Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birthplace of my great grandmother, Eleanor Hartley, and other famous persons

If I had not researched my genealogy and family history, I believe I would have missed out on many things in my Life's Journey that were worth knowing about. It has made my life ... well ... more ENLIGHTENED. Take for example the birthplace of my great grandmother on my father's branch. She was born in Cockfield, County Durham, in northern England (go to the center of map below).

Image (click to enlarge): Map from tourist brochure of County Durham, England

On my family research trip to the British Isles in 1996, I picked up several tourist brochures and guides in Durham City. In the guide, "Teesdale and Barnard Castle", it was written, "... Cockfield [in County Durham], a peaceful village based on the coal industry and the birthplace of JEREMIAH DIXON, known for the Mason-Dixon Line [the official border between Maryland and Pennsylvania]". More research indicated that Jeremiah was actually born in Barnard Castle and went to the John Kipling school there. He died in Cockfield. Jeremiah Dixon and his colleague, CHARLES MASON, were astronomers who indeed were called upon by Thomas Penn and Frederick Calvert to survey the border between the two American colonies. The survey was completed in 1766. Jeremiah died in Cockfield in 1779, about 66 years before my great grandmother, ELEANOR HARTLEY, was born in the same village in 1845.

It so happens that I re-read this brochure a couple of years after I bicycled a portion of the Heritage Trail which runs from York, Pennsylvania, for a distance of about 30 miles, across the PA/MD border, and through Gunpowder Falls State Park. As I passed the Mason-Dixon line, I took a picture of a concrete pillar which apparently was one of several marking the Mason-Dixon Line (and posted it on my blog). A nearby historical marker presented several more facts on the Mason and Dixon team and its survey.

Image: Historical marker on the Heritage Rail-Trail detailing the history of the Mason-Dixon Line. It reads, in part, “Since the Civil War it has served as the boundary between the North and the South …”

I will never again cross the Mason-Dixon Line without thinking of Eleanor Hartley. Incidentally, three members of my immediate family now live north of the Line, while I live south. I cross the Line at least 6 or 7 times a year.

Another thing comes to mind when I look at the tourist map above. Eleanor Hartley was enumerated in the 1861 census of England as a "House Servant", age 16 years, born at Cockfield. She lived in a household which was located in Hurworth upon Tees, south of Darlington (bottom, right corner of map). There were only two other persons enumerated: RICHARD NEWTON, age 83, and his wife, MARY, age 90. I knew of a younger Richard Newton, who married Isabella, or Margaret, Hartley, who was the sister of Eleanor's father, in other words, her uncle. So, I suspect that Eleanor's employer was the father of this uncle. Furthermore, Richard Newton, the elder, was a "farmer of 160 acres, employing one man" according to the census. This was a real find because it took me a while to find Eleanor. The rest of her family, that is Eleanor's father, William Hartley, and four of his other children, were enumerated in the same year in a different location- in the parish of Hunwick and Helmington, Durham.

So, I look at Hurworth upon Tees on the map and think of my great grandmother, only 16 years of age, and working hard as a servant girl on a farm of many acres taking care of a very old couple and their hired hand. By the way, The River Tees marks the boundary between County Durham and Yorkshire in the south. Matter of fact, County Durham is often referred to as "the land ‘twixt the Tyne and the Tees".

1 comment:

Hannah Stoneham said...

This is a fascinating post - thank you for sharing. I too am fascinated by family history - and when I think about it - yes it does seem to emcompass so much. Great concept for a blog - thank you! Hannah