Sunday, June 13, 2010

Irony at The Family History Library

Just returned recently from a trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. What a loooong fun week of researching!! This was not my first trip to the Family History Library but it was the longest trip. I came well prepared. There were lists of documents that needed to be copied. There were films that needed to be checked. And there were the more the difficult problems to RESEARCH. I tried to balance each of my goals with time limits. But, of course, I ran out of time. There is never enough time in SLC.

One the second evening, my cell phone went off while I was scanning a document. I almost did not answer the call but I took it. The gentleman on the other line identified himself as a US Census worker and he asked if I owned a certain house. I almost fell off my chair. Was he kidding?? Really, a census worker calling me while I am INSIDE the Family History Library. It was a legitimate call but the irony was a bit unnerving. Did this census bureau worker know that I use census data frequently? Did he know that I was in a place dedicated to helping one find one's ancestors? Real life is very strange sometimes.

Put the Sledge Hammer Down! John B. Wastell Has Parents

Oh, yes! Finally with lots of help from Gillian Wastell Ford and Howard Wastell, and spectacular research suggestions from Susan Goss Johnston, there is little doubt when and where John B. Wastell was born and who his parents were. After years and years and YEARS of looking, it was online databases that finally helped crack this mystery wide open.

The person that his descendants knew as John Barton Wastell was born John Bartlett Wastell on 8 March 1820, St. Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex, London. John's parents were John Wastell and Martha Rebecca Lacey. The elder John was a M.?.O.I Revenue Officer.

Preliminary research has the following children born to John Wastell and Martha Rebecca Lacey:

• Charles Wastell, b. 22 Jun 1811, St. Dunstan, Stepney

• Ellen Wastell b. 2 Jun 1813, St. Dunstan, Stepney
• Louisa Wastell bapt. 28 May 1815, St. George in the East, Tower Hamlets

• Harriet Wastell b. 18 Sep 1816, St. Mary, Whitechapel , Tower Hamlets

• John Bartlett Wastell b. 10 Mar 1820 St. Dunstan, Stepney
• Elizabeth Wastell b. 27 Feb 1824 St. Mary, St. Marylebone Rd, St. Marylebone
A couple of key pieces of research to solving this mystery, were finding the first marriage record of John Bartlett Wastell and his first son's baptismal record. John Bartlett Wastell married Elizabeth Ann Barenger on 2 Aug 1846, The Holy Trinity Church, St. Margaret, Westminster, Islington. John's occupation was listed as teacher of music. Next, his son's John's baptismal record from 1 Aug 1852, John's occupation is listed as Dancing Master. Both were found on
What is not clear is if John Barton Wastell changed his name from John Bartlett Wastell or if his children or grandchildren recorded it wrong. There are still many unanswered questions about John B. Wastell. At this time, it appears that John left London sometime between 1849 and 1851 and came to either the United States or Canada. His wife, Elizabeth Ann, and son, John, remained in London.
Subsequent posts will discuss John's famous associates and those implications. Any Charles Dickens or Jenny Lind buffs lurking???