Monday, 20 June 2011

Mystery Monday: Another American near-miss (and an unexpected Miss)

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!


Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

It is so interesting to read this from the opposite perspective. I have been researching an ancestor that came back and forth from Norfolk, England to America. Good luck!

Rosemary said...

I found Bernard Toal in the 1911 census in the Army based at Bulford Camp, Salisbury, Wiltshire. Email me if you need the source references and/or the image.

There are about a dozen James Toal in the 1911 census and I'm not sure which would be yours.


The Treehouse said...

Hi Heather

I have read that we are becoming a more mobile society and that families are now losing touch because they move away from their home towns. However, I have to say that my family history gives the opposite view - only a handful of my family have died in the town (or indeed country) of their birth. Actually, with modern technology we are now able to stay in touch with those who move away with greater ease and, even better, catch up with our long lost cousins!

The Treehouse said...

Hi Rosemary

Bless you for looking! I have actually tracked Bernard down to 1911 - he remained a driver with the RFA throughout WW1 and survived. (My grandfather James Fitzgerald Toal followed him into the RFA and was gassed for his efforts.) I can't pin Bernard down after the war though - I have a couple of possibles, but nothing definite. The James Toal I would like to trace is their father, ie born 1857 in Ireland - but the man simiply won't be found!

Should have made that clearer - thanks so much for looking x

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