The Cowkeeper's Wish: A Genealogical Journey

The Cowkeeper's Wish: A Genealogical Journey

The Cowkeeper's Wish: A Genealogical Journey

The Cowkeeper's Wish: A Genealogical Journey


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In the 1840s, a young cowkeeper and his wife arrive in London, England, having walked from coastal Wales with their cattle. They hope to escape poverty, but instead they plunge deeper into it, and the family, ensconced in one of London’s “black holes,” remains mired there for generations. The Cowkeeper’s Wish follows the couple’s descendants in and out of slum housing, bleak workhouses and insane asylums, through tragic deaths, marital strife and war. Nearly a hundred years later, their great-granddaughter finds herself in an altogether different London, in southern Ontario.

In The Cowkeeper’s Wish, Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski trace their ancestors’ path to Canada, using a single family’s saga to give meaningful context to a fascinating period in history—Victorian and then Edwardian England, the First World War and the Depression. Beginning with little more than enthusiasm, a collection of yellowed photographs and a family tree, the sisters scoured archives and old newspapers, tracked down streets, pubs and factories that no longer exist, and searched out secrets buried in crumbling ledgers, building on the fragments that remained of family tales.

While this family story is distinct, it is also typical, and so all the more worth telling. As a working-class chronicle stitched into history, The Cowkeeper’s Wish offers a vibrant, absorbing look at the past that will captivate genealogy enthusiasts and readers of history alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771622028
Publisher: Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd.
Publication date: 03/09/2019
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.34(d)

About the Author

Tracy Kasaboski and her sister, Kristen den Hartog, co-authored The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-Torn Holland (McClelland and Stewart, 2008), which was selected as one of The Globe and Mail’s best books of the year. She lives in Deep River, ON.

Kristen den Hartog is the author of several books including The Perpetual Ending (Knopf, 2003), as well as And Me Among Them (Freehand Books, 2011), which won the Alberta Book Publishing Award for Trade Fiction. She lives in Toronto.

Table of Contents

Prologue 13

Part 1 In Darkest London-1840s-1913

Chapter 1 Bits of Ragged Laundry and Wide-Eyed Dossers 21

Chapter 2 When the Horse Is Down 43

Chapter 3 Potter's Rot 67

Chapter 4 Tell Me When Your Mother Drops 95

Chapter 5 Cracked Eggs 117

Chapter 6 We Are Shadows 137

Chapter 7 The Blaze of Day 163

Chapter 8 Ready for the Call 189

Part 2 The Noise ofWar-1913-1919

Chapter 9 Bang, Crash, Tinkle 213

Chapter 10 You Made Life Cheery When You Called Me Dearie 253

Chapter 11 A Person of Unsound Mind 279

Chapter 12 Down-Hearted and Shivery 301

Chapter 13 Make Your Motto "Forward!" and Stick to It Like Glue 319

Part 3 The Forest City-1907-1934

Chapter 14 My Own Darling Wiffie 343

Chapter 15 Don't Forget to Remember 367

Chapter 16 In the Sweet By and By 387

Chapter 17 A Cosy Nest 407

Epilogue 421

From the Authors 429

Acknowledgements and Notes on Sources 433

Notes 435

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