As I was making drinks for my wife and mother last night in our home tiki room that I named after my grandfather Bill Prettyman (“Prettyman’s Atoll”), my mother reminded me that the previous day (March 1) was Bill’s birthday. I’ve never been good with birthdays, but I can remember years, and so when she said that, I realized that March 1 was the 100th anniversary of Bill’s birthday on March 1, 1919. Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old on Friday.
I feel like the 100th anniversary of his birth calls for a post, but as these posts usually take days to write and I only have a few hours before I return to the workaday world, I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to write a full biography of him, but given the short time I have, I will instead present a short sketch of the first twenty-five or so years of my grandfather’s life.
It’s been a long and tiring week, and so when I finally had a chance to sit down and write this morning, I found myself staring uninspired at a blank page. Seeking inspiration, I looked for databases I haven’t yet explored. The university at which I work has a great library that I can access online, and after I bit of poking I discovered a database of 19th Century British newspapers (called, for those of you who are curious, 19th Century British Library Newspapers).
I know little about the lives of my 3rd-great-grandfather Joseph Askew and his family before they migrated to Minnesota in 1875, so I set out to see if I could add learn anything at all about Joseph Askew’s time in England. I was successful, and I’d like to share one of the first items I found, about a train crash just outside Whitehaven, Cumberland.