32.41 – Joseph, Sarah Jane, Ruth and Raymond Teasdale

This is one of those graves where the father and/or husband of the interred is the first one to die. In Joseph’s case, this was due to an accident at work.

Joseph Teasdale was born in Todmorden in 1852, the eldest of two sons born to Elizabeth Teasdale, who is described in the baptism records as a spinster. His brother Charles was born ten years later, and both weren’t baptised into the church until 1864 when they were both baptised on the same day at Harley Wood. There’s a story that we don’t know here.

Joseph stayed in Lydgate for his entire life, appearing in the newspaper from time to time exhibiting ferns at the flower show. He clearly had an interest in botany. But for money, he had to do something else, and he became a stone mason. In 1875 he married Sarah Jane Barker at Harley Wood. Spare a thought for him when he signed his marriage certificate, having to write “illegitimate” in the space where the bride or groom’s father’s name would go. It mattered a lot back then.

Joseph and Sarah Jane had four children over the next six years, Raymond coming first. In a nice little coincidence, they settled at Fern Hill in Lydgate.

In 1889 Joseph died, and his brother in law’s testimony at the inquest sums up the accident fairly neatly:

William Barker, sworn, said : I live at No. 16, Lineholme, and I am a stone mason. The deceased, Joseph Teasdale, was my brother-in-law, having married my eldest sister; he would have been 37 years of age next birthday. He lived at Harley-bank, Todmorden, and was a foreman mason in the employ of Messrs. Fielden Bros.; he died about 5 a.m. yesterday (Thursday), at the residence of my father, in the presence of his wife, myself, and others. We had just commenced work on Wednesday morning when the foreman came into the shed and said that as it was wet they would not go outside, but would take the “centres” out of the arch ; the next we knew about it was that heard a crash about twenty minutes to eight. We ran outside to see what was the matter, and when we saw the accident had happened commenced to get the two men out as soon we could. Crowther was close by the river wall nearest the turnpike road, and Teasdale was close to the wall nearest the mill. Teasdale was conscious a few minutes, and said “Come here” a few times ; when we heard his voice we could tell where to remove the debris. He was then unconscious until about an hour afterwards, when we got him to our house. We asked him where his pain was, and he said it was at the back of his neck. The doctor came and saw him. We took Teasdale upstairs and got him undressed, and he was conscious until about two o’clock next morning. Then he begun to go worse, and I went for Dr. Castle, of Cornholme, who came down with me and stayed until he died. – The Foreman : Did the doctor say what the injury was? – Witness : He said it was the spinal cord that was broken, or something of that sort.- The Coroner : Did he say it was broken or injured? – Witness : He said it was injured. – The Coroner : Did your brother-in-law say anything about the accident itself? Did you ask him how it had happened, or was he not able to say? – He said nothing, only in the forenoon he said to his wife that he thought God had been very merciful to spare him, and he thought he would be better again in a few days. That was all he said. He did not seem to have any idea that he was hurt as bad as he was. – The Coroner : He did not say anything about the archway, then? – Witness : oh, no : he said nothing about that.

He was remembered at his funeral by the Todmorden Floral Horticultural Society, of which he had been the secretary for many years, amongst many others. He was clearly well thought of, and his death considered tragic enough to inspire large displays of sympathy.

“The floral tributes of respect were numerous and of an expensive character. The Floral and Horticultural Society, the Parish Church choir, the vicar and teachers at Harleywood, Mrs. Fearnsides, Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, and Mr. and Mrs. J. Greenwood were amongst those who sent wreaths, crosses, &c. Besides the flowers, deceased’s surplice and cassock were placed on the coffin on arriving at the church gates, and were kept there until the coffin was about to be lowered into the grave.

Sarah Jane mourned her husband for many years, and lived with her children for a time, but eventually remarried to Joseph Stansfield, a groundsman at the cricket club who was 19 years her senior. In 1911 he was 74 years old and still working at the club, not shabby! Her second youngest daughter Vera lived with them at Centre Vale Lodge. Sarah Jane died in 1924 and was laid to rest with her first husband, reunited after 35 years.

Raymond, meanwhile, had become an assistant grocer after Joseph’s death, and in 1898 he married Ruth Whitehead, whose father was also dead at that point. They moved to Barker Street in the centre of Todmorden and Raymond continued in the grocery business – much less dangerous than stonemasonry. In 1939 he and Ruth were living at Hill Croft at Cross Lee. First Ruth, then Raymond, died in 1950 and 1951, and that is when the more modern stone here was engraved and placed. It covers 62 years of the Teasdale family and tells a large story despite its relatively small size.

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