Harry Mottram writes: I’ve been contacted by Julie Durbin who lives in California in the USA – she is on a question to link up with the Durbins of this area as she traces her family roots – I hope you can help her – below she gives details of her research and of her itinery.

By Julie Durbin

Any help you could give me is much appreciated. I will be coming to Bristol, Axbridge and Cheddar with my travel partner in crime, Ed, on Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27, leaving Wednesday morning, June 28.

Ed and Julie

Back in January, 2023, I began researching my Durbin Family roots. My part of the Durbin family is in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I am currently in San Francisco, California. My six brothers and sisters all remain in St. Louis. My family has been in St. Louis for 200 years since the mid-1800s. Prior to that they were in the Washington DC area for 200 years since the 1600s when they came from Somerset, England.

They were in America when the British Colonial American settlers formed the colonies, and then the United States in 1776. I wonder if any of the Durbin family was involved in forming the new government. That will be my next research project. Prior to Washington DC, the Durbin’s were in the Axbridge/Somerset Area. They are on record of being there since the early 1500s.

Prior to that they were in France, possibly Paris, hence the name d’urban “of the city”. Right now, I am focusing my research on the Axbridge, Cheddar and surrounding towns.

The Massachusetts village – a modern reconstruction of the early settlement in America

My direct paternal lineage 1510-1570 Richard Durbin England

1530-1604 Walter Durbin (I think he’s the older brother of Thomas Sir Axbridge Durbin) Somerset, England

1535-1615 Thomas Sir Axbridge Durbin Somerset, England

Thomas Sir Axbridge Durbin had 2 children. 1559-1610

Peter Durbin Wiltshire, England died at 49

 1590-1627 William Durbin England died at 36 years old only had one child, a son Christopher “Thomas”

1621-1709 Christopher “Thomas” Durbin (only child) born in Axbridge, died in British colonial America (what is now the state of Maryland). He was a planter.

Deanna Durbin

Famous Durbins in the U.S. include:

Blaine “The Kid” Alphonsus Durbin, a.k.a., “Danny Dreamer” 1886-1943 died at 57. Played professional baseball (pitcher) for the Chicago Cubs winning the 1908 World Series. His amazing story that he kept in his journal was published as a book. I will bring it and leave it behind.

Deanna Durbin, 1921-2013 Parents James Alan Durbin born in Manchester, England Deanna was a very famous beautiful redhead singer and actress. She retired and passed away in France. During World War II, Deanna Durbin was named the favorite of more than 300 different groups of servicemen. Reportedly, she was Winston Churchill‘s favorite movie star, and the British Prime Minister was granted the opportunity to see her films before they were released to the general public in Great Britain. Following crucial military victories, Churchill would celebrate by screening her 1937 film One Hundred Men and a Girl, accompanied by brandy and a cigar. At the time of her retirement at age 29, Durbin was the highest-paid female screen star in Hollywood and, accordingly, the highest-paid woman in the world. She reportedly earned more than $320,000 from Universal Studios in 1946.

Richard “Dick” Durbin b. 1944 Current United States Senator from Illinois High up and influential in the Democratic Party Votaw Swain “Tookie“ Durbin, Jr. (1911-1976) died at 64. He was my grandfather. Tookie was an all star basketball and baseball player and was always the captain of his teams. He had a brief stint playing baseball professionally, pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals until his parents told him to get a real job! So he started a tool and die manufacturing business in the 1930s/1940s. It was a business he learned from his father, Votaw Swain, Sr.. By 1970 it was a $50 million company.

Bristol in the 17th century

Our itinerary for Axbridge and Cheddar on Monday, June 26, Tuesday, June 27 and Wednesday, June 28.

Here is our tight itinerary for the two days we will be in Axbridge. We invite Durbin relatives to please be a part of any or all of the following: Monday, June 26-midday Arrive by train from London to Bristol. Go see ships where Durbin’s possibly left Bristol in the 1600s. Also see an old church/cathedral where they may have gone. my family on this side of the pond is Catholic. I’m curious about the British side of the Durbin family.

Monday afternoon: Axbridge-Hermitage trail, King John’s Hunting Lodge, say hello to local Durbins in Axbridge and visit cemeteries where there are Durbins. 5 pm-ish

Monday: Meet Durbins at The Lamb for a family reunion and a bite to eat. (All Durbins are welcome!)

Julie Durbin

Tuesday, June 27-Mid morning: Meet Harry Mottram for coffee and a chat

1 pm-ish Tuesday: Take the bus to Cheddar for a walk about town with any Durbins who might be interested in joining us, then a family reunion lunch at the White Hart, where my ancestor, Emma Durbin was the proprietor, I believe in the early 1900s. (All Durbins are welcome!)

5 pm-ish Tuesday: Back to Axbridge to meet Durbin’s for dinner and rock ‘n’ roll dance lessons… (We are very excited about this!)

Wednesday, June 28 morning: Say goodbye to Durbins and take train to Bristol to continue our journey to Wales.

I am hoping to meet my distant relatives for several Durbin family reunions during my brief stay. I’ve already connected with a few through Facebook. I’d love to hear from more. Find me on Facebook. Julie Durbin from Sausalito, California or email me at juliedurb@yahoo.com. I’m also on WhatsApp.

Ed and I are very excited about our trip to Somerset. Please reach out and let me know if and when you will meet us.

Julie and Ed