Two days ago I was looking at my genealogy and for whatever reason decided to see what I could find on my great-great-great grandparents, William and Alice (Houghton) Greenwood. I already had census records for them from 1850 until their deaths, as well as birth and death dates and places from their gravestones in the American Fork cemetery in American Fork, Utah. My attention was focused primarily on my great-great-great-grandmother, though.
Besides the documentation I had found, there was a little bit more that I got from somewhere–I don’t know where, though. All I know is that it was not documented, so I always take this information with a grain of salt, and use it as a possibility–a hint, more or less–until I can find documentation that it is true or not.
What I knew
Alice Houghton was born 8 May 1823 in Clayton, Lancashire, England (from her gravestone). At some point, she immigrated to the United States, married William Greenwood (born 7 Aug 1822 in Burnley, Lancashire, England–also from gravestone), and they were living in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1850 (known then as “Great Salt Lake, Utah”). She had 14 children, and died in American Fork, Utah, on 13 Nov 1886. This is all documented evidence of varying degrees of reliability. (For instance, a birth date on a gravestone is good evidence, though not entirely reliable in and of itself.)
Additional “hints” that I have were that her middle name was Beardsworth, and that her parents were William Houghton and Alice Beardsworth. William was born 12 Apr 1790 in Inskip, St. Michaeli Wyre, Lancashire, England, and died 16 Aug 1867 in Leyland, Lancashire, England. Her mother, Alice, was born 14 Dec 1798 in Leyland, and died there 19 Jul 1832. None of this was documented in any way.
I started where I always start–Ancestry.com. I did a basic search for the name “Alice Houghton” born about 1823 in England. I was hoping to find her in the 1841 England Census. Instead, the second result on the list was a passenger list for the ship Hanover, leaving from Liverpool, England, and arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 2 May 1842. This immediately sparked my interest; I knew that a lot of English Mormon immigrants at that time sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans where they took a steam ship up the Mississippi to Nauvoo, Illinois, the gathering place for Mormons at that time.
In this passenger list was an Alice Houghton, age 19, who appeared to be traveling with her parents and siblings. Her father’s name was William, age 52. His name and age matched the information I had, and the fact that this was likely a ship full of Mormon immigrants made it more intriguing! I bookmarked it as a possibility but wasn’t ready to commit to it just yet, particularly because the mother’s name didn’t match at all. I was also thinking that there was the possibility that these were simply relatives and not actually parents and children–maybe aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. (This isn’t at all unheard of with Mormons at the time.)
The Houghtons listed on the passenger list are:
Wm Houghton, 52, Farmer
Betty Houghton, 47, Weaver
James Houghton, 26
Moses Houghton, 23, Labourer
Alice Houghton, 19, Weaver
Ruth Houghton, 16
Margt Houghton, 13
Ann Houghton, 2
I kept trying to find other records in England for Alice Houghton, but found nothing that seemed to fit. I eventually gave up for the night.
Last night, I resumed my search. I decided to see what I could find of the other Houghtons on the passenger list, and started searching census records for the men. (Men are easier to find because their names don’t change when they marry.) I found William and Betty, James and his wife, and Moses and his wife in the 1850 US Census, all living in what is referred to as District 4 in Scott County, Iowa. (There was also a Richard Houghton, age 39 in 1850.) I was at first surprised by this because I figured that if this was the family I was looking for, they would gone to Utah when the Mormons moved west. When I found them still living in Iowa in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, I began to doubt that this was my family but still kept it as the best possibility.
Google is always a good way to find some more information–particularly histories and blogs that might mention an ancestor. So, I googled Alice Houghton and ran across a key piece of information. The University of Utah Special Collections Library has a collection called “The William Greenwood Papers”. None of the papers in that collection is scanned or online, but the biographical note says, “In 1842 he left England for Nauvoo, Illinois. A year later he married Alice Houghton, whom he had met on the voyage from England.”
“…whom he had met on the voyage from England.”
That was the tiny bit of information I needed! I went back to the passenger list on Ancestry.com and found that William Greenwood, age 20, was also listed on that ship. This bit of information verified that the Alice Houghton on this ship was indeed my great-great-great grandmother! But who were the people she was traveling with? Were they her parents and siblings? Were they cousins, uncles, aunts…just people who happened to have the same last name?
From the census records, I knew that James, Moses and William Houghton stayed in Iowa. Iowa, thankfully, has a great GenWeb site with lots of records and great searchability. So, I went to IAGenWeb.org and searched Scott County’s pages for “Houghton”. The first result was an obituary for James Houghton, transcribed from the Davenport Weekly Gazette, 21 May 1884. Among other things, it names his surviving brothers and sisters: brothers, Richard and Moses, and sisters, Mrs. Margaret Sumner, of St. Louis, and Mrs. Alice Greenwood, of Salt Lake–my great-great-great grandmother. The people she traveled with from England were her brothers and sisters, and it’s safe to assume, her parents.
Alice Houghton Greenwood had at least three brothers (Richard, James, Moses) and two sisters (Margaret, Ruth). Her father, William, was born around 1790 in England, but did not die there. I found him in the 1850 and 1860 US Censuses. The death date I have of 19 Jul 1867 may be correct, but he likely died in Iowa rather than England.
Her mother’s death date, 19 Jul 1832, would indicate that Betty is likely a second wife. Ann, the two-year-old on the passenger list, might be a daughter from the second marriage.
Next steps are to find the family in England before their immigration to the US. Now that I know more about the family, there will be more ways to find something. That will wait for another day, though.