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For the Record - Put It Straight

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

 One glorious summer afternoon, a few years ago, my husband and I were on my ancestry trail in Manchester's Southern Cemetery. I had done some groundwork online and had a print-out map of the burial grounds with my family members plot details marking locations.

There can be lots to learn from headstone inscriptions, things not recorded elsewhere. I took time to make notes, take photographs and have a silent word with my dear departed ones. There are some interesting folk in my bloodline and this cemetery has four if not five generations of my paternal line. How handy for me that they are all in the same place. It makes adding branches to the family tree so much easier. All was going well until I couldn't find my four-greats grandfather, Benjamin. The number for his resting place was a multiple burial pauper's grave with a list of names which didn't include him. This couldn't be it. From my genealogy discoveries, I knew Benjamin to be a successful,  wealthy man with no suggestion of hard times at the end of his life. It looked like the end of my journey - until we realised that the cemetery records office was still open. I went to ask for help.

If ever I had a lucky day, this was it. Someone checked online and got the same information I had, which was clearly wrong. Within minutes, I was sitting at a desk with a huge register in front of me, in awe of the beautifully hand-written burial records in magnificent copperplate. With Benjamin's full name, date of birth, date of death and interment, I found his grave number straight away. Online details end with an E, in the register with a K. I could see what must have happened when the details were transferred to digital. The style of writing had a flourish on the capital K which could easily be mistaken for an E. I mentioned my possible discovery to a staff member.

With the revised details, I found Benjamin's resting place, complete with a headstone befitting the gentleman I considered him to be. I went back to thank the office staff and tell them my findings. They thanked me - had I not queried Benjamin's grave, the error might never have come to light.

My poem,

I'm really having fun in here,

Line after line it seems quite clear,

Data input made a mistake.

Let's put it right for all our sakes.

Please can we put the record straight?

It's all gone wrong on column eight

And what's been listed as an E

Is actu'lly a K, you see.

I wish I had all afternoon, 

Sadly, I have to go home soon,

But now you know what has gone wrong,

You can put Ks where they belong.

PMW 2021

Thanks for reading, keep safe, Pam x

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