Monday, February 28, 2011

Mystery Monday: John Bartrem, Died at Sea

My great great grandfather, John Bartrem (Bartram), is a bit of a mystery to me. I know where he was born, who he married and who his children were. Thanks to the UK/Wales census documents and other British vital records, I can follow him pretty regularly from 1841 to 1881. But I've lost him after that.

Here's what I know:
Seated: John Bartrem; his grandson, Arthur;
his wife, Esther
Standing: Daughter Louisa (Arthur's mother); Son
Joseph (my great grandfather); Daughter Sarah Ann
Photo taken circa 1881 in Herefordshire, England
  • He was born in 1815 in Kelsale, Suffolk County, England.
  • I've found him working on a farm near his family in Kelsale in the 1841 UK/Wales Census. At some point after that, he and several of his family members moved west to Herefordshire County, near the Welsh border.
  • In 1846, he married Esther Meredith at the Church of Welsh Newton, in Welsh Newton, Herefordshire, England.
  • Between 1846 and 1881, he and his family moved between Herefordshire, England, and Monmouthshire, Wales. Both counties share a border. By the 1881 UK/Wales Census, he was owner of Wern Farm in Llanrothal, Herefordshire County, England.
Here's the legend:
  • My Aunt Brenda has heard that John Bartrem and his son, Joseph (my great grandfather), were in the business of bringing Hereford cattle from England to the US in the early 1880s. Joseph ended up staying in Kansas and working for the Adams Ranch, which raised Hereford cattle. He eventually owned his own ranch in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, before moving to Clear Lake, California.
  • My cousin, Reva, thinks that John made a final trip in 1886, and brought his grandson, Arthur, with him at that time. The 1910 US Census notes that Arthur immigrated in 1886. Another of John's sons, Samuel, had already settled in Iowa, and it seems that Arthur first stayed with Samuel before moving to Kansas. 
  • The last we heard about my great great grandfather, John Bartrem, is that he sailed back home to England after Arthur (and, presumably, the shipment of cattle) were safely deposited in America, and that he died at sea. 
I've hunted high and low through the online records (at and beyond), and have found no records of the ship that John took back home, or any records of his death. I think I need to start calling around the various repositories in England and Wales to see if I can find someone who can point me in the right direction. The UK's National Archives website seems to have some information regarding deaths at sea, but I'll likely have to speak with someone there or make a trip to London (oh, darn... ) to actually access it. I just checked, though, and I see that they have a podcast on how to research births, marriages and deaths at sea. Hmmm... Perhaps, I'll find a clue there!

Meanwhile, if anyone else has any ideas, please feel free to pass them along in my Comments section!


  1. I got nuthin'...but it would certainly be interesting to find out :) And a trip to London? Oh, gosh gee darn.

  2. My mum's mother: Catherine Bartram b. Maple Hill Kansas. Father, John Bartram b. 1866 near Usk, Monmouth parents moved from Kelsale, Suffolk.