52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 10: Name’s the Same

For this week’s theme of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I’m going out of my comfort zone and headed to a part of my family I haven’t done a great deal of research on. Part of it is because all (or at least most) of these people are based in Lancashire, England. And I’m actually pretty sure I may have more than the William Fairhurst’s that are listed here. But because I haven’t properly focused on my family across the pond as I should have (I may have mentioned it before, but my goal has always been to focus on England research when I get other branches there as well – but I should probably start because I may never get out of Pennsylvania, and I suppose that is a fact I should begin to face).

This photo was taken from the FamilySearch Wiki page on Lancashire, England. Lancashire is the county highlighted in red.

So this week for my “name’s the same” post I will focus on at least 4 William Fairhurst’s and how they are all about 20 years or less apart and how it’s so incredibly easy to get them confused,

William Fairhurst (1870-1943)

My first William Fairhurst was born on 22 July 1870 and is the older brother of my great-grandfather, James Fairhurst. William was the second oldest of my great-great-grandparents, Thomas and his wife, Rachel Topping (James was their 2nd youngest of a total of 10 children, William was 20 years older than James).

On 16 Dec 1893, William married Elizabeth Ann Seddon. They had a son, Frederick, who was born in 1897.

William decided to head to Jefferson County, Ohio to make a better life for his family. William sailed to the United States via Boston, Massachusetts on the Saxonia from Liverpool, England on 29 June 1909. His destination was Amsterdam, Ohio to join his brother and friends to be a coal miner. (As a note, 7 out of 10 living siblings of William’s emigrated to the United States, including my great-grandfather, who headed there in 1913). His wife, Elizabeth, joined him later in 1916. His son Fred opted to stay living in England.

William became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 21 May 1915.

By 1930 William was no longer working in the mines but was working for the Saalfield Publishing Company in Akron, Ohio, which was one of the largest publisher’s of children’s books in the world between 1900 and 1977. William continued to work here until he died of cancer on 3 February 1943.

William Fairhurst (1841-?)

Our next William is our last William’s uncle. Born in 1841, he was the older brother of Thomas Fairhurst, my great-great-grandfather (making this William my 2nd-great-grand-uncle).

He had a son named William C. Fairhurst, so this brings my total to 5. I was unable to find a definitive death date for William. One that came up repeatedly was 1915 – but I hate to commit when I’m not really certain that it was the same William.

William Fairhurst (1829-1876)

William Fairhurst was the fourth child of my 4th-great-grandparents, William Fairhurst and Alice Winnard. He was born on 27 May 1829.

In 1850 he married Ellen Bentham and they had 12 children (and yes, one was named William, so there is a 6th!). He was a coal miner by trade. He passed away at the age of 46 in 1876.

William Fairhurst (1797-1875)

This William is the only one that is my direct descendant – my 4th-great-grandfather who was born on 27 Jan 1797 in Pemberton, Lancashire, England. He married Alice Winnard on 26 May 1819 in Wigan, Lancashire, England and they had at least 7 children before Alice passed away in 1856.

William was an agricultural laborer. His oldest son, John, is my 3rd-great-grandfather who did not follow in his dad’s footsteps and became a coal miner.

William died in February 1875 outliving all but 2, possibly 3, of his children (I haven’t found a date of death of his son, Thomas).

What I Learned About Looking into my William’s

I haven’t worked on the Fairhurst and Boone branch of my family tree much over the 4.5 years I’ve been working on my genealogy. Trouble is, I should start looking into these people. Yes, the records are confusing because I’m not as familiar with the places and set-up of documents as I am in Pennsylvania where I recognize towns. But this is all about learning, and maybe it’s time to leave my comfort zone.

I do know that it was really easy to start down the rabbit holes and I have so much to learn about this branch. The thrill of finding new people in just a few days of researching brought back part of the reason I got into this hobby – the huge puzzle of it all. Sometimes I get caught up working on citations and adding documents, and (shocker) that’s not always fun.

So here is to finding more Fairhurst’s in the future.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 8: Power

The word “power” brings so many different ideas into ones head. Merriam-Webster defines power as:

  1. ability to act or produce an effect
  2. possession of control, authority, or influence over others
  3. physical might
  4. powers – an order of angels
  5. the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product (oh my gosh, I’d completely forgotten about this)
  6. a source or means of supplying energy
  7. magnification (again – totally didn’t think of this)
  8. scope
  9. the probabilty of rejecting the null hypotheseis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true.

And that is it’s meaning as a noun (it can be a verb and an adjective too).

Though it was the source of supplying energy that popped into my head initially but I don’t really know how quickly my ancestors got electricity into their homes to make their lives easier. And despite being the history buff I don’t think I ever took the time to learn when this became the “norm”.

And since I have not yet found a mathematician in my family – exerting one’s authority over others will be how I approach the theme for week 8 in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Harold Fairhurst

The person who comes to mind when I think of someone exerting power over others is my maternal grandfather, Harold Fairhurst.

Harold was born on 11 April 1922 in Amsterdam, Ohio in Jefferson County to James Fairhurst and his wife, the former Phoebe Boone.

Unlike my most my relatives who have me stuck in Pennsylvania, James and Phoebe came to the United States from Leigh, Lancashire, England in late 1913 (James) and early 1915 (Phoebe). In 1920 James had become a naturalized citizen taking the Oath of Allegiance on 14 May 1920.

While James worked as a Coal Miner, Phoebe ran a boarding house. However, by 1930 the Fairhurst’s and their 6 children (Elsie, Wilfred, Edwin, Doris, Harold and Evelyn) moved from Jefferson County to Akron, Ohio where James began working for the rubber companies and then for some of the WPA projects.

From stories I’ve heard life was not easy for the boys. Phoebe pitted brother against brother and most resolutions came with their fists. Phoebe also expected all her children to hand over their paychecks to her to help support the family. From my own experiences with my grandfather, I can easily see his not liking this, and it explains why he was married at the age of 21 in 1943.

Unlike his brothers, my grandfather did not work for the rubber companies, he was a construction worker and became a Mason. He was also a golf pro, but both vocations had him unemployed a few months each year because that is how life is in Northeast Ohio.

As I stated before, Harold got married to his first of 5 wives in 1943. His marriage to Helen Juanita Ferguson did not last, ending in divorce 6 January 1947. Shortly after their divorce was final Harold meets and marries my grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming on 29 June 1947. They had 5 children, my mother being the oldest.

My grandfather was not a nice man. He was verbally and physically abusive and repeatedly cheated on my grandmother (I was told by my mother that his one girlfriend was Catholic and that is when the older 3 children attended Catholic school).

I don’t really have any happy memories of my grandfather. When I was little he lived about an hour or so away from us (translated – for a little girl it seemed like forever to get there but after Googling the distance between Cuyahoga Falls and Lodi it is apparently only 36 to 45 minutes away – yes, I’m blown away). My grandmother finally divorced my grandfather in 1968 because he was having an affair with the girl next door, who became wife #3. Mary Lynn, was the same age as my mother. I think this was why when she asked me to call her “Grandma Mary” it made me feel uncomfortable. I guess lucky for me we did not visit frequently and soon his wife and three kids moved to Tennessee. The one perk was that these kids were basically my age, so I had playmates. But I was never fond of my grandfather. Ever.

But as I’ve said before, my grandfather was not a nice man. When he was married to my grandmother he would beat her and their children horribly for what I consider dumb reasons (they left a mess in the living room with their toys, basic kids being kids reasons). My grandmother was a terrific bowler, if he didn’t think she bowled good enough he would make her practice over and over and over again when she got home, it didn’t matter that children were sleeping and had school the next day. And if she still didn’t bowl to his expectations, he threw her into the wall.

As time went on my grandfather would break his daughter’s arm. I remember he gave me what is called an Indian Rug Burn on my arm when I was joking with him. He didn’t think it was funny and grabbed my arm, twisting and squeezing it simultaneously. I was in 7th, possibly 8th grade.

I don’t know if my grandfather got his bullying like power from being the youngest boy in his family – constantly being tormented by his older brothers? If he just didn’t live up to the same standards his brothers did to his mother? Rumor has it when Wilfred, the oldest of the 3 Fairhurst boys, but the second to die, leaving just Harold, Phoebe, their mother, told my grandfather that now she had no sons.

Ouch. Who says that to their child?

It just shows how words can hold the same sort of destructive power as fists.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #5: So Far Away

This week’s topic for Week 5 in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “So Far Away”.  My family that I am going to discuss is my maternal grandfather’s family, the Fairhurst’s, who I have traced back to England.  It’s not that England is that far, I am just at a stand still because learning how to do a new type of research (I know it’s the same language, but it’s still a different sort of system) I guess I’m just waiting until I have another branch to delve into records for more than one side of the family at a time.

My great-grandfather came over from Leigh, England in 1913.  He travelled on the ship the RMS Mauretania.  He came straight away to Jefferson County, Ohio to live.  He worked as a miner and became a naturalized citizen on May 14, 1920.  Eventually his family moved to Akron, initially working for the Seiberling Rubber Company (it was the second rubber company that F.A. Seiberling founded, the first being Goodyear Rubber Company – I know all this as I worked at his house, now a historic estate, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens), then the WPA in the early 1940’s, and then once again finding employment as a rubber worker at Firestone Rubber Company.

His wife, the former Phoebe Boone, was pregnant with their second child so she was delayed coming over at the same time James did.  A tale that was told to me by my grandfather, Harold, when I was doing my family history for my 6th grade Social Studies class, was that my great-grandmother was originally suppose to come over on the Titanic, but because she wasn’t feeling well, she opted to go at another time.  Lucky for me if this was really the case as my grandfather wouldn’t be born for another 8 years. I have not yet looked to see if any of this is true, I just assumed it was false but a fun story for my family to tell.

I’ll admit another reason I don’t research this portion of my family is that I wasn’t overly fond of my grandfather, and therefore it’s being reflected on his entire family.  He was an angry man who took things out on everyone around him.  I have learned from conversations with his 2 of his 3 remaining children that he seems to have gotten that characteristic from his mother.  So while other portions of my family tree tend to go back to the early 1800’s, sometimes even the 1700’s, my Fairhurst and Boone branches stop in the late 1800’s.

Ancestors of Harold Fairhurst

I guess I shouldn’t let my feelings get the better of me.  It’s entirely possible that Thomas, Rachel, Enoch and Susannah are perfectly fine people living a splendid life in Leigh, England, and I won’t ever know until I start finding out about them.  I didn’t know anything about the others either until I began researching.  But for the time being they are over in England, with all their records, an ocean away.