In our digital age many of us take photographs almost daily of everything including our pets, families, food, holidays etc. In fact we have so many photos that we fail to appreciate the wonder and value of this technology. Photography was first invented in 1826, the first picture of a human in 1838, the first colour photo in the 1860s and the first digital photograph in 1975. It was probably around the 1870s that it became possible for the ordinary person to access the services of a photographer. However personal photos from the 1800s and early 1900s are scarce. Many families have albums full of old photos but unfortunately many of them are unidentifiable as nobody took the time to write down who was in the picture.
I was recently shown this wonderful photograph of my husband’s Jeffers family taken around 1909 in Bandon, Co. Cork. His grandfather, Jonothan Edward Jeffers, known to everyone as Eddie, is the little cross-legged boy seated at the front. Later in life Eddie wrote names on the back of the photo but the family couldn’t confirm exactly who everyone was. However, by putting his records with the family tree that I’d created alongside we were able to piece the information together and identify everyone in the photo. The photo contains three generations of Jeffers spanning 159 years. Eddie’s grandparents, John Edward & Bessie Jeffers are centre stage and are surrounded by their surviving children, children-in-law and grandchildren.
John Edward Jeffers was one of at least four children born to Edward Jeffers, a farmer and shoemaker, and his wife Anne Wolfe of Lislee near Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork on 29 June 1841. John moved to the nearby market town of Bandon where he worked in and became manager of Miss Moriarty’s Grocery and Bakery on South Main Street. In 1868 he married Elizabeth (Bessie) Bright in St. Peter’s Church, Bandon. Bessie’s father, Jonathan Bright, was a shoemaker from Bridge Street, Bandon. When Miss Moriarty died in 1883 she left the Grocery to 42 year old John in her will. John renamed the shop “Jeffers” and continued to work in the Bakery/Grocery Trade.
Jeffers bakery and grocery, 86 South Main Street, Bandon, Co. Cork. Early 1900s.
John and Bessie Jeffers lived on Castle Road, not far from his shop and bakery. Previous generations of Jeffers in Courtmacsherry had belonged to the local Church of Ireland, but John and Bessie were very active members of Bandon Brethren Church. They had a total of eight children though a number of them died young as you will see from their details below.
1. Edward Jeffers (1869-1876) was their eldest child. When he died aged just 6, he had three older brothers.
Birth record of Edward Jeffers, eldest son of John & Bessie Jeffers, 1869, Bandon.
2. Jonathan Jeffers (1870-1891) moved to live and work in Barry, South Wales. He married Elizabeth Guymer and worked as a Custom House Office. He was only 27 when he died of Tuberculosis. He had at least 1 son, William Jeffers.
Death record of Jonathan Jeffers, Barry, Cardiff, Wales, 1898.
3. Unknown Jeffers (1872 -?) There’s a civil birth cert recording an unnamed boy born in 1872. No sign of any further information on this person other than he had died by the time of the 1911 census.
Birth Record of an unknown child of John and Bessie Jeffers, 1872.
4. Richard Wolfe Jeffers (1875-1961) was known to his family as Dick. Initially a draper’s assistant in Bandon, in 1899 aged 24 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery Corps (RGA) of the British Army reaching the rank of Sergeant Major by the time he was discharged in 1911. In 1906 he married Mary Anne Cudmore from Leith, near Edinburgh, Scotland and they had five children. Evelyn and Elizabeth, his first two daughters, were born in Leith. Dorothy, his third daughter, was born in Aden (now Yemen) during his army service. Following Dick’s discharge from the army they returned to Bandon where he worked as a bakery manager and where Richard (b.1912) and Gwendoline (b.1914), his youngest two children were born. Some time after 1914 Dick and Mary moved to live near her family in Edinburgh. Mary died there in 1947 aged 56 and Dick lived on to the ripe old age of 88. According to Mary’s death record Dick was a law clerk when he moved to Scotland.
Birth record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1875, Bandon. Note, his birth was registered without a christian name.
Death record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1961, Edinburgh, Scotland.
5. Jasper Travers Jeffers (1878-1959) followed his father into the grocery and bakery business, eventually taking it over on his father’s retirement. He married Frances (Fanny) Young from Aughadown, near Skibbereen, in Scariff Methodist Church near Bandon. Frances’ father William Young had been a colporteur with the Methodist Church in West Cork, selling Bibles and Christian literature. Jasper and Fanny had three children Jonothon Edward (Eddie) Jeffers (1906-87), Ruth Jeffers (Harper) (1909-81) and Travers Vickery Jeffers (1911-2008). Eddie and Travers both worked in the family shop with their father, while Ruth married George Harpur and moved to live in England. During Eddie and Travers lifetime, Ireland’s grocery trade went through a dramatic transformation. The old-style shop where you were served by an assistant from behind a counter were forced out of business in the 1970s by large supermarkets which initially opened in the cities and larger towns. Eddie and Travers Jeffers caused a bit of a stir when they converted their grocery store into Bandon’s first self-serve supermarket.
Both Eddie and Travers Jeffers raised their families in Bandon and their extended families grew up closely together. Their grandchildren also grew up together and were more like cousins/friends of each other rather than the official title of second cousins. Like their father and grandfather before them, they belonged to the Brethren Church and would regularly have preached there and led services.
Jasper and Fanny Jeffers are buried in the graveyard at St. Peters, Church of Ireland in Bandon. Eddie, Travers and their families are buried in the newer Church of Ireland graveyard in Kilbeg just a few miles east of Bandon.
Jeffers supermarket and bakery is long gone. In the 1980s and 1990s Jasper’s grandsons, Peter and Mervyn, had an electrical shop and a sports shop. They too have ceased to trade and the current generation now operate Music Shops, selling pianos and church organs. And so the name Jeffers lives on in Bandon today.
Death record of Jasper Travers Jeffers, 1950, Bandon.
6. James Percy Jeffers (1880-1926) grew up in Bandon and ran a successful auctioneering business in the town. Numerous newspaper advertisements announced the sales of farms, houses, livestock etc. by Percy Jeffers, Auctioneer. In 1907 he married Kathleen Smith in Bandon Methodist Church. He and Kate had two daughters, Ida and Nora. When he was only 45 years old he died quite suddenly from acute nephritis (kidney).
Death Record of James Percy Jeffers, 1926, Bandon.
7. Anna Charlotte Jeffers (1884-1940) never married and lived with her parents in Bandon. Her father died in 1919 and she continued to live with her mother Bessie who outlived her by four years. Anna died in Lindville Hospital, Cork of Chronic Endocarditis aged just 55.
Death Record of Charlotte Anne Jeffers, 1940, Cork.
8. Elizabeth Jeffers (1887-?) Only a birth record for her. No further information other than she was no longer living by the 1911 census and unlikely that she was alive by the 1901 census.
John & Bessie Jeffers (in centre of pic) had a total of eight children, though by the time of the 1911 census only four were still alive. These are the four that we can see in the back row of this amazing photograph which was taken around 1909.
Jeffers family photo taken c. 1909, Bandon, Co. Cork. Back Row: Richard Wolfe Jeffers, Frances (Young) Jeffers, Jasper Travers Jeffers, Anna Charlotte Jeffers, James Percy Jeffers. Seated: Mary (Cudmore) Jeffers with baby Elizabeth, John Edward Jeffers, Bessie (Bright) Jeffers, Kathleen (Smith) Jeffers with baby Ida. Front row: Jonathan Edward Jeffers (son of Jasper) and Evelyn Jeffers (daughter of Richard).
And here’s just one more photo that turned up of the same family though a few years earlier. It must have been taken after Jonothan moved to live in Wales. Perhaps it was taken after his death. Young Anna, who was born in 1884 looks like she couldn’t be any more than around 10/12, so that would make the date c. 1896/7.
John Edward & Bessie Jeffers with four of their children c. 1897
While preparing the Jeffers family tree, discovering names, dates, professions etc was all very interesting, but actually seeing the people I had been researching has made them seem so much more real.
3 Generation Descendant Chart of John Edward Jeffers