you feeling my pain! LOL. I remember when I would just take that all in stride….

Now I need a few days away from the computer just so I don’t throw things.


In family tree research, I am reminded, again, that just One record can change everything. A cascading effect …

Auguste is not the man I seek. Victor is.

Victor and Auguste Dutaillis arrive almost simultaneously in the United Kingdom about 1793: fleeing the chaos in France. Victor settles in London; Auguste in Edinburgh.

My ancestor was born in Edinburgh in 1797. His surname is Dutaillis. I made an assumption.

Turns out the most likely scenario is that Victor “adopted” my ancestor in London. It also seems that the two men, Victor and Auguste, are close relatives, possibly brothers. They appear to have a business relationship as well as the same surname.

I am totally hooked on genealogy… love puzzles to pieces. I would like to prove my theories by finding a record that defines the relationship between either man and my ancestor. Needle in a haystack at this point, but I will keep looking…

In the meantime, I think I will go swing from another branch in my tree.

William Dutaillis

Auguste’s son… remember Auguste!

I still dont know exactly where Auguste was born or where he died or who his parents were but I do know quite a bit about his 9 children …

William is the eldest boy. I actually suspect he was adopted but cant prove it …. yet… He is my ancestor.

He was a cook: Cook to Lord Ducie. He was promoted during his employment to “House Steward to the Earl of Ducie”. He lived at both Tortworth Manor in a wee house on the extensive grounds and on Seamore Place in London at #2, beside the house the Rothschilds eventually bought.

He and his wife Martha raised three children: the eldest, a girl named Harriet; the middle child a son named Henry; and the youngest, Mary Ann, my ancestor. Whom you’ve also met.

William and Martha retired to Ramsgate, Kent where their daughter Mary Ann and her husband George Hodge ran the Shipwright’s Arms. It sounds like a lovely place to retire: the coast of Kent.

My own retirement in process… an interesting life stage. I hope things turn out as well for me.

Mothers Day

It’s over.

Thank you sweetie!

For some people Christmas is the hard holiday. For me it’s always been Mother’s Day.

I am pleased to say my birth daughter, my only child, found me … and that the hurt is healing. But I feel it is unlikely that the scar will ever go away. I am one of those girls who left the hospital with empty arms.

My own mother … she passed 11 years ago: on May 3. Her birthday was just before that: April 20. So Mother’s Day is the third remembering. Each year since her passing my ability to see the woman she was… to see her life as a whole … improves. I can remember her NOT sick. But instead, healthy and vibrant. Alzheimers steals the person. Not just from themselves but from the family too.

The last decade of her life she wasn’t sure who I was… she would look at me … and her eyes would shine.

My dad’s journey was different… I will celebrate him next month. First comes the first anniversary of his death. He knew me 98 percent of the time to the end. The last 6 weeks we were kept apart by Covid 19… he didnt die from it. He died because of it …

From being isolated. From not having the extra support provided by myself and by my loyal and caring staff. Yes. I hired additional support for him in the nursing home. Some of us need more than the system provides. He was one of those…

Six weeks … that’s how long it took for him to fade away … to let himself “sleep the big sleep” and join my mother.

Which brings us back to Mother’s Day.

Great big HAPPY to all you mom’s … without you, we wouldn’t be here!

My mother’s Pink elephant!

Mystery Man

I’ve come a long way in my search for answers about Monsieur Pierre Auguste Dutaillis… my greatx4 grandfather…. but so much of his life is still a mystery!

One BIG mystery solved…. he did not marry Janet after all … and was free to marry Isabella

Just this week I finally found the explanation to that particular mystery about him …. in the record book of Scottish marriages from 1751 to 1800 for Edinburgh parish. What a bonus! His occupation is also listed, giving me hope that I can find more information about his early life in France.

There are so many variations of his surname in the records I do have, and his birth year is not given in a single one! We can guess …. if Isabella was born in 1774 … he is likely older than her …. but that’s about it! With a birth year ranging from 1760 to 1774, and the various spellings of Dutaillis … Du’Taille and Dutailly… DeTaille… Dutailles … to name a few, it is still overwhelming. But there is hope.

In pursuit of information on his origins I joined another genealogy web site: one that is French called geneanet.org. This has been very helpful going forward in his younger children’s lives but so far no answers about him. Just more questions.

Four children went with him and Isabella to France in approximately 1817. There is no record of him after they arrive but Isabella’s death record confirms the family did move “home” as do records of marriages and births and deaths for the children.

Who is he??? Why cant I find him?

April Fool

My sister got engaged on April Fool’s Day… 50 yrs ago. Yup, she is still married to the same guy…

Seems a crazy day to get engaged! They wanted to marry by the end of May. Gran asked the obvious question. No they were not expecting.

Mom ran upstairs and fished an engagement present out of her closet: a full set of Revereware pots. She was prepared!

I have those pots now. Plus my mothers. Mine. And my mother in laws. Lots of pots.

Lots of stuff! I have two kitchens … we have a cottage … and I have lost a few pieces along the way… so it’s not as bad as it sounds… but, believe me I do not need any more pots!

They are starting to look old. Just like me.

Family Trees

I have all these scraps of paper with diagrams on them, arrows and margin notes. Trying to prove connections between people born before 1800 with the present. Amazing puzzle… leading to all sorts of theories. Progress has been made.

Great great gran who you met last post had a sister we never knew about. Her father, had a whole family totally unknown to us before my investigations. All knowledge we did have was hearsay … family legend; I’m sure much embellished over the years.

Now, I can say with certainty that my great grandfather four times removed was likely French, perhaps from Belgium, and he arrived in Scotland during or before 1793, running away from the turmoil in his homeland. He married. Then married again four months later. No record of a divorce or annulment? That’s the first mystery…

There are lots of mysteries in his story! I am still trying to untangle the truth from what facts I can find about him.

I only have records for this man’s life from 1793 – that first marriage in Scotland – to 1814 – a birth record for his youngest and whom I now consider his 9th child with the second wife – then he disappears again. I can follow his children’s lives to a certain extent. One died in his first year of life confirmed by a burial record; another 2 also seem to have died as infants. There are no records beyond their baptism for them. That left 6 children whose lives to follow: one of them my ancestor; and one of them possibly his twin sister.

At first I wasn’t sure he was really part of this “new” family… I had no birth record for him. Only where he was born and the year. The same for his twin. No birth record. We first see her at her marriage in 1816. That record was how I linked her to the rest of the family. Later I found another record confirming their relationships. She is a witness at her little sister’s marriage in 1838.

Finally I found “proof” that my ancestor was part of this family too: a census record that had my great great grandmother Mary Ann, his daughter, as witness at his “twin” sister’s daughter’s wedding. I also found a census record with Mary Ann living with Harriet …. the daughter we had never heard about before – her big sister! …. before she left for Australia. It was true! William had a mysterious father and yes, maybe he was a twin! Siblings though, we had never heard he had more siblings than the twin.

He was supposed to be born illegitimate too. The first marriage not being annulled may have given rise to this part of the story. It’s also possible his father had another wife before these two! Who was this man? Where did he come from? Well, I still don’t know the answers to those questions or when or where he died … and so the search goes on!

The chaos in France and Belgium during the time period that my ancestor left France or Belgium is making my search very challenging. I am having to brush up on my history, and my poor French…

Wish me luck!

Great Great Gran

Mary Ann Dutaillis
Great Great Grandmother
Mary Ann Hodge nee Dutaillis

I’ve become an obsessed amateur sleuth / family tree builder… thanks to cousin Jerry!

The above photo is my father’s mother’s father’s mother: my great great grandmother Mary Ann Hodge nee Dutaillis. She had an amazing life.

Having just finished my search for my long missing great uncle, I’ve plunged into another family mystery. Was Mary Ann’s Dutaillis’ grandfather really a count? The story goes a very important French gentleman had to leave France and his fortune behind; travelling to Scotland to start a new life.

The story got embellished along the way I’m sure. My father’s version includes a mistress and the birth of twins … Now, my great gran Eliza, she was a bit of a snob; perhaps her mother-in-law was too. Could the family have made up an association with someone important just because of Mary Ann’s last name? Or perhaps just embellished a few details to try to make the story fit with that important figure in the French Revolution, Count Adrien Dutaillis.

Finding information on a birth before 1800 is difficult (Mary Ann’s father is believed to have been born in 1797 in Edinburgh, Scotland), especially if the couple was unmarried. Records were not kept the way they were later on. For instant, in England, censuses didn’t start until, I believe, 1841. Having become quite fond of census data, I encourage you to participate in all such endeavors yourself when asked. I just completed a “Housing” survey from Statistics Canada. I have a whole different attitude to the questions now that I’ve searched for answers myself.

The mysteries of family genealogy include things like how to spell illegitimate. I might get it right eventually. I think I will come up with an abbreviation! I got mad the last time and just wrote BAS***D instead. You would think autocorrect would correct when you needed it! Nope. NO WAY. Even here. I had to go back and play with the word till the red line under it disappeared.

I have convinced myself we are no relation at all to Count Adrien Ramon du Bosc Dutaillis (1760-1851). Instead I am looking for a member of the Second Estate, born in France probably around 1770 give or take a decade, who had to leave France to save his ass in the face of the oncoming French Revolution. Estimating arrival in Scotland as 1780 to 1790, I have found a few candidates, my favorite, August Dutaillis… Currently, I am trying to confirm that this man is Mary Ann’s grandfather. Because that could be the name he took upon leaving his old life behind, I may never find out his true lineage. First to confirm he is who I seek!

Wish me luck!