56.44 – Abraham, Susan and John Crossley, and Susan, Mary, Sutcliffe and Willie Mitchell

A lot of people are remembered on this stone, although they aren’t all buried here – at least one is at rest over the pond.

Abraham Crossley, the patriarch of this grave, might be a familiar name to you already. Fast forward and he was one of the two men killed when a fireplace they were removing collapsed, his coworker being James Weatherill of 38.25. We will rewind to his beginnings though. Born in 1797 in Walsden, Abraham was a mechanic and later millwright who married Susan Crowther, another Walsden native, in 1821. The couple were married by banns at St. Chad’s in Rochdale, but they settled at Lobbmill and would stay there until a short while before Abraham’s death by misadventure in 1859.

In 1851 the Crossley household had consisted of Abraham, Susan, their son John, and their daughters Betty, Sarah and Susan/Susy, as well as their grandson Greenwood Crossley (their eldest daughter Mary’s illegitimate son). After Abraham’s death youngest daughter Susan and Greenwood stayed behind to help support her, with Susan working as a cotton weaver and Greenwood as an errand boy. They lived at Cross Street now, not far from Union Street where they had lived before and where Abraham had died. Their eldest children Samuel and Mary had long since left home, and now Betty and John too. John, who had become a whitesmith, had married Mary Ogden in 1854 and by 1861 was living one street over at School Lane. Soon, though, he and Mary would leave on a grand adventure – an American one. A strange choice during the American Civil War, but perhaps his skills with metalwork seemed like they would be valued in the middle of a war. He and Mary were on the US Census living in Auburn, New York, in 1865.

John’s move to American meant he wasn’t there when his mother Susan died in 1869, or when his sister Susan married (also in 1869). Susan married Sutcliffe Mitchell, a stone cutter who lived at White Platts. By stone cutter we mean a more skilled version of a quarryman, which was what Sutcliffe’s father John’s occupation was. He and Susan had their lives ahead of them…except, sadly, they didn’t really.

During their four year long marriage, they had two children – Willie in 1870 and Mary in 1872. Mary died June 1872 aged only four months old. Just over a year later, Susan died aged 38. Two years after that, Sutcliffe died aged 33. Willie was on his own at the tender age of five. What happened to him? He went to go live with unspecified family (at least we suppose so) and then was either lodging with others or was on his own when he died in 1887. Poor Willie wasn’t just an orphan, but he was also born with a spinal curvature of some kind that will have made his life very uncomfortable. The world was not made for those with physical disabilities back then. He died aged 17 from acute bronchitis, with a neighbour serving as the informant to the registrar of his death. Whoever in his family was meant to be looking after him wasn’t there.

Meanwhile we’ll go back to John Crossley over in New York now and see what he’s been up to. John and Mary continued to live in New York and John’s occupation on the US Census is now that of blacksmith. Auburn is in the northwest of the state, near the Finger Lakes, and not far in American terms from Lake Ontario. John will have been busy helping to maintain the literal gears of industry – railroads, ships, mills, you name it. He and Mary never had any children, but they did well enough for themselves that they never appear to have had lodgers of any kind either. They never made the papers either, even in death…but John at least made the stones in 1889. Two stones, one in Auburn and one here in Todmorden. Mary, meanwhile, is only remembered in Auburn.

Photo courtesy of FindAGrave

One Comment

  1. Pingback:57.54 – Betty, Mary Ann and Thomas Greenwood (previously unmarked) – F.O.C.C.T.

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