This week sees the official launch of Deceased Online's Sandwell Collection. Three of the West Midland's largest cemeteries are available to search online now. I also look back on a wonderful three days at WDYTYA? Live in its new venue.
Richard, Jamie and the team guiding visitors through the database at the Birmingham NEC
Thank you very much to everyone who visited the Deceased Online stand at Who Do You Think You Are? Live at Birmingham's NEC last week. The new venue was far bigger than Olympia in London, and we all enjoyed the more spacious layout of this year's event. Richard, Jamie and the team were kept busy throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday demonstrating the latest collections and catching up with genealogy friends. As usual, there was a great turnout from the nation's family history societies, as well as expert and celebrity speakers.
Me with Rose at the Black Country Living Museum stand at WDYTYA? Live 2015
My personal highlight was meeting Rose on the Black Country Living Museum stall. I was delighted to learn that Rose had attended school with my mother's cousin in Tipton and had regularly visited my great grandmother's shop in Bloomfield Road. This cousin's father, Harry Harrison, was a Black Country poet and has a blue plaque in Tipton, so is fairly well-known in the area.
The blue plaque of Harry Harrison (1922-2007), my great uncle, on the wall of Brook Street Community Centre, Tipton
By happy coincidence, Tipton Cemetery is one of the three cemeteries now searchable on the database as part of the new Sandwell Collection. The three cemeteries are:
  • Heath Lane Cemetery, West Bromwich, B71 3HR (records from 1858)
  • Oldbury Cemetery, Smethwick, B66 1QT (records from 1858)
  • Tipton Cemetery, Alexandra Road, Tipton, DY4 7NP (records from 1873: some records were lost during the war. If your relations were buried between April 18th 1899 and July 18th 1908 or August 24th 1911 and August 20th 1915 there is an index record that they were buried in Tipton Cemetery but it is not possible to establish their address, date of death, age or the grave were they were actually buried or who they were buried with)
Last week, I explored my Tipton and West Bromwich ancestors. This week, in honour of meeting a Tipton lady with a connection to my great uncle, I thought I'd repeat my discovery of my grandmother and Harry's eldest sister, Lily Maud, in the burial records of Tipton Cemetery.

My grandmother was born in Tipton, and grew up there. After marrying, she moved around the corner to Coseley - now in the borough of Dudley. My great grandmother and father were very poor in the early years of their marriage. This was not helped by my great grandfather, John Anthony Harrison (1881-1940), often being ill with rheumatoid arthritis. My great grandmother, Emmie, was left to run their shop business while giving birth to, and raising, ten children.

In the early years of Anthony and Emmie's marriage, three of their children died young. A few years ago I visited the area and searched in the local church yard of Christ Church, Coseley for some of the family graves. I found this grave, with stones broken and covered in weeds.
There was writing on all four sides of the stone. It lies in memory of Grandma's three young sisters, Lily Maud Harrison (1908-1909), Florence M Harrison (1918-1918) and Zelia Blanche Harrison (1919-1923). When their mother had made enough money from her retail business, she was able to pay to dedicate this stone. On the side shown below is engraved: "IN LOVING MEMORY OF THE CHILDREN ON JOHN ANTHONY AND EMMIE GERTRUDE HARRISON". 
Although the stone marks their memory, and the love the parents had for their daughters, Lily Maud was not buried in the churchyard. As they had been living around the corner in Tipton at the date of her deaths, Lily Maud was buried in Tipton Cemetery. I searched the Deceased Online database and found her entry. As I imagined, the little girl was buried in a pauper's grave, sharing her resting place with unrelated corpses. The family had been too poor at the time to give her a full burial and headstone.
The burial entry of my grandmother's 9 month old sister, Lily Maud Harrison, in the Register of Tipton Cemetery 27 January 1909
Do you have any connections to West Bromwich, Smethwick or Tipton? Perhaps your ancestors knew my family? Whatever your links to the Black Country, do let us know in the Comments Box below, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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