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Looking for William West Mitchell -- possibly born Virginia, USA

My great-grandfather, William West MITCHELL, is officially recorded as dying on 26th February 1897 in Adelaide, South Australia. The registration gives his age at death as 44 years.

The problem is that we can find no other "hard" data about him. Living in Port Pirie, South Australia, he produced four children with Elizabeth who took his surname, but no marriage is found in official records. His children's birth registrations give his occupation variously as seaman and labourer. One unsubstantiated family memory is that he came from Ayrshire, Scotland. Another memory, equally unsubstantiated, is that he lived in Pittsburgh, USA, before arriving in Australia.

As many family history buffs would know, "Mitchell" is a very common surname. In the nineteenth century "William" was even more common as a forename. So the number of males by the name of "William Mitchell" is practically endless! Insert that middle name "West", however, and you find it belongs to almost nobody.

After some years though I did find a couple of men by that name, but only one was born close enough to my great-grandfather's year to be worth considering. The following details came from

Name: William West Mitchell
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 26 Jan 1856
Birthplace: Hanover Co., Virginia
Race: White
Father (or Slave Owner): Edward A. Mitchell
Mother's Name: Elizabeth
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C00788-6
System Origin: Virginia-EASy
Source Film Number: 31945
Reference Number: p 52

I've found him in the US Census for 1870 and 1880. He married Alice M. Pumphrey in 1879 and had a son (William E. Mitchell) in 1880.

Was this William West Mitchell of Virginia the man who later became my great-grandfather while living in Port Pirie,South Australia? I need to discover what became of the Virginian WWM after the birth of his son. Did he leave the US, perhaps as a seaman, and then find his way to Australia? Or did he stay and die in USA?

I would be deeply grateful for any help.

Stephen Crabbe
Western Australia

2 comment(s), latest 3 years, 2 months ago