16.13 – Joseph, Herbert, Janie and Thomas Travis, and Maria Greenwood

When you look at this gravestone you see four names and may assume they are the only people to be buried here, but as with many graves here that’s not the case.

The first person to be interred in this grave is not mentioned on the gravestone. She was Maria Greenwood, who was born at Wadsworth on the 17th December 1830, the eldest daughter of Robert Greenwood and his wife Sally (nee Thomas). We don’t know much about Maria; she never married and was a weaver, a common occupation for her time. Her mother died when she was young and as the eldest of 5 daughters, she probably took on the role of looking after the family. She was living with her widowed father and siblings at Wadsworth in 1851, was living with her father’s second wife and two siblings in 1861 at Fielden Terrace, and after that seemed to move a lot, as each census shows her at a different address. She died in the Todmorden workhouse (though her death notice in the paper gives her address as Plane Street, which was where her nephew and family lived) on the 1st March 1905.

Joseph Travis is the first person named on the grave but was the second person to be interred in it. He was born on the 26th of June 1838 at Walsden and was the second child of nine children of James Travis, a self-employed carpenter and Hannah (nee Greenwood). In the 1851 Census Joseph aged 12 was still a scholar, which was unusual at that time. His family probably considered education to be important as one of his uncles, John Travis, was a well-known Todmorden local historian.

By the time of the 1861 census Joseph had followed his father into the joinery profession, although the census doesn’t say if he was working for him. On the 7th April 1862 Joseph married Ann Greenwood, Maria’s sister, at St. Peter’s in Walsden. They had three children: Thomas, who was born in 1864 at Lydgate, and twin sons George and Marshall, who were born in 1868 at Knotts Road. Sadly, both tiny twins died within a short time of their births, George when he was 13 days old and Marshall when he was 20 days old. We haven’t found records for the burials of either twin.

In 1871 Joseph, Ann and Thomas were living at Knotts Road – not much is known of this period of Joseph’s life but a newspaper article from 1873 tells us that he was a member of the Benevolence Lodge of the Odd-Fellows. By 1881 the family had moved to Robinwood Terrace, Joseph was still working as a joiner, Ann was working in the home and Thomas was a weaver. Another newspaper article in August 1880 tells us that Joseph had a serious fall whilst working in a house in Lydgate that month. Thankfully the injuries he received weren’t as bad as first thought, amounting to bruising and shock, from which he recovered.

Ann Travis (Greenwood), who is buried at Walsden, died in January 1888, two months before her son Thomas married Jane (Janie) Stead in Halifax. Jane was originally from Fairburn, near Knottingley and like Joseph, her father was a joiner. Thomas described himself as a ‘cutter out’ on the marriage register. The young couple moved in with James at Bowed Row, Lydgate and started their family. The growing family – Thomas and Janie had 6 children! – stayed with James for the rest of his life. They had moved to Plane Street by 1901 by which time Thomas had also changed occupation and was now in the decorating business, as a house painter and paperhanger. They were still there in 1911, and were still living there when Janie died on the 6th December 1935. 

On the 9th October 1919 Joseph Travis died at Plane Street aged 82 and was buried with his sister in law. He had lived long enough to see all his grandchildren survive WW1.

His youngest grandson, Herbert, was the next occupant of this grave. Herbert Travis was only 25 when he died from pneumonia on the 23rd June 1928. He is the only member of the family for whom we found an obituary.  He seems to have been a popular young man who participated in a large number of activities. He was a member of the Harley Wood choir, played cricket, was secretary of Lydgate Football club and was also keen on Amateur dramatics. His loss was felt keenly by his parents and two years after his death they inserted this little poem into the paper in his memory.

“Three little words – Forget Me Not,

 They don’t seem much, but they mean a lot:

 We shall remember when others forget”.

Because everyone in the graveyard is linked somehow, you might have noticed the name “Gladys Hesketh” in Herbert’s obituary. Gladys, who apparently ran a pierrot-troupe (a group of clowns, although classier than that sounds!), would in a matter of a few years become war grave Eric Mitchell‘s stepmother.

Herbert’s mother, Janie, died on the 6th December 1935 at Plane Street. Unfortunately, we know very little about her apart from what is in the censuses. 

Thomas Travis was also a member of the Odd-Fellows, though was in a different lodge. He must also have rented out houses (though whether he owned the houses with others or was an agent is unclear) as there are a few references in the papers for there being properties for rent and to apply to him. He may also have been influenced by his great-uncle John Travis in some ways, for in 1885 whilst still a young man he gave a recitation at the Harley Wood Branch of the Church of England Temperance Society, and there is another report of him giving a “bone solo” and amusing an audience with “tit-bits of Lancashire humour”. Thomas died on the 10th March 1940. Prior to his death he had been living with his daughter Emily, her husband Robert Wilkinson, and their children at Scaitcliffe View.


  1. The “bones” were a primitive musical (well, maybe) instrument representing the fingers. They require much dexterity but the sound would come under the percussion group. Most often seen in folk groups these days.

    • That’s what we were hoping, and what Wikipedia told us – but wanted to ask the question just in case it was something very specific and only known as “playing the bones” locally. Thanks for sharing!

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