Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cultural Exchange: An Irish & a Canadian in Puerto Rico [Part 2]

We were able to learn a lot about Martha Elizabeth Derby but what about Stuart Burns? Who was he and what can we learn more about him?

We do know that Stuart and Martha E. left Puerto Rico together in the year 1911 and arrived to New York on the 23rd of March, 1911 by finding their names on a ship manifest on Ancestry.

Mr. & Mrs. Stuart Jost Burns - Manifest, 1911 [Ancestry]

Was the island life too difficult for them (ex: humidity, hurricanes, and economic difficulties)? Or was this just a shotgun wedding on a tropical island and they later returned to the mainland?

Heading up to Canada

Looking for Stuart, I was able to come across a son of "W Fletcher Burns and Henrietta" in St John's, Newfoundland, Canada. This son's name was Norman Fletcher Burns who was born the 2nd of June 1895. Interestingly enough, we were able to learn that W Fletcher Burns was a dentist by profession. He is also listed in a book I found in Google with a Thesis on "Salivary Calculus".

William Fletcher Burns - Nova Scotia Dentist [Google]

With this information we were able to find a 1901 Canadian Census that lists William F. Burns, a dentist, with his wife Henrietta and their four children, one of them listed as "Stewart" born the 31st of January 1878, which I'm very certain is the same man who marries in Puerto Rico in 1909 to Martha Elizabeth Derby. Now we can dig in deeper into the Burns family!

We learn that Henrietta's maiden name was Jost through her death record explaining Stuart's middle name in his marriage record in Puerto Rico. Henrietta passed away the 4th of March 1936, widowed in Ontario, Canada the daughter of James Jost and Ann Burke, both from Canada. With that we find Henrietta Jost living in 1871 with her parents and siblings in Nova Scotia, listed as Methodists.

Jost Family - 1871 Canada Census [Ancestry]

Also in the 1871 Canadian Census we are able to find Fletcher living with his parents Stewart Burns and Susan, both parents seem to be Irish and we see that Fletcher at 22 was already working as a dentist.

William Fletcher Burns later marries on the 24th of October 1876 in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Henrietta Mary Jost and he later dies on the 5th of October 1922 in the same town.

Burns Family - 1871 Census [Ancestry]

I'm not sure however when Stuart/Stewart passed away, we know that it would have to be before 1930 and after 1911 but I have not been able to find a death record. My main question is: Why come to Puerto Rico? What was there for them? Why not venture up to Nova Scotia where Stewart's family was from or stay in Philadelphia where Martha's family lived? It also seems that Stewart and Martha Elizabeth had no children from their marriage since Martha in 1930 is living just with her sister and no children.

Martha Elizabeth would pass away the 17th of July 1950 in Philadelphia, PA. It states the same birthday like the same we saw in Ireland (6th of April 1870), her parents (Thomas Derby and Mary Elizabeth) and that she was widowed at the time of her death. Her sister Rebecca Derby reported the death.

It's very interesting how Stewart Burns and Martha Elizabeth Derby ended up in Puerto Rico for just one census and makes me wonder what made them jump on a boat and head to this little island in the Caribbean far away from Philadelphia and Nova Scotia. There is always much to learn and this is case the question still lingers, why brought these two to the Caribbean -- a question I can definitely ask about some of my own ancestors. 

Cultural Exchange: An Irish & a Canadian in Puerto Rico [Part 1]

It's interesting to see who has lived on the island of Puerto Rico and their lives there. Not everyone that moved to the island stayed, some would hop over to another Caribbean islands, while others (especially in more recent years) would decide to move to the United States to find new opportunities. In an attempt to learn more about the people who have lived in Puerto Rico, either my family or not, whenever I find foreigners I am always interested about their life and how they happened perchance to find Puerto Rico. This post will be about a couple who lived in Puerto Rico in 1910 named Stuart J. Burns and his Martha E. Derby.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - 1910 Census  [Ancestry]

This couple as you can see has origins in Nova Scotia/Canada and Ireland. Searching for their marriage record gave me a bit more information on them. Stuart and Martha Elizabeth were married in San Juan, PR on the 17th of June 1909, Stuart (born about 1878) was the son of W. Fletcher Burns and Henrietta Barus? while Martha Elizabeth Derby (born about 1872) was the daughter Thomas Derby and MarĂ­a (Mary) Elizabeth, and we know that Martha E. had resided in Philadelphia according to this marriage record. With that information we were able to learn about more about Martha Elizabeth and her life before arriving to Puerto Rico.

Irish in Philly

According to records, it seems that Martha Elizabeth was born in Ireland and immigrated with her parents and siblings to the USA where they would settle into Philadelphia, PA. On Ancestry, I was able to find the baptism record for a "Martha Derby" born on the 6th of April 1870 (within the range we had of 1872) in Cookstown, Tyrone, Ireland to parents Thomas Derby and Mary Elizabeth Lytle (same parents' names). 

Irish Baptism - Mary Derby, 1870 [Ancestry]

Cookstown is located in what is today Northern Ireland in County Tyrone as shown in the image below. The town is across the lake "Lough Naugh" and Belfast. Even though Martha Elizabeth was born in Cookstown, according to Thomas' marriage record in 1867, they had been living in Magherafelt, a town not too far from Cookstown and probably the town of origin for Thomas Derby and Mary Elizabeth Lytle. 

Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland [Google Images]

Knowing this information we were able to find an immigration record for the family from Londonderry, Northern Ireland to New York and we can see that Martha is listed her parents with Thomas, Mary E. and other siblings. The family would have immigrated in 1893, when Martha Elizabeth Derby was 23 years old to the United States.
UK Passenger Record - Derby Family [Ancestry]

The next record we would find is the 1900 Census record, which shows us that Mary Elizabeth would already be widowed with 8 children, meaning that Thomas died somewhere between their voyage and this first census the family appeared on. A death record appears for Thomas Derby showing the same address where Mary Elizabeth Lytle had been living with the children (2226 N 12th St) in Philadelphia. I imagine it was difficult for Mary E. to have lost her husband and so early in their lives in America, plus living with eight children could be a burden (luckily the youngest one Frederick was only 13 years old). It states that Thomas Derby died on the 5th of November 1897 at about the age of 59 years old (born about 1838), meaning that Thomas died only 5 short years after arriving in the USA. Thomas is buried in the North Cedar Hills Cemetery in Philly.

In the 1910 Census Mary Elizabeth Lytle is living with only five of her children, as we know Martha E. would be living in Puerto Rico with her husband Stuart Burns, and later in 1920 with just two children. Mary Elizabeth Lytle would later pass away on the 18th of October 1923 in Philadelphia listed as a housewife and the daughter of James Lytle and Martha Mullen, both of Ireland. Interestingly enough, her death also appears in the "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar", meaning she probably left some sort of will. 

Mary Elizabeth 'Lytle' Derby - Probate Calendar [Ancestry]

The next time we see Martha Elizabeth is in the 1930 Census record listed in Philadelphia with her sister Rebecca Derby and Martha E. is listed as widowed. What happened with Stuart Burns and their marriage? Why did they end up leaving Puerto Rico? Or did she leave alone?… [To Be Continued]