Only Connect #3: Thomas Thackrah Cortis

Thomas was about twenty months old when his mother died. His father chose not to marry again so Thomas was raised by older sisters.

As mentioned in an earlier post, of the six Cortis boys who reached adulthood, one emigrated (eventually) to Australia and the other five to America. Thomas seems to have had the greatest difficulty getting to grips with the New World.

He has four Personal IDs on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. Only one gives him parents.

Two show him married to Helen Isabel (or Isabella) WHITTEMORE. Here is one –

Though lacking detail, these two screenshots “tell the truth” – but only part of his story. Helen was his second wife. The fourth ID reveals his marriage to Sarah Jane HERRICK and the three sons they brought into the world. (Two didn’t stay long and Richard died aged 19.)

Poor Sarah. Her pedigree is astonishing – if the Shared Tree is to be believed. Forebear Henry Herrick Snr. arrived in Salem. Massachusetts aboard Lyon and married in the village three years after its foundation in 1626. His son, Henry Jnr., was a member of the jury at the Witch Trials. Her European ancestry is replete with aristocracy and a sprinkling of royalty. I feel sure Sarah would have been told stories at her mother’s knee of the Puritan Plantation – but that she was related to King Henry III of England? Maybe not.

Sarah gave birth to her boys in three different Iowa towns – De Witt, Fulton, and Davenport. Infant Herbert died in Davenport and Harold the following year in Fulton. Thomas was a physician, and clearly an unsettled one. However, the strength of his bond with sister Jane is indicated by these places being between ten and forty miles from the DANNATT family at Low Moor.

Over on Ancestry Sarah has been given an extra child.

Mabel was, of course, Helen’s child and if you look again at the second of the screenshots above you will see Mabel’s son Richard Cortis GREEN.

Richard, nicknamed “Cort”, exchanged letters with the Australian branch of the family and Peter has given me permission to share some of what he wrote about his grandparents. Poor Thomas and poor Helen. The following is part of a 1968 letter transcribed by Peter. Some of it may be fanciful family lore (not true) but this section is so vivid I offer it unedited. (Cort’s handwriting is difficult to read.)

“Cortis Fam. History – very little do I know really —SAM, RICHARD (White Star Line Boston, Hamburg American, NYC). JESSIE (married [Alvey] of US WORLD (Newspaper NYC & Almanac). Carrie Cortis (Sam’s daughter) Daunett –all familiar names.

MUCH EMOTION AND PROBLEMS FOR my mother as [the] penniless daughter of [the] youngest boy (THOMAS THACKERAY CORTIS), by 2nd wife , A WHITTEMORE (family split by US Civil War & impoverished).

Thomas Thackeray had wife & son RICHARD when came to U.S after service as an army surgeon in Sepoy Mutiny & Crimean War. [indeciph]:-siege of Balaclava -who knows – maybe he sparked [could be “spanked”] Florence Nightingale!! (One Brother skipper of R.N vessel in that show).

Next we see him a widower with a teenage son in N.Y.C courtesy of older brothers who got him a job as the port health officer –on strength of fantastic language skills –7 proficient [14 speaking].

We see him making classic mistake of trying to find a foster-mother for son & himself a wife. He married Helen Whittemore. She has social aspirations. Debts mount up. His brothers pay. He gets out of town. Goes to DeWit CLINTON IOWA. Has daughter (my mother) born approx. 1876 (mother always said she was born 1880 & records burned in DeWit Club). Moved Municipalities [indecipherable] again 1882/83. Wife took herself to her room & [never] was seen again –pining for lost gay life in NYC. RICHIE, the son dies of measles and pneumonia about 1885 age about 18. T.T Cortis keeps stiff upper lip. Puts rose in button hole every morning on way to office -wends way on rather faithful mare [indecipherable]. He has 2 strokes and dies in 1896. Mother and her mother Helen Whittemore Cortis =>Chicago. My mother aged about 18? Works for Marshall Field Store. No money. Brothers pay to put H. Whittemore in home (we will never know what her real trouble was), mother went to NYC. $500 were left from Dr T.T’s estate –that kept by SAM –much anguish as mother thought was for her education – wanted to be a Dr. (Father fixation etc etc etc).

You see why I’m ready to dump the whole U.S part of the clan. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING –old T.T tried & did KEEP THE FAITH. His illustrious eldest bro. was obstetrician to the old Queen VICTORIA herself & trained T.T. He T.T did most of his doctoring before [indecipherable] & GOD [indecipherable] Penicillin—which event –so help me have wielded as a giver of life & [kept?] death away from my crew.”

“Eldest bro” was William Smithson, who left Filey after 1861 and was enumerated in Kennington, less than three miles from Buckingham Palace in 1871. If the then fifty year-old doctor followed his journey-to-royal work today he would pass the Florence Nightingale Museum, which has re-0pened in, spookily, St Thomas’ Hospital. I doubt anyone would ever have spanked Florence, or Mary Seacole, but in a long report on 1856 New Year celebrations in Crimea that mentions both Angels of Mercy, there is this –

Cort’s memory of young Richard doesn’t fit the Shared Tree information but it is interesting that Thomas returned to Iowa after a spell in New York City. Jane’s place must have been a refuge for him. Richard died in St Peter, Minnesota; his father not far away in St Paul.

Thomas is also represented on WikiTree ­with a variant middle name. I signed up to be a “WikiTreer” yesterday so that I could connect him to his folks in Hull – and marry him to Sarah Jane.

Path 106 · Old Tip

Nature Reserve and Parish Wood, evening

An American Cuckoo

On the face of it, Sarah Lucrecia APPLEBY appears to be the middle child of seven born to John and Jane in this FamilySearch screenshot. Viewers quick on the uptake will notice immediately that she has taken the place of the one true Sarah.

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Sarah Lucrecia was born in Salem, Illinois. We are asked to accept that John, a wheelwright, had three children with Jane in Filey Parish, sailed to America and, after SL’s birth, sailed back to Filey Parish and brought three more children into the world. Amazing.

There is an entry in the St Oswald’s Church burial register showing that plain Sarah was laid to rest on 11 December 1859, aged just twelve. There isn’t a stone to remind us of her brief stay, nor a newspaper notice of her death (that I can find). It isn’t right that she has been pushed out of her nest in the Shared Tree.

Fortunately, it will be a relatively simple matter to set the records straight. Sarah Lucrecia’s American family is extensive and distinguished, one forebear marrying in Virginia nine years after the arrival of Mayflower. Trace her roots in Europe and you may bump into William the First of England. And plenty of others who would have looked down on a journeyman wheelwright.

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Job done. Find Sarah in her rightful place on the Shared Tree. Perhaps someone else will kindly take the trouble to cut the other John Appleby loose.

Lonesome Dove

If I take “Snaith George” away from his parents on the Shared Tree he will have no-one in his past. After several hours of searching, I’ve yet to find his real ma and pa. Based on geography alone, there is a good chance he is the son of John and Elizabeth DOVE. They christened their boy in Bubwith, about ten miles from where “our George” married Rachael Lansdon née BICKERTON. Alas, the few sources that give his age all disagree. The 1841 England & Wales census says he is 35, the 1851 Canadian census offers 47. So, calculated birth years of 1806 and 1804. The Bubwith christening took place on 8 September 1802.

Rachael Bickerton’s birth year is an equally moveable snack – 1806 (1841census), 1801 (1851 census) and a very precise 16 April 1796 attached to her christening in Howden, attended by parents John Bickerton and Jane RICHARDSON. FamilySearch gives eleven hints for Rachel/Rachael and only one is duff – the 1851 census, which makes her the wife of “Middleton George” and mother of three children not her own. In that year, of course, she was over 3,000 miles away in Ontario.

I am waiting for replies to messages I sent a while ago to two contributors to the Doves from Hook/Snaith/Goole. I would prefer it if descendants made the needed corrections.

I wonder how much Snaith George knew about his ancestry. Was he able to tell his children about their roots? Some days ago I discovered that his fourth daughter Harriet married Benjamin F. CHEESBRO in Norfolk, Ontario on 11 September 1858. Today I discovered that this union is peculiarly represented on the Shared Tree.

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The marriage date is wrong and this Benjamin’s birthplace is given as Saginaw. His two brothers were born in Methley, Yorkshire, a few years later. But, the parents of the Benjamin F. CHEESBRO who married “our Harriet” are given as Joseph and Jane in the Norfolk marriage source. A quick look at the growing Methley CHEESBROUGH family in England looks right, hence the ticks. Its Y-line goes back to Robertus, born 1586, but if you explore the Shared Tree further it becomes clear that Harriet married into a family of great distinction – assuming the earlier generations have been assembled with greater accuracy than those in the 19th century.

For now, in truth, poor Snaith George is bereft of forebears.

The Fisherman and the Shoemaker

They were born within a couple of years of each other and both were called William.

William SAYERS was born on the coast, in Filey, and followed his father to sea in a small coble, to catch fish. He did well not to drown and raised a large family with his wife Susannah. The census enumerator found the couple at home with five children in 1841, eight in 1851, and ten in 1861. William died in 1892 aged 78; Susannah the following year, aged 75.

Seventy miles to the west the other William, with the singular family name SAYER, had six children with his wife Mary, before she died at age 36 in 1851, just a few days or weeks before the census enumerator called. Three children were mourning the loss with their father – Jane aged 10, Mary 6 and Joseph 4. The other three children were not at home on census night, but Elizabeth would die at the end of the year, aged 9, and John, 11, would be William’s only help at home in 1861. William gave his occupation that year as Master Shoemaker. Ten years later he is, curiously for someone so far from the sea, a Marine Store Dealer. (The nearest water of any depth to his home village is the River Swale at Catterick Bridge, three miles away.) In April 1881, living alone, he tells the census enumerator he has retired from making shoes. Before the year is out, he is dead.

William SAYER, the shoemaker, is on the Shared Tree, with a middle name (Benjamin), sleeping with fisherman’s wife Susannah, and being a father to seven of her thirteen children with the other William.

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You will notice that William Benjamin has a second-choice wife, one Mary WAGGETT, the woman I introduced earlier. She has a first-born, Benjamin, who I didn’t find in my searches – but he has 33 sources attached to his record so perhaps he is to be relied upon. Benjamin was born before Civil Registration began but all his siblings are found in the GRO Birth Index.

The fisherman, fortunately, has a duplicate ID placing him with Susannah and three of their children. I will increase their complement and add the headstones I have for the extended family, leaving the “bigamous” shoemaker for someone else to deal with.

PC Harvey and the Fisher Lads

In the summer of 1870, five Filey fisher lads were in court, charged with obstructing a footpath on the Crescent “by walking abreast and jostling each other”.

P.C. D. Harvey, stationed at Filey, said that on the 19th [of June], about 8 p.m., he was on duty there, on the Crescent. His attention was drawn to the defendants, all standing on the footpath and larking. He crossed over the road to speak to them, but on seeing him they made off. He followed them, and told them if they continued this practice, he would have to report them.

On that same evening, Police-sergeant Hanswell, in plain-clothes, saw the defendants, walking four or five abreast…

…and taking up nearly the whole of the pathway, which is 9 or 10 feet wide. They repeatedly jostled each other when persons were coming, so as to force them off this pathway. He watched them for about half an hour…and saw several people had to turn off. For some time this practice had been going on and many complaints made.

The defendants were found guilty and offered a choice of paying the court 6s 6d or going to prison for 7 days.

Three other Filey fisher lads were offered the same choice for a similar offence.

The miscreants were Thomas Robinson, George Arvery, Abraham Sanderson, William Waller, Matthew Cammish, Benjamin Watson, William Scotter and Alfred Lowley.

I traced most of them were quickly in Filey Genealogy & Connections, aged between 16 and 18. Four or five years later, several were married and fathers. The sea may have given them a living but it also took away. Abraham Sanderson was baptized on 15 October 1854 and his father was drowned three days later. William Waller was eight when his father may have suffered a similar fate. If Matthew Cammish was Matthew Jenkinson Cammish (born 1854), he would mourn the loss at sea of four uncles. William Scotter was not Filey-born. One of his sons would be killed in the First World War, aged 29.

I imagine the jostling fisher lads were slightly older versions of this bunch, posing against the lifeboat house doors.

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Photographer unknown, no date, courtesy Martin Douglas.

Daniel HARVEY was caught in Filey by the census enumerator the following year, living in Church Street near the vicarage. Both he and his wife, Mary Jane, were Gloucestershire born and bred but spent most of their adult lives in Yorkshire. They had eight children and by 1871 had buried two of them; Marmaduke at about the time the fisher lads were misbehaving. Of the five young ones in Church Street, three would reach a good age.

At age six, Daniel was a “cloth worker” in Minchinhampton and at 26 a pawnbroker. Entering the police force was good for him. In 1881 he was a sergeant in Gate Fulford, York and ten years later a Superintendent, living “above the shop”  in Welton near Hull.

Daniel died in 1899. I was initially surprised that this Harvey family was not represented at all on the FamilySearch Tree. The only son to make it to adulthood had ended up as headmaster of a school in Cumberland, where his wife was the assistant head. But they had no children of her own. Annie Eliza Harvey did not marry and Lilian’s marriage didn’t last long – husband Walter JACKLIN died at 43. So there are no known descendants of Daniel and Mary Jane to share memories with us.

I found a way to remember them through Wallace Dean’s wife, Sarah Elizabeth GREENWOOD. I’ll add some more of their people over the next few days.

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The Crescent, this afternoon

Just Williams

I made another attempt today to discover where William ALDEN originated. In the 1881 census, he gives his birthplace as “Hornsey”, Yorkshire. I took this to be Hornsea. In 1891 he offers “Hatfield”, possibly Great Hatfield just four miles from Hornsea. In 1901 it is back to “Hornsey” and in 1911 “Hornsea”. Both William and Ann are wayward in giving their ages but a fuzzy search for William in Skirlaugh Registration District between the start of civil registration and 1843 doesn’t find him.

Looking again at the census, I was distracted by a William Alden working as a Carter in Skipsea with a calculated birth year of 1840, between one and three years older than Ann’s future husband may have been. He gave his birthplace as Thorpe, in Norfolk. The fact that Ann’s parents had married in Skipsea 29 years earlier gave me pause. (Perhaps she met him while visiting relatives and fell instantly in love.) After searching for this William in the Norwich area records, and coming up blank, I’m still wondering.

I also looked in newspapers for a Norfolk William who may have been driven from the county of his birth by a shameful deed. I found a William Alden, who could conceivably have been our man’s father, committing suicide by throwing himself from Whitefriar’s Bridge into the River Wensum. This was in 1856, the place of demise just a few miles from Thorpe. (It was suggested at the coroner’s inquest that “the deceased had suffered from a kind of religious fanaticism, and had also been much depressed in spirits”.)

I think I’ll let Ann’s William rest in peace, with his secrets buried with him in Filey churchyard.

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Lucy · Louise

I will get round to the old ladies of Roe’s Buildings eventually but my interest in the push and pull of migration prompted an investigation of their 13-year-old servant, Lucy COOK. I tumbled into a genealogical rabbit hole.

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Here she is in Filey in 1841, the census enumerator giving her an ‘N’ for No; she wasn’t born in Yorkshire. Ten years later she is a married woman with two children, living just around the corner from Roe’s Buildings. She gives her birthplace as Maldon Basin, Essex. Her husband, Robert CHEW, was a butcher and in 1861 she is with him in and five of their children at The Butcher’s Shop, 4 King Street. (A sixth child, Ann Elizabeth the Second, was with paternal grandmother Ann née HICK on census night.) Lucy gives her birthplace now as Heybridge, near Maldon in Essex. I suffer from poor short-term memory but Heybridge rang a bell. Within a few minutes, I realised I’d put a photograph of a headstone on FamilySearch Tree that remembered Lucy’s sister Elizabeth.

An hour or two later I had brought together Lucy’s entire birth family. Father Michael, mother Susanna, brothers John and William, sisters Ann, Elizabeth and Susannah. They are not found together in Filey Genealogy and Connections or on FamilySearchTree.

In my Roots Magic version of Kath’s database, Lucy is masquerading under a false name.

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Her “real family” is incomplete.

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Most of Lucy’s children have been picked up by the FamilySearch system. Yesterday morning the parents had about nine IDs each. I did the necessary merges (and gave  Just Lucy her family name), but she is still from a broken home on FST.

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I would like to put Lucy with her parents and siblings on FST but I’m waiting for the blessing of descendants/other contributors before doing so. Michael and Susanna didn’t baptise a daughter called Lucy.

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For the time being Lucy · Louise appears on FST like this.

So, Michael and Susanna’s last child, Susannah, was born in 1838. About three years later she was living in Church Street, Filey, 200 miles north of her birthplace, with widowed mother, brother John and eldest sister Elizabeth. Lucy is a stone’s throw away at Roe’s buildings and Ann, not found in 1841 in Filey, is a servant to Christiana LORRIMAN, mother of her uncle Richard, ten years later.

What happened?