A Mysterious Dime …

Many moons ago, when my future hubby and his family moved into their Derbyshire farmhouse, the original beams were covered by a false ceiling.

During the course of renovations the false ceiling was taken down & they found a small American coin. A bit of cleaning revealed a dime, dating from 1876 that had been altered to make a small piece of jewellery. It could have been a commemoration of the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

It’s been a bit of a mystery as to where it could have come from, but I think I may have found one possibility during my research on the both the house owners and my own family tree.

I’d previously discovered that I have a direct family connection with the farmhouse, via the Hays family; my 2nd cousin 4x removed Anthony Hays owned farm from 1901 to 1939; our common ancestors are John Hays and Millicent Anthony. Researching the other descendants of John & Millicent I found that their son, James Hays, my 4x Great Uncle and his family had emigrated to the United States & settled in Illinois.

I found James’ baptism in the North Wingfield registers in September 1822, John and Millicent’s 10th child. In 1841 he was working as an apprentice blacksmith. In subsequent census returns James worked as a colliery blacksmith and lived in Pilsley Derbyshire.

He married Mary Hopkinson from Ault Hucknall in 1850 and they went on to have seven children that I’ve found so far; Ann born in 1850, John born in 1854, Millicent born in 1858, Mary in 1860, James born 1864, Harriett in 1867 and Herbert in 1871.

Ann was the first to leave Pilsley, she sailed in 1868 with her husband William Radford and young son James. John followed his sister in 1871, then Mary with her husband Isaac James in August 1880.

James and Mary followed their children to Illinois in September 1880, taking with them their youngest three children, James, Harriett and Herbert. Their daughter Milicent married George Fearn in 1875 and stayed behind in England, eventually moving to Burton-On-Trent.

I’m still filling in the gaps of the Hays in America; turning to the US Census records I know John married in Illinois, as did James.

But is it a clue as to how the dime ended up in the beams of a Derbyshire farmhouse? It is dated 1876, both Ann and John were in America by that time; could they have sent it to their cousins back at home in Pilsley? It’s my best guess so far!

The farmhouse, showing the front lawn and orchard

Census Information from Ancestry & Find My Past
Baptism Information from Ancestry & Family Search
Emigration Information from Ancestry


© Caroline Cox and Caroline’s Chronicles. 2011 – current year

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