E-mails. Page 22.


Maria Siddaway of Middlesbrough has sent the following.
A great example of the benefit of sharing information and thereby increasing total knowledge.
Saltburn Railway Station on the Right. A two mile walk for Skeltoners to catch a train before the year 1902.

Maria found the following item on this website, which is thanks to original research by Peter Tuffs.
[His 4 Volumes of "Directory of Cleveland Ironstone Miners and Their Associates" are a fascinating collection of similar incidents, not just of Skelton, but for all of East Cleveland.]

"On the 21st Feb. Robert Bean, miner, of N Skelton, was charged with neglecting his wife, whereby she became a charge to Guisborough Union [ The local Workhouse]. He was unable to live with her due to her drunken conduct. Allowed her 4s per week as maintenance."

Maria then found on the website 1881 census that the alleged "drunken" wife, Isabella, was living at 41 Wharton St, North Skelton and had only one daughter living at home.
Maria has done a lot of family research, including communicating with distant family members via the Internet. It turns out that Isabella was the daughter of Zachariah Wilson [1816-1881].
Zachariah was Maria's Gt Gt Gt Grandfather.
Sadly Zachariah had met a tragic end in the same year 1881, and Maria has found the details. which were recorded by the local Evening Gazette.

Priestcroft Junction, Here the Railway line from Middlesbrough via Saltburn met the line from Middlesbrough via Guisborough, Boosbeck. There was also a spur line off to North Skelton ironstone mine. The fatal accident on the 6th Feb 1881 occurred half a mile or so further down the line at the North Skelton Junction.

"A melancholy accident happened on the railway at North Skelton on Saturday night. An old man [he was aged 65] named Zachariah Wilson, a joiner employed at the North Skelton mines, had been to Middlesbrough and had come back by train to Saltburn. Instead of coming back from Saltburn to his home at North Skelton by the turnpike road, he had gone part of the way on the line. He had got to the junction at North Skelton where he was met by the excursion train from Middlesbrough. His foot was taken off by the ankle and legs otherwise mutilated. He died this morning from the injuries received. He was found on the line by PC Calvert and his own son-in-law, Robert Bean."
[Skelton did not have its own railway station until July 1902 and people had to travel, usually walk, around two miles to either Saltburn or Boosbeck to catch a train at this time. Following the railway line was a shortcut and Zachariah seems to have had his foot trapped by the points at Priestcroft Junction, when nearly home.]
9th Feb. INQUEST. "An inquest was held at the Bull's Head Inn, North Skelton before Mr William Robinson, Deputy Coroner, touching the death Zachariah Wilson, who died from injuries received on Saturday last by being run over by the return trip train from Loftus. Inspector Dobbie watched the case on behalf of the North Eastern Railway Company. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

By a strange coincidence Zachariah's son Richard Wilson, [Maria Siddaway's Gt Gt Grandfather] was also found dead just five years later on a railway line, thousands of miles away, in Braceville, Grundy County, Illinois.

Development of Railways around Skelton. The first came in 1865 from Middlesbrough via Guisborough and Boosbeck. It by-passed the Skelton villages and continued on to Brotton, Whitby, Scarborough. In 1872, with the building of the Viaduct, the line from Saltburn was opened coming through North Skelton and joining the 1865 line just before Brotton. Finally in 1873 the Priestcoft Loop was opened, with a spur off it to collect the Ironstone from North Skelton Mine which had also opened in 1872.

From 1862 on Richard appears on the Census as a blacksmith, but in 1881 he is shown as an Ironstone Miner and residing at 32 Downe St, Liverton Mines when he would have been around 40 years of age.
Many men emigrated to the USA in these times, particularly when the demand for iron dropped and unemployment rose.
Richard Wilson was one, taking his three eldest children with him. They were Sarah Ann, born 1863, Richard Wallace b 1868 and Isabella Frances c 1871. He left his wife Mary Ann [nee Dobbin, 1848-1934] behind in Normanby with the younger ones, Hannah Mary, b 1873, Zachariah c 1875, Alice Maud b 1882 and Rebecca Alder c 1884.
It is thought he left these shores around 1885 and less than a year later an American paper reported the following:-
"Mr M Tillbury, an employee at the Company store in Braceville, while walking to this city early Sunday morning was horrified by suddenly coming across the body of a man lying across the tracks just North of Godley. The remains were mangled in a terrible manner, pieces of flesh and clothing scattered along the track for thirty feet. The Authorities were notified and the body was removed to Braidwood and taken to the calaboose, where it was identified as that of Richard Wilson, who lived on Center St in that city. He was a blacksmith by trade and had been to Braceville on Saturday in search of work. He left there about dark to walk home on the railroad and how he met his death is a mystery. The unfortunate man had been in this country only 11 months, living here with 3 of his children one a young lady. They are prostrated with grief at the sudden and terrible manner in which they have lost their father. The deceased had a wife and four children in Normanby, Yorkshire, England and it will be a sad blow to them. He was about 45 years old, a sober, industrious man and a good workman. Their are rumours of foul play in connection with his death. A jury was empannelled yesterday and they adjourned until Wednesday , when probably the mystery of his death will be cleared up,"
Later Richard's daughter, it is claimed, saw a man wearing a scarf that had been knitted for her father by her mother. Was he attacked and his body left on the tracks to hide the evidence ? Was it an accident and his scarf scavenged by some passer-by ? Was it a suicide in the despair of unemployment ? The mystery never was "cleared up". His children returned to England. Robert Bean, who found old Zachariah on the line at North Skelton in 1881, also later emigrated to America and died there in 1917.

A further grizly twist to this family's tale is that Richard Wilson's son, who had stayed in England with his mother was named after his Grandfather Zachariah. He was a stone cleaner and was killed at Eston Steel Works by falling from a gantry on the 8th July 1905.:-
"The adjourned inquest was held at Eston Hospital today by Mr O H Cochrane, Coroner, on the body of Zachariah Wilson, aged 30, of 29 Wilson St, Eston, who died in the Hospital on the 12th as the result of injuries received as Messrs Bolckow and Vaughan and Co's Works. John H Lott, skiff-hoist engineman said that he saw the deceased at 7 o'clock on the night of the accident and he was perfectly sober. A little later he saw him fall from the gantry. Witness said he had heard him and others complain of having to work alone at night. Police Sgt Devaney said he went to the place from which the deceased had fallen and examined it. In his opinion it was impossible for anyone to fall over accidentally. Dr Fulton said that when the deceased was brought into the hospital the left side of his head was badly contused. There were also wounds on the lip and jaw. His case was perfectly hopeless from the first. He was satisfied the man died from a fracture of the skull and pressure on the brain. The jury visited the scene of the accident and brought in a verdict of "Accidental Death" and recommended 2 men should be employed together at nights. The Coroner remarked that the verdict was not in accordance with the evidence and thought the jury were manufacturing evidence in their own minds.

If anyone has any more information about the family, please email the address on the Introduction page of this website.

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