Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Barque Tiberius Brought Them

Last fall when on a trip back east to see Mom and the family, we went to the Frostburg Museum over in the old Hill Street School. Frostburg is the tiny Western Maryland town where Mom and Dad grew up, met, got married and where almost the entirety of the first few generations of my tree come from. So I was excited to see what the museum had and how it might relate to the family.

The first floor was super fascinating and we all roamed around looking at an amazing variety of stuff that we had some familiarity with. There's a small room with a lot of personal family history items relating to some of the families of the town that go way back. The Porters, The Workmen, and the Troutmen families all had genealogies there.

In that small room a couple of document facsimile were presented in glass cases. I took a close look and then with the permission of the docent, photographed them. I noticed the ship's list from the Barque Tiberius and knew it fit into our family's history but just as I was puzzling out where and who, one of our group drew my attention away to some other item, equally fascinating. It was like that all day! A wealth of relevant items to look at and consider in the ongoing process of understanding the world my ancestors inhabited. It was hard to take it all in and we plan to go back when I visit next time.

Back home and months later I'm sitting thinking, hey what about that Barque Tiberius? So I googled it and found a link to a transcription of the manifest and some very interesting notes which you can see here. Seems that it sailed from New Port, Wales to Baltimore, Maryland, and arrived in Baltimore 11 September 1838. Then I read the top of the manifest:

A List of Passengers on board of the American Barque Tiberias of Boston U.S., whereof George Sears, is Master, bound from New Port to Baltimore, U.S., burthen 299 tons Reg.
Columns represent: Name, age and occupation. The intention of all is George's Creek Co.* except Mary Bannista who is for Baltimore.
On board are three people who interest me to the max! They are:
Diana Thomas (1832 - 1871), my 2nd great grandmother, who was only 6 years old.
Benjamin Thomas (1793 - 1846), age 45, a collier (miner), and his wife,
Hannah (Evans) Thomas (1798 - 1968) age 40. Together, they are my 3rd great grandparents.

Holy-moley!! Seeing that just stops me in my tracks. Imagine! Benjamin with his entire family, all ten of them, confined to a small ship of just 299 tons, making their way for 46 days to cross, to the George's Creek Coal fields in a place they have never been to or seen. And with an infant child, Jane.

There's another Thomas family on board and in some way, I do hope they were connected, these two Thomas families, so as to be able to share the great adventure of their lives.

I feel for this family and don't have many details of their existence at hand which I can share with you. I do know that mine work was hard and dangerous. But I also know that the George's Creek Coal fields were the richest in the state, or adjoining states too at that time, and the miners who worked it prospered.  They raised large well-fed families and eventually purchased their own homes. Their children had good educations and they prospered as well.

Mom found one mention of Benjamin and Hannah in a small publication, The Lonaconing Mining Journal, 1837 - 1840, which is the recording journal of the mine manager. It was transcribed by Katherine Harvey about 1976. In it is recorded that Benjamin and Hannah were making merry and drinking on a Sunday evening at someone else's home, and arrested for being drunk! Here's the story. On Sundays, and after a long hard week of work, someone in the community opened their home to serve as a public house, a pub. Bars were outlawed by the mining company who kept an iron hold on the morals of their workers. It did not serve their best interests to have hungover miners working on Monday morning. So it seems that off went Benjamin and Hannah to have some downtime with neighbors. And they got caught by the mining company!

Also on the link, and written by Patricia Thomas, whose husband is also a direct descendant of Benjamin and Hannah is the following:

The Barque Tiberias appears to have left Wales on 31 June 1838 and is 109 feet long. The voyage took 46 days to cross from Newport, Wales to Baltimore, Maryland. The names of 76 passengers appear on the manifest. A cargo of 3,689 pieces of railroad iron was also on board. Most were men (and their families) hired as colliers (miners) due to mass recruiting by the George's Creek Coal and Iron Company in Allegany County, Maryland.

I thank Patricia Thomas for this paragraph, above.

In the Frostburg Museum, The ships register of the Barque Tiberius!

My 3rd GGF Benjamin Thomas and 3rd GGM Hannah Thomas on the Barque Tiberius roster along with my 2nd GGM Diane Thomas.

The Frostburg Museum now residing in its permanent home at the Hills Street School in Frostburg Maryland. There is much local history within its walls!

Mom and Brother look at her high school graduating class photo on display at the Frostburg Museum while our docent, Ralph, looks on.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a blogging prompt of GeneaBloggers. Find out more here.

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