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Family Names

I think it's often interesting to learn the history of people's names. And for the people in the stories on this site, it's especially true. Many of them still carry the names of places practically within walking distance of Leigh. Surnames had been in widespread use for many hundreds of years by the time these folks were living, so when you see a name like that it seems reasonable to imagine the person's ancestors had lived in the area for 10 or 20 generations or more. Gallagher Gallagher is a very old Irish clan name from County Donegal, the northernmost county in the Republic of Ireland. It goes back 1000 years to the clan founder Gallchobhair mac Rorcan ( wikipedia ). The modern Irish version is  Ó Gallachóir . The Anglicized form Gallagher is apparently pronounced goll-a-her in County Donegal, and gal-a-her  elsewhere in Ireland. In Britain and the US it's usually pronounced  gal-a-ger , with a hard G sound. In Old Irish the name has the elements  gall  (fore
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The Baxters

Agnes Baxter Farrington's parents were Jesse and Sarah Alice Baxter. This is what I know about them. Jesse Jesse Baxter with daughters Florrie and Agnes, about 1910 Jesse Baxter was born in 1873. He was the son and grandson of boatmen, captains of barges that carried freight on the canals that connect Liverpool and Manchester, through the coal country of Leigh and Wigan. Canal freight was not only a job but also a lifestyle; the whole family lived on the barge, and for much of the 1800s it was common for children to take up the lifestyle and marry children of other canal families. That was the case for Jesse's parents, both of whom were raised on barges. Birth registration for Jesse Baxter in Astley Green ( map ) The 1881 Census shows David and Catherine Marlowe Baxter, Jesse's parents, living on the barge Winnifred with their seven children. By the next census in 1891, Catherine was a widower living with those seven children on Trafalgar Street, near St. Joseph's chur

The Gallagher Family Bible

George and Margaret Gallagher had a family Bible that has passed down through time, barely. The Bible is in rough shape. The cover is entirely loose, as are the first few pages. The binding is intact, but its leather backing is gone. The tin clasps are in good condition, still attached to the back cover, and in general the pages and the numerous illustrations are fine. The cover leather is sorely in need of revitalization. The Book The text and annotations of this Bible are the work of George Leo Haydock , who compiled this version in about 1811. It includes extensive footnotes on the translation as well as the interpretation. The text is extensively annotated. Haydock prepared this Bible in England in part as a defense of Catholicism, at a time when the repeal of the anti-catholic Penal Laws was being considered. Some of the annotations are therefore intended to combat claims of the Protestant clergy that Haydock considered unfair or mistaken. The Haydock Bible was very popular. It wa

How Did They Get Here?

Agnes Baxter and Edward Farrington both left England in 1923, but they weren't together. The story of their emigration is complicated and involves many of their relatives, so this post will cover how and when they all got here. First Stop: Pittsburgh The first members of these families to leave for the United States were Edward's older sister Mary Farrington and her husband Alfred (Fred) Downs. Mary and Fred were married in Leigh in 1901, and Fred was a coal miner like his father. Fred arrived August 31, 1904, and Mary followed two months later with their young son Thomas. They initially settled in Broughton , just south of Pittsburgh, so it's possible that Fred was working at the nearby coal mine in Horning . The Downs and their five children stuck around Pennsylvania, eventually settling in McKees Rocks. Fred and Mary both died in the mid 1950s. Next up was William Farrington, Mary and Edward's oldest brother. William left Liverpool on October 23, 1907 on the S.S. Hav


The Farringtons and Gallaghers emigrated from Leigh to the United States in the 1910's and 20's. What sort of life were they leaving? To help answer that question we can turn to the 1921 Census of England and Wales . The Census The United Kingdom has been conducting a census every ten years since 1801, always in the first year of the decade. England and Wales have a joint census, and Scotland and Ireland generally organize separate censuses in the same years. The 1921 Census was supposed to be taken on April 24, but a threatened strike of miners and railway workers delayed it until June 19, 1921. The United Kingdom keeps census results confidential for 100 years; the equivalent period in the United States is 72 years. So the 1921 Census was only recently released. This will be the last UK census to be released any time soon, since the 1931 census was destroyed in a fire, and there was no census in 1941 due to the war. There was, however, a census-like survey taken on the eve of


If you were to visit the town of Universal, Indiana in the 1920s, you would have found a surprisingly large number of residents from Leigh, a small town in Lancashire, England. I would bet that even today many residents can trace their families back to Leigh, through surnames like Counsell, Winstanley, Farrington and Gallagher. So why is that? Bunsen Coal Mines No. 4 and No. 5, Universal, Indiana This image from wikitree , originally from The Coal Town & Railroad Museum, Clinton, Indiana Universal was a coal mining town. It owes its name and its very existence to the nearby Universal Mines No. 4 and No. 5, originally sunk by the Bunsen Coal Company in about 1910. The town grew up to support the miners, and then shrank again when the mines closed in the 1930s. Leigh was also a coal mining town, in the heart of England's industrial revolution. Leigh was a textile center in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to local legend even laying claim to the invention of the Spinning Je