Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joseph Bickerdyke Darby

Joseph Bickerdyke Darby
Joseph is the brother of my gg-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Darby Wainright.  The family immigrated from England in 1841. When I first "got into" genealogy, it was largely because of some fantastic luck I had within the first month.  My gg-grandfather was Britton Wainright.  Genealogists know how wonderful it is to research an uncommon name -- not like my father's name, John Thomas Jones.  I "googled" Britton's name and found a link to a family tree submitted to the LDS site.  It listed the submitter as Martha Darby Rutter.  I took a chance and found Martha through a phone book site.  There she was -- living in Oklahoma!

I called Martha and the hairs on my arm stood up when we realized we were "family" -- 4th cousins to be exact.  Our common ancestor is Jonathon Darby, father of Joseph.  Martha had been researching her history for years and graciously agreed to send me some documents.  She then asked me if I knew where members of this family were buried and I was shocked to find out that they were in a cemetery IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD!  I attended kindergarten right across the street from the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  Martha and I have continued to help each other out over the past 10 years.

The first document Martha sent me was a copy of the Ship's Passenger List for the Parthenon. It sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans on March 20, 1841.  The Darby, Bickerdyke and Sidebottom families traveled together.  Jonathon Darby, the father, was listed as a "painter."  (Joseph, age 11, would make his living as a painter later in his life).

The family traveled in "steerage." What is most interesting is the list of the items they chose to bring.

In addition to 23 packages of clothing and bedding for six, they brought three harps, three violins and a bass viol (listed as family instruments). Music was extremely important to this family. Martha was able to share this picture of her gg-grandfather with his violin.

Who could have predicted that this young family would have two sons and a son-in-law fight in a Civil War in their new country in a short 20 years?


  1. The other item looks like "three harp[e]s" to me. They must be smaller than the orchestral harps I'm familiar with. Imagine all those "family instruments" in steerage! I hope they were granted additional space.
    I've never seen a list of items like this in an immigration record. I love their dedication to their music, and I can imagine that the family played for the other passengers on board the ship.

  2. Thanks. I updated the text. I could not tell what it said.

  3. What a great find -- bedding and music. Gotta sleep. Gotta play! You have done an amazing job digging up documents. I'm going to make a comment on your other post too.


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