Category Archives: Wales

Kids Working (and dying) in the Coal Mines

mine-disaster

I’m still tracing my Pennsylvania coal mining roots. The Engle family and the Thomas family joined when Charles F. Engle and Anna May Thomas married in 1897. They were married in Taylor, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The Engles were originally from Germany and the Thomas family was from Wales. Anna’s father’s John Thomas had to sign for her as she was underage. Charles Frederick Engle was my biological great grandfather, born in Pennsylvania in 1874. Anna May Thomas was my biological great grandmother, born in Pennsylvania in 1879.

anna and charles

I’ve had a hard time trying to trace the Thomas side because their names were so common. I found them all listed on the 1880 Federal Census.

Thomas family 1880

Please note that the father, John, was a coal miner. My Great Grandmother, Anna Thomas Engle, is 9 months old at the time of the census.

If you think all of the old documents were this easy to read, please think again. All of the original records were hand written. Patient volunteers have generously given their time and skills to index the records and to make them digitally available.

Below is what the original 1880 Federal Census shows for the Thomas Family.

original 1880 census

I have tried to trace the family forward, but the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed in a fire in Washington, D.C. in 1921. The first I can find the family again was in the 1900 census. I found Anna and Charles Engle (married) and Anna’s sister, Gwennie, living with them. I also found William. I haven’t been able to find the parents, John and Mary, or the boy James.

Something brought me back to the 1880 census and I noticed that James was listed as working in the mines. Because I couldn’t find him again in the 1900 census, I wondered if something had happened to him.

james thomas

The mine accident reports have all been digitized and are easy to find on the internet. I did a quick search and found a listing for a James Thomas, age 14, who died in an 1884 mine accident. I can’t be positive that this is my relative, but the ages fit. His age was listed as 9 in the 1880 census and his age was listed as 14 in the 1884 report — he may have had a birthday.

james thomas death

I will keep searching to find out if this is the same James Thomas. I defy anyone to say that they had a crappy childhood in comparison to these little kids working underground in the mines.

PA-breaker-boys

I urge everyone to take up genealogy because it is an easy and personal way to learn history. The stories become your stories and mean more because it happened to your family.

R.I.P. little James Thomas.

youngminers

Finally received two Engle death certificates. . .and they proved that my theory was correct

I had guessed that George W. Engle’s father was Louis and that his mother was Philipine, but couldn’t prove it.  Yesterday I received George’s death certificate, and even though it is hard to read, it definitely lists Louis as his father.  His son, Peter, was the informant.  Peter didn’t know his father’s birthday so he lists his age as about 60. His date of death was September 3, 1915.

George W. Engle

You can learn so much from a death certificate. I had no idea where George Engle might have been buried, but his death certificate lists Washburn Cemetery, Scranton, Pennsylvania as the site.

I also received his wife’s death certificate at the same time. Her name was Martha Carey Engle. Martha lived longer than George and died on May 25, 1928. Their son Peter was also the informant on her death certificate. And she was buried in Washburn Cemetery also.

Martha Carey Engle

http://www.findagrave.com had no record of their burials, so I added their names as being buried at Washburn Cemetery. I did some fact finding about Washburn Cemetery. Washburn Cemetery is the site for the burials of some of the victims of the Avondale Mine Disaster. The cemetery has fallen into terrible disrepair and neglect. The Genealogical Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania has been working on doing much needed repairs. I applaud their efforts!

I copied the text below from the Genealogical Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s site —

http://www.grsnp.org/Home_Page.php

The Avondale Mine disaster of September 6, 1869 united a region that consisted of anthracite coal mining cities and towns. Although there were most likely remembrances held subsequent to 1869, the first two in recent memory to honor the 110 men and boys took place in 1994 and 2005.

The 1994 remembrance was conducted by various Welsh organizations and included placement of a memorial plaque honoring the men and boys inside the entrance to Washburn Street Cemetery in West Scranton. This event was followed by a two-day remembrance on September 10 and 11, 2005 at the Avondale Mine site in Plymouth and at Washburn Street Cemetery.

From 2005 to the present much has been accomplished. At Washburn, grave markers were restored and a remembrance plaque was installed near the men’s and boys’ graves where spring bulbs were planted. Near the mine site in Plymouth a Commonwealth roadside marker reminds visitors and commuters of the disaster that occurred nearby.

Our most recent endeavor involved raising funds for the removal of two dead trees located near the men’s and boys’ Washburn resting places. The trees were removed on April 22, 2013.

As part of our continuing efforts to improve conditions around the gravesites, projects include, but are not limited to, placement of a memorial bench, installation of a Civil War remembrance in honor of the Avondale men who fought in that war and are interred at Washburn, as well as purchase of summer flowers and additional spring bulbs that will enhance the Avondale section of Washburn.

Contributions to help cover the costs of these and other projects are being sought. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Checks and/or money orders can be made payable to Avondale Restoration Project and sent to:

Avondale Restoration Project

c/o Linda Scott

514 Old Colony Rd

South Abington Twp., PA 18411

avondale

I googled to find out who has the Washburn Cemetery Records and found the answer at rootsweb. The records are held by the offices of the Rader Insurance Co., in Scranton.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~palackaw/cemeteries/washburn.html

Among the early interments on this plot were 69 victims of the Sept. 9, 1869, Avondale disaster, a mine breaker which caught fire just south of Plymouth, PA; 17 of these names are identified in the source one LDS list. Up until the 1930’s an entrance existed on the east side of the cemetery from Filmore street. As with many other cemeteries, ownership has changed hands several times, additional land purchased for expansion, and problems have resulted from some of these changes – lack of maintenance is but one. Official records are held by the offices of the Rader Insurance Co., Scranton, and are organized by plot owner. This office also handles Abington Hills and Shady Lane cemeteries.

Below are some photographs I found on the internet showing the condition of Washburn Cemetery. The photos are from the Facebook page titled “Clean Up the Washburn Street Cemetery”. If you are on Facebook, you can see more photos. Thank you to the person or persons who took these photos.

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And more about the Engles. . . and why I love the Welsh

I haven’t posted anything lately because I am waiting for a bunch of my biological Engle family death certificates to arrive from the state of Pennsylvania. The copies are only $3.00 each, but the wait time is months & months. They are probably hoping that you’ll lost interest and tell them never mind before they get around to making the copies.

Anyway, I have a few mysteries that I hope to solve by receiving these certificates. My 2nd great grandfather, George W. Engle, was born in Pennsylvania. In every census I can find about George W., it states that both his mother and father were born in Germany. I have found a George Engle born in Scranton, Pennsylvania that was the son of Louis and Philipena Engle and the dates match. Louis and Philipena Engle both came to Pennsylvania from Germany. I have sent for George W. Engle’s death certificate in hopes that it will list his parents names, as most death certificates do. Louis was a German butcher, oh my.

Another mystery is that my great grandfather’s brother Robert was paralyzed. I found this information on the 1910 US Federal census that says “unable to work, is paralyzed”. I found a newspaper clipping about a Robert Engle who died in 1914.

robert engle

I wonder if this is the same Robert Engle, who was paralyzed? The death certificate should show if he belongs to the George W. Engle family and if so, why did he die of exposure? Did someone leave this paralyzed man out in the elements? Like leaving a useless relative on an ice flow? Maybe none of this has any validity, but I am waiting for Robert Engle’s death certificate to see if this is the same Robert, as his age fits and he was from Scranton.

I did receive Anna Thomas Engle’s death certificate yesterday from a fabulous researcher, Maryann Bacsik, from New Jersey. If you ever need a record from New Jersey, this is the woman you need to contact. New Jersey records are very difficult to obtain because none of them are online. Thank you, Maryann!

Anna Thomas Engle’s parents were born in Wales. John J. Thomas came to the United States to find a better life and, voila, ended up back in the coal mines. Bet he said, more than once, just shoot me now. I haven’t been able to trace John J & Mary Thomas because John & Mary Thomas from Wales is like . . .John & Mary Smith from the U.S. But, I haven’t given up yet.
anna engle death

Another mystery — poor great grandmother Anna tripped on a curb in New Jersey and then dies from pneumonia. She had to have already been sick when she fell (?). To make matters worse, her husband Charles F. Engle, remarries on Oct. 17 of the same year. I realize that men hate to be alone, but from July 13 to October 17 isn’t a very long time.

I really don’t care if my husband should remarry, if I precede him in death, but I only request that he not bring a date to my funeral.

Back to Anna May Thomas, whose parents were from Wales. I love dark and gloomy Wales. I spent a couple of months (once upon a time) in Wrexham, Wales, which is only about 12 miles from Chester, England (another very favorite city). The Welsh language is fantastic because all of the city names look like if you fell asleep at the computer, and when your head hits the keyboard, it spelled out the Welsh city names.

My favorite singer of all times is Tom Jones. Thanks to my great grandma Anna’s genes! Tom was born Thomas John Woodward in Treforest, Pontypridd in South Wales. He father was a coal miner. Once when Gil, my husband, and I were staying in Swansea, Wales, we came down to the breakfast room only to hear Tom Jones’ fabulous voice blaring through the speakers. My heart stood still!

I once talked my daughter into patronizing her poor old Mom into attending a Tom Jones concert in Last Vegas. She agreed to attend. But when I threatened to fling my big girl panties towards the stage she said something like, “you are so dead”. So I behaved myself and enjoyed Tom as he truly is a fabulous performer.

tom jones

A Photo of Me Admiring a Photo of Tom Jones in Las Vegas

And by the way, he isn’t dead. I just googled “is Tom Jones dead?” and I received the answer, of course not you silly goose! He has been married now for 55 years to Linda. And from the looks of this photo, he isn’t packing potatoes or sweat socks into his shorts as some gossip tabloids have alleged.

**THIS IMAGE HAS NOT YET BEEN INDEXED BY THE LIBRARY.  IF IN ANY

Tom has finally accepted his senior statemanship. And at the age of 71, and as Sir Tom, he’s quietly changed his image from swivel-hipped sex god to elder statesman of pop. He’s let his dyed hair grow out to its natural grey, and with matching beard, he looks exactly what he is: a rather cool grandfather and devoted family man.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2142603/How-Tom-Jones-stayed-married-55-years-He-admits-There-things-missus-just-dont-talk-about.html#ixzz2Uun4KHoE
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Tom Jones2

A Recent Photo of Tom Jones

This is the village in Wales from Tom was born.

where tom jones came from

Tom Jones was born Thomas John Woodward, at 57 Kingsland Terrace, Treforest, Pontypridd in South Wales. This is a photo of Pontypridd.

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