Something wonderful from Omaha, Nebraska

Today, I received a wonderful, touching note concerning our combined research into the Derry Family, and Goblins Pit in Walsall Wood, from John Derry, a resident of Omaha, Nebraska.  I know lots of you put a great deal of effort into searching out material relating to this historic hamlet and the Derry clan, particularly readers Andy Dennis and David Evans. Messages like this are, for me, what this work is about. When I started, I had no idea Goblins Pit was even a place, let alone where it was.

Together, we recovered a bit of nearly lost history and carefully glued it back into something useful, whereupon John Derry found it. I’m so glad when this sort of thing happens.

To all who contributed, and to those who may be able to help further, my gratitude and thanks – and to John, my immense gratitude for a wonderful message. It means the world to me.

Hi Bob:

Charles Derry is my great, great, great grandfather. Over the past few years, I’ve worked at getting my family history together. Largely through Charles’s writings for the Latter Day Saints, I’ve been able to piece much of the Derry family tree together. Sue Lote has also been very helpful… and now, you and Andy Dennis!

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent poring over Google maps of Walsall Wood/Goblin’s Pit wondering where the exact location of Charles’s childhood home was in the area. And know I have very good information. I had mistaken thought that the open fields east of Green Lane was the probable location, but you two appear to have nailed it!

It is on my bucket list to come visit the area some time in the future. I live in Omaha, Nebraska in the central U.S. In fact, I located Charles’s gravesite in Woodbine, Iowa (30 miles away from here) (see attached JPEG).

The grave of Charles Derry, born in Goblins Pit, Walsall Wood, in 1826, and passed away in Woodbine, Iowa 1921. A long life and a fair old age. Picture supplied by John Derry.

I’m writing—obviously to thank you for your research!—but I am also very interested in knowing what exactly is the current status of the house on the property on Green Lane? From Google Maps, it looks like it is subdivided into 2 residences. Has anyone gotten permission to look about to see if there are any remnants of the old structures?

I’ve been to GB several times, but only on business in the London area (I did drive from Dover to London once, but that is the extent of my English countryside experience).

I love to hear any further knowledge that you and Andy have turned up regarding Goblin’s Pit/Derry family. You are my eyes, Bob! I’ve also attached a PDF that shows what a small area my ancestors lived in for 200 years (which I’d guess was very common back then). For Charles, coming to America must have been like going to the moon.

Thanks again for your excellent blog!


John Derry

The local links to the Derry family as mapped by John Derry. Click for a larger version.

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11 Responses to Something wonderful from Omaha, Nebraska

  1. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    what a wonderful letter from America! The original Derry cottage does not exist any more, I think. From what I gathered during “Royal Oak ” investigations, it and another “very old “cottage stood at this location;-
    52 37 39 57 N 1 56 38 09 W
    and can be just made out in 1945 timeline photo in Google Earth.
    From the description in the Derry diary it resembled the thatched cottage that stood at Streets Corner,in Walsall Wood.. a photo of this has appeared in this blog.
    I think the limestone pit that was Goblins Pit probably provided the building materials for these cottages.
    The pit was remembered as a “depression that flooded” at;-
    52 37 42 71 W 1 56 36 89 N, ,
    In 1841 census there is mention thereabouts of a few cottages called “Pigs Nook”
    Royal Oak article, and local quiz 1 give more information. A Derry girl, aged 19, lived with the vicar and his family in the parsonage in Walsall Wood during mid to late 1800s…
    kind regards and best wishes to the Derry family in USA!

  2. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    “Divine Water?” article, March 10, 2012, shows Streets Corner Cottage

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    Great to hear from you, John. The only other information I found was that the IGI (LDS) has a marriage in 1852 in Castle Eaton, Wiltshire between Charles Derry and Eliza Herbert, but there is no record in the General Register Office index. Other researchers have marriage in 1854, presumably in USA.

    Eliza and family appear in 1841 and 1851 censues at Castle Eaton. I note from the memorial that she is Eliza Herbert, not Derry. BTW, do you mind me adding this to the tree I put on Ancestry?

    I never did find Charles in the 1841 or 1851 censuses, even though in 1841 he should have appeared in Walsall as an apprentice blacksmith. After he became a free man in 1847 perhaps he became nomadic, spreading the LDS word?


  4. Pedro says:

    I have put a little extra info found concerning Goblin’s Pit on the “Digging the history” post…

  5. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Sarah Derry, aged 19, servant , living with Rev Philip Harper and family in the parsonage in Walsall Wood ( by the church in today’s High Street ).shown in the 1841 census. Elder sister of Charles Derry, possibly?
    ( an Image of Rev Harper in article “Going by the Book” )

  6. Andy Dennis says:

    I looked at this, but could make no connection. The only records I could find were baptisms of Sarah Derry at Hammerwich 18 Nov 1821 and Shenstone 13 Apr 1823, but the parents were wrong. She doesn’t appear in the 1851 census and marriages don’t seem to work out. There is a possible death ref. 1842 Sep Lichfield 17 50, but, even if it is right, it might not give us a connection. She is not in Sue Lote’s list of Walsall Wood burials 1837-1845.

    Philip G Harper was at Walsall Wood parsonage in 1851, with a different servant and Vicar of Pelsall in 1861 and 1871, again with different servants, so she didn’t go with that family.

    I don’t recall Charles’ memoir mentioning a sister, but, given his unusual history, he may not have known about her, though you would think they would have met in such a small community.

    I suspect this will remain a mystery.

  7. Thanks you all for your time and generosity regarding the Derry homestead in Walsall Wood. As I mentioned in my initial mail, I’ve spent a great deal of time poring over Google Maps at the Goblin’s Pit area (Thanks, David, for the tip on the 1945 Google Earth timeline map!). I really have a desire to someday stand in that location and imagine times past.

    Regarding Eliza Herbert, according to Charles’s autobiography (Autobiography of Elder Charles Derry, Price Publishing), his first wife was Anne Stokes (daughter of Joseph Stokes, Hobstin, STS, and Alice Clark, Kniver, STS). Charles and Anne were married in April, 1849 in St John’s Church, Wolverhampton, STS.

    On March 25, 1854, Charles travelled with his wife and two children to the U.S. via steamship John M. Wood with the intention of going to Salt Lake City. Anne took ill during the overland travel and died on Sept 7, 1854.

    Having arrived in Salt Lake City with 2 motherless children, Charles sought to find wife and mother for the children. Remember, this was during the formation of the Mormons and many young women were part of the emigration to Utah. Two months after Anne’s passing, Charles met Eliza Herbert Born in England in 1831), who had recently arrived. He asked her to marry him and she accepted. They were married on October 8, 1854.

    More info here:

    So it would seem that the Derry/Herbert marriage record listed at Castle Eaton is of another couple.

    Charles was horrified by the polygamy sanctioned by the Mormons at the time and went through quite a journey to get out of Utah. He eventually joined the Re-organized Latter Day Saints in its early beginnings. He became prominent in the RLDS as an Elder.

    BTW, I am neither Mormon (LDS) or member of the Community of Christ (RLDS)…I’m a “recovering catholic”!

    I believe there may be more description of the cottage near Goblin’s Pit in Charles’s autobiography. I’ll look for it and post any new tidbits I discover.

    Thanks again all for your interest and help in this interesting story (and all of our ancestors are full of them!).


  8. Pingback: Nothing primitive | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  9. Sue Lote says:

    Anyone wanting to know more about the DERRY family tree please feel free to contact me, |I have traced their lieage back to the 16th century. We have also completed DNA sequencing of the Walsall Wood DERRY family group and have proved their connection to the wider Burntwood/Lichfield family group from which I am descended.
    As you have mentioned Goblins Pit – the farmer where the 3 houses stood remembers helping his father to demolish them sometime in the 1950-60s’ish? Not sure exactly when, but he may have more information and perhaps even some photos!
    As well as the Derry and Littley’s who resided at Goblins Pit, my maternal GLOVER line also lived there! Indeed ~Rebecca Littley is recorded as the informant on Simon GLOVER’s (my 3 x gt.grandfather) death certificate in 1846!

    • Sarah says:

      Working my way back into my family tree, I arrived at Daniel Littley (b. 1779), and the term “Goblin’s Pit” in the census jumped out at me. From there, I ended up at this amazing website with all of these blog posts and maps (by Bob), and I’m filled with gratitude for the curious and resourceful minds who have been working on all of this research. It is incredibly rare and meaningful to me to be able to locate my ancestors with such a high degree of precision. My paternal grandmother died one year ago tomorrow, and I feel like she’s reading along over my shoulder as I learn more about her (and my) family history.

      I keep coming across links to your (Sue’s) research on another website,, but that site seems to be in the process of shutting down, and I can’t find your research there. Is there anywhere else where I might access it? I am not descended from the Derrys, as far as I know, but I’m interested in whether you have any sources reaching back further along Rebecca Johnson and Daniel Littley’s lines.

  10. Angela Margaret Burrows says:

    My late father was George William derry born 3/9/1919 in burnt wood or brown hills staffs and I am trying to find out more .

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