Nebraskan Tickles … and a marriage mystery

This month I began what I hope will be a collaborative project working on all the Tickles / Tickels / Tickells listed in the 1900 US census. I’ve made a start with a family that was previously unknown to me – George Tickle and his wife, Mary, who emigrated from Liverpool, Lancashire in the 19th century, settling in Callaway, Custer County, Nebraska.

They are the only Tickles shown in Nebraska at this date, although there are some with the name Tichel, Tejkl etc. who are probably of German or Scandinavian descent.

When I first researched the family using online records, it seemed straightforward. However, on a closer look, some of the dates did not add up. I’ll explain what I know and where the mystery lies.

George’s Ancestors

In the 1900 census, George’s birth date is shown as April 1852. He applied for a passport in 1924, giving his birth on the application form1 as 20 April 1852 in Liverpool, England. Liverpool Record Office has a baptism record2 for a George Tickle, born 20 April 1852; he was baptised in St Anne, Stanley, Liverpool on 25 July 1852. St Anne Stanley was a church consecrated in 1831, serving  the districts known as Old Swan and Stoneycroft. They lie in West Derby, on the eastern side of the city of Liverpool. On the baptism record3, his father is shown as William Tickle, a carter, and his mother’s name is Emma.

The Family in England

I believe George was the son of William Tickle b.1811 in the village of Upholland in West Lancashire, England and Emma Therme or Tharme b.1810 from the village of Cotton in Staffordshire. They married in Liverpool in 1839 and had at least five children. I will write about them in my next post. As is often the case, the family named their children after relatives. There are a number of Tickles with similar names who appear on the censuses in West Derby at this time.

Journey to America

Both the 1900 census and the passport application have George’s immigration year as 1876. I believe this may be a year out. There is a record of a George Tickle4 arriving in New York from Liverpool on 12 Apr 1875, on board the ship Baltic. This would be 8 days before his 23rd birthday, and the passenger list shows this George as aged 23. (it could have taken 8 days for him to clear immigration) His occupation is shown as Laborer.

Other Information on the 1900 Census

George is shown as born in England, a naturalised citizen, living at Delight, Custer County with his wife, Mary, and six children. He is a farmer, in a mortgaged property. Mary is shown on the census as also born in England in July 1853 and her date of immigration is 1880.

The census records the couple had been married for 22 years and had 9 children, 7 of them living. Six of the children are listed on the census with their parents.

The Marriage

This is where there is a puzzle. According to the census information, the couple married in 1798. This was two years after George arrived in America but two years before Mary joined him. Where did they marry?

The most likely marriage I have found took place on 26 Feb 1878 at Saint Nicholas Church in Liverpool. The groom was George Tickle, aged 27, and a fireman. His father, William was a cart owner. The bride, Mary Banister, was 24 and the daughter of a farmer, named Joseph Banister.

The marriage entry for George Tickle and Mary Banister

George and Mary are both buried in Sand Valley Cemetery, Callaway, Custer County, Nebraska and have entries in Find A Grave. Mary is shown as Mary Bannister Tickle, born 4 Jul 1853. I am unsure where this information came from but it is possibly from a descendant or local records. It appears to confirm that George’s wife was Mary Banister and that the Liverpool marriage certificate is theirs.

The marriage took place in winter, the quietest season on a farm, so George may have travelled to England to marry – perhaps he wed a sweetheart he left behind when he emigrated? However, I have found no record of George Tickle either arriving in England or returning to America. It also surprises me that someone who arrived as a laborer could afford to make a return trip just two years later, but it appears that was what he did. It could be that George was a redemptioner – sponsored by an employer – who may have paid for his return passage in order for him to marry and bring his bride out in due course.

Mary Banister

There is a baptism record4 for Mary Banister on 26 Jul 1853 in St Peter and St Nicholas, Liverpool. Her mother is Elizabeth Banister, a widow, living in Brunswick Road. As yet, I have been unable to substantiate a marriage between a Joseph Banister and Elizabeth, or a death for Joseph within 9 months of Mary’s birth. I have found potential records but the dates or details are not quite consistent.

George & Mary’s Children

These are the nine children I have found. Those who appeared in the 1900 census are shown with a red star. Mary and Jessie both died as young children. The oldest child, Emma Jane, was born5 in February 1879 in West Derby, and was christened6 in the same church as her father on 6 April 1879. Interestingly, George’s occupation is stated on the baptism record as Carter, like his father.

Mary and her daughter, Emma Jane arrived in Philadephia7 on board the British Crown on 29 June 1880. I have not been able to ascertain when George returned to the United States.

Why Nebraska?

We can only speculate on what took George Tickle to Nebraska. Some Midwestern areas of the States were keen to increase their populations and they encouraged immigrants from Europe with pamphlets and newspaper adverts. Nebraska created an Immigration Bureau to “sell the state” to potential immigrants with the promise of free land under the Homestead Act. In order to qualify you had to become a US citizen. George was naturalised on 9 November 1886.

It is also possible that when George left England he had no particular plans to settle in Nebraska. Many railroads were built across the state in the 19th century and recruiters for the railroad would meet ships in New York and bring the immigrants to Nebraska on the train. On his daughter’s birth certificate George’s occupation is stated as fireman, so it is possible that he worked as a fireman or stoker on a steam train.

Visiting Home

Later in their lives, George and Mary returned to visit Britain a few times. There are records of them travelling to and from Liverpool from 1900. For the latter visit, George applied for a US passport for himself and Mary, as stated earlier.

In 1903, when George returned to the States, he brought with him his nephew, Robert, aged 27. I have not yet identified exactly who Robert was and whether he remained in the United States.


George died on 15 Feb 1935, Mary on 10 Mar 1943. Both were buried in Sand Valley Cemetery, Callaway, Custer County, Nebraska.


1 United States Passport Applications, Nebraska. Certificate number:429304.

2 England & Wales Births 1837-2006, West Derby, Lancashire Volume 8B Page 368

3 Lancashire Baptisms 1832-1864, Archive reference: 283-STA-2-1, Page 112

4 New York City Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, NARA roll number 397, NARA publication number M237, Film number 000175753

5 England & Wales Births 1837-2006, West Derby, Lancashire, Volume 8B Page 607

6 Lancashire Baptisms 1872-1883, Archive reference 283-STA-2-3, Page 69

7 Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1948, NARA publication number M360, NARA roll number 140, Film number 000419563

2 thoughts on “Nebraskan Tickles … and a marriage mystery”

  1. It was fairly common for immigrants in the 1800s to return home somewhere in Europe and then come back to the U.S. My peasant ancestors came and went back to Slovakia several times. Steerage wasn’t all that expensive. The immigration date in the 1900 census is usually the first date of arrival in America and doesn’t account for any return trips.

    1. Thanks very much, Linda. I didn’t know that.
      I assumed once they went, they stayed unless they made lots of money!
      I haven’t been able to find information online yet about any return trips George and Mary made prior to 1897 but perhaps these haven’t been digitised yet.


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