Tuesday, May 27, 2014

John Procter's Small World

1819 was the year the first bicycles appeared on the streets of New York City, the first steam propelled vessel crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Thomas Blanchard patented the lathe, and the first whaling ship arrived in Hawaii. On May 27th, in Campsall, York, England, John Procter was christened. He was born at nearby Norton, also his father’s birthplace. On August 1st of that same year, it appears that he was also christened in Knottingly, which was his mother, Martha’s birthplace. The distance between Campsall (A) and Knottingly (B) is about ten miles. Although the world was expanding, John’s life was lived within a twenty mile radius of his birthplace.

John’s mother’s maiden name was Collins, which may not endear her to some of the Jane Austen fans in our family. John was the oldest of eight children. His siblings were George and William, christened at Owston (C); Ann and Mary, christened at Ferry Fryston (D); and David and Sarah, christened at Doncaster (E). Once the family settled in Doncaster, they were there to stay.



On 6 September 1841, John married Sarah Pinder, the daughter of John Pinder and Jane Butler, his wife. They married at Rotherham (F), located about thirteen miles SW of Doncaster. That would have been a big trip for them. Their first son, Henry, was born in 1842 at Cantley (G), which is about three miles east of Doncaster (E). John is our grandfather, six generations back for my children. Their other children were born at Doncaster, where they made their home for the rest of their lives. Their five girls were Martha, Jane, Mary Ann, Lucy, and Ellen. Their last child was John, born in 1859, which is about the time Sarah died, perhaps in childbirth.

John worked first as a hat maker, then as a drayman, eventually settling on the lumber business. On 14 November 1865 at Doncaster, John married again, to Jane Adams and gained two step-children, William and Elizabeth. He remained a resident of Doncaster until his death in 1883.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sampson Gourd, Gardener of Liskeard


Sampson Gourd was the sixth child of John Gourd and his wife, Radigan Pearce. They may have lived at Linkinhorne, Cornwall, England; or at Liskeard, 8 miles south, where he was christened on 20 May 1722. In fact, all of their big events occurred at Liskeard, which is situated at the head of the Looe Valley and south of the Bodmin Moor area. It has a history as a market town and was one of the four original Stannary towns. The market charter was granted by Richard, Earl of Cornwall (brother of Henry III) in 1240.

On 11 November 1746, Sampson married Martha Batten. They had four children together; and Martha died just after the birth of their last child, Sarah, and was buried on 4 February 1754. In October of that same year, he married Jane Calloway, who was born in about 1733. Nothing is known of her parents at this time. They added four more children to the family, the youngest being Matthew, our ancestor.

Sampson worked as a gardener. In 1753, his father, John, also a gardener, filed a complaint against Sampson and his brother. Apparently he needed financial help from them. Looking at Sampson's marriage dates, and his first wife's death in 1754, this may have been a difficult time for Sampson.

Complaint by John Gourd of Liskeard, gardener, being poor, old, blind and impotent and unable to work, that his sons John of Helston and Sampson of Liskeard, gardeners, do not contribute to his relief ordered that John contributes 1s. 6d. and Sampson 6d., weekly, to their father's relief and maintenance.

The Cornwall Poll Books list Sampson Gourd in 1774 and he was the only Gourd listed. These Poll books recorded the names of everyone in Cornwall who voted at Parliamentary elections. The qualifying criteria for the right to vote were based on the value of ones holdings, but as the century progressed this was relaxed to include leaseholds etc. Another limiting factor was the distance that had to be traveled to the appointed place for recording ones vote. Sampson's land was listed as being in Linkinhorne.



Sampson was buried on 8 May 1777, having lived in and around Liskeard all his life. Three years later, his wife, Jane was buried on 19 January 1780.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Gourds--William Soper and Mary Jane Bolt


William Soper Gourd, the son of John Parker Gourd and his wife, Anne Pyne, was born on 15 May 1831 at Chudleigh, Devon, England, a small town located between the larger towns of Newton Abbott and Exeter. William was the youngest of seven children, the last five having been born at Chudleigh. On the 1841 census for Chudleigh, William was ten years old and living with his parents. His father was a blacksmith. Ten years later, William also listed his occupation as "smith" and he was still living with his father at Chudleigh.

On 4 February 1856 William married Mary Jane Bolt, the daughter of William and Sarah Sealy Bolt. Mary Jane was also Chudleigh-born in about 1835. They were married at Newton Abbott, about seven miles S of Chudleigh. Their married life can be followed through census records and railway destinations. Great Western Railways chose Newton Abbot as the location for its locomotive and carriage repairs in the mid 1800's.


On the 1861 census they were living in St. Davids Exeter, 11.5 miles N of Chudleigh, at 3 Bystock Cottage. They had two children, Mary Ann, and their second daughter, Louisa Jane. William was working as an engine hand. This painting, by William Spreat, depicts the Exeter St. Davids station built in 1844. By 1860, there was a central railway station and several different rail companies in Exeter. Since William chose a career with the railway, it was a good place to work. He had an opportunity to move from time to time, and by 1871, they were living in Nottingham at East Retford, which is about 20 miles from Doncaster, in Yorkshire.

Doncaster is 263 miles N of Chudleigh, and that was a big move for them because it took them away from family and their ties in Devonshire. By that time their children Louisa Jane, twins William Henry and Ernest Albert, and John Parker, had all been born and died. It is possible that their decision to move involved a new start away from so many sorrowful memories in Devonshire. Being with the railway, it could also have just been work-related. Doncaster was a large industrial area, and the Great Northern Railway Locomotive and Carriage Building Works moved there in 1853 and was its largest employer at the time. It was a natural place to find work with the railways.

Emma was born in Doncaster in 1868 and died that same year. Then, Emily was born on 6 June 1872, and she survived. On the 1881 census, William and Mary Jane were living in Doncaster, and he was an engine driver. That same year, their older daughter, Mary Ann, married John Naylor. Mary Jane lived to see Emily marry John Procter on 9 January 1890, but died later that year, leaving William a widower. Still an engine driver on the 1891 census, William was 59 years old and living alone.

By 1901, William had moved to the village of Huntington, about 45 miles N of Doncaster, near the city of York. York was also a railway center and is the home of the National Railway Museum. William lived until 21 March 1917. He is buried at All Saints Churchyard in Huntington, Yorkshire, England, which is where he died. William's move from the south of England in Devonshire, to the north of England in Yorkshire, made it possible for our southern Gourd ancestors to meet our northern Procter ancestors. And we can thank our cousin, Linda Nelson, who still lives in Huntington, for these wonderful photos.

Monday, May 12, 2014

From Ireland to Minnesota

Mary Comerfoot Madden and her daughter Alice Louise Madden Duffy Brown were both born in May. Their story begins in Ireland and is the story of a family leaving its homeland to make a new life in America, as did many others.


According to her death certificate, Mary was born on 12 May 1814 in Ireland to Edward Comerfoot and his wife Mary Lanigan. There she married Walter Madden, and had her first child, Richard. As far as we can tell, Mary was about five years older than her husband, Walter. We don’t know where in Ireland they lived; but we do know that they came to America on the Junius, which left from Liverpool and docked in New York. Passenger lists tell us that Walter was 30 years old, Mary was 25, and Richard was five years old. Alice Louise, their daughter, made a statement regarding her birth and said that she was “born on the high seas en route from Ireland.” According to her notarized statement, she was born on 19 May 1843. Since the ship record date is 1 June 1846, and Alice is listed as an “infant” on the rosters, there is a bit of a discrepancy between what Alice stated and the original records. But we can still safely say that she was just a baby at the time.

If they were typical Irish immigrants, they were like the millions of others who left Ireland due to the potato famine that decimated that country between 1845 and 1850. They were fortunate to leave before things got worse in Ireland, and were thus spared some of the suffering that occurred. Many left Ireland starving and penniless. Their steerage tickets would have been considerable for a small family such as theirs; but even so, they were together and able to make the trip. Conditions for many Irish immigrants arriving in U. S. at the time weren’t much better than what they had in Ireland. They endured crowded shanty towns and discrimination. Employers often used “No Irish Need Apply” signs. Women could work as domestics, stereotyped as “Biddies,” short for Bridget. Men could work as servants or unskilled laborers. Harper’s Weekly, the most popular magazine of the day, ran cartoons lampooning the Irish, and conveying how just unwelcome the Irish were. They were blamed for crime and immorality.


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It does not appear that the Maddens endured many of these difficulties themselves. After arriving in America, the family moved around a bit. If they spent time in New York City(A), they didn’t stay there long. They were fortunate to have the means to move away from the crowded conditions and limited work opportunities immigrants faced in a large city. Ellen and Mary were born in Connecticut. Then the family settled in Blackstone, Worcester, Massachusetts (B), incorporated in 1845, where they were listed on the 1850 census. It is located approximately 40 miles southwest of Boston, just north of the Rhode Island border and situated in the Blackstone River Valley. The town became an important transportation center with the 1828 opening of the Blackstone Canal, and later served as an important railroad hub connecting Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Current residents describe it as “quaint, friendly and historical.” Walter found work as a gigger. Bridget and James were born during their time in Massachusetts.


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By 1861, the family had moved again; this time to Minnesota, where Elisy, Thomas, and William were born. On the 1870 census, they could be found in what would be their permanent home in Glendale, Scott, Minnesota where Walter was a farmer. Glendale, now a part of Savage (A), is located on the south bank of the Minnesota River, and is about 15 miles S-SE of downtown Minneapolis. Once again the family chose to avoid a large city environment in favor of a smaller, more rural community. It says something about them and their success in their new country that they were able to travel to a more comfortable, rural environment. This particular area was a gathering place for Irish immigrants, and it was where they chose to own land and make a life for themselves. They would have found friendship and people like themselves there.

Soon after their move to Minnesota, Alice married John S. Duffy on 17 March 1862, at Lakeville, Dakota, Minnesota(C). He listed his place of residence as being Rosemount (named after a village in Ireland)(D), and she listed hers as Burnsville (an Irish farming community)(B). They were married by James Peet, a Minister of the Gospel. Since John was not twenty-one, his father, Peter Duffy, gave verbal permission for him to marry. The map provides a good look at how close these little towns were to each other. Lakeville, Burnsville, and Rosemount are all about ten miles apart. The distance between Savage and Hastings is about 40 miles.

John was a soldier with the Minnesota Calvary during the Civil War. He enlisted on 2 November 1863 and was discharged on 29 December 1865. He held the rank of sergeant. Alice and John had three children--Mittie Alice, their first child and our grandmother, was born during their time at Ft. Snelling, Hennepin, Minnesota. Her birthdate was 19 February 1864. Their second child was Horace J., was born in 1868. Gertrude Susan was the last child born to this family on 12 November 1870 at Hastings, Dakota, Minnesota (E).

Unfortunately, John was killed while operating a Northern Pacific train between Hastings and St. Paul, Minnesota on 24 January 1873. This was a terrible tragedy for the little family, and Alice only 29 years old. The Farmington Press reported it as follows,

HORRIBLE ACCIDENT--The Gazette says that J. S. Duffy, of Hastings, who has been for some time employed as a brakeman on the Lake Superior R. R., fell from the train near St. Paul on Thursday and was cut to pieces in the most horrible manner, the remains being strewed along the track for nearly half a mile. He was a steady, industrious man, about thirty years of age, and leaves a wife and three children in needy circumstances.

Alice remarried quickly, to Thomas G. Brown on 12 June 1873 in Faribault, Rice, Minnesota. They were married by a Catholic priest. He brought two sons to the marriage, John and Thomas. They had one daughter together, Mary A., who was born 17 April 1874 at Northfield, Rice, Minnesota. On the 1880 census, the family was living in Minneapolis where Mr. Brown was a carpenter and builder. A year later, Alice’s father, Walter Madden, died; leaving Alice’s mother Mary, a widow. She remained in Glendale, living with a son and later, his widow. Mary died on 12 Jul 1905 in Glendale. She and Walter were buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Credit River, Scott, Minnesota. On the 1900 census Alice and her family were living in St. Louis Park in Hennepin County, so she was still within traveling distance of the family home in Glendale.

In their old age, Alice and her husband lived with her daughter, Gertie and her husband Henry Scheyer in Puyallup, Pierce, Washington. He died on 7 January 1918, leaving Alice a widow for the second time. She lived until 3 February 1924. They were buried in the Sumner Cemetery in Sumner, Pierce, Washington.