The Sewell Family from Newcastle
By Donna Sewell Clark
This article was originally published in the April 2001 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
I have been doing family genealogy for about five years now. I recently joined the Sole Society and have been excited about what I have been able to learn. Oh it seems like a slow process, but Iím always hopeful that one more clue will get me closer to the truth and my family roots.
My story begins with my grandfather Earnest Sewell a British Citizen who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900ís via Canada, travelling with an Uncle. We think he may have lived in Canada for fourteen or fifteen years. He married my grandmother (Leola Nickerson) in Vancouver, Washington in 1919. They lived in Portland, Oregon where he died at an early age of 45 (1929). He had two sons Robert and Leland who are still both living in Oregon and Washington. My father Robert Earnest Sewell just turned 80 in November.
The two brothers being very young when their father died only have memories of a few key details of the family history. However, I am fortunate that my grandmother, Leola Sewell, deceased, had saved some wonderful letters and pictures from our relatives in England. The last letter that my grandmother received from England relatives was from Woodbine Road, Gosforth, Newcastle in June 1939. This and other letters were filled with family news events and a plea to not lose touch with one another again. But sad as it is, this would be the last letter my grandmother would receive from our Sewell family in England. The war had created difficulties in communication across the miles and continents, leaving us disconnected from the family and with many unanswered questions. My job, as the family historian is to put together as many puzzle pieces as possible.
So far, I have identified my great grandfather William Shields Sewell, (b. 1853, West Ashford, d. 1931, Tynemouth) who was married to Statrina Bell (b.1853, Gateshead, d. 1934, Tynemouth) in 1881, in Newcastle. Prior to his marriage, William was an oil merchant in Whitley Bay, moving to the Newcastle Upon Tyne area after their marriage. They had two children Earnest (my grandfather) and Maude. Maude was married to Walter Johns in the early 1910 or 20ís and lived in the Newcastle area as well. They had two daughters named Erica (b. approx. Feb, 1927) and Eileen Johns (approx. B. March 1921). Their ages would be approximately 73 and 79 respectively. They may still be living.
The photo is: Maude Johns (seated) with her daughter Erica, William Shields SEWELL, great grandfather, Eileen Johns standing, and Statrina SEWELL (seated) great-grandmother
It is my hope and dream that we could piece together the past or find a few living relatives who could shed new light on our family history. So I am interested in the following names SEWELL, JOHNS, and BELL.
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