I use this blog as a chance to explore, and help others discover, the lives of people in their families and communities. It is fun, and therapeutic, for me to spend my free-time researching and writing about people whose lives may not have received any attention at all until now. This time I am going to be writing about someone important to me, and I am asking for help in discovering his story in more depth. That person was my grandfather, and my personal hero, Harry Ashworth (1921-2007).
My grandfather, Harry Ashworth, was the son of English immigrants who had decided to settle in the city of Philadelphia in the early 20th century. His father, Walter Ashworth, came to Philadelphia in 1909 and met his soon-to-be-wife Elsie Perry (1894-1922) there. The couple had five children, Elsie, Edith, Walter, William and Harry. Edith and William would both pass away from disease in 1920 and Harry’s mother would pass a year after his birth in 1922.
The psychological affect of the deaths of his wife and two young children within a two year period must have been severe. After Elsie’s death, and for reasons unrecorded or undiscovered, Walter was unwilling or unable to raise his two sons and they soon found themselves “adopted” in the household of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania farmers Robert (1884-1963) and Eva (1884-1943) Linton. Elsie, the eldest child, continued to live with her father in Philadelphia.
My grandmother used to tell the story of Walter, Sr. travelling to Lancaster on multiple occasions attempting to bring his sons back to Philadelphia, only to have them run away and return to their adopted family in Lancaster County. The farm life, and the love that the childless Lintons must have shown Walter, Jr. and Harry, kept them coming back after each attempt by Walter to reclaim them. As my grandmother told it, eventually the local Sheriff informed Walter, Sr. that he was no longer welcome and that he should leave Walter Jr. and Harry alone. He did, and Walter, Sr. would pass away in 1937.
Walter, Jr. left the Linton homestead in Pennsylvania around the age of 18 and found himself working, in 1935, in Burlington County, New Jersey. There he met Gladys Hall and, in 1938, the couple married and started their own family. When Walter registered for the draft in 1940, he had moved to Mercer County, New Jersey where he was working for a trucking company. Harry joined him there after 1940 and listed Fieldsboro, New Jersey as his own place of residence on his draft registration in February 1942.
My grandfather found work at the Anchor Thread Company in Groveville, New Jersey, just up the road from Fieldsboro and Bordentown, New Jersey. The location of the factory is now a public park. I have no idea how it happened, perhaps my other family members do, but it was then that Harry met the love of his life, my grandmother, Myrtle Bentz (1923-2010).
If you happen to have information or stories about the life of Harry Ashworth during this period, please feel free to leave it as a comment or send it via my contact page.
The next time I visit my grandfather’s life, I think I’ll share with you more about my grandparents’ courtship leading up to Harry’s service in World War Two.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.