Friday, May 28, 2010

Sepia Saturday 25 : Fowler Beanland


I am leaving Enoch Burnett behind and switching to my mothers' family : the Beanlands. And my photograph this week probably - and I stress the probably - features Fowler Beanland, my mothers' uncle. You will already be familiar with Fowler as he was the postcard collector and it is his collection dating back to the first decade of the twentieth century which now forms the bulk of my collection. This particular photograph was amongst the postcards I acquired from my mother. We know that Fowler was a keen bowler and also that he lived in Longtown, Cumbria, so there is a good chance that Fowler is one of eight men in this splendid photograph.. But which is Fowler?

Fowler was born in June 1872 and therefore would have been thirty-three when the photograph was taken. I have searched the faces looking for some family resemblance, but there is nothing obvious. Is that a familiar smile on the face of the man on the left? Is that a Beanland profile on the right? The more I look, the less certain I become. I did meet Fowler when I was very young - he died when I was eleven - but by then he was very old and I was too busy leafing through his postcard album to pay any attention to the man himself.


He never married and lived the last thirty or so years of his life with his nephew David. I have begun to sketch out the complex relationships of the Beanlands : the amazing thing was how such large Victorian families were pared down to size by a combination of childhood deaths and a strange antipathy to marriage and parenthood. You might be as well cutting out and keeping the above diagram - I have a feeling I will be coming back to it.



22 comments:

  1. A little late to the party here about the post card collection that dates back to the early 20th century. What an exciting resource. Kind of beats stamp collecting in what these cards convey about life and culture.

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  2. This is such a great photo. I am also very much taken by the name Fowler Beanland. Oh, to have a name like that!

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  3. Man o man, I need to do that too. I will get a large piece of paper for each group and see if I can visually make sense. I have to decide what I am going to post this week. I am slow or just busy.

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  4. This is such a wonderful photograph. I love the backdrop of the house with it's wonderful scalloped trim. It's too bad those men didn't pose with faces toward the camera and then you wouldn't have to wonder! Do you have other photographs of Fowler?

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  5. not surprised about the enfant deaths of course, but I am about the aversion to marriage and parenthood! interesting.

    I wish I had time to delve into my family history - but I fear I might get sucked in and lost forever!

    great to hear about other peoples' though

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  6. Is the man in the crouching position saying, "This is what you'll find inside, when you remove the thick dark shells."

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  7. Great photo and still another mystery. I agree with Christine the name Fowler Beanland is a remarkable name.

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  8. The past can be so elusive -- between faulty memories and hidden truths how can we ever be sure that the relationships are what we think?

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  9. Alan - what kind of postcards do you collect? Inquiring minds want to know this bit of trivia about you.

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  10. Paul : It is a great resource and one I am determined to keep expanding by occasional purchases.
    Christine : Fowler was the surname of his grandmother. So many surnames were kept alive that way.
    Larry : Try as I might to keep such diagrams neat and organised, they usually finish up as sketches.

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  11. Nancy : I suspect that the building in the background is the Bowling Club House. Not sure though. I always intend to go to Longtown and see what still exists.
    Lettuce : One theory is the effect of the first world war killing off a generation of eligible young men.
    Martin : Love it, love it.

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  12. Barry : The really odd thing about the name Fowler was that it was always pronounced "fooler" in our family - not as a joke or as an insult, that is just the way it was pronounced.
    Vicki : Very true indeed and that is a good bit of the fascination of family history.
    Meri : Anything that catches my eye but what normally catches my eye these days is either local scenes (West Yorkshire), pictures of pubs, or early political cartoons.

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  13. I love your hand drawn diagram! Maybe one day, one of your ancestors will find it aged and yellowed somewhere and speculate further on the unforgettably named Fowler Beanland and your place in the family history, too.

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  14. Beanland. Is that a common English name? So unique! The lawn bowling club photo is just fabulous! I love how they're all proudly posing.
    And hey, your handwriting reminds me a lot of my own!

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  15. Have you ever researched the origin of the Beanland name? Could they have been bean farmers, perhaps?

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  16. Grandmother on my mother's side had 13 children, probably in the full expectation of the number being decimated by disease. However, the miracles of modern science left them all robustly healthy - well, at least until their 50s (in the case of the males), when they all started to die of heart disease brought on by overconsumption of lard.

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  17. WILLOW : Spooky - maybe the doppelganger wasn't your uncle after all!
    NANA JO ? BARBARA & NANCY : Yes the Beanland name is interesting - I will return to it.
    PHILLIP (AKA C.B.): What have you got against lard? I am a great lover of lard. It has just suffered from a bad press.

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  18. Tracing the lineage of the postcard collection! Fascinating stuff, & as someone who enjoys both 10 pins & bocce, I do like the photo you've featured very much. I've had some of the same experience in my mom's photo album, as a number of pix aren't labeled--trying to decipher who's who. Great stuff--& sorry to be so late in visiting!

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  19. It's Way off Topic but.....I wonder what type of bowling they do in Cumbria? Crown-Green ?
    They got dressed-up to Bowl! Rather Posh!
    Now I,m Back I no doubt will be Sepiaing next Saturday!

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  20. What mysteries will you add to your family??? -J

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  21. family trees are devilish things to draw, arent they?
    the paper never seems big enough

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  22. I have traced my Beanland family tree back to 1455! We do get around! :)

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