George Sinclair (1848-1930), Scottish-American Coal Miner
Sinclair was born 1 April 1848 in the village of Gartsherrie, parish of Old
Monkland, county of Lanark, kingdom of Scotland. He was the second son of
coal miner, James Sinclair (1826-1891), and Mary Paterson (1828-?), and was
baptized a Presbyterian on 9 April 1848. The Scottish census of 31 March
1851 shows young George (age 2) living with his family on Herriot Row in
Gartsherrie. The Scottish census of 1861 shows George and his family living
on Parish Road, village of Newarthill, parish of Bothwell, district of
Holytown, county of Lanark. The ages of his siblings indicate the family had
been in Bothwell since shortly after the last census. George (age 12) is
listed as coal miner, as was his brother James (age 14), his father also
named James (age 35), and, a few houses away, his grandfather, yet another
James Sinclair (age 55).
Mary Sinclair, with their younger children, but not sons James and George,
immigrated to the mining village of Arnot, Tioga County, state of
Pennsylvania, in the United States of America. They arrived on the S.S.
Australia at Castle Garden, Port of New York, out of Glasgow, on 16 June
1870. Efforts to locate George in the 1871 Scottish census have been
unsuccessful though George is listed as a coal minor living in the village
of Carfin, parish of Bothwell, when he married Sara Lyons on 18 June 1872.
The ceremony took place at Cleekhimin, parish of Bothwell, at the Free
Church of Scotland (a breakaway sect of Presbyterians). Sara was the
daughter of coal and iron miner Robert Lyons and his wife Sarah MacReady,
both deceased by this time. The 3 April 1871 Scottish census shows Sara
living at 7 Front Row, village of Cleekhimin, district of Holytown, with her
coal miner brothers, William, James, Robert, and John, as well as her Irish
born cousin, Margaret Wallace.
Sara lived in Bothwell Parish for the next nine years, where daughter Mary
was born 25 November 1873, son James on 7 June 1875, son Robert on 16 June
1877, son George in March 1879, and son William on 24 March 1881. The 3
April 1881 Scottish census shows the family living at 1 Dixons Land, parish
of Bothwell, county of Lanark. Family tradition says the family emigrated
from Scotland later that year, on the ship the S.S. Majestic. They joined
Georges father James in the coalfield of Bloss Township in Tioga County,
Pennsylvania, United States of America. On 31 May 1884, at the age of 35
(sic), George became an American citizen by renouncing the Queen of Great
Britain at the Tioga County Courthouse. For some reason, he claimed to have
been in America since June 1870 when his parents had arrived, even though he
was not shown on the passenger list of the S.S. Australia. Several more
children were born to George and Sara in Bloss Township: son Andrew on 17
December 1884, son Alexander in March 1887, son John in March 1889. After
moving to Houtzdale, son Wesley was born in October 1893.
to Houtzdale, in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, is confirmed in a land
deed dated 20 October 1890, in which George and Sara purchased property
co-owned by John Rading and several others. George and Sara later sold some
of this land to the Altoona Phillipsburg Company, recorded in a deed dated
24 December 1894. George apparently found time to visit Scotland, as Ellis
Island records indicate that a George Sinclair (age 51) returned from a
visit to Carfin, the village in Bothwell Parish where his grandfather died
in 1874, on the ship S.S. Lucania out of Liverpool, England. Perhaps he went
to visit his older brother James, who is believed to be the only sibling who
had remained in Scotland.
family are shown living in West Houtzdale, Woodward Township, Clearfield
County, Pennsylvania, in the federal census taken on 8 June 1900. George
(age 52) is listed as a coal miner as are sons James (age 24), Robert (age
22), George Jr. (age 21), and William (age 19). The younger sons, Andrew
(age 15), Alexander (age 13), John (age 11), and Wesley (age 6) are listed
as at school. Sara (age 48) and oldest daughter Mary (age 26) are not
listed with any occupation, though they were presumably keeping house as
these records often state. The youngest daughter, Margaret (age 9) is also
listed as being at school.
few years were not kind to the family. Son Alexander died, cause unknown, at
age 15 on 8 May 1902. Sara died on 4 November 1905 at West Houtzdale,
Clearfield County, PA, and was buried in Brisbin Cemetery. Her obituary in a
local newspaper stated: "Mrs. George Sinclair died at her home in Blain
City, Sunday, Nov. 4, aged 53 years. She had been a sufferer from
enlargement of the liver and had been sick eight weeks. She is survived by
her husband and nine children." Daughter Mary, who had married Minot Stevens
died, cause unknown, on 1 June 1906. The federal census taken on 20 April
1910, shows George and his three youngest children living in Blain City
(near Houtzdale), Beccaria Township, Clearfield County. George (age 62) is
listed as a laborer in a coal mine, son John (age 21) is listed as
brakeman, son Wesley (age 17) a driver in a coal mine, and daughter
Margaret (age 19) listed with no occupation.
two blurbs about George from the 4 September 1912 issue of The Agitator
newspaper of Wellsboro, Tioga County. The first states that Mr. and Mrs.
J.C. Patterson, of Birmingham, Ala: George Sinclair, of Coalport, PA, and
William Greenhaigh, of Blossburg, have been visiting Mr. and Mrs. Bower.
The second says Mrs Robert Lee died at her home in Maderia, Pa, August 23,
aged 77 years The remains were taken to Blossburg last week Monday evening
and burial was made in the Odd Fellows cemetery. Rev. W. P. Miller
conducted the service. Her nephews James Bell, Andrew Bell and George
Wilkinson, of St. Benedict, and George Sinclair, of Coalport, accompanied
the remains to Blossburg.
federal census taken 14 June 1920 shows George still living in his house in
Blain City, Beccaria Township, Clearfield County, but the head of household
now is his son in law, Glenn Fleckinger, who had married his daughter
Margerat. George (age 72) is listed as a laborer in a coal miner, Glenn
(age 29) is a bookkeeper at a coal company, and Margaret (age 29) with no
occupation. George died at the age of 81 at about 9 p.m. on 24 January 1930
in Beccaria Township, Clearfield County. He fell from a window, or the roof,
of the house he was living in with his daughter Margaret and her husband
Glenn. He was buried on 27 January 1930 with his wife, Sara, in Brisbin
Cemetery. His 29 January 1930 obituary from The Houtzdale Citizen said he
was among the pioneer residents of West Houtzdale community. It further
states that The body of George Sinclair ..interred in the Brisbin cemetery.
Deceased was an early resident of West Houtzdale and he died at the home of
his daughter .He was aged eighty-one years and had been ill with
complications several years. He is survived by the following: James, Robert,
William, George, Wesley, John, and Margaret.
to his will, made on 7 December 1927, son Robert was made the executor of
his estate. Georges house and property went to his daughter Margaret and
her husband Glenn Fleckinger, while his money was divided equally among all
his children. Amazingly enough, for an old gentleman who died during the
Great Depression, George had a savings account at the First National Bank of
Irvona with the amount of $1,362.34, a Certificate of Deposit (CD) in the
First National Bank of Coalport for $1,050.00 with interest due of $15.75,
for a grand total of $2,428.09. After various expenses, the amount remaining
for distribution to his children was $1,752.60. Auditors notices, giving
any outside claimants a chance to come forward were published on three
successive weeks in September 1930 in The Clearfield Republican and The
Raftsmans Journal. According to the 3 November 1930 auditors report his
eight surviving children were each to receive the amount of $210.64.
It was a
long journey from Lanark to Clearfield. This hardworking immigrant coal
miner from Scotland was able to leave a good financial legacy to his
children and a more enduring legacy to his descendants, who live and exist
in America today because of the decision he made to cross the Atlantic Ocean
back in 1881.
John Shepherd (great great grandson) on 18 February 2009.
County Court House
Clearfield County Historical Society
LDS Family History Library
International Genealogical Index (IGI)
Old Parochial Registers (OPR)
Scottish Church Records on CD
Passenger and Immigration Lists, New
Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records
Scottish Record Office via
Scottish Family Search
Civil Registration: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Old Parochial Registers (OPR)
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