Sunday, 27 July 2008

Sarah Ann Spurdle (Dorothy / Dot) and her move to the USA

I have always been interested in Sydney's daughter Sarah Ann Spurdle because other than the fact that she emigrated to the United States I know nothing about her. Confusingly she was known in the family as Dorothy or Dot but they were both one and the same people. I have always been very impressed by the fact that she emigrated alone - she must have had some guts to take that leap into the unknown.

I have been trying to find out more and have managed to track her down to the SS Cedric that sailed from Liverpool to New York on October 3rd 1925 and arrived on October 13th.  She is listed as Sarah Ann Spurdle aged 30, a cook who was living in Leeds. So evidently she had already left North Wales behind before she moved abroad. Her final destination was listed as San Francisco, so once in New York she faced a long trek to California. What I also found interesting was the name and address of her nearest relative - her father Sydney had died in 1918 and her grandmother Sarah Start (formerly Wetherell) had died in 1913, but I believe she still had her older brother Herbert and half-brothers and half-sisters, the oldest of which would have been Sid aged 18 years old. And yet she names Simon Start as her nearest relative even though he is not a blood relative. Simon was the second husband of Sarah Wetherell and it would seem that Sarah Ann Spurdle had a close relationship with him - he must have seemed like her own grandfather. His address is interesting too - he's back in Axmouth, Devon where he came from. He must have moved back after his wife Sarah died.

I wonder if Sarah Ann Spurdle was feeling very much alone in the world with the death of her father and grandmother, the move to Axmouth by her step-grandfather and the marraige of her brother Herbert in 1913? He had started a family and she was still single - and of course there was a shortage of young men after the first world war, so as she got older the likelihood of her landing a husband might have seemed slim.  Her half-brothers and half-sisters were a lot younger than her so I don't know how close she was to them, particularly if she was living in Leeds while they were growing up. But I think there is also ways pull factors as well as push factors when you emigrate, and the USA must have seemed a great adventure. I think that the picture I have of her is taken in America, and the dress and hair date the picture to the 1920s and seem to show that she was very much into fashion.

I have looked for her in San Francisco but I am not sure if I have found her. There is an Ann Spurdle on the 1930 USA census living in San Francisco in Assembly District 24. She is aged 34, which would be about right, and she is working in a factory. I can't read the squiggle that says what her job is but I think the last word is operator. She is down as the head of the family and seems to be living alone. Of course this may not be her, but I have a feeling it is. I can't find any other mention of her, I've tried looking for Sarah Ann, Sarah, Ann and Dorothy/Dot  Spurdle. I think I remember - long, long ago - my grandmother telling me that Sarah Ann had married but that she had no children, and she thought she was living in Florida up to the early 1970s.  A few years ago her half-sister Caroline, now sadly deceased, said she remembered her as a very smart, fashionable woman. She also believed that she had married but had no children. It seems very sad that my family lost touch with Sarah Ann. I wonder if she maintained better contact with her Wetherell /Start relatives?

I know it is much longer trek from the UK to the USA than from Dorset to North Wales, but her parents move across the country might have inspired her to take this chance, and/or perhaps North Wales never really felt like home even though she was born there. I hope she had a great life in the United States, she deserved it for taking the brave step of moving there and beginning a new life.


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