Thursday, March 3, 2016

Alfred and Bessie Morris

The 1861 English Census shows that in Warwickshire, the Parish of Aston, in Erdington's District 28, at 124 Upper Saltley, Timothy Morris (age 41, born 1819) and Ann Slater Morris (age 37, born 1823) Morris were raising their family: William A. (age 12), Timothy (age 9), Henry (age 6), and Charles (age 4).

The dad, Timothy's occupation is recorded as Philosophical Instrumentmaker. Seriously? What in the world? Timothy Senior was my grandmother (Dora Morris Hall)'s great grandfather. I think that makes it great, great, great grandfather for me. 
[I found Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire! That's where Shakespeare was born!]

The 2nd son, Timothy Morris, was my great grandfather's father, or grandma Dora's grandfather, and he was an "electrical operator" (an electrician). This Timothy (born 1852) married Annie Elizabeth Lane (born 1854). The 1881 England Census shows that Timothy And Annie settled in Worcestershire, in the Civil Parish or Township of Kings Norton District 24. Their address was 7 Belgrase Street. Alfred (grandma Dora's father), age 2, was their first born. Their 2nd, Walter P., was 8 months. Worcestershire is one shire west of Warwickshire where they both were born.

Meanwhile, another couple, John and Maria Mitchell, were raising a family in Cornwall (far to the South). One of their children would eventually be Alfred's wife.
This is where the family tree goes way back. Not only do we know that John Mitchell was born in Cornwall and lived from 1844-1902, we also know his father, John Mitchell lived 1797-1886 and his mother, Matilda Stephens Mitchell lived from 1806-1905. The 1851 Census says the senior John Mitchell was a "Cordwainer". I was sure I was stumped, but I Googled it and learned:

"A cordwainer (/ˈkɔːrdˌweɪnər/) is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. The cordwainer's trade can be contrasted with the cobbler's trade, according to a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to repairing shoes." (Wikipedia)
John Junior (1844-1902), a carpenter, and Maria (1846-1923) had Jessie Keturah L Mitchell (1868-1950), Ada Elvina Mitchell (1871-1888), Amelia A. Mitchell (1874-1951), Charles Thomas Mitchell (1878 - ?), Percy J. Mitchell (1880-1927), Bessie Helena Augusta Mitchell, my great grandmother (1881-?), Lilly G. (1885- ? ), Beatrice M. (1887), Ada (1891 - ) and Millie ( ? - ? ). They lived at 41 Old Town, Croydon, in Surry, England in 1871. told me about

The Great Blizzard of 1891

During the Great Blizzard of 1891, Bessie Helena Augusta Mitchell experienced incredible amounts of snow, which crippled travel for almost a week. Bessie was ten when this blizzard occurred.
The Great Blizzard of 1891

Bessie Mitchell 

was a servant in 1901 when the census was taken in England. She was living at 39 Gas Works, Devon, Plymouth (as in where the Pilgrims left from!). 

Bessie Helena Augusta Mitchell married Alfred Morris on June 8, 1903, in Hereford, Herefordshire, when she was 21 years old. Alfred Morris enlisted in the military in 1897 when he was 19 years old and learned the trade of an electrician.

Alfred and Bessie's first daughter Vera May was born on May 29, 1904, in Plymouth, Devon. Their second daughter, my grandmother Dora Elaine was born on January 1, 1906 in Templemore, County Tipperaray, Ireland. I have Gram's birth certificats. It's in bad shape. "I have this 1st day of January 1906 registered the Birth of Dora Elaine, a female child..."

They were in Ireland because Alfred was stationed at the British Military Base there. Gram always told me it was a Royal Air Force base, but the RAF didn't begin until 1917. Gram was born in 1906 - Wilbur and Orville Wright had their first successful flight in 1903! Not enough time to establish an RAF base. Can't figure out what base she was born on at this point - was probably a Royal Army Base
Alfred was still serving in the military in 1912 at the age of 37. This was apparently when he retired and transitioned to the Army Reserve. He committed to serve for six years. Think about your world history now -- any global events you can think of that occurred between 1912 and 1918? Any Great Wars?

The UK often offered land grants in Canada to its veterans. In 1914 Alfred and Bessie relocated from the UK to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sound familiar? This is the same city my other great grandparents relocated to from the UK.

Who knew that Ontario touches four of the five great lakes? I didn't! Can you see Hamilton? It is right across the US/Canada border at Niagara Falls! I had no idea it was so close!

He served in World War I, which ran from 1914 to 1918. He received a letter of commendation (posthumously) and a medal, which I have in my metal box of family historical artifacts. No children were born to the family during this time (what a shock, right?). loses Albert and Bessie after that. Ancestry says they had five children; Grandma Dora said there were 11 or 12 (she couldn't remember). She gave me names, but not always dates. Clearly I will have to find my notes and enter more information into Ancestry and see if it can then provide more information.

There are not many photos of the Morris family. Gram said they left the farm on holiday one summer. It was so remote that at that time it was customary to leave your property unlocked when you left so that if any traveler arrived in need of shelter he could find a roof for the night. When they returned from holiday they found the house burned down, photos lost. They never knew whether someone had been sheltering and was careless with fire, or if the house had been struck by lightning.

Photos that survive were probably in the hands of relatives at the time of the fire. I will post ones I have in a future post. If you enjoyed, I'd love to receive a comment!   

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