Yooper Greenaways

According to Lois Haglund (my step third cousin-in-law once removed — see her blog here) people who live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the USA are called Yoopers. I’ve just discovered some Greenaway relations who were Yoopers, at least for a while.

My great grandmother was Elizabeth Greenaway who married William Mathew Growdon, and they came to the Cape Colony in the 1870s, where he was a platelayer on the Cape Government Railways. That was just after the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, and there was a rush to build a railway line from every port to the interior.

Elizabeth Greenaway had an uncle, Thomas Greenaway. who emigrated about the same time to the USA, to Quincy, Houghton County, Michigan. There’s another Quincy in Michigan, so the county name is important, and if you Google for Quincy, Michigan, it will show you the wrong one, in Branch County, right at the other end of the state. In fact it seems that almost every one of the United States has a Quincy, and Michigan has two.

Quincy Mine

Quincy Mine

What seems to have drawn the Greenaway family to Michigan was the Quincy copper mine.

Thomas Greenaway was born in 1829 in St Breward, Cornwall, where he became a quarry labourer. He married Margaretta Bone in 1851, and, according to the 1900 US Cenus, they had 9 children, of whom only 2 were still alive in 1900. We only have a record of the names of 5 of the children, and one of those died young.

In the 1860s the family moved to Gwennap, Cornwall, where Thomas worked as a tin miner, and in the early 1870s the family emigrated to the USA, and he was a miner at Quincy in the 1880 US Census. In 1880 their daughter Mary (a widow at age 19) was living with them, as was their daughter Maggie (10). Also living in Quincy was their son Richard John Greenaway, who had just married Polly Kinsman, and they were staying with her parents. They were also miners.

Quincy2It is said that Gwennap produced more emigrants than any other town in Cornwall, and so it is possible that several people emigrated together to Quincy.

The Greenaways did not stay Yoopers for long, however, because by the 1900 census they were in Braceville, Illinois, a coal mining town. Thomas had retired by then, as he is shown on the census with no occupation. His son Richard John was also there, still a miner, with his wife and two adopted daughters.

Unfortunately the 1890 US Census didn’t survive, so we have not been able to see what happened in between. In 1900 their daughter Mary would have been 39; did she marry again? The youngest daughter, Maggie (Elizabeth Margaret) would have been 30 — did she marry and have children? We haven’t been able to find out.

The move to Braceville was perhaps not a wise one, as we can discover from this site.

Braceville thrived until the summer of 1910 when the miners of the Braceville Coal Company went on strike. Fed up with the whole affair, the coal company simply closed and within just a few months the town was all but abandoned leaving behind an opera house, a large frame school and many empty businesses. Of these today, there is no sign other than a few slag heaps along the old highway.

Did the Greenaways stay, or did they move on again? Did they leave any descendants in any of the places where they lived, so that there might be cousins living there today? We don’t know.

 

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One Response

  1. My grandmother’s name was Betty Ilene Penzien (maiden name, Greenaway). They lived in Warren Michigan. I don’t know much else because my dad never talked much about his past, but I know that my great grandmother’s name was Verna , married to Stephen Greenaway (born in 1904).

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