Cornish Diaspora Profile: Edward George PHILLIPPS (later PHILLIPS)
Edward George PHILLIPPS, later changed ‘on the fly’ to PHILLIPS sometime after he left Cornwall (but not at Ellis Island), born in Bodieve, Egloshayle, Cornwall on 21 February 1888 was my paternal grandfather or ‘Gramps’ as he preferred to be called.
As a young lad I vividly recall the wonderful stories my Gramps would tell me about Cornwall. One thing he told me remains firmly in my mind. This was ‘Remember, Scott, you are Cornish, not English’. His stories certainly ignited my love of family history and genealogy.
Gramps’ dad, Thomas James PHILLIPPS (1851-1890), passed away at the age of only 38 when Gramps was two years old. At the age of 18 Gramps emigrated from Cornwall, but his first attempt ended in frustration and failure. He left Cornwall in 1906 for Vancouver, Canada. However, upon his arrival he was bitterly disappointed in the job opportunities in western Canada. He worked for the railroad in British Columbia, Canada just long enough to save enough money for his return fare back home to Cornwall. He returned to live with family and to work in the offices of Messrs Marty & Company in Wadebridge. His goal was to save his money and try his luck at emigrating once again. As an aside, I must say I am selfishly glad Gramps had to go back home since I found the 1911 U.K. Census form was filled out in his hand!
Then late in 1911 came his second chance. This time his plan was to go to California. He entered the United States at Ellis Island, set out for California, but ran out of money in Cleveland, Ohio. So there he stayed.
Gramps was great with numbers so unlike many Cornishmen, he did not seek work in the mines. He did however secure a position in the iron ore industry, but it was as an accountant at the then-burgeoning Newburgh Steel Works. This firm was eventually bought by U.S. Steel Corporation. Gramps worked there for the 30+ years and received his ‘gold’ watch.
He met his future wife, Ina Marie COTTLE, born and raised in Launceston, Cornwall in Cleveland and they were married in Grace Episcopal Church on October 18, 1916. Edward and Ina had two children; a daughter, Peggy, who died at age 2, and a son, William, my father, who went on to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Keeping Cornish: Gramps’ influence continues with our family to this day even with those family members who were not lucky enough to have known him first hand. Thanks to Gramps, I have now personally researched and documented our Phillipps family’s roots into the 1500s when our ancestors owned Old Melorne (site of the current archeological dig by North Cornwall Heritage). Additionally, each Christmas when our family gathers we have goose for our Christmas feast and sing “Little Drummer Boy” and “Christmas is Coming”. These carols were two of Gramps’ favorites and he alwauys had us sing them so we would all remember his upbringing as a lad in a poor, Cornish family. Plus any time of year that we gather together as a family, our grandsons always request that we have what they call ‘A Pasty Party’ where, naturally, we feast on our Cornish favorite!