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. 

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