Hannah’s Boy

Hannah’s Boy


Dear Hannah,

I’ve been thinking of you lately and can only imagine how curious you may be about your son, Charles. Whether it was yesterday or years ago, my memories of him are so vivid that I want to share them with you. I caution you, Hannah, that I can be longwinded, so you might want to put on the kettle for tea and perhaps have a shortbread biscuit or two handy.

You would have been proud of Charles. The last time you saw him things were not going terribly well. With your husband William dying of black lung disease at thirty-two in 1891 from working in the mines, you were left with young children – three boys and a girl – and an uncertain future.

Remarrying at age 40 might have seemed like a good decision, but the family dynamics between your new husband and your independent children must have been difficult. After losing the baby and you, the boys probably knew what their future would be if they stayed in England.

Their decision to sail to the United States on the Oceanic in 1906, no doubt in steerage, was a difficult one for teenagers to make. I can’t imagine what that Christmas at sea was like given the fact they landed in New York City on the 26th of December… [cont.]