Monday, December 8, 2014 John Riddell (1877-unknown)

John was born on 26 April 1877 in the village of Kirkton, East Kilbride to John and Helen (Bain) Riddell.  He was their third child, but only his sister, Margaret, was still living at the time of his birth. In 1881 the family lived in the village of East Kilbride and four years later moved to Cambuslang Parish.

When the 1891 census was enumerated the family lived in Vicarfield Terrace in the village of Cambuslang. At the age of 13, John was already working in the coal mines. His father died in 1897 and by 1901 John, his mother, and brother, Robert, were living in the village of Bishopbriggs, in Cadder Parish. Also living with them was a 5 year-old granddaughter of John's mother, named Ellen. John and Robert were listed as being single. My assumption is Ellen was the illegitimate child of John's older sister Margaret, but I can find no registration record for the child's birth.

On 6 October 1904, John Riddell and his friend, Thomas Sorbie, boarded the Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia. They traveled in the steerage section and landed in New York on 18 October. Both John and Thomas were miners. John lived in Glenboig before leaving Scotland and Thomas had lived in Dalserf.  Thomas Sorbie's parents were John and Margaret (Hamilton) Sorbie. Interestingly, John Riddell's grand uncle, Thomas Muir's first wife was a Sorbie, Janet Sorbie (1844-1870). Perhaps Thomas Sorbie was a cousin of John's.

Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia; photograph courtesy of ClydeSite

When they arrived in New York, they told U.S. immigration officials their destination was Imperial, Pennsylvania. Imperial was in Allegheny County about 17 miles west of Pittsburgh. Underground was the northern tip of the Pittsburgh coal seam, the thickest and most extensive bed of coal in the Appalachian Basin.

During first decade of the 1900s, when John Riddell and Thomas Sorbie arrived in Imperial, mining companies were sinking new mines at a rapid pace. The growth of mining was so massive and so intertwined with coke production for the iron and steel industry that the era was called the "Golden Age of King Coal, Queen Coke, and Princess Steel." By 1910, however, the golden age was fading, new coke production technology used a lower quality of coal than that of the Pittsburgh seam, which greatly reduced demand.

Pittsburgh coal seam; map courtesy of Wikipedia

Regardless of the reasons why John Riddell left Imperial, he was not there when the 1910 U.S. federal census was enumerated and has not been found in any U.S. documentation after his arrival.

1881 Scotland Census, 03/04/1881 Riddell, Jno (Census 1881 643/00 001/00 012)
1881 Scotland Census, Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 1; Page: 13; Line: 1; Roll: CSSCT1881_213
1891 Scotland Census, 05/04/1891 Riddell, John (Census 1891 627/00 005/00 027)
1891 Scotland Census, Parish: Cambuslang; ED: 5; Page: 27; Line: 25; Roll: CSSCT1891_229
1901 Scotland Census, 31/03/1901 Riddell, John (Census 1901 626 A1 003/00 017)
1901 Scotland Census, Pairsh: Cadder; ED: 3: Page: 17; Line: 12; Roll: CSSCT1891_250
"Anchor Line's S/S Furnessia," ClydeSite
"Pittsburgh Coal Seam," Wikipedia
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1877 Riddell, John (Statutory Births 643/00 0050)
UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, Class: BT26; Piece: 258; Item: 26
UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960, John Riddell, 1904
US, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1904

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