Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Tidball Invasion

The Carol Burnett comedy writers were on pretty safe ground when they created Tim Conway's "Mr. Tudball" character (see 23 June 2016 post). White returns only 25 exact matches in the United States. Compared to Tudball, the Tidball name is less rare; more than 1,000 pop up in a search. A 1940 U.S. Census search at turns up only 478 individuals, spread widely across the country, but with clusters in Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, and Pennsylvania.

Hey, it's a big country with a lot of names! Based on 2000 census data, Tidball rests in a tie for the 28,353rd most common name in the United States. (You think that's uncommon? Fonkert doesn't even show up in the top 65,000).

So, how did the Tidballs get here. Perhaps the largest American Tidball family dates to the early 1700s in Pennsylvania. Another batch arrived in Ontario in the mid-1800s. The Minnesota Tidballs -- the ones I associate with -- arrived in the 1880s. It is likely that all three groups were fairly closely related back in Southwest England, but that story must wait for a future blog. For now, the focus is on the Minnesota Tidballs.

Thomas Tidball
Thomas Tidball, 20, landed at New York in October 1880 on the S. S. Somerset. The passenger manifest recorded his occupation as "clerk." That this is the correct Thomas is confirmed by the 1900 U.S. Census, which recorded his immigration date as 1880, and by the St. Louis County, Minnesota, declaration of intention for citizenship in which Thomas said he arrived in October 1880 at New York.

It is not known why Thomas chose Minnesota. He might have made a short stop elsewhere, but he was in Duluth, Minnesota, by 28 March 1882 when the Duluth News Tribune reported he was a guest at the Bay View Hotel. He married Emily Agnes Fear in Duluth 25 October 1883. Emily had wasted no time -- she had arrived at New York only eight days earlier. Perhaps, Thomas and Emily had known each other in England. The couple was soon on the move again; by 1885, Thomas and Emily were living nearly 250 miles south of Duluth in Steele County, an area with much richer farmland. Why there? Don't know.

The 1885 Minnesota census also found John Tidball in Steele County. John and Mary Ann Tidball had arrived at New York -- also on the S.S. Somerset -- on 1 April 1884. The Tidball family was apparently quick on its feet, because John Tidball had married Mary Ann Lee less than three weeks earlier on 12 March in Bristol, England. A family Bible states that they sailed for America on the 15th.

 Details of the Tidball brothers' early years in Minnesota are somewhat fuzzy. The 1885 Minnesota Census enumerations raised questions about both their families that have not yet been answered. I will tackle that problem in next week's post.

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