Joseph RODLIFF (1871 - 1942)

  Rodliffe & Blomfield Roots & Branches ©2010-2017 Rosemary & Stan Rodliffe

Mining in the US

Joseph was born at St Columb Major in 1871, the second of Richard Rodliff's eight children by Mary Binney. He lived with his family at Talskiddy where father Richard was farming 70 acres in 1881 and mother Mary was helped by 13 year old domestic servant Constance Harvey. Brother Richard (1875-1875) and sister Mary Jane (1879-1879) died soon after birth and sister Kate (1877-1883) died aged 6. He and his brothers Charles (1869-1931) and Samuel (1874-1936) and sisters Ellen (1872-1949) and Mary Jane (1881-1923) were all living with their parents at Talskiddy in 1891.

On 6th April 1892 Joseph left Liverpool on SS City of New York and arrived at New York on 14th April. For the next 20 years he worked as a labourer or miner in Idaho, Nevada, Michigan and Montana. In the 1890s he was working in Michigan iron mines at Iron Mountain and Ishpeming and on 12th October 1896 he was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the Circuit Court of Dickinson County at Iron Mountain. In the early 1900s he was an iron miner living at 499 N 2nd Street Ishpeming. Ishpeming is a city in Marquette county Michigan 15 miles from Lake Superior at an altitude of 1400 feet, in the heart of the Marquette Range iron district, where there were large iron mines within the city limits.

Joseph returned to spend time with his family in Cornwall in 1897; travelling 2nd class, he arrived at Southampton on 6th May from New York on SS Paris. He spent several months with his family in 1903-4, arriving on 21 October 1903 at Southampton from New York on SS Philadelphia (American line) and staying in the UK until 21st April the following year when he embarked on the SS Cretia at Liverpool bound for Boston. On his arrival at Boston on 30th April, it was noted that he had inflammation of the eyes, perhaps due to the conditions in the mines in which he had worked.

Between 1905 and 1910 he went west to Montana where he lived at 427 Main Street, Butte, Silver Bow County, while working as a copper miner. He travelled even further west seeking work at Silver City, Idaho before returning to the UK early in 1911.

Nearly ten years farming at St Columb

Joseph was living with his parents, brother Charles and sister Mary Jane at Talskiddy on 2nd April 1911. Almost three weeks later, on 22 April 1911, he embarked for the Cape on Balmoral Castle at Southampton seeking work as a miner in South Africa. He returned on 23 December the same year, arriving at Southampton from Cape Town on the Armadale Castle (Union Castle Mail Steamship line). He spent the best part of the next ten years, from 1912 to 1920, living at St Columb, where he farmed on behalf of his brother Samuel. His parents died at St Columb in 1918.

He gave an explanation for his lengthy stay at St Columb in his emergency passport application in 1920 (see below).

Application for new passport

Joseph Rodliff passport photo 1920

Joseph's protracted absence from the US put his citizenship at risk and he had to make an emergency passport application to return to the US, sworn before US consulate at Plymouth, which was granted on 24th July 1920 at the US embassy in London. His application, witnessed by Sidney BARTLETT of St Columb, provides a description and photo: age 48, height 5ft 8in, medium forehead, grey eyes, long nose, medium mouth, round chin, brown & grey hair, fair complexion, oval face.

He gave the following reason for his lengthy absence:

I came to England in the latter part of 1911 to visit my aged parents and I then had the intention of returning to the United (sic) within 12 months. My parents, however, persuaded me to remain with them, and I have since been caring for them. They both died about one year ago, and as there is no other reason why I should remain in England and as I wish to re-establish myself in the United States, I desire a passport to enable me to return there permanently.

He also declared that he maintained the following business tie:

I own cattle and sheep in Idaho, that are being looked after by my friend, John Harris, Boise, Idaho.

The American Consul accepted his explanation and agreed that a passport should be granted.

Return to mining in the US and Canada

He returned to the US in 1920, arriving at New York on 21 August on SS Aquitania from Southampton heading for Boise, Idaho. The Boise Basin had experienced a gold rush in 1862 which lasted about ten years before the rich gold fields were 'panned out'. Dredge mining began around 1898 and continued until the 1950s so it's possible that Joseph was seeking employment in this enterprise. He moved to Canada before 1923, presumably because he thought the prospects would be better; he is said to have worked at Timmins Gold Mine, Ontario.

On 5th November 1923, he arrived at Liverpool from Montreal, a labourer, travelling 3rd class on SS Regina (White Star - Dominion line), reporting Canada as the country of his last permanent residence. Having spent time with his family at Talskiddy, on 30th January 1924 he embarked at Southampton on SS Melita (Canadian Pacific line) travelling cabin class bound for Canada. On arrival at Montreal he declared that he was carrying $100 and a ticket to his destination, seeking work as a mechanic, heading for 67 Sandwich Street West, Windsor Ontario, and intending to reside permanently in Canada and the US.

Last years at Arbela Michigan

The Great Depression struck the US and by 1930 Joseph, still single, was living at Arbela, Tuscola Michigan, boarding with Samuel BROAD and his family. Samuel had been born at Talskiddy in 1896 and his family lived very close to Joseph's; they would have seen each other quite frequently in the 1910s. In 1940 Joseph was still living with Samuel's family in their farmhouse at West Barnes Road, Arbela. He had lived at the address in 1935, was now unable to work and had been unemployed for 64 weeks. Samuel worked the farm with his Irish wife Mary, son Richard and daughter Margaret Mary and may have employed Joseph in 1939.

Joseph died in 1942 and was buried at Newton-Compau cemetery.