Back to the Blackers In Wales
At the conclusion of Chapter 4 we put the John Blacker on
'hold' with a promise that we would return to them. Also, on that
page a John Blacker family tree was outlined with the exception
of an extension of the descendants of Edward and Althera, but
with a statement that Chapter Eight would deal with them.
Before we deal with that family, it would be well for each of
us to realize all members of the John Blacker family, as depicted
on the chart, were, at the time in history to which we are
returning, living in either Monmouthshire or Glamorganshire. None
had emigrated to the U.S. other than Edward Blacker and family,
with the exception of the David Gethin family (Edward's sister,
Sarah Ann). They moved to Ohio. In addition, Ted Blacker and
family subsequently moved to Evanston, Wyoming. So far as we
know, all others of the family remained either in England or
Wales to this day of 1982.
Mention has been made of the fact that John's brother, George,
has made his, and his family's, appearance in the Abertillery
area. The first clue which came to the compiler of this
historical account, was that Blacker names other than the names
of the John Blacker family showed up in the Blacker family Bible.
This was in the possession of Uncle William Blacker of
Penrhiwceiber at the time I was visiting him and others of the
John Blacker descendants in 1930. I am not prepared to attempt to
assure anyone that the Bible in Uncle William's possession was
inherited by him from his father, John. This was the impression I
have had thru the years However, Uncle William was then in his
seventies and if he and his wife had started a family Bible
record at the time of their marriage, that Bible in 1930 could
still have been classified as an old family Bible. Be this as it
may be, other Blacker names not of John's children and
grandchildren were included. As an example, John's daughter,
Margaret Blacker married a man who's name was George Blacker. The
entry in the Bible stated, "George Blacker, husband of Margaret
(Blacker) was born April 27th 1844 and died June 2, 1919". To the
side, a note said George and Margaret were cousins. The names of
their children were given with several death dates and usually
their age at death. Other data of other family members was
included, all of which, by permission from Uncle William, I
copied in a small note book.
This image of the 1871 Mountain Ash census, shows George Blacker, age 26, his wife,and cousin, Margaret, age 24,
daughters Margaret and Roseli? ages three and one, plus Margaret’s 20 year old brother,
Edward, all living at 46 High Street, which is around the corner and down the street from 7 Cliff Street,
where Edward and his wife, Althera lived after their marriage. Althera was raised in 16 Cliff Street. RMW
46 High Street, Mountain Ash, where Edward Blacker, age 20 lived with his sister, Margaret and her husband, George. George Blacker was also a cousin. They lived here at the time of the 1871 census. This picture was taken in 2006. Notice that the house is very narrow and is part of long row of houses. The window on the second floor is to a bedroom. RMW
Following my return home - perhaps months later - I attempted
to transfer the data to regular family group sheets, but not
without problems. First of all, I didn't have Uncle William at my
side at this later date to make explanation as to who was who.
The entries in the Bible were not separated by families which,
had they been so, would have simplified my forming family
Deaths of only three children, John, Samuel and James, were
given in the family Bible and that they were the sons of a George
and Martha Evans Blacker, and that he, George, was a brother of
John Blacker. Of course these entries called for a separate
family group sheet and led me to suspect that the George who
married Margaret could have been of this new family. The burials
were, by the way, in Abertillery.
In spite of the fact that this family was not on my direct
lines of ascent, they were kept in mind, but did not involve
direct-line research and, so, for several years nothing further
was done. The fact that George was the brother of John, as the
family Bible stated, and that the burials were in Abertillery,
indicated the possibility of that family's having, at one time or
another, also left Clutton.
In preparation for the compiling of this history, additional
research was commenced for more data on this particular family.
Thru the years it appeared there was only one family to whom the
George Blacker, who married his cousin, Margaret, belonged.
However, that fact had not been confirmed.
One day in March of 1982, as we were serving in the Burley
Regional genealogical library, I concluded to check the census
records of Abertillery to see what they show of this family. The
film did not happen to be in the Burley film file drawers and
would have to be ordered in from Salt Lake. Later that evening,
while visiting on the phone with our son, Paul and his wife,
Lynn, of Alpine, Utah, they mentioned that they were regularly
visiting the Salt Lake library. I mentioned what I needed and
they insisted that I let them contribute to the research. A few
days later, Lynn sent me photocopies of the area in both the 1861
and 1871 census in which she found Blacker entries. The 1861
Census contained entries of both John's and George's families.
John's family had left for Mountain Ash long before the time of
the 1871 census. However, that latter census proved most
interesting, for in the George Blacker entry was the name of
Albert, who was but one year old, and his older brother William,
age16. The 1871 entry was plainly written. There was no question
but that he was listed as George's and Martha's son. Because of
the difference in ages, we wondered if the little son, Albert,
could have been a grandson. Had it not been that we were aware
the family had an Albert, we would have questioned it more.
Martha was approximately 45 years of age, but when I copied an
entry from the family bible in 1930, I copied an entry: "The two
living sons of George and Martha went to America with their
father - these were William the eldest and Albert". No date was
given as to when they emigrated.
We can determine an approximate time George and Martha, with
their family of (at the time) six sons, moved from Clutton to
Abertillery, by the census records of 1861. The youngest child at
the time that census was taken. was shown to be four years old.
He was born in Clutton which meant they certainly did not leave
from there until after his birth, which would be about 1857. How
long the family had been in Abertillery before the census was
taken we don't know, but we are assured they were in Abertillery
by April 8th of 1861 for that was the date of the census. The
move had to have been made between 1857 and April 8th 1861. On
the other hand, it has been determined from the births of the
children in George's brother, John's family, that their move from
Clutton to Abertillery would have been about 1847 or 48 which was
approximately ten years ahead of George's move.
It is of interest to note that by the time George and family
had moved to Abertillery, his brother, John, and family were
nearing a move from Abertillery to Mountain Ash. John's and
Maria's youngest daughter, Sarah Ann, was born 31st December 1863
in Mountain Ash - 2 1/2 years following the 1861 census. There
appears a real probability that John was moving because of a
promotion. Could it have been a prospective opening for better
employment that urged John to write back to Clutton to offer
George a pending opportunity? In retrospect we can envision a
number of possibilities - even probabilities.
It may be of interest to the reader to learn that by the time
of the 1871 census, which that year was taken on the 3rd of
April, son John, eldest son of John and Maria, had already
married Margaret Allen and was listed in the new census as being
29 years of age and she 28. He was listed as a coal miner. With
the family moving to Mountain Ash before the end of 1863 it is
possible that son John moved with them - he would have then been
21 - and returned to Abertillery for his marriage. It seems more
likely, however, that with is being 21 and Margaret 20, and with
him undoubtedly holding a permanent mine position, that he would
have remained in Abertillery even if he had still been
Despite the fact that John and Margaret were respectively
twenty-nine and twenty eight years of age, there were no
children. Their marriage date has never been found, however,
their ages indicate it was time for children if they were ever
going to have them. The last comment is not without reason.
Normally there would have been yet time for children on their
part. My wife, Mabel and I, were not married when we reached that
age - but not long after that age - and today at the age of 74,
we have to our credit 6 children, 36 grandchildren and one
great-grand child. But it was different with John, Jr., and
Margaret, for ten years later - in 1881 they appeared to be still
childless. This will become a part of another later story.
It is with regrets that we have so little information on son,
Little has been said of the Edward Blacker and Althera Loveday
account since showing their position on the family chart of John
Blacker and Maria Gould( Edward's parents) on page 54. We
continue with Edward:
Since obtaining the certified copy of Edward's birth
certificate in July of 1944, it became advisable to adopt as
official the data contained in it and hold in reservation his
birth data as the family records had claimed his birth to have
been on the 15th of June 1850. The birth certificate gives his
birth date as having been on the 10th of September 1851 and that
his actual birth place was Cwmtillery rather than in Abertillery where it was always
claimed to have been. The difference in place of birth is quite
understandable because Cwmtillery is a small suburb of
Abertillery. As has already been noted, John took his family from
Cwmtillery to Mountain Ash. We do not know the year, but we have
an overall guide. The last of John's children who was born in
Cwmtillery was William, born the 28th of April 1859. Their next
child, a little girl, Sarah Ann, was born in Mountain Ash in
Glamorganshire on the 31st of December of 1863, which means the
family move was between those two dates. This means that Edward
could have been as young as eight years of age and as old as
twelve years of age when the family moved to Mountain Ash. Four
years is a rather broad span, but it is the only basis we have
found from which to do our calculation.
The Isaac Loveday family of which Althera was the second child
(first daughter) apparently did not move to Mountain Ash from
Pontypool, which is also in Monmouthshire, as is the Abertillery
area. At this point, one may wish to again check the area map on
page 58. The Loveday's youngest child - also a Sarah Ann - was
born in Pontypool on the 25th of October 1865. This makes it
appear that the Blackers were in Mountain Ash nearly two years
ahead of the Lovedays. From these dates and events we can
determine that Althera would have been at least thirteen years of
age when the family arrived in Mountain Ash.
Without a known direct statement from the Blacker family as to
the purpose of their moving to Glamorganshire, we can be
reasonably assured that it was for coal-mining employment
regardless of status of the position. We have been led to believe
that John's move was for an administrative position
As a result of John's move, according to his son, William's
statement in 1930, he gained sufficient community respect as to
become elected by the populace to a town hall position such as a
town-councilman. In England and Wales, a community, regardless of
size of its population, is called a town, unless there is a
cathedral located within its boundaries. If there is no
cathedral, it cannot be classified as a city - it remains a town.
This was the situation of Mountain Ash.
Edward Blacker, undoubtedly, started working in the coalmines
at a tender age. Whether he started in the mines in Abertillery
we do not know. There is a strong possibility he did, for he
could have reached the ripe old age of eleven or twelve before
the family left for Mountain Ash. It was not unusual for small
children to be taken by their parents in the mines to assist with
family income for economic conditions were difficult during these
Actually, working conditions had greatly improved by this
decade of the 1860s of which we are referring, as can be
confirmed from Frank Smith's volume, "The Lives and Times of Our
English Ancestors", page 216:
"In the coal mines small children had been used to open and
close the ventilating doors on the underground roadways leading
to the shaft bottom and women, with chains around their waists,
had dragged the wagons along the underground tracks, sometimes
crawling on all fours because of the lack of height on the
roadways. The Mines' Act of 1842 stopped the employment of women
underground and limited the use of boys to those of the age of
Educational opportunities for the children of England and
Wales differed greatly. Certainly one would not be able to
compare the smaller and more rural coal producing areas such as
existed in south Wales, to the poor areas of the big cities such
as London, Liverpool, Manchester, etc. This is not to minimize
the problems, which existed among coal-miner's children. Quoting
again from Smith's "The Lives and Times of Our English
Ancestors", pp. 215-223:
The Factory Act of 1833 was a step in the right direction
because it restricted the working hours of young people to not
more than 48 hours each week and also required that children
spend two hours each day in school. - - - Until 1870 the State
had played only a minor role in the education of children, having
made a few grants as early as 1832. Resulting from the Elementary
Education Act of 1870, all parents were compelled to send their
children to school, even though the children had to leave school
at an early age to go to work."
It would seem that with John holding the influential positions
he held, particularly after they arrived in Mountain Ash, that
the Blacker children would have had average, if not higher,
opportunities for elementary education..
There is even less information of the Lovedays after their
arriving in Mountain Ash than we have of the Blackers. The little
history we know of Isaac Loveday is that he was an agriculturist
all his life. He was born in a south England county, Wiltshire,
which was then - and still remains - primarily a rural area.
There is no reason to believe that Isaac ever owned a farm in
England nor Wales. Landowners in England in this time was rather
a 'rare breed'. The common man was not so fortunate.
It is premature at this time to quote Isaac Loveday's brief
history as recorded in "Progressive Men of Wyoming" page 867 from
which is taken a sentence or two at this point on this topic:
Isaac Loveday, naturally enough, was reared to agricultural
pursuits, and his youthful days were so closely occupied by his
duties on the home farm that little opportunity was afforded him
to acquire an education, nevertheless he attended the common
school for a season or two and learned what little was absolutely
necessary for him to know in carrying on the calling which was to
be his life's work. For some years he worked as a farm hand for
his neighbors in England, and also passed a few years in Wales
engaged in the same capacity.
Earlier mention was made by way of speculation as to why Isaac
left Wiltshire and traveled almost straight west across the
narrows of the Bristol Channel to Pontypool in Monmouthshire, at
the time a county in Wales but, subsequently, for political
reasons assigned to be within the boundaries of England. Mention
was made of the fact that Pontypool was a market town which
indicated nearby farming areas which had to supply farm animals
and farm produce to sustain the market.
It was here in Pontypool that Isaac first heard and accepted
the teachings of the Mormon Church and, undoubtedly, while
attending the Pontypool branch meetings that he first met his
wife-to-be, Mary Danks, whose family had joined the Mormon Church
and were members of the Pontypool branch.
A brief account of both the Danks family and the Loveday
family, with its name-change, was dealt with in Chapter Five.
According to a certified copy of Edward Blacker's and Althera
Loveday's marriage certificate, they were married at St. David's
church in Llanwonno parish on October 27th 1873. Interestingly
the marriage certificate states that Edward gave his age as 24
and Althera as 21. Edward's birth certificate shows he was born
on 10th September 1851, which actually would make him two weeks
over 22 years of age. Althera appeared to be better informed of
her age for she was at the age she gave.
While family records have always given their marriage to be in
Mountain Ash, the marriage certificate says it actually was in
the parish of Llanwonno which is about two miles from downtown
Mountain Ash. For all purposes there appears no need to change
our records as to the place of marriage. Certainly it is in the
area of Mountain Ash.
The church in which they were married, St. David's Church, was
a parish of the Church of England. We have understood that the
Blacker family has had leanings to Methodism. If such is true and
Edward was so inclined - of this we have no certainty in the
least - it is very possible the Methodist church had no parish in
the vicinity. This could very possibly be true of the Mormon
Church. Perhaps this is not the place to over-speculate but it
would have been interesting if we had sufficient facts to warrant
speculation. This we are aware of: one of the Mormon faith
married a non-member, which certainly has never been forbidden.
In cases of such a situation as this, due to scattered
conditions, it is often impossible for a young person of
marriageable age to find a companion from within the Church. It
is an established fact that, regardless of faith, there are fewer
risks to a marriage when both parties are of the same faith and
such should be attempted where possible. In the case of Edward
and Althera, he, some nineteen years later, concluded that
joining the Mormon Church was the thing for him to do. On the 5th
of June 1892, he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following their marriage, they moved to a house which was
located in a suburb of Mt. Ash known as Miskin with the address 7
Cliff Street. While in Wales in 1930, Uncle William Blacker
walked with me to the address and I took a photo with my camera.
This home was one of probably 20 to 30 homes in a long row of
homes attached together running the entire length of the block.
The street had what I would estimate a one inch drop for every
lineal foot. The front door-way of the home was directly onto the
street itself with no room for a sidewalk. The street, at the
time, undoubtedly had been cobblestoned. As I remember it in 1930
the stones were smoothed over with a tarred asphalt covering.
7 Cliff Street, Mountain Ash,Glamorganshire, Wales. Taken in 1930
7 Cliff Street, Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire, Wales. Taken in 2006
The floor plan on the right was the usual for houses such as 7
Cliff Street, Mountain Ash, into which Grandpa and Grandma
Blacker moved following their marriage in 1873. The floors were
usually covered with an unglazed, but polished terracotta or
light brown ceramic tile. The front room often had small braid
rugs or a nice self-lay larger axminster floral. This depended on
personal choice and means. The stairway behind the door led to a
couple of bedrooms upstairs. As the years of the 1800s wore on,
the old standard kerosene lighting gave way to gas lighting which
was more convenient and gave off a brighter light.Coal purchased
from the coal man, who went up and down the street, usually came
in 100 pound burlap bags. The coal man had regular weekly
schedules such as the bread or milkman. The scullery at the back
of the house was the washroom for clothes and dishes, etc. In
summer the wooden-barrel tub was taken out on the outdoor tile
floor. The scrubbing board or dasher was used to swish the water
over and through the clothes. Coal mine clothes were not easy to
From the front room a door would lead into the kitchen which
was about the same size as the front room. In here, of course,
would be another fireplace where the cooking was done. Depending
on the house, some of these fireplaces had a stove top and an
oven installed within the opening of the fireplace, much like a
wood and coal range of fifty years later in America. These
fireplaces, earlier burned coal, but by 1850 and after, natural
gas became popular for both heating and lighting the homes.
In the kitchen, naturally, was the kitchen table - usually the
only table of the home - and it was in this room where much of
the living was done. Beyond the kitchen was another room called
the scullery - often unheated excepting thru the doorway into the
kitchen. The dishwashing was often done in the scullery and,
particularly, the washing of clothes, a type of washroom and
storage room of pots, pans, kettles, etc. etc.
From the scullery, a door would lead into a small back yard -
usually a garden spot for flowers and, perhaps, a few vegetables.
The whole of the backyard area was often no larger, if as large,
as the area occupied by the house. Depending on the weather,
clothes lines could be adapted to the yard, but due to so much
damp weather, clothes-drying was often done in the scullery or
even in the kitchen. Naturally outside plumbing was housed in the
While on our mission in England in 1975-76, we noticed that
much of this type of housing had been torn down and replaced with
fewer and larger homes, even though most of them up and down the
block are attached to each other. The new houses allow for a
sidewalk in the front plus, usually, a small flower-garden spot
in the front, between the sidewalk and front door.
It was in this home, number 7 Cliff Street, where the young
couple's first three children were born, George, Sarah Ann and
Mary, 1874, 1876 and 1878 respectively.
We have never learned the reason for their next move. It is
hardly thinkable that there could have been a fear of coal
running out in the Mountain Ash area, for according to geological
surveys, Glamorganshire is literally a coal bed in and of itself.
Only one other area in all of Britain has greater deposits of
coal and that is in southern Yorkshire, extending south into
Derbyshire - the area in Yorkshire where the old Yorkshire
Blacker family resided in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds,
which family was referred to in Chapter I.
Edward and Althera's third child, Mary, was born in Mountain
Ash on the 18th of November 1878, but their next baby, Thomas was
born in the Ferndale area a little over a year later, on the 2nd
of December 1879. As the crow flies - over some low rolling hills
- Ferndale is between three and four miles southwest of Mountain
Again the government vital statistics do not agree with family
records in the case of son, Thomas. Actually, family records of
the birth of Thomas appear to follow birth sequence in the family
more closely than do the registration records as given on Thomas'
belatedly received birth certificate. Family records throughout
Thomas's life have shown that he was born in Ferndale on 2 Dec
1880, however, his birth certificate which we obtained from
London while on our mission in England in 1975 shows that he was
born, as previously stated, at Ystradyfodwg on December 2, 1879.
His mother, Althera is credited by the certificate as registering
the birth on the 30th of January 1880, which seemingly would rule
out the probability that his birth was nearly ten months later
than the date of registration.
This birth certificate photo-copy, which was applied for on the 9th of June 1975, is more likely to be correct than the familiy's long-time family record of Edward's and Althera's 2nd son, Thomas throughout his life, the family record has stated
that he was born on 2 Dec 1880 in Ferndale, Glamorganshire. Note the above certificate says 2 Dec 1879 in Ystradyfodwg,
Glamorganshire, which place is within two or three miles of Ferndale. Perhaps he was justified in using Ferndale
High Street looking toward the Napier Arms a pub at the bottom of Cliff Street. Picture taken in 2006.
View of the Napier Arms while standing between #7 and # 16 on Cliff Street. Picture taken in 2006.
Bath-day every day’s end for a miner. Copper or galvanized tub in front of the kitchen fireplace.
With soap and water the body could be cleansed but not so, the lungs.
Home of Isaac and Mary Danks Loveday where Althera lived as a child. LDS meetings were held here.
Picture taken in 2006.
Ystradyfodwg is a nearby locality to Ferndale and the birth
certificate states that the family's home was at 5 Union Street
of that village.
A standard genealogical policy is that where there is a
conflict of data such as this case entails, the record which was
recorded nearest the time of the event will have precedence,
particularly, in as much as the mother testifying to the
registrar that such was the date of birth.
Edward's parents, John and Maria, remained in Mountain Ash for
the balance of their respective lives. According to her death
certificate, Maria died at her home at 10 Miskin Road in Mountain
Ash on the 3rd of December 1890. She died, in the terms of the
death certificate, "of Erysipelas of leg, two months gradual
exhaustion". Her youngest son, Uncle William of Penrhiwceiber was
the informant. She was 69.
On the 2nd of November 1893, and he still living at their home
at 10 Miskin Road, John passed away, still labeled as a
coalminer. The cause of death was "Bronchitis, 9 years; Acute
attack 10 days". Again, their son, William, was the informant.
John was 75 years of age. Both were buried in Mountain Ash.
This undated picture of the front of the Miskin Inn, was obviously taken before automobiles were common. The horse-drawn delivery wagons give a rough idea of the time period. The Inn, at one time operated by John and Mariah Gould Blacker, was torn down sometime after December 1960, due to damage from repeated flooding from the nearby river. It is interesting to compare this photograph to the one below taken in 1960, and to see the changes made to the Inn itself, as well as to the building on the right, which had at some point in time, a downstairs door and an upstairs window added. These photos were supplied by Donald O’Sullivan of Mountain Ash, Wales, in August of 2007. We met Mr. O’Sullivan, in 2006, and he has since been most helpful in taking the time to find Blacker places of interest. RMW
This photograph was taken at the back of the Miskin Inn apparently the same day as the one above. This observation is based on the fact that it appears that the gentleman in the above picture, is the same one as the tall gentleman at the right. It would be wonderful if we knew whether or not some of the people were Blackers. RMW
This picture was taken in December, 1960 just before the Miskin Inn was torn down. It shows the tide mark on the inn. RMW
This picture shows 10 Miskin Road where the Miskin Inn was located. Picture taken 2006. RMW
Tombstone of George, Maria and George Blacker in the Mountain Ash Aberffrwd Cemetery
Many thanks to Mr. Donald O’Sullivan for taking and sending these pictures in early 2007. We had met Mr. O'Sullivan in October of 2006, while walking down a street in Mountain Ash. During our conversation, he invited us to his home just up the street from the homes where Edward and Merintha Althera Blacker, and her parents, the Lovedays had lived. We have kept in touch with Mr. O’Sullivan since our return to the states, and he has very kindly taken the time and effort to locate and photograph family places we had been unable to find. RMW
Back in Ferndale area a restlessness was surging. From this
point of history - 1982 - we have no way of knowing how long the
spirit of malcontent lingered. Seemingly John and Maria were
reasonably content with their conditions. He had done better than
the average coalminer, certainly, for not every coalminer rose to
an official capacity in the mines. Too, John, had gained the
respect of his fellow-townspeople, for he had been elected as
their representative in a town government capacity. We suspect,
too, that, economically they were not hurting. Surely they were
not well-to-do, but neither could they have been in the marginal
areas of poverty. Could we be somewhat correct in assuming they
were swimming somewhere in midstream of the economic atmosphere
of the times? Probably so.
Edward, nor his brothers, John, George and William certainly
had not had time at this juncture to have gained the experience,
therefore, the distinction of their father. In many cases,
naturally, sons may never reach that level for it is not always
that sons lack the ability, but that the same opportunity doesn't
show up either. So often it is the lack of the same opportunity
that denies a son from reaching the status of the father and,
certainly the situation can be reversed. Oft times the father
fails to have the same opportunities of a descendant. And so,
such is life. The science of genetics seems to place a norm or an
average which is followed so far as individual abilities are
concerned. Inherent abilities greatly influenced by opportunities
- being in the right place at the right time - causes
fluctuations from the norm at times, perhaps affecting a whole
generation, but mother nature has a way of returning us up to or
back down to the norm. Such is the story of every family, the
Blacker family not being excepted.
This map shows the home towns of the John and George Blacker families as, also, the Isaac Loveday and Peter Danks’ home towns
The John Blacker and Maria Gould chart suggests that Edward's and Althera's line of descent would be continued on this page.
It has been concluded, since making that chart, that the family should, chartwise, be
considered only as it was at the time of emigration from Wales to
the United States.
A very interesting item written in the family Bible which I
saw while at Uncle William's home in Penrhiwceiber, was the
following which I copied verbatim: "The first of June, Edward and
John took water for America and landed on the 11th of June 1881".
I was alone in the room when I copied it so didn't have an
opportunity for Uncle William to answer some possible questions.
It should have been of such import to me that I would have held
my question for, perhaps, the dinner table or for some other
time, but I failed to do so , much to my regret. A thousand and
more times over I have wished I could have had the experience of
that visit over again. As I look back now, I criticize myself for
being so immature in my research efforts. I am - and have been -
so very grateful for what I did glean. I am totally satisfied
that the family data I gathered after these many years is
correct, but considerable of it has had to be done by letter
writing and other phases of research. As an example of the
information I had copied was this item of 'Edward and John'.
Frankly I did not realize at the time who John was. Family groups
had not been organized on genealogical forms - by me, at least -
and I was far from being acquainted with the family units of the overall Blacker family. With some
I was slower getting acquainted with than others. All of this has
led to probably unnecessary regrets, for Uncle William would have
been happy to have assisted me getting these items sorted out. I
had to do it the harder way. Perhaps I was helped as much or more
in getting some families on my direct line sorted out by Fannie
A. Blacker and Florence Blacker Fielding, both of Pennsylvania,
by letters in the 1930s as by anyone else.
Through these many years I have had the impression that the
Edward Blacker and Isaac Loveday families came to this country
together. They both lived in Mountain Ash and it appeared such a
natural thing to do as they were both interested in coming, and
that they both did come. I had been aware of the possibility that
Edward and Isaac could have come ahead of their families to earn
sufficient to send for them later, but even though that could
have been the case, I took for granted that they were together in
their efforts. Because of this false understanding, I have often
wondered if there was an error in the entry in the Bible. Could
Uncle William have meant Edward and Isaac when he wrote Edward
and John? It became another of those matters which I have been
all too prone to do because of my work and other activities
connected with my family, the Church, and regular research
activities, that I put off finding an answer. Thus, I again put
another prospective chore on "the back burner". I was confident I
would have no problem eventually finding some facts about the
matter, for I have been aware that passenger lists of
boat-passengers were made and preserved and it would be but a
matter of finding the name of the boat. Our battle was half won,
for the Bible gave the date of departure and of landing, however,
we did not know from which port they left nor at which port they
Previously I mentioned our son, Paul, and his wife, Lynn, had
offered to do a little research for us while we conversed, two
phones in each home making it ideal for a foursome. When I
suggested the need for passenger list research, Lynn said, "I've
just had some such experience on my own lines crossing the water
and I know exactly what to do." Good for Lynn, and she was
successful, for the next evening she telephoned, and a day later
we received in the mail the following set of entries:
DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. - PORT OF NEW YORK
Passenger List: Film #295,802 - page 4. Dated: June 12, 1881.
Edward Blacker, age 30, male, Laborer.
Kemuel Loveday, age 26, "
John Blacker, age 38, "
Margaret " , age 38, female, Wife
What enlightenment from such a set of brief entries. It
mentioned that they were from England and that they anticipated
the 'The Country of Which They Intend to Become Inhabitants' -
United States of America.
Edward did have accompanying him a Loveday, but a
brother-in-law rather than his father-in-law. With him also was
his older brother, John. With the group was John's wife, Margaret
Allen, the couple to whom the 1871 Census record indicated had no
children. This, perhaps, had been a hurried conclusion due to the
fact that no children were listed in the census. Had they had
children and the children were not in the home at the hour the
census taker came to the door - perhaps visiting a neighbor or
grandparents - the children would not be counted with the
parents. The fact that the same couple now appear as arriving in
New York without children may lend a little credence to our
thinking. Could it have been that John and Margaret had one or
more children who didn't survive? Such is very possible. We don't
have the answer.
A solution to one question often gives birth to new questions
and such is certainly the case here with John and Margaret. From
New York, to where? I find no evidence that John and Margaret
followed Edward. This is another instance wherein we can, in
despair say, "If only some one of the previous generation were
here". Could it have been that John and Margaret became home-sick
and returned to their homeland? Not necessarily so, but we don't
know. While copying entries from Uncle William's Bible in
Penrhiwceiber in 1930 the following entry was copied: "Wife of
John Blacker, Margaret Allen, died June 20, 1907 age 63
The fact that the entry was in the Bible in Wales does not
necessarily mean that her death was there. John could have
written the news to Uncle William and he then wrote the data in
it. Interestingly there is no further account of John himself,
after he was noted as leaving with Edward for America - and
Another criticism I have of my own record keeping concerns a
problem on John's and Edward's father's family group sheet of the
Four Generation Program of 1981 (see sheet of John Blacker and
Maria Gould). John, as one of the children has a death date of
the 6th of February 1911. Apologizing now, I have to admit I do
not recall, nor am I able to find the source of that information.
Should any reader have something to contribute toward the
solution of this problem, it would be greatly appreciated.
What of Grandpa Edward? From his disembarking from the
'S.S.Spain' on the 12 of June 1881, where did he go? As far as we
know he left nothing in writing nor are we even aware of a
definite family tradition on which we might rely. He was ahead of
his family - wife Althera and four children who emigrated namely,
Edward George, Sarah Ann, Mary and baby Thomas. We suppose - and
it is only supposition - that their final American destination
was in the West. Of this we don't know. Perhaps it was only after
the family reunited in the East where Grandpa Edward was employed
in the coal mines of Pennsylvania that they heard of new coal
mines opening up in western Wyoming, that first gave them the
idea of coming West. On the other hand, it could have been their
ultimate goal while still in Wales to work their way toward the
new western mines of America via the Pennsylvania route. Such a
stop would give Edward a chance to increase his already short
supply of means, for undoubtedly, these were somewhat limited as
was already demonstrated by the fact that the four travelers has
chosen to come 'steerage' on the trip across the Atlantic - the
cheapest rate the ship offered. Such is documented on the
The first evidence that they did go to Wyoming is the record
of the birth of a son, Isaac, 12th of October 1884. The last
evidence that we have of their stay in the east was the birth of
a daughter, Maria, 25 May 1883, this in Streator, Illinois.
Now again to Grandpa Edward and his three companions leaving
the boat on the 12th of June 1881. It would seem logical and most
likely that they would stay together for a while, however, of
this we are not sure, but we still think most likely, for they
had relatives in America - in the East - mainly in Pennsylvania.
The reader may review the story of these early comers by turning
to Chapters 6 and 7.
There is one opinion that Charles Blacker came to the States
as early as 1848, however, evidence seems to support the claim
that William and family were the first to come, but in 1854. With
them came James. If Charles didn't come in 1848, he surely was
not long behind. These families appear to have settled in St.
Clair, Pennsylvania. After James married, he too settled in St.
By 1867, William moved to Nova Scotia, but there is some
evidence that he had returned to St. Clair by 1881. This means
that when Edward and his company set foot in New York on the 12
th of June 1881, he had three living uncles, William, age 55,
Charles (Civil War captain) and James, age 44, with their
families, all presumably, solidly established so far as
employment and homes were concerned, for they had been in the
area a good 25 years. In addition to uncles and aunts, Edward
would have had cousins who would have been younger, but all in
all there was a goodly sprinkling of blood relatives - and not
too distantly related.
Concerning these relatively closely related family members, we
have one drawback and that is that we are not so sure that they
had ever met. Edward was born and grew up in Wales. His parents
moved from Clutton before he was born. His uncles, aunts and a
few of his cousins were all born and lived in Clutton in
Somersetshire. We suspect Edward's father, John, kept in touch
with his brothers and sisters, mainly by correspondence, but
there are families whom, when brothers and sisters become
separated, seldom correspond. We would like to think the Blackers
had regard for each other so far as siblings are concerned, but
when it comes to cousins who had never personally met, it is not
likely close friendships had developed between them.
We are not aware whether Edward's Uncle George of Abertillery,
with his two sons, William and Albert, had moved from their home
to Pennsylvania by this time. They would have been well
acquainted as our account earlier in this chapter has indicated.
It would seem this could be just a little early for George and
sons and, too. Whether they went directly to Houtzdale,
Pennsylvania, from Abertillery, we don't know, but Houtzdale
became their home. It is approximately 150 miles west of St.
Clair, in those days before automobiles, not a neighboring
Another alternative awaited Edward and party, which seems even
more plausible than traveling an approximate one hundred miles
from New York to St. Clair. This would be to go to the home of
Edward's father-in-law and, his traveling companion, Kemuel
Loveday's father, Isaac Loveday. Without direct statements from
any involved, and seemingly no chance of anyone enlightening us,
our next step, logically, would be to historical facts. To the
reader who is not well posted on Blacker inter-relationships,
Isaac Loveday is the father of Edward's wife, Althera. Isaac as a
young man left Wiltshire and shows up in Pontypool, Monmouthshire
where he married Mary Danks and with his family in about 1866 or
67, moved to Mountain Ash where his daughter, Althera, married
Edward Blacker in 1873.
Great-grandpa, Isaac Loveday, had looked for 'greener'
pastures and actually left Mountain Ash before Edward and Althera
decided to pull up stakes. Some of us of the family have felt
there to have been a great possibility that the Lovedays and the
Blackers came to America together. To dispel this theory, and
from the fact that we now know Edward made his personal move in
June of 1881, we can turn to the book published in 1903,
"Progressive Men of the state of Wyoming" page 867. The accounts
in this book were apparently dictated by the subjects of the book
to the compiler who, in his own words told the story. Quoting
only portions of the account which deal directly with the time
with which we are dealing - 1881 -
"In 1880, Mr. Loveday came to the United States, with the hope
of improving his circumstances in life, and in this hope he has
not been disappointed, as from the start he has met with
encouraging success. For the first year after his arrival in
America, he worked on a farm near Honesdale, PA."
It would be interesting to learn the reason he selected
Honesdale. Certainly it was and is one of the closest
agricultural areas to New York City. It doesn't appear to be more
than 75 to 100 miles directly west of New York City, naturally,
across the state of New Jersey. Being so close to populous New
York there certainly would have been a ready market for any farm
products be they animal or soil products. Isaac's locating a job
could have been thru the aid of friends or, perhaps, in answer to
advertising on the part of a progressive farmer of the area. We
should keep in mind that there was a great amount of emigration
from England and Wales during these years and it seems very
probably friends with a like occupation to Isaac's could have
preceded him by a few months or perhaps a year or two and could
have become a go-between Isaac and a farmer.
Too, we want to remember that Isaac had relatives already in
Pennsylvania, however, to the present we have found no evidence
that Isaac had made direct contact with them during his stay in
There is ample evidence to assure us that the Peter Danks
family emigrated to America several years prior to Isaac
Loveday's coming. The earliest record we have of the Danks'
indicates not only Peter and his wife, Ann Powell coming, but
also two or three of their married children. They show up in
Pennsylvania as early as the birth of John Danks, son of Henry
Danks and Rachel Jenkins on the 26th of July 1863 in Elizabeth,
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Henry was the son of Peter and
Ann Danks. Henry and Rachel had another son, Peter, on the 26th
of April 1870 in Keel Ridge, Mercer County, Pa. We find no record
of children between these two boys, however, it would quite
likely be that there were.
Another son of Peter and Ann Danks, Thomas Danks and wife,
Sarah Ann Beynon, had a daughter, Matilda Jane, born to them on
the 22 November 1870 at Neshannock, Mercer County. The latter two
births occurred ten years prior to Isaac Loveday's arrival in
this country and the first of the three births, that of John, son
of Henry, was in 1863, 17 years prior to Isaac's coming.
For clarification let us keep in mind that Isaac's wife, Mary
Danks, was a daughter of Peter and Ann Danks, therefore, a sister
to Henry and Thomas who had born to them, the children mentioned
Present-day maps or atlases in our possession do not show the
two localities the two sons of Henry and Rachel were born in -
Elizabeth and Keel Ridge - nor do we find Neshannock where
Matilda Jane, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Ann Danks was born. We
must not overlook the fact of the possibility of county divisions
since that time, however, the big smelter city of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania is presently in Allegheny County and Mercer County,
undoubtedly originally was made from Allegheny County and is
located north and west of Pittsburgh. These counties, as is shown
on the map of Pennsylvania on the next page, are in the western
portion of the state. They are approximately three hundred miles
west of Honesdale where Isaac Loveday, a son-in-law and
brother-in-law of his wife's family were living.
From the 1900 Census of Wyoming, we find the record of Isaac
and Mary Danks Loveday in which they stated they immigrated
together. This solves one of our concerns, for in Isaac's account
in "Progressive Men of Wyoming" to which reference has already
been given, Isaac does not mention anything of his family coming
with him. If their statement in the Census record is correct, and
we have no reason to question it, then his wife, Mary, could have
been with him in Honesdale. Their youngest son, Isaac, who was
then 18 years of age, may have been with them, though of this we
are not sure. Their statement in the 1900 Census says they came
to the U.S. in 1879. His account in "Progressive Men of Wyoming"
states he came in 1880. Their son, Thomas, who would have been 21
in 1880, had died in Wales on the 8th of June 1879. This date
gives us a little more confidence in Isaac's date of coming as
Returning now to the Danks' families in western Pennsylvania,
it must be reported that the head of the families, Peter Danks
who had married Ann Powell in about 1826 or 27, passed away in
Pennsylvania on the 25th of August 1873 and was buried there. It
is with regrets that we have to report we have not been able to
locate the place, but undoubtedly it must have been in Allegheny
or Mercer counties where, at least two of his sons were living.
We do not know when the Danks' emigrated to Wyoming from
Pennsylvania, however, we are aware that probably all Danks'
families from that area did migrate to Wyoming and that it was in
Almy, Wyoming, that grandmother Ann Powell Danks died on the 5th
of June 1891 and was interred in the Almy Cemetery.
Isaac reported in "Progressive Men of Wyoming", page 867, that
he stayed in Honesdale, Pennsylvania and worked for a farmer "and
then went to Illinois, where he was employed in the same
occupation about a year and a half, when he came to Wyoming and
moved to the ranch on which he still lives, west of Evanston".
This was dated 1903. Another regret is that Isaac did not mention
where in Illinois he worked, nor did he give the reason for his
move. If their original goal when they came to America was to
eventually move to the west - and we can't help but think that
such prompted them, to a degree - then we can see the purpose in
their working westward as opportunities presented themselves.
After all, they were members of the Mormon Church - as were also
the Danks. This is true despite the fact that some of them
earlier had difficulties in sustaining their Church activities,
and even full membership, to the degree some of their branch
authorities felt they should while back in Pontypool,
Before leaving Pennsylvania with our story, we must mention
that Althera Loveday Blacker's sister, Fannie Eliza, some six
years younger than Althera, had married Thomas Lewis in Wales.
They eventually migrated to Pennsylvania where they established a
permanent home in Cannonsburg, near Pittsburgh in the western
part of the state. As late as 1947 their son, Albert and family,
were living in Cannonsburg and were visited by his cousins,
Thomas and William Blacker and wives, Hettie and Ella,
respectively. We also recall that prior to that visit to the
East, Albert and his second wife, Correll, had come West to visit
with those same and other cousins, sons and daughters of Edward
and Althera Blacker.
There remains the concern of the arrival in the U.S. of
Althera Blacker and children. We are cognizant that the 1900
census asked for a statement as to the year of their arrival in
this country. The 1900 census for Star Valley precinct was
obtained which revealed that Edward Blacker, then of Afton,
reported that he arrived in the U.S. in 1881 and Grandma Althera
reported her arrival as being in 1882. This agrees with the
family tradition that Edward came a year ahead of his family.
Another bit of census information to cause wonderment was in
the 1900 Almy census. Comment has already been made regarding
Isaac and Mary Danks Loveday. The entry of Aunt Mary Blacker,
daughter of Edward and Althera, who remained in Almy with her
grandparents, states that her coming to America was in 1879 - the
same as her grandparents. Logically, this appears as an error on
the part of the census taker or an oversight on the one giving
the information. Mary would have been only a few months old when
she arrived in this country should the census date be correct.
Isaac's own statement, that he came in 1800 (wrong in Daddy's
copy -- could be 1880) would still have Mary as only a year and a
few months old. It seems quite improbably that Mary's parents
would have turned her over to her grandparents' care, to remain
in Wales, while they traveled to America.
We are aware, as the story will later relate, that Mary, in
fact, was very much 'raised' by her grandparents and spent little
time in her own parents' home, but, coming to America with her
grandparents when but a baby seems just a little early for her
transfer from her parent's home to the home of her grandparents.
Whether the photo of the Edward Blacker family, taken in the
summer of 1883 in Streator, Illinois, with Mary, the third child,
very much a part of the family, would have any bearing on the
question at hand will be left to the reader to draw his own
conclusions. We want to keep in mind that Great-grandpa and
Great-grandma Loveday were in Illinois at the very time the
family photo was taken and had been for approximately a year and
a half, according to Isaac's own statement. It would seem more
logical that Mary's transfer to her grandparent's home would more
likely come after she became older - and in Almy - for seemingly
the intent was for her to assist her grandparents due to their
poor health, rather than for them to raise Mary from babyhood.
Another unanswerable question to be slipped to the 'back
This story is replete with the term 'regrets' and there are
still other regrets to describe the lack of the full story of
this Blacker family. In a long ago written letter dated 30 August
1930, Fannie A. Blacker, then a 65 year old lady, a first cousin
of Grandpa Edward whom she did not personally know, indicated
that Grandpa Edward was employed in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
This would have been when Fannie, herself, was but a young girl.
She was a daughter of Grandpa Edward's youngest uncle, James, he
who came to America with his older brother and family in 1854,
twenty-seven years prior to Edward's coming in 1881. There seems
little doubt but that Grandpa Edward would have had contact with
James and, perhaps, William's family, for they were living in and
near St. Clair, Pennsylvania, which was between ten and fifteen
miles from Shenandoah. In retrospect it would appear Grandpa
Edward had undoubtedly corresponded with some of his relatives
before he made the decision to leave Wales, however, as has been
previously expressed, we don't know how well he knew the other
family for he, Edward, had never lived near them in Clutton. Too,
the uncles were somewhat older than he.
When Grandma Althera and children arrived, we suspect it was
at Shenandoah where they rejoined Grandpa Edward. According to Uncle Will, who was not born into
the family until after they reached Almy, and from whom we shall
hear more later in the story, Grandma's boat trip over was one
fraught with problems due to storms but, yet, it would seem most
likely that their trip would have been during the summertime of
1882. It would seem quite likely that they remained in
Pennsylvania for their employment, as it was not until in May of
1883 that we learn of them being in Streator, Illinois,
undoubtedly the home of Althera's parents, where their next
little one was to be born.
We rely wholly on family history to confirm Aunt Maria's birth
as being in Streator on the 25th of May 1883. Attempts have been
made by us as well as attempts of the Gardner family to obtain
state records of the birth, but no such appears to be available.
From the photo of the family taken at Streator, it appears they
remained in Streator for a few months after the birth, for baby
Maria appears to have been a few months old when the photo was
taken. The fact that it was taken in Streator is confirmed by the
fact that the photographer's name and address is printed on the
card-board frame of the photo.
The logical deductions resulting from the apparent
circumstances leads us to believe the Lovedays and the Blackers
migrated from Streator to Almy together, either in the late 1883s
or early 1884s.
Isaac Loveday, Born 14 Sep 1821, Broad Hinton, Died 11 May 1910
Mary Danks, Born 5 Nov 1831, Pontypool, Died 14 Apr 1902
Hopefully, the reader is cognizant of the fact that at this
time Wyoming was yet a territory of the United States, created in
1868. Upon their arrival, it would have been another six years
before Wyoming was admitted as a state - the 10th of July 1890.
This last date will become significant to the history of the
Blacker family which will lead them to a new home and a different
occupation. Such a story awaits us.
Parents of Grandma Althera Blacker and her other six brothers
and sisters, two of whom were buried in Wales, Thomas at the age
of 20 and baby, Sarah Ann, 8 months.
This picture of the Edward Blacker family was taken while they were stopping Streator, Illinois on their way to Wyoming from England. From left to right : Sarah Ann, Edward, Mary, Merintha Althera with baby Maria, George standing and Thomas in chair. Baby Maria was born on 25th of May, 1883 in Streator. Picture probably taken during one of the early fall months of 1883. the heavy paper frame of the original picture indicated the picture was taken by a Streator photo shop.