Luke Lukes and Alice Martyn of Cornwall

My Great Great Grandparents from the Lukes and Martyn families of St Blazey and Latchley in Cornwall, England

St Blazey, Cornwall, England
Luke Lukes was born on about June 26, 1840 in St. Blazey, Cornwall. His father, Robert, was 44 and his mother, Amelia, was 35. He married Alice Martyn on November 5, 1861, in Calstock, Cornwall. They had eight children in 24 years. He died sometime after 1886 at a place and date unknown.

When Alice Martyn was born on November 25, 1842, in Calstock, Cornwall, her father, John, was 43 and her mother, Leonora, was 40. She married her first husband on November 5, 1861, in Calstock, Cornwall. In 1862 she married her second husband. She died on December 18, 1901, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, at the age of 59, and was buried there.


1796 Birth of Luke's Father, Robert Lukes
Robert Lukes was born on 17 May 1796 in St Blazey, Luxulyan, Cornwall to Thomas Lukes and Elizabeth Thomas. He was one of four known children, and there likely could be more. The 1851 census lists Robert's birthplace as Lanlivery.

1804 Birth of Luke's Mother, Amelia Brokenshire
Amelia Brokenshire was born in St Blazey, Luxulyan, Cornwall in April 1804 to Thomas Brokenshire and Anne Penberthy. She was one of ten known children, six daughters and four sons: Amelia, Sally, William, Jenefer, Charles, Sarah, James, Marianne, Elizabeth, and John.  At least a few of the Brokenshire family moved to Australia. The 1851 census lists Amelia's birthplace as Luxulyan.

1826 Marriage of Luke Lukes’ Parents
Robert Lukes and Amelia Brokenshire were married on 6 July 1826 in St Blazey, Cornwall.   The had nine children, with Luke Lukes being the eigth.
St Blazey Marriage of Robert Lukes and Amelia Brokenshire on 6 July 1826

1827 Birth of Luke's Brother, William
William Lukes was the first child of Robert and Amelia, and he was born in April 1827 in St Blazey and baptized on 29 April 1827. I don't know much about him yet. I don't have any death or marriage records for this mysterious 3rd great uncle.  I do know that he is NOT William Noah Lukes, he is just William Lukes and is no longer being confused for that other chap!

1832 Birth of Luke's Sister, Ann
In May 1832, Ann Lukes was born. She was baptized on 27 May 1832. She died young and was buried on 16 March 1834.

1833 Birth of Luke's Sister, Rachel
Rachel Lukes was baptized in St Blazey on Christmas Day, 25 December 1833. She married John W. Rundle and moved to Canada. She had at least four children: Arthur Lukes Rundle, Albert Charles Rundle, Emily Rundle, and Laura Rundle. Rachel Lukes Rundle died in Ontario, Canada on 5 April 1897.

1834 Death of Luke's Sister, Anne
Ann died just shy of her second birthday and was buried on 16 March 1834.

Thomas Martyn (1834-1905)
1834 Birth of Alice's brother, Thomas 
Thomas Martyn was born on 14 April 1834 in Latchley, Calstock, Cornwall.  He moved to New Zealand sometime around 1860 as his first son, John Martyn was born in Alexandra, Otago, New Zealand.

Thomas married Nancy Wallis, and had at least twelve children, all born in New Zealand: John, Thomas, Edward, Nora Matilda, William Charles, Wallis, Marry Ellen, Ann Maria, Alfred, Jane Johanna, Laura, and Louisa Maud Martyn.

When it was time for Luke Lukes and Alice Martyn to leave Cornwall, they wrote to Thomas.  I'd love to find descendants of Thomas Martyn to see if  those letters are still around!  Eventually they decided not to follow their brother to New Zealand and headed to the United States instead.

1835 Birth of Luke's Brother, John
John Lukes was born in 1835 and probably died sometime before 1841 as he doesn't appear in the 1841 census. He would have been 6, and I'd expect him to have still been at home.

1836 Birth of Luke's Brother, Robert
Robert Lukes was born in April 1936 in St Blazey.  He married Elizabeth Jane and had two sons and two daughters: Lewis Lukes, Harriet Lukes, William Lukes, and Jane Lukes.

1837 Birth of Luke's Sister, Anne
A few years after their first daughter Ann passed away, Robert and Amelia had another daughter. They again named her Anne, after Amelia's mother Anne.  Anne Lukes appears on the 1841 census, but does not show up on the 1851 census. So, I'd expect she died sometime before her 14th birthday.

1838 Birth of Luke's Brother, Sam
I'm not sure that Samuel Lukes exists. I haven't found birth or death records, and he doesn't show up on the 1841 census. So, if he was born in 1838 then he probably died within a year or two.

1840 Birth of Luke Lukes
Luke Lukes was born around June 26, 1840 in the small coastal town of St Blazey (which is called Lanndreth in Cornish). St Blazey is near Luxulyan in Cornwall, England. Luke was the sixth of seven children born to Thomas Lukes and Amelia Lukes (Brokenshire). The date of June 26th is a guess as he was christened at Saint Blazey on Sunday, June 28, 1840. Therefore he was born sometime between Sunday the 21st and Sunday the 28th. The only birth record I’ve found just lists June with no specific day.

1841 England Census
When Luke was about a year old he shows up on the census for the first time.  He's listed with his mother and father, and their five children: William, Rachel, Robert, Ann, and Luke.  John, Sam, and the first Ann are not listed, so I'd expect they had all passed away in childhood.  I find it very hard to read the place name. Not sure if that is a little village or what; looks sort of like Lyttle Nanscowan, Lyttle Tallick -- I found both of those in an index between Lower Green and Bodelva Moor.  Bodelva is on the map, and very close to where the Eden Project is now located in Cornwall; now I just have to figure out which direction the census taker was walking!
  1. Robert Lukes, aged 45, agricultural labourer 
  2. Amelia Lukes, aged 35
  3. William Lukes, aged 14
  4. Rachel Lukes, aged 8
  5. Robert Lukes, aged 5
  6. Anne Lukes, aged 3
  7. Luke Lukes, aged 1
Robert Lukes family of St Blazey, Cornwall in 1941 England Census

1842 Birth of Alice Martin
Alice Martin was born in Latchley, Calstock, Cornwall, England on November 25, 1842. She was the youngest of nine children born to John Martin (Burly) and Nora Seccombe. Her father was born to an unwed mother, Mary Burley, who just over a year after his birth married Thomas Martin (or Martyn). Thomas and Mary went on to have 3 more children, but it is unclear who John’s real father was.  They all lived in Latchley, which was a very very small town. Alice’s christening took place two days after her birth in Calstock on Sunday, November 27, 1842. Four of Alice’s sisters moved to New Zealand with their husbands.

1845 Lukes family moves to Little Prideaux
Sometime between 1841 and 1846, Robert Lukes moved his family to the village of Little Prideaux, a small hamlet of about 10 cottages with a small road running between them.

Robert was retained as a woodsman by Sir Colman Rashleigh in the Prideaux Woods. He was sometimes called "Robin Hood."

A fine chap in Cornwall sent me some photos of the area and a map. The best part of the map is that is lists a certain "Will Lukes Hut" as a place of interest - this place is mentioned in Robert's obituary as "Uncle Willy Lukes' hat" not "Hut".

1846 Birth of Luke's Brother, Thomas
Thomas Lukes was born 5 September 1846 in Luxulion, Cornwall, most likely Little Prideaux where the family was living at the time.

Thomas moved to Canada in 1868, and married Emma Haines in Essex County, Ontario on 8 April 1875.

Thomas Lukes and Emma Haines had at least nine children: William, Luke, Ena, Laura, Robert Luther, Thomas Benjamin, Amelia, John Horatio, and Alfred. Thomas Lukes died in Amhertberg, Essex, Ontario, Canada on 3 January 1921.

1851 England Census
In 1851 Luke Lukes is still living with his parents, and they have moved from St Blazey to Luxulion parish. It looks like the village they are living in is called Little Prideaux.
  1. Robert Lukes, head aged 53, agricultural labourer, born in Lanlivery, Cornwall
  2. Amelia Lukes, wife aged 46, born in Luxulion, Cornwall
  3. Rachel Lukes, daughter aged 17, employeed at home, born in St Blazey, Cornwall
  4. Robert Lukes, son aged 14, tailor, born in St Blazey, Cornwall
  5. Ann Lukes, daughter aged 13, scholar, born in St Blazey, Cornwall
  6. Luke Lukes, son aged 10, scholar, born in St Blazey, Cornwall
  7. Thomas Lukes, son aged 4, scholar, born in Luxulion, Cornwall

Robert Lukes family of Little Peidrana in 1851 England Censsus 

1861 Robert Lukes family in England Census
I hope you like my artwork on this one. Robert Lukes was on the last line of the previous page, so I had to use some mad Photoshop skills to slip his line into the top of this page.  It's a cut-and-paste, and then clean up all the lines so they match.  Please forgive this suspect practice, I really wanted it all on one page.

The family is living in Lower Quarry, St Blazey, Cornwall.
  1. Robert Lukes, head of house aged 65, wood ranger, born in St Blazey
  2. Amelia Lukes, wife aged 57, born in St Blazey
  3. Ann Lukes, daughter aged 23, at home out of service, born in St Blazey
  4. Thomas Lukes, son aged 14, a copper miner, born in St Blazey
  5. George, boarder aged 61, tin steamer, born in Luxullion
  6. Charles Brokenshire, boarder aged 23, china clay labouer, born in St Austell
The last boarder, Charles Brokenshire is the son of Amelia's brother Charles, so he is Robert and Amelia's nephew. 
Robert Lukes family of Lower Quarry, St Blazey in 1861 England Census

1861 Luke Lukes in England Census
Now, the one thing you should note is that one of the main subjects of this page, Luke Lukes, is not in the census with his father. He's 20 years old, and he's moved out.   He is about 30 miles east in the small town of Gunnislake in the parish of Calstock, where he is working at as a policeman.   Handy, as that's the same parish his future wife, Alice Martyn, also lives! Luke is listed as a boarder, living with the William Terdray family.
Luke Lukes of Gunnislake, Calstock, Cornwall in 1861 England Census

1861 Marriage of Luke Lukes and Alice Martyn
At age 21, in late 1861 Luke Lukes married Alice Martyn, also sometimes spelled Alice Marten or Alice Martin. There are two records of their marriage with slightly different information: one says the wedding was on November 5, 1861, and it has a lot more detail. The other listing shows 3 dates for the 3 Sundays preceding November 5, which are listed as the Dates of Reading. The marriage record lists Alice, aged 18, as an unmarried spinster (of this parish) from Latchley, Calstock. The daughter of John Martin, a farmer.   Luke is listed as an 21 year old unmarried batchlor (of this parish) and a policeman from the nearby town of Gunnislake, Calstock. He is listed as the son of Robert Lukes, a woodman.

1862 Birth of First Child, Amelia Nora
Their first child was born on February 9, 1862 in Latchley, Calstock, Cornwall. Her name was Amelia Nora Lukes, and she was named after her two grandmothers: Amelia Lukes (Brokenshire) and Nora Martin (Seccombe). Amelia went on in 1885 to marry William Tate.  He passed away in 1899, and in 1900 she came to join her mother and siblings in Iowa. No children from their marriage have been discovered. She died in Iowa on June 29, 1921 at the age of 59, and was buried in Oskaloosa at Forest Cemetery.

1864 Birth of Second Child, John
Their first son was born sometime around October 1864, and was named John Lukes, most likely after Alice’s father John Burley Martin. It is unknown if John Lukes ever married, and when and where he died. He did not come to American along with his mother and sisters in 1885.

1865 Birth of Third Child, Ellen
Ellen Lukes was their third child, also born in Latchley on October 27, 1865. Ellen married Robert Stringer in 1884, and had 7 children of her own, eventually passed away at her son Cecil’s home in Escondido, California sometime before 1978.

1866-1869 Moved to Seaham
Many many people emigrated away from Latchley and Calstock around this time, and many people moved to places where new mines where opening up. Luke is listed as a miner in the first census in his new location.  In November 1864 Seaton Colliery was acquired by Lord Londonderry and merged with Seaham Colliery. This is most likely the coal mine that they moved to Seaham to work at.  Seaham history: and this fantastic site with photos:

1870 Birth of Fourth Child, Lucy
Lucy Lukes was born in New Seaham, Easington, Durham, England in January 1870. Unfortunately, she passed away at age 3 in October of 1873 in Easington, Durham.

1870 Death of Luke's father Robert Lukes
Robert Lukes died in St Blazey on 4 March 1870, and the news of his passing was covered in two newspapers at the time.  There are a couple of discrepancies to think about. One, since he was born 17 May 1796 in St Blazey, he would have been 73 years old at the time of his death. The papers report that he was about 80, which if he'd had a hard outdoor life would be close enough. People also exaggerated their ages as they got older as it was a status thing to have lived that long.

The second thing is my favorite. He was known by the name "Robin Hood".  Really?  That's fantastic! The legend of Robin Hood was clearly known at the time, the earliest full versions of the classic tale date about to about 1500.

The last thing is that he was living alone since his wife's death a few years before. So, they are saying she died about 1865 or so. I have a death record for an Amelia Lukes of St Blazey in April 1874, which is four years after his death.  I also have a letter from Luke in 1871 referring to his mother, " it is about three months since I heard from mother she was very poorley then and was grieving greatly because she had not heard from you". So, either Luke didn't know that his mother Amelia Lukes had died six years before his letter, or, and this is actually what probably happened. Robert and Amelia were separated or divorced, and it was easier to just say she was dead.   And, there is always the chance that this isn't the right Robert Lukes -- Robert Lukes is a common name, but I know that he was born in 1796 and he lived in St Blazey. He also lived in Prideaux according to the 1851 census. That does narrow it down greatly.
The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, Thursday Evening, March 10, 1870 
On Saturday last, persons who wanted to see Robert Lukes knocked at his door and found no response. This caused a relative, who lived near, to procure a ladder and look through the bedroom window, where he saw the old man with his face on the window seat and his body somewhat in a kneeling posture, quite dead. He was seen alive on Thursday or Friday, and is supposed to have died on Friday evening as he was preparing for bed, as he was partly undressed. He has lived by himself for several years since his wife's death. His age was about 80. He served his apprenticeship at St. Austell as a blacksmith, and for many years he was woodman in Prideaux Woods, but of late he has been too aged to follow his avocation. He was formerly a very noted character, and known by many names, as Robin Hood, Robin Post, etc. He was tall of stature, and when excited fearful in appearance, especially if he found people in pursuit of wortleberries in the woods. He used to keep a lot of donkeys, which by day had to carry wood, and by night had to eat holly bushes, or drag about a large holly of wood by a chain attached to the neck to keep them from going too far to pick grass. This eccentric old man was sometimes humourous as well as stern. He could pass a good joke, and be jovial in company. He delighted in reading and relating history and passing events. He lived alone, except having such company as naturally accumulated in a neglected house. He was considered always healthy, notwithstanding his mode of living. At the coroner's inquest on Tuesday the jury returned a verdict of "Found dead".
Royal Cornwall Gazette, Saturday Morning, March 12, 1870 
On Tuesday, an inquest was held at St. Blazey, on the body of Robert Lukes, who was found dead in his bedroom on Saturday. A verdict of "Found dead" was returned. The deceased, who was in his eightieth year, had been for many years a woodman, in the employ of Sir Colman Rashleigh, and his late father. The old man, who was one of the "lions" of the neighbourhood, had lived alone for several years in a cottage, and did not like to be interfered with. Since incapacitated from old age to continue his former occupation, he has been dependent upon the parish and a few friends for a maintenance. To the memory of his father a large rock, surmounted by a smaller one, intended to represent a cap, is preserved in the grounds at Prideaux, the seat of Sir Colman Rashleigh, and is known as "Uncle Willy Lukes' hat".
Here's a photo of the rock formation called Uncle Willy Luke's Hat near Prideaux.  I'm not sure if the paper got the reference quite right, as I'm pretty sure that Robert Lukes' father was Thomas Lukes. So the paper is confusing... as usual. Perhaps just the smaller rock is named after his uncle William, and the main rock is in honor of his father -- after writing this post, I did find a possible William Lukes of St Blazey born about the same time as Thomas, so yes... very likely, Robert Lukes did have an uncle Will. 
Uncle Will Luke's Hat, a rock formation near Prideaux
1871 England Census
The 1871 England Census shows the family living in Seaton Colliery, Seaham, Christchurch, Easington, Durham, England. The family includes Luke and Alice, with their four children to date.  Luke is a miner, while Alice is a miner’s wife. The three older children are listed as scholars, and the youngest, Lucy, is listed as a miner’s daughter. Seaton Colliery was a coal mine in Seaham —
England and Wales Census, 1871

1871 Birth of Fifth Child, Thomas
I actually did not know about Thomas, as he was born after the 1871 census and died before a year had passed. However, when I received the follow letter from a cousin, I quickly discovered the death record for Thomas Lukes of New Seaham in Durham. He was born in July 1871 and died in April 1872.

1871 Letter from Luke Lukes to brother Thomas
New Seaham Colliery                                                                            Septr. 4th/71
My Dear Brother I received your letter of June 18. I can assure you it was looked for many a time   I thought you had given over writing alltogether   I was very glad to hear you are well & am happy to say we are all prety well at present thank God – Dear Brother you say that yours is a very bussey country & I think too rather too busy whin one cannot make time to scratch over few lines oftener than once a year that is just like the landlords of our country the[y] cannot rise time for any thing but once a year & that always on rent day – Dear Brother we have (been) faored (favoured) with a little better times since I wrought you last the coal trade has been a good deal brisker the last twelve months past   I cannot tell how it is that it rise and fall in the way it do.   I think the mining parts of Cornwall is looking a little better again than it was a good many of the copper mines is changed into Tin and looking tollerable well but wages is very low & men are still coming hear from their then say that 3 pounds to 3...5...0 is the top figure & many one get far less but we can do better than that hear but aftr all it cost us that much more to live so upon the whole I do not think we are a great deal better off.  Dear Brother we have not heard from William since I wrought you last I cannot make him up at any price.  it is about three months since I heard from mother she was very poorley then and was grieving greatly because she had not heard from you so long she has left the higher end of the Town & gone down to the lower end to live her address is Lower green St. Blazey, & as for Robert I have never heard from him since I have been hear I do not know if he send to mother or not I think the poor sole is left to herself little (time?) make great changes. Dear Brother I cannot own neither of them card you sent me I think you are greatly altered if that was taken for you I havent any cards at present that I can send you but if all be well we intend to some taken shortly   Alice was confined of a son five weeks ago and is hardly strong ehough to travel about much as yet and the Babey is not very well but we must hope for the better & I hope you will make time to write a little oftener for the future for time never tires nor for no one so I must conclude with our kindest Love & remain your ever
                                                      Affectionate Brother & Sister
                                                       Luke & Alice
A couple of my thoughts about this letter:

  1. The BBC Series, Poldark, is a fantastic visual story about this time and place.  If you have any interest in Cornwall of the 1800s, this is the show to watch. 
  2. Their mother, Amelia Lukes née Brokenshire, mentioned as feeling poorly, died three years later in 1874. I didn't previously known her death place, but St. Blazey seems more likely now. 
  3. Their brother William Lukes is a bit of a mystery to me, and it looks like he was alive in 1871.
  4. Another brother, Robert Lukes, is also mentioned and I can assume he too would be alive in 1871. 
  5. The cards they speak of are cabinet cards, and I was able to find the mentioned card of Thomas. I have never found any for Luke, and would love to find one! 
  6. The ailing baby boy mentioned was previously unknown to me. After reading this letter, I found his birth in 1871 and his death in 1872 aged 9 months. 

1872 Death of Son, Thomas
As the letter states, their young baby boy was not doing well and despite all their hopes for the better, he passed away at 9 months of age in April 1872 in New Seaham.

1873 Death of Daughter, Lucy
Lucy Lukes, their youngest remaining child at the time, passed away in October 1873 in Easington, Durham. She was 3 years old. That's certainly hard to take, having your two youngest children die in subsequent years. Ugh.

1874 Birth of Sixth Child, Alice
Alice L. Lukes was born in Daulton Le Dale, Durham, England in June 1874. On July 31, 1895 she married James Fitzgerald in Oskaloosa, Iowa.  In 1896 they had a daughter, Dorris Fern Fitzgerald who passed away in 1923 unmarried and without children. After Alice’s husband died in 1942, she went to live with her nephew and his family to help with their five children. Aunt Alice died at her nephew’s home in Evanston, Illinois on July 7, 1956.

1878 Birth of Seventh Child, Keturah  
The couple’s seventh child was another daughter, Keturah “Kate” Lukes who was born on January 7, 1878 in New Tunstall, Durham, England. Kate married  Alex Yaffee on May 18, 1895 in Ottawa, Iowa. The Yaffee’s took up residence in Oskaloosa, and had one daughter, Eva Lucille Yaffee in 1896. Eva married David Lewis and gave Keturah two granddaughters.  Keturah was buried in Oskaloosa after her death on March 25, 1962.

1879 Letter from Luke Lukes to Thomas Lukes
please direct
20 Stewart St. West
             New Tunstall
                           nr Sunderland                                                                     June 2nd/79
Dear Brothe & Sister
I have again the pleasure to send you a few lines hoping you are still well and am pleased to say we are pretty much the same thank God. and am also happy to say that Alice is a good deal better than when I wrought you last well we were very glad to hear from you and to know how you were getting on and what things were like I shoud like to know what kind of work is going on around & about your place I suppose Farming is chief object of the place is there any Quarry work or Road making or such like going on because I am not what you may call a proud sort of a chap that want such a job that cannot be found the only thing that I object to is being a masons clark for I do not fancy Pat’s pen.  there have several men just gone to America from here but by this account that is come back I think that the[y] do not like it very well the[y] are working in the coal pits there is one that I know very well he is gone to the State of Ontario he has a brother been there for a number of years he is Farming he is called Pearn we have started work here again we have been working 2 weeks but things are still very on Settled the masters asked for 20 per cent at first thin the[y] came back to 15 then the strike took place then to get the Pits to work again the[y] formed a commity of 14 men on each side to try and bring matters about again but failed then the[y] called in an Humpire so he gave his decision for 8 ¾ percent reduction and for the remainder to go for open arbitration if it was not satisfactory so I can ssure you that men are very disatisfied and at some of the pits the masters has stoped one part of the work where the most money was getten pretinding for want of trade but if the like to (?sart undre?) other 20 and others at 25 per cent reduction the[y] will open the Pit again so you see thus is the way that the[y] have getten into that is one part of the Pit is a little better than the other the[y] will stop that part for a little while then start again under a seartain reduction this is done at many of the Pits here in Durham it is not a pleasant method of working on the men’s side but better can the[y] do by it thre are hundreds of men out of work to day and cannot tell what to do. we are looking for the throwing up of the spunge every day there have been some conference meetins held by the land(lord) men of the various unions right through the kingdom to consider the best means or what steps can be taken to bring about a better state of things so it is greatly talked of to ask for an advance and for every class to lay down tools through our the kingdom in July next but wither it will come to pass or not I cannot tell. Dear Brothe you say that you wish that I would never go down in a coal pit again I can assue you that it is not for pride or the love that I have for the coal pit that I go in them but there is nothing else worth mention to do but bet the work be what it will it is to no useif a man leave his hart at home in the knife Box so to go where ever I will my heart is there. I sent a letter to Alice’s brother in New Zealand the other day but it is not time enough yet for him to get it that is the country that I should like to go but the Government has stoped sending folks out just now thire was that many wanting to go, but any one there could send home a pass for any one the[y] choose and not cost them much but wither he will write or not I cannot tell he is a man that do not write very often I never wrought to him before I do not know but what he may think it is quite soon enough now but if we keep working on all right I should like to waite a little while to see how things do turn out  Alice was never very willing to go abroad but _along but I think that the times has altered the case but if another strike should take place here I will write ______ as soon as the Notices are issued and if you think that there is any kind of work to be getten I will go our but for the present you need not send me any thing untill I see further I hope to hear from you again soon and tell us what mus ?you have? so I must conclude with our kindest love and best wishes remaing your ever
affectionate     Brother & Sister
                                                      Luke & Alice Lukes

Thoughts on 1879 letter:
  1. All misspellings are as-written in the letter. 
  2. Alice's brother in New Zealand is Thomas Martyn who died in Blue Spur, Westland, New Zealand on 20 August 1905.  Thomas had a number of children who were cousins of my great grandmother Rose Lukes. 
  3. It sounds like he is looking for any sort of work, as jobs in Cornwall and England are becoming hard to come by. Many people of the time took up government offers of free travel to Australia and New Zealand to work mines there.  
  4. Luke knows that his brother and others wish he wasn't a coal miner, and it is not pride or love that keeps him in that job. It's that's there's nothing else worth mentioning to do! This kind of foreshadows the events of 1880.  

1879 Birth of Eighth Child, Rose
On October 27, 1879 Rose Lukes was born in New Tunstall. Her name is listed in various ways as Rosina, Roseland, and Rose. She married Charles Albert Kessler in Iowa on July 19, 1899. The couple lived in Oskaloosa, and had two sons, Charles P. Kessler and Robert W. Kessler. Rose lived to be 89 years of age, passing away on November 25, 1968 in Oskaloosa.

1880 Explosion at Seaham Colliery
At 2:20am on Wednesday, September 8, 1880 the coal mine that Luke worked at suffered a tremendous underground explosion, and over 160 people perished, including some surface workers and rescuers. Luke was not killed, but we don’t know if he was injured physically or mentally. We do know that the family left within a few years. A full report on the accident can be read at and the list of names, which do not include any Lukes is at
Seaham Colliery after the explosion, 8 Sept 1880
1881 England Census
The 1881 census of England shows the family living at 22 Stewart St West, South Bishop Wearmouth, Sunderland, Tunstall, Durham, England. Luke and Alice are listed, along with 6 of their 7 children born by that time. The missing child is Lucy, who sadly passed away in 1873.  This address most likely corresponds to the modern day address of 22 Stewart St, Sunderland SR3 1HX, UK which is only 2.8 miles from Bishopwearmouth Green in Sunderland.
England and Wales Census, 1881

1881 Luke Leaves for America
Luke Lukes, born in England about 1840 arrived in Baltimore, Maryland aboard the Caspian on July 8, 1881, heading for Des Moines, Iowa.  The SS Caspian of the Allan Line left from the port of Liverpool on June 21, 1881, stopping in Halifax on July 2, 1881.
The S.S. Caspian (1870-1897)
S.S. Caspian Manifest, 8 July 1881

1881 Letter from Luke Lukes to brother Thomas Lukes

Excelsior, Mahaska Co., Iowa, N. America
Oct. 17/81
My Dear Brother & Sister
I now take the pleasure in sending you a few lines & hope from all the blessings of God will find you all well I am also happy to say I am pretty well at present Dear Brother I must say it is that long since I wrought you last that I am almost ashamed to write at all and the longer it is the worse it go and scarcely know what to say first it is to no use to attempt any excuse it is only neglect & I hope you will forgive me, when I wrought you last I remember of telling you my intention was to go to New Zealand but things turned out very dull in that country just about that time and the government stoped free passages to all except farm labourers & domestics and I believe it has remained so ever since I wrought a letter to my wifes Brother there but he did not give me any encouragement so I remained at Sliksworth waiting to see what would turn up untill at last I fell out of work there and then I picked up and hoped of to this country I left home on the 20th June last but my Family is still at Silksworth but I hope if possible to get them out to this country next spring. Now I dare say you will like to know what I think of thie great country America and how I like it & so on but I can scarcely say what I do think of it as yet I have not knocked about much since I have been here yet I think that if I had my Family here I could get on better than in the old country for one thing a man is not doged about so & that is a gret thing at the same time we have a master. I am working in a coal mine at present so very much if we only get a good living for working that is what we look for when I first came here I started I started to dig coal but at present I am working at what we call Company work shooting stone limbering &c at 2 ¼ per day but I was thinking that if I could give up mining especially coal mining for I have had pretty nigh enough of it but there is not much else at present about this place and force put is not choice thre was a terrable explosion in the old country about 12 months ago at the place that I worked at when I first went in the coal mines with a loss of 162 men and some of them were not found yet and I co not like to see & hear tell of these things, there is a large Bacon factory going to commence operations in about a months time up in the Town so I am thinking to try it I think it will do pretty well by what I hear & to try is the only way to know one can always fall back to coal diging –
I should like to know what things are like around about where you are and what wages are, about the Town here it is 1..75 to 2 dollers per day and I hear that it will be something better than that at the factory that I spoke of but I cannot say that for certain trial will be proof. there are a great many English boys here some has been here a good while & others come very recently some like the Country well & others all so bad, I should like to know how you are  getting on & if there many there from the old Country I judge from your letters a while ago that you are very comfortable at any rate I hope so, now I do not know of much more I can say at present, but one thing I might sayif memory serve me right awhakle ago you told me in one of your letters how you got on in your printesship & took the lead in other shops & so on I was glad to hear such I should be glad to see a little of your workmanship I wish you would make me a good strong oak clothes Box 2 ft 9 in long 1..2 wide, about 16 or 18 in deep Top alittl rounded scibbet not very deep & a drawer underneath good pair of inges & first class lock, good day---
My kindest love to you & all Family remaining your
                 ever affectionate Brother
                                                     L. Lukes

Thoughts on 1881 letter:
  1. This was written from Excelsior during the time when Luke Luke was in America by himself.
  2. He was working in a coal mine again, and he does mention the terrible explosion at the Seaham Colliery.  
  3. I hadn't heard of Silksworth before this letter, but it seems that after the mining explosion that perhaps they all moved. 
  4. Luke is still tossing around the idea of moving to Canada, and luckily for me he didn't. His daughter would have never met my great grandfather! 
  5. No idea if the oak clothes box was built or where it is. 

1885 Alice and Children come to America
Alice Lukes is listed as arriving aboard the Anchor Line's "City of Rome" on May 1, 1885 from Liverpool to New York, along with her daughters Alice, Keturah, and Rosina. The “City of Rome” left Liverpool on 22 Apr 1885 and arrived in New York seven days later on 28 Apr 1885.
The S.S. City of Rome (1881-1902)
S.S. City of Rome Manifest, 1 May 1885

1886 Birth of Ninth Child, Robert 
After Luke and Alice were reunited in 1885, another child was born, this time in the United States. He was their second son, and Robert L. Lukes was born in Iowa on April 16, 1886. Robert took the name of his Grandfather, also named Robert Lukes. He was married twice, but did not have any children. It appears that he lived in Oskaloosa his entire life, and was buried there following his death on June 28, 1952 at age 66.

1886 US Citizen
Luke Lukes, born in England, became a naturalized USA citizen on November 1, 1886 in Oskaloosa, Iowa — The same city that his wife died in.  Certificate number: Nat. Rec. 2 Pg 76.
1886 Naturalization Record for Luke Lukes in Mahaska County, Iowa

1889 Divorce
On Thursday, August 8th 1889, and the subsequent Thursday, September 5th, THE HERALD in Oskaloosa ran a public notice that in the case of Alice Lukes vs. Luke Lukes, a petition for claiming of you a divorce from the bonds of matrimony now existing between you and her, and for the care and custody of their minor children, Keturah, Rosalina, and Robert, and for such other and further relief as to the court may seem equitable.  Unless you appear before noon on October 2nd, the judgement will be rendered thereon as prayed for in said petition. Signed by W.S. Kenworthy, Attorney for the Plaintiff.

1893 Luke Lukes Disappears
On Thursday, January 19, 1893 THE HERALD in Oskaloosa ran a List of Letters uncalled for at the Oskaloosa Post Office in Iowa. The Gentlemen’s List included Luke Lukes. It was stated that an person calling for any of the above letters should call attention to the advertised list on this date, signed Albert W. Swalm, Postmaster.

Marriage of Rose
On 19 July 1899, Rose Lukes married Charles Albert Kessler, the son of Louis Phillip Kessler and Anna Katherine Helena Spies of Berleburg, Germany. The marriage took place in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Kessler-Lukes Family Tree

1889-1900 Death of Luke Lukes
After September of 1886 there is no record of Luke Lukes. There is no record of a death, and he is not buried at Forest Cemetery along with the rest of his family.  The 1900 census does not list him, and his wife is listed as a widow. He must have died between 1889 and 1900. The Case of the Mysterious Disappearance of Luke Lukes is still unsolved.

1900 Birth of grandson Charles Kessler
Charles Philen Kessler was born 25 March 1900 in Oskaloosa, Iowa to Charles and Rose Kessler.

1900 US Federal Census
On June 4, 1900 the census taker listed Alice Lukes, aged 54 and born in November 1845 (which is only off by three years) as a widow living at 808 B Avenue in Oskaloosa, Iowa with her 22 year old daughter Ketura, 14 year old son Robert, and her granddaughter, Eva Yaffee, aged 4.

1901 Death of Alice Martin Lukes
Alice died at her home in Oskaloosa, Iowa on 18 December 1901. Her obituary as published in the Oskaloosa Daily Evening Herald reads, Wednesday, December 18, 1901 -- LUKES -- Died, at her home, 808 B Avenue West, at 2:00am, Wednesday, December 18, 1901 of catarrh of the stomach, after an illness of about ten months duration, Mrs. Alice Lukes, aged 58 years and 24 days. Funeral announcement later. The deceased leaves five daughters and a son. The family has the sympathy of a large group of friends.

1901 Burial of Alice 
She is buried in section 57 Lot 9&W1/2 9A 1 of Forest Cemetery in Oskaloosa along with some of her children: Amelia Nora Tate, Alice Fitzgerald, Keturah Yaffee, Rose Kessler, and Robert Lukes.

1907 Birth of grandson Robert Kessler
Robert Walter Kessler was born 10 July 1907 in Oskaloosa, Iowa to Charles and Rose Kessler.

My 8 Families
Bodenheimer-Gruenwald of Baden
Kessler-Spies of Berleburg
Maass-Lachmann of Berlin
Lukes-Martyn of Cornwall
Levy-Landsberger of Posen
Zimmer-Petau of Reichenbach
Wolff-Wolff of Posen
Mansel-Obst of Breslau