Thomas Strang Blantyre Ancestry

On 9th January 2015, April Leopold Hynes contacted me saying, “So excited to find this page! My family came from Blantyre in 1923 to US and they were the Strangs. Coal miners. Thomas J Strang and Margaret Hill Strang – children were Agnes (who died as a young girl) Thomas, James, Robert, Rosina and Mary.”

Feeling up for another Ancestry challenge, I decided to see if i could find this family line and see if I could find anything else out about the Strangs, specifically for April. I focused on the women in the family as it the females in this line that have the real connections to Blantyre and found something in April’s statement above, I hope to correct.

Margaret Hill was born in Blantyre in 1883. She was the middle child of five children. Her parents were John F Hill and Helen McLaughlan who was 33 at the time Margaret was born. Helen also earlier originated from Blantyre.

Priory Row next to the Colliery

Priory Row next to the Colliery

On 9th July 1907 at the age of 24, Margaret married Thomas Jackson Strang in her home town of Blantyre. Thomas was slightly older at 27 at the time of their wedding and is confirmed as being a miner , working at Priory Colliery, Blantyre. At the time immediately preceding their marriage, Thomas was living in a small row of miners homes at 2 Priory Row. This was particularly bleak , immediately adjacent to the large bing and within the colliery itself. It would not have been a great place for a new bride to want to settle down in and there is evidence that following the marriage, the couple moved away from Blantyre.

Children followed quickly and I found records of just three children, not the six April suggests above. Their first son Robert Strang was born on 29th June 1908 at Coventry. Agnes McLaughlin Hill Strang was born on 1st January 1910 at Coventry and Thomas John Strang born in 1916. The names April mentioned for James, Rosina and Mary are in this family line, but were actually the children’s uncle and aunts (i.e the siblings of Thomas Jackson Strang).

Priory Pit

Priory Pit

It is unknown what took the family to Coventry but most likely employment opportunity and the desire to move away from the Priory Row houses. By the time of the 1911 census on 2nd April that year, the family were still living at Coventry, in England. The family were likely only at Coventry for a short time, for by 1916 they were living back at Blantyre, although not at Priory Row. This was a year of tragedy for Margaret and Thomas. Their daughter Agnes, at only six years old, sadly died. Tragedy would also take the life of young Thomas John Strang, whom at 29 years old died in Sicily, Italy a month of so after WW2 ended. Robert, the eldest son lived a long life at ninety three years old, passing away in 2002 and I suspect it is through Robert’s line (or perhaps Thomas’s) that April has her heritage. Back to the story……

Perhaps a move back to Blantyre and the subsequent strikes at the pits forced the couple to make a decision. For during 1923, the family decided to emigrate. On the 4th October 1923, after a long sail, they arrived at Boston, Massachusetts. Thomas was 43 years old. According to the United Stated Federal Census, in 1930 they were living at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

This is a story of a family who moved about several times before eventually finding their happy and settled place to live.

April later told me, Robert Strang (b 1908) was my grandfather. He lived with us and entertained me with tales of Blantyre as I grew up. He said his little sister, Agnes (5) died from burns from the fireplace while fetching her Fathers pipe and how he sat on the steps of St.Mary’s church. He recalled running through the streets of Blantyre to fetch his mothers nursing bag. She, Margaret (hill)strang was worried about her sons going to the mines. There were many loses in the big explosion in her line so she was determined to make sure they had a better way and left for America in 1923. She was a nurse in Blantyre and used those skills to come to the USA. (Pretty brave woman!) She worked hard and made a home and sent for her husband and sons. My grandfather became a plumber , was active in his church and was affectionatly called “Scotty” By all those that loved him.

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