Was this a hero’s death?


I was almost home, driving back from the Living With Brunel Museum in Bristol when my phone rang. “Hello, are you the gentleman who phoned the Tavistock Gazette a couple of days back” said a female voice I could hear through my car speakers.

A couple of days back I had been researching the life of my great great grandfather, Jonathan Metters, who had been a tailor in the town of Tavistock, Devon. I was searching through newspaper archives, not my favourite source as I seem incapable of targeting my searches correctly when I came across this short article from 5 years ago in 2014:

As you can see, my ancestor Jonathan is mentioned in the last line of the article as the father-in-law of Thomas Allen who was killed when trying to save fellow miners from a horrendous flood in 1880. Jesse was the wife of Thomas and the daughter of Jonathan Metters, so she was therefore my great great aunt and Thomas my great great uncle.

I had phoned the number quoted at the bottom of the article to introduce myself to Mary who had appealed for other Metters to contact her, but the person who answered wasn’t Mary and said they’d never heard of her! Undaunted I phoned the Tavistock Gazette and they said they would see if they could track her down, and now two days later it seems they are phoning me back with information.

But it wasn’t the Gazette on the phone ……. It was Mary herself …. my second cousin twice removed……. I think! We chatted for about half an hour and have emailed each other a couple of times since, and naturally I am now working on the connection between myself and Mary, her mother Irene, her grandmother Maud, and her great great grandmother Jesse. Down another rabbit hole then!

4 thoughts on “Was this a hero’s death?

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