Sunday, March 22, 2015

Frederick Colyer: A Bit Of Genealogy Karma (52 Ancestors #11)

Frederick Colyer was my 2nd great grandfather. Born in Kent, England Novenber 4, 1847 to Frederick Henry Colyer and Ann Pritchard Colyer. Frederick was the middle child, second of three children, two boys and a girl.

Now I don't pretend to know what life in England was like in the mid-1800's, but for some unexplained reason Frederick decided to leave England and head for America as a young man of 22.

In the spring of 1870 Frederick traveled to London and boarded the ship the New World bound for America. Listed as a passenger in steerage, Frederick arrived in New York June 21, 1870 to begin his new life. It is unclear as to whether he traveled alone or with companions, but I do know that his entire family stayed behind in England.

Listed as a bricklayer by trade, I'm sure the job prospects were good for a young immigrant in the later part of the 1800's. Cities were being established, the railroads were being built, America was growing and needed good skilled men to fuel the growth.

Frederick finds his way to Chicago sometime prior to 1872, where he meets and marries my 2nd great grandmother, Ann Sammon, on September 13, 1872.

It is unclear as to whether Frederick was in Chicago prior to the Great Fire, but I would suspect that if not, he arrived shortly after. Chicago needed all the skilled bricklayers they could find to help rebuild the city devastated by fire.

Frederick and Ann would go on to have two children, a son and a daughter.

Their son, Henry, died at the age of 20. Ten years later Frederick lost his wife, Ann.

Frederick's golden years were spent in the residence of his daughter and son-in-law, finally joining his wife on February 19, 1928 at the respectable age of 80.

From left to right:
Standing: Margaret Colyer Irons, Frederick Colyer,
 Agnes Irons (granddaughter), Harry Irons (grandson)
Seated: William Irons (Margaret's husband)

The interesting aside to this story is that for years no one knew who Frederick's parents were. When I started my investigation into my family, my knowledge of Frederick's lineage was zero. I posted a Family Tree to OneWorldTree (a very incorrect tree, I might add, it has since been deleted). And that was that.

For a while.

One day I received an email from a man in England who had been looking for Frederick. He was a Colyer, descended from our mutual 4th great grandfather. He was tracing the family and was always stumped as to what has happened to Frederick. All he knew was Frederick got on a ship headed to America in 1870.  It puzzled and frustrated him not knowing Frederick's fate.

Then he came across my Tree.

For several weeks we emailed back and forth furiously. I supplied him with the information I had and he supplied me with the MOTHERLOAD of family tree research I would never be able to accomplish without an extended trip to England, and the seasoned knowledge of exactly where to look. He has been compiling family history for years. I now had parts of Frederick's lineage going back to 1515! With sources!

A magical day in the pursuit of genealogy, to be sure. A rare and glorious encounter.

One of those things we all secretly wish for when we post our trees for "cousin bait".

I have not has such a windfall of success since that time, but I have been able to 'pay it forward' here and there with other parts of my family tree. To enlighten others in some small ways, the way I was so blessed to have experienced.

Whatever possessed Frederick Colyer to leave his home and family so long ago, he was finally reunited 140 years later. The world just got a wee bit smaller.

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