Joe, Mimi and Mary (G-mom) Cousins, ca 1915
This heading has a dual meaning for me this time. Not only is it G-mom Caterson’s maiden name, but also one of the benefits of doing family history research, hence the name of this blog.
G-mom’s father’s name was Arthur Basil Cousins. He married the original Mimi (Mary Ann Enz) back in 1906. I got very little information about him from G-mom, first because he and Mimi divorced in the 19-teens and secondly as he was a British citizen, he returned to England to stay.
From everything we've heard about Arthur, he was a classic ne’er-do-well. I found references to him being an insurance agent, but it seems as though he’d never really worked hard at anything. Apparently he was quite spoiled being the baby of the family.
One of the few things that G-mom told me was about when he took her and her brother Joe to England to visit his family in 1914. They went on the Mauretania, sister ship to the doomed Lusitania. (Read about the ship HERE)
While they were in England, apparently he decided that he wasn’t bringing them back to the US. When Mimi found out, she set out to earn enough money to travel to England and bring the kids home. Unfortunately World War I had broken out so travel to England was difficult., if not downright dangerous.
Just imagine poor Mimi working so hard back here in Philadelphia to get her children back during a time of war. It must’ve been heartbreaking.
G-mom also told me that he served in France as a translator from 1914 through 1916 and had achieved the rank of sergeant major. I wrote to the military records department in London 20 years ago and never received any information about him. (I do have his brother's military/pension record.)
After she did retrieve little Joe and Mary, they never really saw Arthur again. Mimi’s sister told me a story about Arthur coming here in 1935, knocking on Mimi ‘s door and asking her mother, who happened to be there, if he could wait. Arthur asked Mimi if they could get back together - she told him to get lost ha ha! He then went to Joe’s place of work and waited outside for him. Joe saw him, said “Hello, Dad.” Arthur said “You know me? “And Joe said “Yeah, I want nothing to do with you.”
No one ever really knew what happened to him after that. I found the passenger lists from when he left the US that time. It seems he traveled to the Canadian border, wanting to go to Quebec. He was turned away for some reason, and not allowed to enter the country. Some interesting information was on this passenger record such as the amount of money he was carrying ($110), what he was planning to do in the country (singer), and that he was traveling with a musician. I wonder what was up with that?!
Canada Border Report
G-mom told me she thought he died in 1938 or 1939. Again I have never confirmed that. (I think I found a death recorded in 1951 that may be him.
So last week, I’m hunting around on Ancestry.com trying to find something about our Arthur. It really bugged me that I knew so little about my great-grandfather. I know G-mom wasn’t very comfortable talking about him for obvious reasons. Anywho, Ancestry.com has just added some UK vital records to their database and who should pop up but our wayward Arthur Basil Cousins. It was a baptism record from a church in London and showed his parents names! (G mom had said they were Frederick and Hazel, but that was incorrect. He did have a brother Frederick though.) I had found an index listing to his baptism years ago, wrote to the UK for it and got nothing.
Arthur's Baptism Record, 1882
I kept digging through UK Census & church records and soon discovered his siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents! YIPPEE!
Here is what I now know: Arthur was born in London in 1881 or 1882, his baptism was 16 April 1882 at St Paul Lorrimore Church, which was bombed in WW2 and later rebuilt. His father was Charles, his mother Martha (Hassell) – see the whole line (so far) HERE.
St Paul's, Lorrimore ca 1860
He had two sisters, Florence & Kate and 2 brothers, Frederick & Henry. The sisters never married, both were teachers, Florence was the headmistress for a girl’s boarding school. I found a marriage record for Frederick in 1913. The most recent full Census available is 1901, where his siblings are all living in someone else's homes, as visitors or boarders. Very odd.
(SIDEBAR: G-mom told my mother that they stayed with those sisters while in England, and received some things after they died, including a pearl necklace my mother stlll has!)
Arthur’s father was Charles, Jr. and he had 1 brother and 2 sisters. The family were all residents of Frome, Somerset, England, as was their mother, Louisa. Frome was big in the textile industry at the time – both families were weavers.
The town of Frome
The family moved to London after Charles’ father, Charles, Sr. died in 1863. He owned a China and glass shop, which they apparently sold before moving (you can read his will HERE).
I also discovered a third cousin researching the same family that is still living in the UK. Her name is Adrienne and she descends from Arthur’s father’s brother Robert Payne Cousins. Her grandfather and Arthur were first cousins. Her grandfather met a sad end as a merchant marine…read the story HERE.
Adrienne thought that Charles Jr. & Martha had emigrated to the US or Canada, as she can’t find their death records in England. But I found Martha traveling to NY_in 1912 and back. Her destination was New Jersey (where Mimi & Arthur lived at the time) and listed her as a widow. Frederick’s marriage record in 1913 listed his father as deceased too. We’ll have to keep looking – a lot of stuff in the UK was destroyed by bombing.
AND I need to find Arthur’s gravestone…I love that stuff !
You can see more documents HERE.
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