Ethel Leyshon 1895-1969

Ethel Leyshon was born 7 March, 1895, in Caerphilly, Glamorgan, Wales.  Her parents were Christopher Leyshon and Elizabeth Woodland.  She had older siblings, Annie Mary born in 1892 and John Henry born in 1894.  The 1901 census shows the family on Bartlett Street of Eglwysilan (parish of St. Martin’s).  Christopher was a coal miner.  Although Elizabeth was born in England, she (along with Christopher) spoke both English and Welsh.  The children spoke only English.

In 1911, the family lived at 52 Cardiff Road in Caerphilly in Wales. This was a six room house.   The census shows that Ethel’s older sister Annie died between 1901 and 1911, and there is an Anna Mary Leyshon who was buried in 1902 at Caerphilly St. Martin.  Ethel’s father and brother John were both coal mine hewers.  The hewer is the person responsible for actually digging the coal, loosening it from the coal bed.

Senghenydd Colliery Disaster of 14 October 1913 killed 439 miners and one rescuer, near Caerphilly.  I don’t know what mine Christopher and John worked in, but this explosion, the worst mining accident in the UK, must have killed friends and maybe even family members.  Perhaps this disaster helped Christopher and Elizabeth decide to move to the United States.  Or perhaps they hoped to avoid the Great War, which started in July 1914.

Ethel sailed with her parents on the SS Tuscania, leaving Liverpool on 16 October, 1915.  The Tuscania was a new ship, a luxury liner only a year old.  (On 5 February, 1918, the Tuscania was carrying 2000 American troops from New Jersey to Liverpool, England, across the North Atlantic.  The ship was torpedoed, and sank in about four hours, with a lost of 210 men.)

The ship’s manifest lists Christopher as a collier, and they could all read and write.  They arrived in New York on 26 October, 1915.  They were on their way to Youngstown, Ohio, with only $30, to meet up with their son John, who had emigrated in 1914 and was already working in the steel industry.  The passenger list indicates that Ethel was medically certified as having Rigg’s disease, or gum disease, resulting in loss of teeth.  This was recorded for several of the passengers on this same passenger sheet.  A person who was medically certified was at risk for not being allowed entry into the US.  I don’t know if this certification prevented Ethel’s entry at this time.

Christopher and Elizabeth did reach Youngstown, and were counted in the 1920 census there.  Christopher worked in the steel industry.  Ethel was not in that household and I have not yet found her in the 1920 census.  Christopher and Elizabeth were listed in the 1926 Youngstown city directory, living at 20 Edwards.  Both John and Christopher were employed by the Ohio Works – a steel company.  The 1927 directory includes Ethel, living with her parents.

On 7 May 1928, Ethel married Charles Winfield Chick, in Youngstown.  Charles was the son of Caleb and Augusta Chick, born in 1889 in Maine.  Charles was a sailor, sometimes in the Navy, sometimes in the Merchant Marine, sometimes working at the Navy Yard.  I’m not sure what brought him to Youngstown, but perhaps his experience working in the Navy Yard made him a candidate for a job in the steel industry.

Ethel’s father Christopher died on 28 September 1928 in Youngstown, of brocho pneumonia.  Ethel and Charles, and her mother Elizabeth, moved to Lynn, Massachusetts.  About a year into her marriage, Ethel discovered letters that made her suspicious that Charles had other wives.  She reported him to the police, and they were able to track him down to another woman’s residence, where he was in the process of proposing to yet another potential bride.

The investigation revealed that Charles had been married in 1907 to Rosie in Massachusetts,  in 1911 to Leona in Florida, in 1919 to Loretta in Maine, and in 1923 to Hilda, also in Maine, before marrying Ethel in 1928 in Ohio, and none of the prior wives were divorced from him, nor deceased.  Charles reportedly had a wife named Yvette in Paris, and perhaps even a wife in Cuba, and in the Panama Canal Zone.

Charles had apparently wooed the women with Biblical and other quotations to the effect that “If a man and a woman cannot agree after marriage he shall go to the farthest corner of the earth and find another woman and she shall do the same.” That was apparently the process that Charles followed, without bothering to get a divorce.

At the trial in 1929, five of the wives, including Ethel, testified against Charles, and he eventually admitted to having seven wives.  He was sentenced to a year in prison.  Afterwards, Charles married three more times, and he died in 1958 in Maine.

The 1930 census lists Ethel and her mother living at 60 Howard street in Lynn.  Ethel was a garment factory stitcher.  By 1935, they had moved to 14 Cleveland and the 1940 census lists Ethel as an inspector for a sewing project.  This was as a government employee in a Works Progress Administration job.  The projects taught women to use sewing machines, and they made clothing and bedding for hospitals and orphanages.

The last record I have for Ethel’s mother is a listing in the 1941 Lynn city directory.  After that, she may have died, or moved back to Youngstown, OH, to be near her son.  In 1945, Ethel lived at 49 Campbell Terrace, and her mother was not listed with her.

While still living in Caerphilly, Ethel had become friends with a young man named William Charles Carnell (or Carnall) who was working in the nearby mines in the Aber Valley. When the war of 1914 started, William went to France.  He was blinded at Loos in September of 1915.  Ethel’s family moved to the  US in October 1915.  William was released from the Army  and went to St. Dunstan’s, a facility developed to help train those blinded in the war.  William became a successful poultry farmer in Kiln Cottage, Bampton, Devon.  Over the years, Ethel made numerous attempts to locate him, and eventually was able to establish correspondence with William.  In about 1943, they agreed to marry, but because of the war-time restrictions, she was not able to travel back to England.  In October, 1946, she traveled on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth’s first peace-time voyage from the US to England, and Ethel and William were married 21 November 1946 at the Methodist Church in Bampton.

William died 6 Jan 1962 in Tiverton, Devonshire, England.  He left his estate valued at £2391 to his widow Ethel.  His death was reported in St. Dunstan’s Review, a sort of alumni newsletter from the facility for blind soldiers that he attended when released from the army:  Lance Corporal William Charles Carnall, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles.  It is with deep regret that we record the death of W. C. Carnall, of Bampton, Devon.  He was  69.  Enlisting in September, 1914, he left the Army in February, 1916, and came straight to St. Dunstan’s where he trained in boot repairing and poultry keeping.  He continued with this work and was still keeping poultry up to August, 1960.  He had intended to renew his stock but in the autumn of 1961 his health broke down and in October, he went to Pearson House.  He became seriously ill but returned home at his own wish on November 10th, where he died on January 6th.  Our deep sympathy  goes out to Mrs. Carnall, who was Billy’s second wife, but whose friendship with our St. Dunstaner went back some forty years before their marriage in 1946.  At the outbreak of war in 1914 he had gone to France and Miss Leyshon, as she was then, went to the United States. 

Ethel died in December, 1969, in Cardiff, Wales.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: