Annagusta was one of five children born to an English immigrant and his wife in the lower east side of Manhattan during the 1840's. Their family was likely poor and lived in the tenements during the time that NYC was growing rapidly with immigrants coming from Ireland and Germany. One of Anna's brothers was Edward. They were born two years apart; Anna in 1843 and Edward in 1845. During the years between 1845 and 1855 the family lived in at least six different places. During that time tenement apartments commonly had poor conditions that would have been filthy, cramped and crowded as were the streets. Their father was a butcher working in the Fulton Market.
According to the 1850 Federal Census all of the family members were living together in the 17th ward and the NYC Directory had them living near 35 Stanton Street. The census also states that Anna was attending school, Edward wasn't old enough yet to be going.
In the New York State Census of 1855 the family is still all in NYC but the NYC Directory has now them living at 105 First Avenue. This is the last record that has the whole family together. By 1860, Edward is no longer found living with the family in NYC. He is found in the census living with the B.W Barrows family in Pea Ridge, Brown, Illinois. He is working on the farm and attending school. He is 14 years old. His sister was still living with the family in NYC working as a meat trimmer. My question is why and how did a 14 year boy end up in Illinois so far from his family? Why did he leave? How did he get there?
Could Edward West have been part of the Children's Aid Society's Orphan Trains? Could this be a plausible theory? It is one that I am currently beginning to explore. Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated. The family was poor. Edward was of the right age to find himself getting into trouble on the streets of NYC. The Orphan Train could have provided an opportunity for him to get out of the city and try to make a better life for himself.
Edward stayed in Illinois. He got married to Julia Ann Parker. They had a farm and lived in Clayton, Adams, Illinois until at least 1920 where the 1920 Federal Census states that he was 74 years old and widowed.
Anna left the city too. She got married to Charles W. Drake in 1861, the year her mother died, and moved to the rolling hills of Dutchess County, New York. She lived there through the end of the 19th century and then moved to Wayne County, New York, first in Sodus and then finally moving to Marion, NY.
At sometime between 1920-1925 Edward found his way to Wayne County, New York too. Family stories and pictures state that Ed moved close to his family and the 1925 New York State Census confirms this. In 1925 Edward is living in Arcadia, NY with his sister-in law Estella. She was Anna and Edward's brother George West's widow. Below is a picture of Anna and Edward that was taken at the Drake home in Marion, NY. It was probably taken sometime between 1920 and 1923 when Anna died from Chronic Nephritis. It makes me wonder, did they keep in contact throughout their whole lives? Did they see each other at all between 1855 and 1920? I wonder the story behind the picture? I have a few pictures that were taken on this day. It seemed to be a big deal as there were many family photographs taken capturing the occasion. What seperated them and what brought them back together?
|Annagusta West Drake and Edward West|