We were contacted from Vancouver, Washington State, USA, by Loni Marcotte. Loni had spotted the first photo in the gallery, below, of a road tar gang, taken in 1930. Loni identified the man on the left of the photo as her great grandfather Jeremiah Christmas and supplied us with more photos and information, as follows:
William Jeremiah Christmas was born 12-18-1866 and died in 1934 in East Meon. His wife, Ellen Sims Christmas was born 8-27-1869 and died in 1955 in East Meon. They had 8 girls (one of them my grandmother) and 3 boys. One girl and all three boys died in infancy.
William Barratt was born 10-29-1822 in Staffordshire. He migrated to the US with a daughter, Sarah (still trying to find that line) settling in Iowa where he re-married and had 2 girls and 3 boys (one my grandfather). The family then moved to Gabriola Island, BC Canada. When WWI broke out, my grandfather, Joseph and his older brother, Jack, joined the Canadian Expedition Forces to fight the Kaiser. They left brother Tom at home to care for the ageing folks, William & Sophronia. Jack & Joseph fought in France. Uncle Jack was wounded there and recuperated in England. His nurse was Alice May Christmas, my grandmother’s sister.
Jack & May were married 10-1-1918 in East Meon. Joseph met May’s sister Millie (my grandmother) and once the troops came home, she sailed to Nova Scotia and took a train to Vancouver BC to marry him. Brother Tom corresponded with yet another sister, Dolly, and they eventually married too. Three Barratt brothers married three Christmas sisters. Once the folks passed away, all three families relocated to Camas, Washington, which is where I grew up. My grandfather and Uncle Tom passed away when I was two, but I have many fond memories of grandma, Aunt Dolly, Uncle Jack and Aunt May. Four of the Christmas sisters remained in England…Maud, Lillian, Gertrude Rose and Winifred. Many of their descendants are still in the Petersfield area. They are the Nicholson, Ball, Wellfare, Maubach, Goddard and Pamplin families.
Many years ago, when I first became interested in genealogy, I sent a letter to the “Mayor of East Meon” looking for information on the Christmas family. The postman didn’t know who to deliver it to, so he dropped it by Herbie’s garage since he apparently was the “unofficial” Mayor there. Imagine his surprise when he found out it was for him! He and Nellie came out for a visit in the early 80’s and he told me what a chuckle he got out of that. Since then, Chris & Hazel Pamplin (Hazel is Herbie’s daughter) have kept an ongoing communication with Mike’s parents, my Uncle Joe & Aunt Donna Barratt over the years. Their son Mark was out here several years ago and we were able to meet him for the first time.
The pictures above trace the story of one of Jeremiah Christmas’ grandsons, Michael Barratt, who spent more than half of the year 2009 in Space, on the Russian Space Station. He was working at NASA as doctor to the astronauts; he was so keen to go up himself that he was able to qualify as an astronaut himself ; he was to join the team working in the Russian Space Station, which involved training in Russia and travelling both ways in Soyuz Space Ships. The space craft carrying Mike Barratt landed safely on October 10th 2009. It landed on the Russian steppe on a bitterly cold day. Loni reported at the time that “Mike is experiencing some strange affects of “gravity”, but his mom says he is doing okay.” After his safe return, Mike retrained as a space pilot and has flown subsequent missions in this capacity. He has visited East Meon on more than one occasion since, the most recent being in November 2012 when he visited the village primary school.