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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sympathy Saturday - The Sad Tale of A Valentine Day's Baby

On 14th February 1888 Arthur Valentine Mason was born in Brooklyn, New York.

He was the seventh child of John Mason and Alice Rawcliffe, sister of my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe. The New York Passenger Lists online showed that John Mason sailed from Liverpool to the USA in 1886, to be joined a year later by his wife.

What had prompted the decision to leave their home and extended family in the fishing town of Fleetwood, Lancashire to live in the teeming tenements of Brooklyn?

33 year old Alice travelled with  six children between the ages of 1 year and 11 years - Robert William, Jane Elizabeth, John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawcliffe - all family Christian names. She managed  with just two pieces of baggage!. What on earth was life like for them all on the voyage?

Arthur Valentine was their first born on American soil but his life proved short, and he died 3rd April 1891, just after his third birthday.

But Arthur's name lived on in the family, with son Harold Arthur Victor born a month later on 8th May 1891.  More American born children followed - Lilian Eveline in 1894, Bessie Irene in 1896, and Florence Adelaide in 1898. 

John Mason with his youngest daughter Florence Adelaide, c.1906

Sadly Lilian and Bessie, too, did not survive infancy. Was the loss of three children in New York something to do with the crowded living conditions they encountered there?

The 1900 census for the City of New York, Brooklyn showed the large Mason household of ten living at 72 Hall Street,  in what was probably an apartment building with four other families at the same address. John was described as an insurance agent.

By the time of the 1920 Census, the family had moved across river to New Jersey, and their descendants remain there today. 

It is all thanks to the power of the Internet and then my blogging activity that I discovered the story of my American connections, with thanks to Bonnie, my third cousin, granddaughter of Florence above.


Sympathy Sunday is one of many daily prompts on Geneabloggers to encourage bloggers to record their family history

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! Florence Mason is my great-grandmother. You and I have recently connected on Facebook :)


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