I’ve always been interested in knowing more about my ancestors, but with little info to go on, didn’t think I ever would. My dad was adopted and my mom’s paternal side was a bit of a mystery, as my grandfather was raised by foster parents. When my dad passed away in 2011, I was tasked with settling his estate. One of the surprises I discovered was that he owned a share in a piece of property he had inherited from his adopted father. I was curious to see how my grandfather was related to the woman he inherited it from and I signed up for a free trial of a genealogy website. I quickly found what I was looking for, and, while I had the free trial, decided to look up Mom’s family. I was hooked on genealogy from that moment on!
Family lore has it that James did not get along with his step-father. The fact that his sister Annie, daughter of Anne and Alfred, was enumerated with Anne’s brother Robert and his family on the 1891 census seems to support this by suggesting Anne’s children did not have a relationship with their stepfather. In 1891, Anne was living 12 hours away from her daughter with her new husband and stepchildren. On 3 May, 1890, 17 year old James boarded the ship, Servia, in Liverpool, England. The ship, bound for New York, had a total of 1050 passengers and crew. While the ship had provisions for 32 days, they arrived in New York 9 days later on 12 May, 1890. I can’t imagine being at sea for 9 days. I wonder if James suffered from seasickness like his great great grandaughter does.
James settled in Rhode Island and married Rose McKenna. Rose was born in Rhode Island to Irish immigrants. To parents born during the Famine, it was unthinkable that their daughter would marry an Englishman, and family legend has it that Rose was disowned by her family. The legend goes on to say that James ran into his mother-in-law in Providence one day, and asked her to return home with him to meet her grandchild. She refused, and he picked her up and carried her to his home. I hope this story is true; I like to picture her slung across his shoulder like a sack of potatoes!
James and Rose settled in Providence and had 12 children. The family moved to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston in April of 1912. My great grandmother was 11 at the time of the move, and always remembered that the day after they arrived in Boston, her father read about the sinking of the Titanic in the newspaper. My great grandmother’s former classmate had been on the ship and, though his body was never identified, was presumed dead. The family remained in Boston until at least September of 1917 when the last of the children was born. The 1919 Providence City Directory lists James and 2 of his children. The Directory for 1918 does not have any of the Marsden family in Providence, so it is likely they returned during the time between the 1918 and 1919 directories being compiled.