OKE – my query about the OKE family – see Nov 20 2014.

This is definitely of interest:


“Jim Oke’s Home Page go into contacts

For several years now I have been researching the OKE surname both in England and in Canada.

When I was growing up, I knew of few other Oke relatives in Canada. I was told my grandfather had grown up in the small village of Morwenstowe in Cornwall and had come to Canada after serving in the Royal Navy for a number of years. So I came to believe that most of my father’s relatives were to be found in England.

I began by searching the IGI for Oke surnames in Morwenstowe where my grandfather had been born but there were few names to be found there. I decided to look next door in Devonshire and soon discovered there were dozens of Oke names in the village of Bradworthy in North Devon.  It turned out that my g-g-grandfather had been born in Bradworthy and had moved to Morwenstowe (a matter of a few miles) where his children and grandchildren had been born. While examining a transcript of the Bradworthy parish records, there were occasional notes to the effect that such and such a family had emigrated to Canada to the village of Brooklin in present day, Ontario.

Looking at census and other information I soon found that numerous Oke families had come to Canada in the period 1830-1880. These included a brother of my 5xg-grandfather who settled in Darlington Township just sough of Courtice, Ontario. He had a large family and I was pleased to discover a large number of Oke relatives living in Oshawa, Whitby and Bowmanville in the present day. So my grandfather was actually following a well established pattern when he came to Canada and I had many relatives here after all.

Other Oke families settled in the Darlington area and some later moved on to Huron county and even later west to Manitoba.  All, I believe, can be traced back to a man named Philip Oke who was born in Poundstock, Cornwall in 1601. There are indications Philip was descended from a William Oke who left a will in the parish of St. Gennys about 1575.

There were several branches of the OKE family who migrated south from Poundstock as my direct ancestors were migrating northward towards Kilkhampton, Bradworthy, Morwenstowe, and Welcombe. I have identified Oke families in St. Tudy and Launceston in Cornwall whom I feel are related and some of whom came to Canada.

Here is a list of the Oke families I have identified to date in Canada.

Known OKE Families Who Emigrated to Canada During the 1800’s

Hugh Oke & Sarah Turner   Married in Bradworthy 1807. Arrived Canada May 1832 and settled in Hope Township in (then) Upper Canada. Five sons later settled in Huron County near Exeter, Ont. and had families whose descendants still live in the area. Hugh and Sarah later retired to Hampton, Ont. and are buried there.

William Oke & Grace Bowman   William Oke was born Bradworthy 1796 and married Grace Bowman at Milton Dameral in 1829. They arrived in Darlington Twp. near Courtice about 1835. Four sons remained in Darlington Twp.

Thomas Oke & Susan Honey   Thomas Oke probably came from St. Tudy, Cornwall about 1835-40 and settled in Hope Twp. Two sons Paul Upton and Silas lived nearby in 1871.

William Oke & Elizabeth Burge  This family moved from St. Tudy. Cornwall to Cramahe Twp. abt 1845. The family later lived in Douro Twp.

William R. Oke & Elizabeth Thorn   Son of Hugh Oke & Mary Routly of Bradworthy and a nephew of William Oke of Courtice. The family came to Canada Twp. to live with William’s Oke sons near Courtice about 1874.

William Oke & Sussanah Skinner From Bradworthy, they married there in 1833 and arrived in Whitby Twp. about 1841. Fours sons later settled near Alvinston, Ont. where numerous descendants still live. 

Samuel Hopper & Jane Oke  Married Bradworthy 1816, came to Hampton, Ont. abt 1855. They lived in Hampton with Thomas Oke and Catherine Hopper

Thomas Oke & Catherine Hopper  Niece and nephew to above. Married Bradworthy in 1850 and came to Canada near Hampton, Ont soon after. Descendants remained near Hampton.

Richard Oke & Elizabeth Robins Richard Oke was born in Welcombe and married Elizabeth Robins in Morwenstowe. They came to Hampton in Darlington Twp. about 1857 where Elizabeth died. Richard then married Mary Ann (Brimacombe) Avery. Their descendants remained near Hampton and Bowmanville.

John Oke & Mary Trick  A brother of Richard Oke of Hampton and born at Welcombe, Devon in 1835. Came to Canada about 1864 first living at Ingersoll, Ont. where Mary died soon afterwards. John then married Elizabeth (Lambert) Salsbury  in Lobo Township about 1866. Later lived at Petrolia, Ont. and died in 1919 in Detroit where some of his family had moved.

Walter Oke  Born Bradworthy 1817. Came to Canada about 1845-50 where he married Louisa Trimble and lived in Darlington Twp. Descendants later lived in Port Perry.

Edward Oke Born in Eng. about 1835, location unknown, and reportedly came to Canada as an orphan. He married Elizabeth Brooks in Darlington Twp. about 1856, raised a family there and then went west to homestead near Darlingford, Man. about 1880.

Thomas Oke & Mary Hart   Married in Bradworthy 1831 and came Canada about 1857. Suspect Thomas was a brother or related to William Oke of Courtice. Lived initially in Darlington Twp. and later in Huron Co. near Goderich. One son Samuel Hart Oke homesteaded near Boissevain, Man. in the 1880s.

Richard Oke & Damarias Hamley Married Welcombe, Devon 1833 and came to Canada about 1857. Richard died soon afterward in Whitby, Ont. Damarias and sons remained in Whitby.

John Oke & Ann Fish  A brother to Richard, John Oke settled in Whitby and later in Brock Twp. His family lived in the Beaverton, Ont. area.

Thomas Oke & Eleanor Fishleigh  Married 1843 in Milton Dameral, to Canada in 1857. Settled near Sparta, Ont. A son (Rev.) John H. Oke later preached and married in Darlington Twp. and served as a Methodist Clergyman in southern Ontario.

John Oke & Gertrude Hamley  A brother to Thomas above, to Canada about 1855 but disappeared soon after. His son Samuel Oke lived in Bowmanville and numerous descendants still live there.

William Oke & Mary Locke: Another brother to Thomas & John above. Came to Sparta, Ont. about 1856. Numerous descendants in area. Another brother and two sisters also came to Sparta briefly and then continued on to Mineral Point, Wisc.

Thomas Oke & Margaret Tremeer  To Canada abt 1855 however Margaret was widowed by the 1861 census in Bowmanville. Son William Tremeer Oke married in Bowmanville 1880. Thomas was a nephew of William Oke of Courtice.

Thomas Martin Oke   Son of James Oke & Anne Martin of Bradworthy. Arrived on his own about 1855 and married Mary Jane Witheridge in Darlington Twp. in 1860. Was a hotelkeeper on the 1871 census in Tooley’s Corners (now Blackstock, Ont.) and later a streetcar conductor in Toronto.

John James & Elizabeth Oke  Married Bradworthy 1847 and came to Canada about 1853. Their son Moses A. James was the publisher of the Canadian Statesman newspaper for many years and was Mayor of Bowmanville in 1903.

Marwood Oke Related to Bradworthy Okes and came to Darlington Twp. about 1885. Married Ida Witheridge in 1895 and later moved to North Dakota and then Washington state.

Thomas Oke Came to  to Brooklin, Ont. abt 1856 and married Susan Babcock about 1864 and later lived at Erneston, Ont. (near Kingston). Most probably related to the Bradworthy Oke line but unable to establish a clear link at this time.

William Oke Born in Devon 1860 and probably related to the Courtice Okes. He married Dinah Burridge in Oshawa in 1892. Later lived in Lake Forest, Illinois, near Chicago.

Charles, Richard, and William Oke These three brothers were born in Welcombe, Devon and came to Canada about 1855 and first farmed in Huron County. By 1871 they were all settled with families in London, Ont.

I am aware of an Oke family in Newfoundland which originated in Dorset and is likely not related to the Poundstock Okes. 

I would be glad to correspond with others concerning OKE or the other names above. I can be reached via e-mail at wjoke@shaw.ca  “

Last updated 20 Sep 2007


Flower family – a descendant.

I have received the following:

Hello :  I’m Patrick Flower from Michigan, U.S.A. I truly appreciate your book and, to me, seems your research is very  detailed.
My own direct Flower line is from Lamrock Flower.
Thanks Again So Much,
Patrick Flower
Ionia, Michigan, U.S.A.

“Lamrock” is usually Lamorock with variations of course.  I have directed Patrick to the author of the book and also to the Flower Family entry on “The Kingswood Index” see knob to press at top of blog. I have been compiling this index over many years. See also Penny Deverill’s book “Until she be dead” – the story of Rebecca Worlock, nee Flower, executed for murdering her husband. 

John Redwood Anderson – HELP Please


A message from Paul Roberts re his email of March 25 which I posted on Bristol Family History.



Your Message

Dear Family Historians,
A gentleman named John Spencer Redwood Anderson kindly answered a recent posting of mine about his grandfather, the poet John Redwood Anderson, who spent some years of his youth living in Clifton. Sadly, I missed his reply and now seem unable to get in contact with him. I am most anxious to contact him in relation to a biography I am writing of his grandfather and would appreciate any help you are able to offer in re-establishing the contact that I so foolishly missed.
With all best wishes,
Paul Roberts

I would be grateful if the gentleman concerned would contact Paul (or me) asap. Thanks

Lyon family – silver stick

These photos were sent to me by James Anscomb with the following message:

“I came across your site after receiving a gift from my parents that named a James Lyon of Bristol – http://www.bristolfamilyhistory.co.uk/john-lyon-formerly-of-jamaica/
The object is a silver cane top with James’ motto inscribed on the top and his name and city on the handle.
My parents bought this as a congratulations for setting up my new company in Bristol and due to the name on it they saw it as the perfect item.
I know you mentioned a Robin on the page and I was wondering whether you may like some photos as it connects to this piece of history.”

These pictures refer to my post of February 2012.  Robin was Robin Tingle.  Many thanks and good luck to James in his new enterprise.

FLOWER family of Timsbury


I have received the following email from Neil D. Brooks (neildbrooks49@hotmail.com)

“I have just finished a family history of the Flower family who emigrated from Timsbury in 1853.

“I found your article on the web “Life of a Bristol family” (Timsbury) which mentioned a John Flower being killed in a coal mining accident. My ancestors are James & Hannah Flower whose daughter married a Wellow lad (Jesse Humphrys) and they all emigrated to South Australia and were very successful Sheep Farmers and Wheat croppers.

“If anyone is interested in the Ones-that-got-away (to Australia) they can contact me or look at my www.bromit.com where I have samples of my research.I have published a book after being convinced by the National Library of Australia that it was worthwhile and only way of recording my research. (It wouldnt be worth our while to post a copy of the book as postage is too expensive.) The book’s pdfs are available if anyone wanted to print it at your local Staples or similar stores.
I would be particularly interested in Timsbury, Wellow, Hassage or Hemington stories as that is where my ancestors came from.

“Thanks in anticipation, Neil D Brooks.”

I replied:

A John Flower (52) was one of 11 men and boys killed at Hayeswood, Timsbury, in February 1845. Thomas Flower was killed at Mells, 1871 and William Flower (50) of Smyth Hill, killed in a coalpit at Wellow, February 1856. These men are named in my book “Killed in a Coalpit, Volume II, the Mines of Mendip” which I wrote originally ca1990 and am now updating. Volume I (covering Kingswood District Pits, South Gloucestershire) has been updated and is currently with a publisher. It  should be available after October 2015, all being well.  

Stefania Ekner, nee Biegarczyk, 1921-2001

On May 8th 2015 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of VE Day. I am posting the following article as a tribute to Stefania Biegarczyk and to the millions of others who suffered but who did not survive the war. I was eight years old in 1945 and I have had 70 good years in which to remember them. The article, which first appeared in the Bristol & Avon Family History Society’s Journal starts off in mundane fashion. But please bear with me.

“This is an example of how one thing can lead to another in Family History. My first cousin Jack GREGORY attained his 90th birthday on April 14th 2014. What to give a 90 year-old-man? The majority of us who have survived to “a certain age” have everything we could possibly want in the realm of “stuff” and more of the same is often a nuisance. So I thought I would give him a present of “himself”. To this end I decided to research and write the outline story of his life and put it together as a booklet with a few historic family photos and some “then and now” shots of places Jack would remember. So I did the rounds: Bristol Record Office for his christening records, took a few snaps outside the graveyard of his ancestors, (the Wesleyan Chapel, Kingswood, now a scene of Gothic devastation with impossible access) and then started on the places where he lived as a child.

I was standing in the street photographing one of these abodes, not Jack’s house, but next door where another of my aunts once lived. This suspicious activity was noticed by the current resident who came out and asked politely “Would you mind telling me what you are doing?” My snooping could have resulted in an unfortunate “incident” but I explained that I had no sinister intentions but was engaged in family research, and that many years before my aunt had lived in the house which I myself had often visited as a child. The gentleman did not say “Clear off” as he had every right to do, but called his wife, and I elaborated on my mission. The world is divided into two groups of people: those whose eyes glaze over at any mention of history in general, let alone family history, and those whose appetites are whetted, principally, I think, by the not- to- be passed up opportunity to discuss their own ancestors. We chatted for some little while. The couple had been in the house thirty six years having actually purchased the house from my late aunt who they recalled. It started to drizzle. They invited me inside. So far, so ordinary and yet so kind.

We were sitting in the living room sipping tea and by now had exchanged names. I mentioned Bristol & Avon Family History Society and my column the Journal. “Do you ever do this sort of thing professionally?” asked Liz EKNER, the lady of the house. Those days are long gone but I still cannot resist a tale. At my urging, my hostess told her family story.

Liz, nee GRABOWSKA, and her husband Jerzy were both born of Polish parents and spent their early lives in different refugee camps in England after the end of the war. They met at a family wedding and were themselves married in 1976. Liz said she “knew everything” about her own ancestry, her father having fought with the Polish Free Forces but it was the Ekner side of the family which intrigued, a mystery specifically regarding Jerzy’s mother, Stefania BIEGARCZYK. Stefania and Sgt Kazimierz Ekner were married in Germany in 1945 and then came to England where their children were born. Eventually they fetched up in Kingswood where Kazimierz died in 1971 and Stefania in 2001.

“Between her marriage and her death we know everything there is to know about our dear Mum,” Liz went on, “but she would never talk about her early life, from her birth in 1921 until…….”

and her next words made me shudder. My stomach turned to ice……..

“……..until she was liberated from Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.”

Stefania was born at Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland, on 30.3.1921. The date is repeated on most documents pertaining, except one, a typescript listing camp internees which gives her birthdate as 30.6.1921. This may be simply a clerical error, though given the Nazis’ zeal for admin, the discrepancy is worth noting. The “Edited List of Polish Political Prisoners” states that her parents were called Jozef and Waleria. She was arrested for political activity and held in the transit camp at Pruszkow (Dulag 121) between 2.9.1944 and 9.9.1944. Following the Warsaw Rising, 650,000 Poles passed through in August, September and October 1944. 55,000 were sent to concentration camps. They were segregated by the Gestapo and SS into Aryan/Non Aryan, came from all social classes, civil servants, artists, doctors, scholars, shopkeepers, blue collar workers; they included the injured, the sick and pregnant women; were aged from infants a few weeks old to octogenarians. Ravensbruck was specifically a concentration camp for women. About a quarter of the women sent there were Polish, who were forced to wear two triangles, one red and another with the letter “P” for political. Their heads were shaved. Norwegian women who were classed by the Nazis as “the highest rank of Aryans” (!) were spared this indignity. Soviet, German and Austrian communists were also denoted by a red triangle; common criminals: green, Jehovah’s Witnesses: lavender, prostitutes, lesbians and gipsies: black. It has been called “the banality of evil”, and nothing sums it up better than the division of the women into these chillingly bizarre subsets. By the time Stefania came to the camp most of the Jewish inmates had been transported to Auschwitz.

Stefania arrived at Ravensbruck on 7 September 1944 where she became prisoner number 65783. She was there for seven months. With the rapid advance of the Red Army in the spring of 1945, the SS ordered the murder of as many prisoners as possible to avoid anyone being left alive to testify. These included the British SOE Agents Cecily Lefort, Lilian Rolfe, Denise Bloch and Violette Szabo. With the Russians only hours away, those who remained, some 20,000 souls, were ordered on a death march towards Northern Mecklenburg. Two thousand sick and dying prisoners were still in the camp when the Russians arrived. They rounded up those guards who had not escaped. At the Nuremburg War trials sixteen camp officials charged with crimes against humanity were sentenced to death. The chief wardress during Stefania’s time, Dorothea Binz, had toured the camp brandishing a bull whip in the company of an unleashed German Shepherd dog. She would select a woman at random and kick her death or order her to be killed. Another guard, Vera Salvequart was a trained nurse, who oversaw thousands of deaths in the gas chambers. Both were hanged by the British public executioner, Albert Pierrepoint in 1947.

It is not surprising that Stefania was so scarred by her horrific experiences that she refused to talk about them. Of her previous life all she would say is “my mother and father are dead. My sister fell under a train. My brother was shot.”

Liz and Jerzy who are bi-lingual in Polish and English, went to Piotrkow several years ago where they met the parish priest (they are Catholic) and searched for Stefania’s baptismal records and those of her siblings. They found no reference to the names Biegarczk or to SIEJEK, another name, apparently an alias, by which Stefania was sometimes known. Their niece Tracy has taken up the challenge and has uncovered more information, specifically camp records on which Stefania’s name appears, but so far nothing to supply a clue to the missing years. Liz says she “feels sure that somewhere, there is someone still alive, who knew Stefania, who knows something of what really happened. That there must be a relative out there…..”

Piotrkow is some 80 miles from Warsaw, about two hours by train. Why did Stefania leave there to go to Warsaw and thus become caught up in the Rising? Was she conscripted or did she go to Warsaw of her own accord? What terrible fate befell her parents, her brother and sister? Why can’t I find any of them on the LDS index (www.familysearch.org)? Is there a kindly LDS member locally or at Utah who could help? Why did Liz and Jerzy find nothing in church records? What is the meaning of the alternative name “Siejek”? Can anybody help. Did you know Stefania? Or others like her?

Stefania on her wedding day to Sgt Kazimierz Ekner. He died in 1971.




Her identity card in her married name.