Skip to main content

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. Haverford, arriving in Philadelphia on November 4th. Immigration records of this era have lots of interesting details, including contacts in the old country as well as the new one. In William's case, he listed his next of kin as living at 67 Trafalgar St., but with no name. That must have been his wife Mary (Polly) Lomas, the younger sister of Sarah Alice Baxter, living with her parents. William planned to join Fred and Mary, now in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. In fact, Fred had paid his passage. William is listed as 5' 7", auburn hair, blue eyes, with a mark ("blood mole?") under his left eye.

There's an entry for "Race or People", and for William the race is "Irish". On the one hand that's the obvious choice because his parents were both born in Ireland. But the name "Farrington" is English, coming from the village 20 miles north of Leigh. There were lots of Farringtons in the Leigh area, generations before William's parents. It is reasonable to ask whether John Farrington was Irish, or just the son of an English soldier on garrison duty. Given all that, it's interesting to imagine that this may have been William self-identifying as Irish rather than English. On the other hand, it could have just been the immigration official's opinion.

Polly joined William the next year. She arrived in New York on December 8, 1908, sailing on the famous Lusitania. She arrived with their daughter Mary Elizabeth, and planned to join William in Elizabeth.


The next Farrington to make the trip was John, the second-oldest Farrington boy. His nephew Bill Farrington, who must have known him, identified him as "Jack" in a family photo below. He arrived in Philadelphia on August 4, 1913 at the ripe old age of 30. He listed his occupation as a miner, and planned to meet William in Option, Pennsylvania. I don't know where that is, but it's presumably somewhere in the Pittsburgh area -- William also lists Option as his residence in his naturalization paperwork.

The Farringtons in about 1909
Back: Edward, Michael, John. Front: Margaret, parents John and Bridget,
and Margaret's husband John Lee.

John never married. He lived sometimes with William and his family, and other times with Edward and his family. I don't know when he died, but it was some time after 1950.

Next Stop: Universal

Eventually everyone converges on tiny Universal, Indiana, at least in part because a fellow from Leigh was managing a mine there. But how did that come to pass, for these families in particular?


In May 1911 John Counsell and William Williams sailed on the Laurentia to Montreal, then entered the U.S. in Vermont. They were planning to meet John's brother-in-law John Crompton in Jasonville, Indiana. Crompton was married to Elizabeth Page, sister to John Counsell's wife Martha Alice (and a cousin of Alice Page Gallagher). Williams was also a relation; Crompton was his uncle. Crompton, for his part, had emigrated in 1910, giving fellow Leigh miner James William Calverley as his contact. I think the Cromptons were only briefly in Indiana; they went on to settle in Massachusetts.

John Counsell returned to Leigh in 1914. But then in 1919 it was back to Indiana, this time with his daughter Lily and her husband Jack Hesford. They were all meeting Williams in Clinton, Indiana. Martha Alice remained in Leigh, living just a few doors down from the Farringtons on Milton Street. Their sons John and William came over separately in 1922. Martha Alice didn't join her husband until 1927, when at the age of 63 she and her youngest son James joined the family in Elmhurst.


John and Martha Alice's daughter Annie Counsell married Edward "Ted" Gallagher in early 1923, and he immediately left for the United States, joining Elizabeth Page Crompton (her husband John was already out of the picture) in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. In September Annie met him there.


Agnes Baxter left Leigh in the Summer of 1923. On the outbound ship manifest she was listed among a group of five who had consecutive ticket numbers (indicating that they were purchased at the same time), and who all listed the same last address in the UK: c/o Woodward, 12 Wigan Road, Hindley. They were all headed for Universal. They arrived on the Montlaurier in Montreal on August 4, 1923, then crossed the border in Vermont.

Agnes' passage had been paid by her aunt Polly (Lomas) Farrington, now living in Universal with her husband William.


Edward Farrington, finally, completes the picture. He arrived in Boston on November 1, 1923 on the Carmania. He was a 30-year-old Iron Monger, on his way to meet his older sister Mary Farrington Downs in McKees Rocks. He didn't have a ticket to Pittsburgh yet, but he had $69, so presumably that saw him through.

Edward appears to have travelled alone, but on the ship with him were Thomas and Isabella Hosty, who lived on Trafalgar Street with Edward's future wife Agnes.

The Leigh gang in Indiana in the late 1920s.
Back row: Agnes, Ted Gallagher, Polly Farrington, Annie Counsell, Bill Farrington, Nora Raider, Albert Coupe, and Lily and John Hesford. Seated: Edward, John Counsell, Lois Whalley Counsell, Margaret Farrington, and Johnny Counsell.

By the time of his naturalization petition in 1927, Edward was living in Maywood, Illinois. He spent these years in the Indiana/Illinois area with his brothers and Ted Gallagher, following work. In 1929 he and Agnes were married in Universal, with Ted Gallagher and Margaret Farrington (later Giles) in attendance.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

Universal

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