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Marking a Major Ancestral Anniversary

I’m remembering and marking the 100th¬†anniversary of when by paternal great grandparents came to the shores of America. In spite of being married they actually came at two different dates. My gr grandfather, George William Kershaw, arrived to the Port of Boston on August 14, 1912. He had lived his whole life, born in Hulme, Chorlton, Manchester, Lancaster, England, which had been for centuries the family homeland and now at age 56 George was starting fresh in a new country. His son, Frederick came in October 26, 1911, a skilled plumber and encouraged the family to follow. Another son, Edwin Kershaw arrived on Feb. 22, 1912.

So it would go, with different family members spacing out the arrivals of relatives. This would offer opportunity for each to establish themselves and find work. Money was sent back home to help pay for the next person’s passage.

My great grandfather George Kershaw traveled steerage on the SS LACONIA, a Cunard ship. That was only four months after the iceberg sinking of the grand SS TITANIC. Using the microfilm records of the Family History Center, I located the SS LACONIA ship’s manifest which provided additional information. George was described as 5′ 4.5″ tall, with light complexion, light hair and brown eyes. His home prior to the journey was at 66 Bongrags St. in Longsight, Lancashire County. There remained behind his wife, Jemima, a couple other sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren (one of which was my father).

With two other sons in Massachusetts, George was able to find work as a cloth inspector at a woolen mill. By October 1912 he was settled at 110 Belle Rue Ave. in Haverhill, MA. Now his wife, Jemima Smith Kershaw could make the ocean voyage to join George and her sons.

Jemima had her mother and a couple sisters who had left England and moved permanently to Massachusetts in the 1880s. She was able to leave from the Port of Liverpool, England on Oct. 15, 1912. With her was another son, John and a seven-year-old granddaughter, Clara, who she was helping raised since the death of Clara’s mother. They traveled on the SS FRANCONIA, a Cunard ship and arrived at the Port of Boston on Oct. 23, 1912. On the ship’s manifest, also located on the Family History Center microfilm, Jemima was described as 5′ 6″ tall, with light brown hair and blue eyes.

So George and Jemima were only separated about 10 weeks. After Jemima, other family members made the journey in 1913 and 1914, including my father, as a young boy.

George William Kershaw died on Sunday, Feb. 25, 1917 of heart disease at his 173 Hilldale Ave. home in Haverhill. He was buried at the Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill. He had only been in America about 4 ¬Ĺ years, but did get to see most of his family members come to America. Jemima Kershaw had her family around her for years as she enjoyed her new life for nearly 24 years in Massachusetts. One of her favorite past times was going to the movie theatre. She died Sept. 26, 1936 in Haverhill and was buried next to George.

So this is my remembrance a hundred years ago when my great grandparents set out for a new life in a new country.

Photo: SS LACONIA, which was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1917.

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