Tag Archives: beatrice atkins

DNA family – Elizabeth Beatrice Atkins

In genealogy we have our family tree, the people we know or knew and consider family. Sometimes we also have a DNA family that is different from who we regard as family. The DNA family is our bloodline, people we match through DNA. On my mom’s side I have a grandfather and a biological grandfather. I always knew my biological existed and his name but that was it. There was no contact with him and he was seldom mentioned. After taking a DNA test, I was able to connect with some of my mom’s biological cousins and learn about that side of the family. I decided it was time to research that family. Although well-sourced research had been done, there were a couple of gaps. This post and the next few will tell the story of my biological great-grandmother and her 6 siblings. I’ll start with the eldest child of Fanny Green and William Atkins, Elizabeth Beatrice Atkins.

In 1902, Fanny Atkins died leaving a husband, William Elbourne Atkins, and 7 children. I was curious to know what happened to the children after Fanny died. There are instances in my Canadian lines where the mother died and the father quickly remarried, or other family members stepped in to help out and raised a child. I was curious to if this was the case in Britain, where the family lived. I wasn’t sure what records might exist to show what happened to these children. The first place to look for the family was in the 1911 census. I was able to find William with the youngest son, Jesse, in the workhouse but the other children were elusive because the name is fairly common.

My first breakthrough was discovering Rosa Atkins on a passenger list stating she was coming to Canada with the Bernardo Homes. I learned of a database at Library and Archives Canada and that lists children that were sent to Canada as British Home Children.

The definition of these children is “a child under the age of 18 who is emigrated by an agency to be ‘adopted’ or placed as indentured servants (e.g. Bardardo, Macpherson, Birt, Middlemore, Quarriers) legally bound to their agency/placements. Often wages were held back until they were adults.”

https://canadianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com/hazelbrae-barnardo-home.html

Sure enough, 2 of Rosa’s sisters,  Elizabeth B., Rosa, and Alice Atkins, are on the list. It was through clues from DNA family members that I learned what happened to Elizabeth Beatrice. She went by Beatrice so that’s how I’ll refer to her.

Beatrice was sent to Barkingside Girls Village in Barkingside, Essex, England along with her sisters Rosa and Alice. Barkingside was supposed to be a “progressive” home for orphaned and poor children. About a year after her mother died, Beatrice was on a ship bound for Canada. She left England on April 29, 1903 and was sent to Hazelbrae Home for girls in Peterborough, Ontario. From there she was sent to work as a domestic somewhere in Canada. Losing your mother is tramatic. Can you imagine being taken from your family at 14 years old then being sent to another country where you don’t know anyone. Then having to work as an indentured servant until you were old enough to leave. She must have been terrified and lonely.

Nephew, Frank with Beatrice and her daughter, Bea Letcher

I lost Beatrice after her arrival in Canada. But family members gave me clues to her married name. She had a daughter, Beatrice Letcher. Well, searching for Beatrice Letcher brought me to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In 1911, Beatrice Atkins was a domestic for Alice Herman or Harman in Moose Jaw. Alice ran a boarding house with 16 people living as lodgers. I can’t find her anywhere between 1903 and 1911. As far as I can tell she wasn’t in Moose Jaw in 1906.

She married Frank Letcher before 1913 and had 3 children; Beatrice in 1913, Frank in 1921, and Norma in 1923. The 1975 obituary for Frank Letcher indicates that their daughter Beatrice married W.W. Burns and lived in Surrey, British Columbia. Frank moved to California with his wife and children. Norma was not mentioned in Frank’s obituary, she may have died before 1975. Frank owned Letcher Auto Electric which still exists today, but may not be owned by the family.

Elizabeth Beatrice Letcher died on December 14, 1951 in Moose Jaw. Although she was separated from her family, I know there was contact with at least one of her sisters. There are family pictures from when she visited Kate Harrison, in Cochrane, Ontario. There is also a story that my grandfather went out west and must have visited the family. I like to think that creating a family of her own and keeping in touch with her siblings would have made he happy after such a terrifying beginning to her life.

Sources
1911 England Census [database on-line]. Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England; Ancestry.com (database online); Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911.

Home Children Records; Library and Archives Canada; http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/immigration-records/home-children-1869-1930/immigration-records/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=105587

Immigration Program : Headquarters central registry files : C-4715; RG 76, Vol 51, File 2209, part 1, Bernardos Children Arrival in Quebec, image 1282; http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_c4715/1200?r=0&s=5; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association; http://www.britishhomechildrenregistry.com/faq

British Home Children in Canada; https://canadianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com/hazelbrae-barnardo-home.html for information about Hazelbrae.

1911 Canada Census; Moosejaw, Saskatchewan; District 124; Page: 29; Family No: 223;
Ancestry.com. 1911 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA; Citing, Series RG31-C-1. Statistics Canada Fonds. Microfilm reels T-20326 to T-20460; Library and Archives Canada. lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1911/Pages/about-census.aspx.

1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; Census Place: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw, 17C; Roll: T-21931; Page: 21; Family No: 252; Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009; “Census returns for 1916 Census of Prairie Provinces.” Statistics of Canada Fonds, Record Group 31-C-1. LAC microfilm T-21925 to T-21956. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; in 1916 Beatrice is married to Frank Letcher and has a 3 year old daughter.

1926 Census of the Prairie Provinces; Moose Jaw Saskatchewan District 27 Subdistrict 72; library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; I was unable to find the family in the 1921 Canada Census.

Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, Moose Jaw Branch; Cemetery Transcriptions; http://moosejawgenealogy.com/Cemeteries/Moose%20Jaw%20Rosedale/Pl.htm; someone from Moose Jaw was kind enough to send me a photo of the tombstone.

Moose Jaw Obits 1970-1998; Saskatchewan Genealogical Society; Moose Jaw Branch; http://moosejawgenealogy.com/obits.htm; someone from the Moose Jaw genealogy society was kind enough to send me a copy of Frank’s obituary. She was unable to find one for Beatrice.

Genealogy Miracles

I love it when miracles happen in research. The latest one occurred while searching for the children of William and Fanny Atkins. Fanny died in 1902 leaving 7 children ranging in age from 3 to 14 years old. Of course, there were 5 girls who would have changed their names when they married. I had information on one of them, my great grandmother, Kate Atkins Harrison. I asked my cousin Ken if he knew where the children ended up. The story he heard was that Kate ended up in Canada because her sister had lifted her hand up when someone asked “who wants to go to Canada”.

In the 1911 census, William Atkins and his son, Jesse, were enumerated in the Amersham workhouse. Jesse was going to school, most likely run by the workhouse. The workhouse had 119 male and 74 female inmates (yes, that’s what they were called). The workhouse consisted of a new and old infirmary, vagrants ward, porter’s lodge, and the body of the house.

Jesse was in the workhouse but where were Elizabeth Beatrice, Edith Emily, Rosa, Kate, Alice Minnie, and Horace. I checked the 1911 census for these children but found nothing conclusive. That’s when the first miracle happened.

Left to right Bea Atkins, Kate Harrison, Horace Atkins, Jesse Atkins

After playing around for a while trying to find these children, I decided to go back and start with the youngest child, Jesse. An Ancestry Tree had him living in New Jersey so I searched for Jesse Atkins born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England and living in New Jersey. You know how when you are looking at records on Ancestry, on the right hand side Ancestry gives suggestions for other records. I checked them all and one of them, New York Passenger and Crew lists was my miracle. There was a Jesse Atkins who arrived in New York in 1916. He was asked the name and full address of his relative in the country of origin. His response was Mrs. Edith Sackett of Putney, London, England…could this be the Edith Emily I was looking for? Another question asked the name and address of where he was going. He answered, Mrs. Frank Conway of 432 W 204 Street, New York City. Who was Mrs Frank Conway? I discovered, in 1913 Frank Thomas Conway married Rosa Atkins whose father is William Atkins and mother is Fannie, not Green but some other name. Is this the Rosa Atkins I want?

I was pretty sure this was my family but needed more information, I found Frank and Rosa in census records, and the US Social Security Applications and Claim indexes. Once the death date was found, I was going to stop but something prompted me to look for final closure. To make sure this actually was the Rosa Atkins I was searching for I wanted an obituary for her.

This is when the second miracle happened. I know nothing about newspapers in Elbridge, New York so decided to ask for help. I joined a facebook group called The Genealogy Squad and the people there seemed to be pretty helpful. My post was brief. I gave the name and date of death for Rosa and asked what newspaper an obituary would be in and where could I find the newspaper. Within 5 minutes I had this response,

 I found her here. It’s a newspaper archive for my area – Syracuse Post Standard. It you can’t pull it up, message me. http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html

https://www.facebook.com/groups/genealogysquad

The respondent included a copy of the actual obituary. I was so excited. The obituary contained a listing of her husband and children’s names but it also said “She is survived by….a brother, Horace Atkins of Thorton Heath, England and two sisters, Mrs Alice Plested of Brower, Ontario, Canada and Mrs Kate Harrison of Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. Who is my Great Grandmother? Mrs Kate Harrison of Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. This is the right family. Now I know where Alice Minnie, Horace, Rosa, Edith, and Jesse lived. Research flood gates are opening and I’m starting to fill in the blanks of what happened to the children after their mother died.

Two miracles , a passenger list and obituary gave me the the married names of the girls and where each child, except Elizabeth Beatrice, ended up. I never thought I’d find this information. The lessons learned here are never give up, look for every document possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Oh, and sometimes miracles do happen.

Sources
New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]; Year: 1916; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2504; Line: 1; Page Number: 176; Ancestry.com. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; Citing: Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

The Post Standard, Syracuse, New York, February 10 1960, page 9; citing Fulton History http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.htmlSources