Where there’s smoke there’s fire…
Posted by BJC on January 28, 2018, 11:38 am, in reply to "Lost at sea. ?"
Hello Bob, |
It shows how adaptive our ancestors could be, when we see your grandfather, James Stephenson Noble, in the March Quarter of 1901, as ‘Mariner’, yet, on the Census, of 31st March 1901, he is then recorded as a Cartman Foreman, for an Iron Scrap Merchants - which means that he would have been in charge of a group of cartmen, transporting scrap iron on two-wheeled open carts, probably to H. Holdsworth, in Park Lane, Gateshead, only a 24-minute walk from his home address:
Harry Holdsworth, iron, steel, machinery and rail merchant.
Offices and stockyard: Eagle Depot, Park Lane, Gateshead.
Buyer of complete works and plant for dismantling and all classes of scrap materials.
Maybe James was carting because there wasn’t any work for a mariner at that time, or his wife didn’t like the thought of him being away from home for all those months.
I cannot find a death at sea for James Stephenson Noble, or any mention of him (apart from your family story) after he appeared on the 1901 Census.
Your family story mentions that your grandfather, James Stephenson Noble sailed to San Francisco, arriving there in 1906, at the time of the great earthquake; to back this story up, the March 1905 immigration records show a person named James Noble, of similar age to your James, had travelled by ship from Portsmouth, England, to New York, USA. I only have access to UK records, on Ancestry, but image that James must have then travelled from New York to San Francisco.
It is not known exactly how many persons died in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, (many names are being added to the list of fatalities each year) which makes the possibility that your family story about James, in San Francisco is true.
To show how catastrophic the earthquake was to San Francisco, it should be understood that in 1906, out of a population of 400,000, that 28,000 buildings were destroyed, leaving 225,000 people homeless. The 3-day fire, caused more damage than the earthquake did, and 3000 deaths were caused directly or indirectly by the catastrophe.
The St Louise did not sink (it was destroyed by fire, January 1920, with no loss-of-life, and scrapped, 1925), and if James had jumped ship, there would have been a record of him after 1906.
James has disappeared from the records, which seems to indicate that he died suddenly while away from home; and, as the family legend puts him in San Francisco in 1906, where many folk died in the earthquake, and many were never found, it seems, alas, that James Stephenson Noble lost his life there too… though, the case is still open on that.
Bob, you ask: “The 1911 census shows his wife as ‘married’, not as a widow, living with her father, so, where was James?”
The family legend that your grandfather, James Stephenson Noble, went to San Francisco, in 1906, leads me to believe that James’s wife – your grandmother Annie - would have been concerned for his safety, and so hopeful of his return, that 5 years later, in 1911, she wrote ‘married’ on the Census.
I hope these thoughts are helpful, and put some new light on the puzzle,