Elizabeth Newbery neé Thornton

Elizabeth Newbery
Birthabt 25 Dec 1884 - 24 Dec 1885
Deathabt 1956 Q1 Northumberland South, 1b 491
Marriage24 Dec 1910, Hetton Le Hole, Durham, England

I have some pictures, given to me by my father, of his mother Elizabeth. Curiously, they are labelled Elizabeth Houghton. Curious, because I have a copy of the marriage certificate (Q4 1910 10 a 954) and unless there is another Arthur Newbery marrying Elizabeth around that time (and a BMD search has so far shown nothing), that would seem to be her. It might, I suppose, have something to do with her being married in the district of Houghton (Le Spring).

Her father is recorded on the marriage certificate as William Thornton. So, it should be easy to find her details. Alas, this is not so far proving to be the case.

She was 25 at the time of her marriage, so that puts her date of birth from 25 Dec 1884 - 24 Dec 1885. There are no likely candidates that I can find, nor can I find her in the 1901 census. I thought I had her details, but when I got the birth certificate for Elizabeth Thornton, b 9 June 1885 it shows her mother as Thornton and no father. Since she had a father called William Thornton at the time of her marriage, I'm guessing that this isn't her.

Other Photos


Obviously taken about the same time as the last. No, I don't know who the other person is, although I suspect it could be one my father's aunts: Catherine (Kate) STRAUGHAN.


With dog…


…and cat (I have some other photos with her and the same cat.


and finally, this very early picture. Alas, all of the pictures are undated.

Uncle John

Dad mentioned an "Uncle John" who lived in America. I recall Dad writing to him, and, as I recall, not getting a reply. However, when I started looking into the family tree, there is no-one called John. Certainly no uncles that I could see, nor great-uncles, nor indeed any likely looking male relatives. However, when I went though his address book, I found the following entry (which is also the only entry with a U.S.A. address):

Mr. John Watson
733 Garfield Ave
Colorado 80027

Does this ring any bells? Louisville CO was a coal mining town (with, apparently, a reputation for violence. The coal ran out in the 1950s). As a lot of the family were coal miners, one of them ending up in a Colorado coal town seems quite reasonable. But, who is he? If you can help me find Dad's Uncle John, I'd be most pleased.

Update: Found, but relationship uncertain

I'm pretty sure I've located John Watson, and his probable relationship to Elizabeth Thornton (I'm guessing 1st cousin), but I've come to a stop without being able to confirm the relationship. This is what I learned…

US Federal Census

The 1940 US Federal Census is now on-line, although as of now (April 2012) only the scanned images of the original forms are available for most states. Nevertheless, with a street address to go by, this is not too much of a burden.

Indeed, John shows up nicely on Garfield Ave, together with his wife (Ada), no children, and various other useful pieces of information: his birthdate and place (abt 1890, England), occupation (Coal miner) and residence five years previously! In Iowa.

Armed with that information, it was easy to find him in previous US Federal Censuses, and also find his immigration and naturalisation details. Plus his birth details from assorted vital records (b 1 Dec 1890, Houghton Le Spring. d Feb 1978). All of which puts him in the right time and place to be related to Elizabeth.

Iowa Census

Since he was in Iowa in 1925, he also was recorded in the 1925 Iowa state census. And that census asked a lot more questions than the federal census. In particular, the names, and ages, of both parents—including mother's maiden name. So now I have:

father John WATSON; mother Maryann TANTON
Adah(sic) WHITE
father Chas WHITE; mother Jane GESCALL

I drew a blank then. I could find no signs of a John WATSON marrying a Maryann—or Mary Ann—TANTON. Indeed, I could find little sign of the unusual TANTON name around Durham. And then I thought, if the census enumerator apparently turned "Ada" into "Adah", did that mean she misheard a Geordie accent? Does an Iowan hear Geordie "Thorton" as "Tanton"?

Current Status

And that's as far as I've got. I suspect that John WATSON's mother was the sister of Elizabeth's father, William THORNTON, but I've been unable to join up the relationship. In fact, I suspect that I've got the wrong William Thornton in my tree. I've not found any likely candidates for John and Elizabeth's presumed mutual grandparents, so far. The hunt is on!

Page last modified: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 at 10:28 PM +1200