George & Rosanna

2014.08.01

Happy 142nd birthday to Rosanna and happy 3rd birthday to this blog!
My great grandparents, George T. Swales and his wife, Rosanna Cuppello, have had a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I never met the couple. They both died before I was born, but their images, possessions and stories have been part of my world since I was a child. I can thank their son, my grandfather, for my early knowledge of George and Rosanna. Even at the age of seventy he still kept a double hinged gold frame containing colorized portraits, George on the left and Rosanna on the right, on his dresser. Wooden clogs, miniature pewter jugs and small brass cups, treasures from a past life in another country, were proudly displayed on the corner curio shelves in his living room.
More of George and Rosanna’s belongings were relegated to the basement of my grandparents’ home. George’s favorite chair with its worn wooden arm rests and brittle leather cushions, did not fit the early American decor my grandmother furnished the rest of the house in. And her in-laws’ rusted cast iron French-fry cutter, which looked more like a medieval torture instrument than a kitchen appliance, had no place in my Grandma’s modern 1960’s kitchen. The remainder of George and Rosanna’s effects were stored in boxes on a steel shelving unit. The contents of one box in particular captivated me more than anything else, Rosanna’s postcard collection. 
My great grandparents emigrated from England at the turn of the century and these postcards represented their communication with the relatives they left behind. There were hundreds of cards displayed in two albums, a very thick green one about 6 inches in depth and a thinner brown one. Though the fabric cover of the larger album was frayed and its binding was crumbling, the inner pages revealed an assortment of perfectly preserved postcards. Majestic castles and cathedrals, picturesque landscapes, and busy city scenes from all over England and Ireland filled the book. But my favorite cards were the ones that had a more personal tone, the cards sent to celebrate birthdays, holidays or just to express how much the recipient was missed at home. “Hands across the sea”, “Loves Longing”, it all seemed so sad.
Many years later, my father, George and Rosanna’s grandson, passed the box containing the postcard collection on to me. In addition to the postcards, the box also included half a dozen photo albums and a stack of cabinet cards, a type of photograph popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. All of the photos were blank on the back, no identification at all. The only clues were the imprint of the photographer’s name and city on the cabinet cards. I recognized George, Rosanna and my grandfather easily and my father was able to identify a few more individuals. But most of these pictures were taken thirty or more years before my dad was born and were of people he had never known. Rosanna had kept these photos for a reason and after she passed, my grandfather held on to them as well. The people in these photos meant a great deal to George, Rosanna and my grandfather. I was determined to put names to these faces.
I had started tracing our family history a few years earlier using Ancestry.com. There was a decent amount of information entered into my family tree including George and Rosanna’s siblings, most of whom were female. Finding these women once they married was where I ran into what genealogists refer to as a brick wall. I knew the surnames of George’s married sisters, but not Rosanna’s. Having access to the postcard collection changed all that. I inspected every card, noting names, addresses, dates and any other pertinent information. This literally opened up a whole new world. A card signed “from your cousin Joe Sutcliffe” and one from cousin Andrew Tomlinson meant that two of Rosanna’s sisters probably had married men named Sutcliffe and Tomlinson. My brick walls were about to be broken.
During this period, I also discovered that there were resources other than Ancestry.com available on-line. Familysearch.org, findmypast.com, the Lancashire Births, Marriages, and Deaths (http://www.lancashirebmd.org.uk) and the On Line Parish Clerks for the County of Lancashire (http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/) all contained different records not included on Ancestry.com. This new source of information, coupled with the tidbits gleaned from the postcards, produced exponential growth in my family tree. I found the sisters’ marriages, their husbands’ names, their children’s births and the deaths of young and old alike.
Based on the new data, I began to develop theories as to who the people in the photos were. As I learned more facts, sometimes my theories were strengthened, sometimes not. A destroyed theory meant I just had more work to do. In time, most of the nameless faces in that pile of photos had identities. And, thanks to all my research, I had compiled a tremendous amount of information on the Swales and Cuppello families covering the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century. I shared my discoveries with my father. Sometimes the information would bring back a long forgotten childhood memory and he could confirm the fact. More often than not, I was unearthing pieces of the past that he had never known, some of which had been purposefully covered up. 
My fascination with George, Rosanna and their families grew. I knew the people in these photos, knew their backgrounds, their losses, their secrets. None of these folks were famous and their tales had gone unrecorded in the history books. But these lives were important. They survived war, endured famines and economic depressions, and were participants in the industrial revolution and the great migration to the United States. These stories needed to be told and I needed to tell them. So, three years ago today, on the 139th anniversary of Rosanna’s birth, I launched the George & Rosanna blog as my outlet to share the postcards, photos and my knowledge of the Swales and Cuppello families. 
In one way or another, we are all influenced by the successes and struggles of our ancestors. This blog is my way of saying thank you to George and Rosanna and all those who came before me. And if you’ve made it all the way through this long winded post dear reader, then thank you too for your support.

A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants. - Lord Macaulay

Happy 142nd birthday to Rosanna and happy 3rd birthday to this blog!

My great grandparents, George T. Swales and his wife, Rosanna Cuppello, have had a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I never met the couple. They both died before I was born, but their images, possessions and stories have been part of my world since I was a child. I can thank their son, my grandfather, for my early knowledge of George and Rosanna. Even at the age of seventy he still kept a double hinged gold frame containing colorized portraits, George on the left and Rosanna on the right, on his dresser. Wooden clogs, miniature pewter jugs and small brass cups, treasures from a past life in another country, were proudly displayed on the corner curio shelves in his living room.

More of George and Rosanna’s belongings were relegated to the basement of my grandparents’ home. George’s favorite chair with its worn wooden arm rests and brittle leather cushions, did not fit the early American decor my grandmother furnished the rest of the house in. And her in-laws’ rusted cast iron French-fry cutter, which looked more like a medieval torture instrument than a kitchen appliance, had no place in my Grandma’s modern 1960’s kitchen. The remainder of George and Rosanna’s effects were stored in boxes on a steel shelving unit. The contents of one box in particular captivated me more than anything else, Rosanna’s postcard collection. 

My great grandparents emigrated from England at the turn of the century and these postcards represented their communication with the relatives they left behind. There were hundreds of cards displayed in two albums, a very thick green one about 6 inches in depth and a thinner brown one. Though the fabric cover of the larger album was frayed and its binding was crumbling, the inner pages revealed an assortment of perfectly preserved postcards. Majestic castles and cathedrals, picturesque landscapes, and busy city scenes from all over England and Ireland filled the book. But my favorite cards were the ones that had a more personal tone, the cards sent to celebrate birthdays, holidays or just to express how much the recipient was missed at home. “Hands across the sea”, “Loves Longing”, it all seemed so sad.

Many years later, my father, George and Rosanna’s grandson, passed the box containing the postcard collection on to me. In addition to the postcards, the box also included half a dozen photo albums and a stack of cabinet cards, a type of photograph popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. All of the photos were blank on the back, no identification at all. The only clues were the imprint of the photographer’s name and city on the cabinet cards. I recognized George, Rosanna and my grandfather easily and my father was able to identify a few more individuals. But most of these pictures were taken thirty or more years before my dad was born and were of people he had never known. Rosanna had kept these photos for a reason and after she passed, my grandfather held on to them as well. The people in these photos meant a great deal to George, Rosanna and my grandfather. I was determined to put names to these faces.

I had started tracing our family history a few years earlier using Ancestry.com. There was a decent amount of information entered into my family tree including George and Rosanna’s siblings, most of whom were female. Finding these women once they married was where I ran into what genealogists refer to as a brick wall. I knew the surnames of George’s married sisters, but not Rosanna’s. Having access to the postcard collection changed all that. I inspected every card, noting names, addresses, dates and any other pertinent information. This literally opened up a whole new world. A card signed “from your cousin Joe Sutcliffe” and one from cousin Andrew Tomlinson meant that two of Rosanna’s sisters probably had married men named Sutcliffe and Tomlinson. My brick walls were about to be broken.

During this period, I also discovered that there were resources other than Ancestry.com available on-line. Familysearch.org, findmypast.com, the Lancashire Births, Marriages, and Deaths (http://www.lancashirebmd.org.uk) and the On Line Parish Clerks for the County of Lancashire (http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/) all contained different records not included on Ancestry.com. This new source of information, coupled with the tidbits gleaned from the postcards, produced exponential growth in my family tree. I found the sisters’ marriages, their husbands’ names, their children’s births and the deaths of young and old alike.

Based on the new data, I began to develop theories as to who the people in the photos were. As I learned more facts, sometimes my theories were strengthened, sometimes not. A destroyed theory meant I just had more work to do. In time, most of the nameless faces in that pile of photos had identities. And, thanks to all my research, I had compiled a tremendous amount of information on the Swales and Cuppello families covering the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century. I shared my discoveries with my father. Sometimes the information would bring back a long forgotten childhood memory and he could confirm the fact. More often than not, I was unearthing pieces of the past that he had never known, some of which had been purposefully covered up. 

My fascination with George, Rosanna and their families grew. I knew the people in these photos, knew their backgrounds, their losses, their secrets. None of these folks were famous and their tales had gone unrecorded in the history books. But these lives were important. They survived war, endured famines and economic depressions, and were participants in the industrial revolution and the great migration to the United States. These stories needed to be told and I needed to tell them. So, three years ago today, on the 139th anniversary of Rosanna’s birth, I launched the George & Rosanna blog as my outlet to share the postcards, photos and my knowledge of the Swales and Cuppello families. 

In one way or another, we are all influenced by the successes and struggles of our ancestors. This blog is my way of saying thank you to George and Rosanna and all those who came before me. And if you’ve made it all the way through this long winded post dear reader, then thank you too for your support.

A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants. - Lord Macaulay

2014.07.06

The 2014 Tour de France continues through the picturesque countryside of Yorkshire, England today. Stage 2 begins in York and ends in Sheffield with a total of nine categorized climbs along the hilly route. The Tour today comes within 11 miles of Burnley, Lancashire where George and Rosanna lived during their teen years and the first few years of their marriage.

Above are three postcards from Rosanna’s collection that display the beauty of the area. At the top is York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. An aerial view from today’s television coverage of the Tour showed a giant yellow jersey on the roof of the square portion of the cathedral.

The other two cards are images from the Sheffield area. Roche Abbey is the ruins of a Cistercian monastery located about 13 miles east of Sheffield. The final card shows the University of Sheffield.

2014.07.05

Today marks the start of the 101st Tour de France. Why would this be significant to George and Rosanna? Well, this year’s Tour kicks off in Yorkshire, England, a county adjacent to Lancashire. Stage 1 begins in the town of Leeds, passing through Ripon, the Yorkshire Dales and Skipton before ending in Harrogate.

Shown above are two postcards from Rosanna’s collection. The top one shows Ripon Cathedral. For the Downton Abbey fans, Ripon is where Mathew Crawley’s office was located and where Lady Sybil was hurt during a socialist riot.

The second postcard is a WWI era card from Skipton. The town of Skipton is a mere 20 miles away from George and Rosanna’s birthplace of Clitheroe and is also 20 miles from Burnley, where they both moved to in the 1880’s. 

2014.07.04

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

2014.06.28

Sunday, June 28, 1914 was not a typical Sunday for Rosanna Swales. Although she most likely went to mass as usual, her prayer requests this week would surely be different. She and her 7 year old son Bernard would be leaving from Boston in two days aboard the steamship Cymric destined for Burnley, England to visit her ailing mother. Despite her mother’s illness, Rosanna was looking forward to the trip. It had been two years since she had last seen her mother, sisters, brother and all the nieces and nephews. A few months in Lancashire would be a real treat!

Rosanna probably spent the rest of the day packing, making last minute preparations and saying good bye to friends and family. By days end, had she heard about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand? If not, she definitely would find out the next morning. I wonder how much attention she paid to it. Did she have any idea that the deaths of Franz Ferdinand and his wife would trigger a war that would change the lives of tens of millions of people all over the world, including her own?

2014.05.31

One of the most intriguing photos in Rosanna’s collection is the group picture shown above. Based on what I have learned over the years about George and Rosanna’s lives and family, I have been able to make some basic observations and educated guesses as to the who, what and where of this photo. 

First of all, George, Rosanna and their young son, Bernard, are members of this group. George is standing in the top row, far left and Bernard is standing in front of him. Bernard’s little head can be seen between two men in the middle row. Rosanna is seated in the first row, second from the right. Bernard, who was born in 1907, appears to be somewhere between 5-8 years old, which means this photo probably was taken between 1912-1915.

Also in the top row, 4th from the left through 8th from the left are George’s five nieces, Mary Lizzie Slattery, Mary Ellen Malone, Nellie Slattery, Norah Slattery and Catherine Slattery. Standing in the second row directly in front of Mary Ellen Malone is George’s nephew, Frank Slattery. I’m pretty sure that George’s three sisters, Catherine Swales, Rose Malone, and Eliza Whipp, as well as Eliza’s husband, Richard Whipp, are also in the photo. My hunch in that the woman to the right of Rosanna is Eliza.

All of the people that I have identified have something in common. They all emigrated from Burnley, England to Fall River, Massachusetts. Through my research I learned that there was a British Club in Fall River. I also came across a book, Constant Turmoil:The Politics of Industrial Life in Nineteenth-century New England, written by Mary H. Blewett. The author mentions a large Burnley reunion in Fall River on April, 27, 1912 at the McKinley Hall, Weavers’ Building that drew over 800 people. So, my guess was that the above photo came from that reunion.

This past week, while searching online through the British Newspaper Archives for something completely different, I decided to query the keywords Fall River Burnley reunion. To my delight, the results returned articles from the Burnley Examiner about Fall River-Burnley reunions for 1912, 1913 and 1914, complete with details of the event as well as the members of the various committees that organized the reunion. And what a surprise it was when I read the list of committee members for the 1914 reunion: on the General Committee, George Swales; on the Floor Committee, Frank Slattery; on the Table Committee, Catherine Slattery, Norah Slattery, Mary E. Malone, Ellen (Nellie) Slattery, and Mrs. Swales (Rosanna). The text of the 1914 article is shown above. George was also on the General Committee for 1912. The 1913 reunion was held in New Bedford and run by people from that city rather than the Fall Riverites.

The write up about the 1912 event describes a souvenir given to all attendees.

"In addition a special medallion of the Burnley coat-of-arms in enamels, was struck, this being pinned to a blue bow and ribbon, with the gilt inscription, "Burnley People’s Re-union, Fall River, Mass. April 27, 1912."

If you look closely at everyone in the above photo, they all are wearing a ribbon with a bow and medallion attached. So, I think it’s safe to say that this photo was indeed taken at a Burnley Reunion, most likely the one in 1912.  

I’m not done investigating this topic though. I’ll be making a trip soon to the Fall River Public Library to check for more information about the reunion in the microfilmed copies of the city’s newspapers. 

2014.05.20

On Wednesday, May 20, 1891, eighteen year old George T. Swales and his seven year old niece, Mary Ellen, boarded the City of Richmond steamship at the Liverpool Landing Stage. The two were bound for the New York City harbor and from there would travel to Jamestown, New York in the remote western county of Chautauqua. In Jamestown they would meet up with George’s sister Rose, the mother of little Mary Ellen. Rose had emigrated to the area the previous summer.
For more information on Jamestown and why Rose may have moved there, check out this previous post.
Little did anyone know, the voyage from May 20 to May 30 would be the last Liverpool-Queenstown to New York trip that the City of Richmond would ever make. Half way into its return from New York back to Queenstown and Liverpool, fire broke out spontaneously in the cargo hold among the 2000 bales of cotton meant for the Lancashire textile district. Luckily, the crew acted quickly and by forcing water and steam into the ship’s hold, were able to contain the fire. The cotton continued to smolder for the remainder of the trip. The above photo shows the actual cover of the weekly newspaper, The Graphic, for June 20,1891. A passenger’s sketch inspired the drawing of the flaming cotton bales being extinguished on the night the fire was discovered. For a June 14, 1891 article regarding the fire, check out this link.

On Wednesday, May 20, 1891, eighteen year old George T. Swales and his seven year old niece, Mary Ellen, boarded the City of Richmond steamship at the Liverpool Landing Stage. The two were bound for the New York City harbor and from there would travel to Jamestown, New York in the remote western county of Chautauqua. In Jamestown they would meet up with George’s sister Rose, the mother of little Mary Ellen. Rose had emigrated to the area the previous summer.

For more information on Jamestown and why Rose may have moved there, check out this previous post.

Little did anyone know, the voyage from May 20 to May 30 would be the last Liverpool-Queenstown to New York trip that the City of Richmond would ever make. Half way into its return from New York back to Queenstown and Liverpool, fire broke out spontaneously in the cargo hold among the 2000 bales of cotton meant for the Lancashire textile district. Luckily, the crew acted quickly and by forcing water and steam into the ship’s hold, were able to contain the fire. The cotton continued to smolder for the remainder of the trip. The above photo shows the actual cover of the weekly newspaper, The Graphic, for June 20,1891. A passenger’s sketch inspired the drawing of the flaming cotton bales being extinguished on the night the fire was discovered. For a June 14, 1891 article regarding the fire, check out this link.

2014.05.14

The Blackpool Tower, in Blackpool, Lancashire opened 120 years ago today. 
The city of Blackpool was a popular summer vacation destination of the Lancashire textile workers from the mid 1800’s through the most of the 1900’s.  The seaside city was one of George and Rosanna’s favorite places to spend the traditional “wakes week” holiday when they lived in Lancashire.
The above postcard is one of many Blackpool cards from Rosanna’s collection. 
For more information on the 120th anniversary of the Blackpool Tower, check out this article in the Blackpool Gazette.

The Blackpool Tower, in Blackpool, Lancashire opened 120 years ago today. 

The city of Blackpool was a popular summer vacation destination of the Lancashire textile workers from the mid 1800’s through the most of the 1900’s.  The seaside city was one of George and Rosanna’s favorite places to spend the traditional “wakes week” holiday when they lived in Lancashire.

The above postcard is one of many Blackpool cards from Rosanna’s collection. 

For more information on the 120th anniversary of the Blackpool Tower, check out this article in the Blackpool Gazette.

2014.05.03

Happy 112th Anniversary to George and Rosanna!

On May 3, 1902, George Thomas Swales and Rosanna Cuppello were married at St. Mary of the Assumption, a Roman Catholic church in Burnley, Lancashire, England. Recorded in the parish register as witnesses to the marriage were Rosanna’s brother Frank Cuppello and his future wife, Jane Ann Weatherhead.

Pictured above are 3 photos of George and Rosanna all taken after the couple emigrated to Fall River, MA.

2014.05.02

Ninety nine years ago today, Private Joseph Cuppello was killed by a sniper’s bullet on a battlefield in France during World War I. Joe was the son of Rosanna’s brother Ned and his wife Jane.

Lance Corporal J. Judge, a friend of Joseph’s who was with him at the time of his death, wrote the following to Joseph’s mother:

Regrettable as it is to me I feel it to be my duty to let you know that the death of your son came quite unexpectedly. He was killed whilst passing a joke with me about 11 o’clock this morning by a sniper’s bullet. I may mention that death was instantaneous, and he received the best burial we, as chums, could give him under the circumstances. Enclosed you will find a letter, the last written by your boy, also the badge which he cherished so much. Do not be sorely depressed, as your son died a soldier’s death, and that is what we are here for. Being of the same faith as myself, I said the ‘prayers for the dying’ whilst he was breathing his last. Hoping his soul is in Heaven, and that this letter will find you all right.

Pictured above from Rosanna’s collection is a newspaper clipping announcing Joseph’s death. Also shown above is a photo of Joseph Cuppello (seated right) and his younger brother John. John served in WWI as well and is mentioned in the newspaper clipping. In less than 8 months after Joseph’s death, John too was killed. The photo of the two brothers comes courtesy of John’s grandchildren, Jane and John.