Edith Child/McMullen – British woman in the USA
Edith Sarah Child was born on 15th February 1886 in Tutshill, Chepstow, Monmouthshire. She was the fourth child of Joseph Child and Mary Ellen Sargent.
Edith met and fell in love with Charles Bernard McMullen whose family lived in the next village, Tidenham. Charles’ father - Charles William McMullen - had been born in Ireland, and in the 1891 Census is listed as a master mariner. Charles Bernard followed in his father’s footsteps and became a sailor.
The story handed down in the family tells how Charles (known as Bernard) and Edith arranged to meet in Vancouver, Canada in 1908 and get married. To this end Edith set sail on the S.S. Empress of Britain from Liverpool on December 11th, 1908, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 19th December. They married on 25th December 1908 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Such an undertaking demonstrated remarkable strength of character, great trust and the depth of their love for each other. When Edith arrived, Bernard explained that they needed to get married at once as it was not appropriate for them to be together unmarried, nor was it acceptable for Edith to stay in a hotel on her own as a single woman. Therefore, he had arranged for a ship’s captain to conduct the marriage service immediately. Edith was upset because her trunks had not been offloaded from the S.S. Empress and these contained the dress she had had specially made for her wedding.
They lived in Alaska in the early years of their marriage and their three children were born in Valdez, Alaska – Dora Edith born in 1909, Colin Bernard born in 1911 and Josephine Mary born in 1913. Bernard worked for the Alaskan Steam Company and he named his daughter Dora after the S.S. Dora, a ship that he sailed. Later, he was to name another ship after his wife, the S.S. Edith.
In her passport application dated January 1919 Edith stated that she was living in Seattle in the state of Washington and that her husband Bernard had been naturalised as a citizen of the United States of America in 1901.
In the 1920 United States Federal Census the family was living in Suffolk, Massachusetts and Bernard’s occupation was that of a master mariner.
By the 1930 Census the family was living in the San Pedro District of Los Angeles, California and Bernard’s occupation is listed as a shipping surveyor. This is where the family then settled. Bernard died in 1969 and Edith in 1983.
However, Edith kept in regular contact with her relatives back home with frequent correspondence and visits by her and her family back to the U.K. as well as trips by members of the family to America. Edith made the trip in 1919, 1926 and 1936 and in 1963 Edith and Bernard sailed from Long Beach, California through the Panama Canal to Southampton. Joseph and Mary Ellen Child visited Alaska in 1912; Amy Barton, Edith’s niece, visited California in 1959; Reverend Leonard Child, Edith’s brother and a Baptist Minister, also visited California in the 1950s and preached during his time there.