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47 comments

  1. Christopher Giles - Reply

    Hi. I am the great grandson of William Giles and Meena Schmit.
    My name is Chris Giles I can provide pictures of their children and family history.

  2. Christopher Thomas Hindmarch Henderson - Reply

    Mike, It was great to discover your site today, I am Christopher Thomas Hindmarch Henderson, the son of the late Thomas Hindmarch Henderson, I remember dad being in contact you in the late 1990’s whilst doing his own research on the family, it was great to read a quote from dad in your writings concerning an old family tradition, I did notice you had written Hindmarsh instead of Hindmarch and I wondered if you might please correct this for me to Hindmarch I would be very grateful! Best wishes Mike! It was an absolute pleasure to find your site. Dad would have been fascinated.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed seeing that quote from your Dad, Christopher. I couldn’t resist including it in the essay on James Otterson, your great grandfather, whose story is really tragic and has always intrigued me.

      As you know, after he was killed in World War 1, your great grandmother was left to bring up children on her own. The fact that she never remarried, even though she was a widow in her 30s, reminded me of my own mother. After my Dad died at age 37, she raised the three children and also never remarried. These women were heroes.

      I corrected the typo in the name of your father.
      Thanks for writing!

  3. Harry Pitt - Reply

    Good afternoon,
    I recently purchased the Indian Mutiny Medal for Corporal Daniel Dix of the 61st Regiment and I have found your website with all of the brilliant information on his life! The medal has the clasp for Delhi which is confirmed on the medal rolls. He was also awarded the Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal but unfortunately this was not with the Indian medal.
    From my research, after his discharge and move back to the UK, Daniel was the landlord of the Wyndham Arms in Willington, which is still trading – http://www.thewyndhamarmswilliton.co.uk/ – when he died from a fall down the stairs. There was an inquest into his death and interviews with the various people present at the time which included his wife, Robert Criglington – his father in law, and a soldier – Thomas McGuire of the Royal Marines. I can send you copies of the newspaper article if your interested.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Harry,
      I was delighted and intrigued to receive your message. My research clearly matches yours in most respects. I would love to have a copy of the newspaper you refer to. I will write to you separately at your email address. Thanks for sharing your fascinating research.

  4. Pat McSorley - Reply

    Hi cousin Mike, found this site and found it very interesting. Looking forward to seeing you in the UK in May this year when you can also meet my two brothers David William Otterson and John Reed Otterson.

    Pat McSorley (nee Otterson)

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Pat. We need to add an essay about your Dad, Will Otterson, and your Mum. Perhaps you and your two brothers could all meet together so I can interview the three of you. It would be good if you can all start thinking about any anecdotes, and pull out those old photos!

      Best wishes!

  5. Sheila clements - Reply

    Hi Mike. First time I’m seeing your site – it’s bloomin’ amazing!!! I’m Sheila Clements. My late husband was Robert Giles, 1950~2011. I’ve got George Giles, the soldier, on my tree.
    My son Carl has had his DNA done and is very curious about his forebears. Can you send me the details of your Giles information? I think I have a little bit of information re Carl’s Grandfather and others.
    Regards, Sheila

  6. Gill Harcourt - Reply

    Brilliant site – thank you. I am descended from the same line of Dowsings, through Margaret who married Jeremiah Pipe through to Rachael Pipe who married William Garrood in 1813.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Gill. The Pipes’ history, as you know, goes back at least five centuries and therefore has been researched by a lot of people. I’m planning on adding an essay on that line, which has some interesting twists. If you happen to have unearthed any Pipe stories, do please let me know.

  7. Jonathan T. Otterson - Reply

    My Ottersons left Ireland for Boston, Ma., USA in 1718. Do you have any connection to the Scotch/Irish of Ulster?
    I traced my US family to James Otterson, weaver, but have nothing on where
    his Scotch/Irish origins.
    Any thoughts you have will be appreciated.
    Many Thanks.
    Jonathan T. Otterson
    Dover, NH, USA

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for your inquiry, Jonathan. My own research suggests that most of the Ottersons living in the US today who did NOT come directly from Scandinavia came from Ireland. Relatively few originate in England, although my line is one of them. My own Otterson lines seem fairly well-rooted in England at least until the mid-1700s, and possibly the Scottish lowlands before that. DNA research clearly puts my direct paternal line in Norway, but many hundreds of years ago. Your own task in tracing your James Otterson is extremely difficult, as you have already found. Irish sources are getting better all the time, but without knowing a location it’s almost impossible. Are there any stories or anecdotes that have come down through your family that might indicate at least a county in Ireland? It’s worth checking sites like Irish Roots for new sources being added. Don’t ever give up!

  8. Charles Chapman - Reply

    Hello there,

    I have just come across the page “Robert Otterson (1911-1949)” on your website which I found incredibly interesting.

    I’m in the process of researching and documenting my family history. My late father, Charles Ernest Chapman, served with the 2nd Transvaal Scottish Regiment which was part of the South African 6th Brigade which was captured at Tobruk on 20/21 Jun 1940. Therefore it is highly likely that my father was at the Italian POW camp in Benghazi when Robert arrived there on 11th Aug 1942.

    With your permission I would like to quote Robert’s description of the camp in my father’s biography as my father, like so many, never ever spoke about his experiences in North Africa and his subsequent time in the POW camps.

    Thank you in anticipation.

    Charles Kelly Chapman

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Charles,
      You are more than welcome to quote any part of my father’s journal. If there is anything else I can do to flesh out your own father’s POW history, please let me know. I’ll send my private email address to you. Good luck with your continuing research.

  9. Nick Beard - Reply

    Re: John George (Jack) Dix, 1911-1987:
    I lived at number 80 and remember Mr Dix well. I remember a large dog as well.

  10. Joe R - Reply

    I read your page on William Dowsing and Mathias Candler. Mathias was the brother of my 9th GGF Lt Col William Candler who settled in Ireland after Oliver Cromwell conquered it. William and Mathias were both born in Ixworth, Suffolk, England in 1608 and 1604). William Candler’s wife is believed to have been Anne, the widow of Capt John Villiers, and possibly her maiden name was Cooke and I think she was born in Ixworth in 1618. I know that William Dowsing’s mother was Joane nee Cooke, the heir of Symond Cooke (Will probated 1591 in Laxfield). I wonder if Anne and Joane are related? Your webpage said that William Dowsing was one of the 8th? great grandfather’s of your webmaster. Would you have your webmaster contact me directly? I would like to find out what else they know about the Candler, Cooke and Villiers families.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for your message, Joe.
      The information in the essay on William Dowsing was drawn from his own journal as transcribed in the book, “The Journal of William Dowsing: Iconoclasm in East Anglia During the English Civil War,” which not only includes his entire journal but some fine scholarly essays by several outstanding academics. I also drew from my own visit to the heritage museum at Laxfield which contains additional information on Dowsing’s ancestors for another couple of generations. The photograph of Dowsing was taken by me in the Ipswich Museum from the portrait that hangs there.
      The above book has references to Candlers, especially Matthias. I will email you directly to the address you provided.

  11. Lorraine Rasche - Reply

    Hi, I’ve just read the article about William Berry. William is my grandad (I’m the daughter of Anthony Berry (Tony) and Teresa Berry.
    Just wanted to say how nice it was to read a bit of family history.
    And i have a photograph of the flat on Eldon Street and remember Dad pointing out which flat he lived in.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Lorraine. We were delighted to hear from you, and glad you enjoyed reading about your granddad. If you happen to have a good photo of your Mum and Dad, I’d be happy to add that to the site as well. That picture of Eldon Street sounds interesting too – please feel free to scan and send it to me in case it’s one I haven’t seen. Are you the daughter who now lives in Germany?

  12. Donald Outterson - Reply

    My Outterson family left Berwick on Tweed and Ayton in 1760 to build paper mills in Canada and the USA. They were part of the Old Royals of Utred the Bold of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Our old last name was Utredson. Utred helped clear the forest for the building of Durham Cathedral and was associated with St. Cuthbert, as Bamburgh Castle protected Holy Island where Cuthbert once lived and worked. I welcome you all as distant cousins. I hope to see you along the the bike trails in the vast North Country. Donald R Outterson, Cincinnati, Ohio USA

  13. Colin Ambler - Reply

    Hello Michael.
    I’m Colin Ambler writing from Nottinghamshire in the UK.
    I want to thank you for sharing your father’s amazing diary. My wife, Linda’s, father was sergeant Lance Champlin, a tank commander in the north African campaign in 1942. He was captured by the Italians in September 42. We have been trying to reconstruct what happened to him from that point as he gave few details prior to his death in 1966. We now know from the address on a photo he kept with him that he was in PG 70 in Italy until the Italian surrender and then moved north to Stalag IVB as we have the dogtag and prisoner number – so taking the same route as your father. It would be nice to think that they might have met.
    We stumbled on your wonderful website by chance. It has answered so many questions and gave us a ‘feel’ for what these brave men went through in nearly 3 years of captivity. We want our sons and granddaughters to be aware of this and how much we, who were born after the war, owe to them.
    Thank you so much for making this possible. The site is a great memorial to your father.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for sharing that, Colin. You have captured one of the main reasons this site exists – to preserve the memories for future generations of the people who went before us and to whom we owe so much. I’m delighted it answered some questions for you.
      As you will have seen from the site’s pages, you can still visit the site of Stalag IVB, and even though there are no longer any traces of the Allied POW camp itself, there is plenty to see of the Soviet NKVD camp and the Nazi graves from right after the war, which is alongside the huge flat field where the Stalag IVB huts were erected.
      My wife and I are planning to travel to Italy when the Covid circumstances allow. At least one of the three camps mentioned in the narrative is still identifiable.
      Good luck to you and Linda in your continuing research.

  14. Michael Paul Otterson - Reply

    It was great to read about my great-uncle Jim. It’s incredible to see the pictures of him and all of the other Ottersons and the resemblance to you. Happy belated 100th birthday Uncle Jim!

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Geoffrey. The Irish Ottersons seem to be a completely separate branch from those who have lived in and around Sunderland, County Durham, for several hundred years. I have only one example of an Irish Otterson living in the northeast of England, but he is not related. The Irish Ottersons probably came from Norway. I think the Durham Ottersons came from Denmark but I have not been able to prove it. My DNA is on Ancestry.com. Let me know if you ever find a connection, and thanks for writing!

  15. Brenda Cowan - Reply

    I am fascinated by your web site, you have put a lot of work into it.
    I am Jessie and James Otterson’s granddaughter Brenda Cowan. Jessie died when I was 8 years old but I remember her so well. She actually lived at Greensfield terrace, Gateshead just prior to her death. Her late daughter Sarah Henderson is my mother. They are buried near to each other in Heworth cemetery. Older brother Robert Burdis Henderson is still alive and living in Whitby. Thomas and Maureen are deceased and then there is me.
    Jessie lived and brought up her children alone, working for local people, mostly in the Jewish community, cleaning, washing, fetching and carrying. She even washed the bodies of deceased people and laid them out to earn money to keep her family together.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Brenda. Delighted that you found the site helpful. Thanks for the additional information on Jesse Otterson. Having lost my own Dad soon after World War 2, I always felt a soft spot for Jesse who lost her husband in the same area where his brother Robert – my grandfather – fought at the Somme in the war of 1914-1918. If you have any photographs of James or Jesse that have been passed down, I’d love to receive any scanned images to add to the site. Best wishes.

  16. Catherine Hayden - Reply

    I’ve been enjoying your Dowsing page with its lovely photos – thank you. The Iconoclast is my first cousin nine times removed; I descend from John Dowsing, brother to your Margaret who married Jerome Pipe. Just thought I would say Hi! Best wishes Catherine

  17. Thora Dix - Reply

    Hello Cousin Mike, I have just looked at your new site for the first time and hope to find time to look at more in the future as I now seemed to have settled to a life without Gordon. As always it is excellent and easy to follow.
    I was amazed at how stong the resemblance is between Gordon’s Dad (Robert/Bob) and his brother John was. Both in looks and in character.
    I would love to be in contact with Steve Harris if that would be possible but as I’m not very IT savvy not sure how to go about it. Could you help please?
    Ronnie has set me task of finding out about John and Bob’s brother Arthur who was kiiled in the war and I’m sure I must have some info somewhere.
    I hope you and Kathy enjoyed your stay in the Uk.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Hi Thora:
      This is one reason why it’s great to have old photos – to see how those family resemblances carry on even through the generations!
      I will email you privately with Steve Harris’s email address. He will be delighted to hear from you.

  18. Teresa Docherty - Reply

    Hi. I have been checking both our ancestry records and have found a link of Garwoods and Pipe surname starting from about 1847. I am very impressed with your website, especially as I can use a lot of the information as it is also my family history as well. Amazing!

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Teresa. These lines are some of the most interesting on my tree, and possibly on yours, too. Check out William Dowsing’s page as well – you’ll find him on The People index. Good hunting.

  19. Michael Otterson - Reply

    Added: The extraordinary life of William Dowsing, the English Civil War Puritan who waged war on Catholic imagery in churches throughout the county of Suffolk.

    • Michael R Otterson - Reply

      Thanks, Donna. The Berrys have at least a 200-year history in Liverpool and could go back much further. Let’s hope we can find some more clues as to whether they originally came from England or Ireland.

  20. Jacqueline Neal - Reply

    My father Neville David McAlary, an Australian fighting for GB in the RAF followed almost exactly the route of your father. Tobruk, Benghazi, Campo 57 in Italy, Stalag IVB after being shot down in the desert south of Benghazi.
    At the end of the war he walked towards the West with the Russians close behind. Americans held the Russians off while he swam the river towards freedom. Also flown out of Halle to England and finally repatriated to Australia. He also wrote very involved diaries from the time of leaving Australia until capture. The family has great memorabilia of his from that time.
    He died Nov 1999 aged 82.
    Thanks for the incredible read. Your Dad is someone to be very proud of.

    • Michael Otterson - Reply

      Thanks for this, Jacqueline. I wish I had known your Dad and had a chance to talk to him – especially since we lived in Australia from 1979 until 1991. It’s quite possible that your Dad and mine even knew each other. I hope you publish his memorabilia. The major reason for creating this site is to make sure these stories don’t die with them. It was a real thrill to read your response!

  21. William - Reply

    My great grandmother was born an Otterson. It is a honor to be connected to this family by her.

  22. Alyssa - Reply

    A treasure trove, and beautifully assembled. What a gift to have all this history at our fingertips.

  23. Mark - Reply

    What a fantastic site! The amount of research, work and care that has gone into putting this together is amazing. I can see that you have a deep love for your family history! Thank you.

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