Thursday 9 May 2013

Benjamin Bateman, a Bobbin Maker from Bradford (and Bitchburn) finds work in Philadelphia

I like writing my blog posts in the early hours, less disturbances, either when I can't get to sleep or if I wake up early.  This morning I decided to write about Benjamin Bateman and ended up researching bobbin making in Barnsley instead.  Background research of course!

None of the Google hits I had on bobbin mills returned Horton in Bradford or Philadelphia in America, places I know from the census returns that Benjamin lived.  There is a listed ex bobbin mill in Steeton, north of Keighley and a pub called the Bobbin Mill in Chorley on the far side of Manchester, and a preserved bobbin mill in Cumbria.  This suggests that where ever there were textile works there was an accompanying bobbin mill.  I suppose the mills got through thousands and thousands of bobbins in a year and needed a constant supply, that didn't have to travel far, maybe bobbin mills were very common indeed.

Benjamin Bateman was born in Bitchburn, Durham in 1841.  His parents James Bateman and Mary (maiden name Clough) had travelled to Durham from Thornton in Bradford - probably seeking work on the new railways.  I looked at their travels in an earlier blog post

Marriage certificate for Benjamin Batemand and Sarah Ann Ellis in the Parish Church Bradford on 17 Nov 1863.
1863 marriage certificate for Benjamin Bateman and Sarah Ann Ellis (from Ancestry)
When Benjamin marries in 1863 he states his occupation as Bobbin Turner and his residence as Bradford.  In the 1861 census return he had been living with his parents at 173 Westgate, Bradford and he was already a Bobbin Turner. 

Snip from an 1890s map of Bradford showing Laycocks Mill and the bobbin mill next door, both on Thornton Road
1890s map of Bradford between Westgate and Thornton Road (from Digimaps)
In the above 1890s map of Bradford there is a bobbin mill right next door to Laycocks Mill, both on the Thornton Road.  Westgate just crosses the top right of the map.  It seems likely this was where Benjamin was working.  His younger brother Abel was also a bobbin turner and his father and another brother Daniel were machinists.  Laycocks Mill appears to have been a works that made looms, there is a reference to it in the catalogue to the Paris Exhibition of 1878.  This would fit with the occupations of James and Daniel Bateman.

There is an online family tree for this branch of the Batemans.  I have been in touch with the owner.  He has linked an 1866 passenger list from England to America to the family.

Passenger list for the City of Paris 1866 listing Benjamin and Sarah Bateman aged 24, John Bateman aged 54 and John Bateman aged 14.
1866 passenger list for the City of Paris from Livepool to New York (from Ancestry)
The passenger list for the City of Paris from Liverpool to New York lists Benjamin and Sarah Bateman, both aged 24, James Bateman aged 54 and John Bateman aged 14.  This fits our Bateman family perfectly, however there is no corroborating evidence, no occupations or places of origin are given and there is no corresponding entry for the family returning from America.  Benjamin must have liked it though, even if Sarah didn't.

In 1871 Benjamin, Sarah Ann and their two daughters are living in Smith Street, Horton.  The stated birth place of their eldest child, Minnie, is Pennsylvania, USA, so the family must have stayed in America for a couple of years at least.  James and John Bateman are also back in Bradford re-united with the rest of the family. 

Smith Street appears to be to the south of Thornton Road, but no further from Laycocks Mill and the Bobbin Mill than Westgate, however there are many textile mills in Horton and there may be more Bobbin Mills!  So all that way to Pennsylvania and then back to Bradford.  Were they travelling on behalf of the firm James and Benjamin worked for?

A map snip showing part of the interactive map of Horton with some of the many textile mills marked
A screen shot from the Yorkshire Industrial Heritage site
The Yorkshire Industrial Heritage website shows just how many textile mills there were in Bradford, Horton and Manningham, far to many to meaningfully fit on a map snip, so I've just shown you Horton in the snip above.  More than twenty in just a small area!  They would certainly have needed a large supply of bobbins.
Baptisms for Ellen, Annie and Minnie Bateman at All Saints Bingley on 10th May 1874.
1874 baptism entries for three Bateman daughters (from Ancestry)
Three of Benjamin and Sarah Ann's children, Ellen, Annie and Minnie, were baptised in All Saint's church in Bingley, near Keighley in 1874 - the third daughter Ellen does not appear in any subsequent census returns suggesting she died young.  The address given is Beckfoot, which we assume is near Bingley and Benjamin's occupation is still Bobbin Turner.  Looking on Digimaps I can only see a silk mill in Beckfoot in the 1890s and it is very rural.  I suppose silk mills need bobbins too!

In 1881 the family have moved to Thorp Street, back in Horton.  Benjamin and Sarah's fourth daughter Clara was born in Bradford in 1875.

Then something happens, Benjamin turns up in the census of 1900 in Philadelphia, USA by himself.  I can't find him in 1891 in England or 1890 in America, but the American census returns for that year are hit and miss due to the destruction of most of the records in a fire in 1921, and the remainder by government order in the 1930s, so that's not unusual.
1900 census for Kerns Street (name hard to read) in Philadelphia City, USA (from Ancestry)
Remember that Ancestry worldwide can be accessed in most public libraries in South Yorkshire - if you get a hit for an ancestor in another country don't give up - go to the library!

The above census return shows Benjamin Bateman aged 58, born in 1841, from England, a Bobbin Turner, who says he moved to the USA in 1880 (maybe he was rounding) as a boarder with the Hartley family who are also from England.  On the same page, in the house just next door are two Weavers in a Carpet factory.   I think this might be a clue.  I can't read his street name, but the next one down is Sergeant Street which I did find on a map.   The Wilde brothers started a carpet yarn mill in Philadelphia in 1882 which is still in business.  Was there a burgeoning weaving industry in Philadelphia?  Could they have advertised for skilled men from England to come and work for them?  Is that why James and Benjamin first went over there in 1866?  Remember that James appears to have made machines, maybe even looms, in Bradford.
A small section from the 1895 map of Philadelphia (from Greater Philadelphia Geo History)
On the 1895 map of Philadelphia (there are wonderful layered maps on the Greater Philadelphia Geo History Network) I can see several carpet factories and a worsted mill within a few streets of Benjamin's possible address.  Scanning around the area there are woollen factories and hosiery mills on nearly every street - it must have been a boom town for men who knew the job. 

Sadly Sarah Ann doesn't seem to have liked America.  In 1891 she is still in Bradford, with her two of her daughters (Minnie has married) and her father is living with her in Osbourne Street, Horton.  In 1901 she is living with just her daughter Clara in Villiers Street and in 1911 she and Clara are at Earl Street.  Both women work as weavers throughout this period, although by 1911 Clara seems to be supporting her elderly mother. 

1910 US census snip showing Benjamin Bateman as the Boarder in the house of Marion Bibby a 74 year old Widow.
1910 census for East Dakota Street, Philadelphia (from Ancestry)
In America in 1910 Benjamin is boarding with Marion Bibby at East Dakota Street, Philadelphia.  He now says he came to America in 1866, so this tallies with the passenger list found by my relative.  His occupation is Wood Turner and he is working in a Wood Turning Mill, so I suppose we can assume he is still making bobbins.  Naughtily he say's he's a widower, hmmm, Sarah is still alive in Bradford, but maybe he hadn't heard from her for a long time and it was just easier ...

Benjamin dies in Philadelphia in 1915, occupation Bobbin Turner - this information is also available on Ancestry world wide, but only as a transcription, not an original document image. 

Benjamin's father had travelled from Bradford to Durham looking for work when he was a young man, returned to Bradford and then visited America in his fifties.  Benjamin obviously got the travel bug from him.  After accompanying his father to America in 1866 possibly on some kind of business trip he stays in Pennsylvania for long enough for his young wife to have a child there, then the whole family return to Bradford. 

When he and Sarah part company in the 1880s Benjamin returns to Philadelphia alone and remains there until his death.  Had he really liked it on his first visit?  Had he proposed the entire family return but Sarah refused?  Was the money better in America than Bradford?  He has the same job - it wasn't a career move as far as I can see.  Maybe he sent money home to Sarah and his daughters ... he doesn't appear as a witness at his daughter's weddings - I wonder if they invited him?  And why does he say he's a widower in 1910?

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