It all began with an excited email from a lady in America, which arrived in my inbox in January 2011. We'll call her DH - if she reads this - which she might well do - thank you for getting in touch - it's always great when someone goes to the trouble to write.
She had seen on my family history website that in the Blackburn branch of the OH's tree I mentioned the name Owram or Outram. She was aware that her 2x great grandfather had come over to America from Barnsley, what she hadn't realised until seeing my tree is that he'd gone home again in 1871 for a visit.
|1871 census for Ardsley in Barnsley (from Ancestry)|
DH told me in her email about the book that had been written about her family "Murray Loop", by Ted Cox, published 2009. I looked it up on the internet and ordered a copy. Now available on Kindle here. When I ordered mine by old fashioned snail mail Ted was very kind and threw in a copy of another of his books too, I'm sure we didn't pay him enough, so here's an advert for him: if you want to read a really good true story about emigrating to and living in America in the 19th century buy his book!!
I was fascinated to see in the book that Joseph had another wife, an Englishwoman called Hattie, before the Jenny who appears in the 1871 census. I decided to see if he had married her here before they went to America together.
Although finding the entry for his marriage on FreeBMD was no problem (Q3 1853 in the Barnsley District) when I tried to find the marriage in the parish records at Barnsley Local Studies library I had no luck at all. Another researcher overheard me chatting to the lady sat at the adjacent fiche reader and suggested that the marriage was probably in either the Register Office or a Non-Conformist church. There was nothing else for it but to send away for the certificate.
|1853 Marriage Certificate for Joseph Owram and Harriet Winter|
As Joseph and Hattie's first son George was born in New York in 1855 they didn't wait long before setting off on that big journey across the Atlantic.
The book is a bit vague about what happens to Joseph for the next few years - he a further daughter, Alice in 1857 with Hattie, they appear together in the 1860 census and then at some point in the early 1860s they part, she sets up home with an Edwin Winchell and he with Jenny. Minnie is born in 1868. The book says that Joseph and Hattie remained good friends and certainly by the 1870 census both are living with their new partners.
We can only assume that a divorce took place - were they easier in America than England at that time? Again I don't know.
|1870 Marriage Licence for Joseph Owram and Jennie Starr (Family Search)|
|Certificate of Marriage for Joseph Owram and Jennie Starr (from Family Search)|
Edwin Winchell and Harriet get married in Ohio in May 1875 - a licence and certificate are available on Family Search for them too. Again both claim that they have no partner living. Isn't it great that you can access these actual documents online? Yet in England we have to pay over £9 for a copy certificate ...
More about the Owram's another time. Looking them up this evening to write this blog has made me see how much more I need to do on them to tell the story properly!