Sunday, 21 March 2010

Developing the extended Finn family tree

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Thanks to Jamie Evans for this latest up-date of his research into the extended Finn family of Newtown, Birmingham, UK in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Regular visitors to my website will know that Jamie and I have been looking into the connections between our respective ancestors and also their connections with Cleveland, Ohio in America.

Because of the nature of the blog format, it is sometimes difficult to present information in a logical or sequential historical order, as one might do in a book. I am however keen to post up this new and exciting data as and when Jamie, or indeed other researchers send it to me, as I think there is a value in demonstrating the process of family history research itself. A lot of this information is found from painstaking detective work which invariably involves a high degree of speculation as we piece together various jigsaw pieces, some of which fit immediately into place whilst others may turn out to be red herrings, or may have to wait for other missing pieces to appear before we can fit them in.

What generally starts to happen after consistantly digging away at a range of sources, as Jamie has been doing here, is that a critical mass of facts starts to form from which the bigger picture becomes almost indisputable. So certain surnames re-occur on different types of records and individuals from one family show up in a record appertaining to another family (e.g. a witness on a marriage certifcate, an additional family member on a census record, a traveling companion going through a migration office, etc) all of which hopefully corroborates our initial theories and helps to develop a factually based family tree.

Here then are some more fascinating jigsaw pieces from Jamie's most recent research:

Marriage of Thomas McKiernan and Annie Finn

The marriage certificate of Thomas McKiernan(25) to Annie FINN (24) both living at 5 Court, Lancaster Street, Birmingham, they married at St Chads RC Cathedral, Birmingham on 3rd April 1893.

Thomas McKiernan was a bachelor, states he is a Wire Worker and his father is Thomas McKiernan a Painter.

Annie FINN states she is a spinster, no job description and that her father is PATRICK FINN a Labourer.

On the Marriage certificate there are 2 witnesses one is named as Lizzie McKiernan, obviously a relative of the groom, but I have not been able to trace any record of her.

The second witness is Thomas GOODWIN

Jamie says:

"I have never heard of him before, however a quick check on Free Cen, 1891 Census, I found a family named GOODWIN living at 52, Bartholomew Street, which is off Bordesley Street, in the old 'Italian' Quarter of the City living there are the following people..."

Goodwin family of Bartholomew Street

Piece: RG12/2384 Place: Birmingham -Warwickshire Enumeration District: 24

Civil Parish: Birmingham Ecclesiastical Parish: St Bartholomew

Folio: 105 Page: 21 Schedule: 118

Address: 52 Bartholomew St.

GOODWIN Winifred Head W F 36 Clothesdealer(Notem) Lancashire - Manchester

GOODWIN Thomas Son S M 17 Solicitor's Clerk(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

GOODWIN Jane Sislaw S F 29 Clothesdealer(Notem) Worcestershire - Dudley

GOODWIN Ada Niece S F 4 Scholar Yorkshire - Sheffield

FINES John Brothr M M 34 Bricklayer's Labourer(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

FINES Catherine Sislaw M F 29 Brass Worker(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

FELLOWS Jane Servnt S F 26 Domestic Servant(Em'ee) Worcestershire - Dudley

RUANE Peter Boardr W M 35 Artisan(Em'ee) Staffordshire - Wolverhampton

Jamie's commentary:

Thomas GOODWIN would have been 19 at the time of the marriage and appears to be well educated to be a Solicitors Clerk, he must have been well thought of in the family to be asked to be a witness, but what was his connection? Could the BRIDE be his mother's SISTER? If so which Patrick Finn Family did they come from?

His mother is Winifred GOODWIN (36) now a widow, another quick search showed that Winifred FINN married James GOODWIN on 20th July 1873 at St Bartholomew's Church, Duddeston Row, Birmingham. (Not RC, but a very local Church to where they were living).

Catherine Finn/Goodwin gives her place of birth as Manchester, does this show up in any of the previous Census's. Which Patrick Finn was her father? He would also be the father of this John and possibly ANNIE!!

Also living there were a John and Catherine FINES, this I would say is a spelling mistake, it should be FINN, Johns year of birth is 1857, the same as the other John Finn, but this one is the brother of Winifred and therefore linked to her parents whichever Patrick and Catherine Finn family they are?

Goodwins in the 1861 Census

A further check of the 1861 Census on Free Cen showed that James Goodwin, is recorded as living with his family in Old Mill Street, Dudley, his mother and father were both from Ireland. His sister Jane is also there.

John's commentary:

"I feel sure that these are the John and Catherine FINN who lived next door to my Grandmother Martha Lily Walton at 75, Coventry Street, Digbeth, Birmingham at the time she went to Cleveland, Ohio in April 1922 and that she named as her next of kin and John as her 'Grandfather' on the US Immigration Forms.

This would be the same John (now 44 a Bricklayers Labourer) and Catherine(40) who were in the 1901 Census living at 1 Court 2 house Weaman Street, City, with 2 boarders. They both give their jobs as the same in both Census's, there is no mention of children.

There is no doubt that Sister Marie Nativa is the daughter of Thomas and Annie McKiernan, but WHICH Patrick is the father of Annie Finn/McKiernan? "

Catherine Finn marries Patrick Duffey (Duffy)

Whilst looking at the family of Patrick and Catherine Finn of 8/1 Lench Street, Birmingham, Jamie found the following regarding their daughter Catherine in the 1891 Census.

Piece: RG12/2420 Place: Aston -Warwickshire Enumeration District: 30

Civil Parish: Aston Ecclesiastical Parish: St Matthew

Folio: 31 Page: 1 Schedule: 1

Address: 1 Coleman Street

DUFFEY Patrick Head M M 29 Slater(Notem) Warwickshire - Birmingham

DUFFEY Catherine Wife M F 29 Warwickshire - Birmingham

DUFFEY Thomas Son S M 7 Scholar Warwickshire - Birmingham

DUFFEY James Son - M 4m Warwickshire - Birmingham

On FreeBMD there is a record of the marriage of Patrick Duffey to Catherine Finn in Birmingham Sept Q, 1885. 6d 36.

Patricks parents lived in Slaney Street, off Weaman Street, a predominately Irish and very poor part of the City at that time. But within yards of the Catholic Cathedral, St Chads.

Piece: RG12/2391 Place: Birmingham -Warwickshire Enumeration District: 36

Civil Parish: Birmingham Ecclesiastical Parish: St Mary's

Folio: 26 Page: 48 Schedule: 277

Address: 22 Ct Hse 2 Slaney St

KENNY Frank Head M M 24 Bicycle Maker(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

KENNY Mary A Wife M F 24 Warwickshire - Birmingham

KENNY Elizabeth Dau S F 2 Warwickshire - Birmingham

KENNY Frank Son S M 1 Warwickshire - Birmingham

DUFFEY Patrick Ftrlaw M M 63 Slater(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

DUFFEY Bridget Ma-Law M F 67 Warwickshire - Birmingham

Pete's commentary:

" What is interesting about the Jamie's discovery of the census address of 1 Coleman Street in Duddeston is that this is exactly the same address that my great grandparents, William Clayton and Mary Helen Finn gave on their own marriage certificate in 1892."


The tale of John Thomas Ratchford

Jamie's research in the past week has uncovered this interesting story about John Thomas Ratchford:

" Whilst trawling Ancestry I came across this information:

1. I have previously mentioned that a John Thomas RATCHFORD aged 18, sailed from Liverpool to the USA on 30th October 1901, aboard the SS Oceanic. On the US Immigration Forms he states that he is a Brass Polisher from Birmingham, England, travelling to Cleveland, Ohio, to visit his Aunt, Julia Robinson at 25, Dalloff Street, Cleveland.

2. If we look at a copy of the 1891Census for Ratchford's we find the following:

Piece: RG12/2393 Place: Birmingham -Warwickshire Enumeration District: 52

Civil Parish: Birmingham Ecclesiastical Parish: Bishop Ryder

Folio: 32 Page: 20 Schedule: 106

Address: Ct 5, 5h, 19 Lancaster Street


FINN Patrick Head M M 56 Bricklayer's Labourer(Em'ee) Ireland - -

FINN Catherine Wife M F 52 Ireland - -

Page: 33/21 FINN Mary Dau S F 37 Spoon Tinner(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

FINN Annie Dau S F 23 Press Worker(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

RATCHFORD Ellen Dau M F 30 Spoon Polisher(Em'ee) Warwickshire - Birmingham

RATCHFORD John Grnson - M 8 Warwickshire - Birmingham

RATCHFORD James Grnson - M 3 Warwickshire - Birmingham

RATCHFORD Thomas Grnson - M 1 Warwickshire - Birmingham

Given that John Ratchford gives his age as 18 in 1901, it appears that he is the above named person aged 8 in 1891 and the son of Mrs Ellen Ratchford(Finn). Although confusing that he gives his second name as Thomas, as he has a brother also named Thomas?

3. Looking on Ancestry at the British Army Service Records of Soldiers who fought in the First World War, I found the record of a JOHN THOMAS RATCHFORD, I immediately knew he was connected to the family because the first page had written on it in large letter's: CLEVELAND, OHIO.

This service record is also unique in another way, where service records are usually about 5 to 10 pages long, this record is 57 pages long!!! Why?

4. Having apparently lived in Cleveland, Ohio since 1901 apparently without taking US Citizenship, on the out break of the First World War in 1914, John Ratchford immediately leaves his nice safe abode in the US to return to war torn England to fight for King and Country, he leaves his job and home and pays for his own return passage arriving in Liverpool on 22nd January 1915 on board the SS Majestic. Lucky in itself considering the submarine U-boat threat when crossing the Atlantic.

5. He immediately volunteers himself for Army service and enlists as Driver T/055562 RASC ( Royal Army Service Corp). On his application he has to give the names of 2 people who would give him a reference, No1, he gives as Mrs Blakemore, Back 45, Howe Street, Birmingham. No2, Mr Joseph Gaughtey, 144, Lupin Street, Birmingham.

6. Due to constrictions of time I was unable to take full details of all his service record, however he appeared to have survived the war without serious injury and in 1919 he informed the Army that he wished to be provided with passage back to the USA at their expense, which was apparently available at that time in thanks for coming to the aid of the mother country.

7. That's when his problems really started, because when he came to England in 1915 he was a single man but whilst over here, at the end of the war, he married a widow with one child, her name was Mrs Kate Varley , the marriage is recorded at Aston in 1919.

8. Apparently the Army didn't mind paying for one passage but for an extra 2 they didn't like it!!! Numerous letters and notes were exchanged trying to get the passage's booked, the Army wanted to see the marriage certificate, the US authorities wanted medical certificates for the new wife and child, they also wanted to know where John and his family were going to live when they got to the US?

9. In a Memorandum dated 19th August 1919 from the RASC Record Office, Woolwich Dockyard, 'J' Section, it states that John's next of kin is his mother Mrs E (Ellen) Ratchford, 5509, Morris Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, so fortunately he had someone to go to where he could stay to restart his life with his new wife and child having survived the First World War.

10. I will endeavour to find out what happened to John Ratchford on his return to Cleveland, Ohio in 1919, hopefully to find that the story has a happy ending.

Jamie Evans "
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