Armenian orphans adopted by English families

+3 votes
174 views
I have come across an Armenian orphan adopted into my extended family, namely [[Goulstone-311|Dollie (or Dolly) Rose Goulstone]], born 1904. Is anyone researching the Armenian genocide and how some children escaped e.g. how one could have landed up in England?

I have come across a document that appears to be Dolly Goulstone writing to a benefactor, Harry Holdcroft: "Dolly Goulstone to Mr [Harry] Holdcroft. Thanks him for his recent letter; reminiscences of Berachah and the 'hymns we used to sing'; mentions the work of 'Miss Adale' [Adele Dafesh] in the villages. 2 February 1924."

I am trying to piece Dolly's story together...
in Genealogy Help by Kathy Viney G2G2 (2.1k points)
I used to transcribe for FreeBMD and came across a number of records for Armenians who had come to UK so there was certainly crossing of borders, although I doubt there were any official adoption programmes as the British government didn't recognise the genocide as such.  And of course there were no official adoptions at that time at all.
Thanks for confirming this possibility, Christine. It was 1926 that official adoptions began in the UK, correct?
This may be Dolly Goulstone who I knew as a small boy when my family went to Weston-super-Mare for summer and Christmas holidays in the 1950s. She was a long-term resident with my great-great aunts, Hannah and Aggie Ritchie, who ran a boarding house at Maycot, 12 Beaufort Road, Weston. Dolly was totally blind. Although she wasn't related to me, I knew her as Auntie Dolly. I have her recorded as living later at 33 Milton Brow, Weston, although I don't remember meeting her there.

The oldest of the four Ritchie sisters was my mother's maternal grandmother, although she died before the war. My father first met my mother early in the war when he and a friend stayed at Maycot for a holiday. He knew Dolly from his visits there. He's now 96 and has been telling me what he can remember of her.

He says she was blinded in a massacre of Armenians.

My father was called up in 1942, and after being at the liberation of Rome he was sent for mountain warfare training in Lebanon. He had some time off in Jerusalem and on Dolly's behalf he went by bus to Ramallah to see a friend of hers who was a fellow survivor of the incident. He remembers the friend's name as Kakichian (?) although he doesn't know how it's spelled, and that she was running a school for blind children.  

I too would be interested in finding out more about Dolly.

Hi Richard,

How wonderful to hear from someone who knew her! I only discovered a little about her from researching my family tree (my maiden name is Goulstone) and realised there was a story to pass on.

Yes, Dolly was blind, but I didn't know that was as the result of a massacre - the terrible mistreatment of many Armenian Christians during that period is widely known. I wonder how the link was made between Dolly and and the English family headed by Walter Goulstone? My guess is that it would have been through the church - many of the Goulstones were Brethren, so it may have been that group who had mission workers among the Armenians and who found a way to get Dolly to England and safety. (The Turkish Missions Aid Society was involved.)

(In reviewing this I have re-looked at what I have written both about Dolly and her adopted father, Walter, and I see that Walter's record has a bunch of inconsistencies, that need addressing!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to share what you know with me via Wikitree. Please thank your father also. If anything more comes to light, I would be ever so grateful to know! I know a few other Wikitree members will be following this story.

Kind regards, Kathy (New Zealand)

Hi Kathy

I have passed on your thanks to my father and hopefully he may come up with some more information.

I'm afraid that my memories of Dolly are childish and fragmentary, like the size of her Braille newspapers and the wind-up gramophone that she kept in the attic at Maycot. I'm sorry now that I didn't try to keep in touch. Dolly was at Maycot before my father's first visit in 1940. Hannah died in 1955 (when I was 7) and Aggie in 1960, and I don't think I went to Maycot again after Hannah died. Presumably in that period Maycot was sold and Dolly had to move. I got Dolly's information through trying to find out more about the Ritchie sisters and people in their photographs (have not found Dolly there though, sadly).

I think you're right that the best chance of finding more information is through the mission(s) involved. Also, as she lived till 1993, there must be other people around who knew her and heard some of her remarkable story. I have placed a Goulstone surname entry on the Weston-super-Mare Family History Society site - maybe that may attract some information. Perhaps you could try the same in Plymouth, Devon.

I think that the friend my father went to see must be Miss S.A. Ketchijian, whose name is coupled with Dolly's in one of the documents referenced on Dolly's profile page.

If in the course of tracing Dolly you find out any more about the Ritchies, I'd appreciate that!
I live not too far from the University of Birmingham, so possibly could request permission to view the papers there that mention Dolly. Not until after the covid closure, of course.
A possible lead suggested by someone on the Weston site: "There are a number of trees on Ancestry. Most show Dollie's place of birth as Plymouth. 2 trees show it as Armenia but they are both Private so it is not possible to ascertain what other information is on them without contacting the tree owners."
There's certainly no birth for her in FreeBMD 1903 - 1905.  The only records I can find are the 1939 register and her death.  Neither could I find her in the 1911 census.
Yes, I found her in the 1939 register living with Johanna (Hannah) and Agnes (Aggie) and another boarder.

Another response on the Weston site from gricharduk: "I am sorry if this is a repeat of information but I was interested in finding out more on Dolly. Mary Jane Lovell’s home and school for twenty blind Palestinian and Armenian orphan girls was established on Windmill Hill in Jerusalem in a house named Barachah and Dolly was one of her pupils. This is reported as such on page 10 of the Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian, 10 December 1949, when Dolly attended a lunch at Talbot House, Trinity Square, London, to celebrate the centenary of Mary Jane’s birth. It also became a second home to some of the British soldiers stationed close by (that’s where Harry Holdcroft comes into the story) Adele Hanna Dafesh was also a pupil of Mary Jane, at the same time as Dolly, and continued her work from the 1930s onwards - Adele and Dolly knew each other. There is a great article (see link - pp. 33-35) on Mary Jane Lovell in the Lincolnshire Poacher - shorturl.at/guDFS (if should download a PDF). I hope this helps, Richard"
gricharduk's comment: I am wondering if the connection might lie with Walter's second wife, Amelia Ellen (or Helen) Dade Hill, born at Stonehouse, Plymouth, who was a Salvation Officer (as was Walter, and his first wife Fanny, in Bath). Walter's first wife, Fanny Holtom (or Holton), died on 9 February 1920. Dollie is not reported to have attended the funeral but her other children did. Walter moved back to Weston and married Amelia on 11 October 1921 at the Sunnyside Primitive Methodist Church in Weston-super-Mare. Dollie would be 16 at this point (b:1 January 1905). Dollie is certainly writing letters from their restaurant in 1923. So, perhaps contacting the Salvation Army tracing service might be an option. It might also explain the link to Plymouth where Dollie died - the death certificate may provide some clues. Walter is buried with Amelia at Milton Road cemetery (thanks to this site!) and not at Bath with his first wife.

Hi all, thanks for these comments and sorry for delay in responding. I am still here, still interested, but slipped and broke my wrist quite badly no so am "in the wings" on this conversation at the moment. I look forward to processing your comments as I am less restrained...! smiley Cheers, Kathy

That would be wonderful, Richard. Thank you.
Thank you for all this, Richard. Very helpful. And my apologies for the delay in replying. My shattered wrist is still on the mend...
I agree that Dolly was probably taken in by Walter and Amelia, not Fanny. Makes good sense. I and a number of others are interested in anything more that can be found about Donny's life. :-)

2 Answers

+2 votes

Hello Kathy:
I recently attended a lecture on Armenian Research, and learned that during the period of Ottoman Genocide there were countless other countries that helped place Armenian orphans. There are a few places that I would recommend to get started, the first is a very large research group (Facebook), and the second is a going directly to the lecture by Tracy Keeney (YouTube). You might also spend some time on the research established by the Armenian Research Project (website).

by Olin Coles G2G6 Mach 1 (17.8k points)
Thank you, Colin. I will follow those through.
+2 votes
I am showing up as a cousin to Dolly through her father, Walter. I'm interested in Dolly's story.
by Greta Moody G2G6 Pilot (179k points)

Hello cousin! Greetings from New Zealand. smiley

Hi cousin Kathy! :) A cousin in NZ? This is pretty cool.

Related questions

+1 vote
1 answer
159 views asked Jul 12, 2019 in WikiTree Tech by Olin Coles G2G6 Mach 1 (17.8k points)
+6 votes
0 answers
235 views asked Nov 19, 2017 in The Tree House by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
+4 votes
2 answers
+4 votes
0 answers
+3 votes
0 answers
0 votes
1 answer
72 views asked Jun 23, 2012 in Genealogy Help by anonymous
+3 votes
2 answers
42 views asked Apr 28, 2016 in Genealogy Help by William Harvey G2G6 (7.0k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright

...