Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Campbell's Are Coming!!!

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to meet up with a distant relative, Steve Leake at the weekend who had recently contacted me regards assisting him with some genealogical research into his Van Ristell family in India.

I had never come across the Van Ristell family before, so when I contacted Steve for further information, my chin hit the floor when he emailed to me a photo of my great grandfather, John Walker Campbell.

Steve had thought that the photo was of his gt. gt. grandfather, Albert Edward Van Ristell. At the time neither of us realised that the connection that linked us both was that Albert Van Ristell's wife, had married John Walker Campbell's youngest sister, Caroline Campbell.

When I emailed the exact same photo back to Steve, we knew we had to talk. It was then that Steve searched through his records and made the connection between the Van Ristell's and the Campbell's and we discovered that we each own copies of the same photographs.

We have now discovered that we share common ancestors in the Campbell family from Ghazipur and Patna in Bengal.

On Sunday when we met up, it was a great day with us both sharing information and photographs and filling in gaps in one another's family trees. We chatted and theorised about different family members over four and half hours that flew by much too quickly.

Since that first initial contact, between us we have managed to track down even more family members in the last week whom we hope will be able to shed even more light on this branch of our family.

Steve is due to fly out to India next month in search of our ancestors and I have given him copies of records and maps in my possession so that he can go there with confidence to different cemeteries and search for some of our ancestor's graves. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that he can find their graves and that they will have headstones on them.

We have already discussed making a trip to India together, possibly next year to carry out further research over a much wider area in search of the Campbell's and other family members.

In the meantime, we will try to gather as much information as we can about our family and the other branches that married into the Campbell's in the hope that we can finally identify the many faces in our photo albums that are currently unidentified.

After 38 years it appears it feels that the Campbell's are finally coming out of the woodwork... or should that be the ether?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Could We Be Related?

I just had to share my exciting news with you.

After 38 years of genealogical research tracing my family tree I finally received a call last week from someone researching a branch of my own family that I had finally given up on.

My maternal grandmother was a Violet Agnes Campbell who married Albert Douglas Thomas my grandfather, in Gulzarbagh, Patna. Her father, John Walker Campbell was a Laboratory Superintendent in the Opium Department first in Ghazipur and then in Gulzarbagh, Patna during the late 19th early 20th century.

My grandmother owned a photograph album that contained photos of her family, the Campbell's and Foster's. Sadly, hardly any of the photos contained writing on them so trying to identify people proved to be impossible... until last week.

A gentleman, called Steve Leake contacted me asking for help tracing his family tree. He emailed a photograph to me that I instantly recognised as being my gt. grandfather John Walker Campbell. I contacted him immediately. Neither of us knew of the connection we shared, but he informed me that he had photos of other Campbell's which he also kindly emailed to me. Many of the photos were identical to the unnamed ones we had in our photo album. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement.

Thanks to his kindness and generosity I have been able to fill in so many blanks and discovered new some new leads. In return, I have shared all of the information I have on the Campbell's and we are meeting up this coming Sunday. I can't wait!!

Steve explained that he was descended from John Walker Campbell's youngest sister, Caroline "Carrie" Campbell. She married an Albert Edward Van Ristell. This was a surname I had never come across in all of the years I have been carrying out genealogical research, but thanks to this gentleman I have discovered connections with other families named below.

If you have any of the following names in your family tree please contact me as I am trying to find information on the following families.

Campbell / Foster - lived in Ghazipur and Patna.
Van Ristell / Campbell - lived in Patna and Sutna.
Godfrey / Campbell - Lived in Ghazipur
Beglin / Van Ristell - Lived in Bengal.
D'Saran / Godfrey - Lived in Bengal.
Van Ristell / Leake - India

This is a long shot but if you recognise any of these surnames in your own family tree from these areas please contact me.

For Van Ristell connections please contact Steve Leake direct at: Alternatively, you can always contact me at

I hope that we can make some new connections.

Best wishes
Paul Rowland
The Indiaman Magazine Online