I could so very easily be an American. My parents have moved to the USA twice, once when I was four years old and once when I was sixteen. On the first occasion we came back to the UK to sell up, only for the aerospace industry to slump, so my father didn't have a job to go back to. More recently, I quite simply didn't like living there so I came back on my own after two years - my parents stayed put. Hence, two opportunities to become an American citizen missed. This weekend I found that I am not the only almost-American in the family.
I posted a couple of weeks ago about my great-grandfather James Toal. My mother had told me that her father, (also James) could remember travelling to the USA on a ship when very young, we assumed because his father was a seaman and he had got a passage for the experience. However, this weekend I learnt otherwise.
Firstly, the unexpected Miss. My grandfather, as far as we all knew, had a younger brother - Bernard. A search of the Liverpool RC parish records on Friday showed that he had a younger sister - Ellen Elsie, born March 1894. Hello, Miss Toal!
Secondly, I found that the three little Toals and their mother arrived at Ellis Island in October 1894. (No sign of James Toal Snr - no surprise, the man's middle name is surely "Elusive"). Six years later James Jnr and Bernard travelled back to England on their own. They were living with their grandparents back in Liverpool for the 1901 Census. So, did Ma and Pa Toal and little Elsie die in the USA? Perhaps it was just Mary Ellen and Elsie who died, and James Snr, being away at sea so often, couldn't care for them.
Stay tuned - all will, eventually, be revealed!