Alfred R Partleton (1891-1952)

 

Alfred Partleton was born on 14 April 1891 in Workington, in the Cockermouth registration district of Cumberland, the son of James Partleton and Mary A Stuart:

Let's just establish... Where in the World is Workington?:

  

Alfred's dad, James Partleton, is an engineer in the Moss Bay Iron Works, a mile or so south of the town of Workington, where we see him in the 1901 census:

If you're wondering where that census record came from, I can tell you that it's from the extraordinary, easy to access database of original scans held by Ancestry.co.uk. And if you're inspired by this website to find your own British ancestors as I have done, click here.

Workington at the turn of the century is a highly industrialised town. We have a number of photos of Moss Bay Ironworks, a sight clearly visible from Alfred's house on Moss Bay Road:

At Moss Bay they manufactured rails for railways and exported them all over the world. Below we see men laying beds for the molten iron:

Here's a 121-year-old rail discovered recently in Seattle, USA:

Anyhoo, back to Alfred R Partleton; in 1901 he's just 10, but I sense he doesn't want to work in the steelworks.

As a consequence, the next we see of our Alfred is that he has embarked on a boat at Liverpool, the SS Carmania, and set sail to emigrate to the United States of America. The year is 1910.

Here's two pictures of the landing stage at Liverpool, with the Liver Building in the background of the photo on the right. Step into Alfred's shoes and board the SS Carmania as he sets off on his adventure...

 

Below we see a picture of the SS Carmania:

This ship can carry fully 2,650 passengers. In the photograph below we see passengers actually on board the Carmania, listening to a Sonora Phonograph in 1919:

These passengers are not our Alfred, and he's all on his own - so lets return to him on board the Carmania at Liverpool harbour in 1910.

Below we see the passenger list with Alfred on it. The date is 4 October; Alfred is just 19 years old:

Hold on - I hear you say - our Alfred is fibbing about his age. If we look carefully, we see that most of the passengers are declared to be 'Non Immigrant' - but not Alfred. He going to America for good. This probably wouldn't be allowed if he were a minor (under 21 at that time). So Alfred declares his age to be 23, four years older than his real age.

Alfred is a 19-year-old lad from Workington. If you travel on the Carmania, you can choose your ticket as either 1st class or 3rd class; there's no 2nd class. He's probably travelling 3rd class, as most people did, so let's have a look at the accommodation on board the Carmania:

Mmmm... he's probably not in the State Room pictured above.

And frankly, I can't see him in the drawing room chomping duck stuffed with apple sauce, pictured below:

Ah, now we're getting there:

 

3rd Class 2-Berth Room                3rd Class Dining Room

3rd Class Social Hall                             3rd Class Ladies Room

Unfortunately the picture is trimmed off at the left hand side and is of low quality. Still, it gives us a very nice idea of conditions in 3rd Class on the voyage for Alfred. He has to share a cabin with a stranger, but overall, it looks quite comfortable.

So - all aboard - blow the ship's whistle, and let's set sail. The ship below is the Carmania with the River Mersey and Liverpool behind her. The Liver Building was still not quite finished in 1910:

OK, that's enough about boats. Let's have another look at that passenger list entry.

We can see that Alfred is literate. His dad James is still living on Moss Bay Road, Workington. Alfred appears to give his trade as 'butcher' if I am reading this right.

Alfred's final destination is given as Pittsburgh. This is significant because of all the cities which he could have chosen, Pittsburgh happens to be the home town of his uncle, Tom Partleton, whom he has probably seen only once in his life, when he was 5 years old. Tom Thompson Partleton is the brother of Alfred's dad James - he has his own page in 'In Their Shoes'. Tom has been living in Pittsburgh for fully 24 years in 1910 having emigrated to the USA in 1886, five years before Alfred was born.

So Alfred stayed with his Uncle Tom and Aunt Ada in Pittsburgh. But we know that at some time before 1915, he met and married Cora M Ward, a US citizen. They have their first child, Ruth G Partleton on 27 September 1915. They are living in the city of Cumberland, Maryland. This is confusing because Alfred originally came from the county of Cumberland in England. Best thing is to look at a map:

Above we see that Cumberland is not so far from Pittsburgh. It's actually the home town of Cora's parents John and Ida Ward. Alfred and Cora are living in Cora's parents' house.

Cumberland is about half way between Washington DC and Pittsburgh, in the Appalachian Mountains. It's a small town, population now, as then, is about 20,000:

In 1917, Alfred and Cora have another daughter, Ursula. Soon afterwards, Alfred is faced with the prospect of returning home to Europe:

Above we see Alfred's registration card for the US army for WW1. Remember how he claimed his birth year to be 1887 when he immigrated back in 1910? By now he has moved it closer to his actual age, quoting 1890, though really it was 1891.

The card is full of interesting bits of information. He is described as 'tall' with brown eyes and light hair. His job is as a salesman with the Singer Sewing Machine Company.

Though he registered, Alfred - who had two young children - wasn't called up, and didn't fight in the war.

His address, that of his parents-in-law, is 45 Goethe Street, Cumberland, circled in the map below.

Here's a contemporary picture of nearby Baltimore Street, also circled above.

And here's nearby Decatur Street in 1917, circled in red in the map:

Goethe Street is right next to Historic Highway US 40, which is great for us, because we have some nice pictures of it to put us right into Alfred's shoes... actually we'd need to be on a bus to see these. If we drive west out of town we come to The Narrows, where the river, the road and the railroad all squeeze through the gap in the mountains:

If we drive east, towards Washington DC, after 10 miles we pass the roadside cafe and gas station at Donville Grove;

and we come to the top of Polish Mountain, 15 miles east of Cumberland. Perhaps we'll stop for a cup of coffee and climb the Yonkers observation tower. I bet the views are great:

Ok, lets get off US Highway 40 and take a look at Goethe Street. The only pictures I could find are those of houses currently for sale (in 2007):

   

If you are curious, the first one is $49,990 and the last one is $19900 (only  10,000 !!!).  These houses were built c1910 and were quite new when Alfred lived on the street.

So we move on to the 1920 Census; Alfred and Cora are still living with Cora's parents. Father-in-law John C Ward was apparently an orphan, declaring both of his parents places of birth as 'Unknown'; mother-in-law Ida was born in Maryland of German parents:

Above we note that Alfred and Cora have a new baby, Corinne, who is just 2 months old.

During the 1920s Alfred and Cora have five more children:

James Calvin 1922

Francis Lorrain 1924

Alfred Ward 1929

Elaine 1927

In 1929 they moved to the city of Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia.

The State of West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountain region, is noted for its great natural beauty.

Below we see a picture of Fairmont, set against the backdrop of the mountains:

    

From the census of 1930 we know that they are living within the boundary outlined in blue:

In the 1930 census Alfred is a manager at a sewing machine company in Fairmont, presumably Singer.

 

We are now talking about some people who are very much alive, so I will proceed with a light touch.

The next event we see is Mrs Ada Bowes, a housewife from Workington, arriving at New York on board the SS Scythia:

"Who is Ada Bowes?" I hear you ask, and the answer is that she is Alfred's big sister Ada Partleton (b1884) who married Gerald Bowes in 1908. Ada is coming over to the US of A for a visit to her little brother. It seems that the Bowes domestic budget could not stretch to a ticket for her husband Gerald; she is travelling alone.

Moving on, it appears that record-keeping in the USA was quite strict for all boat passengers, because in February 1937 we see Alfred's eldest daughter Ruth on what looks like a cruise:

The Saturnia is on a round trip, departing New York on 11 February and returning on 18 February 1937. At the bottom left of the page, we see some passengers disembarked at Nassau, so it looks like Ruth has been to the Bahamas at the very least. At this time Ruth is 21 but she gives her age as 26. Why?... I don't know. From the address she gives, we see she has left home and is living at 144 Montgomery Street Newburgh, NY.

And so we are moving on to quite modern times. We know that Alfred and Cora moved back to Cumberland, Maryland, because it is there that we find their children at school in the 1940s:

The following pictures are in the public domain and originated from ancestry.com . They come from the yearbook of Fort Hill High School, Cumberland, Maryland for the year 1941:

In the following photo we see Alfred's son Francis Lorrain [aka Rene] Partleton (b1925), listed as L. Partleton:

In the next page we see Alfred's daughter Elaine who is just 14 years old (b1927):

Here's Elaine aged 18:

On 29 August 1945, not long after this photograph was taken, Elaine 'Lainie' Partleton passed away following brain tumour surgery at John Hopkins Hospital. Her brothers James and Francis were protected from this information for some time as they were still on service overseas in the US armed forces. WW2 was just two weeks over.

Elaine's brother Francis [aka Lorrain or Rene] had enlisted in the US Army in 1943:

Name:

Francis L Partleton

Birth Year:

1924

Race:

White, citizen (White)

Nativity State or Country:

Maryland

State:

U.S. At Large

 

 

Enlistment Date:

18 Mar 1943

Enlistment State:

Maryland

Enlistment City:

Baltimore

Branch:

No branch assignment

Branch Code:

No branch assignment

Grade Code:

Private

Term of Enlistment:

Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law

Component:

Selectees (Enlisted Men)

Source:

Civil Life

 

 

Education:

4 years of high school

Civil Occupation:

Installer-Repairman, Telephone And Telegraph or Chief, Clerk or Railway Shop Dispatcher or Manager, Production or Entertainment Director

Marital Status:

Single, without dependents

Height:

70

Weight:

127

   

Francis is on record for his bravery in World War II:

G.O. No. 79, Hq. 8th Armd. Div., 2 August, 1945, Page 2 - Award of Silver Star
Partleton, Francis L.
Corporal, U.S. Army
Headquarters, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division
Date of Action: March 28, 1945

 

Silver Star Medal Citation:
The Silver Star is presented to Francis L. Partleton (33565283), Corporal, U.S. Army, for gallantry in action against the enemy while serving with Headquarters, 7th Armored Infantry Battalion, 8th Armored Division, in Germany on 28 March 1945. Corporal Partleton volunteered to lead a small patrol behind enemy lines with a mission of setting up an observation post. When the patrol was pinned down by artillery fire, he exposed himself fearlessly in order to find a covered route forward. When his platoon was later given the mission of gaining contact with the enemy, Corporal Partleton volunteered to maintain this contact, allowing the remainder of the platoon to withdraw to safety. His courage, initiative and outstanding devotion to duty reflect great credit on himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. Hometown: Maryland.

Alfred Partleton's son James Calvin Partleton was in the war in the Pacific:

 

Above we see Ensign James C Partleton USCG R aboard LST 782 (Tank Landing Ship) at Pearl Harbor, December 1944 en route to Iwo Jima.

We're getting a bit too close to the lives of living persons now, so I'll draw this page to a close; Alfred Raymond Partleton passed away in October 1952 but leaves behind a number of descendants currently living in the USA today.

One last thing: that 1941 Fort Hill High School Yearbook is a stunning and fascinating piece of United States social history. Click here to see some of it:

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