Tintagel Christmas 2002
Tintagel Christmas 2002
Postcards from the Descendents
Each year a group of people from around the World come together for a virtual Christmas party on the internet. We all belong to a mailing list for people researching their Cornish Roots. You can find the list on the Rootsweb site Here. In 2002 it was decided that it would be a good idea if members wrote a brief letter giving a virtual tour / story about their ancestors and or where they travelled and settled. So come and settle down by the fire here in our cottage in Penhalvean and travel the world.
From St Blazey to South Australia by Kay Hinnrichsen
Penhalvean to Lansing, Michigan By George Pritchard
Nine Generations at Bostrase by Judy Powell
Cornwall to Treasure City By Di. Laffing
Nicholas Peters of St Hilary by Edith Chalke & The Rev. Walkie
Camborne to Kadina by Keith Bailey, Kadina, South Australia.
Blewetts in Washington State by Di. Laffing
Wendron to New Zealand by Hazel from New Zealand
Letter From Torquay by Bonnie in Portland, Oregon USA
Tragedy in Sacramento by Janice in California.
From St Albans to Gwinear by Mary
Gunnislake Via Stithians and Helston to Ohio By Albert Jenkyn
The Return - Home is the sailor by David Oates
Cornwall to Perth by Pat Banks
Lostwithiel to Seaford, Delaware by Ann Tumser, California
Wendron to Utah by Joan in Colorado
Delabole to The Slate Belt USA. by Tom Menhennitt Jr, Pennsylvania
The Slate Belt USA part 2 by Doris Parsons Miller, Reading, PA USA
Wendron to Kansas by Ann Berry, Raleigh, North Carolina
Valley / Nevada City by
Mary Lou (Buckthought) Gibson, California
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From St Blazey to South Australia
King William Street, Mount Barker More on the area of South Australia in 1847
have just finished typing up a letter (extract of) written by William TONKIN in 1849 telling his thoughts on his new country. Oh, to get my hands
on the original to see what was left out!!
EXTRACT FROM AN ORIGINAL EMIGRANTS' LETTER.
Peringa Village, Mount Barker,
South Australia, Oct. 11th, 1849.
My very dear brothers and sisters,
I suppose you are waiting to hear from us after being absent so many months. And now being settled, and making some observations for nine months past, I take up my pen and write you some information, as far as I can, about the country of South Australia. And first I would just observe we were favoured with a very fine passage, about 105 days, and all landed in safety. We found William at the Port with his two brothers-in-law, with 18 head of cattle, and three carriages calculated to carry three tons each. We all went strait (sic) to William's place at Mount Barker, and found his wife and children all in good health, and every preparation made, that could be made; while a good stock of provisions was provided. We found William in very flourishing circumstances; he has eighty acres of land, I should think as good as can be found in the world. We came there a week before Christmas, and found harvest begun, and so fine a wheat crop I never
saw in England. William had 40 acres of wheat, and plenty of barley, oats, potatoes, &c. WE all stopped with him and got in the harvest before we left. After harvest our boys settled about ten miles from Mount Barker, at Peringa Mine, and Betsy and I soon went there too. I had liberty to build a house on the mine land, and the proprietors offered me materials for the work; so I set about the building, the boys helping me; we soon got up the best house in the village; it contains a kitchen 225 square feet, two bedrooms that comfortably contain two beds each, and a schoolroom. I have enclosed a garden at the front of the house, about thirty yards of fine land, and all planted, and everything growing abundantly. I would just here observe we pay no rent while the boys work at the mine; if this house was at home it would make £20 per year. We have a very great privilege, for we can keep as many cows as we like, and they can run over thousands of acres
of land and fine pastures, while they can feed home close to the door. There is no hay nor houses wanted here for cattle; the winter is even the best time for feed. We have three cows and calves, and the way we manage is as follows: we have a yard in which we milk our cows, and we take off what milk we like, and then let the calf take the rest. We are obliged to keep it so that we may get home the cows, for we have no fences, and they can run a thousand miles or twice that distance; but after a little while we put a long rope to the calf, and place it a short distance from the house, and the cows will go off to feed, and come home regularly in the evening, and at night we put them in the yard. Two of my cows are very fine. and if they were at home they would not stand five minutes in a market at £16 each; and here they are cheap, I bought the first of them about five weeks
since for £4 10s. Meat here is 2½d. per lb, wheat 5s. per bushel, barley 3s. oats 3s. potatoes 10s. per cwt. Tea 2s. sugar 3d. per lb. Clothing is a little dearer than at home; shoes are very dear 15s. a pair, yet men's shoe leather is very cheap, so you may see a shoemaker is a very good trade here. I have just begun to make shoes, and am getting on very well for a learner; I have made five pair of shoes and three pair of boots, so I think
I might get on if I had more time; but my school and garden take up most of my time.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is a fine country for an industrious family; people that are willing to work can do well; poor people's dogs eat more meat than whole families could at home: this too is a very healthy climate, and we never enjoyed better health than we do now.
Betsy is getting very stout, she can scarcely put on any of her clothes she brought from home, and my clothes is (sic) very tight for me; indeed we were never so comfortably situated as we are now; the country is become so natural to me as if I had been born here; we are surrounded by our own country people. There are some natives here, but not very many; they are a very harmless race. They are not very black, being rather brown; and they go naked in general; they will carry water or wood for a bit of bread; and they have no house nor provisions; but live on what they can find in the bush. There are many things here raw, which they eat, a very stupid set, ignorant of God and everything spiritual; they worship the sun and moon, and believe when they die they shall go to England, and come out white people; and we cannot persuade them out of it; we have a chapel about half a mile from us, and preaching twice every Sunday; it is the Primitive Methodist Society; but we are going to build another chapel directly.
I have plenty of work, and long
crooked lanes; but we ride through the bush, and the scene is more beautiful than any gentleman's lawn I ever
saw; the birds singing on every side, and in many places it is like a flower garden. Sometimes when I look at this country, and think of home and
past circumstances, I cannot tell how thankful I feel to the Lord for
directing us to this glorious place, a land with every blessing. Oh! how glad I should be if you were all here to enjoy some of the good things of this land.
We are just the other side of the globe; and there is ten and a half hours' difference in the time, and we are that ahead of you; it is your night when it is our day; when it is twelve o'clock in the day with us, it is half past one in the morning with you; the sun is north with us when it is twelve o'clock; we have very little twilight here, not like it is at home, for very soon after the day breaks, the sun is up; and so in the evening when the sun leaves, it quickly grows dark. We have plenty of fine weather, and in the summer it is very hot; it was very hot when we came, and we found it tedious to us at first. The flies are very plentiful, and troublesome to strangers; and we have hot winds at times not very pleasant.
We have no wild beasts in this
part of the colony, nothing but a few opossums, they are something like a rabbit; kangaroos are very
plentiful, and their skins make the best leather. We have plenty of wild fowl, ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, pigeons, and many sorts of birds. The
country looks best in the winter, our trees are evergreen and instead of
their leaves they cast off their bark every year, and never loose their leaf (sic); and at this time the wilderness is blossoming. And it is quite impossible for me to point out its beauty. Some parts of this country are very mountainous and rocky! And abound with copper, silver, lead, and iron ores; the soil is generally good for crops; some of it is black, and deep under the surface is a kind of soapy clay very rich. We can sow year after year without any manure, and the finest crops are produced. We have no hedges, our fences are split wood, and will last for many years; we have as much fire-wood as we like. Some of our trees are very large, but the largest are generally hollow; there is one at William's place in which a man, his wife, and three children, lived a fortnight. The timber here is not very good for working, being hard; no such timber as at home; we have
many sorts, such as red blue, and white silver wattle; the oak, black wood, cherry wood, white bark, peppermint bark, and some pine; but all is very course, the black wood is the best.
Cattle are very fine, from six to ten hundred weight and very plentiful; hundreds of bullocks are slaughtered, and boiled down for their fat, and the meat made no use of; but thrown out to the dogs. I do often think of poor people at home who are starving for want of it; if they were here, they would think they were in a land of luxury; the people indeed, here, live on the very best the world can produce, and I am much afraid that many who were pious at home, forget the most important thing; they are like Israel of old, they "grow fat and forget God;" but ah! Rather should they be thankful and live to his praise and glory.
We have all sorts of professions here, Methodists, Primitives, Brianites, Church of England, Roman Catholics, and some few Quakers. Our Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries are very fine men; one of them is expected to preach in my schoolroom to morrow (sic) evening.
My family give their kind love
to all they left behind in our native land; they are in good health, and well pleased with the country,
and only sorry they were not here before. My dear sister, I wish when you have read this, you would forward it to the rest of my brothers and
sisters, and I hope all will not neglect to write to me often, and I will do the same. I would just remark that if any of you intend to come, you
have no need to burden yourselves with clothes; take a few things on board for your use, such as onions, pepper, cheese, ham, pork, or some fish-dried
Pollock would be the best; and if I had to undertake the voyage again, I would take a bushel of flour, and then you might have good bread. I here
remark. I do not persuade any one to come; I should be glad to see you
here, but you must follow your own mind. I have simply laid before you the state of the country; but I come very far short of pointing out its real beauty and excellence.
Please to give our love to
enquiring friends; my family give their love to you all, and hope if we never meet more on earth, we shall all meet
in heaven. God bless you all !
Yours truly, W. and E. TONKIN.
William came from St Blazey and was a Schoolteacher at Biscovey. He
Married Elizabeth WELLINGTON at St Blazey. She was b St Austell. They
came to Sth Australia on the China in 1847.
You can visit Kay's Web Site by clicking here for the latest information on William and his family
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Penhalvean to Lansing, Michigan
Although Alice Ann Medlyn was not related to me I never the less feel very close to her. You see Alice Ann was born in the cottage in which I sit and write and there are times when I feel that she is around in a nice way.
Shortly after Sandra, Bryn and I moved into the cottage we had a letter from an Alice Medlyn Gollmer in Lansing, Michigan who told us that we were living in her Grandma Medlyn's cottage. Sandra wrote back and a series of letters past back and forth and the following story is pieced together from them.
Alice Ann Medlyn was born in 1861 to William and Alice Medlyn who were living at Penhalvean and when the time came for the baptism the clergyman asked for the name and was told "Alice Ann, Sir" by her father. He then proceeded to baptise her Alexander a name which was then ignored for the rest of her life. Alice's father was a miner working in the Buller Mine and living in the cottage which belonged to the Buller estate.
Alice was the third child and over the next few years she was joined by another brother and two sisters. So that the1871 census shows the family consisted of Father William, Mother Alice and children Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Sarah Jane and Etheland. Her father and brothers Wm. John and Joseph were all working in the Buller Mine.
As Alice grew she helped her mother with the younger children and ten years later the 1881 census tells us that aged twenty she had left home and was working as a childrens nurse for Arthur Evans Corin a Flour and Provisions merchant at 36 Fore Street, Redruth. Her father and mother were in Penhalvean with John, Joseph, Sarah and Ethelinda but her eldest brother William had married and was living with his wife and two children in Illogan.
With the closure of the mine where he worked, William the eldest brother moved with his young family to London where he eventually became the owner of a drapers shop.
But back to Alice. Whilst in Redruth, she had met and fell in love with Bill Symonds (Simmonds) but in late 1881 the mine where he worked closed and he decided to join others who were leaving Cornwall for America. he made his way to Champion, Michigan, where within the year Alice had joined him. However, in 1883 news came from home that her father had died and Alice sat down and penned the following:I left a home a parent dear, A father kind and true, And parted, yea from him I loved. My pleasure to persue. My twenty second birthday passed, my twenty third not come, A letter in my hand was placed Bearing sad news from home. Sad news indeed it was to me To lose a father dear But when I think of by-gone days He is better off than here. Although his body in chapel yard lies his soul has passed away To dwell with him above the sky who taught us how to pray. When turning to his wife and kin To take his last farewell Two wandering children of his own Were absent from his side. Two children from their home had gone Their duty to perform We little thought that death's cold sleep had taken our father from home. Although we have lost a father dear And missed him from our home We would not wish him back again What ever us betide. Alice Ann Medlyn.
Alice and Bill, moved to Calumet where a local newspaper reported in 1892, "Bill Symonds (family spelling Simmonds) has a 9 x 12 smile on his face. He has a young daughter Alice Medlyn weighing 10lbs." No mention of the mother, but that was the way back then. So Alice number three entered the world in which her father was to die within 5 years aged 38.
Of the other Medlyn children, John joined the army and served in Africa where he purchased a monkey and a parrot which he brought back to the cottage on his return. The monkey soon died of the cold but the parrot lived for many years, but had to be covered up when visitors came around as the sailors on board the ship coming home had taught it to swear, or so trooper Medlyn told his mother.
Joseph the last of the boys sailed for America and settled in Colorado. He did well and a few years later met and married a young girl who became pregnant. Unfortunately both mother and child died in childbirth and Joseph wrote a letter to his mother in Penhalvean in which he said " I'm crying, cursing God and dying of a broken heart." His mother never heard from him again.
Alice Ann married Laughlin McClean in 1906 and little Alice gained a step dad. Our last letter from Alice came at Christmas in January 1989.We often talk about her and never forget that we are looking after Grandma Medlyn's Cottage. A place which in the past has seen much joy but also much sadness.
Alice Ann Medlyn
Cornwall to Treasure City Nevada
Only scattered palings and one lonely footstone remain to mark the large cemetery at Treasure City, Nevada. Photograph Copyright © 1999, A.L. Frederick Click on photo to see more on the cemetry with names of whose buried there.
I have a letter written in 1879 to my great-grandmother in Marazion, informing her of
the death of her husband in Treasure City, Nevada. Treasure city was once a thriving mining community, but in short order it was downgraded to a ghost town, and today there is little evidence that it ever existed at all.
the transcription of the letter. There's a possibility that JOHN FREETHY died of
typhoid fever rather than pneumonia. He was only 36 years old and had 3 small
children in Cornwall, all under the age of 5 ... one of which was my
grandmother. - Rgds, Di
(date) April 1879
To Mrfs.(sic) Catherine Freethy
It pains me very much to have to notify you of your husband's death - of which occured on 19th of April 6:30 a.m. His death was caused from a cold which ..... in the fatal disease pneumonia. Was taken sick on the morning of the 18th and died the day following at 6:30 a.m.
...... sympathyzing(?) friend, Melvyn(?) McDonald
P.S. enclosed you will find a bill of exchange
for three pounds sterling that your husband got a day or two before he was taken sick, consequently did not send it to you.
He has been sick nearly all Spring and most of the time taking medicines. He has been working on contract for sometime but as the ground was very hard he did not make much. When everything has been settled if there should be anything coming to him, it will be forwarded to you at once.
I wrote this letter by request of a Cornish Man by the name of Thomas Goldsworthy. If you .... to make any enquiries, you will address him and he will answer anything you may
wish to ask.
In concluding I will say your husband was buried with all the respect and propriety that could be wish (sic) for and the greatest pain was taken to make him as comfortable as we could when he was sick.
He died so sudden and unexpected that he did not make any requests or say a word about anything before he died.
b. 5 Nov 1843
d. 19 Apr 1879 in Nevada, USA
m. 17 Oct. 1872
dtr of James & Annie Rule Hart
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Camborne to Kadina
Taylors St, Kadina. & Wallaroo Mine
Thanks for the opportunity to record a little about my Cornish ancestor William Bailey.
William was born October 1, 1814, the sixth child of Camborne miner John BEALEY (BAILEY) and his wife Alice, nee COCK. Alice hailed from the village of Gwinear. The couple married in the Camborne Parish Church on August 20, 1803, and later settled in the small village of Croon, on the outskirts of Camborne and astride the main road to Hayle. Most of their eight children were born here. In 1839 Croon was obliterated by the construction of a new turnpike from Camborne to Hayle and the family moved into Camborne to live.
When they were old enough William and his elder brother John went underground with their father. William may also have been employed at the Cornish Copper Company at Copperhouse, near Hayle - the history of the Company records a William Bailey being employed there while the family was living at Croon (approximately 1817- 1839).
A general economic depression in the Cornish mining industry during the late 1830s must have caused some anxiety in the minds of the young Bailey boys, particularly William. Their father John's death on February 19, 1834, would have added to William's reflective mood concerning the future of his young family. Newspaper advertisements in 1839 offering free passage to the new colony of South Australia would have caught his eye and caused more than a passing interest. At that time the South Australian Colonisation Commissioner's English migration agent, Isaac Latimer of Truro, was active in promoting the new colony.
After attending a lecture on immigration at Camborne in April, 1840, William sought the advice of his wife, Catherine Pearce (nee HARRIS), whom he had married on December 24, 1835, and together the couple decided to apply for an assisted passage to Australia. Three hundred similar applications were made during 1840, including 132 from miners living in the Camborne/Redruth area.
The prospects of breaking their family ties must have niggled in the backs of their minds. Both realised a move of such magnitude would mean permanent separation from their families and the prospect of never seeing any of them again.
On May 21, William's application (No. 8600) for free passage was made to agent A.B.Duckham, and the Baileys were issued with Embarkation Order No 4725. Having arrived at the momentous decision their sense of relief must have been considerable. This would have gradually given way to excitement at the prospects of such an adventure before them.
Several emotions would have manifested themselves at the Falmouth docks on the appointed day of sailing, July 5, 1840 - trauma at the sad farewells to family members, trepidation at the confusion on the wharf, then utter alarm when they discovered their "quarters" on the vessel, the 414 ton three-masted barque "Waterloo." The Waterloo was probably in better condition than most of the emigrant ships of that time, having been recently refitted after previous trips to Australia carrying convicts.
The journey took more than four months to complete. Weather conditions varied from the heat and humidity of the doldrums to the constant rolling of the ship in the storms of the Atlantic. All this was forgotten, however, when landfall was made on November 9 at Port Adelaide. The rigidity of the newly constructed McLaren Wharf at the Port must have been some shock to the family after 127 days on the Waterloo's pitching deck.
One wonders at the Baileys' thoughts on arriving in Adelaide, then already a large town of some 15,000 people. Over the previous 11 months of 1840 more than 4,000 emigrants had arrived in South Australia and probably gone through the same feelings of uncertainty and insecurity as William and Catherine did. William, however, was soon able to secure employment at the shallow slate mines at Willunga, south of Adelaide. While this would have been foreign to a man used to the great depths of Cornish mining he was soon able to obtain underground work as the discovery of minerals developed around the State, initially at the Montacute gold mines then at copper discoveries at Reedy Creek, Kapunda and Burra. On the discovery of rich lodes of ore at Wallaroo and Moonta, on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula, he and the family moved there in 1861.
As far as is known, William and Catherine never saw their families in Cornwall again. William died at Kadina, S.A. on October 11, 1864. He was only 51. Catherine was 69 when she passed away on November 5, 1883. The couple are buried in the Kadina cemetery, two of many hundreds of people with Cornish backgrounds who lie in the cemetery 12,000 miles or more from their birthplace
William and Catherine's story has fostered a great pride in my Cornish ancestry and a strong interest in underground mining, particularly in the local copper mines which operated here from 1859-1923. It has resulted in the completion of a 202 page history on the mines which I've called "James Boor's Bonanza" after the shepherd who made the initial discovery on December 17, 1859. Copies are available from me on request by e-mail
I have been fortunate enough to have traced the BAILEY line back as far as the marriage of William BEALLY to Grace ROBERTS at the Camborne Church of England on November 2, 1667. I'd dearly like to contact living relatives of the family, with the idea of meeting them during a fourth trip to Cornwall planned for May 2004.
Kadina, South Australia
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Nine Generations at Bostrase
would like to share parts of a story written by my 4th cousin, twice removed,
regarding her home, BOSTRASE FARM, in Goldsithney, St Hilary, where she was born
in 1927, and still resides, albeit the house has been rebuilt. I met her
during my visit to Cornwall last May.
"This is the story of a house, a home, to nine, possibly ten generations of our LAITY family. There is no evidence as to when Bostrase was built, but there is a Matthew LAYTIE in the protestation returns of 1641 for St Hilary. Maybe he built the house in the early part of the century, but this is pure conjecture.
The old house was probably much the same then as when I was born in it. The main living room would have had a huge open fireplace with a bread oven and spit, with furze (gorse) being used as the principle source of heat. The end wall was well over six feet thick. With the cobb walls and thatched roof it would have been, like so many hundreds of other Cornish houses, warm in the winter and cool in summer.
The two outside doors were never locked whilst we were there. The back door with the old fashioned latch that the two foxhounds could always open, and the wide front door with its huge key and the lock that was upside down.
With five bedrooms, the house must always have been full - in fact, there were 39 children in four generations and of the 30 born since 1780, all survived, usually to a ripe old age.
John Laity left a will in 1744 with an inventory of his goods. The family would have been fairly self-supporting, but only had two cows, four pigs, six sheep, and one mare. With one feather bed, one dreads to think how the other members of the family fared. Still, they did have eight pewter dishes, three quart flaggons and a pasty pan. Two brass candlesticks and two iron kettles and pots were also listed.
There is another item at the bottom of this will which John must have added as an afterthought, which is that should his wife remarry, she should have but one shilling.
The fifth generation, the time for emigration, when life was very hard for the small farmers. Five of the eight children went abroad, never to see the old house again - or their parents. This is the generation in which my great-grandfather, Joseph, married the granddaughter of the famous smuggling family - the Carters of Prussia Cove.
During this time at Bostrase there were several improvements, such as a large barn, incorporating a stable and bullock's house. Of course the cooking was done on the Cornish slab, but Mother insisted on having a new one when she married. Drinking water came from a well by the back door, and the original pump is
still a feature in the garden today.
It had stood from Commonwealth times, through fifteen reigns to Elizabeth II, with nine proven generations of Laity family being born, working and dying there, and from John, with his two brass candlesticks, it succumbed to the modern improvements of the twentieth century and was destroyed by fire in January 1958."
San Diego, CA USA
I thought Judy may be interested in this piece from Rick Parsons Penwith Resources Site . It is the sale when the Laity's ceased to be tenant farmers and became the owners of Bostrase.
To be sold by auction at the Union Hotel, Chapel Street, Penzance 14 Nov 1912
A tenement known as “Bostrase and Croft Gothal” (Ref. 572307) and a 1/2 share in some waste land 38 acres. St. Hilary, in the occupation of the executors of Joseph LAITY. A portion is leased for 1855 + 99 years or one life, now aged 81 years. Another portion is leased for 1872 + 99 years or one life, now aged 81 years. A third part is leased for 1878 + 99 years or one life, now aged 81 years. The whole is leased for 1880 + 99 years or two lives, now aged 45 and 42 years.
Sold? for £350 to G. J. LAITY.
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Nicholas Peters of St Hilary
Hands by Durer
thanks for that excerpt from "twenty years at St. Hilary" I have read that before, I don't know whether it was the bit you sent me before, or whether it was from my sister, who some years ago, managed to get the book through the school library system. I have a photo of Uncle Nicholas, whom I knew not very well, as /Aunt Janie was my mother's sister and the one I had the most to do with, but the photo of Nicholas has him with the praying hands that Rev. Walke mentions. Aunt Janie, also told of the time when she went to the vicarage at Christmas and they all had to dress up in the clothes of Chaucer's time. They broadcast a play from St. Hilary in the 30's and it was taken by the BBC from the church to the nearest telephone box and broadcast in that way, and I heard it in the early 60's when they repeated it in a programme I can't remember which, now. I also had the newspaper cuttings of the raid on the church because they thought it was too 'romish' that was in the 30's too.!
Aunt always used to refer to 'Father's rooks,' and I remember them too, when we stayed there on Easter hols. Thanks George and thanks too to John Coles for the stories.
Edith of Melbourne
FROM TWENTY YEARS AT ST. HILARY
By Bernard Walke
The Christmas Play. Page 194.
Of Nicholas Peters it is difficult to write, for the affection he bears me. I do not know whether his eyes or his hands reveal his character the more completely. I have often looked at his hands whilst he has knelt in church. At these times his face has lain in shadow, while his extended hands are in the circle of light cast by a hanging lamp. Nothing can be seen clearly but these hands-very bony, like a drawing by Durer. Watching them I understood something of the intensity of prayer, which owes nothing to any intellectual concept; it is known by the Church as the prayer of simplicity, or of the
loving look '-with Nicholas Peters it might be termed 'the prayer of the loving hands'.
Nicky, as he is called by his friends, is a very small man with the eyes of a bird. He goes about his work, delivering letters over a twelve-mile round of rough country, in so quiet a manner that he might be met many times on the road without being seen. I doubt if even the gulls and the ravens he passes along the cliffs on his way to some outlying farm are aware of his presence. On the few occasions on which I have seen him in a passion, his
eyes have had the look that I once saw in the eyes of a very small bantam who was chasing my spaniel dog from her chickens; they were very angry eyes, so angry that the spaniel fled yelping up the lane before them.
At other times they have the watchfulness I have noticed in the eyes of a bird when she is sitting on her nest. He comes into my room almost every day on his way to dinner, to deliver the paper, and if I am writing or engaged in any way and take no notice of him he will say, 'Nothing wrong, is there, Father? You are not cross with me?' Reassured, he will make a very low bow and go away. Often he comes late at night, especially on Saturday nights, after he has been to Marazion for his weekly shave and has lit the fires in the church. I look up and find him standing at the back of my chair with a lantern in his hand. Our greeting never varies; it is always, 'Is that you, Peters?' 'Yes,' he will answer. 'Thought I would come in just to see you are all right. I'm going home now, Father.' This has gone on for years, and yet his look as he goes out of the room never fails to convey to me a rare and tender affection. It is because I know him so well that I have been able to write him parts to play in which he is completely himself. As one of the shepherds in the Christmas Play he says farewell to the Holy Family in the following words:
Little Jesus, this is our rough way of showing
how glad we are on this most blessed day.
Good-bye now, kind Joseph, and Mary dear, Keep well. We shall meet again, have no fear.
It is the greeting of a man of another age than ours; an age when Our Lady and the saints were regarded with a tender familiarity, which is lost to us; but Nicholas Peters belongs to that age. As he walks round the church in the play, with my old Spanish cloak on his shoulders, he might have stepped out of an Italian Primitive; and when he kneels down before the crib he prays as men prayed in the twelfth century, when they built the tower and spire of St. Hilary.
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The Blewetts of Washington State
Blewett Pass 2003 Blewett Mine 1900
Elizabeth ... Up here in Washington State we have a mountain highway known as
BLEWETT PASS. I'm not sure of the history of Blewett Pass, except that there was
a Blewett Mining & Milling Company. Following is an excerpt from an article
on the economic history of the area:
"During the late 1800s, the railroads were established as the first major industry in what
would soon be Chelan County. Construction of the railroads (the Northern Pacific in 1881 and the Great Northern in 1892) required a sizable pool of labor, many being Chinese.
"As the track-laying progressed, many Chinese ventured out to the surrounding countryside to try their hand at prospecting. Discovering gold at Sauk Creek, near what is now the Blewett Pass Highway in south Chelan County, the Chinese were
displaced when white prospectors rushed into the area. The same thing occurred down the pass at the Columbia River. The Chinese discovered gold, another rush materialized, and white prospectors muscled out the Chinese. Eventually, the Blewett Mining and Milling Company was established to exploit the mineral deposits.
"The completion of the railroads spurred heavy migration into the region, especially by
easterners and midwesterners, and resulted in the establishment of numerous mining towns. In 1888, the population boom convinced the Washington
Territorial Legislature to carve Okanogan County out of Stevens County (Chelan County would be created 11 years later by subdividing Okanogan County).
"Settlements sprang up near Lake Chelan as well as along the Entiat River and other tributaries which fed into the Columbia River. Their locations created a difficult jurisdictional situation; those with county business had to travel, first by boat across the Columbia River, and then by stage or horseback to the county seat at Conconully--a two to five-day journey. This being unrealistic, parts of Okanogan and Kittitas counties were partitioned to form Chelan County in the spring of 1899. There were roughly 2,000
mining company was founded by Edward Blewett of Seattle and interestingly, I
found a gentleman of the same name living in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
in 1900: "Raven Copper & Gold Co., Ltd., Edward Blewett, pres., Store
St, 1900DIR, Business."
While there's no proof that he's connected, I wouldn't be surprised. The Blewett name isn't very common in the U.S.
Di. in Victoria.
Following is a short blurb about the old gold-mining town in the
area ... written by another Cornishman, of course.
Liberty was populated by people who deserted when news of the gold strikes in the Yukon reached the town. Liberty became a ghost town almost overnight. Some who were not successful in Alaska returned for a brief time but they too eventually left for good. To escape the summer heat of the nearby low lands of eastern Washington, a few
people take refuge in the old cabins during the summer. Liberty is so high and so cool, it makes for a great retreat to escape the heat. Submitted
by Henry Chenoweth.
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Wendron to New Zealand
is my gggrandfathers story for the fireside circle.
My name is John Huthnance. They tell me I was born in the autumn of 1842-
October 14th it was. My mother Caroline Huthnance went to stay with her
sister Zillah White and her husband John in a cottage at Pencoose farm near
Helston. It was while she was there that I was born.
My earliest recollection is when I was nearly three - there was a big storm
apparently. All I can remember was being so cold I just wanted to curl up
close to the stove. They wrapped rugs around me but still I was cold.
Now I am four and there is big excitement and everyone is talking about the
visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who are coming to Cornwall from
London town. I wonder if I will get to see them. I would like to see the
Prince. I heard some old ladies whispering that he was supposed to be my
father but I do not believe that one! I wonder who my father really is? I
do not suppose I will ever know!
It is 1847 now and we are very hungry. The potatoes got the blight and
there has been a very poor corn crop this year. How I would love to have a
bit more to eat. Food costs so much money more than we have to spend. Beef
and mutton are six pence a pound. Pork is four pence halfpenny, but we do
not have enough for that either. I can not remember when I last had some
meat to eat. The hens have been laying plenty of eggs but we need to sell
them to buy barley for our bread. In the summer we have some vegetables
that we grow but mostly all we have to eat is black barley bread. I am sick
of black barley bread!
1851 has come and I am to go for a visit to old Mrs Bullen at Boskenwyn.
Hope I will like it there. Well I have arrived and she has a daughter
called Grace and older man called John Jenkin lives here at the cottage and
works on the farm. I man came here the other day asking all sorts of
questions. He wanted to know how old we all were and where we were born.
Mrs Bullen is 84. That is very old. They told him I was a scholar. I wonder
why they said that. I hardly ever go to school, and can not even write my
name. There is always too much work needing to be done for me to go to
school, besides I do not like school the other children call me names
because I do not know who my father is. I went for a walk the other day and
peeped through the woods at the Boskenwyn Manor. I wonder what it would be
like to live there?
It is now September 1858. I heard lots of talking and shouting the other
day and rushed outside. There in the sky was the comet we had heard about.
How exciting to actually see it. It is starting to get really cold now.
Looks like we will have a white Christmas. We have had the heaviest fall of
snow for many years. Makes me think of when I was very small and the cold
spell we had then.
I now have a good job working for Mr Tyack at the mill at Mellangoose on
the way from Helston to Sithney. We produce very fine flour which is sold
to the rich. The folk at Penrose get a lot from us. I think they have some
connection with the mill. I am getting really strong heaving round the
heavy sacks of corn maybe I can take on some of the wrestlers! We were
given the day off last week to go to Helston for their Furry day. We all
had a great time.
I have met the most beautiful girl. Her name is Alice Gay and I think she
likes me too. She was rather shy at first but I was able to talk to her
when I delivered the corn to Nansloe near where she lives. I do hope I will
see her again soon. Alice is 17. Three years younger than I am.
I saw her again last week when I delivered the corn. We talked for a while.
She says I may come and visit her on Sunday. How wonderful!
Alice and I were married last week. We went to Helston and got a marriage
license and Mr Glynn Grylls of Cross Street, the Superintendent Registrar
married us. My friend John Martyn and Mr Frederick Hill the solicitor were
our witnesses. Alice could sign her name but I had to put a mark where mine
should have been - wish now I had gone to school and learnt to read and write.
A few years have gone by. We lived for a while at Blackdown, Wendron and I
worked as a farm labourer. It was there our first child was born on the
12th July 1873. A sweet little daughter who we called Mary Ann. Two years
later her sister Elizabeth Alice joined the family. We then had four
sons William John, Henry, Joseph and Thomas. In 1871 when Joseph was born
I was working as an engine driver in the mines. We shifted to Mellanear
near St Erth. They were offering better wages there. We are having a big
job getting enough food to feed our six children. I do not want them to be
as hungry as I was as a boy. What are we to do! A lot of people are leaving
Cornwall. Stories are being told of how much better it is in other
countries. Some say New Zealand is a good place to go. Free passages are
being offered to farm labourers and others prepared to work and help
develop this country but it is a long way to go. We do not fancy spending
four months cooped up in a sailing ship.
We are all terribly upset. Little Joseph took sick last week. He got weaker
and weaker. We did not know what was wrong with him. He just lay there,
would not eat or drink and was having difficulty breathing. We were very
worried and I went in to St Erth to fetch Dr. Hawdrey. He said Joseph had
Acute Nephritis with fluid round this lungs. He did all he could for him
but wee Joseph died. He was only four years old. How we will miss our
We have decided to emigrate to New Zealand. The Government Agent had a
meeting in St Erth last week so I went along to see what he had to say. We
have all been so unsettled since Joseph went. Mines are shutting down all
over the country. I do not think there will be work for me here much
longer. There are rumors that our mine will be next. I went back and had a
talk with the agent last week and we are to proceed to the Emigration Depot
at Plymouth the second week in November. All is bustle here at present as
we pack what we need for the voyage and for our new life in New Zealand. We
are selling all the furniture and giving to our friends what we do not
need. I do wish we could take all our friends with us we will miss them.
The children are very excited, wondering what is in store for them.
At last we are packed and ready to go. Quite a crowd gathers at the St Erth
railway station to see us off on our first train journey. Away we go these
trains move so quickly. Our last glimpse of Cornwall as we cross the Tamar
and there is Plymouth. What a huge city and Plymouth Sound looks so
peaceful. We have quite a walk from the station to the Emigration Depot
where we are given our tickets and told the sailing ship Boyne will be
leaving for New Zealand on the 18th of November. We will be in New Zealand
early in 1879. Passengers for another ship are here also making it very
crowded and noisy. This morning we were examined by a doctor and what a
relief when he said we were all fit and healthy enough to travel.
The big day has arrived at last. We are on board. It is very crowded down
here. We have been given a small cubical curtained off. This is to be our
home for the next few weeks. The girls are down the other end with the
single women. We wanted to keep them with us but were not allowed as they
are 14 and 15 years old.
We go back up on deck and watch as the ship is towed out of Plymouth Sound.
The sails are billowing in the breeze. We are on our way!
'Far away-oh far away-
We seek a world o'er the ocean spray!
We seek a land across the sea,
Where bread is plenty and men are free,
The sails are set, the breezes swell-
England, our country, farewell! farewell!'
Hazel from New Zealand now in virtual Cornwall.
The barque "Boyne" made only one voyage to New Zealand with assisted immigrants to Lyttelton - sailed Plymouth 18.11.1878, arrived Lyttelton 26.2.1879.
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Letter from Torquay
I have so enjoyed the Christmas party. I was trying to find a way to thank all of you and thought that sending this touching letter written in 1918 from my great, great Aunt Amelia Kessell to her niece, my great Aunt Clara in the USA, might give you some insight into how World War I felt to folks on the home front.
Amelia was born in St. Ewe in 1860 and died in Torquay, Devon in 1931. She was a domestic all of her life as far as I can determine. The letter is from Torquay.
I have translated the letter as best I could read it. I hope you enjoy it, but do get a hanky before you start reading. (And please forgive her "political incorrectness" regarding the Germans - it was war time, after all).
Bonnie in Portland, Oregon USA
5 Coburg Place
29 10 18
My dear niece
I have been wondering how you all are and if you are expecting the Spanish flu. I have <not?> so far I am thankful to say, but my landlady is very ill. I have been looking after her. The Dr don't know if she will pull through and the Lodger up stairs is very bad delirious raving and shouting night & day. His wife is worn and tired. 3 people died close here after a few days illness. I suppose it was in your papers about the poor soldier that died on the ship coming over. What an awful disease. Well the Germans are getting a whacking now. I hope they will soon be in their own country. What awful savages they are, but their wickedness & sins will come back on their own heads. I hope you have had the papers all right. I send them regular hoping some will reach you. I had a letter from a young man that lodged with me, years ago. He expects to be in England next month and will come to see me. I shall be pleased to see him again. He was very nice. I do hope things will soon be a little cheaper. It is real starvation. We can't get a bit of meat its so dear. Apples 1/6' per lb and everything famine? price.
am sorry to tell you my cat Toby died 2 weeks ago. I have missed him dreadfully. I had him 17 years. With best love to all.
Your Affc Aunt A. Kessell.
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Tragedy in Sacramento
grt grandfather owned the "Xchange Saloon" in Sutter Creek/Jackson
California, He had live entertainment all the time and serve his favorite
"Port Wine" along with other drinks. He made his money from this
saloon (& the Brothels) which in turn bought him land and property.
Am sending a picture of his family - The "John Chinn" family
(wife Lilly Jane Glasson). What
is embarrassing is that My Mom and her sisters knew nothing about their family -
only awful stories...very sad stories. My grandmother seems to have lived
in another world - always made up stories about her family. It wasn't till
about 2 years ago we uncovered the awful tragedy of her mother Lillie Jane
Glasson Chinn. My grandmother's father (John Chinn) owned and ran the
Xchange Saloon and the two Brothels that existed in the Amador & Sutter
area. The family wasn't that well liked. I am enclosing the
story of Lillie Jane Chinn.
researching the family history opens doors to some very sad events and very
troubled people. It's kinda hard to show a "proud" Cornish
heritage. Guess we all have skeletons in the closet. My family had
more than one (actually many). But here is the story as it appeared in the
The other picture is off my Langdon family musicians, with mandolin, Banjo, and a couple of guitars.
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From St Albans to Gwinear
Our recorded family history in Gwinear goes back to marriage of Herry Huthnance and Catheren Mychill on 9th Jan 1597 in Gwinear. They had a tenancy and other property at Drannack which was to stay in the family for about 400 years. There had been Huthnances around Truro, Gwinear and Breage before this - and indeed the first recorded apparent family member (one Thomas Hethnas) appeared a fair way out of Cornwall in St Albans as an Innkeeper in the 1400's. He managed to make the records because he set about organising a place for his aristocratic guests to attend Low Mass. However these people still have to be linked.
Anyway, Herry and Catheren had ten children. The oldest surviving son was John, born in Gwinear in 1605 and living till 1677. John married Anne in 1632 and they had eight children and the one I am going to talk about is Henry, the fourth child born in 1639.
Gwinear is quite a small place today, and has never been exactly large. This Henry must have been a fairly bright and focused lad at the local village school and also with an insatiable thirst for knowledge because at the age of nineteen he took it into his head to get a real education and walked all the way to Oxford University. A long way to go and not an easy undertaking for a poor Cornish boy - especially as he knew Cornish and Latin, not English. However he matriculated on 31 July 1658 and was admitted to New College with his fees waived. He had to work around the College as a servitor to pay for his keep. It has been recorded that he was known around the place as "Harry Pleb." At that time most New College men had previously been educated at Harrow.
However Harry Pleb worked hard and achieved his BA in 1661. That was not enough for him - he went on to get an MA in 1664.
After this did he enter the Church full time (though there is considerable evidence he did work in the Breage parish for his friend Rev James Trewinnard who held the livings of Breage and Mawgan) or look for a position with an aristocratic employer? Not our Harry. He walked back to Gwinear with his bird cage and books, married Elizabeth and looked after the family farm.
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Gunnislake Via Stithians and Helston to Ohio
Jenkin family came, I've learned, from round 'bout Gunnislake about 1600.
The oldest location my cousin George has identified as ours is Tremboath Farm,
Stithians Parish. For the next 400 years, our JENKIN men owned or operated
most every mill in Stithians, Mawgan and Sithney parishes at one time or
Great-grandfather Sampson Jenkin bought Anvower Mill in Lowertown from his widowed mother-in-law. She then proceeded to outlive him. Ownership passed to my grandfather, William Henry Selwood JENKIN. (Any of you Selwood's out in OZ, let's compare notes. We may be cousins.)
Three children were born to Grandfather and to Grandmother Louise Adelaide Filby JENKIN: Sampson Henry, Albert George and Marie Louise. Then grandfather found himself a widower with three children to raise. As many will, he remarried.
My father, Albert George, did not get along with the new lady of the house. ( Being myself a stepchild and stepfather, I understand too well.) So, he went to America to seek his fortune, or at least his future. He found work there, with his Uncle John WONNACOTT in northern Ohio. Uncle John and Aunt Ethel had a daughter, Ena Morwenna. (Now, there's a proper Cornish name, if ever was one.) Ena had a school friend named Nellie. Need I say more?
The next four decades are hard to explain or believe, even for me and I was there. The only relevance to Cornwall is that after my father's death, I was told very little about him, and most of that incorrect. I learned much later that my mother had corresponded for years with his family in Cornwall, and never told me.
Here's the real Cornish part of my story. In 1969, my wife and I took time for a second honeymoon, going to Cornwall to look for my father's family. I managed to get some names and addresses from Cousin Ena and, grudgingly, from my mother. We arrived in Falmouth and took a bus to Mawnan Smith. Talking with the conductor, I mentioned having only a house name and nothing else.
"Oh, 'ee want get off right 'ere." He rings the bell for the driver.
""D'ee just go cross and down the lane, there."
What we saw was a sign reading "Carwinion Lane." We walked on down the lane as instructed 'til we came to a house and a sign saying "Carwinion Cottage." I went up to the lady sweeping out the kitchen door, and said, "Are you Mrs. Jenkin?"
She answered, " 'ello, Albert. What took 'ee so long?." Aunt Estrella meant that I was 30-odd years late coming home.
Was I truly home? Well, some days later, a neighbor lady came down to trade produce - trade heggs for Murphy's - according to Aunt Estrella. When she made to introduce us, the neighbor said, "Oh, I seen they goin' down road t'other day, Di'n't know who 'e were, but I knew 'e were a Jenkin."
I had come home.
There's more I can tell. How my Kentucky-born wife loved the sound of that name on Aunt Estrella's house,and wanted to call our home in California "Carwinnion'. (Joke is, we lived in a very mixed neighborhood. Black and Latino neighbors thought it was a great joke, white liberal friends were horrified. "You can't call your house that!") Or how, going around Lowertown with Uncle Ronnie, I was recognized by an old friend of my father. "Oh,damneo, that's George's boy!"
American born, yes, but in my heart a Cornishman.
Gorhemmynadow yn gwella,
Albert Jenkin, California.
The Return - Home is the sailor ...
Time has cloaked the mining industry with a veneer of romanticism that appeals to those who stop and listen to echoes of an age long gone, and it has some elements of truth in it - there were colourful characters and mines rich beyond imagination - but the reality for most was one of unremitting toil and hardship, leavened only by the spiritual release provided by chapel, where salvation came not only for the soul but, for a brief interlude each week, in release for the body from the darkness of their working lives. Their spirits soared in song and from it came the strength to face the worst that life could bring. Mining communities were places full of clashing, rending sounds, day and night, places perpetually shrouded in the smoke from countless stacks and places where the red slime so typical of a tin mining community, covered all - houses, streets, even miners' clothes. They were communities, too, that could fall silent when the dead hand of depression fell, and with it, the pain of parting. Even today, there are few more bleak and forbidding parts of Cornwall than those derelict mining communities far removed from the more exotic tourist locations. They possess great wells of strength and character, though, born in the harshness of their origins. That strength, that character, went with them wherever they travelled in life.
Troon is one such community, set on the granite uplands of mid Cornwall and still dominated by the vivied remnants and stacks that jut skywards, islands in an ocean of gorse and heather that flourishes in the disturbed ground. Some way apart from the village, and overlooking the desolation that was once one of the greatest mines in the county, is the place where those who toiled in the depths below now sleep forever. The equality of death is not obvious, though, and the tangible reminders of some, long gone, sit in Victorian incongruity among the thick scatter of daisies and dandelions that bring a glory of their own on a midsummer. This is a day the Cornish call "sent on" but the sharp breeze from off the haze-hid Atlantic far below brings the chill of March to this blue-bright June day.
One grave, marked simply by a slab of granite flush with the turf, has a visitor - a man un-naturally tanned in this land so close to ocean's influence, and clutching a broad-brimmed hat that speaks of harsh heat, not rain. Long years had passed since last he had felt the freshness of a Cornish wind and the many times, throughout the years, he had resolved to come home to see those who had raised him in love, had come to this, in the village of his birth, full fifty years on.
The Great War had seen a false dawn for Cornish Mining and when that seemingly insatiable demand for metals suddenly ceased, desolation gripped those western shores. Nowhere was that desolation more marked than in the heartland of Camborne-Redruth and for a young man of sixteen, used to a bustling community of full employment, the effect was devastating - the streets had a melancholy air and where once was purposeful movement, groups of men hung about in groups, the loss of pride at not being able to provide for their families, tangible. For many there was no choice, no decision to be made - leaving the land of their birth was the only option - as it had been for many in past generations when the vagaries of the economy had destroyed homes and families. A price had to be paid, not in the boardrooms and great houses but here in the homes of ordinary men and women, as it had always been.
So, once again, the life blood of the county drained away. Some followed mining to distant lands, others went to the industrial heartlands of the USA - to Detroit, for example, to build cars for Henry Ford, while others, like this sixteen year old, ploughed their own furrow. There were ten in the family and he knew his absence from the table would ease the weekly burden. He could see, too, nothing ahead but more misery in his home town where poverty was hitting hard and the economic wind blew chill.
So it was, with a finality akin to bereavement, that he stood on Redruth Station, alongside many others whose anxious faces betrayed their concern at going into the unknown. They left a land bereft and hearts that wept alone.
He had been christened Richard, after his paternal grandfather, another forced by a previous downturn in the economy to seek employment in the goldfields of California. He had returned but only to die at an early age from disease contracted in foreign field, and his eldest grandchild took his name, known, though, in the Cornish way, as Dick throughout his life. There was an individuality in him for he chose not to join the groups of friends who found comfort in each others company and instead took passage on a steamer of the Hain Line from St Ives, as a cabin boy. He joined the ship on a wet and dark night in mid-January at Cardiff Docks and as the ship headed out into the dark Atlantic night, all that he held dear slipped away from him. The next weeks were almost unbearable - sea-sickness gripped him constantly and, as the youngest and newest crew member, he was subjected to the brutal practical humour of the rest of the crew. Lesser men would have gone under but he survived that winter crossing and grew considerably because of it.
The first port of call was St Johns, Newfoundland, where he saw a landscape of snow and ice that filled him with wonder. More confident now, and truly one of the crew, his voice joined others as they ran through the snowy streets in snowball fights so rare at home. Leaving there, they turned south and the wonder of this boy from that remote tip of Britain grew as winter receded and the pleasures of warmer seas and palmy lands grew upon him. All the time, though, kept at the periphery of his mind, the bonds with home were growing weaker and weaker. It was the Panama Canal, that engineering wonder in a tropical disease pit, that brought them close to severance, as ahead lay the vastness of the Pacific - Europe was left far behind now and quick return became less likely. Slipping through the limpid latitudes of the South Seas was to taste one new and vivid experience after another and after a stop in New Zealand, that most alien and remote of continents, Australia.
It was here
in the industrial incoherence of the harbour at Port Pirie in South Australia
that something happened that would alter the course of his life again and
prevent any early return to the hills of home. His offence, in those days, was
grievous, for he jumped ship and tried his luck in the new land. For weeks a
park bench was his bed and then he followed employment to mining fields in the
outback where life was only barely tolerable. Extremes of heat, sand and flies,
that would have broken many, but for him there was no choice. In time, a wife of
strong Australian stock, then children. With that came the strangeness of
generations growing up in separate hemispheres, joined by blood, yet so far
apart. So many times in the ensuing years he planned to come home but something
always intervened - illness, a financial crisis - and it was a full fifty years
on, in the autumn of his days that he came home again to find his boyhood
haunts. They were not there to find, for they had passed away and those he loved so dearly, gone now, long since, to dust. And so he
sought their souls amongst the dead.
He had stood long at the grave, struggling to bring some order to emotions that had lurched out of control and to come to a peace within himself that would heal the open wound of fifty years, when one sound focused his thoughts - a sound that touched the heart of home. Carried on the summer breeze came the throb of a bass drum, followed by the skirling, brassy chords of music that went back those fifty years, and without seeing it he knew what was happening as a great throng of people left the granite front of the chapel, led by Camborne Town Band, his father's band, to celebrate Midsummer. Oh, how he knew those aching notes that carried to him here, through time and space - it was Teatreat day and he was home!
Dave Oates, Troon
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Perth store of Boan's
Cornwall to Perth
Here is my contribution to 'story time'. I'm afraid our Cornish connections are much further flung than those in South Australia and Victoria - still almost a day's journey by car, or just under an hour by plane!
To begin -
While, to date, there has been no proven specific Cornish association with Perth, capital of Western Australia, there is ample evidence that the Cornish have made their mark here. A visit to the seaside suburb of City Beach allows us to do a 'Cook's Tour' of Truro, Camborne, Boscastle, Tintagel, Falmouth, Penryn, Helston, Saltash, Bodmin and Callington, whilst elsewhere in this city of sunshine one can find Treen, Tresco, Penzance, Redruth and Pendeen to name but a few. All names which are easily pronounced one might add! In the State's telephone directories there are hundreds of Cornish surnames, some of which no longer survive in Cornwall according to one of our local Bards, Lambert Truran, who has communicated his findings to George Pawley White, Past Grand Bard and author of the well-known book on Cornish surnames. . Cornish names, too, are found in street names such as Pender, Penmar, Penrose, along with Tregenna, Tregonning, Tresidder and Trewarn.
While it is well-known that many Cornish miners came to Kalgoorlie for the gold rush in the late 19th century, not so familiar is the Cornish mining activity which took place in the area of the Murchison River in the mid 19th century. The famous explorers, the Gregory brothers, found deposits of almost 100% pure lead in this area and a mining company was established with middling success. Advice was sought from Cornish miners in South Australia and in April 1852 an advertisement appeared in the West Briton seeking a mine captain, an ore dresser and four experienced miners to come to the 'Swan River Colony' as Perth was then known. The following September came Capt. John Hosken of Gwennap, experienced in mining in Brazil, his 8 year old son John and four miners named Spargo, Tregonning, Simmons and Nancarrow. One wonders what they thought of their surroundings as, after a long sea voyage from Cornwall and a hazardous boat trip to Port Gregory, the group walked many, many miles through hot, rugged country until finally arriving at the site of the Geraldine mine at the Murchison River - 400 miles north of Fremantle!. The mine had mixed success as one might expect with the principals living in London and unwilling to spend money on improving working conditions. Capt. Hosken appears to have returned to Brazil and his sons went into the hotel business. In 1867, Capt. Samuel Mitchell, a native of Cubert, arrived with another group of Cornish miners and, after the same hazardous journey, arrived at the mine to immediately note that the shaft had been sunk in the middle of the river bed where the lode of iron was situated. Shimmering pools and sandy banks in the summer turned into raging torrents in the wet and the mine was often flooded, taking six months to recover each time. The shaft was re-located to the river bank and mining continued with more miners being brought out from Cornwall until one local noteworthy announced that the subsequent town of Northampton, built to serve the mines, was "almost a Cornish town". New mines sprang up in the district including the Wheal Fortune and the Wheal Ellen.
Capt Mitchell became involved in the business and social side of the new town and eventually became member of Parliament for the district. It is interesting to note that, when his grandson Sir David Brand was Premier of Western Australia in the 1970's, the Leader of the Opposition was John Tonkin, whose ancestors came to Kalgoorlie from Penzance!
The mines are long gone but the walls of the old Geraldine settlement still remain on the banks of the river with the many tiny outlines of children's graves a stark reminder of the hard times suffered by the families in those far off days. Cornish memories remain, too, with Nancarrow's old home called "Trevenson" to this day and Capt. Mitchell's residence, "Chyverton House", now home of the local historical society. Cornish names still found in the district include Beer, Bone, Bray, Brown, Carlyon, Carpenter, Cory, Derrick, Flemming, Fowler, Harvey, Hicks, Hosken, Keating, Marks, Mitchell, Moyle, Nancarrow, Osborne, Parkyn, Pearce, Penberthy, Phillips, Reynolds, Rowe, Sleeman, Spargo, Stephens, Thomas, Tregonning, Trembath, Tresidder, Trethewey, Trevaskis, and Truran.
Perth, Western Australia
CFHS 03548 OPC St Levan
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Click on Picture
Lostwithiel to Seaford, Delaware
story unfolds in 1855 in Lostwithiel, Cornwall as John Trewhela Stephens
advertises for "A respectable FEMALE to superintend the domestic
arrangements in an establishment where a limited number of young gentlemen are
received as boarders" and Jane Hobb Rowse of Lancarffe advertises
"Young Lady wishes to obtain a situation as GOVERNESS in a School".
John and Jane were married 3 January 1856 and Mr. J. T. Stephens of Hellier House Academy, Lostwithiel "respectfully informs his Friends and the Public, that the duties of his Establishment will be resumed on the 15 January 1856".
In 1861, they're at Kingdon House Academy, Lostwithiel with four children and nine male pupils. In 1871, they're at Norway House, Lostwithiel with six children and eight male pupils.
The family is in Seaford, Delaware in the United States 1880 census and John is now "Professor College" and he and Jane have five children at home. One child died in Lostwithiel, from meningitis, before they immigrated to America.
John writes a letter to his youngest child, Janie, who is away visiting friends. She had just become 13 years on June 4. "Thursday Morning June 30th 1881.
Both your Mama and Self as well as your Brothers & Sister are delighted at your enjoying yourself so agreeably and hope you will as long as you remain.
I suppose you will have a fine time at Dover on the 4th. We are going to have the Band out in Ross's Woods, some speeches, etc. Jack is very much disappointed he had promised to play with this Band a day or two before he got a letter asking him to come to Dover. I hope he will not break his heart.
The Cat is well and able to climb a tree as well as you can. You would have laughed had you been here to see what a wonderful jump the Cat made. Joe put it into the Bell of his Horn and then blew into it, and you should have seen it jump right out of the Horn and over Joe's Head.
Every thing goes on just as usual in a quiet way.
All unite in kindest & best love to you. Our kindest regards to Mr. & Mrs. Sarde & family.I remain your loving Pop,
John T. Stephens"
Janie was my maternal grandmother, and this letter was found when she died in 1948 in New Jersey.
Warmest wishes for a joyful Christmas 2002,
Ann Tumser, California.
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Wendron to Utah
is no doubt that the Cornish had a very special kind of courage that sent the
miners all over the world where they became known for their expertise. The
stone men too travelled extensively and I want to thank those of you who have
sent me passed-down family stories for my web site
that bring the entries alive, from the homely mention of one who enjoyed his pipe to the one who always made a rice pudding when he came home from work on a Saturday. I have been sent many tragic stories too and some of great courage. Here is one:
JOHN ROWE MOYLE was born abt. 1808 at Pulmarthweth Downs in Wendron. He was a mason and farmer, and eventually became a construction superintendent. He moved around in his work and 1835 found him in Guernsey and a year later in Rose Mellon, Luxulyan. He also lived in Bodmin, and from 1839 to 1850 he was in Plymouth and St.Budeaux. But sometime between 1851 and 1857, he emigrated to Utah where he worked on the construction of Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol Building. He had a long, long walk to work there and back each day, often in extreme temperatures. Tragically, he was involved in an accident on the job and his leg had to be amputated.
So determined was Mr. Moyle to continue with his work on the building of the Temple that when he had recovered sufficiently, he set about making himself a wooden leg. Then he went back to work and continued to make the long, long walk to and from the building site. That takes true Cornish courage.
Warm wishes and Merry Christmas, Joan
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Delabole to The Slate Belt USA.
I would like to share a virtual ( tour/ story) of my Cornish area what we call The Slate Belt.
Joseph Kellow and Robert Chapman( both hailed from Cornwall) were one of the firsts to discover slate outcroppings and opened the first quarries in the Bangor area in 1853 and in Pen Argyl in 1854.
I do think its fitting due to the fact of the area at which the party is being held....
North Cornwall is famous for its slate and my family hailed from the Lanteglos by Camelford area....and moved to the Pen Argyl, Bangor area( The Slate Belt ) in about 1870. I hope you enjoy and hope Im not stepping on John Coles toes( who is the master story/tours teller)........
Its cold and snow has taken over The Slate Belt, very early this year....As I travel through Bangor and Pen Argyl I catch myself starring at the slate spoil hills that were built over a 100 years ago. Bluish gray color peeks out through the white snow. I wonder how many people notice these massive mountains anymore like I do?. I wonder if anyone cares that our towns here were built and formed due to the slate industry? I wonder if my fellow neighbors know that many Cornish came here from North Cornwall to work in these now abandoned, water filled quarries??
I close my eyes and think about what it was like 100-150 years ago. No paved roads, men walking to quarries in the snow. Men of Cornish names of Bray, Parsons, Amy ,Rowe, Kneebone, Heard, and so many, to many to mention. They worked hard in quarries in Cornwall and worked twice as hard in the quarries here, so their children did not have to.
As I walk from my house I pass Heards Meat Market, a ancestor of a Cornish emigrant. I walk over the via-duct( a bridge that goes over Martins Creek and train tracks) . As I get over the bridge Im now on what is called Powder House road( Rt. 191). It gets its name due to the fact that the blasting powder for the quarries was stored in the hillside, safe away from town.
I travel into town and pass the old train station( Bangor had 2 or 3 back than) I think about how many travelers came through that point. I walk passed the Old Colonial Hotel, this hotel was probably to expensive back then for any of our ancestors to stay at, many Cornish stayed with other Cornish families till they could afford a house of their own...
I pass The Slate Belt Heritage Center which used to be the Old town hall and firehouse. The center is a museum, each room is dedicated to a part of the Slate Belt history....which includes the slate room, firemen, Welsh, Italian, PA German, and of course the Cornish room, which depicts what a Cornish household would have looked like in the early 1900's
As I go through town its very hilly ( not to many flat parts in the Slate Belt) towards Pen Argyl I pass many houses, the Cornish back than tended to "cluster" together and live by each other.
Entering Pen Argyl you get a beautiful view of the Appalachian Mts. Snow is still lying on the tops of trees on the Mountain and Im sure there is many hunters right now trying to score a trophy white tail deer up there.
We to have a boarding village named Delabole? Yes there is much Cornish Heritage here! Our Delabole is very small, basically country roads and farm land and some scattered houses, and looking very beautiful on a snowy day.
As you travel the main road connecting all the Towns of the Slate Belt this time of year you get a very special Christmas feeling inside you......most of the towns are decorated with wonderful Christmas lights of some kind attached to the telephone and street lights. Many houses and businesses are lighted as well...breath taking!!!
We are now heading over the next hill from Bangor and entering Pen Argyl, the first thing you happen to see is a large park, with a beautiful and very old carrousel and Im sure if you made the 10 th Gathering of Cornish Cousins, which was hosted by Penkernewek, I'll bet you had a ride on the old beauty!
As we travel the main road through Pen Argyl you may catch a smell of pasties, if its not coming from one of the homes, I bet its from our very own pasty shop...Mr. Pasty! This pasty shop is noted for making a wide variety of different kinds of pasties...
But than every family in this area might argue about the proper way to make a "handsome" pasty.....
Me?.....well I still prefer my Grammy Menhennitt's( but don't tell the Mrs. or my mom for that matter!)
Oh this is a wonderful town, settled at the base of the mountain, you can see church steeples, old homes, and yes more slate hills and quarries.......
>From 1850 - 1920 many Cornish immigrants came here worked these quarries and probably stayed in the company row houses and bought their supplies from the company stores, some stores shared the name of the families who ran the quarries......Masters, Doney and Jackson.
My grandfathers cousin worked in one of these stores as a child.
Again I close my eyes and imagine walking with the quarrymen to work on the unpaved roads, day in and day out...6 days a week.
They worked hard and Im thankful they helped shape this area we call The Slate Belt.
I hoped you enjoyed my little tour of the The Slate Belt....
and wish you all a Very Merry and safe Christmas...
Your Cornish Cousin
Tom Menhennitt Jr
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The Slate Belt USA part 2
I hope Tom wont mind if I add a little to his story of the Pennsylvania Slate Belt. Since I grew up there myself, I have a propietary interest in it.
At the height of the boom in the Slate Belt, near the turn of the century, there were five hotels in Bangor. The biggest of these was the Mansion House, which employed an imposing, large black man dressed in formal livery, who was employed to go to the train station on Main Street and hawk the virtues of saying at the Mansion House to the arrivals from Philadelphia and Easton. He was very good at his work and people would gather around him and follow him to the hotel a block and a half away. I am not sure but I seem to remember that the other hotels had similar means of filling vacancies. But this fellow at the Mansion House was a star.
Bangor was known at that time as a place for excellent food and entertainment. It was very fashionable for the absentee owners of the quarries to entertain their friends there by traveling to Bangor by train on the weekends.
the advent of asphalt shingles for roofs put a damper on the economy of
the region. The hotels have long disappeared as well as the trains and the
tourists. Many thanks to Carolyn and Harry Bray for their untiring efforts to
preserve the history of our Cornish ancestors in Bangor and environs.
Doris Parsons Miller
On Line Parish Clerk, Tintagel, Cornwall
Researching:Parsons, Bray, Derricott, Chilcott, Treleven, Coumbe, Lobb,
Chapman and Draper
Reading, PA USA
Wendron to Kansas
You've asked for accounts from all corners of the Cornish Diaspora. It seems to
me I have retold mine until all must have seen it and be bored; it's not full of
mining or sailing or derring-do. But maybe that's the point. So here goes--and
if you don't have time, I'll
understand, because this is going to be long:
of Manhattan, Kansas, my birthplace and an attractive town that is one of
America's well kept secrets, an old river road winds along the base of the
grassland hills that overlook the rich Blue and Kansas river valleys. The road
ducks back and forth, up and down, in and out of
shade and small side valleys. (Yes, in Kansas we do have hills and trees. I have cracked walnuts that fell on this road, and gathered sweet tart sand plums beside it--and found Indian arrowheads on the hills above it.)
Near a woodsy curve of this road, half-hidden now by trees, stands a barn whose lower story is massive dry-laid blocks of native limestone. Above it on the slope is another well-laid limestone and frame building, still in use. Both were built by my great grandfather, Simon Pryor Richards, born in Wendron, Cornwall in 1832, to Humphrey Penelerick Richards and Jane Pryor Richards. Simon, their third son, is in the 1851 census as a miner at age 19. In 1854 he left for America. So did his two younger brothers, Josiah and Thomas. Their elder brother, William (Pryor) Richards, was also part of the Diaspora, in his case to Australia at the time of the Ballarat gold strikes. In Cornwall and in Ballarat, William was a tailor; he did well in Oz, but that is another story.
The other elder brother, Humphrey (Pryor) Richards, is still mostly a mystery to me, but is known to have stayed in England and is probably the Humphrey Richards, stonemason born in Wendron, who lived in Gillingham, Kent, with a Kentish wife, at the 1881 census.
There were also several Richards sisters whose marriages I have yet to decipher. It's not that I'm pro-male, God knows, but surnames (especially Richardses in the Helston-Redruth part of Cornwall!) are hard enough to sort without the name changes females underwent. Until I get time to pick at these great-great-aunts, if you have a 19th-century Richards woman, daughter of a Humphrey and Jane of Wendron, in your picture, do let me know--but watch out, for there were then at least two sets of Humphrey and Jane Richardses in town!
The Humphrey, b. 1797, who was Simon Pryor Richards's father was a small farmer, sometime stonemason and occasional miner. The bit of land he worked was left by his father, also a Humphrey Richards, to his widow, Ann Penelerick Richards, in 1837; I don't have a firm death date for Ann, but by 1841 the younger Humphrey, their eldest son, lists in the tithe book as the effective owner. These few acres lie in the Retanna / Rame neighborhood in the northeast of Wendron parish.
That second Humphrey Richards, Simon Pryor's father and my great-great-grandfather, had a brother, Simon Penelerick Richards, born 1802, who was first in the family to go to America and to Kansas. He seems to have stowed away at 14 and been befriended in New York by a patron, perhaps named Taylor, who paid to have him return to England and be educated in civil engineering, possibly at Oxford. His descendants say Simon Penelerick Richards emigrated as an adult from London. He seems to have left a wife in Cornwall or Wales when he returned to America. I don't know whether his engineering was hands-on or managerial, but he's said to have helped build the Brooklyn Bridge, a marvelous feat in stone, and the Allegheny (railroad) Tunnel, another engineering wonder of its day in Pennsylvania.
Simon Penelerick married, had a son, John Henry, and settled for a time in Altoona, PA. But ultimately he left for the West, probably via Galena, Illinois (a mining center for a time), and arrived in the Blue Valley of Kansas about 1849, very early in that area's settlement. He built a log cabin near the Blue River and lived there, evidently alone. His wife stayed in Pennsylvania and later in Illinois. After a few years, Simon Penelerick sent for his son John Henry Richards, who became a Santa Fe trail freighter and homesteaded land in the hills near his father's place. John Henry married, in sequence, two sisters from Illinois who were Roman Catholic and gave him 17 children. The "Protestant branch" from whom I descend were less procreative and more migratory, so the Richardses around Manhattan, Kansas today are likely to be descended from John Henry.
For my branch's history, the point is that Simon Pryor Richards was drawn to this part of Kansas by his uncle Simon Penelerick Richards's having settled there. I know little of Simon Pryor's earliest days in America save that he evidently worked as a stonemason. He didn't fight in the Civil War, though his brother Josiah did. Around 1866, a young woman near Medora, Indiana, drawing water from the well at her family's farm, was asked for a drink by a fellow working on a nearby stone bridge. The way Laney Jones Richards told it later, "As soon as I clapped eyes on that young Englishman, I knew he was my man!"
Simon and Laney married in 1867 and in a few years were off for Kansas. That first try didn't go right; they returned to Indiana, where he farmed with or near his in-laws and probably did stonework too. Simon took his growing family to Texas briefly, seeking "better air" for an ailing son, but that didn't pan out either.
About 1880, Simon Pryor Richards brought his family to Kansas for good, and those stone farm buildings must have been built in that decade, using good Cornish masonry technique. Simon Pryor Richards died in 1890, as did his uncle Simon Penelerick Richards, and they're both buried in the same Manhattan cemetery, which has led, as you'd expect, to some genealogical confusion. Simon Pryor's daughter Carrie May Richards, my beloved grandmother, born in 1872 in Indiana, grew up on the farm where those buildings still stand. She was a country one-room schoolteacher in the Kansas hills by age 18. She married another schoolteacher, Samuel Thackrey, and became the mother of four sons, who distinguished themselves in journalism, teaching and communication.
Carrie did a superb job with those boys, with her scores of other "boys"--college students who rented her upstairs bedrooms over the years and came to call her Mother Thackrey--and with her eldest granddaughter, me. Grandfather taught me checkers, but Grandmother taught me everything else. She let me play in her button box and make a button bracelet. She got down on her threadbare carpet and showed me jacks and marbles. She let me roll little balls of mercury around on a saucer (we didn't know then about poisoning). She helped Dad teach me to read at 4. She let me dig at will in the rich lode of National Geographics and Readers' Digests stacked neatly in the corner of her spartan sitting room, near her Mission rocker and Grandfather's, beside a long wooden window seat full of scraggly house plants. I wore some of those magazines out. She taught me to sew, to darn, to tat, to knit, to embroider French knots and grass stitch and leaf stitch and cross-stitch, to crochet, to cut and piece and quilt a little block--all this before I was five or six. Later she showed me how to work her treadle Singer sewing machine and turned me loose on it. She let me bang on, and then play, her big oak piano. She got out Grandfather's stereopticon viewer and slides and introduced me to ancient Rome and Greece and Egypt in 3-D black and white. She showed me how to collect the seed of her tiny drought-shrunken backyard pansies and plant them the next season, year after year. She let me pick from her mulberry tree. She helped me cut paper snowflakes and lacy paper May baskets that I'd fill from her bushes of spirea and honeysuckle and hang on neighbors' doors on May Day. When my parents were away, Grandmother let me sleep on her upstairs sleeping porch even when snow blew in, which I found, as she knew I would, not frightening but exciting. The one thing she didn't teach me was cooking, which she found unexciting, and as far as I know there was nothing Cornish in her cuisine; her mother wasn't Cornish, after all, and her elder sisters had done the cooking as she grew up. But Carrie was very Cornish, I think, in her stubborn independence, her forthrightness, her wit, her curious mind and true love of learning, her self-reliance--and in a personality whose general theme was serene calm, broken by frequent flashes of humor and, less often but definitely, of ire. Sprung from centuries of Cornish stoneworkers, she said she'd like to have been an architect; at one point in her life she made a little money (a little was all she ever had) doing house-plan drawings for people.
Richardses represent a less-observed side of the Diaspora--those who did NOT
follow the mines, who knew life underground and wanted no more of it. As farmers
and masons, their life after emigration was far less tied to Cornish ways and
communities of other Cornishmen. Yet much that was Cornish survived. After all,
the first riddle my grandmother taught me was "As I was going to St.
-------------------------------And if you're still with me after all that, I thank you for your patience, as do the ghosts of all the Richardses.
Raleigh, North Carolina
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Grass Valley Concert Band
Grass Valley / Nevada City
Thank you for the heads up on HGTV about Nevada City. I spent many happy holidays living in Grass Valley/Nevada City. It struck me funny that Nevada City does the celebrating when the majority of the Cornish settled in Grass Valley. Christmas after the gifts were opened we went to the Methodist Church and listened to the Cornish Choir sing. .Then to my Gram's for dinner with all the family. What are the youth of today missing? I have the saffron buns made and Christmas Eve we will have the traditional pasty. Christmas dinner will have the plum pudding. Many good memories of growing up as first generation USA. Dad arrived in USA in 1923. People often ask me if I have gotten the genealogy to the pond (Atlantic Ocean) and I answer yes no problem it is only me.
each and everyone a Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Year!!
Mary Lou (Buckthought) Gibson
Very rainy Northern CA.
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