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Alaska.
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Cherry Orchard, Old Hill, Ghost.


From an area known as Cherry Orchard, which is in Old Hill, came a story of a Ghost. It was supposed to be the shade of one Aliester Mcbane, who was reputedly murdered, by fellow Miners, for being a heartless tyrant. There is no trace of his death in either 1858, the year it was said to have occurred, or in the year before, or after. Along the same lines, there is, supposedly, a grave in Rowley Churchyard, of one Archie Cartwright, who is alleged to have suffered a similar fate. The year this time, is 1852, and I have been left pondering, if the two stories, have become somehow mixed up. Upon investigating, there is also no record of this death either, but there is a Cartwright, who died in this year, John Cartwright. He is listed as a Miner, was 34 when he passed on, but the big question is, was he Murdered. If there was no Aleister Mcbane, then there obviously is no ghost story, and if niether of them ever exsisted, then the whole thing, is nothing more than a old urban myth. Is anyone interested in having a go at solving the puzzle? The first thing, is to find out if the grave in Saint Giles, actually, and physically exsists, and if the headstone holds any clues. Murder being a subject that's always attracted press attention, there must be a report in some local Paper. My problem being, is that I don't know where to start on that subject, which is why I need some help. Any offers, or further information, will be very greatly appriciated.


:)

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 1, 2011 at 10:03 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

George Lovett, Daniel Lambert.


Another little mystery thats been around for a long time, concerns the weight of a man, who died in 1933, George Lovatt, 1870.. He was born in Brierley Hill, and, according to the more outspoken residents, was a lot heavier than the man from Leicester, Daniel Lambert. ( pictures in the Images Album ) Now not many today, will have heard of Daniel, or that he spent a great deal of his time at Fairs and Wakes. He appeared more than once, at Rowley Wake, in the early 1800s, billed as " The Biggest Man on Earth ".  The stage on which he appeared was of course reinforced, and the scales used to back up the claim were always borrowed from a local source. The propensity for cheating at such shows, hence not using their own scales, goes back a very long way indeed. The highlight of his appearence, was the weighing of course, and Lambert tipped the scales in 1806, at 52 stone, 10lbs. ( just 1Ib less than his weight at death) His waist measurement was a massive 108 inches, so I unrolled my own measure yesterday. nine feet is an awfully big waist. They measured his calf as well, 36 inches, which is exactly my own waist seize in trousers. They also had 7 large men on the stage, who fitted nicely into Lamberts waistcoat. And they did the buttons up as well. At the time, he was the heaviest human ever recorded. Now what about Mr Lovatt, who came to public notice in the 1920s. He was well aware of the comparisons being made around the pubs, between himself and Lambert, and despite a few requests to settle all the bets, he did not set foot on any scales. It was noted at the time, that although he looked a compartively thinner man than the paintings of Lambert, he was somewhat taller. Many however, had their doubts. The subject came up again last month, from someone trying to prove that Lovatt, was bigger than Lambert. Having compared a photo of George, and the painting of Lambert, it looks like Lambert would be the winner, by a mile. When George Lovatt died in 1933, the undertakers, purely to get the coffin correct, and the right sort of transport arranged, had the corpse weighed. It was just 42 stone. Still a very large man, but not as heavy as Daniel Lambert. They both had someting else in common though, as well as the weight, when they died, they drew some very large crowds to see the respective mighty coffins, lowered by a winch, into the grave. Now if anyone has anything further, on George Lovatt, I will be pleased to receive the information. I can't help but think though, that if either of them were alive today, they would not feel, or for that matter, look out of place.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Jane Bunford, Bartley Green.


About 20 years ago, someone raised the story of  Jane Bunford,  the Giantess of Bartley Green. There were many questions left unanswered. She was probably born in Scotland Lane, Northfield, but the date of September, 1895, is certainly correct. The youngest child of John and Jane Bunford, (nee Andrews) she began to suffer from a Pituary Gland malfunction, almost as soon as she started school, in 1899. By the time she was 25, her height had reached 7ft 9ins. Now I don't know if some of these sort of problems, are caused by too close family marriages, but her Mother and Father were cousins. There's no link back in time on her Fathers side, as her grandfather, Joseph Bunford, had married, in 1852, at the age of 33, Jane Turner, who was born in Springhill, Hasbury, Halesowen. Her parents had married in 1877, and then went on th have at least 7 ( possibly, one prior to the marriage ) children, Jane having 3 brothers, and 3 sisters, non of whom had the same problem, but may well have had others not reported. John Bunford, her father, died in 1916, at aged 60, after a long time working as a Brass Caster. Jane went to live with her brother Harry Bunford, at 284, Jiggens Lane, Bartley Green, but was only rarely seen out, as her height was a constant problem for the rather shy young woman. She had, as can be expected, great difficulty in getting clothes to fit, and the house's, at that time were fairly small, she had problems even getting through the low doors.You would have trouble, even today, finding a bed that would accomodate such a tall woman, and as a result, she began to suffer from curvature of the spine. She died in June, 1922, at the age of 26, from complications associated with her condition. And now begins the mystery, starting with her burial. Her Coffin, 8ft 2ins long, had not been lowered into the ground above a few months, when questions started to be asked, about just how much of Jane was actually in it. An enormously tall skeleton, had appeared in the Anotomical Museum, Birminghan University, and you can guess the kind of questions that were being asked. There were however, no answers fothcoming, as everyone, especially the family, now became very close lipped. Speculatation now became the "in"  thing in Bartley Green, and it rapidily spread. There were lurid, and gruesome tales of " Body Snatching ", and the local undertakers began to see a loss of business. Then stories began to circulate, that a family member had suddenly had a boost to their bank balance. This restored the lack of trust, and the " Dead end Job " once more picked up. The University came under great pressure, so much so, that a statement was issued saying that they had no records, of the name of the last " owner " of the skeleton in question. This did not stop the rumours, and in what apparently was a last desperate act, they announced that the object had somehow now been " mislaid. " All went quiet, for the next 50 years, until in the early 1970s, in a parish magazine, an article on the subject appeared. There doesn't seem to be any doubt, that it was inserted, by the family, to some renewed local whispers. It went on to repeat what had been stated by the University, and added, " that the family had a clear recollection of their father, presenting the remains of poor Jane to the Medical School. This caused a deep probing of local memories, and a out pouring of scorn and derision. They had not forgotten you see, that her father had died in 1916, a full 6 years before she had, and, unless John Bunford had somehow managed to shake off the soil of the grave, and get himself to Birmingham, it was impossible. So, refusing to take such a gigantic leap of faith, the locals once again began to speculate. It even managed to interest a TV company. In all honesty, the only one at the time who could have arranged such a thing, would have been Jane, the mother. Mind you, she was 65 at the time of the death, penniless except for the Pension, and would have been easily pursueded. She died in 1934, the secret locked away in her failed memory. That just leaves one other, the son called " Harry ", in effect, James Henry Bunford, born in 1889, and  with whom Jane was living, at 284, Jiggins Lane, when she died. Was it then a coincidence, that when he died in 1970, an article should appear in a magazine, on the very subject that had dogged him for years. There are still relatives out there, who have, or may have, the answer. The Skeleton by the way is still missing. Now I know the old saying about not speaking ill of the dead, but its been over 40 years now, time to solve the riddle I think, and put poor Jane Bunford, or whats left of her, to rest, and not leave her on a stand, in some dusty and long forgotten cupboard.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 15, 2011 at 11:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Policeman, Harry Stanton, Dudley.


Harry Stanton, was born in West Bromwich, in December, 1907. He turned out to be a bright young man, well mannered, and dependable. In fact, all the attributes neccessary for becoming a Policeman, and become one he did. joining the Dudley Borough  Police Force, in May,1926. He soon established himself as a loyal and respected comrade, and a keen sportsman. Harry Stanton could look forward to a promising career as a Policeman, his superiors thought the same. Reporting for duty about 1.45pm, on a cold but dry 28th January,1929, he was his normal self, sharing a joke with the duty officer, Sargeant Eli Stafford. He was deligated to patrol beat numbers 3 & 4, with a spell of point duty every other hour, at the top of Castle Street. This duty was shared with P.C. Harrison . Sgt. Stafford, arranged to meet the young officer at 3.10pm, at the British Legion Club, in Hall Street, from whence they proceeded to Saint Johns Road. Another meeting was then made, for 6.40pm, at the Co-op Stores, in Hall Street. As usual, P.C. Stanton called into the Central Police Station, for his mid shift cup of tea. He relieved P.C. Harrison at 5.00pm, who in turn took over again at 6.00pm, and Stanton resumed his beat. Walking down Castle Hill, he was seen by a witness, at 6.20pm, outside the Station Hotel, his next move would have been to walk up Trindle Road, in order to meet Sgt. Stafford. He failed to keep this meeting, nor did he appear, to take over from Harrison at 7.00pm. Now theres quite a few reasons why this would this would not cause immediate concern. He could have detained or gone after a suspect, or be caught up somewhere making inquires, or dealing with an incidence. ( no Radio's then remember ) When 7.30 arrived, and still no sign of the young officer, Sgt Stafford informed Inspector Haynes. Because P.C. Stanton was such a reliable man, concerns began to grow, and Haynes quickly organised a search. Shortly after midnight, it was Haynes himself who found Stanton, on the Great Western Railway track, between Netherton tunnel, and the bridge on Birmingham Road. He had some terrible head injuries, and had been dead for some time. The officer was lying on his back, between the two tracks, feet pointing towards the tunnel, and his truncheon was in his right hand. Further investigation found a large pool of blood under his head, and what became something iof a mystery, the cord of the truncheon was over the top of the gloves he was wearing. This was what not how it should have been held, and suspicions about the death began to circulate.  For a start, what was P.C. Stanton doing on the railway line. If he had seen something suspicious, and was quietly observing, it might just explain it. If he had been forced to draw his truncheon, why had he not also used his whistle, to call for assistance. It did appear, to several officers, that Stanton had been carefully laid out, so as to demonstrate he was in a defensive position, at the time he died. The Police Surgeon, Doctor Charles Cookson, who had carried out the post mortem, found massive injuries to the head and brain, consistent with being struck by an Engine, Carriage, or goods Wagon. The body only bore a few other scratch marks, and nothing to suggest that a fight or struggle had occured. The Coroner was told, that despite an extensive search, no blood stains had been found on any of the rolling stock, that had used the line prior to P.C. Stantons death. The jury had no option but to bring in an open verdict, so the mystery remained, who, or what, killed the Policeman.?


Delving through the statements and witness accounts from 82 years ago, you can't help feeling that somethings wrong. It has all the hallmarks of a cover up. Not of any crime you understand, just a cover up of an unhappy Policemans tragic suicide. One witness, Mr Wythes, from Russell Street, where P.C. Stanton lodged, said that on the morning of his death, the young man had received a letter, and after reading it, had torn it up and thrown it on the fire. Now I believe, that the old saying " never speak ill of the dead ", came into play here, and Stanton was very upset about that letter. Closing ranks, I think some of his fellow officers did the same, and kept quiet. You need to note also, just who had found the body, another Policeman. He would have enough experience to see, that what he was looking at was a suicide, and so, why besmirch a fellow officers reputation. He had just enough time to make it look like his young officer was engaged in some pursuit, and so he created an illusion. A far better explanation for a respectable family and their friends to accept, than a suicide verdict, which back then, carried a stigma of shame. Unless of course anyone reading this has a better theory, in which case I shall be very pleased to read it, after all, it's still a bit of a mystery.


There have been more than a few strange reports, of odd happenings near the spot since 1929. The steady tread of heavy footsteps on the gravel of the permanant way. Even after it had all gone. The half seen misty figure who staggers from the direction of the old Tunnel, and then suddenly vanishes. The low and deep groans of an injured man, or was it just the wind, or the ghostly rattle of chains on loosely coupled coal wagons long since departed. Who knows, maybe that long dead Policeman can't bring himself to leave the spot.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

The Westwood Children. Wednesbury.


Way back in 1907, a family in Wednesbury, recieved a vist from some relatives who resided in New Zealand. Nothing unusual in that you might think, but these visitors, well two of the children really, caused something of a stir. Nowadays, the cry would have gone up about cruelty to children, and they would have snatched by Social Services. The youngest, Wilfred Westwood, was just 11 years old, and he tipped the scales at a massive 20st 6Ibs. His elder sister, Ruby Westwood, 13, was just a bit slimmer at 17st 4Ibs. The rest of the family, 5 other children ranging from 20 to 7 years, were perfectly normal, not an ounce of fat showing. They must have had a few bob as well, because the combined fares from New Zealand and back would have cost a packet, even in 1907. Both of the rather " Obese " children, fancied a bit of bicycle riding, and there was nothing local, suitable to support such a heavy burden. So they had a special Tricycle made, possibly in Wolverhampton. The machine required extra strengthing, heavy duty solid tyres, and as can just be seen in the photo in the Gallery, an enormous saddle. Now the question's have been asked before, but I can't find out if there was any response. Has anyone got any information on these " extra large " children. Did they get any larger when they got back home ? No jokes please about the ship sinking either . What happened to them in later life, indeed, did they even have a long life ? Now I come to think about it, should this post carry a warning, about riding a trike with such a big fat ****. ??


Added Postscript. 11th November, 2013.

My thanks to new member Alys, who has found more information that was included on a facebook page. History of Wednesbury is the site, and from newspaper reports of the time, decribes most of the life stories of the two " Wonder Children ". Ruby Westwood, attained the weight of over 20 stones by 1912, ( the year she died ) which of course, by todays standards, she would not stand out much in a crowd. Blood poisoning, from receiving a small wound while picking flowers, ( possibly roses ) whilst in America, finished her off, not the extra weight she was carrying. Her brother, Wilfred Westwood,( largest weight over 30 stones ) like his sister, had taken part in many outing in what today would classed as " freak shows ", both in America, Australia, and their home Country, New Zealand. He died in New Zealand in 1939, again unrelated to his vast size. Once again thank you Alys. There are two photographs of the children,  in the Faces from the past Album, in the Gallery, marked Wednesbury, 1907.



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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

The Treasure of Halesowen Abbey.


Where is the " Treasure ",  of the old Abbey of Hales. A question that's been posed many times, and still remains unanswered. The Abbey, which was founded in Halesowen in 1215, grew to be one of the richest in the midlands. The Monks survived several internal Wars, and skirmishes, and still managed to prosper. Trouble loomed however, with the arrival on the throne, of Henry VIII. Ever short of money, and knowing that the churches held more sway over the population than he did, he decreed that they would be disbanded. His treasury being the main benefactor of all that they owned. The Abbot, under the watchful eye of the Kings men, was equally determined that Hales Abbey, would not give up most of it's hard earned cash. His chance came, when of one his monks, a well respected helper of the districts poor, ( possibly the only Monk at the Abbey so inclined ) suddenly died. Secretly, he and his deputy, buried the Monk in the banks of the Abbey's moat. Between them, in the dead of night, they filled the newly delivered coffin with most of the Abbeys Silver Plate, most of the ceremonial articles, and most of the cash. I say most, because the crafty Abbot realised that if there was nothing when the Kings men came, they would all be in serious trouble. The by now heavy coffin, was loaded onto a cart, and with due solemnity, for he was a popular monk was the deceased, it was processed into Halesowen, and buried in an unmarked grave, as was the Abbey custom. The Kings men, waiting until after the funeral, then marched in and dispossesed the Abbot and the Order. It would seem that they were satisfied with what they found, and the Abbot and the Monks headed off North, towards the Orders main stronghold. Passing through the slums of Dudley, the Abbot caught one of the many desease's that plagued the age, and died a few days later. His Deputy, suffering from the same thing, but being somewhat younger, lasted a bit longer. Not long enough though, to pass on the full details of what was buried in the Churchyard of Saint John the Baptist, back in Halesowen. Henry VIII, now gave, or more likely sold, the Abbey to John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. Now John wasn't as stupid as some of the Kings men, and he immediately started to dismantle the building, stone by stone. He knew there was treasure to be found, but sadly for him, he was looking in the wrong place. The old story faded a bit in time, but that part of the mystery, that had been passed to one of the Monks, survived. He knew, just like John Dudley had guessed, that something had been buried, but like John, he didn't know where either. It's a certainty, that it's not all listed in Henry's Treasury Rolls, and there is no record that it was later dug up. There is a story, that it was found by a later Halesowen Vicar, and finished up as bullion bars in Birmingham. There's no record of a rich Vicar in the Parish, or of the entire churchyard being dug up looking for it. So it would seem. that still hidden, in an obscure unmarked grave, in a secluded spot in Halesowen Churchyard, lie's a Kings ransom, in Gold and Silver. Unless of course someone has already found it, and like a big lottery winner, has ticked the box for no publicity.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Samuel Williams Murder, Wolverhampton.


Now here's a strange case from Wolverhampton, which also left a mystery in Dudley.  A young man and his " wife ", well she was described as being somewhat older than him, took on the tenancy of a house in Wolverhampton. Described as a " Low " part of the town, it was a place where it was wise to mind your own business. There were several noisey rows, but it all seemed to end well. One day, the wife, who was known as Rosannah, informed the neighbours she was off to visit a relative but would shortly return, and to tell any callers she would soon be back. Some weeks went by, and a nasty smell other than the usual stink of the place began to pervade the air. The neighbours, having obtained, ( so They said ) a key, entered the dark litte house. In the back bedroom, they found the badly decomposing corpse of a man, who would later be indentified as one Samuel Williams. Even with the state of the body, it was clear he had been badly battered around the head, and dragged onto the rickerty old bed. Of his " wife ", there was no sign, and for the next few weeks, no clue as to her current location, came to light.


Sometime in early August, a woman had told the people in Tower Street, Dudley, that she was renting the property they had just seen her visiting, and as she had the key, nothing more was said. She was not seen again, and another young couple, believing the house to be empty, enquired about it, and asked to rent it. The Landlord had no record of the other woman actually taking up the tenancy, so supplied the keys. In side, lay another decomposing body, again on the bed, but this time with a bottle of poison on a bedside table. The clothes and general build of the body, led police to suspect, that they had found the woman who was missing from Wolverhampton. And so they had, but who was she?. Some said her name was Sparrow, others disagreed. One things for sure, when they had rented the house in Wolverhampton, mention had been made that she was a native of Liverpool. It was reported that she did indeed have an accent which seemed to be from that area. No other information came to light and the body was buried in Dudley. Specultaion however continued, and some time later, the body was reportedly dug up again, in a further attempt to discover her identity. Doe's anyone in Wolverhampton, or Dudley, have anymore details on this strange case of Murder/Suicide? Was she at last given a proper name ?

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Ernest Hadley, Victoria Inn, Wolverhampton.


Another little puzzle, can anyone tell me what happened to one Ernest Hadley, born in 1865, one of the10 children of William and Ann Hadley, from Wolverhampton. Previously a Carter, William took over a Public House in the late 1860s, Number 1, Poutney Street, otherwise known as the Victoria Inn. All, it seems went well, until May 1888, when without any warning, Ernest, his 7th child and now 23 years old, suddenly cut the throat of his younger brother Thomas, who was just turned10. Only some lucky intervention, prevented him from doing the same to another brother, Oliver. The stark raving mad Ernest, to escape, hurled himself through a window, but only succeeded in fracturing his skull on the pavement below. At the trial, Ernests father said that his son had been posted abroad, and that the sun had affected his brain. One report says that he was at some stage a Sailor. In any case he was clearly mad, and the Judge ordered that he be detained, in strict security until " Her Majesties pleasure was known ".  He was certainly in Broadmoor in 1891, but after that date, he seems to have vanished. Did they let him out ?, and if so, where did he go. I have a death recorded for an Ernest Hadley, the age of whom fits the bill, but it is registered in Rowley Regis, in 1947. Any information appreciated, not only on the case, but on whether or not too much Sun, can turn someone into a complete Psychopathic Maniac.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 3, 2012 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Charlie Chaplin, Esau smith, and Henty Smith. Black Patch Park, Smethwick.


Now here's one that will interest all fans of Genealogy. The continuing saga of just where the famous Charlie Chaplin came from. Records just released, show that Chaplin was under intense investigation by the F.B.I, during the hunt for " The Reds Under The Bed "  communist scare in the late 1950s.Not a single trace, or clue to his birth, surfaced during the search, and it's still a mystery. Except for this bit. In 1970, Chaplin recieved a letter from England, ( he was living in Switzerland ) which clearly told Chaplin, just where his real roots were. It must have struck a cord, because he kept the letter in his private papers until his death in 1977. He mentions something along the same lines in his Autobiography. The letter writer claimed that Chaplin was born in Smethwick, Staffordshire, in a place well known to the Gypsies, The Black Patch. Bounded by Perrott Street, Woodburn Road, Foundry Lane, and Kitchener Street, the area is now a small Park. So on with the search we go.


The wrter of the letter, says that Chaplins Great Grandfather, was the " King " of these gypsies on the Black Patch, his name was Esau Smith. He was born in Brockhall, now close to the M1 motorway, about 3 miles from Daventry, Northamptonshire, in 1819. Records amongst the Gypsies are scarce at the best of times, and there is no record,( as yet ) of his marriage. His wifes name was Sentenia Smith, or, as she was better known, Henty Smith, and you would think, that with such unusual names, they would be easy to track. Far from it. They are in the 1891 Census, but being travellers, and a bit reluctant to give details to anyone, they don't appear to be in the others. ( Names do get spelled differently, so a good search may unearth something )  One little fact that I should mention, there are children from the marriage although I have only uncovered the one, Cornelia Smith, born in 1855, and christened at Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. She turns up in the 1881 Census, in Staffordshire, shacked up with one Rueben Smith, her " Husband ", with 5 children and a Caravan. Sarah, William, Charlotte, George, and James, three of them could be Charlie Chaplins Grandparents, but the others are a bit to young as Chaplin was born in 1889, and also had an older step-brother. Esau Smith was a noted dealer in Horse's, well known for good judgement, although he slipped up in 1843, and ended up being charged with Horse Stealing. He was aquitted at Warwick Assizes, which was just as well, as he could have been given 7 years transportation, of even faced the big drop. There's an entry for late 1891, in the Birmingham Lunatic Asylem, of an E. Smith, same age,72, which was located at Winson Green, just a short walk from the Black Patch. They were both a bit to old to travel by now, Sentenia having been a Hawker almost all of life, so it would appear, despite facing eviction from the Patch, they settled down on it permanently.


Esau Smith died in 1901, and his mortal remains were buried, watched by a very large crowd, at Saint Mary's Church, Hampstead Road, Handsworth. Staffordshire. ( as it then was, being the nearest Parish Church, Saint James, on Crocketts Road, having no Churchyard ) The eviction of the gypsies from the Patch flared up again, but thanks to some artful negotiation's, the final decision would only be made when Sentenia Smith, who, on her husband death had been declared " Queen ", died. This she did, in January 1907, and like her husband before her, she was also buried in Saint Mary's, Handsworth. The Patch, as stated, is now a little park, although the brook that runs through it has been culveted, as it did tend to flood when heavy rain arrived. The other side now contains Allotments, ( one of which I used to cultivate ) which is exactly the purpose the Gypsies put it to as well. There's just the one photograph in the gallery at the moment, but I will add a few more shortly. If the writer of the letter is still around, or, the relatives, do let me know if you want add anything to the tale.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Maud Mills, Bridge Street, Walsall


It's just over 100 years, since the next mysterious case occured, and like the Titanic, just the month before, there have been many theories put forward. Non of them however, have helped solve a baffling and seemingly pointless murder.


On Sunday, the 5th May,1912, Mrs Maud Mills, left her home at 108, Bath Street, Walsall, ( also where she ran a Greengrocers business ) and walked into the Town centre. She was seen talking to three men, outside Lloyds Bank, in Bridge Street, and a few minutes later, found a short distance away, bleeding heavily on a pavement. She at first told the Police, that she had fallen on some railings, but at the Hospital, they discovered she had been shot four times, twice in the chest, and twice in the head. It was a wonder she had survived. Several people heard the shots, but non came forward to identify who had fired them. She told the Police nothing, but on a visit made by her sister-in-law, she told her she had been a part time prostitute. The family refused to believe this, and it was attributed to her terrible head wounds. Six days later, on the 11th May, Maud Mills died, and a murder hunt began. It failed to turn up anything else on the matter, and no suspects were found. It was then, and still is, a complete mystery. To try and understand it a bit better, a brief history of the people involved may help.


Born at number 92, Paddock Lane, in 1875, her maiden name was Maud Minnie Toons. Her father, Arthur, was not a native of the Town, having come from Atherstone, Warwickshire, and taken up the trade of a Silver Plater. The family do not seem to be on the 1891 census, although thats likely to be a transcription name error. In any case, in September 1896, she married one Charles Mills, and they went to live at 238, Wednesbury Road, Walsall. Two children were born at this address, Harrold, 1897, and Charles,1899, but as is later apparent, things were not well between the pair. In 1903, another child was born, Edmund, and this birth may have caused the marriage to break up. In 1910/11, Charles Mills was back living with his parents, at 185, Bloxwich Road, Walsall, and his eldest son, Harrold Mills. His estranged Wife, living in Bath Street, had the other son Charles Mills with her, and also young Edmund. Interestingly, on the 1911 census, she lists having given birth to just two children, ( the two she had living with her ) possibly as a way of keeping up appearences. When she made that statement to her sister-in-law, she may have telling the truth. She must have also known who, and why, someone had pulled the trigger on that revolver, but this time, refused to tell the truth. Alltogether, a very strange tale.


Speculation was rife in the Town, and many theories began to be advanced. Non of them led anywhere, One suggested, that Maud had disturbed three armed robbers outside the Bank, hardly likely on a Sunday. Another suggests that she was robbed while depositing her weekly taking from her Greengrocery business. Again highly unlikely, she would have been on way back by then, having already placed it in the night safe. Besides, it was a very small shop, hardly an early version of Tesco's. Random murders like this one appears to be, are rare on our streets, even today, there's always a motive, the trick is to find it. So who then had a good reason for killing Maud Mills? Many women in the past, resorted to prostitution to make ends meet, even when they were married, it wasn't a new trend. Some husbands knew, and welcomed the extra money, some however, failed to appreciate the sacrifice their wives were making, to keep the family from the workhouse door. Charles Mills would have been very familar with his wifes habits, he would have known she plied for a bit of trade over the weekend. It's not all that far from where he lived on Bloxwich Road to Bridge Street, and by keeping to the side streets, he could easily have escaped attention. He also had a ready source of an alibi as well, his parents. How many folks today, do you think would grass up their own kids. All this by the way, is just my own little theory, others out there may have another. If you have, or any further details of the case, do let me know.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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