Monday, March 5, 2018

Free ebook version of "Susan" available this week

It's hard to believe that it's a whole year since I published my book about Susan Mason. It was fun writing it, a steep learning curve to publish and market it, and a wonderful experience to get feedback from people, some of them distantly related, from all around the world.

To mark the anniversary, I've made the ebook/kindle version of the book FREE for this week only. It's available on Amazon, ibooks, kobo and several other stores.

If you know anyone who might like to read it, please share this page or the book links with them.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What happened to Rose?

Rose Whybrew was the fifth daughter of  David and Susan Whybrew (nee Mason) and my father's great aunt, though he never met her. She is another of the unsolved mysteries in my family history research. I've been able to follow her life story as far as Chicago, USA, in 1918, but then she disappears. Despite hours spent searching, I haven't found any trace of her after that. What I do know about her suggests she had a difficult and sad life.

The SS Canada of the Dominion Line
Rose was born in 1877 while her father David was stationed in Canterbury in Kent. She married a shoe maker from London, George Henry Anthony, in 1897. Their first child, a daughter named Harriet, was born in Colchester, Essex, in 1900, but died before she was six months old.

In 1907, not long after the birth of their son George William, Rose and George Henry Anthony migrated to Chicago aboard the SS Canada. According to the 1910 US census, George W. was the fifth child born to Rose. I haven't found any record of the other births, so possibly the other three were stillborn.

Like many English migrants to the USA, they sailed to Quebec in Canada, then crossed into the United States through Vermont. Their names appear in the border crossing records in October 1907. Rose is described as being 5 ft 3 3/4 in, with ruddy skin, brown hair and hazel eyes.

State St, Chicago, c1907
The family were destined for 48th Avenue in Chicago, where Rose's sister Alice lived with her husband Herbert Miller and their daughter Alice.

When Alice Miller senior died in 1909, Herbert remarried and moved out with his new wife (also called Alice) and his daughter, leaving Rose and George at the 48th Avenue address. In the 1910 US census the Anthony's were apparently still living at 626, 48th Avenue.  Rose was working as a "janitress".

Rose's young son George died at the age of 6 in 1913, and was buried at Forest Home cemetery in Chicago, where his aunt Alice was also buried. As far as I can discover, there were no other children born to Rose and George in the USA.

In 1918 George senior received call-up papers for the US army. The papers show him as still living on 48th Ave, but although Rose is listed as next of kin, her address is given as 4823 W Congress St, Chicago. That is the last mention I can find for Rose.

The call-up papers were never signed. George may have been resident in the Norward Park psychiatric hospital at the time. A patient named George Anthony, born in England in 1874, and married, was listed there in the 1920 census. He may also have been there in 1910. Although George Anthony is listed at the same address as Rose in the 1910 census, someone of the same name and age is recorded as an inmate of the Norward Park hospital. Perhaps Rose filled out his details in the census with hers and young George's, not realising that only those actually on the premises on the night of the census were to be included.

Kankakee State Hospital
In the 1930 census, what appears to be the same George Anthony was a patient of the Jacksonville State Hospital for the Insane and in the 1940 census the same person was a patient of the Kankakee State Hospital in Manteno. When this man died on 16 May 1941, his previous occupation was recorded as "shoe cobbler", which tallies with George Henry Anthony's occupation when he arrived in the USA.

What happened to Rose? If she remained in the USA, I haven't been able to identify her on any of the censuses after 1910. The George Anthony who was in Jacksonville in 1930 was said to be single, so if he was Rose's husband, it suggests she had either separated from him or died. But I haven't been able to find any record of a divorce, remarriage or death for Rose.

Did she return to England? I discovered a Rose Anthony from Chicago who travelled to England in 1924. But then I found her passport application, which clearly showed that it wasn't the same Rose Anthony.

Did she perhaps migrate to Australia where her mother's family lived, or join her cousins in Canada? Did she revert to using her maiden name? I've looked at all these possibilities, but haven't had any success in finding her. For now she remains a mystery.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Richard Ward - born twice?

Church door, St Leonard's
Walton le Dale
One of the most long-standing mysteries in my family history research is the date of birth of Richard Ward, my paternal great great grandfather. I know from several sources that he was the son of Thomas and Frances Ward, and that he was born in Walton le Dale, in Lancashire.

The problem with determining his date of birth is that two baptism records exist for Richard Ward in the Walton le Dale registers. Both say Richard's parents were Thomas and Frances (or Fanny) Ward. But one says he was born in 1809, and the other gives a date of 1813.

The most obvious solution would be that Thomas and Fanny had a son named Richard in 1809, who died in infancy. They then used the same name when they baptised another son in 1813. That was a common practice at the time. But I can't find any record of a burial for a child name Richard Ward between 1809 and 1813.

Besides that, most of the census records for Richard suggest that he was born in 1809 or 1810. Only in the 1851 census does his recorded age suggest a later date. At his death in December 1881 he was said to be 72 years old, which again gives a date of birth around 1809.

Images of the originals of the two baptism records are available online on the Ancestry website, so it's not a case of a transcription error causing confusion. The first record comes from the Parish Registers of Walton le Dale from 1698 to 1812. Among the christenings for 1809 is this one:
"Richard, son of Thomas and Frances Ward. Born Aug 17, baptised Oct 1." 
The names and dates are quite clear.

The same details appear in the Bishop's Transcripts, the local bishop's copy of the records for all the parishes in his diocese.

The second baptism record is from the Parish register of the Parochial Chapel of Walton le Dale, 1813-1887. Again the record is quite clear and unambiguous.
"Richard, son of Thomas and Fanny Ward" . His date of birth is recorded as 27 April, and his baptism 20 June 1813.

Another Thomas and Fanny

One possible explanation of the two baptism records is that the Richard born in 1813 belonged to another couple named Thomas and Fanny, and the minister at the time, E.S. Radcliffe, has recorded the wrong surname for some reason.

Only one other child-bearing couple named Thomas and Fanny lived in Walton le Dale at this time. Thomas Marsden married Fanny Bushby (or possibly Buskey) in 1805. They had three children baptised in Walton le Dale - Elizabeth in July 1808, John in April 1810 and Sarah in September 1811. Sadly all three, plus an older child named Mary, died in infancy and were buried in Walton le Dale.

The graveyard at St Leonard's Parish Church
Walton le Dale.
Their mother, Fanny Marsden, died in 1813 at the age of 30, and was buried on 25 April*. Is it too far fetched to suggest that she might have died giving birth to the Richard who was said to have been born on 27 April 1813? Obviously there is an awkward discrepancy of a couple of days between her burial and his reported date of birth. But given that the child wasn't baptised until two months later, perhaps the date of birth could be in error by a few days. It's easy to imagine a grieving husband mixing up the dates.

To give this theory a bit more weight, a Richard Marsden, born about 1812 in Walton le Dale, appears in the 1851 and 1861 census in Leyland, Lancashire. In the 1841 census his place of birth isn't recorded, but he was living in Leyland with a Thomas Marsden, with no other relatives listed. That would be consistent with Thomas being widowed and Richard being the only surviving child.

Since he was born in Walton le Dale, we might expect that Richard would have been baptised there, but I can't find any record of a baptism for a Richard Marsden in the Walton le Dale registers within 10 years of 1812. Could that be because his baptism in 1813 was recorded as Richard Ward?

Against this theory is the fact that the 1813 baptism record describes Thomas Ward's occupation as "joiner" (ie a carpenter). This was, in fact, his occupation according to other records. Thomas Marsden's occupation was a "cotton operative" when his wife was buried, and an agricultural labourer in 1841. For my theory to hold water, I'd have to explain why the minister not only wrote "Ward" instead of "Marsden", but also inscribed the occupation of Thomas Ward rather than Thomas Marsden. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I'm leaning towards the earlier date of birth being the correct one for Richard Ward, though I'll keep the other one recorded as an alternative.

(*Burials, Parish register for 1813-1819, p 8, entry 58. Reference Number: Pr 2948/1/17)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mysteries and puzzles

Happy New Year! For the past few years I've used the new year as the time to alternate between writing about the maternal and paternal sides of my family history. If I kept to that pattern, this should be the year I switch back to writing about the Ward and Beales families, on the paternal side. But since I've now covered most of the main individuals on both sides of the family tree in this blog, I've decided to do something a little different. This year, most of my posts will re-visit a mystery yet to be solved.

By mystery, I don't mean those points in the family history where I simply can't go back any further, due to non-existent records. Most lines of my family tree begin somewhere about the middle of the 18th century. That's about as far back as the records go. I accept that some things are impossible to know.

The "mysteries" I have in mind involve aspects of people's lives that don't make sense, at least based on the information I have. Or there are large holes in their story that I haven't been able to fill. I have a nagging feeling that if only I could find more information, or the right information, it ought to be possible to solve these puzzles.

An example of such a mystery was the long-standing question I had about where John Mason, my great great great grandfather, came from. I knew he was almost certainly transported to Australia as a convict, and my hunch was that he was from Ireland, but which of the many convicts named John Mason was he? I've written previously about how that mystery was finally solved.

There are many similar mysteries on both sides of the family. My hope is that, while I'm revisiting the research I've already done, I might see some different possibilities that hadn't occurred to me before. Or perhaps, with new material coming online all the time, I'll find some new sources of evidence that will make things clearer. It may be that someone reading the posts might have an answer to those puzzling questions. As I've discovered, we all hold fragments of stories that together make up the whole picture of our family history.