Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bound for America – back and forth across the pond

Ellis Island, gateway to the U.S. as it looked in New York harbor in the early 1900's .
Jamie’s research now led him to an examination of both ship and US Immigration records and then to other sources of US records. I will attempt to list his findings sequentially, my apologies for any repetition from previous posts but I feel it is of value to review Jamie’s research in historical date order:


William Robison (or Robinson?), born England 1857, arrives in USA

Looking at the Census records for FINNs in Birmingham it can be seen that in the 1881 Census, at 10 House/ 9 Court Weaman Street, Birmingham there is a Thomas FINN (36) his wife Bridget (34) both born in Galway, Ireland and their children, Mary (9), ANNIE (6) Born 1874, Margaret,(4), Ellen (2), Mary Flynn (60) Mother, Margaret Flynn (26) Sister, Maria Flynn (24) Sister in law and Mary BALICAN, Boarder aged 40 from Galway, Ireland.

In the 1891 Census the family are living at 6 back 101, Hospital Street, Birmingham but at this time Thomas is now a widower.


My Grandfather's (John Walter WALTON) mother Mary WALTON (nee HOGAN), lived at 2 house 10 Court St George Street (page from 1925 B'ham Voters List) from about 1890 until 1933. As she came from Galway I am sure that she would have known the FINN family very well and that they were close, which is clear from the fact that John Walter WALTON and later his widow lived next door to a member of the FINN family at various addresses for years. Also that Martha Walton, John's widow stated John FINN was her grandfather when she travelled to the US in 1922.


Census of 1891

Address: Court 5 House 5, Lancaster Street, Birmingham

FINN, Patrick Head Married M 56 1835 Bricklayers Labourer Ireland
FINN, Cathorine Wife Married F 52 1839 Ireland
FINN, Mary Daughter Single F 37 1854 Spoon Tinner Birmingham
FINN, Annie Daughter Single F 23 1868 Press Worker Birmingham
RATCHFORD, Ellen Daughter Married F 30 1861 Spoon Polisher Birmingham
RATCHFORD, John Grandson M 8 1883 Birmingham
RATCHFORD, James Grandson M 3 1888 Birmingham
RATCHFORD, Thomas Grandson M 1 1890 Birmingham


On the FreeBMD there is a record of an ANNIE FINN marrying a THOMAS McKeirnan in Birmingham in the June Quarter of 1893, 6d, 313.


A check of US Naturalisation records show that a William ROBISON of 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio, became a US Citizen on 24/3/1899, his record shows he was born in England on 9/3/1857 and arrived in the USA on 27/7/1881.


Catherine FINN, aged 60, a widow, Charwoman, last residence, Birmingham, was going to the US to visit her daughter, Mrs Robinson at 25, Dalloff Street, Cleveland, Ohio, who she stated paid for her passage and gave her $8 dollars to enter the US with. She travelled on the White Star liner SS Cymric from Liverpool on 6th October 1899 to New York.


Catherine FINN, aged 60 (now listed as married) Last residence Birmingham, states she is going to visit her daughter, Mrs Robinson at 25, Dalloff Street, Cleveland, Ohio again. However this time she is travelling with Agnes McNamara aged 31, a Domestic, married, last residence Birmingham, she is visiting her sister Mrs O'Neil of 815, St Clair Street, Cleveland, Ohio, who also paid for her passage. They travelled on the White Star liner SS Teutanic from Liverpool on 15th December 1899 to New York. Could Mrs O'Neil and Mrs Robinson be sisters? (Jamie adds: is Agnes McMamara also Catherine Finns daughter?)


Catherine FINN, aged 60, a widow again, housekeeper, last residence, Birmingham, travelling to visit her daughter in Cleveland, Ohio, no address given this time, she states her daughter paid for the passage. Her health is described as 'Senility'. She travelled on the White Star Liner, SS Germanic from Liverpool on 8th August 1900 to New York. In all cases she stated she could not read or write in all the 3 ship's manifests.


When James FINN went to Cleveland in 1904 he stated he was visiting his son-in-law William Robinson 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio. In the 1900 US Census there is a William Robinson born Dudley 9/3/1857, who died in Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga, on 6/6/1927 aged 70 years and was buried at the Woodlands Cemetery on 9/6/1927. His wife's name was Elizabeth (might have been a second wife?). His fathers name was Joseph, mother Elizabeth Robinson (nee Cadman) he was a widower and worked as a Water Engineer for Standard Oil. He lived at 11714 Lenacrave Street, Cleveland.


James FINN, aged 66, stated to be single and Irish, travelling to Cleveland,Ohio, to visit his son-in-law William Robinson, 68, Jewett Street, Cleveland, Ohio, last residence Liverpool, he states that his son-in-law paid for the passage. He travelled on the liner, SS Majestic from Liverpool on 9th November 1904 to New York. He was also unable to read or write.

Emigrants arriving at Ellis Island in the early 1900s


Sr. Marie Nativa was born November 4, 1906 in Birmingham, England to Thomas McKiernan [born in Ireland] and Anna Finn McKiernan [born in England]. Her baptism was at St. Chads Cathedral in Birmingham November 18, 1906.


Census of 1911

1, 3, Court House, Weaman Street, Birmingham

FINN, John
Head Married
M 44
born 1857
Bricklayers Labourer
Born St Peters Birmingham, Warwickshire

FINN, Catherine
Wife Married
F 40
Born 1861
Press Worker
Born in Bath St, Birmingham, Warwickshire


Sailing on the SS Celtic on 17th August 1911 from Liverpool to Philadelphia, USA, was a Miss ELLEN RATCHFORD aged 18 years, a Domestic, her next of kin was given as her mother, Mrs E. Ratchford of Court 1, 8 house St George Street, Birmingham, she was travelling to Cleveland, Ohio.

She also had a travelling companion, a John McKIERNAN aged 18 years, of 64, Hanley Street, Birmingham. On the 1901 census, he is 6 years old and living with his family at 10 Court 3, Legge Street, Birmingham.


Sailing on the SS Merion on 18th September 1912 from Liverpool to Philadelphia, USA, I found the following passengers, ELLEN RATCHFORD aged 43 yrs, a brass polisher, her next of kin is given as Mrs E. RATCHFORD of St Georges Street, Birmingham. With her are her 2 children, Alice Ratchford aged 13 years and Bernard Ratchford aged 11. The record states that they are going to visit a friend Mrs Julie ROBINSON in Cleveland, Ohio.

Jamie adds: Mrs Ellen Ratchford who sailed in 1912 must be the daughter of Patrick and Catherine FINN, who was living with them at 5 Court, 5 house 19, Lancaster Street Birmingham in the 1891 Census, she is even a Spoon Polisher!!

The Catherine FINN travelling to the US must be her mother?

So who is the 18 year old Ellen Ratchford travelling in 1911? Could she have been the Nun 'Aunt Nell'

The landing stage at Liverpool, 1912


US immigration records show that sailing on the SS Merion from Liverpool to Philadelphia on 30/9/1912, we have the following Birmingham family, Thomas McKeirnan aged 38 his wife ANNIE aged 38, Thomas aged 16, Katie aged 11, Julia aged 9, ANNIE aged 4 and Mary E. Aged 2.

On the second page of the record it clearly states that the family are visiting a SISTER named Julia ROBINSON at 2991 E 59 Street, Cleveland, Ohio. Thomas states he was born in Dublin, Ireland, ANNIE in Birmingham, England. Thomas also states that he and his son Thomas had visited Cleveland, Ohio before and stayed for 6 months.

The wife ANNIE gives her age as 38 years, which means she was born around 1874.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission website shows 2 potential relatives of the family, L/Cpl 11125 H.Ratchford, Worcestershire Regt died 25/7/1915 son of Mr J. Ratchford, 7, Pritchett Street, Birmingham and Pte Owen Finn, 7267 1st Bn Worcestershire Regt died 25/9/1915 son of the late Michael and Mary Finn, 22, Smith Street, Hockley, Birmingham.


US Army Draft cards for 1917, when the USA entered the First World War.

Registered on 6/5/1917, at the Local Board for District No3, Central Armory, Cleveland, Ohio is JAMES RATCHFORD, born on 2nd October 1887, (29yrs) of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, an Alien, working as a Linesman for the Bell Telephone Company. He was living at 3030 West 44 Street, Cleveland with his WIFE and MOTHER (no names given)

On the 1917/18 US Draft cards there is a record of Thomas William McKeirnan aged 24, born 26/4/1893 in Birmingham, England, a Machinist, states he is a Alien.

Also of Bernard McKeirnan aged 19 years, born 28/12/1898, England, also a Machinist, both give thier address as 2659 East 67 Street, Cleveland, Ohio. I could not find any record that they were called up for war service. Bernard, who would have been 14 years old, was not with the family when they travelled in 1912.


Martha Lilly WALTON, (Jamie’s Grandmother) aged 33, a housekeeper, last residence Birmingham, travelling to Cleveland, Ohio, she states her next of kin to be her Grandfather John (spelt Trim) (sounded) Finn of 75, Coventry Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, she was living at 74, Coventry Street, Digbeth at that time. She travelled on the SS Olympic sailing from Southampton on 14th April 1922 to New York. She apparently stayed for 6 months and returned to Birmingham with the intention of returning to Cleveland with her 4 daughters, but the girls were removed from the ship at Liverpool, after their Grandmother, Mary WALTON (deceased fathers mother) took an injunction out to stop them being removed from the country. They all returned to Birmingham and never made it to Cleveland.


John FINN aged 19, a Clerk, states he is English, but race as Irish , last residence, Birmingham, his next of kin is given as his sister, Miss M.E. FINN, 75, Foley Road, Washwood Heath, Birmingham, he states he is travelling to New Jersey City. He travelled on the SS President Adams on 1st July 1922 from London to New York.


On the 9th August 1922, the White Star liner SS Celtic returned to Liverpool from New York, on that ship travelling in Third Class, was a typed record stating that one of the passengers was Martha WALTON aged 33 years living at 75, Coventry Street, Birmingham. Remember she had travelled to the US in April 1922.

Jamie added: Travelling with my grandmother and listed above her is ELLEN RATCHFORD, 62 years a wife, living at 74, Coventry Street, Birmingham. (John and Catherine FINN actually lived at 75 and Martha Walton at 74.)


Sister Marie Nativa did not enter the order until 1925, this photo could not have been in circulation until after that date so I suspect that this photo was given out by the proud parents of the Nun, Thomas and Annie McKeirnan when they came to England with Julia Robinson in 1932? Who lived at 18 Park Road in 1932 I wonder?

Sister Maria Nativa entered the religious congregation of the Sisters of Humility of Mary on January 23, 1925 from St. Edward Church in Cleveland, Ohio .

The convent do not have any of the details as to when the family left England nor when they came to Cleveland, Ohio .

There were Sisters of the Humility of Mary teaching grades 1 – 8 at St. Edward at that time.


On the 1930 US Census for Cleveland, Ohio, there is recorded Thomas McKeirnan aged 62, his wife ANNIE aged 62, children now, Julia aged 29, Nellie aged 30 and Bernard aged 31.

Cleveland, Ohio 1931


This time on UK immigration records we have returning to Liverpool on the SS Seythia, on 29/6/1932, 3 passengers travelling together, Julia Robinson aged 67, Thomas and ANNIE McKeirnan both aged 64, they gave the address they were staying at in England as 18, Park Road, Birmingham, (no district given, but it would be nice to see who lived at the address). So in 1932, the McKeirnans and the sister Julia Robinson made a return trip to Birmingham. By this time Julia Robinson was a proud US Citizen as on one of her trips across the Atlantic on the SS Oceanic sailing from Liverpool on 10/4/1901, in a list of all British passengers, she proudly states that she is a US Citizen on the page. Thomas McKeirnan became a US Citizen on 22/1/1921.


Birth of Well, 4 Star General David D McKeirnan born 9/7/1947 is from Cleveland, Ohio and was the last US Commander in Afghanistan (2009) before General McCrystal. Due to his position details are a bit lacking however I really believe he could be descended from the original family. Also there is a Father Vincent McKeirnan who is in Cleveland Ohio.

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