Hopkins families: the Curtins from Ireland to Leamington and New Jersey
Some DNA matches make no sense at all with no common names or even places of birth. But sometimes a familiar name does occur though maybe in a different context or place, and that was Jeremiah Curtin. As far as I was aware there were Curtins in the Hopkins line, but no Jeremiah; a bit of deeper digging though showed that his father was a Patrick Curtin, born in Ireland in about 1813: the same as the father of Mary Ann Curtin in the Hopkins tree. Were Jeremiah and Mary Ann siblings despite their being born twenty years apart, the former in Ireland and the latter in Warwick? Patrick Curtin and his wife Ellen Mullins were both from Ireland, and while they don't seem to appear on the 1851 census in England they had a son Patrick born in the Warwick registration district - possibly in Leamington - in 1852 who died in Bilston in Staffordshire two years later. They may be the Patrick Curtin and Ellen Mullane who married in Mourneabbey in 1837, which would tie in with Jeremiah's birth which he says in the 1861 census was in 1838 in Cork, and also Ellen's statement of her own birth in Balmona in 1815 in the 1881 census which may be a garbled memory of Ballinamona. While I can't find a baptism for Jeremiah this Patrick and Ellen had other children baptised in Mourneabbey: Catherine in 1842, who presumably died as there was another Catherine baptised in 1848, and a child with an illegible name in 1845. Jeremiah would seem to be the only survivor of any children born in Ireland. Patrick Curtin's origins are more confused: his birth varies from 1811 to 1816, and from Mayo to Cork; and while Mayo fits in better with the DNA results the name Curtin, especially linked with Jeremiah, seems more connected to Cork. Once in England they seem to have first settled in the Warwick area with the birth of their son Patrick there in 1852. They must have moved as a family to Bilston in Staffordshire where young Patrick died in 1854. Jeremiah, now aged 16 or 17, probably settled in this area working in one of the local iron works, while Patrick and Ellen returned to Warwick for the birth of their daughter Mary Ann on the 10th October 1856 in Bowling Green Street when Patrick was working as an agricultural labourer. Jeremiah married his first wife, Mary Joyce in Bilston on the 9th August 1857 and they had two daughters, Ellen born in 1858 and Mary Ann born in 1860. In the 1861 census Jeremiah is living on Holyhead Road, Wednesbury with his daughter Ellen and his father Patrick; Jeremiah's daughter Mary Ann is living a few doors away with the Gallagher family. Both Jeremiah and Patrick are employed at the iron works, Jeremiah as a puddler and Patrick as a labourer. There is no sign of Jeremiah's wife Mary, and she may be the Mary Curtis [sic] whose death was registered in the second quarter of that year. Meanwhile in 1861 Patrick's wife Ellen and daughter Mary Ann are living at 6 Pinders Court, John Street, Leamington, with Ellen just described as a labourer. On the 25th October 1863 Jeremiah married his second wife, Mary Higgins in Bilston. Their first son Jeremiah was born in 1864 and died the same year; two more sons followed: John Patrick on the 19th June 1866, and Thomas Joseph on the 7th August 1868. The 1871 census finds this family living on Temple Street in Bilston, but Mary is now a widow, supporting her young family by keeping a mangle; Jeremiah had perished in a dreadful explosion at the Moxley Iron Works on the 28th September 1868. TERRIBLE BOILER EXPLOSION AT MOXLEY. ELEVEN LIVES LOST. Between seven and eight o’clock on Monday evening, a distressing fatality happened at the Moxley Steel and Iron Works, belonging to Messrs. Wells. Whilst the works were in full operation one of two upright furnace boilers in the forge suddenly blew up with a tremendous report, and in an instant the entire of the forge was in ruins. So soon as men were once more able to move without dread of instant death, they all made for the forge, and began to search for the dead and dying. Six bodies were found, most of them terribly burned and disfigured. On Tuesday four more men and youths expired at the South Staffordshire Hospital, and one at Darlaston, bringing up the number of deaths to eleven. Birmingham Journal 3 October 1868 Jeremiah was one of the five men killed instantly, as a puddler he would have been close to the furnace, though it took the newspapers a long time to get his name right, and his death was also registered as Curtis. All five stood when the accident happened in front of their furnaces, wearing no other habilments than their trousers and shirt. The whole of the upper portion of their frames were utterly unprotected from the burning action of the red-hot iron and the crushing of the falling weights of iron and brickwork. […] The corpses of [Joseph] Reynolds and Jeremiah Curtis [sic] were the most mutilated. Manchester Times 3 October 1868 The noise of the blast must have been heard and felt all over the town, and you can imagine the crowds descending on the works anticipating an enormous tragedy; and it's not hard to imagine Mary among this crowd perhaps carrying her six week-old son. The bodies were removed to the stables of the Swan Inn where they were laid out for identification and a preliminary inquest: The sight was indeed a distressing one, when relatives of the deceased tore a way through the crowd which surrounded the stable to get a sight of and wail over those dear to them whom they had seen, only an hour or so before, in the full vigour of life. Manchester Times 3 October 1868 This preliminary inquest in Moxley took place on the 30th September and was mainly for the purpose of identifying the dead and the Coroner adjourned the inquiry until the following Monday the 5th of October in order that all the evidence might be got together, and that the boiler might be inspected by some one whom he would authorise for that purpose. There were separate inquests held in Wolverhampton on the men who had died in hospital, but ultimately they all returned a verdict of Accidental Death though with recommendations from the juries that: [...] we are of the opinion that if proper inspections of the boiler had taken place this explosion would not had happened. We are further of opinion that a boiler of the same make as that exploded is not safe with the amount of heat worked into it, and that steam gauges should be used, and a proper inspection made by a competent person. [the jury at Moxley] wish to suggest to the owners of boilers generally that repeated examinations of boilers should be made from time to time by a competent person other than the engineer in charge as working engineer. Staffordshire Advertiser 10 October 1868 It appeared from the evidence submitted that the boiler in question had had over its fourteen year life a patchwork of repairs, “having been three times new bottomed” and was probably working at a pressure higher than that recommended on installation. Two days before the explosion the works engineer had “found some seams sprung, and taking the old ones out [had] put some new rivets in.” Staffordshire Advertiser 10 October 1868 The main report on the state of the boiler was made by Mr. E. B. Marten, chief engineer of the Midland Steam Boiler Inspection and Assurance Association, and comments were made to the effect that had the Wells's boilers been insured they would have faced far more rigorous inspection. None of Messrs. Wells’s boilers are either insured or are under independent official inspection, but so admirably had the works been conducted in every department that from the opening of the oldest portion, in 1845, no fatal accident occurred at them until last January, when an engineer was killed by getting his arm in the shears. Birmingham Journal 3 October 1868 The carnage would have been far worse if the largest part of the boiler had not been carried out of the works and right across to the other side of the Birmingham Canal; small consolation one imagines to those so tragically bereaved. The body of one of the deceased was found in the canal 30 foot from the point of the explosion, drowned, but apparently otherwise uninjured. Ultimately there were thirteen deaths from the explosion, with most of those in hospital dying from their injuries. An appeal has been put forth in aid of the widows and orphans, 30 in number, of the sufferers. The fund is started by donations amounting to £80 from Mr. Wells and his sons, who have also expended £100 in funeral expenses and temporary relief to the survivors. Donations will be received by the Rev. J. P. Wilson, of Moxley, and Dr. M’Cave, of Bilston. Staffordshire Advertiser 10 October 1868 Jeremiah's funeral took place on Sunday 4th October, and he was buried in Bilston cemetery with three others who had been killed in the explosion: John Passmore (supposedly Jeremiah's nephew), Noah Millard, and Charles Higgins (who may be a relation of Jeremiah's wife Mary). “About 120 members of the Ancient Order of Foresters, to which Jeremiah Curtin belonged, followed the funeral. An immense concourse of spectators, estimated to number 5,000, were also present. It was a very impressive scene.” Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser 7 October 1868. The Wellington Journal added that one of the Foresters' members made a funeral oration. Perhaps some of the money raised went towards the purchase of Mary's mangle, though it seems a precarious income for a widow with four young children to support. In January 1876 Mary married again; her new husband was Thomas Buckley, and they had a daughter Margaret born the following year. The 1881 census finds the family living in Littles Lane in Wolverhampton. Thomas Buckley appears to be nearly twenty years older than Mary, (though she has marked her age down 5 years when compared with the last census), and he gives his birthplace as Cork; he says he's a Breeze [coke] merchant employing 5 men and 6 women, so this should be a moderately well-off household. The two Curtin boys are still at home: John, now 14, is working as a Forge labourer in an iron works; Thomas, 12, is a Whitesmith; Margaret Buckley is aged 4. There is no sign of Jeremiah's oldest daughters, Ellen and Mary Ann, who would now be 22 and 20 respectively. This was the last English census any of the family would appear in, and most of them next appear across the Atlantic. It was one of Mary Ann's descendants who would provide the DNA match. She married Ferris Eleazur (Frank) Deming on the 3rd of July 1887 in New York and that is where they are living at the time of the 1900 census with four children. Mary Ann says she has been 22 years in the United States, which would put her immigration in 1878, though she probably arrived in September 1880, and probably with her sister Ellen; this explains their absence on the 1881 census in England. Between 1881 and 1891 the rest of the family followed them: John Patrick Curtin first appears in New Jersey in the 1900 census with a wife Minnie, and in later censuses he is fairly consistent in giving his immigration as in 1884/85, he was naturalised in October 1887, and is working variously as a furniture dealer, carpet store manager and salesman. According to the 1905 census John and Minnie have been married five years, and have had two children both of whom have died. However in three of the following censuses - 1905, 1915 and 1920 - there are two children living with them, John and Catherine Curtin born in about 1904 in New Jersey and 1905 in New York respectively who in 1920 are identified as nephew and niece. Thomas Curtin married Josephine Liebnitz before October 1899 when their son Henry Thomas was born in Newark, New Jersey, though on the birth record she uses her stepfather's surname of Townsend. They are living in Bergen, New Jersey in 1910 when he gives his date of immigration as 1888, and he's a furniture buyer. By 1920 they have moved to Brooklyn and Thomas is a manager in the furniture industry with date of immigration unknown, and in 1930 he says 1880. The probability is that he came at the same time as his brother John. Thomas died in Brooklyn in 1942. Living with John and Minnie in 1940 is a widowed sister, Margaret Schweitzer, aged 60 and born in England. This would appear to be Margaret Buckley. In 1930 John Patrick Curtin and Minnie were living in the same house as Margaret Schweitzer and her husband Bernard Joseph and his children from his first marriage. From the US censuses it is apparent that Mary Buckley and her daughter Margaret had crossed the Atlantic by 1900 for they appear in that census living at 253 Walnut Street in Newark, New Jersey. Mary says here that she is aged 57, widowed, immigrated in 1883, has been 16 years in the United States, and is the mother of four children, three of whom are living; her daughter Margaret, now aged 22, is working as a Saleslady. Ten years later, in 1910, they are still at the same address and give the date of immigration as 1884; Margaret is now a Mill hand, and aged 31. At the same address in 1920, Mary, now 76, is possibly getting a bit confused: Margaret is now aged 30 and Mary's widowed daughter-in-law, and working again as a Saleslady (though this may be a completely different Margaret Buckley - I'm preferring the confused version). They apparently both immigrated in 1890 (when Margaret would have been new born, according to these dates), and Mary was naturalised in 1895, and Margaret in 1915. There is a possible explanation that Thomas Buckley had a family before he married the widowed Mary Curtin, and that this Margaret is the widow of one of his sons; but Thomas Buckley is one of those people who come into the family tree from apparently nowhere, and disappear almost immediately. There is only Mary's word in 1900 that she is a widow; did the whole family from Wolverhampton in 1881 emigrate at the same time? And on which side of the Atlantic did Thomas die? Margaret Buckley must have married Bernard Joseph Schweitzer after 1920 anyway, for in that census he is still living with his first wife Jennie. Margaret and Bernard were probably both buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange, New Jersey: Bernard in 1932, and Margaret in 1964, aged 84. What happened to the Curtins back in England? We left Patrick Curtin in 1861 in Bilston, and his wife Ellen and their youngest daughter Mary Ann in Leamington. Did they return to Bilston to support Mary after Jeremiah's death? Perhaps, but by 1871 Patrick and Ellen are back in Pindars Court, Leamington, though Ellen and Mary Ann also seem to appear in this census at the Coach and Horses, Upper Bedford Street, Leamington, where Ellen is working as a nurse and Mary Ann, aged 14, as a servant. Mary Ann married Martin Brannen on the 7th April 1872 in St. Peter's Church, Leamington, and her mother, Ellen, is a witness; they both give their address as John Street, Leamington, so they are both probably still at Pinders Court. She was 16, and he was 22 according to the marriage certificate, but he was probably five years older than that, appearing in the 1871 census in Warwick with his father Michael, as born in Ireland in 1845. If Curtin proved a difficult name for the English to understand, with variants from Curten to Curtain, Courting to even Curtis, then Brannen was even worse with every vowel apparently interchangeable with another except for 'u'; which doesn't help with tracing them. It does help that they stayed in Leamington and gave their children Roman Catholic baptisms. Their first son was baptised, not surprisingly, as Jeremiah, when one week old on the 4th May 1873; sadly his death was registered at the end of the same year in the Wolverhampton registration district, which does strongly suggest that the Moxley and Leamington families were still very much in touch. His godmother on his baptism was Ellen Curtin; would his grandmother also have been his godmother, or was this Ellen his cousin, Jeremiah's daughter from his first marriage who would now be aged 15? Their next son was baptised John on the 3rd January 1875; and a daughter Mary Ann, who was baptised on the 20th February 1876 died before the end of that year. Things seem to get a bit more complicated after this; Mary Ann presented four more children for baptism in Leamington: Thomas in 1877, Joseph in 1880, Agnes in 1881 and Andrew in 1884. In each case there is no father named in the baptismal register, and no maiden name is given for Mary. Thomas and Joseph both died before their first birthdays, but Agnes and Andrew both appear in Mary's later family. It would seem that Martin has gone missing; was he the father of Thomas, Joseph and Agnes? Andrew's father is however known, he was Andrew Rankin, born in Glasgow in 1859. So the 1881 census finds Mary and her surving son John lodging at 13 Henrys Court, Satchwell Street, Leamington; Mary says she is married and working as a laundress. Her parents aren't too far away in Leamington Priors: Patrick is 70 and Ellen is 66, and he died in 1885. Mary's daughter Agnes was born at the end of 1881, but by the end of 1883 Mary was in a relationship with Andrew Rankin that would end in marriage and six more children after the Andrew born in 1884. Andrew Rankin, of course, has a back story. In 1871 he is in Glasgow, aged 12, living with his widowed father William who is a shoemaker, and working as a Labeller in a bottling works. By 1881 he has married Elizabeth Bell and has a daughter, Margaret, aged 2, and he is now working as a bottler of aerated waters; another daughter, Susan, was born at the end of 1881. Andrew left this family in the spring of 1883 ostensibly to get better paid work in England, and ended up in Leamington employed at the mineral water works; this was presumably with the promise of sending money home to support his family in Glasgow. When the money didn't materialise in sufficient quantities, Elizabeth, who obviously knew where he was, threatened to tell his employer. Meanwhile Andrew had struck up a relationship with Mary Brannen, and when Andrew Brannen's birth was registered in 1885, although there is no father named on the certificate, Mary's occupation is stated to be “bottle-wirer”, so probably working in the same place as Andrew. With his employer now on to him, Andrew and Mary ran away to Lincoln, where a daughter, Ellen, was born in 1886, again with no father on the certificate, and Mary now a laundress. Andrew seems to have been finding work where he could, and their next move was to Wisbech where they got married in the Catholic Church on the 13th of October 1886. They both give their address as Chapel Street, in Wisbech St. Peter and Mary describes herself as a widow, so probably the Martin Brennen who died in the West Bromwich registration district in 1885 was her husband, and Mary as a good Catholic valued her immortal soul too highly to consider bigamy. Andrew, however, with no scruples, not only says he is a bachelor, but also gives his name as Andrew Rankin Wilson, with his father William Rankin Wilson; he is now working as a bricklayer's labourer. Settled in Wisbech, Andrew soon found his way back into his old employment, and on birth certificates and in the 1891 census he is described variously as a “soda- water manufacturer's journeyman”, a “mineral water worker” and in 1898 “foreman at mineral water works”. Mary's mother, Ellen Curtin, shows up in the 1891 census, living with them as mother-in-law, and she died, back in Leamington, in 1900. By 1901 Andrew and Mary have moved into Summerfield in Birmingham, where he is working as a “steel tube drawer” at the time of the census; by 1911 thay have moved across to Aston and he has returned to mineral water manufacture. Whether the mineral water work had dried up or not, by 1917, when he died he was a “brass worker”. His Glasgow family, not surprisingly, fell on hard times, and at whatever stage Elizabeth turned to alcohol, by the September of 1886 it was reported that “the mother is bad and children need help”. The girls were placed in the City Orphan Home, James Morrison Street, Glasgow, and on the 13th of September they were moved to the Quarrier Home at Bridge of Weir and on 13th May 1887 as members of a party of 110 children they were sent to the Marchmont Home, Belleville, Ontario, on the ship Siberian. These Home Children were placed in Canadian homes where they had to work until they were 18. ** Both girls survived and apparently thrived in their new country, with both marrying and producing between them nineteen children; not surprisingly there are some DNA matches amongst their descendants. Elizabeth married Richard Best in Glasgow in 1897; she emigrated to Canada in 1911 and as Lizzie Best, she is widowed and living with her married daughter Susan in 1916 in Saskatchewan. It does appear however that one of these nineteen returned to England. A daughter Helen Perkins was born to Margaret Rankin in Winnipeg in 1905 with no father named, before she married her husband, Thomas Budd. Helen was absorbed into the Budd family and appears with this surname on all the Canadian censuses, one of which acknowledges her as step-daughter. Using her original surname Perkins - which may indicate the identity of her father, and rather odd as Margaret's sister Susan married a Perkins - Helen married Frederick Basil James in Winnipeg in 1927. Frederick was a recent arrival in Canada and had travelled with his older brother Richard Pryce Davies James in 1925 on board the Marloch, both farmers from Pen-y-gelli Farm, Newtown in Montgomeryshire (now in Powys), Wales. While Richard was eventually to move south to Chicago, Frederick gave up on Canada and took his wife and young son Bruce back across the Atlantic to England. They arrived in London on the Ausonia from New York and Halifax on the 4th March 1931, and intended to return to Pen-y-gelli Farm, Newtown where he was living with his family in 1911, and where his widowed mother was still living in 1939. However when the 1939 register was compiled - which confirms Helen's birth date from the Manitoba record - Frederick and Helen are living near Witney in Oxfordshire with Frederick working as a Head cowman (machine milker); their son Bruce is now 12, and has been joined by another sibling whose record is still officially closed. The family would later move to Northamptonshire. ** With thanks to Lynda for the Glasgow research
Birmingham Daily Gazette 08 October 1868
Ancient Order of Foresters / Foresters Friendly Society “Our first members came to recognise they had a duty to assist their fellow men and women who sometimes needed help “as they walked through the forests of life”. This need arose principally when a breadwinner fell ill, could not work and received no wages. Providing financial and social support to our members has been the main purpose of Foresters Friendly Society throughout our long history. Back then, Members recognised that by paying a few pence a week into a common fund, they would be able to offer sick pay and funeral grants when needed.”
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