|The Grange, Swanland|
|One of the other ships looking for Franklin trapped in the ice in Melville Bay, 1850|
By the time his two oldest sons were reaching their majority, Sir John was focussing on their future careers and taking steps to try to ensure they would be successful in life. Ironically, in view of what they went on to do, he felt that a career in the Navy would be too dangerous and he had them trained in engineering and draftsmanship. He wrote to the American consul in London to ask about opportunities for young men in the less settled parts of the United States and in 1871, after hearing glowing reports about Kansas, he sent James and Bob there to strike it rich as farmers. Kansas had only joined the Union in 1861 and had been caught up in the American Civil War. An indication of how wild it was when the young men arrived there is that in 1871 Wild Bill Hickok was the mayor of Abilene, Kansas.
|Wild Bill Hickok|
By 1877 Jim and Bob were well-established in Hansford County and they built themselves a far superior home which they named Zulu Stockade (a few miles from their first place. The name was a nod to contemporary British military efforts in Africa and their sense that Texas was just as wild as Africa). By now there was a regular route through their part of Texas, from Dodge City, Kansas, to Fort Bascom in New Mexico. The Cators turned their hand to supplying goods to passing traffic and the stockade became a store.
As you can see from the Google Street View picture above, nothing remains of the Stockade today. It was abandoned in 1912 -- the coming of the railways took their business away. But the Cators were well and truly established in Hansford County, Texas and their success tempted other members of the family to come out from England to join them.
|You can see the Cator settlement marked on this old map of the Panhandle|
As Texas was progressively settled and developed, the Cator family were right in there at the heart of it. The town of Hansford, close to their ranch, was laid out in 1887. Both Jim and Leslie Cator served as county judges and Jim's brother-in-law Arthur Land was the first county treasurer. Bert established a timber and grain company in Hansford and twice served as county sheriff. Jim and Clate were the first farmers to introduce alfalfa as a crop in their county and Jim also set up the first local bank, in 1907. Jim died in 1927 whilst Edith lived on in the house he had built for her until 1950. The town of Hansford was overtaken by another nearby settlement, Spearman, which was on the railway. Hansford became a ghost town but many of the original Cator settlers are buried in the cemetery there.
It seems that Marion was the only Cator sibling not to emigrate to Texas. I wonder what her feelings were about the steady disappearance of her family across the Atlantic and whether she was tempted to follow them? However, I think perhaps Marion did go to America after all. In 1883 she married a local gentleman in Hull, Arthur Richmond Mills, but Arthur was, like Marion's father, a man of the seas, and seems to have spent his professional life as the captain of ships sailing to and from New York. It seems he was naturalised as an American citizen and they may have had a home in New York. I have one other photo of Marion from my Brighton finds. She's standing with Arthur and the shot was taken by Henry, her cousin, in Southampton in 1925 -- it would make sense that they were in Southampton, if they had just come in from an Atlantic crossing:
What a paunch on Captain Mills! Somehow I don't feel Marion can have had much say in the direction her life took after she married him (pure speculation, of course). She does look somewhat meek in her photos. It seems amazing that all her brothers and her sister went off to the Wild West from Hull.
The next 'chapter' of the investigation will focus on Henry's Reynolds ancestors...