A short and difficult life

The 1851 English Census lists my great-great-grandmother, Ann Bence, living with her husband William and their son, my great-grandfather, Peter. Both William and Ann worked in the cotton mills in Stockport.

Today I received a copy of Ann’s death certificate from the General Records Office.

“14 March, 1853 / 81 Love Lane / Heaton Norris, Ann Bence, Female, 27 years, Wife of William Bence Weaver, Phthisis  12 months / Tubercles in Mesentery Certified,  Wm. Bence Present at the Death / 81 Love Lane / Heaton Norris, registered 15 March 1853, A. Edmonds, Registrar.1

She died of tuberculosis that was most likely diagnosed in early 1852 and spread to her lower abdomen over the course of a year. Her second child, Ellen, was born 29 March 1852 and died 4 months later on 04 August 1852.2

William married his second wife Sarah Jane Hudson on 26 December 1853. The following year they emigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts with Peter and other members of William’s family.

1. England, death certificate for Ann Bence, died 14 March 1853; registered 15 March 1853; Stockport District 08a/27, Heaton Norris Sub-district, Lancaster County. General Registry Office.
2.England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915, Stockport District 08a/21, Heaton Norris Sub-district, Lancaster County. General Registry Office, Ellen Bence (accessed at ancestry.com).

48 Years Later

Ray Bence

Ray in the waist of a B-24 at a Collings Foundation air show about 1992. The patch on his cap is for the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization.

During World War II, Staff Sergeant Raymond Everett Bence, Jr. served on a B-24 Liberator as the the nose-gunner on Lt. Fromm’s crew, 703rd Squadron, 445th BG. On September 27, 1944, during mission 169 for the Bomb Group, his plane and 24 others were shot down over Germany in what came to be known as “The Kassel Mission“. After being shot down he was interned as a POW in Stalag Luft 4 in northwest Poland and later survived “The Black March” in the winter of 1945. He was one of youngest men in the squadron and was nick-named “The Kid”.

He had never talked about his war experiences to me when I was growing up. That changed when he ordered a copy of The Kassel Mission Report when it came out in 1989. That opened the floodgates. His words at the time “Now they will believe me”. We were planning a trip to Germany for the 50th anniversary memorial at the time of his death on July 4, 1994.

In recent years I’ve sought out military records related to the 445th and the Kassel mission in the archives in Washington and London. My most recent find was the post-war testimony of an RAF pilot who was on the same forced march. He stated that he and a crew-mate managed to escape during the march. However, after 24 hours on their own they realized that conditions were so bad they actually rejoined the POW column because they knew they wouldn’t survive on their own.

Brothers and Sisters

It only took one documents to expand Louisa (Glines) Stevens family from no known siblings to four brothers and four sisters.

The Grafton County New Hampshire probate record of 23-Jul-1855 for the will of Jonathan Glines states:

glines bequeath

“…Secondly I give and bequeath to my three Brothers John Glines Smith Glines & George L. Glines the sum of one dollar each. Third I give and bequeath to my five Sisters viz. Hannah Putney, Lydia Webster, Louisa Stevens, Betsy Da[me] & Lucinda Jewett the sum of one dollar each.”

After the settlement of his debts, the bulk of the estate was bequeathed to his widow Eliza.

Source:

Jonathan Glines will, Probate Records Vol 32-35, 1854-1898, Grafton County, New Hampshire, USA. (Retrieved from Ancestry.com, New Hampshire, Wills and Probate Records, 1643-1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015, image 220.)

A Colonial Dinner

[slickr-flickr tag=”osv-dinner-2016″]

Saturday I took part in a Colonial Dinner at the Parsonage in Old Sturbridge Village. It was an amazing evening. Four interpreters and 14 of us prepared and ate a meal over the course of 4 hours.

Cooking was entirely at the hearth and using the brick oven. Everything was by candlelight using period utensils, cooking vessels, and recipes. No measuring cups or flashlights. The chicken was hand turned in a tin oven facing the fire, soup was cooked in a kettle over the fire. Other dishes were cooked in covered kettles on trivets over burning coals on the hearth. Everything was prepared with knives and wooden spoons made in the village. The tinware and redware were also made in the village. The pies and biscuits were baked in the oven heated by a wood fire that was then shoveled out with the coals added to the fireplace. We even washed and rinsed the cookware in tin basins. Everything was made from scratch..

The menu was:

potted cheese
mulled cider
squash soup with toasted bread garnish
parsnips in milk
roast chickens on a spit
stuffing with onion
carrots cooked under the chickens
beef collops with apple and onion
red cabbage with port
cranberry sauce
biscuits
apple pie with cheddar cheese
floating island
hot chocolate