Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My heart just broke

I watched the Ellis Island special last evening... and cried my eyes out during most of it. The hospital did wonderful things for some, but others were treated so unfairly and it brought to mind a story of my family and the heartache that a mother must've felt.

I've written before about my Grandfather's brother John, but after hearing the stories last evening and getting a better understanding of what these families had to go through. I feel more connected to them now than ever before, and it's breaking my heart.

My Great Grandfather John Bellew and my Grandfather William Bellew came to the US in 1923, joining other family members who were already in the States. Three years later, my Great Grandmother Margaret (McCann) Bellew and their other two sons Hugh and John, planned to join him. All the names are on the passenger list - except one is crossed out. Family story has it that John was "too sick to travel" I am now so curious about this I can hardly stand it. Did they know what awaited them if they arrived with a sick child? From what I understand, they didn't implement the departing inspections until 1929, so I don't believe that it was the result of an outbound "health inspection" that kept him from boarding that boat. Could it have been fear? Fear of being seperated from him in a strange country upon arrival? What would make a Mother leave her youngest child behind?

Now I'm feverishly trying to determine who he was left with. No one knows this information on this side of the pond. I'm reaching out to all McCann family members in the area of Preston Lancashire. Margaret only had sisters and I'm also searching for their marriages so that I can reach out to those surnames as well. I'm hopeful that someone ANYONE will recall or know the story of the boy who stayed behind while his entire family left for America.

John Bellew was born in 1919 in Preston Lancashire England and died in 1940 in WWII at Dunkirk... see info on his Military Service at a previous post here. You can read about the Christmas cards he sent to his parents at another post here. He had his First Holy Communion at the Martyr's Church in Preston England that's all I know about him. Would someone please help me find more?


  1. Some of the family stories that have touched me most in my research concern those who were split up. I hope you find more on your John Bellew!

  2. I think I found something for you...
    Casualty Details
    Name: BELLEW, JOHN
    Initials: J
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Private
    Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
    Unit Text: 4th Bn.
    Age: 21
    Date of Death: 20/05/1940
    Service No: 5387456
    Additional information: Son of John and Margaret Bellew, of Adams, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row AA. Grave 9.
    In Memory of
    Private JOHN BELLEW

    5387456, 4th Bn., Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
    who died age 21
    on 20 May 1940
    Son of John and Margaret Bellew, of Adams, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
    Remembered with honour

    I wonder if you could contact the military for records of where he was living when he enlisted??? Just a thought......... I'll keep googeling...........

  3. So unimaginable what some of these families went through. And we whine if our cable goes out. Everyone should learn their history. Helps put things in perspective, doesn't it?
    Hope you solve the mystery. Can't wait to read more.

  4. Oh my dear friend, this is a tough one and I am hoping your can find more info on John. I will add some call outs on forums and stuff.
    Hugs June xx