Clara Bancroft....a well travelled lady.
|Clara in Nurse uniform|
It is something of an unusual occurrence for an unmarried woman to travel abroad alone over 100 years ago, but here is the story of a Clara Bancroft from Haworth who made the journey to America, not once but at least six times between 1899 and 1929, and stayed there for quite long periods, sometimes working as a nurse whilst there.
Clara was born to James and Maria 5 April 1864, and for some reason was not baptised until 8th April 1882 at Haworth Church, along with most of her siblings on the same day.
She had worked originally as a worsted weaver at least till age 26 (1891 ) as shown on the family census records. Her father, James, was a well-known celebrity in the Haworth area as the leader and cornet player in the Haworth Brass Band, and his story can be read here.
Though not married, Clara gave birth to a daughter Florrie, on 22 May 1896 in Haworth. Clara became a trained nurse and travelled the world leaving Florrie in the care of her parents.
Though no record has shown her first departure to the United States, we find her living there in 1899 at 12 Grand Street, Utica NY, as her brother John went to join her in April 1899. She was 33 at the time.
In April 1904 a Clara Bancroft was listed in a US directory as an attendant at the Utica, State Hospital.
After a return to England, she again sailed to New York, July of 1907 at age 43.
Again, she returned to England in August 1910 at age 46, living with her aging parents at 9 Little Street, along with married sister Ada as shown on the 1911 census. Her daughter Florrie was living with her Uncle Manasseh and Aunt Effie, Clara’s sister, as an apprentice in their bakery business at this time.
She returned to New York in May 1911, then back to England December 1913. Her younger brother Gilbert had also been living in the USA as he sailed from Philadelphia, arriving in England in November 1913. One has to wonder if there was a reason both returned at such a close date.
|Journey to US 1914|
Clara was back to New York the following year in May 1914, then to England November 1919.
Back to New York May 1920. Her daughter Florrie married in December of 1920, and Clara’s father James, died the following year in 1921. Our next record shows her return to New York in Nov 1923.
|Journey to US 1920|
As early as February 1924, she was back to England, perhaps to care for her mother Maria, who passed away that same year in June 1924. Her England address was always 9 Little Street when she returned home during those years.
In November 1929 age 59 after living at the family home, she again travelled to New York.
The 1934 electoral rolls show Clara was living in England again, at 68 West Lane Haworth.
In 1939, age 75 she is shown on the England Wales register as living at 4 Tulip Street with her now widowed and incapacitated sister Ada Haigh whom Clara was caring for.
Sister Ada passed away on 20 Jan 1951 at age 86. A strange coincidence took place when, eight days later, their sister Laura also passed away.
Clara passed away soon after on 28 Feb 1951 and was buried at Haworth graveyard.
[I am grateful to Glenda Evans and Bernice Nelson, who provided the information for this article from their extensive family history research.]