Totley History Group
Totley History Group

Otho Eskin's Memoirs of the Evans Family

Dr. Rice K. Evans, the American Vice Consul in Sheffield, lived in Totley from 1909 until 1928 when he returned to America. Our article on the history of the talented Evans Family was based largely on on-line databases and newspaper archives. The Internet helps us discover so much but it cannot tell us what makes a person tick. We are immensely grateful therefore to Otho Eskin who has sent us a number of personal recollections about his grandfather and the family's time in Totley. 

 

Making the Eagle Scream

My mother, Cornelia (standing in the middle with the hat) in front of her father and mother, on the eve of their departure for England – 1909.

Grandfather Rice did not have his heart in his medical practice. What he did have his heart in was gambling and drinking with a special interest in wagering on cockfights, horse races and prize fights.

 

Sometime during this period he also became actively involved in Ohio politics which, according to my mother, was thoroughly corrupt. My grandfather campaigned for the election of William Howard Taft (who came from Cincinnati) in the presidential election of 1908 (against William Jennings Bryant). In order for Taft to get the Republican nomination as the presidential candidate at the Republican convention he needed the full support from southern Ohio which he didn’t have. Grandfather rode on horseback all over the territory drumming up support for Taft.

 

He described to my mother his speech-making as “making the eagle scream” which meant that not only did he rouse the audiences to roaring and stamping their feet but he made the very eagle on the flagpole become excited and flap its wings. According to the Evans family story, grandfather’s campaigning was what got Taft the Republican nomination and, eventually, the presidency.

 

This was probably an exaggeration but there is no doubt he helped Taft because, after the election, he took his share of the spoils. According to my mother, the Republican Party rewarded its supporters with various government jobs. These were usually postmaster positions.

 

In my grandfather’s case he was offered the position of American Consul in Sheffield, England. (In those years, the US Consular Service was separate from the Diplomatic Service.) My grandfather eagerly accepted the offer and, in 1909, he and his family sailed to England where he would remain until 1928. Obviously he couldn’t wait to get out of town.

 

Life In England

The Evans' family settled into a house in a small village at Hill Crest, Totley just outside of Sheffield, England. My mother remembered growing up in England with great affection. The village was (and still is) on the edge of the moor and she recalled with great joy running wild in the heath (this is Bronté country).

The Evans family at their home in England. Rice and Louise are standing at the door, holding Bergen. The older children are at far left. The girl in white is, I suppose, a maid. The Evans family at their home in England. Rice and Louise are standing at the door, holding Bergen. The older children are at far left. The girl in white is, I suppose, a maid.

My mother and her brothers and sisters grew up speaking the local Yorkshire dialect while playing with the children of the village and they would use it in the house to annoy their parents who, of course, could not understand a word. 

 

Jack Johnson, Heavyweight Champion of the World

My mother, Cornelia, never told me much about her father’s work as Vice Consul in Sheffield. Probably it consisted of giving assistance to American citizens, issuing them passports, issuing visas and perhaps some commercial work on the side. Probably, as a little girl, she paid no attention to her father’s work. However, there was one event which Cornelia did remember vividly.

My Mother, Cornelia, Rice Evans's eldest daughter My Mother, Cornelia, Rice Evans's eldest daughter

In 1913, Jack Johnson, then the heavyweight boxing champion of the world and the most important black athletic figure of the time, came to Sheffield. In June of 1913, Johnson had been convicted of violation of the Mann Act (“transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes”) and he skipped bail, traveling to Europe to avoid being sent to prison. He arrived in London on August 24, 1913 accompanied, according to The New York Times, by his white wife, his secretary, his training team, twenty two trunks and two automobiles.

 

Somehow Johnson, with or without his entourage, appeared in Sheffield. During his time in England, Johnson traveled around the country doing demonstration boxing matches in music halls to earn money. Perhaps that is what brought him to Sheffield.

Jack Johnson Jack Johnson

For some reason he visited the American Vice Consul. My grandfather then did something quite extraordinary: he invited Johnson to his home. And Johnson accepted. Cornelia remembers seeing him. I’m not sure whether it was for dinner or for tea.

 

Whatever the occasion, this was a very unusual event. Johnson was not only a convicted felon on the run from the law in America but was a very controversial figure. He was the first black fighter to win the heavyweight championship and this created a furor in America. There were riots and people called for his lynching. White America was looking for “A Great White Hope” to defeat Johnson and regain the heavyweight title.

 

Apart from all this, in 1913, respectable people didn’t invite black men into their homes. I’m sure my grandfather did not make the invitation because he had advanced views on race relations or civil rights. In 1913 nobody did. I expect he was just a big sports fan.

 

 

Rice Evans: The Man Who Broke the Bank at Biarritz

The world changed in 1914 with the beginning of World War I. About this time, my grandmother became ill with tuberculosis. I expect she found it increasingly difficult to take care of all her children. In addition, Sheffield was a major steel producing center in England and there was concern that the Germans would bomb the city.

 

So, in 1915, the Evans children were put on a boat and returned to America with my mother, then aged 14, in charge. (The ship they sailed on was torpedoed by a German submarine on the return trip to England.) 

 

Rice Evans and Louise stayed on in England and she died in Sheffield of tuberculosis.  Thus, my mother never saw her again.

Rice Evans at the time he returned to America from England Rice Evans at the time he returned to America from England

During the war my grandfather served as a volunteer night surgeon in a military hospital. A year after his wife’s death (May 24, 1919), Rice Evans married Dorothy Davis who was chief nurse in the army hospital. It does seem as though my grandfather had no interest in returning to America or rejoining his children any time soon. 

 

My grandfather appears to have continued his active life.  He used to take long hikes through the moors and did mountain climbing in Wales. After the end of World War I, he traveled to the Continent from time to time to gamble.

Casino Municipal, Hotel Du Palais, Biarritz Casino Municipal, Hôtel Du Palais, Biarritz

He used to tell of playing roulette at the casino at Biarritz and how, one time, he broke the bank. Breaking the bank meant that one of the players won so much on a spin of the wheel that the croupier did not have enough cash (or chips) on the table to cover the bet.  At which point all gambling stopped (briefly) and champagne brought out to celebrate the event. According to my grandfather, this was all a bit fraudulent because, at least when he broke the bank, the stakes were not very high. The casino just wanted someone to break the bank every so often to keep other players interested. (Just as modern-day casinos rig a few slot machines to produce jackpots frequently.)

 

In the early 1920’s the State Department combined the Diplomatic and Consular services and I expect that, as a result, my grandfather was forced to resign his consular position.  For whatever reason, in 1928 he and his new wife left Sheffield and sailed to America. They lived in Dayton where he worked as head of personnel in a factory that built electric motors until his retirement. I met him a few times while traveling with Cornelia. He lived a quiet, uneventful life and died in 1957.

 

 

Sentimental Journey

The Evans Family lived at Hill Crest, on the far right of this photograph taken in the 1910s from the school field. The Evans Family lived at Hill Crest, on the far right of this photograph taken in the 1910s from the school field. Summer Lane is on the left.

Sometime, I don’t recall the exact year, I accompanied my mother on a visit to Totley. (This was a sentimental journey.) We were standing in front of the house where she lived and she spoke briefly to a lady who lived in the village and told her that she had lived on this very street. The lady kindly corrected my mother and explained that they didn’t have streets in Totley: they have lanes.

Latest News

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 22 November when there will be a talk by Christopher Jewitt entitled The Cutlers Company and Assay Office: Sheffield's Two Unique Companies. Among his many roles in a distinguished career, Christopher has been both Master Cutler of The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, established by Act of Parliament in 1624, and the Chairman of The Sheffield Assay Office, established in 1773. The meeting starts at 7.30 p.m. in Totley Library.

 

In lieu of our monthly library meeting in December, Totley History Group will be supporting the popular annual Spitewinter Concert at Ecclesall Parish Church. The Sheffield Folk Chorale will perform winter songs from across the centuries. With special guests Sarentino Strings. All profits to local charities. The concert will be on Wednesday 13th December beginning at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are priced at £8.25 and are expected to be in great demand. Anyone wishing to go to the concert should contact Pauline Burnett a.s.a.p at:

paulineburnett17@gmail.com.

 

Our first meeting in the new year will be on Wednesday 24th January when we welcome back Chris Corker whose talk is called The Shell, Armaments and Munitions Production Crisis, 1915-1916. The wartime demand for armaments lead to the Shell Crisis of May 1915. Chris examines the effect that the formation of the Ministry of Munitions, under the guidance of David Lloyd-George, had on Sheffield's armament companies and its industry as a whole.

A recently discovered box of WWII correspondence reveals the story of how a small group of ladies from Dore and Totley recruited knitters from the west of Sheffield and how their efforts made them the country's greatest provider of Comforts for the Minesweeping crews of the Royal Navy. The story is told in Knit For Victory, a new book from Totley History Group. Written by Pauline Burnett, it has 82 pages and many illustrations. It is on sale in Totley Rise Post Office and local shops. Also available in Dore at the Village Store or direct via our website.

Since 1875 when there was only a Rolling Mill and Chemical Yard alongside the river a mile from Totley, the area has changed beyond anyone's imagination  This book by Pauline Burnett tells the story of how it was named and grew into the community we know today. The Rise of Totley Rise has 94 pages including a useful index and is profusely illustrated throughout with many previously unpublished photographs from private collections. 

The story is told in Totley War Memorial WW1 of the ten men from our village who gave their lives in the Great War. Written by Pauline Burnett, Jim Martin and Dorothy Prosser, a chapter is devoted to each of the soldiers with a family tree followed by as much information as could be discovered about the men and their families. There is also information about their military careers and the actions in which they lost their lives. The book has 64 pages and is illustrated throughout with photographs of the men, their families and the houses where they lived.

The Tyzack family are well known in our area for owning iron and steel trades at Walk Mill, Abbeydale Works, Totley Rolling Mill and Totley Forge. This article covers the history of the family from the late 18th century when William Tyzack the founder of the company was born until the early 20th century when Joshua Tyzack farmed at Avenue Farm, Dore.  

Walter Waller Marrison moved to Totley around 1897 with his wife and their two young sons. He was a house builder who constructed properties around Totley Brook and Greenoak before ill health forced him to take up less physically demanding work. In 1904 he took over the tenancy of the grocers and off licence at number 71 Baslow Road. After his death in 1908, his widow Kate and later their eldest son Jack continued to run the business until it was sold in 1934.   

Ron Wijk of Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands has sent us two scanned images of drawings of old cottages made by the celebrated Dutch painter, Anton Pieck (1895-1987) simply annotated "Totley", and wondered whether we could identify their locations.

We would like to thank Christopher Rodgers for bringing to our attention this fascinating log of the 85th Sheffield (St. John's and Totley Orphanage) Wolf Cub Pack for 1927-45. The log is published jointly by Sheffield Scout Archives and Totley History Group as a free PDF download. It is illustrated by no fewer than 92 photographs and is supported by a comprehensive index and biographies of some of the main participants.

Following our Open Meeting event on School Days, Roger Hart, Howard Adams and John Timperley have each written to us with their memories of Norwood School, which was located in the rooms attached to the Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road. 

On 22nd July 1909 the children of Dore and Totley Schools celebrated by a pageant the union of England under King Ecgbert which took place at Dore in AD 827. The pageant was devised and written by Mrs Sarah Milner and her daughter Marjorie and performed in a field close to Avenue Farm in front of a large audience. Photographs of the event survive together with a fragment of the script.

John Edward Greenwood Pinder had lived all 46 years of his life in Totley but on census night, Sunday 2 April 1911, he was not at home; he was in Derby Gaol serving a sentence of three months hard labour. From the age of 20, John had been in and out of local courts for a series of minor offences including drunkenness, assault, wilful damage and night poaching. Finally he was sent to gaol for cutting down and stealing 86 small trees which he sold in Sheffield market for Christmas.

We have already transcribed the census returns for Totley, Totley Rise and Dore. Now we have transcribed Census Strays. These are people who were born in Totley but are missing from our earlier transcriptions. They may have been living, working or studying elsewhere or just away from home on the night the census was taken. Two people were in prison. Others were in Union Workhouses, hospitals and asylums. Fully indexed strays from the 1851, 1861, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are available now. 

We wish to thank Gillian Walker for allowing us to digitize an archive of material about the 1st Totley Scout Group. Most of the material was collected by Arthur Percival Birley in the period 1949-51 and there are many interesting documents pertaining to the building of the scout hut on Totley Hall Lane. In addition four Newsletters survive, two from the 1940s and two from 1971.

We are grateful to Angela Waite and All Saints' Parish Church for giving us access to baptismal and kindergarten birthday rolls dating from 1926 to 1941. We have transcribed the names, addresses, birthdates and baptismal dates and created an alphabetical index of entries for you to search. 

Edmund Sanderson, a Sheffield estate agent, aquired the land on either side of the old drive to Totley Grove in 1874 and divided it into plots for development. He called it the Totley Brook Estate. But before many houses were built, the estate road was severed in two by the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway line. The eastern end of the road became the cul-de-sac we now call Grove Road

John Roberts was born in Sheffield in 1798. He became a partner in one of the leading silversmiths firms in the city before moving to Abbeydale Park in 1851 and extending the house in Victorian gothic style. He paid for the building of St. John's Church and was believed to dispense more in charity than any other person in the neighbourhood including his protege Ebenezer Hall.

The Coke Family owned the Totley Hall Estate from 1791 to 1881. With the aid of a family tree to guide us, Josie Dunsmore takes us through the story of their tenure. 

When the Rev. D'Ewes Coke inherited the Totley Hall Estate in 1791 it had two farms. Josie Dunsmore tells the story of how the two farms were combined under the tenancy of Peter Flint with the aid of field maps drawn by Flint himself and later by the Fairbanks family.

Do you think you recognize this face? More than sixty photographs of the girls and teachers at Hurlfield Grammar School for Girls in the 1940s were given to Totley History Group by Avril Critchley, who was herself a student at the school. The collection includes fifteen form photographs from June 1949. There would have been a number of girls from the Totley area attending the school in those days.

Christine Weaving tells the story of her 2 x great uncle George Edward Hukin, a Totley razor-grinder, and his life-long friendship with the academic, poet, writer, and free-thinker Edward Carpenter.

Eric Renshaw (pictured here on the right with Bob Carr) grew up and lived in Totley from 1932 to 1960. Many of his memories are of a sporting nature.

We are very grateful to Gordon Grayson for giving us this splendid sale document for the Norton Hall Estates, following the death in 1850 of Samuel Shore. The estates included a large part of Totley and the document has maps and illustrations, plus schedules of land and property with the names of tenants. We have also added a transcription of the entries for Totley and Dore. 

Watch this Youtube video of the talk given by Dr. Mark Frost and Sally Goldsmith on Ruskin, Totley and St. George's Farm. The talk was hosted by Totley History Group on 20th May 2015 as part of the Ruskin in Sheffield programme. Also enjoy a video of the outdoor performance Boots, Fresh Air & Ginger Beer written by Sally.

When Jacqueline A. Gibbons became interested in what made her father tick, it began a journey through WW1 archive records and led to her flying from Toronto to visit the house and village where he lived and the countryside that he so much enjoyed. Jacqueline reminds us that in the early 20th century Sheffield was a driving force of industry and that Totley was the place where many of its remarkable people lived and where they formulated their ideas.

Edgar Wood was the designer of The Dingle, 172 Prospect Road, built in 1904 for Rev. William Blackshaw, the founder of the Croft House Settlement. The house, together with its western terrace and boundary walls, has now been awarded Grade II listed building status. 

What was probably "the most perfect little garden railway in existence" in 1910 was to be found in the grounds of Brook House, Grove Road, the home of its designer and constructor, Guy Mitchell. Look at some wonderful photographs and read reports in newspapers and a full appreciation in Model Railways magazine. 

We have now completed our transcription of Totley School's Admission Records for the period from 1877 to 1914. There is also a useful index to the names of the scholars and to their parents or guardians. We are very grateful to Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library for allowing us to transcribe and publish these records and for permission to reproduce the photograph of a specimen page of the register.

On 8, 9 and 11 November 2014 Totley History Group held an exhibition at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Below are additional links to some of the photographs we were lent and stories we researched especially for the exhibition.

 

Oscar Creswick was a local farmer who served with the Army Service Corps in Salonika and who after the war returned to Totley to become the innkeeper of the Cricket Inn and a member of the village's successful tug of war team.

 

Walter Evans was a market gardener who also ran a small grocery shop on Hillfoot Road when war broke out. He fought with the Machine Gun Corps at the fourth battle of Ypres. After the war, Walter ran a grocers shop at the top of Main Avenue.

 

Fred Cartwright was another Totley soldier who survived the Great War. He fought in France and Belgium and although he wasn't wounded he was gassed and was home on sick leave when his daughter was delivered by Nurse Jessop during a snowstorm in January 1917.

 

Maurice Johnson joined the Yorkshire Dragoons, a territorial unit, on 1 Jan 1914 and so was called up at the very start of the war. He fought throughout the war on the Somme, at Ypres and at Cambrai. After demobilization in 1919 Maurice returned to his old occupation in the steel industry.

 

Bill Glossop lent us a letter written by his father, William Walton Glossop to his wife describing life in the army during training in the north east of England and asking her to keep him in mind with the children.

 

The photo above provides a link to an album of photographs taken of WW1 Hospitals at St. John's, Abbeydale and the Longshaw Estate.

 

Nora Green, of Chapel Lane, was only 14 when war broke out. In 1914 she was ill with diphtheria and was sent to the isolation hospital at Holmley Lane, Dronfield. Nora recovered and wrote a letter of thanks to one of the hospital staff and the reply she received survives. 

 

We have collected together on this page the names of local men who appear on various War Memorials and Rolls of Honour in Totley, Dore, Abbeydale, Norton, Holmesfield and Dronfield.

 

Unfortunately we were unable to identify all the photographs we were lent of Totley Soldiers. Please take a look at this album to see if you recognize any of the missing names.

This walk visits locations that have strong associations with Totley during the First World War. It includes the homes of the ten soldiers from the village who lost their lives, the auxiliary hospitals, war memorials, and even the rifle range on which the soldiers trained. Take a look at the first draft of a new walk by the authors of "Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918"

As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have decided to create a Virtual Museum instead, starting with old bottles that were found under the floor of the Old Infant School. Please contact us by email if you would like to see the real thing or have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.

We wish to thank the Trustees of Cherrytree for giving us permission to publish transcriptions of the Cherrytree Orphanage Admissions Book entries for the years 1866-1929. There is also an alphabetical index for you to look at.

With more people having access to faster broadband and mobile networks, we have uploaded seven full and unedited oral history recordings and also added more short excerpts for you to listen to.

Our transcriptions of local trade directories have been expanded to cover the 95 years from 1837-1932 and have also been indexed. From the days when there were a handful of farmers, stone masons, saw handle makers & scythe grinders to the wonders of the Totley Bridge Garage Company, Betty's Boudoir and The Heatherfield Shopping Centre.

We continue to add to our Totley Newspaper Archive. Recent entries have included several about John Roberts and the building of St. John's Church. There are several about the history of Brinkburn Grange and its first occupier, John Unwin Wing, an accountant who later lived at Totley Hall before being convicted of forgery and fraud and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in Pentonville gaol. There are more than 50 articles from the 1880s and 1890s about Joseph Mountain and the Victoria Gardens, and twenty on the construction of the Totley Tunnel and the Dore and Chinley Railway.

Totley Church of England Parish Magazines for the years 1922-1939 and 1948-1967 with notices of births, marriages and deaths and accounts of spiritual, educational, charitable and social matters in the village. 

Around 90 photographs taken by Stuart Greenhoff for his thesis A Geographical Study of Dore and Totley including several of Totley Moor Brickworks. Superb!  

Chronologically ordered snippets of information recorded by Brian Edwards during his many years of research into our local history.

Read the inscriptions on more than 600 gravestones in  the churchyard.

 

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