Tuesday, February 4, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks --- Thomas Mell Toulson

The original Toulson immigrant!

Thomas Mell Toulson --- one of the original immigrants in my family, and one of the few Toulson's that left England.  He emigrated in 1856 from Lincolnshire to Iowa, at the age of 22.  He arrived into New York City, from Liverpool, on June 25th.  He was from rural Lincolnshire and had a life as an Agricultural Laborer ahead of him......so I assume her was attracted by one of the emigration schemes that were advertised at that time in rural England. Go to America, there is land to be had!!

By 1860, he was in Clinton, Iowa and in 1862 he married Matilda "Tillie" Jane Mell.  I only recently discovered her maiden name, which has led to lots of head scratching! Was she a cousin, distant relative? She was born in Ohio, but it appears her parents were born in England.  Another line I must chase down!  On their marriage application (below), he lists his middle initial as L, so possibly he didn't want it know that his middle name was his wife's maiden name??!!

Tillie and Thomas had 5 children, with all of them dying as infants. It appears Tillie may have died in childbirth in 1872. 

In 1873 Thomas remarried a Martha Langley. She died sometime before 1880, and he married for a third time in 1881 to Catherine "Katie" Louisa Gill, who was an Irish servant, living in the same household as Thomas in 1880.

He also sponsored his nephew, George Henry Toulson (my Grandfather), who emigrated in 1903. George worked in Clinton, Iowa for about 3 years on a golf course.  Another nephew, also named George Toulson, was living with he and Matha in 1885.

Both Thomas and Katie led long lives, with Katie dying in 1912 and Thomas in 1918 at the age of 85. He held various occupations in his life; farm servant, laborer, working at a horse stable for the railroads, and blacksmith.

Over the years, I've slowly made progress on finding records documenting his life. It was easy to find him in the Federal Census, and even the Iowa State Censuses, but finding his marriage records was a recent discovery.  I'd love to find more records documenting his five children's birth and burial.  I have names for two of the children (Francis E. and Anna) and burial info for one (Francis E. in 1868).

In my mind, he is the pioneer of the Toulson family in the USA.  He set the example that you could come and make something of yourself here.  The other Toulson's that followed, settled in Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Elson/Elston Family of Fulbeck, Lincolnshire

My Great Grandmother Alice Elson had four sisters and four brothers.  This family has always confounded me, especially the women --- it took me many years to find them.  The surname is variously recorded as ELSON and ELSTON.  Of course all the women had common names, Ann,  Mary, Elizabeth, etc.

Since most poor young women in this era worked as servants, cooks, domestics they ended up leaving their home village and could be anywhere.   Finding them in the census is usually only achieved by searching by their birthplace.  At some point, it becomes a guessing game, looking for Ann, Mary, Elizabeth born in Fulbeck......then checking the married names against the Civil Registration Marriage Index, to see if you can prove that it's the correct person.

Clearly I had given up on finding Ann and Elizabeth ...... but luckily by finding a bastardy order for Elizabeth son, I was able to track them both down.

Since these are my direct Great Grand Aunts, I took the extra step of ordering death certificates to document the medical history of this branch of my tree.

  • Elizabeth Elson, the mother of the bastard son, died at age 22, a year after the birth of her son. The cause was consumption (tuberculosis)
  • Mary Elson Stennett Parnham died at age 70 of "softening of the brain" - a stroke and chronic leg ulcer
  • Ann Elson Moor Bates died at age 86 of senile decay
  • Sarah Elson Pegg died at age 68 of arteriosclerosis and hemiplegia
  • Alice  (my Gt Grandmother) died at age 78 of influenza and cardiac failure. 
The four brothers lived to age 87 (Reuben), 70 (William), 71 (Thomas), and 75 (Joseph). I've yet to order their death certificates.

I also ordered their Father Thomas's death cert -- he died at age 61 of prostate disease.  I've yet to find Thomas's wife Elizabeth's death -- it occurred sometime between 1871-1881, so she would have been between 61-71 when she died. 

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks --Great Grandmother Alice Elson

When I started my genealogy as a teenager, I had very little to go on, but I did have a photograph!.  My Grandfather emigrated to the USA in 1903 from England, and he brought with him this photo of his mother, Alice Elson.

Alice was born about 1832 in Fulbeck, Lincolnshire and died there in 1910. This photo was probably taken about 1900 in Fulbeck when she was in her late 60's.

She led a typical life -- working as a domestic servant at age 16, had 2 illegitimate children at age 22 and 27, one of whom died in infancy, and the other raised by her parents. She married at age 32 and went on to have 6 children, 1 died in infancy, another in a tragic accident.  My Grandfather was her youngest child, born when she was approx. 42 years old. 

I have never found a baptismal record for Alice.  Her oldest sister is baptized in Fulbeck, but the next sister and Alice are not.  I surmise the family was living elsewhere in 1831-34, and then returned to Fulbeck in 1835 as the rest of her 6 siblings are baptized there. She had 4 sisters and 4 brothers, that I know of.

For most female ancestors, it is hard to find much information other than the civil registration and census records.  They seem to be born, marry, give birth and die....without leaving much other information.  In Alice's case, this seemed to be the case. I haven't been able to find any bastardy order for her 2 illegitimate children, which would surely add some color to her story. 

However, I was lucky enough to find some mention of her in the British Newspaper Archive -- which is a fantastic resource.  In 1888 in the Grantham Journal, she is quoted in the inquest into her son's death:

"Alice Toulson, mother of the deceased, said that when he was brought home he told her he was putting a collar on a horse at the time Cox was placing a bit in another horse's mouth, and just at that time the latter horse backed, pushing him against the manger."

There is also mention of her, in 1890  in the Grantham Journal:

"Notice---All Persons indebted to the late GEORGE TOULSON are respectfully asked to pay their Accounts as soon as possible to the Widow, Mrs. ALICE TOULSON, Fulbeck"

I continue to research her sisters and brothers to see if I can find any descendants with further information on her and photographs of the family. The family originated across the Lincolnshire border in Southwell, Notts, Thurgarton, Notts. and possibly the village of Elston, Notts.   The Elson line goes back to approx. 1735 or so.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.....Sarah Toulson, found at long last!

There is nothing more frustrating than losing track of a female once they've left their parents household.   My English female ancestors mostly worked as Domestic Servants, and many have proved quite elusive to find.  Generally they stayed in their local area, but some went to market towns, cities and often different counties.  I've often made the mistake of not widening my search for them, and Sarah Toulson is a classic example.

I've been looking for Sarah for many years, and have ordered several marriage certificates, which have not proved to be hers.  At some point I stopped looking for her.....

Today, while tracing some cousins of hers, I went down her line again and took another fresh look for her.  Victory at last!

Sarah was born in May 1844 in Barkston, Lincolnshire.  She is in the 1851 and 1861 census with her parents, but I hadn't been able to find a marriage in Lincolnshire for her, and didn't know where she disappeared to.   By using the basic technique of searching a census with her first name only, age, and birth location I found a Sarah Carter and husband Thomas living in Barkston.  This looked like a likely possibility -- why hadn't I checked this before?  I then searched the Civil Registration Marriage records and found a marriage in 1867 for Thomas and Sarah in Ecclesall Bierlow Registration District, in Sheffield, Yorkshire!  Despite the fact they were both from Lincolnshire.

This all adds up, as there was significant migration of many of my Toulson ancestors between Lincolnshire and Sheffield.  There was obviously work to be had there, and my supposition is that Sarah was working there as a Domestic Servant.  Thomas was a blacksmith.  I need to order the marriage certificate to document this, and make sure that she has the right Father and age, but I'm confident it's her.

All the subsequent clues match up -- they live in Barkston in 1871 and 1881, their children are all born in Barkston, and the naming patterns all match up, with their first child, Mary Ann, named for her Grandmother Mary Ann Castledine Toulson.

Sometime between 1882 and 1891 the family moved to Doncaster, and Sarah dies there in 1911. Her husband lives on to 1932, and on the 1911 census entry he states that he was married 45 years, and there were 10 children born, with 7 still living. 

Now, on to find descendants of these 7 new ancestors of mine!!!  Unfortunately they all have fairly common names and live in Doncaster, a large area to search!  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks -- George Toulson

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks ---

Hmmmm, who should I choose?  Seems appropriate to start with the ancestor that started me off on this 35+ year journey of genealogy, my Grandfather.

I never met my Toulson grandfather --- he died many years before I was born, but I was always curious as to our surname (which is rare in the USA) and why he emigrated from England.  I was sure there was some deep, dark secret.....

All I knew was the village he came from, Fulbeck, Lincolnshire and that he came to Iowa because he had an Uncle there, and eventually came to California. 

I started with the basics (good genealogy advice for anyone) and wrote to the Vicar in Fulbeck, asking for my Grandfather's baptism record. This was in 1976, so it was snail-mail.  Several months later a letter arrived with a typewritten listing of my Grandfather's baptism date, along with 4 siblings!  SIBLINGS? Who were these people?  We had no idea he had any brothers or sisters, as he'd never spoken of his family.

Turns out there was another sister, and 2 half-siblings born before his Mother married!!!

Over the ensuing years, I have uncovered more about the siblings - a sister and half-sister died as infants, a brother died in a tragic accident as a teenager, a half-brother was raised by Grandparents, another brother died a bachelor, a sister married a miner and moved to Nottingham, and finally, the last brother was a CHALLENGE!  It took me until the 2000's to find his descendants - all because I made a classic genealogy mistake.  I discounted the possibility that they brother would have relocated and moved away for work. 

With the advent of more records being digitized, I've found further records about my Grandfather, beyond just baptism, marriage, death and census records.  I've found his World War One Draft record, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding a traffic accident he was involved in, etc.

Slowly and surely, I feel I have a better idea of what his life was like and what an amazing journey from a small village in rural Lincolnshire to Ellis Island to Clinton, Iowa to Oklahoma, and on to California.  The story goes, he was headed to Australia next......but a little matter of a wife and baby on the way got in the way with that! 

Re-visiting old names & old lines.....never a waste of time!

Christmas and New Years holidays always mean I manage to find some time to get back to genealogy. This year is no different......

Not having any real plan of action, I started by roaming through the British Newspaper Archive, looking for Elson/Elstone entries.  Lo and behold, came across this interesting tidbit:

Grantham Journal, October 7, 1871:
Fulbeck - Affiliation -- John Henry Tripp of Binbrook, was charged by Elizabeth Elston of Fulbeck, for arrears in bastardy, an order of 2 shillings per week having been made by the Magistrate on the 7th October 1870. The cost of order, &c,. at the time, amounted to 5 Pounds, 14 Shillings, 3 Pence, and the defendant not having paid anything since the birth of the child, on the 1st Sept 1870, she now summoned him for arrears.  Defendant said the reason he had not paid was because he was not the Father of the child. The whole amount was now 10 Pounds, 11 Shillings, 9 Pence, and defendant requested to be allowed to write home to friends and obtain the required amount. He was ordered to be detained into custody for 3 calendar months for the first amount of 5 Pounds, 14 Shillings, 3 Pence.

This led me down a path of exploration, as to the life of Elizabeth (sadly she died a year later) and her son Harry Thomas Tripp Elson Moore (he used the surname of his Father, Mother, and Uncle who raised him).

Looking for poor Harry after his Mother's death, led me to find him in the 1881 and 1891 Censuses living with his Mother's Sister. This clue led me to her married name(s), which I had heretofore been unable to find.

So from one article about a bastardy order, I discovered:
  • a new ancestor, my 1st cousin twice removed - Harry Thomas Tripp Elson Moore
  • the death date of Great Grand Aunt Elizabeth Elson
  • the marriages of Great Grand Aunt Anne Elson to William Moore and David Bates

Another line that I hadn't looked at in a year or so, was the Carew family in Devon, one that has always proved hard to research, as there is a very wealthy Carew family (with lots of records), and my family which was poor and clearly not related to them!

I trolled through Ancestry and ran across Priscilla Carew (my 1st cousin 4 times removed) and there were lots of hints about a marriage to Stephen Wasley and their emigration to Adelaide, Australia.

South Australian Register Wednesday 17 July 1850
Tuesday, July 16 — The brig Phantom 156 tons, Brown, master, from Sydney 24th June. Passengers — Mrs Evans, Mr Barton, Mr Arnold, George Knight, James Edwards and son, Stephen Wasley wife and child, John Anderson, and James Martin.

How had I missed this before? Had I discounted it, as not her?  On second review, it was definitely her and WOW......that opened a can of worms! I spent ALL DAY working on her MANY descendants, and still have more to do.  Luckily the Australian branch of the family had lots of documentation and photos!

Just goes to show that re-visiting some old names and old lines, can prove fruitful. There are always new links, new sources, and possibly new connections you hadn't previously investigated.