A couple of weeks ago FamilySearch kindly sent me some relatives via email. Since the door to my fancy forebears closed I have been left with a modest pedigree so any “new blood” is most welcome, even if it ain’t blue. I doubt I would ever have unearthed these people – descendants of a third great granduncle, Charles FENN. A gift gratefully received.
Charles (1797 – 1863) was the firstborn child of Jonathan FENN and Anne ALDOUS and he had six children (at least) with Sophia COPEMAN. Two of the children, Charles Jnr and Eve Maria were born in the Gressenhall Workhouse. The second son, William (born 1833), was with his family in the Workhouse in 1841 but ten years later he had, it seems, set out to see the world, leaving behind two brothers and two sisters with their father, widowed in 1850.
William headed north to Durham and on 3rd January 1857 married Margaret Ann McVAY (or McVEY) in Sunderland. Their first child, named Eve Maria after the workhouse baby sister, was not long in arriving but she opened her eyes in New York. Her two brothers and eight sisters would enter the world in New York, Salt Lake City, Idaho, Lewis and Clark County and Park City in Montana. At the 1880 Census they were living in Helena, which was one of the wealthiest towns in the nation around that time. William was working as a boilermaker and I guess his main employers would have been mining companies. Gold was the main source of the area’s wealth but the mountains to the south of Helena had other minerals worth scrabbling for. In Jefferson City, a few miles from Helena, there were over 14,000 claims and 2,500 mines. Checking the satellite view on Google Earth it is the manganese at Wickes that catches the eye.
FamilySearch focused on William and Margaret’s five-year-old daughter Sarah Doremis and I became somewhat emotional imagining her going to school in “Lewis and Clark” country near the Missouri River. (Last year I read Allan Wolf’s novel New Found Land and connected most readily with Meriweather’s wonder dog, Oolum!) Sarah died aged 83 in Cascade, Montana when I was ten years old and totally unaware of her existence. She was my second cousin three times removed.
But what of Delilah FENN, my first cousin four times removed? Sarah’s aunt, she married Frederick RUSSELL in 1867 and bore him 12 children. Fred was a builder and, I suspect, a fairly prosperous one, well able to pay for Delilah to cross the pond to see her 60-year-old brother and surviving nephews and nieces. She sailed for New York from Glasgow aboard the State of Nebraska in1893.
Who knows how many wonderful memories she brought back to “the old country”? She died in Sussex in 1913, age 65.
The path towards the uncertain glories of a now mythical Plantagenet heritage can be followed from my 3 times great grandmother, Esther Wells – but only for three generations.