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Monday, 20 January 2014

52 Ancestors; 4 - Finding Florence Adelaide Mason

52ancestorsAmy at No Story Too Small has come up with a new challenge for 2014 - to write a post  each week on a specific ancestor. 

Florence Adelaide, with her father
John Thomas Mason.  c.1905 .
Florence Adelaie Mason (left)  was my grandfather's cousin on his mother's side and I have to thank my recently found American third cousin, Bonny (Florence's granddaughter) who discovered my blog and made contact with the photographs featured here.

Florence was the youngest of 11 children of John Mason and Alice Rawcliffe - sister of my my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe. 

Alice from Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  married,  at the age of 19,  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. 

It was only a casual browsing on www.familysearch.org that revealed that Alice had died in Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.  I was delighted to find this unknown American  connection and began a new challenge to find out more  using www.Ancesstry.com

The New York Passenger Lists online  revealed that John Mason had sailed from Liverpool to Brooklyn, New York, in 1886 followed by Alice, a year later travelling with 6 children aged 1-13 and two pieces of luggage.  What on earth was life like for them all  on the voyage?   If only I could discover why they took this step of adventure from a small Lancashire community to the teeming streets of New York!

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. Sadly Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy.  At some point after 1898,  the family moved from Brooklyn, New York, across the river to Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

So Florence. born 1898  was the youngest of a large family of eight surviving children (three girls and five boys) , with her eldest sister Jane Elizabeth 23 years older.   Above is the earliest photograph of her with her father.  She looks to be about 7 years old, so taken c. 1905 -  and what a magnificent hat for a wee girl - and her skirts look surprisingly short for the period.

The photograph (right)   was the only one of the family, that I had inherited from my great aunt Jennie's collection but unfortunately it was not identified. By a process of elimination and looking at the age and composition of the family, I suspected it was Alice and family.   But I had to wait 10 years of message board pleas,  for my patience to be rewarded and have this confirmed by Bonny who had found my blog.

Florence was the young girl in the middle of the group, with her parents, eldest sister Jane Elizabeth, who remained unmarried, and her youngest brother Harold Arthur Victor. Bonny had this very same photograph, but it was mounted with the vital clue that it was taken in Brooklyn, New York. I guess c. 1912.
I was delighted to get this larger family group photograph (below)  from Bonny, showing all eight children of Alice and James Mason, with Florence in the dark dress sitting at the front. Alice died in 1930 and James 7 years later, both buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Jamesburg. 

Top - Robert, Jenny (Jane Elizabeth), Mother Alice, Father John, Harry
Bottom - Thomas (John Thomas), Alice (Margaret Alice), Florence, George and James

Florence married Charles Urstadt - the information online varies between 1918 and 1921.  She is wearing  such a distinctive  headdress in this  photograph,that I wondered if it had any links to Charles German background. And what huge bouquets! 

Below - the home in Jamesburg, New Jersey  where Florence and Charles lived all their married life and raised their six children - Ruth Alice, Charles Melrford. Beulah. William John Henry, Donald Wesley and Curtis Rawcliffe.   Charles senior  lived there until his death at  the age 99.

Below a happy photograph of Florence surrounded by her grandchildren. 

Florence died in 1965 aged 67.

With thanks to my third cousin Bonny in New Jersey 
for allowing me to feature these photographs. 

1. Alice English (1884-1945) - A Brick Wall at My Grandmother
2. Edith Danson (1907 -1885) - My Feisty Aunt 
3. John Danson (c.1789-1836) - A Family Black Sheep


  1. Our old family group photos always make the family look so substantial and proper compared to the casual modern family group photos I seem to collect these days. An interesting post.

  2. How great that you found a cousin through your blog - and one who shares! Love the pictures, especially the wedding pictures. They wore such WONDERFUL hats!!


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