Monday, 13 December 2010

Are These My American Ancestors? Mystery Monday

Mystery Monday  is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.    

My mystery question is who is this striking family group?  The photograph was found  in the large  collection of my great aunt Jennie, only daughter of my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.  Unusually it was not identified on the reverse with names – something that Jennie did on most of her other photographs.   Also there was nothing to indicate where it had been taken. 

It must surely be of one of Maria’s sisters - Anne, Jane, Alice, or Jennet?  The composition of the family and ages of the children ruled out Anne, Jane or Jennet.  So could it be Alice?

Alice, born 1853 at Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire,  was the fourth daughter of Robert Rawliffe and Jane Carr.   She married John Mason and they settled in Fleetwood where they had six children -  Robert William, Jane Elizabeth,  John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawliffe - all family names.

A casual browsing for Rawcliffes through http://www.familysearch.org/  resulted in a surprise finding that Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe had died in Jamesburg, New Jersey on 24th February 1930 - the first time I was aware of any American connection.     The information had been supplied by a contributor. Frustratingly when I wrote to find out more,  the letter was returned “not known at this address”.  Further efforts to make contact with any American descendants have been slow to bring results.

American census returns showed that John Mason  entered the USA in 1886, with Alice and their children following in 1887.  The family took out American citizenship in 1895 and at some point moved from Brooklyn, New York, across the river to Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

Alice was 34 when she set sail from Liverpool with six children aged 1 to 13 (and two pieces of baggage) aboard the  ship Auronia. Within twelve years of her arrival in Brooklyn, New York, she had a further five children  - Arthur Valentine (born 14th February), Harold Arthur Victor, Lillian Eveline, Bessie Irene and Florence Adelaide.  Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy.

But back to my family photograph -  is this Alice and James Mason?  Eldest daughter Jane Elizabeth was still unmarried in  the 1920 census, so she could be the woman on the back left,  and is that her younger sister and brother - possibly Florence and Harold? 

The mystery remains - or do you know better?   If so,  please do get in touch - I would love to hear from you. 

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