|Cleveland cemetery card for John Slatter (1838-1901)|
John Slatter Disappears
Beginning in 1873, Mary Shehen Slatter and five of the six children were in and out of workhouses in the notoriously poor area of Whitechapel, London, England. By mid-1874, Mary was diagnosed with melancholia. She spent the rest of her life in asylums. She died of phthisis (tuberculosis) in Banstead Asylum in 1889. Mary told authorities that her husband John Slatter abandoned her and their children.
In fact, I haven't yet found John Slatter in UK records after 1871. He seems to have disappeared, perhaps to avoid being responsible for his family or to seek work elsewhere (?). I will never know why, only that I haven't found him in the UK census of 1881. Nor have I located John in the US census of 1880. Too bad the 1890 US census burnt up. But I did have a clue to where John went later in his life.
John Slatter Reinvents Himself
Thanks to my late father-in-law, I had a cemetery card referencing John Slatter's burial in Woodland Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio (shown at top of this post). I quickly found his obit: he died at the Cleveland home of his youngest daughter, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925).
This surprised me, as John had been absent from Mary's life during much of her childhood--and she, as young as five, had been in and out of workhouses and might be understandably upset with him. Then again, Mary was a loving soul, I gather from what her son said about her (in interviews conducted many decades later).
John reinvented himself in Cleveland. I found the earliest mention of him in the 1888 Cleveland directory. He was a plasterer (working solo), living at 251 1/2 St. Clair. Since this directory covered the period August 1887 to July 1888, he could have arrived as early as 1887 to be included. At this point, I haven't yet found his voyage across the Atlantic, despite searching for him arriving either in Canada or a US port. Clearly, he left the UK before his first wife died in 1889.
John Slatter Partners Up
Great-grandpa John didn't work solo for very long. In the 1891 directory, he's listed with the Slatter & Mead firm, specializing in wall paper with partner Samuel W. Mead. Same in 1892, but at a new location: 433 1/2 St. Clair, just down the street from their previous address. By 1893, John is solo again, listed as a wall paper cleaner at 433 1/2 St. Clair in Cleveland.
In the 1895 Cleveland directory, John is not solo--he's partnered with his 2d wife, Louisa M. (maiden name not known).
The firm is listed as "John Slatter & Co," featuring John and Louisa Slatter at 433 1/2 St. Clair.
By the time this directory was published, however, it was already outdated: Louisa Slatter died on February 24, 1895, at the age of 46. John was again solo, listed in the 1897, 1898, and 1899 Cleveland directories as a wall paper hanger or cleaner at 433 1/2 St. Clair.
The Cleveland directory for 1900 does not list John Slatter. From the obit, I know he moved in with his daughter Mary and son-in-law James E. Wood in Cleveland early in 1901. For the final six months of his life, due to debilitating illness, John Slatter was in the care of this daughter.
Two years after John died, Mary gave birth to the first of four sons--Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), my late father-in-law, who saved the Cleveland cemetery card for his grandfather he must have inherited from his mother.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of SOLO.