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Sunday 9 March 2014

Pop Pretty, Part 2: The Search

To understand my grandfather Pretty (Pop), it is important to understand his family history.  This was a mystery initially because Pop never spoke of his parents. Neither Dad or Aunt Angela ever remembered Pop speaking of them.  I once asked him about his parents.  All he said was that they had died. We had no idea what their names were.

Pop Pretty always said that he was from Old Shop, Trinity Bay. Years after his death, when Rick and I visited Old Shop and spoke to some of the locals, their comments were that the Prettys were all from Dildo, Trinity Bay, just across Dildo Arm.  That was surprising news indeed. 

                                                                   Old Shop, Trinity Bay

I took my search to the Archives at The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland. I didn't know Pop's birth date but I figured out a range of years to search. I started in the microfiche and spent a morning looking for Samuel Pretty, born in Dildo. No luck finding my grandfather and his two brothers. I learned that some of the Church records had been lost in a fire. As a last resort I searched the records which were sworn affidavits for people whose records had been destroyed.  Sure enough, there he was.  His parents were Robert Pretty and Mary Ann Day.

                                                                  Old Shop

From census and other information on the Newfoundland Grand Banks website, I discovered that getting any further back than Robert Pretty was going to be difficult because there were so many Prettys with the same names. Through deduction I eventually eliminated a number of possibilities and found a Robert of Samuel Pretty. 

Through the Newfoundland Grand Banks website, a distant cousin, Joanne, gave me the information about a particular Samuel, married to Harriet Oakley. When she mentioned Oakley I knew I'd found them because Mom had repeated the name Oakley to me the week before she died. She had heard my grandfather mention Oakleys in his family.

    Joanne, Pretty Family Historian, lives in New Harbour, Trinity Bay. (B. Jennings photo)

Having found Robert, then Samuel, Joanne filled in the rest. She did a lot of work on the Prettys of Newfoundland. We all come from the same two people, Samuel of Chard, Somerset, England and Elizabeth. Our line was from their son Joseph and his wife Catherine.

One of the reasons I write about people in my life, especially the women, is because of the unknowns like Elizabeth and Catherine. No more unknowns!

                                                  Bus Shelter, Old Shop, Trinity Bay

When we saw this bus shelter we smiled. The quaint setting has the road alongside the water, with the houses on the opposite side. The area is like a garden set beside the ocean. A stream runs into the ocean where ducks swim undisturbed by the children playing nearby. It is a peaceful place where the serenity now may be the antithesis to the bustle of activity when the inshore fishery was the occupation of the residents during my grandfather's time there. Located at the bottom of the bay, it is a sheltered area which was a haven to our ancestors when they were orphaned. The sign and the battered school bus shelter one hundred years later are reflective of the history of the little community.

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