Brothers from County Durham yesterday deepened the story behind one of the treasures of the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM), a nineteenth century farm account book.
Kevin and Gary Tallentire from Middleton-in-Teesdale had come across a blog about their great, great grandmother Jane Elizabeth Thwaite’s 1890s account book, which had been put on display as part of the museum’s Dairy Days exhibition.
In the book, Mrs Thwaite had recorded in detail her sales of cheese and butter, made on her farm at the head of Walden near Wensleydale.
The DCM had only scanty information on Mrs Thwaite until the brothers visited the museum yesterday (10 Feb), carrying photographs of their ancestor.
Kevin Tallentire, an office worker, took hold of the account book and said: “It’s a strange feeling to know that she held this. It’s just amazing that it has survived – to think that it was written before the Titanic had sunk.
“All I can say is that her handwriting is a lot better than mine, and that my job today is a bit different to making butter and cheese. That side of the family is still in farming. My uncle’s farming in Teesdale. It’s good to know where you come from and what your ancestors did.”
Museum Manager Fiona Rosher added: “How brilliant that Kevin and Gary came across the blog and made the trip to the museum. I loved seeing the photographs of Jane Elizabeth – I had no idea that any existed. The account book is a special object, a relatively rare survivor, illustrating a time when farmhouse cheese and butter making was a really big part of the local economy.”
The brothers went on from the museum to find Jane Elizabeth’s final resting place in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in Aysgarth. She is buried with her first husband (Richard Thwaite d.1908) and second husband (Richard Wilkinson d.1916).
The Dairy Days exhibition runs until the 23rd of February.