Annie Savage Sowerby, Neglected English Rose

She lies next to her husband, our tiny English rose, the bottom half of the stone glaringly blank thanks to their greedy son, Ike, who was too busy spending the family fortune - and some say, too cheap - to add his mother's name and dates below his father's on the black granite stone.

So there she lies for all eternity, neglected in death as she was in life after being uprooted from her beloved England and transplanted thousands of miles away in the gawdawful place where the Greedy Son would be born a few years later.

Oddly, most of the descendants who faithfully place flowers on the graves each year aren't the least bit disturbed that Annie's half is blank.

"It's just always been that way", they say.

It wasn't always this way, of course....

Victoria had been on the throne just over a decade when our English rose entered the world in Bolton, Westmorland, England, on March 6th, 1848, the eleventh child of John Savage and the former Ruth Dodd, who resided at the end of Bolton Lane. They named her Anne, but for the rest of her life she would be known as "Annie".

Annie's father was a farmer, but probably didn't have any crops or livestock of his own. More likely, he tended Eden Grove's.

Annie's little corner of England is on the right
Annie's little corner of England is on the right

Like her siblings before her, she was duly christened at All Saints, the village church, as would be the Savages' twelfth child, Thomas, two years hence. He would be their second Thomas, the first taken by the angels in 1831 before he was even a month old.

All Saints, Bolton, Westmorland
All Saints, Bolton, Westmorland

Annie's childhood would've revolved around worship at All Saints and religious celebrations, any events at "the Grove" that required or allowed the participation of villagers, and Market Day in Appleby, 3 miles distant.

Like most girls from large families of modest means, when she was old enough, Annie "went into service" with a family in Long Marton, on the other side of the river for which the Eden Valley was named.

In 1871, a young farm laborer named Philip Sowerby was employed in Bleatharn, near Warcop on the other side of Appleby, but much closer to Long Marton than his own village of Blencarn in Cumberland.

How they met is lost to history. It only matters that they did, and on the 26th of May, 1874, 26-year-old Annie married 22-year-old Philip, now a coal miner. Most likely the wedding took place at All Saints, but family records only show Bolton.

Two weeks before their first anniversary, daughter Mary Elizabeth entered the world in Crook, a mining town in neighboring Durham. She was followed two years later in Long Marton by Arthur, my future grandfather. By 1881, Philip had moved the little family to Penrith, in Cumberland, where he was a "carter master" (whatever that was) with three men in his employ. Annie now had her own live-in servant girl. Two more children would arrive in Penrith: Ruth in the spring of 1881 and John in the autumn of 1883.

The Maasdam, also built by Harland & Wolff and very similar to the British Crown, but with a red smokestack ringed in black.
The Maasdam, also built by Harland & Wolff and very similar to the British Crown, but with a red smokestack ringed in black.

Life as Annie knew it was about to change forever

In the early 1830s, Annie's uncle Thomas Savage had emigrated to Buffalo, New York, where he had established a dairy. By 1859 her brother James had joined him. Annie received letters urging her and Philip to come to Buffalo.

The American Line had weekly sailings to Philadelphia from Liverpool, departing "every Wednesday" (its newspaper ads proclaimed) and sometimes Saturdays. Apparently there were no exceptions for holidays, as Boxing Day (Dec 26th) 1883 was a Wednesday and the day that Philip, Annie and the children sailed for America on the British Crown. Built in Belfast in 1879 by Harland & Wolff, the same company that would later build the Titanic, H&W leased the British Crown to the American Line whose ships' names, oddly, all began with "British". It would be renamed the Amsterdam in 1887.

Even in cabin (second) class, crossing the North Atlantic in the dead of winter was not for the faint-hearted. Once on land again, Philip and family would see more snow than they'd ever seen in their lives as they made their way from Philadelphia to Buffalo, NY, where Annie and the children would stay with relatives while Philip went on to Osage City, Kansas...Kansas!... where he would return to coal mining while scouting land suitable for a dairy farm.

By the summer of 1884, Annie and the children had joined Philip in O.C.. By March 1885, they were counted as residents of both Osage City and Emporia, 20 miles away, where Philip had purchased the first of many parcels of land which would be part of the Sowerby Dairy on North Merchant St., just beyond Emporia's city limits. No record survives of Annie's first impressions of the place she would live for the rest of her life, but as one who has lived though many scorching Kansas summers, I strongly suspect she regretted ever leaving the gentler climes of her native northern England.

Osage City at least had a rather vibrant community of English immigrants, as did Burlingame, the area's other coal mining town. Emporia, not so much, as most of its residents were from "back east" or Midwest states like Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Sadly, some time before the 1885 KS state census, baby John died. Family lore says it happened in Buffalo, but no records have ever been found to verify this or his actual place of death. John, however, would not be Philip and Annie's last child. That distinction goes to Isaac, aka "Ike, the greedy son", born in Osage City in 1888.

The dairy prospered and on New Year's Day 1907, Arthur, the un-greedy son who would inherit it, wed my 20-yr-old future grandmother, May.

They'd met while he was delivering milk to the family for whom she worked as a kitchen maid, so it's ironic that Grandma turned out to be something of a snob. She didn't marry an immigrant...she married the eldest son of a successful dairy family. Having in-laws from England living across the street was not an opportunity for her children to expand their knowledge of other cultures, let alone learn about their English roots. Not only did May avoid her mother-in-law as much as possible, she allowed - even encouraged - her children to do so, too. In fact, my mother seemed rather proud that she and her five siblings "never had much to do with Grandma Annie because she talked funny - we couldn't understand a thing she said".

So because Annie spoke British English, specifically Cumbrian, she was shunned by her own grandchildren who didn't have a clue that where she grew up, everybody "talked funny".

Annie in 1912 before the long-anticipated trip to  her beloved England
Annie in 1912 before the long-anticipated trip to her beloved England

A year after Arthur marriage, his eldest sister Mary, distraught over the failure of her own marriage and recent death of an infant daughter, committed suicide by setting the family outhouse and herself on fire (or as my mother so indelicately put it, "torched herself in the toilet".)

Having lost an infant son and then a grown daughter, ignored by her eldest son's wife and children living a stone's throw away, one bright spot for Annie was the summer of 1912 when Philip took her back to England for a month. In anticipation of the journey, they bought new clothes and had studio portraits done by a local photographer, perhaps to send ahead to relatives they would visit.

No account of the trip survives, but they brought back photos of Eden Grove Manor in Bolton and son Arthur's birthplace in Long Marton, in the home of Annie's sister Isabella Robinson. Letters from Sowerby relatives in Penrith and Savage relatives in Appleby also mention their visits. Family lore says one of Annie received packages of newspapers from a brother in Penrith, supposedly a newspaper editor, but new information indicates the sender was a nephew in Buffalo, and the papers were American, not English.

Philip & Annie circa 1919, at the "home place" on North Merchant, Emporia, KS.
Philip & Annie circa 1919, at the "home place" on North Merchant, Emporia, KS.
Widow Annie (center) circa 1924, with dau-in-law May (left) and dau Ruth (right).
Widow Annie (center) circa 1924, with dau-in-law May (left) and dau Ruth (right).

Other than the visit to England, Philip never flaunted his wealth. Instead, it was put into trust funds he set up for Annie, the surviving children and their children.

All for naught, it turned out.

Ike, the greedy son, quietly had his father declared incompetent, and through several shady legal maneuvers secretly transferred every bit of money and control of Philip's land and property from the trusts to himself.

Property which included the house occupied by his widowed sister Ruth and her children that Philip had always said would be hers on his death. Instead, after Philip's death in 1924, Ruth was forced to rent it from brother Ike, who "came around like clockwork" on the first of every month to collect.

As for Annie, one family member recalled she nearly starved on the "allowance" Ike gave her (most likely Ruth's rent money), grudgingly doled out whenever he came by with wife Jessie to show off a brand-new car or some expensive new bauble. By 1930, Ruth and children had moved from "her" house into the home place with Annie, who died two years later at the age of 84.

Ike never quite got around to adding her name and dates below Philip's on the stone they share at Maplewood-Memorial Lawn Cemetery, even after "making a killing" on the sale of a chunk of Sowerby land to KDOT for the bypass around the north side of Emporia.

Instead, he and Jessie built a "show home" in the former pasture across the driveway from the "home place" (formerly Philip and Annie's house, now occupied by Arthur and May and their daughter Edna and her family), a home they would later sell to KSTC (Kansas State Teacher's College, now ESU) before moving to Birmingham AL to be near Jessie's daughter Kathleen. The college used it as its Home Economics Lab.

In the early 1960s the "home place" was moved to the other end of town and turned into a rental property, which for a short time was rented by one of Philip and Annie's great-granddaughters who had no idea at the time she was living in her mother's childhood home! ESU built tennis courts on the spot formerly occupied by the "home place", and part of the stone wall Philip built circa 1890 to shore up the front yard is still visible at one corner.

Despite the tragedies, some photos of Annie suggest she retained her English sense of humor, so perhaps she'd get a chuckle, as I always did, at the irony of ESU situating its Phys Ed Center in a pasture where Sowerby Dairy cows once grazed, a building which includes a salad bar where overweight two-legged "cows" now "graze".

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Comments 39 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

I love these family stories--with foibles and secreets revealed. We all have them and yours is sooo well documented and fun to read--and the pictures--just great. I must say that having an ancesstress who "torched herself in the outhouse" is especially colorful.LOL If you ask any American where his family came from and how they happend to emigrate to America, you will get an interesting story. Thanks for this one.Thumbs up.


KScharles 8 years ago

This is such an interesting story and loving tribute to your Annie, Neglected English Rose. Knowing you and your meticulous genealogy research, I KNOW these facts about Annie; but you have let us really know the time and places and people of her life and thereby have given her immortality. I have read that no one ever dies until the last person speaks his or her name. I have also read, loosely translated, that genealogy without the stories is just paper work. How many priceless family stories do we all miss because we're "too busy" to follow up the hints or leads we find?


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

KScharles, thanks for the kind words and for reminding us of the "no one ever dies" theory. So true! Same for "genealogy without the stories". Too many who profess to be family historians stop looking after getting an ancestor's birth and/or death dates, and thereby miss much more interesting information.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

MORE Jamagenee, MORE!! I know you have more stories like this. I love them! Just like the saying goes, the birthdate and date of death are just numbers. It's the dash in between that really matters. It's spectacular that you know these things!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Proud Mom, I've been trying to find out what happened in the dashes for a couple of decades. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but all in all it's an interesting addiction...uh, hobby. Philip and Annie are on my mother's side, but my dad's side has some colorful characters that I'll probably write about soon.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Can't wait. I've been on quite a journey following all of your publishings across the internet. You don't limit your humor to hubpages, do you? I published a new one at your suggestion. Yes, an admitted fluff piece--but with pictures!!!!!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Your new hub http://hubpages.com/literature/An-Apology-for-the-... is GREAT! 

The "Annie" hub was my second, back when I had some silly notion hubs *had* to be *serious writing* a la college term papers or articles worthy of publishing in some stuffy journal. But the best advice I can think of for new hubbers is the same an English Prof repeated when assigning the aforementioned term papers: "Just WRITE!". Anything and often.  Even fluff pieces have a place here.  A fluff piece with pictures, even better.  (The pic on its side was a nice touch, btw. lol)  


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

LOL! That wasn't on purpose. I just turned the camera sideways to take the picture and didn't know how to edit it before loading it onto my hub. but my secret is safe with you, isn't it? Hee Hee!!

I like the serious stuff. Sometimes my sides need a break from laughing :-))))


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

what a wonderful account! You've really brought her to life, thank you.

You could check some of hte missing facts, if you wanted to - for example, when you say, "Most likely the wedding took place at All Saints, but family records only show Bolton." you could get the marriage certificate?


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, LG. Locating the marriage record is on my To Do list. Until I do, I say the marriage "most likely" took place at All Saints, not the newer Methodist chapel, because Annie's parents do not appear to have been the sort who'd break tradition and change religions. But after coming to Kansas, Annie did join the Methodist church.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Here is the GRO reference number, for what looks like their marriage:

Marriages June 1874   

Savage Ann  W.Ward 10b 1175  

SOWERBY Philip   W. Ward 10b 1175


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

And this is very likely to be her birth:

Births March 1848

SAVAGE Ann   W Ward 25 506


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Thanks, JamaGenee - For me, that is a wonderful piece of local history, as I am originally from the area. I also share the same birthday, so the tale is doubly interesting to me - I am so glad that you are keeping the memories alive.

Not surprised about the accent - they used to speak a completely different dialect up there. Don't know if you are aware of this site, but it allows you to track how the surname has spread over the last 100 years - I used to know a few Sowerbys at school!

http://www.nationaltrustnames.org.uk/

Thanks again for the fascinating hub.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LondonGirl, a girl after my own heart!  That IS Annie's birth record as well as her and Philip's marriage in the GRO.   Thanks for the nudge that has inspired me to get off my duff and order the appropriate microfilms from the local LDS Family History Center!

Sufi, what a small world!  The same birthday!  Wow!  That makes you what, almost 161?  You certainly don't look it!  lol!  Seriously...I'm not surprised you knew a few Sowerbys at school - they're everywhere.  'Go forth and multiply' seems to have been their motto, in addition to naming all male children Isaac, Philip or William, and all females Mary or Elizabeth.  For that reason, whenever I take another stab at finding the next (earlier) generation, I keep a new bottle of Excedrin close at hand.  But, yes, the idea is to keep the memories alive, to spare future generations the frustration of starting their search at zero as I did.  And thanks for the link to nationaltrustnames.  Don't know how I missed that one!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

You can order the certificates on-line, if you want to. £7 a go.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

As you know the GRO reference numbers, you can order online here:

http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

You make your family history come alive! This was so much fun to read. Will look forward to reading more.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, you're most welcome! There are more family tales on my blog, Saturday's Child (link is in my profile).


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

I love to read old family histories and this one was wonderful. Those folks who traveled so far away from home must have been very brave and unlike today, probably never saw their old homes or families again, only contact through letters. Sounds like a rough life. How good of you to remember Annie.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Dolores, glad you enjoyed this. Knowing how life turned out for Annie in her adopted home, she had to have been blessed with an enormous capacity for enduring (and surviving) life's speed bumps.


SavageBeast 6 years ago

Thanks so much for this! I was researching the Savage family tree and this really brought it to life! I am a descendant of Annie's younger brother, Thomas (he was my great-great-grandfather), so I guess we're fourth cousins.

I think Thomas had better luck in life, setting up a draper's store called Savages in Grimsby (in eastern England), and the family hasn't moved more than 10 miles in all the years since.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

SavageBeast, I'm thrilled you found this, but wish you'd left your contact information. I'd love to know more about Thomas besides his birth, that he was married to Emily RUSLING and that they had a son Herbert (your ggf?). Also, I have several old family photos supposedly taken when Annie and Philip visited England, but have no clue who the people in them are. Sure could use your help!


SavageBeast 6 years ago

This is so exciting! I've emailed you at the gmail address on your blog.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, this is great, once again you have brought it all to life, and I see you have managed to find a long lost relative, above! wow, good luck with it, I expect to come over and read all about it! lol cheers nell


FloBe profile image

FloBe 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I love hearing about family histories (and we all have them!) So many interesting stories to tell. I'm glad you gave Annie a voice which obviously was not heard when she was alive. Her story touched my heart.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

FloBe, it never occurred to me until reading your comment that I have indeed given Annie a voice. Thanks!


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Very enjoyable reading ~ but quite a sad tale :(


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Trish. I've often wished I could go back in time and have long conversations with Annie, peppered with lots of hugs.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Yes, going back in time would solve a lot of genealogical mysteries :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Indeed it would, Trish! I'd start with ancestors who must've dropped out of the sky as fully-grown adults, because no trace can be found that they ever had parents! ;D


John Holden profile image

John Holden 5 years ago

Wow jamaGenee, you've inspired me and stirred me up.

What a great hub.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're most welcome! Thanks!


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

JamaGenee, I got stuck on your wondering what a carter master was, and so I googled it, lol. This is what I found:

"Carters worked with horses and were involved in carting goods and services around the city. Carters would provide the transport services that railways didn't provide. Some carters worked around the docklands carrying goods to and from the ships arriving in the busy port. Carters had and still have a society and took a lot of pride in their work and their horses. The work was often heavy and required heavy horses such as shire horses. Carters as trades men go back hundreds of years."

I thought this was fascinating! I learned not only that you have a lovely style when writing about the past- you seem to slip into appropriate and formal language- but I also learned there was a proud group of workers called carters! I imagine a Master Carter was one highly trained in the art of cartering, what do you think?

Poor Annie, dead without an epitaph. Perhaps if the first Philip Sowerby had lived... but then you wouldn't have been quite you!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thank you, Story, for the kudos and for the definition of "carter master"! Whatever goods Philip and his crew carted (transported) in Penrith, he would've taken great pride in doing so. From newspaper clippings in KS and recollections of townspeople, he didn't shy away from doing even menial tasks well, and demanded the same from anyone who worked for him.

As for "slipping into appropriate and formal language", it's sometimes a curse as well as a blessing! ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

So glad that I came back to re-read this as I learned more about carters and was reminded again about some of your family history. Always fascinating as I am sure that while each person's history is unique and different...there are similarities in some histories that are certainly relatable.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, there are many occupations that due to "progress" and technology no longer exist today but make old censuses fascinating reading! ;D


Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia Allain 24 months ago from Central Florida

Remarkable family story. Well done.

I'm encouraging the genealogy group I'm in to move beyond just the dates and names to recording family stories like this.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 24 months ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks! Yes, Virginia - sorry, couldn't resist that one - there's more interesting stuff "between the dashes" than one will ever find by concentrating on the dates. In fact, without getting between the dashes, one will miss many errors and inconsistencies that one otherwise accepts as "carved in stone". (Couldn't resist that one either - LOL!)

Feel free to print out this hub and the one about my ggm Mary Weaver (McClellan) Cupp and take them to your next meeting.

Thanks for stopping, reading and commenting! ;D

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