At long last I have identified an old family photograph and discovered an American cousin - all thanks to blogging. I am delighted! Here is an update on an earlier posting Are These my American Ancestors?
For over 10 years I have puzzled over "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. It was not identified on the reverse with names and 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?
The research into my Rawcliffe ancestors had led me to assume that, like all my mother's family, they were very firmly based in the Fylde area of Lancashire, England.
So it was a huge surprise to find , in a very casual browsing for Rawcliffes on http://www.familysearch.org/, an entry for Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe, born Hambleton 1853 but that she had died in Jamesburg, New Jersey on 24th February 1930 - the first time I was aware of any American connection. I was very keen to find out more, but meeting with little success from message boards etc.
Alice was the sister of my great grandmother Maria. She married John Mason and between 1874 and 1886 they had six English-born children - Robert William, Jane Elizabeth, John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawcliffe - all family names.
American census returns and passenger lists on Ancestry.com showed that John Mason entered the USA in 1886, with Alice and their children (aged 1-13, plus 2 pieces of luggage) following in 1887. At some point the family moved from Brooklyn, New York, across the river to Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Between 1888 and 1898, Alice had a further five children, born in the USA - Arthur Valentine (born appropriately 14th February), Harold Arthur Victor, Lillian Eveline, Bessie Irene and the youngest Florence Adelaide. Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy.
So was the photograph above of Alice and John Mason? Eldest daughter Jane Elizabeth was still unmarried as late as 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.
I am pleased to say it was - verifed by my new found American third cousin, Bonny, who was pointed to my blog by another relative. Bonny even had the same family group photograph, but hers (left) was mounted, with the vital detail of the photographer in Brooklyn, New York.
Bonny is the granddaughter of Florence, the young girl in the middle of the photograph and we have exchanged e-mails, photographs and information of our ancestors down the generations.
It was special to receive a much later photograph of the Mason family (below) with all eight surviving children.
I look forward to featuring more in future blogs on my new found American Rawcliffe-Mason family.
The Mason Family Back row: Robert, Jane Elizabeth (Jenny), parents Alice and John, and Harry Front row: John Thomas, Margaret Alice. Florence, George and James