Monday, July 12, 2010

Unable to Find Abel

Abel Armitage, that is. And it’s not exactly that I can’t find him. I just can’t find his beginning, before 1841, or his end, after 1880.

Abel is my great-great-grandfather. He was born in Little Horton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England, in about 1821. To complicate matters, another Abel Armitage was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in about 1824. I hope the birth years will help me keep these two men straight.

My first knowledge of Abel was on the death certificate of his daughter who is my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen, where his name and country of birth, England, were named. Since Elizabeth lived in Jefferson County, Ohio and had come to the U.S. at the age of 12, in 1864, I hoped to find Abel and his family in Jefferson County, also. Elizabeth married in April, 1870, just months before the 1870 census was taken, so I knew I would not find her with her parents.

I found Abel, age 49, and his wife, Ann, plus 4 children, in the 1880 census, living in Second Ward, Steubenville, Ohio. At that time Abel was disabled ("maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled") and had been unemployed for 8 months. That census was taken on June 10, 1880.

I have a note at the bottom of the 1880 census transcription sheet which reminds me that the census year began June 1, 1879 and ended May 31, 1880; that the census included all individuals living on the first day of June, 1880; and that those who had died since June 1, 1880 (and up to the day the census-take came), were to be included in the census. It is possible that Abel could have died as early as June 1, 1880.

I have been unable to find Abel (or his wife Ann) after the 1880 census. He is not in the death records transcriptions; not in the newspapers; not in a cemetery index. Nowhere have I been able to find him, nor a hint of him, other than in the obituaries of his children in which only his name appears. Did he go back to England? Did he move to West Virginia or Kentucky or Pennsylvania? Or did he die in Ohio and no one recorded his death? Abel was a coal miner in the 1880 census. Did he work as a breaker boy (a position for boys too young to mine and the old and/or disabled who couldn't mine) even though he was disabled? Perhaps not if he was unemployed for 8 months. Did he die in a mine accident and if so, how would I find out about it?

Earlier records show Abel Armitage (spelled Harmatage), age 49, in the 1870 U.S. census, living in Second Ward, Steubenville, Ohio, this time with wife Ann, age 39, with 6 children (if they are all his children) ages 1 to 22 years. He was an illiterate coal-miner who was born in England.

Abel’s final naturalization record for U. S. citizenship (with his name spelled Armiddage) was filed August 17, 1874, in Jefferson County, Ohio.

British records reveal Abel, age 39, in the 1861 U.K. census with wife Ann, age 34, and daughters Ann, age 11, and Elizabeth, age 9, plus another son, living in Trimdon Colliery Villages, Durham.

The 1851 U. K. census shows Abel, age 30, living in Bowling, Bradford, Yorkshire, with his wife Eliza, 36 years, and one daughter, Ann, 10 months. (My mother had said that Elizabeth had a sister named Ann.)

In the 1841 U.K. census, Abel Armitage, age 20, was living with G _ _ e Ratcliffe, age 30 and Hannah, age 20, in Bradford, Horton, Yorkshire.

Based on the above U.K. census records, I believe this is my gggrandfather. But how to find earlier and later records?

I was excited when FindMyPast offered free time on their site during the soccer games. I devoted some time to search before the game so when I signed on I could go directly to the sources I thought were mine. Sadly, I came away empty-handed.

I’m not ready to claim Abel as a brick wall yet because I’m sure I haven’t yet exhausted all resources, and yet I just don’t know where to look next.

Are there any other Armitage researchers out there?


  1. I have hit many brick walls in my search for ancestors as well. Maybe one of these days you will find Abel when you least expect it! :)

  2. I'm still looking too!!!

  3. Hi Nancy! I too am researching Armitages and have just run across Abel. I am from his son Matthew's tree.

  4. Kimberly, how good to "meet" you. I don't know who Matthew is. Was he a son of Abel and Ann (Bell) Armitage? I have their children as Peter, Isabelle, Robert James, Jacob B., Abel Bell, and John George. Were there others? Or perhaps he was a grandson? If you want to contact me by email, I added an email contact link: myancestorsandme at gmail dot com.


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