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RAYMOND ALBERT WOOTON
English Immigrant

Presented by Linda Cunningham Fluharty

     In June 2007, John Pedley of England wrote to ask for assistance in identifying "Raymond," - no surname - who immigrated to the United States about 1906.

     John possessed four letters that were written by Raymond to his friend, Percy, in England during the years 1906, 1908, and 1909. The letters were not in envelopes and all John said was that Raymond had boarded at 2218 Eoff Street, Wheeling, West Virginia.

     Finding Raymond with so little information seemed a daunting task, but the family at 2218 Eoff Street was readily identifed in the 1910 census as that of John Nesbitt, a blacksmith, who had emigrated from Ireland in 1891. But Raymond was not in the home.

     John Pedley sent copies of the letters and additional clues were gleaned from them. At the time the earliest letter was written, 11 Mar 1906, Raymond was living with the WILLETS family, with the address written as "B. Port B. County USA." Guessing that it might be Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio, the 1910 census of Belmont County was checked. The family of Samuel Willetts was found and the census data showed that the family had immigrated to the US from England in 1905.

1910 US Census, Bridgeport, Ward 1, Belmont County, Ohio
Howard Street - Hard to read but maybe #74 Howard St.
Samuel Willetts, 59, Head, Blacksmith in Coal Mine, Married 1 time for 39 years, b England - Immig 1905; alien
Elizabeth Willetts, 60, Married once for 30 years[error], had 6 children/4 living, b England, immig 1905
Mary J. Willetts, 34, Single, b England. immig 1905
Leonard Willetts, 24, son, Fireman at coal mine, b England, Immig 1905; alien
Edwin Willetts, 27, married once for 3 years, Fireman in coal mine, b England, immig 1904; alien (no sign of wife)
Barbara A. Slater, 7, Niece, b Ohio and parents born in Ohio.

     The Willetts, except for Edwin who came a year earlier, sailed from Liverpool, England on the CARONIA on June 27, 1905; they arrived in New York in July. The ship's passenger list says that they were going to see their son Samuel. Don't know if Edwin could really be Samuel Willetts, Jr. The last residence of the Willetts in England was Bridgetown, Staffordshire.

     After getting clues in the letters such as the "Cannock paper" and then finding the Willetts who immigrated to the US in 1905, progress was made. The Willetts came from Bridgetown, which is Cannock, Staffordshire, UK. - It seemed that Raymond knew the Willetts when he lived in England and he may have gone directly to live with them when he got to the US.

     A search for "Raymond" in the 1901 UK census ensued. From the first letter, it sounded like he was pretty much alone and he only mentioned an aunt. - In the 1901 census, RAYMOND A. WOOTON was a boarder in the home of widow, Lucy Parsonage, 54, perhaps the aunt. There is another Wooten there, too - Alec, 18. They lived in Bridgetown, Cannock, Staffordshire, England. - A lucky guess, but this seemed to be the right Raymond!

     Further research revealed that Raymond Albert Wooton was born 27 August 1886 in Bridgetown/Bridgtown, Staffordshire, UK, and became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States. On his World War I Draft Registration card (US), he is listed as an engineer. In one letter he mentioned that he hoped to go to California to work as an engineer. He hadn't made it to California yet, but at the time of the WWI registration, he was living in Scott Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. That is very near Pittsburgh and 45 minutes away from Wheeling, West Virginia. - Raymond was working as an engineer at the Aetna Chemical Company in Heidelberg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

     The is no information in his letters about why Raymond left England or why he was not living with his family at the time of the 1901 England census. He was with them in the 1891 census. The father was ASHER WOOTON, spelled WOOTTEN in that census of Staffordshire. They lived on Walsall Road, Cannock, Bridgetown, where Asher Wootton was 36 and a TIMBER MERCHANT, born in Bloxwich. Wife was Kate Wootton, 29, born in Lancashire, Ashton Under Lyne? Also in the home were Alec E., a scholar, age 8, born in Bridgetown; Raymond was 5, born in Bridgetown. And there was a servant living with them.

     Asher Wooten, 29, is found in the 1881 census with wife, Henrietta, age 29. They had one child, a daughter, Winifred, age 1 month. Perhaps Henrietta died and Asher married Kate, shown in the 1891 census.

     The parents of Asher Wooten are shown in the following census records:

1861 England Census
Name: Asher Wooton
Age: 6
Where born: Bloxwich, Staffordshire, England

Civil parish: Walsall Foreign
Ecclesiastical parish: Bloxwich
County/Island: Staffordshire
Country: England

Abraham Wooton 44
Abraham Wooton 8
Asher Wooton 6
Caroline Wooton 39
Charles Wooton 4
Elizabeth Wooton 10
Hannah Wooton 17
Jane Wooton 16
John Wooton 12
Richard Wooton 2

1871 England Census

Civil parish: Featherstone
Ecclesiastical parish: Wolverhampton
Town: Featherstone
County/Island: Staffordshire
Country: England

Abraham Wootton 54
Alice Wootton 9
Asher Wootton 16
Caroline Wootton 49
Charles Wootton 14
Elizabeth Wootton 20
Hannah Inape Wootton 11
Richard Wootton 12

     Raymond came from a large family and many lived in close proximity to each other.


     John Pedley, owner of Raymond's letters, discovered in Sept 2007 that Raymond came into the United States via Ellis Island, and is found on the Ellis Island website. Raymond gave his age as 21 - and perhaps he was - but according to his WWI Regsitration and his death record, his birthdate was 27 Aug 1886. - He arrived at Ellis Island on Sept 26 1906 from Liverpool on the S. S. Majestic. John Pedley said, "The most interesting details on the ship's manifest is that he was travelling to America with Edwin Willetts who had been in the US before and Edwin's wife Minnie - this was possibly her first trip to the US. It also gave a physical description: 5' 8" tall, with dark brown hair and dark grey eyes."


     The marriage of Raymond A. Wooton was found on this writer's Marshall County, WVGenWeb site:

Bertie E. Helfrick, 21, Benwood, West Virginia, born in Wood County, Ohio, married Raymond A. Wooton, 26, of Benwood WV, born England, on 2/15/1913.

     The family of Bertie Helfrick is found in the 1900 census of North Baltimore Village, Henry, Wood County, Ohio:

Jacob Helfrick, 47, b Aug 1852, Day Laborer, b PA, father b Germany, mother b Maryland
Katie Helfrick, 39, b Sept 1860, b OH, father b England, mother b PA
Jennie Helfrick, 17, b April 1883 in Ohio
John Helfrick, 14, b Mar 1886 in Ohio
Charley Helfrick, 8, b Feb 1892 in Ohio
Berdie Helfrick, 6, b Feb 1894 in Ohio
Meria Helfrick, 3, b Oct 1896 in Ohio
Tomas Helfrick, 2, b Feb 1898 in Ohio

NOTE: Tomas (Thomas) Helfrick, a WWI vet, and W. P. A. Foreman, died of a heart attack 8 May 1842 in Monongalia County, W. Va., shows the father as Jacob Henry Helfrick, b Pa., and the mother as Katherine Authwate, b Ohio. - Glen Helfrick/Helfrich, born 9 June 1900, died of TB 27 Feb 1924; parents Jacob Henry Helfrich and Catherine Authwait.

     At the time of the 1920 US Census, Raymond A. Wooton, 33, was working as an engineer in the bottle works in Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia. Wife, Bertie, was 26 and they had a daughter, WINIFRED, age 5. - "Winnie" was mentioned in Raymond's last letter and she was his older sister, found as "Winifred" in the 1881 census of England. So he cared enough about his sister to name his daughter after her. - Raymond's year of immigration is given as 1906.

     Raymond did go to California and is found there at the time of the 1930 US Census, in San Jose Township, Los Angeles. His age is given as 42 and he was an engineer in a Pump Manufacturing Company. Year of immigration is given as 1904. The wife is given as Pauline E., age 36, born in Ohio. Perhaps her real name was Pauline and "Bertie" is what she was called when she was younger. - In the 1930 census, daughter Winifred K. was 15 years old and there were no other children.

     Raymond Albert Wooton, born 27 Aug 1886, died in 6 June 1950 in Los Angeles, California. His mother's maiden name was PARKS. His father was WOOTON. According to the cemetery staff, Raymond is buried at the Pomona Cemetery in Pomona, California and so is his wife: "Records show the name of Birdie E. Wooten being buried here 2/17/1949 in space 6 of lot 35 Block E. The records also show she had lived in Los Angeles, was 56 when she died, had been a housewife, was born in Ohio on 2/3/1893 and had died from Cancer. Space 5 of lot 35 Block E is the burial location of Raymond Wooten; buried on 6/10/1950 at the age of 63. He too, had lived in Los Angeles, had been a machinist, was born in England on 8/27/1886 and had died of Diabetes."

     DAUGHTER: Winifred Kathleen Wooten Harris, Social Security #557126436, Birth Date: 27 Jan 1915. Birthplace: West Virginia. Death Date: 9 Jun 1997. Death Place: El Dorado, California. Mother's Maiden Name: Helfrich. Father's Surname: Wooten

     Raymond's only child, Winifred Kathleen Wooton, married Denzal Dwight Harris and he served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. He died Feb 1996 and is buried at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in the state of Nevada. Winifred is buried there beside him. One file says she served in the Navy, too, but there is no evidence of that, based on the database. - Nothing is confirmed (due to privacy concerns) about the children of Denzal and Winifred but they MAY be Linda Jo and Priscilla Dee.

THE LETTERS

LETTER ONE

c/o S. Willetts
B.'port
B. County
U.S.A.
3/11/06

Dear Percy
I was very glad to have your letter awaiting my arrival home from work the other day & also pleased to hear a bit of news from the old country. I understand your feelings in regard to my aunt being at Stafford station, but do you know I have had a letter from her, & she would have liked me to have had a few moments with her alone, so you see, things won't come out just as one would like them to & all we can do is to try & make the best of them, isn't it? I also understand your feelings when you left me at the Stafford because I felt the same, because you were about the only pal I could talk to with any amount of freedom, but still I have my way to make in the world, & as I said before, one cannot have just what they would wish to and I think I understand what Longfellow meant when he wrote "Ships that pass in the night - And speak each other in passing - Only a sign & a word, & a light from out of the darkness. So it is on life's ocean, We speak, & pass one another Only with a sign & a word - Then darkness again - & a silence" -- Don't you think that is so with us as soon as we get to know each other we have to part. But I consold myself with the thought, that altho ships very often pass each other at night in the darkness, they meet again in the day time, when they can signal to each other that all is well, so we shall meet again, when everything will seem brighter & we can be together again & then things will seem all the brighter because we shall know what it is to be away from each other for a time. Now Percy, I don't want you to think I am preaching to you, but as know, coming here has changed the whole course of my life, but I have all ready found out that the best & real pleasures are those of the intellect & spirit & these are gained by the reading which helps your own thoughts by conversation which expresses & crystalizes your mind & by conduct which uses your mind & secures it for yourself. They say that one should only preach what one practices, I do not believe it. The preaching which is practised has the most influence, I know, but some great man once wrote, "A wise man learns by the experience of others, a sensible man by his own, but a fool will not learn by either" now let me tell you, I am not writing to impress it upon myself. In regard to the book you have, remember one very often gets as much real pleasure in giving as receiving, & such books will help anyone along that will study & think about them. Someone sent the Cannock paper, & I saw where you had beaten Crompton Rovers, that was very good, & I wish the team luck. I can you that I miss a game of football very much oltho' I was not much good at it. & tell me how you got on with Cannock Juniors. No one has send a football paper, & I wish you would send one across, if you don't mind. - It was very good for you to tell me about the girl, because it is nice to think a pal will take an interest in one's love affairs, but you know what it is to be struck that way. She sent me her photo, but it is not a very good one of her, and now about her letter, she told me of her doings & all about where she was going to. She also said how much she missed me, but, taking it altogether, it was about the same as I sent to her but for all that I think she is sincere, don't you? And now I suppose you wnat to know what I am doing. Well, in the first place, I am going to leave that job. It is to hard, & the hours are to long, so I shall just keep a lookout & I shall soon be doing something else, as there is plenty on work about, & now I am settled down, & have got to know a good number of people I feel quite contented & happy. And it is a very nice place when you know the run. But I can tell you, I don't get about like I did in the old country. I just feel like working hard & improving my position & getting hold of a girl (an English one) & settling down to a good straight life. Don't you think that best? You asked me what chapel I attended. I am enclosing an envelope they use for offeratory & you will see them for yourself. I have joined the choir & they have some grand singing & altogether we have a real good time up there. Thanks for your offer to do anything for me. I don't think there is at present, but if there is anytime I shall be glad to accept your offer. How is your girl getting along, you talk to me about mine, & yet don't say a word about her in your letter. Don't you think I am interested in yoru case, old chap. Now I must close, not because I could not tell you anything else but this is all the paper I ahve, but I will write again soon. Very best love & good wishes hoping you are all right. (Your friend) Ray - remember me kindly to your folks


LETTER TWO

c/o Mr. Nesbitt
2218 Eoff St
Wheeling, WVa
U.S.A.
3/31?/08

Dear Percy
By the letters you are sending me, you certainly must have your hands full at present. I thought, what with one thing & another that I am usually pretty busy, but I believe you give me the go by in that respect. When one comes to think about life that a strange thing it is. Would you, if anyone had told us a few years ago, that you would be making Sunday School prizes & doing all the church work you are doing believed them. I don't think you you [as written] in fact. I am almost sure you would have laughed at them. But after all as you no doubt [line missing at bottom of page 1?] happiest way to spend this life even if there is more labor attached to it. I have found it so, & I am sure you are doing the same. You must (talking about the girls) not expect to have the pleasure of congratulating me on being engaged for some time for I don't intend to tie any girl to me untill I am quite sure I am worthy of that in every respect. Of course we correspond quite frequently but as a rule we do not do much love making in our letters. You did very well at the sale of work you had, fifty pounds is a good sum for a place like B.'town, & I am pleased to hear that you were working along with the others for the beneift of your church. I have just bought a set of books R. Stevenson works, 32 novels, but they are nearly all first class works. They cost me 25$ that is nearly five pounds, but they are worth it. I think it a good plan to get hold of books that way when one is young & then you see, when one starts housekeeping, you have a fairly good library to start with. I would like you to read some if them. I think you would like them better than "The man from Glengarry." When I read your letter & saw this "I sometimes think you will forget your old pall here" I felt that you deserved to be kicked for such a thought. What do you take me for any how? Don't you know that you are every bit as much of a help to me, as you say I am to you, & that your letters always encourage & help me towards striving to be & working for the Ideal life. You say B.'town is getting to be a very quiet place & that you like it to be that way. I hardly think that after the hurry & bustle of an American city, I could settle down to the old & quiet life of a village like B.' town But after all, it has its benefits as well as its draw backs. You would be amazed if you could only see the hell holes & sin traps of a city like Wheeling But I think the more & certainly the more strength one gets in resisting those sins. Last week I went to a Catholic Church three times. They were having a mission for nonCatholics & there was one hour a night devoted to answering questions. Some of the answers were good others were less of course. I had to get into it, & ask a few, but the priest did not give me any satisfaction, & I make up my mind that their Church & believing although good in some respects cannot help the spiritual needs of a people or nations as much as the protestant church can. So I am going to try to be faithful to the Church I was brought up in. - The place where Will Webster was killed is about five miles from here. I think they caught the man who committed the murder but I have not seen in the paper where he has been tried yet. And I am looking for one with any news in it, & will send it in to you if I can get one. But I'm sorry to say that such things happen every day & the papers do not use much space, or give much account of anything like that. The Warwood tool Works, where Mr Willetts & Leonard worked had to shut down on account of bad trade & having no orders so they both went to work at Lansing coal mine, where Sam & Edwin are at. But the miners union in Ohio, have called a strike for tomorrow, on account of a dispute in regard to the wages, so that they are all likely to be out of work for some time, without a settlement as soon agreed to. So perhaps Len will be having a trip over to Europe this summer, if he has any money saved. But I have not seen them lately so can't say for certain. - We are not doing much work at the store, just enough to keep us going, & so I do not notice the hard times that people talk about so much because I have usually got enough money to keep me - Things are pretty slow in town at present, But spring is about here, & we are having some real warm weather. So base ball season & all the parks will soon be in full swing. I am feeling fine as a feather, & getting the most out of this life. Well, I must close now, hoping you are all right.
Best regards
from your old pal
Raymond


LETTER THREE

[top cut off?]
2218 Eoff St
Wheeling
WVa
6/1/08

Dear Percy
Thanks for card & letter. The card was a beaut. I have had 25 from England this Xmas & New Year, & I have got them stuck round my bedroom. It makes a fellow feel good, when he knows he's not forgotten by the chums he can't forget, & I have been very fortunate with the things I have received this Christmas. I have had a rattling good time in every way. I am now ready to settle down to work again. Edwin received a plum pudding & mince meat from Bourn's? & invited me out to help eat it. I never before anything like that, & enjoyed it very much. I have had everything one could desire for a holiday time, a good home, plenty of good eating, & a good time. We had a dandy supper at the Church last week, & I got acquainted with several nice people. Last night (Sunday) We had a Lady speaker, of the Ladies home missionary society of America. She spoke for an hour & a half, but I did not like her at all. But as a rule I never do like Ladies speaking in public. I think their place is at home not on a platform. Last Friday night I went to a party, & had a rattling good time. They had several things that were new to me. There were fifteen couples altogether. They had what they call progressive conversation & talked about everything from the weather to politics. The girls kept their seats, & the fellows kept going round, being allowed three minutes talk with each girl, & then going on to the next one. It's fine fun, & one has to be pretty good at talking, & then one gets acquainted with everybody. I started all right but finished up on the stairs with my arm around a girl's waist. We found that we could talk much better in that position [line missing?] yourself missing all right. I'm sorry but I can't get a paper with the account of the mine disaster in & put one by for you, but I forgot to tell them about it, & it was distroyed. And I tried to get one at the news agents but they are all gone. I got the football papers all right. Don't say the Vella can't play, they are all right & are finish near the top of the League. You certainly have had rotten luck this last year, & I sincerely hope & wish you a more prosperous & brighter new year. - I would not be a bit surprised to hear of your getting married before I have a chance to get over. I had hoped to take a trip next summer, but it is off altogether for I expect to be with an Engineering corps out in California then but I may possibly be coming over towards the end of the year but goodness knows what I shall be doing then. I don't I know I won't be in Wheeling if all goes well. Must close now. Please remember me to your people, wishing you happiness
best regards
from your pal
Raymond


LETTER FOUR

2218 Eoff St
Wheeling
WVa
7/22/09

Dear Percy
This is the second attempt I have made to answer your letter. I was very pleased to hear from you once again especially after being so thought less & neglectfull. Excuses will not avail in my case, after promising to write, but I hope for forgiveness this time, & I will promise it shall not occur again if I can help it. It seemed that I almost drifted away from my old friends altogether, for, whereas I used to get at least four letters [line missing?] now & of course do not do half the writing that I used to. But as far as our friendship is concerned, I would want it to be strengthened not weakened & that is quite easy & possible for we can correspond to each other, especially if we have any good thoughts that would help, or any suggestions to give each other, I think it would be a good plan to write them & then send them on when we have time. Winnie & I have been trying a new plan & it works very well, between us two, I don't think it would (line missing?] This is it, We each write a sort of a diary every evening of the days events, & what we have been doing, & then forward it on every week. It only takes a few minutes each night before getting into bed & that way we are sure of hearing from each other once a week. I have just finished my vacation, I got back last Monday evening, after being away just twelve days, one day to get tehre & one to come back & ten of the most delightfull days I have ever spent in my life. We got a crowd of nine in the party, eight of us & then a cook, which we paid to do the work. We sent up into the West Virginia mountains, almost two thousand feet above the level of the country. It was a hundred & fifty miles train ride & then we had to go with mules for thirty five miles up into the hills. It took us nearly nine hours to get from the station to our destination away from civilization altogether. Honestly I can no more try to describe the sensation, the beauty & the thrill that one gets when alone with nature in that way. It was fine, it was grand, that stay under God's canopy of heaven And away from the crowds & the every day world. We took two tents, packed on the mules backs, one for cooking & eating & one for sleeping. And we got our provisions up in the same way. I don't think there was a house within six miles & in a dense wood. We pitched at a fine location, close to a good spring & not far from a river where we had splendid fishing. We had three guns with us, & one or two of the boys were good shots. We got wild ducks, a small kind of partridge, which were very good eating & squirrells & rabbits in abundance. And then we had several different kinds of fish some good sized ones. -- Our cook was a good one & we were fed very librally. We would get up in a morning, run to the river & take a duck for about half an hour & then get breakfast, we always laid in a stock over night of fish or game, &then some of us would start out for a walk & explore the country. We came across several large snakes, some we killed with sticks we carried if they came close to us, for as a rule they will get away if possible. But if they are too close they will raise their heads & stick their fangs out & make a pass at you. I have got a beautifull rattle snakes skin which I am having a belt made out of. We would set around in the evening & sing & play cards till we got sleepy, & then roll in. It is the finest way to spend a vacation that I know of. Of course you could not do it in England, as the country is too thickly populated. But I never felt better in my life & never hated anything so much as when we had to pack our traps & come home. -- Yes, I am still trying to do my best for the Lord. I have got a class in Sunday school now & find the work very helpfull & interesting. I have got fourteen boys, about nine years old on an average & they are all bright. I asked them the other day, what they all wanted to come & where they wanted to live. But I'll tell you, I shall never try that again. One of them has a sister that is a friend of mine, just a friend mind you nothing more. When it came to his turn, he said he knew I was going to marry his sister, & when he grew up he wanted to come & live with us, & be uncle to our little boys. I didn't know what to do or say for a minute but I passed it off, as best I could. But somehow the others got to hear about it & I haven't heard the last of it, & I don't think I ever shall. Yes, I have read the book you refer to. It certainly is a helpfull book, altho I think I have read better books than Dr Stall's works. The finest & most helpfull book I have ever read is, "The Threshold of Manhood." Alec gave it to me. It was a 6$ book then, but will probably be cheaper now & if I were you I would try to get it. It is full of hard, honest facts & helpfull and will help you. I have just got a full set of F. Marion Crawford's works, twenty six in all. They are mostly novels, but good ones, I bought a set of Shakespeares works not long ago & have been reading them lately, but they are rather heavy reading, so I got these others for a change. I have ordered a set of "The Worlds Famous Orations" there are a thousand addressed & essays by the works mostly famous men, including Churchill, Chamberlain, Asquith, Glatstone and all the leading English speakers & others translated from the different languages. So I have plenty to read & study [line missing?] for I want to mail this tonight to catch the boat tomorrow. You must excuse writing ect as I was in a hurry to get finished but I think you can manage to read it. Please remember me to your people & friends.
best regards
Raymond


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