Last year, I wrote about some complicated inter-marriages in the Hyde & Whiteley branches of my tree. Among other things I wrote, “And for just a dash of extra spice, Arthur was married in England with four children prior to his arrival in Alaska. I don’t know what happened to his wife, but his children are alive and well and living with neighbors after he leaves England. I have a theory about this. But that is also a story for another day.”
Well, today is that day.
Arthur Hyde is my 3rd great granduncle. He was born in about 1870 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England to Henry Douglas McLenberg Hyde & Sarah Marsden. I first learned of Arthur from family notes.
Currently I have found Arthur on the 1871 & 1881 census living at home with his parents and siblings in Yorkshire.
On 17 July 1889, Arthur married Mary Bell, daughter of Joseph Bell. After their marriage they continued to live in Yorkshire for a time. They can be found on the 1891 Census in Sheffield living with Arthur’s parents and their first child. In 1901, they are living in Heeley with their children.
Together they had at least four children:
- Ann Elizabeth Hyde, born 13 April 1890 in Sheffield.
- Martha M Hyde, born about 1895 in Sheffield.
- Rose Hyde, born about 1897 in Sheffield.
- John Arthur Hyde, born about 1900 in Sheffield.
In 1910 Arthur appears on the US Census living in Fairbanks, Alaska with his widowed sister-in-law Alice Whiteley Hyde, both listed as single. According to family notes, the two supposedly married in 1909 in Fairbanks.
Between 1909 and 1913, there are several newspaper articles about Arthur running races including marathons.
Arthur died 13 February 1919 in Colfax, Placer, California.
None of this explains what happened to Mary Bell and the four children. Did Arthur and Mary divorce? Did Mary die? Why did Arthur move across the world and leave his children behind in England?
I have a big imagination. In my imagining possible scenarios I have come up with this one:
When Henry returned to England to marry Alice Whiteley, what if Henry dazzled his brother Arthur with tales of Western Canada and Alaska. The Hyde family were poor laborers. Maybe Arthur and his wife Mary Bell, followed Henry to Alaska with plans to start a homestead or mine for gold. Maybe they left the children in England until they could make their start. And then something may have happened to Mary and Arthur remained in Alaska and never retrieved his children. Part of the reason I dreamt up this theory is because of this photograph.
The woman in the center back is my 2nd great grandmother Alice Hyde. The woman on the bottom right is her aunt/step-mother Alice Whiteley Hyde. This photo is not labeled so I can’t be certain who the other three individuals are. But I think that the man on the right is Alice Hyde’s father Henry Hyde, husband of Alice Whiteley Hyde. Makes sense, right? What if the man on the left is Arthur Hyde and that the woman on the bottom left is his wife Mary Bell Hyde?
But then my imaginary theory develops some holes. First of all, I think this photo looks like it was taken prior to Alice Hyde’s marriage in 1897. If I’m correct then Mary should be in England having babies with Arthur. I suppose it’s possible they took a little journey to Alaska to visit Henry between their babies but that doesn’t seem likely.
So the photo may not support my imaginary explanation for Arthur seemingly abandoning his family but I haven’t yet turned over every stone. Alice Whiteley Hyde completed the Fairbanks homestead that she and Henry started together. But she completed it after Henry’s death, presumably with the help of Arthur. In order to complete a homestead there is a whole lot of paperwork generated. I intend to order the homestead paperwork and hope that I will find some more clues about Arthur in there. I really hope he didn’t just abandon his little family.