Saturday, January 7, 2012

What Ever Happened To...

Families scatter over time, don't they? Some branches of the family tree seem to stay put, but then times change and other branches wander off to seek new lives elsewhere.

I know of two points on our tree where this happened and ancestors moved on in hopes of work and a better life with the result being that we descendants are left scratching our heads and wondering what the heck happened there! In one case, we're working on it right now and we've had a little moderate success. In the other case, the rest of Daniel Williams' family in the Upstate New York area, we'll tackle it later when we have lots of energy because others have tried and failed. So here's a re-cap of the one where we've made some inroads.

William Price and "I wonder what ever happened to Aunt Mary Ann"

Our William Price was born in Bedfordshire, England about 1829 and died after 1872 in Aux Sable, Grundy County Illinois. He was a coal miner. His mother was Ann Price born about 1800 and someone once mentioned the name Whitehead but we don't know if it's connected to her or not. William married Diana Thomas in Mt. Savage, Allegheny County, Maryland on 13 August 1850. Her parents were both born in Wales and died in the Allegheny County, Maryland area.

Aunt Betty says that she remembers her female family members, especially her Grandmother, Jane Price pictured below, saying they wished they knew, "whatever happened to Aunt Mary Ann."

Thus our search started. We found William easily enough in the 1850 census in Maryland working as a miner, living with his wife (name transcribed badly as Dianah), and a Geo W Duckson, a laborer born in Maryland.

In the 1860 census he's working in the coal mines in Baldwin, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He and Diana (now spelled correctly) have five children. I googled around and found a lot of info about the coal fields of this area and its history. It sort of mirrors the coal history of Western Maryland. Interesting, at least to me... I like the history part:)

The 1870 census finds him in the township of Aux Sable, Grundy County Illinois. Of course he's still working as a minor at age 40. His wife is show there too but as Diama:) They have seven kids living at home ranging in ages from 18 to under a year old. Diana Thomas died on 20 July 1871 back in Mt. Savage, Maryland. She still had family there and Mom speculates that perhaps she had traveled back to deliver another baby.

His wife's passing left William with a whole bunch of children to raise back in Illinois. Mom made sense of that situation by noticing that William's mother, Ann, lived just two doors down in Aux Sable in that 1870 census. Good find, Mom!

The search began all over again for Ann Price to see what we could find. Easily enough we found an Ann Price, age 50, in the 1850 census, born about 1800 and wife of Thomas Price, age 46, living in Joliet, Will County Illinois, right next to Grundy County. Thomas is a farmer and father of six children ranging in ages from 20 years old to 8 years old. All were born in England. William was 22 years old in the 1850 census so that fits in with a nice family grouping picture. Was he the eldest? Perhaps. This census would also indicate they they likely immigrated after the youngest child was born in 1842.

It's easy enough to follow Ann and Thomas forward to the 1860 census and see that the only child left at home is the youngest, Thomas Junior now 17, who is listed as a farmer. Thomas Sr. is still farming at age 56 but they seem to have moved to Channahon, Will County Illinois.

And as said previously, in the 1870 census Ann is all alone and living two doors down from William.

What Mom found next was real exciting to us. In the 1880 census where is Ann Price, age 80, living? With Aunt Mary Ann!! And what of Aunt Mary Ann, age 37? The census says that she's married to Pierce Dile, age 52, and has seven children ages 18 down to 1 year. Mom has a hunch about this family group and that the two eldest might have been from a first wife. I trust Mom on this theory because she's seen literally thousands of family groups!

But I looked for this Mr. Pierce Dile because I was curious about him and all the little Diles. You know what I got? Nothing! Yup, nada! Something was very wrong. The census indicated that Mr. Dile was born in Ireland. Dile didn't sound Irish to me, but hey, you never know. So I googled around Pierce Dile Ireland in general and a lot of Pierce Doyles came up, especially in the Applotment Books. Hmmm. So off I went looking for Pierce Doyle and I found him... and Aunt Mary Ann in the death index.

Aunt Mary Ann's husband was a banksman in the coal mines of Grundy County. That was a most responsible and respected position. Here's what a banksman does, and this is from The North England Institute of Mining and Engineering, so they know what's what. Find them at:

Bank is the top of the shaft, or the entrance to the mine. A Banksman is a man who works at the Bank, and typically that means he receives the coal and transfers it to screens or to some form of transport. In later years, the Banksman's primary role was to ensure that activity at the top of the sahft (e.g. getting men in and out of cages) was done safely; since the Windermen normally cannot see what is happening at the Bank, they are dependant on the Banksman for knowlegde as to when the cage should descend and so on. The Banksman also has to communicate with the pit bottom; the communication was normally done with signals transmitted by a bell and rope, later by electrical signals, and later still by telephone and other apparatus. The Banksman is therefore a crucial man of the pit and held a position of some responsibility.

Mining and coal. As I mentioned before, there's coal dust all over my ancestors.

Jane Price (1860 - 1939), daughter of William Price (1828 - 1872)
She stayed put in Western Maryland.

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