St Catherines Articles

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Killed in war

"It's almost like it becomes your own family. What I can't get over is the amount of detail people will go into."

Randomly chosen Abraham Bland, of Sale, Cheshire, started off as simply a name in the 1881 census, but a month later he was the subject of hundreds of postings, some including photographs.

The son of a landscape gardener and strict Sabbatarian - who wouldn't allow meals to be cooked on Sundays - the 5ft 7in-tall blue-eyed blond (chest measurement 34in), known as Len, emigrated to Canada in 1904, set up his own six-acre homestead and kept cattle.

He joined the armed forces in 1916 and went with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces to England, where he was based at Sandling Camp in Kent, and then to France, where he was killed in the battle of Vimy Ridge on 22 August 1917. He left no wife or children.


There is a serious side to the project, and the hope is that the randomly chosen person will fit into another researcher's family tree - something which has actually happened on each occasion so far.

Researcher Paul Etherington, who initiated the challenges, sees the site as a "truly altruistic experience".

"My own experience was that I was given advice and guidance by total strangers, and it only made me determined to want to offer the same to others.


  • Fatty Atkinson, 1881
  • Peter Pan, 1891
  • Banana Pointer, 1891
  • Crusoe Robinson, 1871
  • Clara Slime, 1901
  • Nasty Clough, 1861
  • Ester Bunney, 1871
  • Sherwood Forest, 1901
  • "There's a definite pleasure to be had in helping others to find their way through to their ancestors. It must be the same kick that teachers get when a pupil suddenly gets a point they're trying to put across."

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