52ancestorsGenealogist Amy Johnson Crow, who blogs at No Story Too Small, has set a challenge to write about one ancestor each week. I’ve decided to take up that challenge to wake up my (somewhat) languishing blog, but to honor my ancestors. I plan to post every week on Sunday, and I encourage others to join the challenge with me.

He Wishes He Was There Now (in America)

Several ancestor postings ago (#18), I wrote about Emma Flexton (1857 – 1926), who was married to my great-great uncle Nelson James Mason. Her sister, Lucy, had left Wiltshire, England for Australia. In 1907, Emma wrote a letter to her niece Linda, Lucy’s daughter.

I’ve been intrigued by something that Emma said in her letter. She tells Linda that we have got a lot of relatives in America and your uncle… as [has] got 2 Brothers there with families.

Letter from Emma Flexton Mason to her niece in Australia, Linda Kerslake.

Letter from Emma Flexton Mason to her niece in Australia, Linda Kerslake.

The Mason family is my mother’s paternal line, and all of them are either from Wiltshire, England, or Monmouthshire (now Gwent), Wales. I had never known there were any relatives of my mother’s in America. If there were, she certainly did not know of them. So I set to work on finding out who these “2 brothers” could be, and where they might have gone to in America.

Nelson James Mason, as far as I have determined, had three brothers:

Frank William Mason (1845 – 1921)
Albert Mason (1848 – xxxx)
Prince Mason (1851 – 1868)

I could cross off Frank William Mason, as he is my great-great grandfather and I know he lived in Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire from birth until about the age of 45. Then he moved to Wales, where my great-grandfather was born in 1869. Frank died in Wales in 1921.

Prince Mason I knew had died in Westbury, Wiltshire in 1868, when he was 17.

So I only had one brother left who might have gone to America. Why Emma said two, I don’t know. Unless perhaps she was loosely referring to a brother-in-law rather than a brother? In any case, I then started searching for Albert Mason.

I should dearly like to see that country myself you know we have got a lot of relatives in America. I have been invited to come out there but I could never make up my mind to go. Your Uncle as been out there but it is a good many years ago. He after says he wishes he was there now but I do not expect he will ever go.

I found him, but not in America. Instead, he had emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada. He departed on the S.S. Sarmatian from Liverpool on May 14, 1886 for Quebec, along with his daughters Sarah, Elizabeth and Rebecca, and his sons Albert and William. Their ages ranged from 13 to 3. Imagine an Atlantic crossing with 5 children under the age of 13! Daughter Charlotte followed a few months later and arrived on September 3.

It is clear that Albert was a widow by then, as his wife Susannah was not with them, nor did she come after the rest of the family. Although I have not found her death record, I surmise that she passed away in England or Wales after 1883, which is when her daughter Rebecca was born, and before 1886. The 1891 Nova Scotia census shows a widowed Albert with his family, and in November of that year, he married Mary J. Carmichael in Hants, Nova Scotia.

I have been able to track Albert Mason in Canada up until the 1911 Nova Scotia census, where he and his wife Mary are living in the town of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton. From there the trail goes cold. I know that Mary Carmichael Mason died in 1914, and her husband Albert was still living at the time. But I have not found him in the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics indexes, which cover deaths from 1864-1877 and 1908-1962. Perhaps he moved in with one of his children after Mary died.

So, no brothers in America, unless dear Emma thought of Canada as “America.” However, one of Albert’s sons did leave Canada for America in 1914, but that was after Emma’s letter of 1907. If there are other brothers, it’s a mystery as to who they could be or where they went to.