Why Margaret Came to America
That still left the question of why Margaret – the youngest of six children – would leave her large family in England for America. Here are some thoughts, steps toward unraveling her mystery.
A significant error in the 1900 Census, showing Margaret coming to America in 1877, led to initial confusion. That error made it appear that she left home at age 20, about the time her father died. Futher research in English and American census records, however, turned up the correct date. First, Maggie Gunyon, age 13, born in England, was enumerated in the home of Robert and Fanny Gunyon in Milwaukee in the 1870 Census [surname mistranscribed Gwnyer]. Then the 1871 Census for Yorkshire, England, has no Maggie in the William and Ann Legard household.
A search of ship’s passenger logs revealed that “Margt Ledgar,” born about 1858, age 7, female, nationality English, origin England, had arrived in New York on 7 Aug 1865. She was traveling with Robert Gunyon and Fanny Gunyon of the USA; their ports of departure were Liverpool, England, and Queenstown, Ireland, their destination the USA. Thus, in late July or early August 1865, Margaret Ledgar [later Legard] left her native Yorkshire, England, to live with Robert and Fanny Gunyon of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Gunyons adopted her as their daughter, although we’ve not seen the documents.
Newspaper and legal journal articles concerning the wills made by Robert and Fanny in early 1892 state that the couple had no children of their own – and reveal the family connection. Fanny was the sister of Margaret’s mother Ann (Craven) Legard, and so was Margaret’s aunt. We surmise that the families thought good opportunities would be available in America for Margaret, and she could be a daughter and companion to Fanny. Robert Gunyon was a very active businessman as will be shown. Thus Fanny likely craved having a child in the house.
Adoptive Parents Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon
We know a good deal about Robert and Fanny who, the 1850 and 1860 U.S. census records tell us, were born in Scotland and England respectively. Once the sister connection between Fanny (Craven) Gunyon and Ann (Craven) Legard was understood, many records for the family were found in English and American censuses, passenger lists, city directories and much more.
Robert Gunyon: Robert was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were John Gunyon, 25, and Robert Gunyon, 20, both drapers, and Joseph Irving, 15, a draper’s apprentice. Their address was “back of Cheapside.’ All three were born in Scotland. John and Robert were perhaps brothers or cousins, we thought. Then a check of Pigot & Co.’s Directory of Yorks, Leics… , 1841, turned up a Wm. Gunyon under Grocers and Tea Dealers, his shop located on Cheapside, Barnsley.
That find of the three Gunyon men led to the discovery that Robert was born on 28 Sep 1817 in Kelton, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, the son of William Gunyon, a cooper, and wife Mary (Gullon) Gunyon. His brother William was born there on 11 Sep 1809 and his brother John Gunyon was born there on 5 Aug 1814. Kelton is a parish 10 miles (N. E. by E.) from Kirkcudbright, pronounced kirr-KOO-bree, a town and parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, within the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland. It is situated on the estuary of the River Dee in southwest Scotland.
Robert was recorded as a draper and son of William Gunyon when marrying Fanny Craven in Barnsley in 1841, a match with the Robert Gunyon in the other documents. A draper was originally a retailer or wholesaler of cloth used for clothing such as silk, linen and cotton. West Yorkshire, England, Marriages & Banns, 1813-1935, show that Robert Gunyon, a draper, married Frances Craven on 10 Sep 1841 in Silkstone with Stainborough, All Saints. His father was William Gunyon, farmer; her father was William Craven, a currier. Robert and Frances were both recorded as “of Barnsley” on their marriage record.
Frances “Fanny” Craven: Frances was baptized on 1 Jul 1821 in the parish Barnsley, St Mary. The church record shows her father was William Craven, a currier, and her mother was Mary Craven. Frances was born in the first half of 1821, based on her age in census and other records. She was usually called Fanny. She was enumerated in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, in the 1841 Census, taken June 6. In the household were William Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 55, Mary Craven, 20, Fanney Craven, 20, Harriet Craven, 15, and Martha Craven, 10. Daughter Ann Craven was not there as she had married James Ledgar in 1840.
Father William Craven was a currier, suggesting how Ann met James Ledgar, also a currier. Mother Mary’s maiden name was Coe. William Craven, age 21, married Mary Coe on 23 Jan 1808 in Barnsley, Yorkshire.
Robert Gunyon and Fanny (Craven) Gunyon in Milwaukee: In late August of 1843, Robert and Fanny set off for America, departing on the ship Birmingham from Liverpool, England. On 9 Sep 1843, one day short of their second wedding anniversary, Robert Gunyon, age 25, and Mrs. Gunyon, age 22, arrived in New York City. Both were recorded as from Great Britain. His occupation is hard to read on the ship’s log. There is no evidence, but Robert and Fanny likely sailed north on the Hudson River, took the Erie Canal west to Buffalo and then sailed the Great Lakes to Wisconsin. They likely arrived in Milwaukee in late 1843 or early 1844.
Evidence of Robert Gunyon in Milwaukee begins in 1845-1846. Robert was one of eight men of Scots heritage who organized the first curling club in Milwaukee, and likely the first in Wisconsin. The game was played on the frozen Milwaukee River at the foot of Mason Street, according to Pioneer history of Milwaukee: from the first American settlement in 1833 to 1841, with a topographical description. That source says 1846 but another says 1845.
On 2 Jun 1846, Robert Gunyon was reported as having a letter remaining at the Milwaukee post office, according to a listing in the Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette of this date. On March 24, 1847, Alexander Mitchell rallied the Scottish community in Milwaukee to raise funds for relief of famine victims in Scotland. Robert Gunyon was involved, according to the “Historical Messenger” of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, Vols 22-25.
The book Pioneer history of Milwaukee also mentions Robert’s involvement in early Milwaukee politics. On 11 March 1850, he was listed was one of three men to receive the highest votes for 2nd Ward assessor, and then, on 1 April 1850, he stood for election on the People’s Ticket for 2nd Ward assessor. He apparently did not win. The Milwaukee Sentinel on 2 April 1850 said he ran for assessor on the Law and Order Ticket for the 2nd Ward. Later, in 1879, he ran for the State Senate as a Greenbacker, but again did not win, according to the Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin.
The 1850 Census for Milwaukee lists Robert Gunyon, 33, a merchant born in Scotland, with wife Fanny, 29, born in England, in the 2nd Ward on the west side of the Milwaukee River.
Second part of an article completed in February 2015… to be continued. See Part One and Part Three
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