From St Helens to Galveston, Texas

Galveston Tickles – Part 1

The only family I know to have emigrated to the United States from the Lancashire ‘heartland’ of the Tickles, are James and Ann Maria Tickle and their children, who moved to Galveston, Texas, in the 19th century. My interest in this family stems from snippets of letters shown to me by my second cousin. One was signed ‘Herbert Tickle’ and the other ‘Joseph and James’. I decided to try to find out who had sent them. Here is the story I uncovered …

James Tickle was born on 11 February 1838 in the area that was to become St. Helens, Lancashire, in the north-west of England. To find out more about this area, click here. His father, William Tickle, was a collier, born in nearby Thatto Heath in 1808. His mother Ellen or Helen Bedell, was born in Windle, Cheshire, around 1803. St. Helens is in the Parish of Prescot and James was baptised on 11 March 1838, when he was four weeks old, at St. Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire. (In the north of England, it is common to drop the ‘h’ at the start of a word, so Ellen and Helen would be pronounced the same.)

S Mary the Virgin Church, Prescot

By the time James was born, St. Helens had become a centre for coal-mining and glass-blowing, with many mines in the area. The rapid expansion of factories and the growth of the railways had led to a big increase in the demand for coal, and it is estimated a million tons of coal was being produced annually in the St. Helens district, and thousands of men were employed in the local mines.

Winding house / pit headgear at Sutton Heath Colliery.

Being a miner was a hard life. They were forced to work in confined spaces, often with as little as a few feet headroom, so they were bent double. Sometimes they had to work naked, up to their waists in water. Their health was frequently impaired due to inhaling dust and poisonous fumes from the minerals in the surrounding rocks, and they faced constant danger from explosions, flooding, and the collapse of the roof and its supports.

Women and children also worked underground, for up to 12 hours a day, and for lower wages than men. In the year that James was born there was a terrible accident at a coal mine near Barnsley. Storms caused a stream to overflow and flood Huskar Colliery, causing the death of 26 children – 11 girls aged from 8 to 16, and 15 boys between 9 and 12 years of age. The disaster came to the attention of  Queen Victoria, who ordered a Royal Commission to investigate the conditions of workers, especially children, in the mines. The results were published in 1842, and led to the Mines Act, which prohibited women and children under ten from working underground in coal mines.

James did not follow his father down the mine, but became first a mechanic, then a bricklayer. When he was 22, he married Ann Maria Bennet, daughter of James and Hannah Bennett. James Bennett was also a bricklayer. The marriage took place on 9 September 1860 at St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, where James Tickle had been baptised.

From censuses and other records, it appears that James had only one sibling. His sister, Mary, was three years younger than him, and never married (again, as far as can be ascertained).

To find out what happened next to James & Ann Maria, read the next episode …

1 thought on “From St Helens to Galveston, Texas”

  1. Gregory John Tickle

    Melody – You have done an amazing amount of work. I love your insight and devotion to our families. I’m reading details about my grandparents wedding (John + ‘Boots’ ), which I did not know…thank you. We are the Galveston Tickle’s and decedents of Herbert, Ann Marie, and James. We definitely share ancestors.
    My father John Brooks (age 92) loves your posts about the family. I believe you’ve been in touch with Randall Brooks and Robert Brian and exchanged information. Thank you again for your hard work and enthusiasm.

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