JOHN MOSES “Jack” EASTHAM and MARGARET “Maggie” MARSDEN, Founders of an American EASTHAM Family

© EASTHAM Family History

What follows is a narrative timeline relating the known events of Jack’s and Maggie’s lives.  They were remarkable people who lived in remarkable times, so I’ve tried to include world events to help us get a picture of the world they lived in.

Please note that all photos on EASTHAM Family History’s pages are copyrighted unless available through the public pages of some other ‘public’ or commercial entity (such as Ancestry.com or Google Earth).  Many of the photos published on our pages are the personal property of family members who have permitted me to use them.  Please do not copy or distribute any copyrighted photo without first obtaining permission through me.  You can obtain permission by entering your request as a ‘Comment’ and including your email address.  Your ‘Comment’ will NOT be published, and I will respond via email.  Thank you!

For information about Jack’s ancestors, click here.

For information about the EASTHAM surname and family origins, click here.

Names and identifying information of living persons have NOT been included, to protect their privacy.

British Flag

JOHN MOSES “Jack” EASTHAM WAS BORN on Jun 23, 1881 at 4 Butler Place, Preston, Lancashire, ENGLAND (photo below).  He was the son of THOMAS EASTHAM III (1851-1923) and MARGARET ANN COOKE (1853-1923).  His father was the eldest son of Thomas Eastham II (1828-1888) and Ellen Ianson (1825-1893), both of Preston.  His mother Margaret was the daughter of an English Quaker, Moses Cooke (1820-1887) and his wife, Ellen Duxbury (1820-1901).

Jack’s EASTHAM family had been Anglicans since the the time of Henry VIII, while his mother’s COOKE family had been Quakers for at least four generations. His COOKE great-grandfather and great-uncles were very wealthy Manchester businessmen.  His great-grandfather was the brother of Isaac Cooke, who founded the Bank of Liverpool, now part of Barclays Bank.  Jack’s grandfather, Moses COOKE, was the youngest son (no inheritance) and was a shoemaker.  Such are the vagaries of life….

The DUXBURYs appear to have been a cadet branch of an ancient manorial family with bloodline connections to Myles Standish, and business connections with Sir Walter Raleigh.

The I’ANSON / IANSON family remains something of a mystery, but we’re making progress.

Additional posts and pages will be added in time, giving more detailed information about Jack’s and Maggie’s parents, grandparents and other ancestors.

This is a photo of Jack’s Quaker grandfather, Moses Cooke, after whom Jack was named.  Moses is pictured with two of his four sisters, but we don’t know which two….  Clothing style indicates that the photo was taken around the time of the American Civil War (mid-1860’s).

Moses Cook and his sisters
© EASTHAM Family History

Jack’s first home — Modern-day 4 Butler Place, below, is still a typical middle class home.  (photo courtesy of Google Earth Pro)

4 Butler Place - Preston - England

1881 BRITISH CENSUS – The 1881 British Census was taken in April, a month before Jack’s birth, so he isn’t listed in the household. At the time of his birth, the family was living at 4 Butler Place (photo above), and the household consisted of:

  • Thomas Eastham, head of family, age 29, married, mechanic, born in Preston
  • Margaret, wife, age 27, married, no occupation, born in Preston
  • Elizabeth, daughter, age 6, born in Preston
  • James I., son, age 2, born in Preston (He was given the middle name of IANSON in memory of his paternal grandmother, Ellen Ianson.)
  • Elizabeth Hodson, boarder, age 18, cotton winder, born in Preston (A cotton winder stood at a machine that wound cotton thread onto huge spindles, to be used for weaving the fabrics that made Preston famous. Interestingly, Maggie Marsden’s great-great-grandmother was Margery HODSON and other Hodsons are found associated with both the Easthams and the Marsdens.)
1881 Census - Preston - EASTHAM
The 1881 British Census – Preston.  The EASTHAM family is the middle entry.

When Jack was born:

As mentioned elsewhere, the EASTHAM clan had lived in the Preston area at least since the mid-fifteen-hundreds and probably much earlier than that.  Preston was the center of a textile-oriented ‘cottage industry’ economy for generations; however, two generations previous to Jack’s birth, the Industrial Revolution had placed Preston in the center of the mechanized textile industry in England, and now Preston was known around the world for its products, especially its cotton.

By the time Jack was born, Preston had changed from a small town to a great industrial city dominated by huge factories where machines ruled.  Poverty and child labor were rampant.

Preston from the air - 1929
The heart of Old Preston as seen from the air in 1929.  Although the picture was taken after Jack and Maggie had moved to America, it is pretty much identical to the city they were born into.  For example, the obelisk near the center of the photo stands in front of the New Post Office — construction for that building began the year after Jack was born, and was completed in 1893, when he was eleven years old.

Jack was fortunate to have been born into a middle-class family, but in a culture in which there were effectively no social aid provisions in case of disaster, and only the eldest child might end up inheriting the family assets (due to the law of primogeniture), all able members of the family went to work as soon as possible and contributed to the family account.

Class distinction still governed most social and business interactions in England, so although they were working-class people, the Easthams were proud to have also served for several generations in the honored position of ‘verger’ for St. George the Martyr Church.

A verger, more commonly called a ‘beadle‘, is “a church official who acts as caretaker and attendant, looking after the interior of a church and often the vestments and church furnishings, as well as being the official who carries the verge or rod of office before a bishop, dean, or other dignitary in ceremonies and processions.” (Collins English Dictionary)  It is a hereditary position of trust and distinction, with both honor and remuneration passing from generation to generation.  The Easthams were vergers for St. George the Martyr Chapel of Ease in Preston.

St. George the Martyr Chapel of Ease in Preston – side view

The family story is that Jack’s ancestor (probably Thomas Eastham I) rendered a valuable service to “a local duke” (who turned out to be the Earl of Derby), and were awarded the position in recognition of that service.  To date, we haven’t been able to learn more details, but at least the headstone of Thomas Eastham I (below) confirms the Earl of Derby’s connection.

Thomas Eastham I Head Stone - cropped
© EASTHAM Family History

By the time Jack was born, three generations of Eastham men had already served as beadles: his great-grandfather (Thomas I – 1793-1874), his grandfather (Thomas II – 1828-1888), and Jack’s own father (Thomas III – 1851-1923).  Jack’s youngest son, Tom V, told me that, “He was in line to be the next beadle of St. George’s, but he didn’t feel that he was religious enough for that.  He wanted to be a butcher!” 

Since Jack was not the eldest son, he may not have been entitled to the position, but Uncle Tommy was confident that Jack didn’t want it, even if he was!  Hmmm… Being the verger included a respectable guaranteed salary, robes of office, and a position of significance within the community, but Jack wasn’t interested.  Jack, apparently, was something of a rebel.   🙂

Jack’s great-grandfather, Thomas I (photo below), served as beadle or verger of St. George the Martyr Church for 54 years! His son and grandson, both also named Thomas Eastham, served after him.

Thomas Eastham 3 (1793 - 1874)
© EASTHAM Family History — Above: Jack’s great-grandfather, Thomas Eastham I (1793-1874) in his robes of office.  Thomas was the first of the family to hold the position of beadle (or verger).  He served at St. George the Martyr chapel for 54 years, but his headstone says he served he Earls of Derby for 56 years.  Working back 56 years from his death in 1874 takes us to about 1818.  From this we can infer that sometime between 1818 and 1820, Thomas Eastham I (or someone in his family) performed some sort of commendable service for the earl, and received the paid position of verger as a reward. “First Thomas” died in 1874, and this photo appears to have been taken in the latter half of his life.  Photo from St. George the Martyr Church brochure.

The world in June 1881:

Victoria in 1882

Jack and Maggie were born during the Victorian EraQueen Victoria (left) and her consort, Prince Albert, occupied the throne of Great Britain, and William Ewart Gladstone was prime minister.  Britain had just won the First Boer War (Dec 1880-March 1881), thus consolidating England’s rule over most of South Africa.  Britain was a proud empire, ruling the waves and firmly established in client countries all over the world – England was the leading power in the world!

  • All four of Jack’s  grandparents were still living and had homes nearby.  The same was true of Maggie’s grandparents.
  • There were already two children in Jack’s family: Elizabeth Alice Eastham, born in 1874, and James Ianson Eastham, born in 1878. Jack was the third child and the second son.  (Two more girls and another boy would join the family by 1893.)  The MARSDENs had only one child, Mary Jane “Jane” Marsden, who was about two years old.  She and her sister Maggie would become close friends.
  • Preston, Lancashire had a population of 96,532, but it was surrounded by many smaller communities whose population contributed to and survived through Preston’s commerce.
    • Lancashire in the 19th century was a major center of economic activity, and hence of wealth. Activities included coal mining, textile production, particularly cotton, and fishing.” (Wikipedia)
      • By 2010, Preston had a population of over 460,000.
  • The French, always Britain’s foremost competitor, were expanding their own colonial empire and were at war with Tunisia.
  • In March, two months before Jack was born, Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth first opened for business in America.
  • The American Red Cross was founded a month prior to Jack’s birth, on 21 May 1881.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan were presenting their light opera “Patience” in London.
  • In Russia, Jews were experiencing severe antisemitism, including violent pogroms.
  • The world’s first electric tram went into service in Berlin, Germany in May.
  • On 1 June, just three weeks before Jack was born, Bell Telephone (founded in American only 4 years earlier) opened the first Dutch telephone exchange.
    • Bell Telephone logoJack was always fascinated with any mechanical device, and years later he would own the only telephone for blocks around in his Chicago neighborhood.  Three of his children would work for Bell Telephone (“Ma Bell”), and the income from Bell stock would provide for his wife in her old age.
  • On 14 June, one week before Jack was born, the player piano was patented in Massachusetts, and would soon appear in England, as well.
  • A month later, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull surrendered to federal troops in America.
  • In October, roll film for cameras was patented.
  • Also in October, just four months after Jack’s birth, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clantons engaged in the “Gun Fight at the  O.K. Corral.” The Wild West was drawing to a close, but still had some years to go.
Preston City Emblem
Emblem of the City of Preston

British Fashion in the 1880’s:

1880s womens clothing1880’s women’s dress featured tightly fitting bodices with very narrow sleeves and high necklines, often trimmed at the wrists with white frills or lace. At the beginning of the decade [when Jack was born], the emphasis was at the back of the skirt, featuring ruching, flouncing, and embellishments such as bows and thick, rich fabrics and trims. The middle of the decade saw a brief revival of the bustle, which was so exaggerated that the derriere protruded horizontally from the small of the back. By the end of the decade the bustle disappeared. Hair was worn in tight, close curls on the top of the head. Hats and caps were correspondingly small and neat, to fit on top of the hairstyle.

1880s mens clothingFor men, lounge suits were becoming increasingly popular. They were often quite slim, and jackets were worn open or partially undone to reveal the high buttoning waistcoat and watch chain. Collars were stiff and high, with their tips turned over into wings. Neckties were either the knotted ‘four in hand’, or versions of the bow-tie tied around the collar.  [1]

The First Few Years

28 January 1882 – Jack’s future wife, Margaret “Maggie” Marsden, was born in a home that was geographically not very far from Jack’s, but which was socially far removed. Her parents, JAMES MARSDEN and ELIZABETH HARLING, were terribly poor, as were many Preston families.  Maggie came from a sturdy family, however, in which the women normally lived into their late 80’s and early 90’s.  Good prognosis.  (A scholarly article maintains that Jack and Maggie were born at the tail end of a period in which their “generation grew up with probably the best standards of health ever enjoyed by a modern state.”)

1882 – The Married Women’s Property Act 1882 received royal assent in Britain, enabling women to buy, own and sell property and to keep their own earnings.  (Huh…)

I wonder if our Easthams had such fancy gas lights?

1883 –  The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires began service in Roselle, New Jersey; it was installed by Thomas Edison.  Jack’s family probably used gas lights for many years yet.  Maggie remembered when her family had GAS lighting installed!!  Being poor, they came a little late to the party.

Jun 1884BIRTH – Maggie was two years old when her brother William James “Bill” Marsden was born in Preston, the third child and first son in the MARSDEN family.  More about him later.

1885 – Newspapers announced the dedication of the Washington Monument in America; and primitive bicycles, an improvement on the old-style BIG wheels, were just beginning to be generally available.


1885DEATH – When Maggie was just three years old, her paternal grandmother, after whom she was named, passed away in Lancashire.  Margaret Stewart, wife of Samuel Marsden, was born about 1816 in Whitehaven, Cumbria County, a beautiful area of lakes and low mountains in northern England.  The Scottish STEWART surname is especially significant in that part of England (close to the Scottish border), so we’d like to learn more about Margaret.

1886 Coca Cola was invented in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor.  One day, Jack and Maggie and their kids would see it as immigrants themselves!

28 April 1887BIRTH – Jack was almost six years old when his younger sister, Edith Ellen Eastham, was born in Preston.

June 1887DEATHMaggie’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Marsden, passed away in Preston at the good old age of 74.  He was born in 1813 in Lancashire and was raised Catholic.  He was a ‘general laborer,’ also called a ‘day laborer’, which meant that he was poor and had no special trade.  He did whatever kind of work he could find on a day-by-day basis. He must have been a tough cookie to survive until he was 74! He married Margaret Stewart when he was 39 years old (no indication of any previous marriage) and she was 37.  Although some researchers list three additional children, I believe that the records more clearly indicate that Maggie’s father, James Marsden, was their only child.  DNA will have to be the final arbiter!

Samuel Marsden (1816-1887) 1
Purported portrait of Samuel Marsden – seeking confirmation of validity.   Portrait originally published 12 Nov 2012 by Malone_Robert at the public (Ancestry.com) tree, “SHANKS, MARSDEN, ETC.”

9 January 1888DEATH – Jack was six years old when his paternal grandfather, Thomas Eastham II, passed away in Preston (cause of death: Cystitis, Prostatectomy) at the age of 60.  A ‘flagger and slater’ (road builder and roofer) by profession, he had fathered at least six children and had served 15 years in his position of verger at St. George the Martyr.  By the time of his death, he was described as a ‘House Agent,’ which may be the old term for ‘real estate agent.’  (In a scholarly article, the profession is placed among “Auctioneer, appraiser, valuer, House agent.”)  He left a modest estate equivalent to about $29,000 USD.  His family placed a very nice memorial tablet over his burial spot at Preston Borough Cemetery.  (We have no photographs of Thomas II or his wife, Ellen Ianson.  If you know of such photos, it would be a joy if you could share them with us!)

Probate record - Thomas Eastham II

26 May 1889BIRTH – Maggie was six years old when her new brother,  Albert Marsden, was born in Preston.  He was the fourth child and second son of James and Elizabeth (Harling) Marsden.

Sep 1889 BIRTH – When Jack was seven, his brother Thomas Eastham IV was born in Preston (baptized on 13 Sep 1889 at St Luke’s Anglican Church in Preston).  That same year, the Eiffel Tower opened in France, and The Oklahoma Land Rush took place in America.  (We’re looking for photos and information about Tom IV and his family.)

June 1890DEATH – Maggie’s baby brother Albert Marsden passed away at a year and one month of age.  Maggie was only eight years old, and as his ‘big sister,’ she had surely been much in charge of the baby all that year.  His death must have affected her deeply.

24 March 1891BIRTH – Not quite a year after the death of her baby brother, nine-year-old Maggie got a new little brother.  As custom dictated, Albert “Al” Marsden was named after his departed brother.  Al was born in Preston like the rest of his siblings.  He, too, would emigrate to Canada (in 1925), marrying Ida Wilding there in 1926.  His descendants still live in the Toronto area.  I met his son in 1968 when he and his family were living in the Toronto area.  (Does anyone have information about or photos of Al and his family?)

5 April 1891  – 1891 BRITISH CENSUS – per the 1891 British Census, Jack and his family were still living at 4 Butler Place in Preston, Lancashire, England, Great Britain.  (See photo above)

EASTHAM Household members:

  • Thomas Eastham, Head of House, age 39, mechanic for spinning machines, born in Preston.
  • Margaret Ann, Wife, age 37, no occupation, born in Preston
  • Elizabeth, daughter, age 16, cotton winder, born in Preston
  • James Ianson, son, age 12, scholar, born in Preston (continued on next page)
  • John Moses, son, age 9, scholar, born in Preston
  • Edith Ellen, daughter, age 3, scholar (?), born in Preston
  • Thomas, son, age 1 year, born in Preston

The 1891 Census for Maggie’s family, the MARSDENs, living at 38 North Street:

  • James Marsden, Head of House, age 35, plumber, employed, born in Preston
  • Elizabeth, Wife, age 33, cotton weaver, employed, born in Preston
  • Mary J., daughter, age 11, scholar, born in Preston
  • Margaret, daughter, age 8, scholar, born in Preston
  • William, son, age 6, scholar, born in Preston
  • Albert, son, 10 days old, born in Preston
A coal fire sitting room, typical of the kind of homes Maggie was raised in.


Jack’s 10th birthday was about two months after the 1891 census was taken.  Recently passed English education laws required all children to attend school until age 13, but after that they could legally work in the factories or elsewhere, although their wages would be far below that of an adult’s.

My mother told me that when Jack was only SIX, his father took him to the front door and told him not to come home until he had a job (and all his wages were then turned over to his father).  Mom adored her dad, so she didn’t like her grandfather (although she had never met him) because, as she told me several times, he was unkind to her father and ‘spoiled’ his daughters.

Was Mom’s (or my) memory accurate about her father’s childhood job?  True, it was not at all unusual for underage children to work in the factories.  Desperately impoverished parents bribed supervisors to hire their children, thankful for the few pence they could bring home each week; and since the companies could pay the children considerably less, it was an attractive situation for everyone involved – except for the children.  Of course, if Jack was in a factory when the census was taken, the census-taker would have been told that he was in school.  However, since Jack’s father was NOT desperately impoverished, and since he was a ‘solid citizen’ who would not have wanted to embarrass himself with the authorities, it makes me wonder if perhaps Mom’s story belongs to the previous generation, in a time when many still considered even an elementary education to be a luxury.

But what about Maggie?  I remember Gram (Maggie Eastham) telling me proudly that she began working in a mill when she was EIGHT years old.  She was very proud that she was given charge of a velvet loom at the tender age of 12, because, she said, normally a girl had to be 16 before she was given that kind of responsibility.  I was not quite five at the time, but I knew how to count, and I remember thinking, “She wasn’t much older than me when she went to work!!” (and secretly wondering if I might be sent to work that young).  However, in the 1930 census, Maggie claims to have a 7th-grade education.  It’s quite possible that I have remembered incorrectly (my math wasn’t great at age 5), and Maggie may not have begun working until she was 11 or 12 years old.  Nevertheless, I am confident that she was running a velvet loom at age 12 – she was SO proud of that accomplishment – and it seems unlikely that they would have given her that position with only a year or less of experience.

The human labour [in the mills], involved in both spinning and weaving, consists chiefly in piecing broken threads, as the machine does all the rest. This work requires no muscular strength, but only flexibility of finger.  Men are… less fit for it than women and children, and are, therefore, naturally almost superseded by them… In the spinning mills women and girls are to be found in almost exclusive possession of the throstles; among the mules [spinning machines] one man, an adult spinner (with self-actors, he, too, becomes superfluous), and several piecers for tying the threads, usually children or women, sometimes young men of from eighteen to twenty years, here and there an old spinner thrown out of other employment.  At the power-looms women, from fifteen to twenty years, are chiefly employed, and a few men; these, however, rarely remain at this trade after their twenty-first year.  Among the preparatory machinery, too, women alone are to be found, with here and there a man to clean and sharpen the carding frames.

(Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England, published 1844, emphasis added)

No doubt much had changed by the 1890’s but children were still valued workers.

child labor 1
Child laborers in a British cotton factory, about 1890.

21 June 1893DEATH – Two days before Jack’s twelfth birthday, his paternal grandmother, Ellen Ianson, passed away in Preston at the age of 68, cause of death unknown. In the 1891 Census, Ellen is described as “living on [her] own means.  By the time of her death two years later, those “means” were apparently greatly depleted, as she left our ancestor, Thomas II, the equivalent of only about $7,000.00 USD.

In Jack’s estimation, Ellen had evidently held an important position in the family: he gave her maiden name IANSON to two of his children.  Either he had a close relationship with his grandmother, or he was very proud of her lineage (or both).  (We have no photographs of Ellen Ianson or her husband, Thomas II.  If you know of such photos, it would be a joy if you could share them with us!)

Probate Record - Ellen Ianson Eastham 1893

We are consistently able to locate the homes of our EASTHAM relatives, because their solid, middle class neighborhoods were maintained. However, ALL of the MARSDEN homes have been demolished and their neighborhoods are now commercial areas – a strong indicator that their homes were in very poor neighborhoods that were better torn down than repaired.

October 1893BIRTH – The last of Jack’s siblings was born: Margaret Ann Elsie Eastham, born in Preston when her brother Jack was about twelve years old.  It’s possible that she later married a Mr. Parkinson; however, I was told more than once that two of my grandfather’s sisters were ‘old maids’ and lived in their father’s home for many years, taking care of their father and ultimately inheriting the house and its contents.  I think these two sisters may have been Edith (whose husband appears to have died young) and Margaret Ann Elsie.  Inquiry is being made to learn a little more about Margaret Ann Elsie.

6 Sep 1895BIRTH – Maggie was thirteen years old when her little brother Thomas “Tom” Marsden was born in Preston.  Like most of the rest of his family, Tom emigrated to Canada, where he married Gertrude Elizabeth “Gertie” Perry (born 1918 in Canada) and had three daughters that we know of.  Tom died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 2 October 1972.  He’s buried there at Highland Memory Gardens. (This is another family that we’d love to have photos of and know more about.)

14 Feb 1899JACK ENLISTS – At age 18, Jack was working as a mechanic for a cotton manufacturer, Horrocks & Crewdson, when he was visited by a certain Sgt. Lambert who delivered an official ‘request’ that Jack report for enlistment with the militia (East Lancashire Regiment).  Jack dutifully obeyed, took an oath of loyalty, and  signed a military ‘attestation’ for the BRITISH ARMY, but apparently was discharged a month later, no reason given.  A picture of the document he signed may be seen HERE.

Horrockses, Crewdson & Co., 1940’s.  The complex would have been about this size even in 1900.  Horrockses was one of the largest and most famous of the Preston cotton manufacturers.

27 August 1899BIRTH & DEATH – Maggie was already seventeen years old when her youngest sibling, her sister Susannah Marsden was born in Preston.  The baby was named after her maternal grandmother, Susannah Billington Harling.   The records document the sad fact that the baby girl died either at birth or less than a month later.  At the young age of 17, Maggie had already dealt with the deaths of at least four close relations, including two siblings.  That’s rough.

At the time of Susannah’s birth, her mother, Elizabeth Harling, was 41 years old.  Maggie’s own child-bearing years would also end at age 41.

31 March 1901: At the time of the 1901 British Census, Jack was living with his family at 65 Fishergate (photo below) in Preston, Lancashire, England, Great Britain. The building has been modified for business, but in 1901, it would have been a respectable middle class house with a residential front entry.  Notice the nearby park.

65 Fishergate, Preston, Lancashire, England

 Household Members, 1901 British Census, 65 Fishergate, Preston, Lancs.:

  • Thomas Eastham, Head of House, age 49, iron turner, born in Preston – an iron turner used a lathe to turn (carve or cut) items from iron blocks
  • Margaret Ann, age 47, wife, no occupation, born in Preston
  • Elizabeth, daughter, age 26, cotton winder, born in Preston
  • James Ianson, son, age 22, cotton winder, born in Preston
  • John Moses, son, age 19, iron turner, born in Preston
  • Edith Ellen, daughter, age 13, cotton winder, born in Preston
  • Thomas, son, age 11, born in Preston
  • Margaret Ann Elsie, daughter, age 7, born in Preston

The 1901 Census for Maggie’s family, the MARSDENs, living at 12 Edward Street:

  • James Marsden, Head of House, age 46, plumber, employed, born in Preston
  • Elizabeth, wife, age 43, unemployed, born in Preston
  • Mary J, daughter, age 21, unemployed, born in Preston
  • Margareta, daughter, age 19, cotton weaver, employed, born in Preston
  • William, son, age 16, welding apprentice, employed, born in Preston
  • Albert, son, age 10, unemployed, born in Preston
  • Thomas, son, age 5, unemployed, born in Preston
  • HARLING, Susanna, mother-in-law, age 70, unemployed, born in Preston

16 January 1902MARRIAGE – Maggie’s younger brother, 17-year-old William James “Bill” Marsden married Edith Ellen Hutchinson in Preston.  Edith was born 14 December 1883 in Preston, the daughter of Henry and Jane (Hoole) Hutchinson.  At the time of their marriage, Bill was working as a ‘warehouse man’; Edith had been housekeeping for her father, since her mother was terminally ill.  Apparently they ‘had’ to get married, because their first child, Gladys, was born just a few months after their marriage.   They also had a son, William James Jr..   At age 33, Bill Sr. enlisted in the British Army for service during WWI.  Edith passed away between 1815 and 1820, and Bill remarried to “Elizabeth” (last name unknown); they emigrated to Canada in 1923.  I remember meeting “Uncle Bill” when we were living with Gram in 1954/55 – he had come for a short visit and stayed at Gram’s house.  He seemed very old to me (he was about 70 years old at the time), and  had gray hair.  His voice was rather gravelly, but pleasant.  He seemed nice though a little ‘rough around the edges’, and I liked him fine even though he paid scant attention to a little girl!

October 1902MARRIAGE – Maggie’s big sister, Mary Jane “Jane” Marsden (23 years old), married Edward Todd “Ted” Harrison (1878-1917) in Preston.  “Aunt Jane”, as we called her, was full of life and lots of fun to be around!  My dad and uncles loved to get her to sing old vaudeville songs and dance to them.  She teased Maggie constantly, and quiet, reserved and well-mannered Maggie usually put up with it with good humor, only getting mildly exasperated when Jane did something ’embarrassing’ (which she did on a regular basis!).

Jane and Ted emigrated first to America, but later settled in Winnipeg, Canada.  They had one child, a son named George, born in Preston in 1908.  George grew up in Canada and married Phyllis Mary Lake, with whom he had two children, both born in Canada.  George and his family emigrated to Michigan and then to Illinois in 1946, where they became naturalized American citizens, and where a third child (a son) was born.   Jane’s grandson George died in Warrenville, Illinois in 1973, and all three of his children are also deceased.  We know that he had at least one grandchild, but privacy laws prevent us from learning about any others.  (This is another family that we’d love to have photos of and know more about.)


© EASTHAM Family History

1903COURTING! – Jack (now 21 years old) and Maggie (20) were “stepping out together”!  In the photo below, taken in 1903, they are the two on the far left, with friends at Avenham Park in Preston.

© EASTHAM Family History

MARGARET ELIZABETH “Maggie” MARSDEN (b. 28 Jan 1882 in Preston, Lancashire, England) was the second-oldest child and second daughter of JAMES MARSDEN (born 21 July 1854 at 64 Nelson St. in Preston, died 3 July 1921 in Fulwood, Lancashire, England) and ELIZABETH HARLING (born 11 Nov 1857 in Preston, died 6 Nov 1945 in York, Ontario, Canada). Maggie’s paternal grandparents were Samuel and Margaret (Stewart) Marsden of Houghton (Chorley) in Lancashire.  Her maternal grandparents were William and Susannah (Billington) Harling of Preston.

Maggie Marsden Eastham - abt 1904
© EASTHAM Family History — Margaret “Maggie” Marsden, about 1904

Maggie and Jack were from two different social classes, which, in the England of that day, was a big deal and raises lots of questions.  How did they meet?   Maggie was religious, while Jack was more ‘relaxed’ – what brought them together?  We know Jack’s family disapproved, but what did Maggie’s family think?  What sort of shenanigans did they have to go through in order to see one another?  So many questions!

Whatever the answers, theirs was a genuine love match that remained strong until death broke the bond.

1903 – Apparently Jack’s older sister, Elizabeth Alice Eastham, had been doing some courting too.  In early 1903 she married Jonathan Allison (1874-1928), a shop keeper.  They had no children, so Elizabeth became Jonathan’s business assistant.  She was also the primary heir at her father’s death.  Her husband died in 1928 in Blackpool, Lancashire, but Elizabeth lived until 12 May 1946, when she, too, died in Blackpool.  Elizabeth and Jonathan are both buried at Preston Old Cemetery, and their grave site is marked by a large monument.


6 March 1905MARRIAGE: At last, the moment we’ve been waiting for! Jack’s and Maggie’s marriage was registered at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Preston, but their marriage license says that the ceremony took place at St. Peter’s Anglican church (photo below).  The witnesses were Maggie’s brother, Bill Marsden, and Jack’s sister, Edith Ellen Eastham.  It appears to have been a short and very private ceremony, which agrees with the story my mother told me – they ELOPED!

John Moses and Maggie Marsden Eastham - 1905
© EASTHAM Family History
St Peter’s Parish Church, Preston, Lancashire, England, where Jack and Maggie were married.  Maggie was raised as a Methodist and returned to the Methodist Church when her children were born, so the Eastham kids were raised as a Methodists.
This is a certified record of their parish marriage record.   You can see a clearer copy HERE.

On the marriage certificate, Jack gave his address as 2 New Kendal St. in Preston, occupation: mechanic.  His father Thomas, was also a mechanic (very modern occupations for that era).  Maggie’s father, James Marsden, was a plumber, living at 98 Bedford St. in Preston.

2 Kendal St., Preston

It’s interesting that the marriage took place at St Peter’s, since most EASTHAM family events were registered at St John’s or St George’s.  However, this marriage took place without the blessing of Jack’s father, because the bride was of the wrong social status.  No doubt the priest at St George’s was under orders NOT to marry Jack to Maggie, so they had to go elsewhere.

Jack’s father had warned him that he would be disowned if he married Maggie, who came from a ‘lower class’ family.  Jack seems to have been of a rebellious nature and doesn’t seem to have had a good relationship with his father.  Against his father’s wishes, he went ahead with the marriage.  And indeed, he seems to have inherited nothing at his father’s passing.

Mom told me that her parents had ‘eloped to London’, which gave me the impression that they were married in London, but the records show that they eloped by marrying in Preston and THEN going to London, which makes a lot more sense.  Mom said that Maggie had a fish and chips stand (probably a wagon) in Piccadilly Circus in London.  (Maggie made the most delicious fish and chips ever!!!)  They don’t seem to have stayed in London for long – perhaps it was in London that Jack developed tuberculosis in one lung.

Dad, who was very close to Jack, told me, “The doctors had to collapse Jack’s diseased lung to keep the tuberculosis from spreading to the other lung.”

According to Mom, the doctors also told Jack that he needed to move to a warmer climate for the sake of his health.  Mom’s story (told in my words):

Jack and Maggie decided to move to Australia, which was a booming new territory at the time. They sailed for Australia but had a long layover in New York City, and during the layover, my very superstitious grandmother went to visit a medium, who told her (direct quote from Mom), “You’re going on a long ocean voyage, and your husband won’t live to see your destination.”  That scared Gram, who dug in her heels and refused to travel any further!  Thus, they ended up living in America.

My mother was one of the most honest people I’ve ever known, so I know she didn’t make this story up, but her older sister Dorothy was unaware of it, and it doesn’t fit with the records, so — like most family legends — I think it got scrambled in the re-telling. Knowing how superstitious Gram was (she even gave me lessons!), I believe there is truth in the story, but perhaps the timing and locations are off….?  Perhaps Gram visited the medium while they were still in England and kyboshed the idea of going to Australia, settling for America, instead?  I’m not convinced of the validity of the details of this story, but it makes for a great family legend!  (BTW, some English Eastham cousins DID go to Australia.)

5 August 1905BIRTH – Unless this child was very premature (entirely possible with a first child), Jack and Maggie may have ‘had’ to get married.  Their first child, Thomas Ianson Eastham, was born in Preston on 5 August 1905, just five months after their marriage.  Sadly, little Thomas died the next day.  He is buried at Preston Old Cemetery with his grandfather Eastham and other family members.  I think it’s sweet that they tried to honor Jack’s dad despite his opposition to their marriage – they gave their baby his grandfather’s first name and his paternal great-grandmother’s maiden name.

Baby Tom’s middle name of IANSON was the maiden name of Jack’s paternal grandmother (his father’s mother).  It’s sort of a ‘trademark’ name for our branch of the family — when you see IANSON combined with EASTHAM, you know you’re looking at our close relations. (It’s often mistakenly transcribed as JANSON.)

Jack’s dad gave the name to his oldest son, James, who in turn gave the name to two of his own children; Jack’s younger brother John gave the name to two of his children; and Jack gave the name to two of his children (Thomas and Albert).  Those children in turn carried the IANSON middle name down to some of their own children, but I don’t think it has gone further than that.  All this makes one wonder, as mentioned earlier, if either Ellen Ianson was a particularly loving and admirable grandmother, or that the family was very proud of her ancestry.

It would be six years before their next child would be born, but once the kids started coming, they KEPT coming until Maggie was 41 years old!  The death of their first child, and that six-year lag time followed by an exceptionally long stretch of healthy fertility, makes one suspect that Jack and Maggie went through some very hard times during those six years, where stress and deprivation prevented them from conceiving.  Those years apparently also bound them securely together in love – they were well-known and admired for their tender love and respect for one another.  Their daughter Marge fondly recalled that the Chicago neighbors thought it was so ‘cute’ that Jack and Maggie walked hand-in-hand together to the corner store – a public show of affection not often seen in their generation.

16 May 1907 – Jack and Maggie probably attended the wedding of Jack’s older brother, James Ianson Eastham (1878-1962) to Miss Jane Ratcliffe (1878 – ), a native of Preston and the daughter of John and Mary Jane (Byron) Ratcliffe.  James and Jane had at least five children: four sons, all of whom are now deceased, and a daughter who died in infancy.  The sons’ descendants appear to have remained in Lancashire.  We would love to make contact with them!

1909 – Jack and Maggie were living at 106 Walker Place in Preston (photo below).  Gram (Maggie) told me that she was working as a milliner’s assistant when she met Jack. A milliner made women’s hats, and although it was easier than working in a factory and a girl could wear pretty clothes to work, it also didn’t pay very well.  (That job might explain the big fancy hats in her photos!!)  After they married, she must have gone back to working in the mills, because in 1910 she described herself as a weaver.

106 Walker Place, Preston, Lancs.    A Preston landmark, St Walpurge Roman Catholic Church, is on the same street. 

25 Nov 1909 JACK’S FIRST TRIP to the United States.  Things were tough in Britain, but friends and relatives who had gone to the States must have sent glowing reports.  Jack made what appears to have been intended as an exploratory trip.  In late 1909, he arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, having sailed alone aboard the SS SAXONIA.

Think about the saving and planning that had to have been invested in this trip.  Not only did they have to pay for Jack’s passage, but they had to save up the money to cover expenses both in England and in America for many weeks while Jack was away and unable to work.  (He probably had to quit his job before leaving – employers didn’t give vacations in those days.)  If they decided to make the move, there would also be the expenses of Maggie’s passage, travel to another state, renting a new home, obtaining furnishings, etc..  The costs and obstacles had to have been intimidating for a struggling young couple, but somehow they did it!


The ship’s manifest gives this information:

Name: John Moses Eastham
Arrival Date: 25 Nov 1909
Age: 28
years; Estimated Birth Year: 1881
Physical Description: 5′ 4″ [s/b 5’7”], Brown Hair, Blue Eyes and “Fresh” Complexion; scar on the back of left hand
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer

Nearest Relative: Wife, Margaret, living at 106 Walker St., Preston, Lancashire, Eng.
Port of Departure: Liverpool, England

Ship Name: SS SAXONIA (Three years later, in May 1912, the SAXONIA would warn the TITANIC about icebergs.)
Port of Arrival: Boston, Massachusetts
Friend’s Name: Uncle Robert Turner, 927 N Main St, Pawtucket, RI  (Robert was a 32-year old single mechanic, born in England, and by 1909 he had been living in Pawtucket long enough to have become a naturalized American citizen.  He was actually a friend, rather than a relative, but Jack probably listed him as a relative for immigration purposes.)

Apparently, Jack was satisfied that the move was a good idea, because he sent for Maggie.


12 April 1910MAGGIE COMES TO AMERICA – Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie sailed alone aboard the SS MEGANTIC (above) out of Liverpool, probably experiencing a mix of trepidation, excitement and anticipation.  A few days later, on 16 April, she docked in Boston, where Jack met her.  On the ship’s manifest, she gave her destination as Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Jack wanted to show her what a great place he’d found!

Boston, Massachusetts – About 1910 – Maggie’s (and Jack’s) first glimpse of America.

1 Jan 1911 – Jack must have done a good job of convincing Maggie that America was the right place for them, because sure enough, in the 1911 city directory the Easthams appear as residents at 46 Baxter Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Jack is listed as a mechanic – no surprise there! – and for the first time in perhaps fifteen or twenty years, 29-year-old Maggie wasn’t working outside the home.

44-46 Baxter Street, Pawtucket, Rhode Island – Maggie’s first chance to be a real housewife and a mother.

29 June 1911BIRTH – Lester Eastham, their second child (but in effect the firstborn), was born in Providence, Rhode Island, probably at 46 Baxter St. (photo above).  Les’s birth marked the end of a childless period that had lasted six years.  Perhaps in America, Maggie was able to eat better and not work, allowing her to begin conceiving.  We have a wonderful digital photo of Maggie with her newborn son, which you can view HERE.  (It’s too tiny to be view-able on this page.)

1 Jan 1912 – They were still in Pawtucket, but they had moved to a place on Hughes Avenue.  Jack was still working as a mechanic.

Their duplex on Hughes Avenue, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

January 1912MARRIAGE – Jack was probably disappointed not to be able to attend the wedding of his sister, Edith Ellen Eastham, in Preston.  Edith had been one of the witnesses at Jack’s own wedding and she named her first child after him, so they must have been close.

Edith married William Seed, for whom we have no further information, but we suspect that he was a merchant.  (The records show quite a few EASTHAM / SEED marriages over the years – the families must have moved in common circles.)

Preston birth records indicate that Edith and William had a son named Jack, born in 1913, but who tragically died the same year, which must have been a huge disappointment to Jack.  Edith and William also had a daughter, Edith, born in 1917, with no further verifiable record. (Quite a few young ladies of that name were born in her time frame.)  They may also have had a son named John – in her will, Edith named John Seed, a butcher, as her heir.

We believe that Edith Ellen died in Preston in 1954, leaving an estate of about $200,000 USD.  It is also possible that the William and Edith Seed living in Manitoba, Canada in 1921 are ‘our’ couple, since we can find no record of William’s death in England. We will continue to research Edith Ellen.

15 April 1912 – The world awakes to the news that The TITANIC has sunk, with deaths numbered at around 1500.  The SS SAXONIA, the same ship that Jack had sailed to America on, had tried to warn the TITANIC. That must have given him the shivers….

1 Jan 1913 – The city directory shows the Easthams still living on Hughes Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Susannah Billington Harling - closeup
© EASTHAM Family History — Susannah “Susan” Billington Harling

1913DEATH – Some time in the spring of 1913, Maggie’s maternal grandmother passed away in Preston.  Her name was Susannah “Susan” (Billington) Harling.  She had been born in a suburb of Preston in 1831, the daughter of William and Jenny (Smith) Billington.  Susan had married William Harling in 1851, and had given birth to Maggie’s mother, Elizabeth Harling, in 1854.  Altogether, Susan and Bill Harling had at least five children, but two of them had died in their first year.  (The HARLINGs, too, were quite poor.) Maggie, 31 years old at the time, knew her Gram quite well, and it must have really upset her not to be able to be there at her passing.

1 June 1913BIRTH – Albert Ianson Eastham, the third child, was born in Sibleyville, a hamlet within the town of Mendon, Massachusetts. (Maggie gave us this bit of information when she filled out her Application for Naturalization.)  Was he born there by accident, or was the family living there (briefly)?  It would have seemed a good place for Jack to get work:

Sibleyville was a busy hamlet in the southwest part [of Mendon] containing a sawmill, machine shop which manufactured carding machines [right up Jack’s alley!], a foundry, water grist mill and saw mill which doubled as a cider mill in the fall, a woolen mill, cobblestone meeting house and about a dozen houses.”  (History of Mendon: A Capsule History, emphasis added)

But perhaps things weren’t quite so rosy as Jack had anticipated.  New England, especially tiny New England villages, can be resistant to ‘outsiders,’ and Jack and Maggie were ‘city folk,’ to boot.  In any case, they soon moved again, this time to Attleboro, Massachusetts, another textile and manufacturing center. They probably moved shortly after Albert’s birth.  They appear in the 1913 Attleboro city directory living at 99A Pond Street in Attleboro.

The photo below is what Google Earth Pro shows for 99A Pond St in Attleboro MA. The surrounding houses definitely look like they would have been there when the Easthams lived in the neighborhood, but this house looks newer and may have been substantially remodeled, or it may even have replaced the original home.

12 July 1913Jack filed his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the United States.  He was 32 years old and had been in America since late 1909.  Although Maggie may have been undecided about America, Jack apparently was NOT.  (Note that he gave his address as 97 Main Street in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the address of his ‘uncle’, Robert Turner.)  For a crisper picture, please click HERE.

24 July 1913BACK TO ENGLAND – The family sailed aboard RMS CYMRIC out of Boston, Massachusetts.  Despite Jack’s desire to settle permanently in America, and after more than three years in America, the family returned to England — probably at homesick Maggie’s insistence.  (Her homesickness was a constant theme in the kids’ stories.)  Since vacations still did not exist, either Jack made special arrangements with his employer, or more likely, he quit his job.  However, they quickly learned that things were not so good in England.   As other nations were becoming more industrially competitive, Britain’s economy was declining.  Despite her homesickness, Maggie had to agree that America was the place to be.  But even America was not the place of comfort and relatively ’employee-friendly’ workplaces that we know today.  For a fascinating article about America during this time, check out The Life of American Workers in 1915.

29 Nov 1913SECOND TRIP TO AMERICA – The ship’s manifest lists John, Maggie, Lester, and infant Albert.  They sailed out of Liverpool aboard the SS CARONIA (below), destination Canada.   The ship stopped off in Canada, but sailed on to New York City, arriving on 7 December 1913. [3]


BUT THEN . . .

1913 / 1914THEY WENT BACK TO ENGLAND!!??  How did they ever manage to pay for all those trips???  And WHY???  Were they refused entry?

We haven’t found a ship’s manifest for the trip back to England, but we know they had to have gone back in December of 1913 or the first half of 1914, because within months, we find them returning for a third time!

13 Aug 1914THIRD RETURN TO AMERICA aboard the SS BALTIC (below), which docked at Ellis Island, New York, New York, USA.  After what could only have been a very short visit to England, they were back in America.


Unfortunately, DURING the Easthams’ voyage to America, WORLD WAR I erupted!

  • 1 August 1914 – Germany and Russia went to war.
  • 11 August 1914 – The Easthams were aboard ship when France declared war on Austria Hungary.
  • 12 August 1914The Easthams were aboard ship when England entered the War!
  • 13 August 1914 – The Easthams, still citizens of England, landed in New York, amid all the uncertainty and upset of a world at war.

It’s difficult to imagine their frame of mind.  How worried and perhaps frightened they would have been!  So many questions must have been running through their minds.  Would their families be attacked by the enemy?  As patriotic British citizens, shouldn’t they be in England?  Would America side with Germany or Britain? Would America allow them to stay, if they wanted to?  What should they do

1914 RETURN TO ENGLAND – Apparently worried about the war situation and feeling compelled to be with family and nation at such a critical time, they chose to return to England.  They had already made THREE expensive and life-disrupting trips, so, according to daughters Marge and Dorothy, Jack laid down a condition.  They could go back this one final time, but no more after that.  They would either remain in England or return permanently to America.  Maggie agreed.

Although we haven’t yet found the ship’s manifest for their return trip to England, family memories and other records indicate they did indeed return to England, and once back, they had to stay.  Jack was not permitted to return to America because he was an excellent mechanic – he was needed for the war effort.  They were in England ‘for the duration.’

25 Jun 1915BIRTHDorothy Eastham, their fourth child and first daughter, was born soon after their return to Preston.  Maggie may have been pregnant during both of the last two voyages!

Young as she was, Dorothy remembered their years in England remarkably well.  During that time, her mother ran a fish and chips shop in Preston, her father worked in a munitions factory, her brother learned to speak French from the neighbor boy, [4]  and Dorothy and her mother had a mysterious visit with wealthy relatives – perhaps her grandmother Eastham’s DUXBURY or COOKE relatives.

Dorothy remembered that the house they visited was very impressive, with a big staircase and multiple servants.  She was introduced to an imposing man who, she uncertainly recalled, was a relation, perhaps her grandfather or her great-grandfather.  She was very young at the time and didn’t have a clear understanding of the relationship.  Whoever he was, he could not have been any of her great-grandparents, because they were all deceased.  He could possibly have been her own grandfather, Thomas Eastham III, who had been long estranged from Dorothy’s father.

Dorothy and her mother were treated politely but rather coldly, which puzzled her.  The formality, mixed with her mother’s instruction that she was not to speak unless spoken to and her mother’s apparent nervousness regarding the visit, led Dorothy to think that they were not particularly welcome.  She often wondered who that man was.  How we wish she had thought to ask her mother in later years!

The Eastham family remained in Preston until the war’s end.  Here’s an interesting link with some WWI stories from Preston: PRESTON REMEMBERS

April 1917 – The United States entered the WWI on the side of Britain.  Things had been looking dark for England up to that point, but with America’s help, the tide began to turn.  After yet another year and a half of fear and deprivation:


11 November 1918 – After almost five years in war-torn England, with Preston’s economy shattered, the family returned to America as soon as they could, never to return to England again.

By 1901, nearly 120,000 people were living in Preston, now a booming industrial town. However, the centuries-old cotton industry collapsed after the end of World War I in 1918, resulting in a sharp rise in unemployment across Preston.” [5]

12 June 1919 – The family is listed on the manifest of RMS CANADA as “Passengers Repatriated by Government,”  but their names are lined through.  For some reason, they didn’t sail on this ship.  Perhaps health issues or visa issues prevented it?

1 Aug 1919FOURTH AND FINAL TRIP TO AMERICA – Two weeks later, as part of a group of ‘munitions workers’ being returned to America (probably at the expense of the British government), 38-year-old Jack and 37-year old Maggie sailed with their three children, ‘Lister’ (8 yrs), Albert (6 yrs) and Dorothy (4 yrs), aboard the SS MINNEDOSA (3rd class, AKA steerage).  They arrived on 9 August 1919 in Quebec, Canada, and crossed into America at St Albans, Vermont on 11 August 1919.   Their intended destination was Central Falls, Rhode Island (one record says ‘Valley’ Falls, the home of their friend, Mr. Durande).

Dorothy clearly remembered her voyage on the MINNEDOSA, and even remembered the name of the ship.

Dorothy, who was only four years old at the time, remembered this voyage clearly, although in her memory they went to Ellis Island, not Canada.  (She even told me the name of the ship!)  She particularly remembered two things:

(1) She was very upset that her sick brother Albert was given ‘candy’ because he was sick, while she was not given any; and

(2) Her mother insisted that she carefully brush her teeth so that the health inspector would let her into America and not send her back to England!  Dorothy enthusiastically displayed her clean teeth to the inspector, but was terribly disappointed when he never even glanced at them!

1 Jan 1920 Residence –1920 American Federal Census –  Address,  69 Lawn Ave, Pawtucket, Providence, Rhode Island.

In this photo (taken 2014, courtesy of Google Earth), the house shown at the corner may not be 69 Lawn Ave.  The house has either been renumbered, OR 69 Lawn Ave was demolished and is now a parking lot.  Whichever is the case, the surrounding buildings are nearly identical to what 69 Lawn Ave once looked like.

1920Jack’s family has grown!

© EASTHAM Family History — The Easthams, about 1919. L to R – Dorothy, Maggie, Lester, Jack, Albert.   They all look a little shell-shocked, don’t they?

 The 1920 American Federal Census indicates:

John M Eastham, age 38, first arrived in USA in 1909, naturalization papers submitted; Occupation: machinist in a machine shop

Margaret Eastham, age 37, housewife, ‘alien’ (See, there really ARE aliens, and we’re them!)

Lester Eastham, age 8, American citizen born in Rhode Island

Albert Eastham, age 6, American citizen born in Massachusetts

Dorothy Eastham, age 4 years 7 months, born in England, naturalization status unknown

Notice that once again, there was a significant 5-year ‘lag’ in births of children during the years in England.  Those war years were very difficult for the entire family, and Maggie had gone back to hard, full-time work.  Conception is difficult when under deprivation and stress.

1920 – Sometime in 1920, Jack moved his family to 84 Lawn Ave (below), just down the street from 69 Lawn Ave. It looks like a single-family home, whereas 69 had been a multi-family dwelling.  Number 84 was surely more comfortable for a family with little kids!

84 Lawn Ave, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

The Roaring Twenties – The Easthams established themselves in America just as the nation was entering a new era called The Roaring Twenties.  It was an exhilarating  time of increasing technological advancement accompanied by increased prosperity and unrelenting cultural change.

During the decade of the ’20s, automobiles began to be cheaply available to the general public.  Automobiles require good roads, so the national infrastructure came under close scrutiny, with better roads ultimately creating easy cross-country travel and greatly improving national commerce.

Radios were still expensive, but during the ’20s, they became the first medium for mass communication and advertisement, permanently changing the futures of commerce and entertainment in America.  Gadget-loving Jack built a crystal radio and soon owned one of the first radio sets available.

Movies became the rage – cinemas were everywhere!  Sound began to be experimented with and by 1923, short sound film clips were created; in no time, feature films began to incorporate sound.  Many of the most famous film studios were established in this period, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner, Columbia, Universal, and Disney.

Aviation ‘took off’ – Charles Lindberg’s ’round the world’ flight established the viability of commercial air service, and pilots became the new heroes.

Technology was bounding forward.  During the ’20s, the foundational research was completed for advanced communication (such as television) and medical improvements (like penicillin).  In-home electrical labor-saving devices were invented and became easily available, encouraging the installation of electrical services in many homes; in-home plumbing (bathrooms) began to be expected.  Much more changed in the industrial world.

Cultural changes were perhaps the most pronounced effect of the ’20s – the changes begun then still affect America and the world today.  Women’s suffrage and Prohibition had brought many topics to the forefront that had been previously ignored by the general public.   With the new laws, divorce suddenly became far more available and common than in the past.  Homosexuality became a topic of conversation and debate; commercialization raised economic hopes that were previously unknown, thus altering life motives; people who had previously been sheltered from such things as drinking, dancing and sexual topics now found themselves unexpectedly hearing about such things on the radio and even watching them in movies — raising questions and emotional conflicts; ‘new’ political concepts such as Communism were on the rise.  In short, everybody found themselves having to rethink everything and to re-establish their personal and ethical principles.

17 Jan 1920PROHIBITION!  A Constitutional Amendment went into effect on this day, forbidding the manufacture or sale of liquor nationwide.  It remained in effect until repealed almost fourteen years later, on 5 December 1933.

Prohibition never slowed Jack down!  His children all remembered that during those years he brewed beer in the basement and whiskey in the bathtub!  A favorite story involved the whiskey: it was almost ready to be bottled and the ‘fragrance’ permeated the house (in Chicago), when one of the kids saw the pastor of their church coming up the walk.  They quickly ran upstairs and pulled the plug on the whiskey.  Needless to say, that accomplished nothing (the smell of the whiskey remained), so Jack was pretty ticked off at the loss of his whiskey!  The kids recalled how the pastor obviously noticed the odor, but tactfully refrained from saying anything, although he left rather quickly!

1920 – American women finally received the right to vote.  (About time….)

1920-1921Another move, this time back to South Attleboro, Massachusetts, to “our little place” on the hill at “RFD 2 Box 132, Read St., So. Attleboro, MA.”  That address was one of the first things Dorothy ever memorized, and she still remembered it in 1999 when she was 84 years old!

© EASTHAM Family History — On the back of the photo, “This is our little place” is written in Maggie’s handwriting, and “South Attleboro, Mass” in her daughter Dorothy’s handwriting.  (Dorothy and her sister Margie had identical handwriting.)
© EASTHAM Family History — Albert’s son remembers seeing the little house around 1962.   It was still standing, and it was still out in the country.   Al remarked that the house looked much as it had when he was a child.  This was Margie Eastham’s first home.

15 April 1921BIRTH – Their fifth child and second daughter, Margaret Elizabeth “Margie” Eastham, was born in (South) Attleboro, Bristol County, Massachusetts.  (Notice that no sooner were they back in America and able to allow Maggie to be a housewife, than she began conceiving again.)

3 July 1921DEATH – Maggie was surely saddened to learn that her father, James Marsden had passed (age 66).  He had been living in Fulwood, Lancashire (32 Watling St. Rd).  He was a plumber by trade, so perhaps it was appropriate that he died of “plumbism and hemiplegia.”  Plumbism is lead poisoning (makes one wonder if perhaps he had been working with old lead pipes in his work), and hemiplegia is when paralysis is on one vertical half of the body, possibly caused by the lead poisoning.  He had been separated from his wife since before WWI.  The kids never really knew him, so we have no stories….

Christmas 1922 – Jack’s mother, Margaret (Cooke) Eastham, sent a photo of herself.

Margaret Cook Eastham - Dec 1922
© EASTHAM Family History — Margaret Ann Cooke Eastham – Dec 1922.  She was 69 years old and in the terminal stages of cancer.

1923MORE DEATHS – News arrived that both of Jack’s parents had died within months of each other.  His mother, Margaret Ann (Cooke) Eastham, died at age 69 of liver cancer on Tuesday, 9 January 1923 in her home at 19 St. Stephens Road in Preston.  Jack’s father, Thomas Eastham III (retired engineer), died at age 71, also of cancer (“cystitis, prostatectomy”), just six months after his wife, on 10 June 1923, also at their home at 19 St. Stephens Road.

© EASTHAM Family History
© EASTHAM Family History








Thomas III’s probate summary indicates that he left an estate of £2028 (the modern dollar equivalent of about $154,200.00).  The will left everything to his oldest child (his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Jonathan Allison), his oldest son, James Ianson Eastham (occupation ‘caretaker’), and someone named Richard Henry Parker, a baker and confectioner.  No mention is made of Tom’s other children.  It would be interesting to see the entire probate record.

Probate Record - Thomas Eastham III

Thomas and Margaret are both buried at Preston Old Cemetery, and an impressive monument marks their plot.  A brass plaque was installed inside St. George the Martyr Church, commemorating Thomas’s and Margaret’s 35 years as “Faithful servants” there.

© EASTHAM Family History

23 August 1923BIRTH – After all the death, there was some good news in 1923, too.  On 23 August 1923, in South Attleboro, Bristol County, Massachusetts, Jack’s and Maggie’s sixth and last child, Thomas J. Eastham, was born.  In his youth, he was known as “Sonny”, friends called him “Tom”, and among family he was always called “Tommy.”

Interestingly, although Tom’s birth certificate indicates a middle initial of ‘J’, Tom’s son told me: “Oddly my dad never had a middle name!  The story I heard was his folks couldn’t agree on one. Somewhere along the way some smart ass decided to write in ‘none’ so he became ‘Thomas None Eastham’ for some years.  You can’t make this stuff up!”    🙂 

Marge and Dorothy both remembered their father’s jitney service in Massachusetts.  He had a large vehicle in which he carried passengers for a small fee – a sort of combination mini-bus/taxi service.  Jack loved anything ‘new-fangled’ and mechanical, so it’s easy to understand that this business was a great excuse for owning a vehicle, which at that time was quite ‘new-fangled’ and still something of a luxury.

© EASTHAM Family History
© EASTHAM Family History


The American flag in 1925

Was Jack a bad boy?

Dorothy had an interesting story to tell about this period.  She was about 12-13 years old and, as I recall, she said they were living in Massachusetts.  One night she was awakened by the very unusual sound of an argument between her normally peaceful parents.  She couldn’t hear (or didn’t understand) what they were saying, but she heard the front door slam, which scared her.  She went out to find out what was going on and saw her mother standing in the front room.  She asked her mother what had happened.  Maggie said, in a deeply disapproving tone, “Your father has been working for some very bad people!”  She was looking out the window, so Dorothy followed her gaze and saw her father in a nearby field, busily digging a hole in which he deposited what appeared to be a wooden crate.  Dorothy was mystified!  But, according to Dorothy’s account, the very next morning the family PACKED UP AND LEFT for Chicago!

As Aunt Dorothy and I puzzled over this, we both arrived at the conclusion that Jack may have been using his jitney to run alcohol, possibly even running it over the border to or from Canada.  He may have run into problems with his ‘employers’ (perhaps he ‘liberated’ a crate of liquor?), making it safer to leave the area.   Chicago would naturally come to mind, since Maggie’s sister Jane and her husband Ted Harrison were already settled there.  (And Jack might have been thinking that he could run alcohol there, too, since Al Capone and others in the city were already famous for doing just that!  Jack was always a rebel!)

© EASTHAM Family History

Assuming that Tommy, the “baby”, was 2 or 3 years old when this photo was taken, the photo would be dated about 1926/1927.  Dorothy is standing on the far left, with little sister Margie standing between her and their mother, Margaret “Maggie” (Marsden) Eastham.  Seated in the center is little “Sonny” (Tommy) between Maggie and his dad, John Moses “Jack” Eastham.  Standing on the right, beside his father, is Albert “Al” Eastham, and standing at the back, handsome in his Eagle Scout uniform, is the oldest son, Lester “Les” Eastham (you can see the medal pinned to his chest).  It’s noteworthy that all the females have ‘bobbed’ hair, which was a very modern style (once considered avant-garde), popular during “The Roaring Twenties.”

1929 CHICAGO – So, in late 1928 or early 1929, Jack and Maggie moved to Chicago and purchased a home at 4151 School Street.  (Their son Al told his kids that when the Great Depression hit hard a few years later, Jack and Maggie were able to pay off their loan on the house for pennies on the dollar, since the banks were desperate not to have to foreclose.)

The Chicago skyline in 1929


© EASTHAM Family History — Known to the family as “the house on School Street”, “the old homestead”, or just plain “School Street”, this house became the well-loved headquarters for the Eastham family for over twenty years.   Maggie sold the house in the 1950’s after Jack died.

On her Naturalization Application, Maggie stated that the family took up residence in Chicago on 1 January 1929.  That sounds very close to the actual date.  We’re pretty sure that the move to Chicago occurred in late 1928 or early 1929 because of a story that the kids told with great relish.

According to this story, ‘the day after’ (or shortly after) the Easthams arrived in Chicago, Jack was job-hunting, and he was told to come to a particular garage to apply for work – he was an excellent mechanic and knew cars well, having just owned and operated that jitney service in Massachusetts.  The story goes that when Jack arrived at the address he had been given and he entered the garage, he immediately turned around and left – there were bodies scattered all over and blood was puddled and splashed everywhere.  He had arrived only minutes after the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre [6]  had just occurred at that very place!

Garage - St Valentines Day Massacre
The ‘garage’ that Jack reported to was actually the headquarters for an illicit liquor distribution gang in competition with Al Capone.  Did Jack know this?  Was he considering getting involved?  If he was, the bloodshed changed his mind!



In many ways, the Great Depression made this country what it is today.” (Tom Brokaw) 

For a family that was already struggling financially, whose head of the family had serious health issues, and that had just moved to a city ruled by criminals, the Great Depression was devastating.  What saved them was that they were able to buy a house before the Great Depression started and then were able to pay off the mortgage, so they had a secure place to live.  It also helped that, later on, three of the kids got good jobs with Bell Telephone.

Mom told me that her dad was not able to work much during the 1930’s and 40’s because of his damaged lung.  She had sad memories of those humiliating years when they were ‘on the dole’: standing in the government food queue; having to wear ill-fitting shoes given to them by the government (she blamed those shoes for her foot troubles), and more.

Margie was only 8-½ years old at the beginning of the Great Depression and she was a young adult by the time it ended, so her childhood was far from carefree.  She was grateful to have had a home and a loving family, but she didn’t like to talk about those difficult years.  She once mentioned that she’d owned only one doll, and it sat on a chair – she wasn’t allowed to play with it much because it might break.  I have a photo of her at about age 4 or 5 – before the Depression even began – playing on a rusty old tricycle, and her clothing looks pretty worn.  Probably hand-me-downs.  Her face shows stress.  In adulthood, mom hoarded food and washed and saved plastic bags and aluminum foil for multiple re-uses.  In the mid-1950’s, Gram was still in the habit of darning the holes in socks and clothing rather than throwing the items out.  After a lifetime of financial struggles, it was habitual to ‘make do’ with what they had.

“On the Dole” – Waiting in line, coupons in hand, for the government handouts. Unbearably humiliating for the Easthams, as for so many others.

1 April 1930Residence 1930 American Federal Census; address 4151 School St, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA.  The Stock Market Crash had occurred only 6 months earlier, so things would be fairly ‘normal’ for a few months yet.  The info in the Census:

John Eastham, head, age 48, married at age 23, owned his home at 4151 School Street (valued at $9,500), and even owned a radio! He had “naturalized citizen” status (correctly gave his first year of arrival as 1909). He was a machinist, working on printing presses.  (Was this the beginning of son Tom’s interest in journalism?)

Margaret, wife, age 48, married at age 23, a naturalized citizen from England (correctly gave her first year of arrival as 1910), unemployed.

Lester, son, age 18, single, born in Rhode Island, working as a clerk in a job involving stocks & bonds [uh oh, this is April 1930 – that job won’t last long….]

Albert, son, age 17, born in Massachusetts, unemployed [student at Carl Schurz High School]

Dorothy, daughter, age 15, single, born in England, a naturalized citizen, unemployed [also a student at Carl Schurz High School]

Margaret, daughter, age 9 [almost], single, born in Massachusetts, unemployed [a student at Scammon elementary school]

Thomas, son, age 6, single, born in Massachusetts, unemployed [probably a student at Scammon elementary school (photo below), or would begin 1st grade the following September]

1931 – SCHOOL Al was in his senior year at Carl Schurz High School, the same school from which all the Eastham kids graduated.

Albert Eastham - 1931 - Schurz HS

Carl Schurz High School
Carl Schurz High School in the Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago, was the high school that all of the Eastham kids graduated from.   It was a huge school, “A block long and a world wide.”


The Northwest Side of Chicago, where the Easthams lived, was known for its Polish population, and sure enough, a Polish family (the Maleks) lived next door, while a Pennsylvania family (the Chalmers’s) lived on the other side.

But there were lots of other immigrants there, too.  Of the 21 families on School Street in 1930, only five were from Illinois!  Sixteen of the families included folks from England (the Easthams), Austria, Canada, Italy, Prussia, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Germany, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Massachusetts (Margie and Tommy weren’t the only ones) and two more families from Poland.  Quite a gathering of immigrants!

1933DEATH – Jack received the sad news that his younger brother Thomas Eastham IV had died at his home (4 Ribbleton Ave. in Preston) on 20 March 1933 at the early age of 44, leaving a wife and two daughters.  Thomas is buried at Preston Old Cemetery (Preston Borough Cemetery), Grave No. L53.  His probate records state that he left his widow, Alice (Rigby) Eastham, an estate of 229£ (the modern equivalent of about $27,000).  That was a respectable amount in a world that was three years into the Great Depression.

1930-1940ROAD TRIPS – Mom told me that the highlights of her childhood were the summer vacations they took as a family, either driving up to Toronto to visit her mother’s family, or going to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and enjoying the water.  They’d all pile in the big touring car, with luggage and spare tires strapped on anywhere they could find some empty space, and then they’d sing songs, tell stories, and just have fun while they traveled – stopping periodically to fix a flat tire.  Then a week or so of just PLAYING – so much fun!  I got to experience one of those vacations – a week at Lake Geneva – with all the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together, and it was an absolute blast.  No drama – just fun.  Easy to understand why those memories lit up Mom’s young years!


29 Jun 1933 FIRST MARRIAGE – Jack was 52 years old by now, Maggie was 51, and their kids were beginning to leave the nest.  Their oldest son, Lester Eastham, 22 years old, married Verna Mae Porter (b. 24 June 1912 in Illinois, d. 13 Jan 1996 in Minneapolis MN).  Verna, a TWIN (her sister Jenevieve died at birth), was the daughter of Charles E. “Charlie” Porter and Mae Lillian Bywell, both born in Chicago.  (We don’t have any good EARLY photos of Les and Verna and would hugely appreciate it if someone could send some JPEG copies of a few.)

Les and Verna Porter Eastham
© EASTHAM Family History — Les and Verna (Porter) Eastham – taken in the late 1970’s?

Lester and Verna had two children together:

Their daughter is still living (married, four sons, lots of grand-kids and great-grands).

Their son, John Charles Eastham, b. 2 Aug 1943 in Chicago, d. 3 Apr 2015 in Waterbury Connecticut, married and had issue.

Cousin John Eastham
Cousin John Eastham

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1933The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago opened to the public.  A highlight of the City of Chicago!  My dad told me that Jack helped install “the railroad display,” which I assumed meant that he had helped install the 3500-sq. ft. model railroad display (one of my favorite attractions), but considering that Jack’s expertise was not in model trains, but in heavy machinery, it may be more likely that he helped install the museum’s working, life-size model coal mine and its train and machinery.

Museum of Sci Ind - Coal Mine 2

1933 – The World’s Fair was held in Chicago!  A Century of Progress Exposition.”  The Fair included what was at that time the world’s largest Ferris wheel.  Margie’s brothers took up her up on the wheel and began rocking the carriage to get a rise out her.  It worked.  She threw up on them.  Don’t mess with those EASTHAM girls!!

The fair’s architectural symbol was the Sky Ride, a transporter bridge perpendicular to the shore of Lake Michigan, on which one could ride from one side of the fair to the other.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

31 May 1935MARRIAGE – The second marriage in the family was that of daughter Dorothy Eastham, age 20, and Roland Peter Huyer (pronounced ‘HIGH-er’).  Roland was born 9 Aug 1913 in Chicago to Petrus Johannes “Peter” Huijer of Voorhaut, Holland, and Marie Gertrude Engel of Germany.  Roland was a dentist.  He died 15 Sep 1990 in Highland Park, IL.

Dorothys 80th bday - back (2)
© EASTHAM Family History — Dorothy Eastham

Dorothy and Roland had one child, a daughter who married and has a child and a grandchild.

Dorothy married 2nd (27 May 1957 in Cook County, Illinois) Clifford Andrew “Cliff” Bates (b. 14 Jan 1918 in Hawkins, Rusk County, Virginia, d. 22 May 2008 in Fremont, Alameda County, California).  No issue.  Cliff was quite tall, handsome and lots of fun to be around.  In later life, he ran a California boating business used frequently by Bob Hope, with whom he played pool and became good friends.

Dorothy and Cliff JPEG
© EASTHAM Family History — Cliff and Dorothy – 1957

* * * * * * * * * * *

3 Aug 1935MARRIAGE – Two months after Dorothy’s marriage, the third marriage in the family took place; that of second son, Albert Ianson Eastham, age 22, and his wife Helen Valeria (Irene) Dovydaitis/Davis.  Of Lithuanian descent, Irene was born 1 Oct 1912 in Chicago, d. 3 Nov 2008 in Harvard IL.  She was the daughter of William Vincent Dovidaitis / Dowidajtis (b. 5 Apr 1867 in Griškabudis, Sakiai, Lithuania, d. 28 Sep 1932 in Beardstown IN) and his 2nd wife, Agota (Agatha) Mikalauskas / Mikalow (b. 1871 in Naemiescio, Suwalki-Gubernia, Luksiu, Lithuania, d. 21 Oct 1916 in Chicago).  They had three children together, each of whom married and had issue.  (We would love to include more photos for Al and Irene, if anyone can share!)

Al and Irene Eastham 2
© EASTHAM Family History

Al and Irene had three children:

Nancy Carole Eastham, born 11 Feb 1938 in Oak Park, IL, died 7 July 2010 in Marengo, IL.  She married Oom Paul “Paul” Kruger (1935-2016), with whom she had issue.

Nancy Eastham - HS Yearbook - 1955The photo above was taken of Nancy for her 1955 high school year book, two years before her marriage.  The photo below speaks for itself.

Nancy and Paul - marriage 1957
© EASTHAM Family History

Al and Irene also had a second daughter and a son, both married with issue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1936 – Jack and Maggie were entering mid-life.  The kids were marrying and soon there would be grand-kids, but everyone stayed in the neighborhood.  Al and Les had been best friends since their Eagle Scout days, Dorothy and Roland were busy working, and so on.  The world was still struggling through the Great Depression, and there were ugly political rumblings all over the world, but life must go on.  There was time for fun, too!  The photo with the car was taken on one of the family vacations to Lake Geneva.

© EASTHAM Family History – Jack and Maggie in 1936
© EASTHAM Family History — Jack at Lake Geneva – 1936








27 January 1936REQUEST FOR CITIZENSHIP – Maggie submitted her Petition for Naturalization as an American citizen.  She was 53 years old and was FINALLY ready to make America her permanent home and nation!  For a clearer look at her application, click HERE.

10 November 1936MAGGIE BECAME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!!!  For a clearer look at her citizenship papers, click HERE.

Maggie’s photo submitted with her Petition for Naturalization – 1936

1937GRAND-KIDS – Jack and Maggie became Grandparents for the first time!!  Lester’s daughter was born in Chicago.

Feb 1937Tommy was elected MAYOR of Scammon School – showing his leadership capabilities early on!

Tommy Eastham - Mayor of Scammon School - 1937
© EASTHAM Family History — Tommy Eastham, Mayor of Scammon School

11 Feb 1939Grandparents again; this time it was Albert’s daughter, Nancy Carole Eastham.

1938Third-time Grandparents! Dorothy’s daughter joined the family.

1939Fourth Grandchild – Al and Irene became the proud parents of a second daughter.

1 Sep 1939NAZI GERMANY INVADES POLAND France and England subsequently declare war on Germany.

The Depression is getting depressing, so — let’s have a war…


The USA had not yet entered the War, but its effects were felt worldwide.  Jack’s and Maggie’s lives so far had been an unbroken succession of financial hardship and political conflict.  It had to have been very stressful, tiring and discouraging, to say the least.  Yet from all that I’ve heard, and from my own relationship with Maggie, it appears that they never gave in or gave up, but took it all in stride with good humor.  From what I gather, Jack was known for his puckish humor and happy outlook.

4151 School St - Dec 1937
© EASTHAM Family History — The House on School Street, December 1937 – a haven for the family during the hard times of the 30’s and 40’s

1 April 1940 CensusAmerican Federal Census, 1940 US; address: 4151 School St, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  There are clear indications that the Depression and health have been unkind.

John M Eastham, head, age 58, white male, married, highest grade in school: 7th, born in England, naturalized citizen, unemployed and seeking work, unemployed for 30 (weeks), occupation: machinist in the printing industry, worked only 16 weeks in the year 1939, income $192 with no other source of income.

Margaret Eastham, wife, age 58, white female, married, highest grade in school: 7th, born in England, naturalized citizen, unemployed and not seeking work.

Margaret E Eastham, daughter, age 18, single, not attending school, highest grade completed: 4th year of high school; born in Massachusetts, employed for pay doing clerical work for Bell Telephone. Worked 52 weeks in 1939 and earned $780.

Thomas Eastham, son, age 16, white male, single, attending [Schurz] High School, highest grade completed: 3rd year of high school; born in Massachusetts, unemployed and not seeking work, classified as a student with no previous work history.  [Tom was deep into journalism with the school newspaper.]

Roland Huyer, son-in-law, age 26, white male, highest grade completed: 4th year of high school [the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in those days]; married; shipping clerk for a retail store; worked 52 weeks in 1939 and earned $1000; born in Illinois (living in the basement apartment at 4151 School St.)

Dorothy Huyer, daughter, age 24, highest grade completed: 4th year of high school; married; clerical worker in an office; worked 18 weeks in 1939 and earned $270 [she quit her job to care for her baby daughter]; born in England.

 * * * * * * * * * * *

7 June 1941MARRIAGE – at St. John’s Episcopal Church (at Kostner & Byron Sts.), daughter Margaret Elizabeth “Marge” Eastham, age 20, married Joseph Lewis “Joe” Egan (b. 24 Sep 1916 in Chicago, d. 10 March 2003 in Modesto, CA).  Joe was the son of George Francis Egan Sr. (1884-1957) of Irish descent, and Emily Isabel Biggs (1881-1968), who was born in England and came to America as a child with her parents.  Joe’s passions were aviation, art, photography, music, carpentry, anything mechanical, inventing, and much more.  He had even been recruited to be a professional Roller Derby skater!  With an essentially photographic memory, great intelligence, endless energy, and a never-ending appetite for learning, Joe enjoyed and succeeded in each of his many endeavors.  Margie’s quiet nature balanced Joe’s ebullient nature, while her intelligence matched his – they were very happily married!

© EASTHAM Family History — Marge and Joe Egan leaving on honeymoon – photo taken in the front yard of 4151 School Street.
© EASTHAM Family History — This photo of Jack was taken at Margie’s wedding. Lookin’ sharp!

Marge and Joe had two daughters:

Cathleen Ellen “Cathie” Egan, born 20 April 1943 in Evanston, IL, d. 11 Apr 2012 in Modesto, CA.   Cathie’s name sounded so Irish that the hospital staff put a green ribbon in her hair rather than the usual pink!  Cathie married twice.

Cathie’s first husband, with whom she had two sons and two daughters, is still living.  All four children married and have issue.

Cathie married 2nd Gary Nevin Brown (b. 26 Mar 1941 in Los Angeles, CA, d. 18 Jan 2014 in Modesto, CA); no issue.

Cathie Egan Brown - Nov 1997
© EASTHAM Family History — Cathie Egan Strehle Brown – Nov 1999

Marge and Joe’s younger daughter married twice and has two sons with her second husband.

* * * * * * * * * * *

7 Dec 1941THE USA ENTERS THE WARThe Japanese bombed the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States into WWII.  The war would have many effects on the family, but thankfully no one died because of it.  Life is tough, you know?  If it’s not one thing, it’s another….

Chicago Newspaper - WWII begins

1941Off to War – 18-year-old Tommy Eastham graduated from Carl Schurz High School and immediately enlisted in the US Marine Corps, in which he served for the duration of the war, until 1945.

Tom Eastham - USMC
© EASTHAM Family History — Tommy Eastham, Marine recruit – WWII

 Here’s link to some great photos recording what it was like in Chicago during WWII

Here’s a link to some great eye-witness stories of what it was like in Lancashire in WWII.  (Some of our Marsden relations had already emigrated to Canada, but most of our closest relations were still in the Preston area.)

1942War-time RegistrationThe young men were all overseas, so all non-military men between the ages of 45 and 64 were required to register for service at home as air raid wardens, security patrols, etc.  Jack was 60 years old at the time, so he registered. These forms were always filled out by clerks.  Notice how Maggie’s name appears as “Margaret PRESTON” – obviously, the clerk who took the information got a little confused.  However, that IS Jack’s signature on the bottom line.

U.S. World War II Draft Registration Card, in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA – Source Citation: Roll 30955_165770; Local board: Chicago, Illinois.

23 Mar 1942 – Margie’s husband Joe Egan, a pilot and airplane enthusiast, enlisted in the US Navy and after a few months of training at Naval Air Station Glenview (close to Chicago, so he could live at home), he was sent to the Pacific (the Solomons Islands).  He was too ‘old’ to be a pilot, so he started off as a navigator (photo below), but then the Navy realized that he was a gifted mechanic.  They reassigned him to repair airplanes damaged in their battles with the Japanese. Joe was Pappy Boyington’s favorite mechanic.  Joe served until the end of the war.

© EASTHAM Family History — Joe Egan – WWII

1942 – Below – Jack with his Studebaker.  (Rather than pronouncing the name in the accepted manner as ‘STOO-duh-baker’, Jack pronounced it ‘STUDY-baker’.)  Even in wartime, when gas was rationed and hard to get, when tires were practically non-existent for regular folk, Jack still managed to have his car!!

Jack and the Studebaker - 1942
© EASTHAM Family History — Jack and the Studebaker – 1942

20 Jan 1943 – Dorothy’s husband, Roland Huyer, also enlisted in the US Navy and was soon sent overseas.  He served throughout the rest of the war, receiving his release in Oct 1945.  (We need photos of Roland!!)

1943 BIRTH – A New Grandchild!Cathleen Ellen “Cathie” Egan was born in Chicago on 20 April 1943 to Marge and husband Joe Egan – their first child.  Joe had shipped out to the war by the time Cathie was born, so while he was gone, Marge and Cathie lived in Jack’s and Maggie’s basement apartment at 4151 School Street.

1943BIRTHAnother New Grandchild!John Charles Eastham was born in Chicago on 2 August 1943 to Lester and Verna (Porter) Eastham.  John was their second and last child.  It must have been good to have two little babies in the family to cheer everyone up during those stressful years.

1944WARTIME CONTINUES – The war was going hot and heavy, with no clear foreseeable outcome.  For almost three years, Americans had been eating rationed food and going without most luxuries (and many necessities) in order to leave resources free for the war effort.  The relatives in England had it much harder for much longer.  Everyone just wanted it to be OVER so ‘the boys’ could come home.

8 May 1945V DAYVictory in Europe!  V Day marked the Allies’ formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe!  Tommy Eastham and Roland Huyer would be home soon, but Joe Egan was still in the Solomons Islands and would stay there until Japan was conquered.

14 August 1945VJ DAY – Victory in Japan!  Won at the horrible price of nuclear bombings, but the world could breathe again, and soon Joe would be home, too!  It was a changed world.

WWII is over

The WAR IS OVER! Tom Eastham (USMC), Roland Huyer (US Navy) and Joe Egan (US Navy) returned home after long years away, and the whole family started to ‘get back to normal.’  Lester and Albert had good jobs working for Bell Telephone, and they got Joe a job as a lineman with the company.  Roland became a dentist.  Tommy immediately went into his chosen profession of journalism and began working for The Chicago American newspaper.  (In a few years, he would be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Journalism!)  Marge, Dorothy, Irene, and Verna were home taking care of young children.  The future was uncertain, but much brighter than it had been a year before!

6 November 1945DEATH – The joy of the freshly announced Peace was disturbed by the sad news that Maggie’s mother, Elizabeth (Harling) Marsden (88 years old), had passed away in York, Ontario, Canada, where she had lived with her son Albert.  Cause of death was coronary occlusion and senility.  The doctor who filled out the death certificate noted on the certificate that he had known Elizabeth socially for years and he described her as a “lady.”  Maggie told me that she and her mom didn’t get along real well when she was young, but that she loved her mother very much.  Elizabeth’s death appears to have been rather sudden, since the doctor said he had not previously treated her as a patient.  We wonder if Maggie was able to get to Canada in time to attend the funeral.  She remained in close touch with her brothers and sister for the rest of her life, so no doubt she was able to meet and grieve with them at some point.

© EASTHAM Family History — Elizabeth Harling Marsden (1857-1945)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

12 May 1946DEATH – Jack’s older sister, Elizabeth Alice Eastham Allison, 74 years old, passed away in Blackpool, Lancashire, England.  The wife of a long-deceased merchant and her father’s primary heir, she had been a widow for close to 20 years and had no children.  She may have been one of the two ‘old maids’ who lived in her father’s house after he passed.

12 October 1946MARRIAGETHE LAST CHILD GETS MARRIEDTom Eastham, age 23, married (in Chicago) Berenice Jacqueline Hirsch (b. 15 May 1923 in Chicago, d. 12 Jan 2004 in Burlingame, CA).  Berenice was the daughter of Harris “Harry” (Hirschsohn) Hirsch, born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and Alice Casey of Manchester, Lancashire, England.  (We would love to have photos of Tom’s and Berenice’s marriage and life together!)

© EASTHAM Family History — Tom and Berenice in the 1970’s. Sorry for the blur – my copy of the photo is tiny and blurred up when I expanded it.  They were a handsome and popular couple, and very sweet and kind people.

Tom and Berenice had two children:

Scott Thomas Eastham was born 10 June 1949 in Chicago, and died 4 Oct 2013 in Palmerston North, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand.  He was professor of interdisciplinary studies at Massey University in New Zealand.  From his bio: “poet/philosopher/scholar Scott Eastham holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, and lectures in English & Media Ecology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.”  Scott authored several respected books in his field and was a popular speaker and radio guest.  Scott married and had two daughters.

Prof. Scott Eastham

Tom’s and Berenice’s second son is married and also has two daughters.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

1947Daughter Margie leaves Illinois – She was the first of only two siblings who ever left the security of the family ‘territory.’  Although her husband, Joe Egan, appreciated having a job with Bell Telephone, aviation had been his lifelong passion, so, with Margie’s approval, he re-enlisted in the US Navy, where he could play with airplanes to his heart’s content.  Their first duty station was in Whidbey Island, Washington, FAR from Chicago.  It was an adventure, and, aside from the wind and the bitter cold, they enjoyed it, but OH! how Margie missed her family!  After a year or so at Whidbey, they were transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas and to quite a few other duty stations in the years to come, including the islands of Guam and Hawaii, the states of Texas (a second tour), Tennessee, California (twice), and even back home in Illinois.

1948BIRTHThe 7th Grandchild!  Al and Irene welcomed a son (their last child).

1949BIRTHSTWO New Grandchildren!!Scott Thomas Eastham was born in Chicago on 10 June 1949, the son of Thomas and Berenice (Hirsch) Eastham (their first child), and Margie and Joe had their second daughter (their last child) in Corpus Christi, Texas.

12 Feb 1951Visit from Canada – Maggie’s brother Tom Marsden crossed the Canadian/US border for a 2-week visit with his sister and her family.  He had emigrated to Canada in 1913.  Over the years, there were visits from brother Bill and sister Jane, too, which I can personally attest to.  Brother Al probably also visited, but I never met him, and I haven’t found any border crossing records for him.

1953The Last Grandchild (#10) Joins the Family – Tom and Berenice welcomed their second son (their last child) to the family.

© EASTHAM Family History — The Eastham family in 1953.   L to R: Verna Porter Eastham, Jane Marsden Harrison (Maggie’s sister), Lester, Maggie (holding Al’s son), Jack, Dorothy, and seated in front is Al.   Margie and her family were in Hawaii, Tommy was in California, and Al’s wife Irene was probably taking the photo.


John Moses Jack Eastham in the 1950s (3)
© EASTHAM Family History — Jack in the 1950’s

17 March 1954 JACK BOWS OUT – at age 72, on Saint Patrick’s Day in Chicago, Illinois, USA – Cause of death was stroke.  His body was cremated in Chicago, and his ashes were interred at Acacia Park Cemetery, Norridge, Cook County, Illinois.

My Irish-American father (Joe Egan) always admired Jack Eastham as a father figure, and he thought it was especially appropriate that Jack, who was known for his pranks and sense of humor, should die on St Patrick’s Day. [7]

Uncle Tommy told me that Jack’s funeral was ‘standing room only’ because he was so well-loved by so many of all ages.

On two different occasions, Gram (Jack’s wife, Maggie) told me about an event following the interment that she found very comforting:  Her son Albert was driving her home after the interment, with the radio turned off as they silently grieved over Grampa’s death.  As they came around the corner of the cemetery and began driving along the fence surrounding it, the radio suddenly popped on all by itself.  It was playing Jack’s favorite song, a happy and cheerful tune!  It continued until the car reached the far corner of the cemetery, and then switched off again, all by itself.  Recognizing her dear husband’s sense of humor, Maggie received this as his assurance that he was well and happy.  It greatly comforted her and gave her much peace in the years that followed.

There’s no doubt about it: Jack was a man to be reckoned with.  Despite tuberculosis, multiple major economic collapses, TWO world wars, and who knows what other trauma, Jack lived a good long life, filled with love, humor and hard work.  He was a man’s man, but tender-hearted and compassionate, too.  He was much-loved and admired by family and by his many friends.  He left a wonderful legacy of pride in both family and accomplishment.


After Jack’s death, Maggie sold the house on School Street, and she and daughter Dorothy took an apartment together.   They stayed together for quite a while, but Maggie would also ‘visit around’ to the homes of the other kids.  Below is a shot of her when she stayed with my family for a while, taken (I think) about 1956.  Notice the shoes – she began wearing that type in the 1920’s, when they were fashionable, and she was still wearing the same style up to her death 50 years later! (She ordered them from the Sears catalog.)  Also notice the can – Gram had one bottle or can of beer every day, with her lunch, but she had only disdain for drunkenness or bawdiness.  Oh, and if you were good, you could count on her giving you a piece of British butterscotch candy from the bowl she always kept on her bedroom dresser.   🙂

© EASTHAM Family History

Maggie’s right hip was badly crippled with rheumatoid arthritis for many years, so she got around with a cane.  She spent a lot of time knitting afghans for the family – we treasured ours, done in a herringbone pattern in shades of lavender and gray.  Her income came primarily from the gradual sale of her Bell Telephone stock, which had become amazingly valuable, but the kids chipped in, too, as her resources dwindled.  In the 60’s, she even had her own mobile home, which she shared for a while with sister Jane.

I never heard or saw Maggie be ‘irascible’ or grumpy, despite the constant pain she endured in her hips (although I’m sure her kids experienced her anger when they were young)! When she came to take care of me while my mother was in the hospital, she made it clear that she expected my full cooperation, but she did it in such a sweet way!  She was a strong-willed woman, but also very kind and approachable.  She was not physically affectionate, but somehow that didn’t matter – we always knew that she loved us and approved of us.  In the months I lived with her (on different occasions), she was unfailingly cheerful and willing to help in any way she could. (To the point of irritating my mother, who wanted to ‘do it herself.’)  Gram loved to chat and answer my questions – I wish I had asked more!

30 December 1974MAGGIE TAKES HER BOWSMargaret “Maggie” Marsden Eastham lived to be 92 years old. She marveled that in her lifetime, she had seen “gas lights and horses, then electricity and automobiles, telephones, airplanes, and now men have landed on the moon!”   She dealt with poverty, insecurity, bad health, economic disasters, world wars… And she took it all in stride.

Perhaps after all that, it’s no surprise that in her last few years, Maggie suffered from senility, just like her mother.  She passed away in a senior home in Arlington Heights, Illinois on 30 Dec 1974.

I cherish the many memories of times spent with Gram – she was special.

© EASTHAM Family History — Maggie in the 1950’s

An American Family

The family’s status as ‘struggling immigrants’ never seemed to be important.  We were just Americans, that’s all.  

Al and Les, always the best of friends since boyhood, when they had been Eagle Scouts together, had both been working for Bell Telephone for years, and in the 60’s they were busy working to computerize the Bell System.  Their homes were a block away from each other. Dorothy was the office manager for the Glenview Chamber of Commerce – always elegant, always organized and always gracious, she drew friends everywhere she went.   Marge and Joe went from Naval duty station to Naval duty station, enjoying the travel and new experiences – and Joe, a gifted photographer, loved the opportunity to ‘shoot’ places like Hawaii, Japan, and Guam.  Tommy was quickly moving up the ladder in the world of journalism and soon moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area to head up one of the Hearst papers; he was the only other sibling to leave ‘Chicagoland.’

Eastham Siblings abt 1974 JPEG
© EASTHAM Family History — The Eastham Siblings in 1974.  L to R: Al, Dorothy, Les, Margie, Tommy

The grand-kids were growing up, too –  The grands went to school and university, entered the work force, married and had kids of their own.  Then the great-grands started having kids, and now their kids are having kids!!  It’s hard to believe that in just over 100 years (1911-2017), FIVE generations have stepped into life because of Jack and Maggie.  They would be proud to see the fine people who have carried on their legacy.

We are most certainly proud of Jack and Maggie!

We will be posting some of the family’s memories – please feel free to contribute!!!  (Send as a comment on this page, or via email: easthamfamilyhistory@gmail.com)


[1] Victoria and Albert Museum Web Page, History of Fashion 1840-1900, retrieved 6 July 2017.

Footnote No. 2 was deleted.

[3] In 1998, I told my dad about discovering the CARONIA’s manifest, and Dad, who had an essentially photographic memory, immediately replied, “Oh, yes!  I saw the CARONIA when I was in Japan in 1959.  She was in dry dock…” and he proceeded to tell me WHY she was in dry dock, the name of the Chief in charge of repairs, and the particularly ingenious method by which the repairs were made!!  (None of which I remember!)  Sadly, the CARONIA has since been scrapped.

[4] Albert was still a toddler, but the family was concerned because at age 2, he wasn’t talking, but only babbling.  They feared that he might be ‘retarded.’  Because his mother was busy running the fish and chips shop, Al spent his days at a neighbor’s home, where he enjoyed playing with his best friend.  When Maggie expressed her concern to the babysitter, the dear lady replied, “Ah, but he speaks beautifully – in FRENCH!”  Al’s best friend at  daycare was French, and he was perfectly happy to learn his friend’s language rather than his own! (This story might belong to Lester.)

[5] Wikipedia, article entitled “Preston, Lancashire”, retrieved 5 July 2017

[6] The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre is the name given to the February 14, 1929 murder of seven men of the North Side Irish gang during the Prohibition Era, “one of the bloodiest days in mob history.”  It resulted from the struggle between the Irish American gang and the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone, to take control of organized crime in Chicago. Former members of the Egan’s Rats gang [no relation to Margie Eastham’s husband, Joe Egan] were suspected of a significant role in the incident, assisting Capone.  1940’s Video: http://www.history.com/topics/saint-valentines-day-massacre

[7]  It was my dad who pointed out to me that Jack had died on St. Patrick’s Day. It was my Irish-American dad’s hope that, like “Pop” Eastham, he, too, would die on St Paddy’s day, but he missed it by just one week, dying on March 10, 2003, instead of March 17.

© Sue Wyatt and EASTHAM Family History Web Site, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original or personal photos or information published at EASTHAM Family History and not otherwise available through a public source is prohibited without specific written permission from Sue Wyatt and any family member(s) who may have an interest in said material. 

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