Thursday, 4 April 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Joseph Owram's two marriages

When I first started this blog last October I put a reminder to myself on the Family Stories page to write the story of Joseph Owram, the OH's first cousin six times removed who somehow ended up in America and who has a book written about his family.  Tonight I will start that off with a quick whisk around Joseph's two marriages, one here in Barnsley and another much more mysterious, in Ohio.

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)
Joseph, aged 38, is visiting his mother, Elizabeth Owram aged 81 at her home in Ardsley, near Barnsley.  To be honest I hadn't thought a great deal about the fact that Joseph Owram's child Minnie (aged 2) was born in Ohio or that his wife, Jenny P, was from New York.  Lots of people tried going to America, didn't like it and came back, what I didn't realise is that they also came back for visits - it seems so long ago to us - and such a long way to travel by sea - it's hard to imagine going one way, let alone back and forth a few times.

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
Joseph and Hattie, or Harriet as she is shown here, married on the 16th August 1853 in "The Wesleyan Chapel" Barnsley.  I don't know which one - but I suppose the name of the celebrant might give me a clue, John P Sumner.  Note how the certificate is countersigned by the Registrar - this is because the 1836 Marriage Act allowed marriages in Non-Conformist churches - which hadn't been the case before - but a registrar had to be present.

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)
I found the above on Family Search - it's a marriage licence for Joseph and Jennie for 10th November 1870 in Ohio.  Joseph states that he has "no wife living" - as Hattie is still well and truly alive there must have been a divorce or someone's telling fibs.
Certificate of Marriage for Joseph Owram and Jennie Starr (from Family Search)
Joseph and Jennie marry on 23rd November 1870.  Unfortunately American marriage documents don't seem to give much additional information - no occupations or father's names as on English certificates.  The address, Berlin Heights, figures in the book, "Murray Loop" though - it was a free thinking community in Ohio, vegetarianism, free love and that sort of thing. 

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!


Unknown said...

Hi there, I have just started researching my family tree, following the owram line. I have got very confused as they all seem to have the same names! I found the information regarding joseph really interesting as I couldnt find out much about him. But I have to make sure I have him with the right family as I think there may be another joseph in there somewhere.
Thanks for the information.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Hi Jane,
Thanks for reading my blog, and I wish you every success with your research.

Gillian Stapleton said...

Hello - Joseph Owram was my great-great uncle (his brother John was my great-great grandfather). I love tracing my ancestors; I've got a copy of 'Murray Loop' too, and it does make fascinating reading, especialy Jennie's description of the houses and conditions at Barnsley.
You have a wonderful and fascinating blog.

Gillian Stapleton
PS. I'm in Barnsley too.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Hi Gillian,
Thanks for reading my blog. I really enjoyed writing the stories of my husband and my owm ancestors. It even helped me research as getting the facts in order to write a story concentrates your mind on the events and helps you spot links or gaps that are sometimes not obvious.
These days I'm a bit tied up with the Barnsley War Memorials Project, but hopefully when that is brought to a conclusion I will be able to get back to family history and my blog.
Thanks again, glad you enjoyed it!