Monday, 6 May 2013

Family Tree Research - Artistic Ancestors, Arthur Jameson and Helen Jameson Hunt, New York Illustrators

My great x 3 grandfather, Rodger had a younger brother Arthur and Arthur, like most of his brothers became a miner in the Durham coalfield.

Arthur married Mary and moved from his home town, South Shields to Jarrow and then, in time, to Hebburn.

In terms of distance - there's not much between all three towns.  My great x 3 grandfather, Rodger Stephenson moved to Jarrow so they were probably working together for a while at the mine.

Arthur and Rodger had pretty normal north east miners lives; they both had big families and lived in pit houses in Jarrow and then Hebburn - these were usually two rooms, three if you had a bigger family and the back lane area was a shared area, housing the outside toilets, pigeon lofts, allotment areas etc.

Arthur's daughter, Jane Anne Stephenson married well.  I have researched my family tree quite thoroughly and nobody really did well for themselves - the girls usually married miners, dockers and eventually shipyard workers and the lads married girls from their area; usually miners' daughters.  I'm not saying that was a bad thing, that was just the normal thing to do - the north east of England was heavily industrialised.

Jane Anne married an architect and surveyor.  On the earliest census of their married life, he is listed as a architect and builder and in later census reports as an architect and surveyor.  His name was Edward Jameson and in time, he bought them a lovely house in a rather nice area of Gateshead.

Jane Anne eventually had her parents living with her in Gateshead and they were set up with their own grocery store.  That would have been unheard of in those days but would have given them some financial independence from Jane Anne, even if they were sharing her home.

The Jamesons and their children disappear from UK records in 1881.  They appear on the census but then there is no sign of them. Theri eldest daughter, Lily died in 1878, still a child but they had three other children.

As I have the worldwide version of, I am able to look abroad for other records.

In 1883 I find Edward being investigated by British police for fraud but all charges are dropped 'no case to answer'.  Maybe that was the push he needed to move from the United Kingdom and take his talents elsewhere.

He and Jane and their children, Arthur, Louise and Fred emigrated to Leavenworth in Kansas.
Leavensworth, Kansas in 1867,%20Kansas,%201867.jpg

I traced their emigration on the ship, City of Chicago and their settling into Leavenworth with some excitement.

Edward becomes a 'real estate agent' (a good trade for an architect/surveyor).  On their first census in the USA, their son Arthur Edward Jameson is listed as an 'artist'.  This piqued my interest - it looked like Arthur had picked up his father's talents.

The next census finds Edward, Jane, Louise and Fred still living in Leavenworth, Kansas but Arthur E Jameson has moved to New York City and is a boarder, along with many others at what looks like an apartment block in Manhatten.  He has moved there to hone his skills.

Eventually, Arthur marries Brownie (real name Arabella) Duncan and settles in Manhattan.  He is listed on the census as 'Illustrator', Brownie is a woman of independent means (she is from a fairly well off family).

Arthur and Brownie have 2 daughters, Margaret Duncan Jameson and Helen Duncan Jameson.  On one census, both are listed as students - Margaret of 'music' and Helen of 'art'.

Illustrated by Arthur E Jameson

I wondered if Helen was following her grandfather and father into artistic pursuits?

Further research shows that she did!  Indeed, Arthur Jameson was a prolific illustrator, illustrating both adult and children's magazines.  He seems to have specialised in children's colourful illustrations.

Helen D Jameson illustrated books and magazines but is particularly well known for a series of Madamoiselle covers she did in the 1930s and 1940s.

The covers are all viewable online if you want to delve further.  I have included some of my favourites here.

Helen married an illustrator, Arnold Hall (he did covers for New Yorker magazine) and went by the name of Helen Jameson Hall. They had no children.
Illustration by Helen Jameson Hall

Edward was an illustrator all of his life and Brownie outlived him by several years - he went back to Leavenworth, maybe for a family trip and died whilst visiting his family.

Helen's sister, Margaret Duncan went to Julliard and studied classical piano.  She was, for a few years, a piano teacher before becoming a legal secretary for a top law firm in New York.

So from their very humble beginnings, the Jameson family did very well for themselves; their move to Kansas was a good one.  Edward and Jane clearly saw their future lay away from the North East of England and they provided their children with options other than mining, shipyard work, steel making and the docks.

My great grandfather x3 stayed in the north east and his son became a miner (and Wesleyan minister) before getting other work after returning from Pennsylvania.  My great-grandfather did not go down the mines, becoming a labourer but my family is (on both sides) mainly from mining stock!

I'm so pleased for Jane Anne; she married a man who could take her away from the industrial north east and showed her a life on the other side of the Atlantic that she would never have seen in England.

And look at the opportunities which opened up for their son Arthur and their granddaughter, Helen.

Margaret Jameson aged 23
I would love to hear from anyone who thinks they might be related on the American side - wouldn't that be great to be able to bill and coo together over Arthur and Helen's success - not bad for a bunch of hard working Geordies.  Edward died before Jane Anne and she went to live with her daughter, Louise McKee in Brown, Texas.  Jane's son, Fred moved to Illinois.

The best part of my research on this part of my family tree was discovering the illustrations still available online.  The one I featured here by Helen is available as an iphone cover, how cool is that?

The second best part of the research was finding their passport applications for a trans-Atlantic trip to Europe in 1922 - it included their photos - now they are not strangers!  Hello to Margaret and Helen, my second cousins, three times removed.
Helen died in 1983 and Margaret died in 2000, she was 100 years old.

Helen Jameson - aged 20

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Family Tree Research - A Holy Man In The Family

John Wesley
My family research began a long time ago and I only recently purchased a worldwide version of and it has filled in a few gaps and has also led me down some unexpected paths.

In my last post, I discussed the fact that the vast majority of my male ancestors were miners, save for my Tyne Waterman great grandfather and his dad, who was a hairdresser!  I like to think of him as a sort of geordie Vidal Sassoon or Nicky Clark but I think the reality is less glamorous - he was cutting, trimming and rollering in the 1820s - posh people were still wearing wigs but poor people stuck to short back and sides and the women rarely had their hair cut.

I did not expect to find too many surprises along the way in terms of 'occupation' on the census records from 1841 through 1911 so imagine my excitement when I discovered the following occupation for my great-great grandfather, R.N.S - Occupation: Miner/Wesleyan Minister.

I should also reveal that his son, my great-grandfather was not a religious man and was very much a man who did not 'spare the rod' when it came to disciplining his own children.
Montour Mining Company

I understand from reading other family history stories that this was nothing new in the early 20th century and recent episodes of the new BBC drama, The Village certainly bear this out.

 Times were tough and you had to be tough to survive.

His religious upbringing may well have included an element of fire and brimstone. who knows?

 I do know that he was extremely articulate and a strong supporter of the budding Labour Party but even my grandmother never, ever mentioned his own upbringing, describing him often as 'a closed book'.  So was that closed book a bible, I wonder?  Was he the way he was because of his Wesleyan upbringing?
Montour area of Pennsylvania

 He never talked about his siblings, parents or upbringing and surely, having a dad who was once a preacher would have been a story worth sharing with your own kids?

So how on earth did my great great grandfather become a Wesleyan Minister?  What is a Wesleyan Minister?  What did he believe?  Did he take his young family to Montour, Pennsylvania for a mining job or the opportunity to also spread his mission?

My interest was piqued - here's what I discovered

Pittsburgh Coal Company - probable employer of RNS
Religion in general in Britain was being brought into the cities and the poor were being brought into the fold of religious worship (whether they wanted it or not).  The truth is that the vast majority of the poor did not think about God, care about God and mainly, did not know about God so religion meant nothing to most of them.  Some of them could hardly put food on their tables and worked very long shifts in either the pits, mills or the factories so going to church was not really top of their 'to do' list.  they lived in pretty terrible urban areas and life was a struggle from day to day with high infant mortality, disease and abject poverty.

It probably didn't help that the newly evangelical leg of the Church of England led most of their sermons by telling these poor people to not be so idle!  Not to drink!  Not to fornicate!  Well, dear me, what else did they have in their lives?  Work!

The Wesleyans were also evangelical - they went out into the people and talked to miners at the pit heads - talked about loving God, loving Christ and loving your neighbours too - because in that sort of community brotherhood came goodness of heart and spirit.  I'm no expert but it all sounds like it was about telling people to understand God and love God on their own terms - no church!  So Wesleyans had chapels and chapels were about the community and brought God into the community.

I found a document online which has the name of my relative on it - he went to mines in the North East of England and preached his message there.  I have no evidence that he was a Primitive Methodist, though maybe he had a bit more of that about him after his time in Montour, which had a strong Wesleyan presence.

He stops calling himself a  Wesleyan Minister eventually - maybe age got the better of him; the 1891 census his occupation is listed as 'Sewing Machine Salesman', no mention of being a minister.  By then he was 53 years old.  I don't think its a coincidence that all of his jobs after living in the USA are 'salesman' type jobs.  He never worked in the mines again.  He certainly did not make any money in America, their address in 1891, Palmer St, Jarrow was a slum area.  They moved there after first moving back to Derbyshire; home of his wife.  Eventually he came back to the North East.

Interesting to note that Montour's neighbouring county is called Northumberland; so possibly named after my own neighbouring English county?  Seems likely.

As a footnote - my great-grandfather (the closed book) married a girl who was famed in her local area, Percy Main, Northumberland for being a medium - she did seances and went to people's houses to do spiritual evenings.  My great grandfather might have been turning in his grave?