Saturday, July 03, 2010

Dangerfield Family Story

I'm back!  Searching for dead ancestors with passion once again. I thoroughly enjoy the researching process, and this time decided to focus my attention on the English line----my Dangerfield family from Kansas, Illinois, New York & points beyond. I 'caught' the genealogy bug about 13 years ago....and yes, I'm a total addict.  Finally added 3 Family Trees to; they are works-in-progress.  I can see right now I'll be re-subscribing. I'm no writer, but was gratified to finally have enough material to write an overview about my Dangerfield ancestors.   

 Here's their story:
Hannah Lavinia Stead and Edwin Dangerfield started their journey together in 1869; they married on July 18th, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. He was a 29-yr old coal miner from Horsley, Gloucestershire, and Hannah a 20-yr old textile worker in the textile mill area of Leeds. How they met remains a mystery, but from British census records a likely reason he left Gloucestershire was to find work. By 1861, Edwin worked as a laborer in the iron works area of Wolverhampton, and was employed as a coal miner in Yorkshire at the time of their marriage eight years later. Limited choices existed for Edwin & Hannah, but their subsequent life together was a story they shared with millions of hopeful emigrants in the 19th century: parents searching for a better life for their offspring. Edwin and Hannah raised 12 children, who in turn, produced  (at least by my count at this writing) 39 grandchildren & 42 great-grandchildren. Among the descendants, I found  numerous coal miners, firemen, railroad laborers, domestics, several teachers, 2 librarians, a grocery merchant, a coal mine superintendant, a few attorneys, two sets of twins, several musicians, a music teacher, one young man in reform school and a kidnapped toddler!

Their first step to a better life in America began about a year after the birth of first child Esther, born 2 May 1870 in Leeds. Edwin emigrated first, arriving April 1871 in New York.

About the same time, 21-yr old Hannah and 11-month-old Esther were living in a boarding house in Leeds, she employed as a linen weaver. Hannah & Esther arrived four months later, in August. Evidence proves that emigrates moved to locations where existing family already settled, so it's quite likely family ties and/or work in coal mining was the reason they traveled first to Beaver County in western Pennsylvania, then moved 'next door' to Trumbull & Mahoning Counties in eastern Ohio. Only the births of the following children provide actual evidence of their journey: second child Anna, born Oct 1871 in Beaver Falls, PA and first son Joseph in May 1873 in Liberty, OH. 

  No records found give an exact date or reason for their return to England. However, we know they did. Hannah's parents, James Stead (1825-) & Ann Bramley (1826-) and younger siblings (Elizabeth, John, Sarah, Martha & Arthur) still lived in Leeds so not too unusual that the next three children's births all took place in Leeds: Minnie, born November 1874, Thomas, born November 1876, and Edwin B. born January 1878.  Typical of the era and customs, the children's names were traditional: Esther & Joseph were named for Edwin's parents, Anna named for Hannah's mother & later son James for her father. Later children Thomas, Eliza, Jobe, Henry were named for Edwin's siblings, Arthur for Hannah's younger brother, and my own great-grandfather Edwin named for his father. A family of 12 children was commonplace in this era of improved birth mortality, typically the births about 18 months apart. Perhaps it was the economy, or poverty & hardships, or a growing family & the continued promise of a better life that sent them back, once again, to America.

The ship "Arizona" courtesy of

Hannah and children Esther, Anna, Joseph, Minnie, Thomas & Edwin arrived in New York on 26 July 1880, traveling steerage on the ship "Arizona". One can only imagine Hannah's journey, in steerage, pregnant, with 6 children under the age of 10. No records are found for father Edwin arriving that year, but most likely he made the trip slightly ahead of the family. Given the next birth, once again in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania of James in January 1881, he didn't leave too much earlier than Hannah & the children! A year later, it's on again to Youngstown, Ohio, where in October 1882 son Major is born. It seems quite likely existing family lived in both states, for the pattern to be repeated. 9th child Henry, born in February of 1884, probably arrived in either Ohio, or after the family settled in Scranton, Osage County, Kansas.

4th of July - Osage City, Osage Ct., Kansas 1900
Photo Courtesy
     No record exists as to their exact arrival in Scranton, Kansas but is certainly by 1885 or 1886, even though the family doesn't appear in the 1885 Kansas State Census. With both the railroad and strip coal mining in the area, Scranton was booming & work was plentiful in Osage County. The Dangerfield family joined the thousands of emigrants, as they established roots in a young country, full of opportunity for their growing family. The family continued to grow: son Jobe arrived in March 1886, daughter Eliza in December of 1887. The winter of 1890 brought the birth of the 12th and final child, Arthur in January, and sadly, less than a week later the death of their first child, Esther in February. 

                                                   Little information exists regarding Esther, except that she married local miner John Hutchinson in February 1889 and died at the young age of 19 after just a brief year of marriage. It's not hard to imagine for Esther a premature death in childbirth, or perhaps of typhus. Life was rough, a hopeful yet heartbreaking struggle for our pioneer ancestors. Two brothers join Esther, as teenagers, in the Scranton cemetery: Henry in May 1899 at the age of 15, and brother Jobe, at age 17 died 28 Feb 1904, the tragic result of a gunshot wound. Likely but unverified reasons for Henry's death was something as commonplace today as pneumonia, or given the dangerous nature of coal mining, perhaps an accident.
 Coal Miners - Scranton, KS Mine #14
Photo courtesy of

The  March 1895 Kansas State census record gives us a picture of a large Victorian family, thankfully full of sons, capable of working to help support the family. Only the four youngest Dangerfield children, all under the age of 10, don't work in the mines. But next in age Major, at 13 already joined his father & brothers. Five years later, in the US 1900 Federal census, we see father Edwin & 5 sons Joseph, Thomas, Edwin, James & Major, all employed as coal miners. They own their home, free & clear and are naturalized citizens. The first daughter-in-law has joined the family too, Joseph's wife Emily.

Scranton, Kansas c.1910

Of the ten adult children, six married into other Scranton families: Esther to John Hutchinson, Joseph to Emily Butler, Minnie to David Jones, Edwin to Margaret Galligan, Major to Ellen Frye, youngest son Arthur married Barbara Thomas. Daughter Anna married Harry Streeter & later, Otis Vandermark, both from Topeka.  Thomas married Clara Petty of Poughkeepsie, NY. It's likely (but unconfirmed) that they met aboard ship in 1902, when Clara immigrated to the NY area to join an older brother.  And two other children marry & live in southern Illinois: James married Rosa Yates, and Eliza married George Hope.

Map of Scranton, 1899
Courtesy of

Apparently the family prospered enough for travel: Hannah & Edwin returned to New York from a visit to Leeds in the summer of 1900; he is listed as a tavern keeper in Scranton. And in 1901, an extended family trip took place, again to Leeds. Edwin & sons James, Major, Jobe & Thomas arrived 25 July in Liverpool and less than 2 weeks later, Hannah and children Eliza & Arthur arrived on August 6th. Early in 1902, the three married children at home in Scranton (Minnie, Joseph & Edwin) were notified, told to prepare the Dangerfield home near the depot for their expected return by May. The 6-month visit ended tragically in March 1902, on the ship Waesland. The accidental & untimely death by drowning of father Edwin occurred as a result of a fall into a lifeboat, after the collision of the Waesland and the ship Hermonides in St. George's Channel.

By 1910, economic shifts and mine closures in Osage County brought change to the nine surviving Dangerfield siblings from Scranton. Some traveled to southern Illinois, where coal mining was booming: three sons and one daughter (Edwin, Arthur, James and Eliza Hope) moved to the Williamson County, IL area as a result. Son Thomas moved his family to southern Illinois & later, Poughkeepsie, New York. Sons Joseph & Major and daughter Anna Vandermark all moved to the Topeka area, the brothers employed in some capacity with the Santa Fe Railroad. Daughter Minnie Jones continued to live in Scranton and later, Topeka. And mother Hannah Lavinia? It's unknown what happened to her after 1906 - where she died, when she died or where she was buried. That's genealogy for you.

To learn more about the Dangerfield Family in
Kansas, please take a look at
Dennis Segelquist's site at Kansas and Its Surnames: 
        To learn more about the Dangerfield name world-wide,  please take a look at Howard Mathieson's site at the Dangerfield One-Name-Study. And to read more about the Sinking of the Waesland, click on "Serendipity" for the story.

References and Sources

1841-1901 British Census Records
1875-1925 Kansas State Census Records
1870-1930 US Federal Census Records Family Trees
Baldwin City Signal Obituary, Kansas
Bill Allen/Dangerfield One Name Study
British Birth Certificates, GRO-UK: 1840, 1849, 1870, 1874, 1878, 1879 
British Death Certificate, GRO-UK, 1902
British FreeBMD Online Records
California Death Record, 1974
Carbondale Record, 1933 Illinois Newspaper Obituary
Flodin/Dangerfield Family History
Herrin, Illinois 1965 Newspaper Obituary
Hope/Dangerfield Family History & Documents
Howard Mathieson, Dangerfield One Name Study -  IGI Records
Illinois Online Marriage & Death Index
Interment Online Cemetery Records
Johnston City Progress, 1933 Illinois Newspaper Obituary
Major Dangerfield Family History
Marriage Certificate, 1869 Leeds, England
Missouri Online Birth & Death Index
Neissl/Sheehan Family History
New York Public LIbrary Digital Image Collection
Osage Ct, Kansas Archives, Obituaries & Cemetery Records
Passenger Lists, New York & Philadelphia
Perry County, IL Cemetery Records
Petty/Dangerfield Family Records
Poughkeepsie Journal, NY - various obituaries
RootsWeb Archive Boards: Hope & Dangerfield
Scranton City Cemetery Records, Osage Ct., Kansas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2010 Missouri Online Obituary
Social Security Index
Steckenrider/Dangerfield Family History
Streeter/Dangerfield Family History
The Times, London Mar 1902, account of inquest & death of Edwin Dangerfield
Topeka/Shawnee Public Library, Genealogy, Obituaries
Topeka State Journal 1933 Kansas Newspaper obituary
Topeka State Journal 1929 Kansas Newspaper wedding announcement

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