Thursday, July 16, 2009

George (John Bull) Crockett

The picture to the left is a depiction of John Bull on a WWI recruitment poster. Amos Crockett's brother, George, was known as John Bull because of his similarity to that figure who represented all that was English, like Uncle Sam to the United States.

George was born on May 23, 1867 in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, which lies three miles from Tring to the east and four miles from Aylesbury to the west. George was christened at Aylesbury with three of his siblings on February 9, 1868.

George worked as a piecer at the cotton mill in Glossop in 1881 when he was thirteen years old. While still in Glossop, he married Betty Sandiford in 1887. Betty was twenty, George was only nineteen when he married.

George and Betty had moved seven and a half miles north west to the town of Dukinsfield by 1891, where George was working as a labourer in an iron works. It appears that Betty had no children with George and by 1901 they had separated. Betty moved back to her birthplace in Glossop and was found living with her mother; she gave her status as married in both the 1901 and 1911 census returns.

George continued moving west, this time over forty-five miles southwest to Chester, where he was a fried fish dealer in 1896 at 15 Brook Street; nearby, his brother, Amos, was a greengrocer at 47 Brook Street.

By 1900 he had moved again, south seventy miles to Kidderminster, where he had a fried fish business on Blackwell Street.

A year later, George had moved again, to Northfield, Worcestershire and had changed his situation significantly when he appeared in the 1901 census as a thirty-three-year-old general labourer living with a twenty-year-old landlady who was a laundress. Young Sarah Ann Jones had a two-month-old son, named Ernest W Jones. At that time George Crockett was listed as married and Sarah Jones was listed as single, yet they lived as man and wife for over forty years.

Three more children were born before 1905 came to an end, Sarah and all her children used the surname Crockett including Ernest William.

When George accompanied Amos on the voyage to Philadelphia, he gave the address for his next of kin as his wife, Sarah, at Moor Street, Brierly Hill. That was on February 23, 1911. By the time the census was taken on April 2, 1911 another family was living at that residence and I have not been able to find George's family in the 1911 census.

One of the stories that my father told me about George Crockett was that when he and Amos arrived in New York it was the fourth of July and there were American flags everywhere and George remarked that there wasn't a Union Jack to be seen. This has turned out to be family lore because they landed in Philadelphia in March.

On the ship's manifest of the SS Merion, George gave the name of the person he was going to visit as his brother-in-law, Charles Jones. George is described as being 5' 5½” tall with fair complexion, auburn hair, and gray eyes, a true Crockett.

George only stayed in Philadelphia long enough to visit Sarah's brother for a few weeks and then he returned to England on the Lusitania, leaving New York on March 17 and arriving in Liverpool on March 28, 1911. Amos did not return to England with him and I presume he made his way to Alberta overland.

George and Sarah Crockett left England the next year, departing from Bristol on April 3 and arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 12, 1912. Thomas Amos Crockett, son of Amos, accompanied them on the voyage. The manifest listed the following aboard the SS Royal Edward:

Crockett, George, 44, Poultry farmer

Crockett, Mrs. G, 32, wife

Crockett, Thomas, 20, Farm labourer

Crockett, Ernest, 11

Crockett, George, 10

Crockett, Ada, 8

Crockett, Mary, 7

On the ship's manifest, both George and Tom Crockett claimed to have worked on a farm in England, but I wonder if that was to get assistance with the passage from the Salvation Army. The family was in “steerage” class with SA noted in the right margin of the manifest. Their destination was given as Edmonton.

According to a map in the Busby history book, George's homestead was located on a ¼ section described as South-east quarter, Section 23Township 57 Range 1 West of the 5th Meridian in the Busby Park School District.

From another reference to George and family in the same book about the Busenius family:

My Dad spent his first year of school at Busby Park and recalled George and Sarah's children were: Ernie, Joss, Ada, and Alice. Joss must have been the younger George. George and Sarah moved into Edmonton after leaving the homestead and my Dad recalled that Uncle George worked as an elevator operator and Aunt Sarah worked as a maid at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. In the city directory for 1943, George was listed as retired and Sarah was still working at the hospital.

Amos Crockett's granddaughter, Evelyn, recalls a story about Uncle George John Bull: "There was a dentist's office in the building where John Bull ran the elevator and he offered to make Uncle George a set of false teeth because he had none. A couple of weeks after setting him up with a fine set of dentures, the dentist noticed that George was not wearing his new teeth. When asked the whereabouts of the teeth, John Bull said they were in his pants pocket. To this the dentist replied: I hope they bite you in the ass!"

George passed away in Edmonton in 1944 at age seventy-six and was buried in Edmonton Cemetery on May 13, 1944.

In the city directory for 1947 Sarah was still working at the hospital as a maid and living at #32, 11045-97 Street (Lambton Block). In 1953 she was living at the same address but no occupation was given.

According to my Dad, Aunt Sarah had some sort of mental breakdown and died in a mental facility in Oliver, just north of Edmonton. I wish my Dad was here to ask, because I think I can recall that Sarah also worked at the Oliver hospital.

Sarah died in 1964, twenty years after her husband, she was eighty-four years old. Her body rests beside her husband, George in the Edmonton Cemetery.

When I asked Amos Crockett's granddaughter, Vera Becklake, about her memories of George and Sarah, she had the following to say:

Uncle 'John Bull' was a bit of a rascal. I was surprised to hear that he had been married in England. I know there was some scandal about him and a girl who worked in Grandpa's (Amos) fish and chip shop. Perhaps they were never divorced as I was told that he and Auntie Sarah were never married. I don't recall the circumstances of her death. She worked for years at the Royal Alex Hospital in Edmonton and was badly injured in an elevator accident there but as far as I remember, she recovered enough to go back to work. She was a very sweet and gentle person.

George Crockett and Sarah Ann Jones had the following children:

  1. Ernest William Crockett (1901-1994)

  2. George Crockett (1902-1990)

  3. Ada Millicent Crockett (1904-)

  4. Mary Alice Crockett (1905-)


  1. My name is Betsy Weninger Imholt and I am the great granddaughter of George Crocket (1902-1990). My father is the son of Pearl Georgian Crockett. I just read this posting aloud to my father, Donnie Weninger. I find this information so exciting to read and I so much appreciate your fine writing and great story telling ability. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Betsy, I would love to be in touch with you and your Dad. My email address is on my profile. I have been trying to contact George's descendants for years and heard from Chris and Ron Crockett in Salem and now you, this is indeed exciting!