Pennyfather One Name Study

In search of the father of all Pennyfathers

Pennyfeather, Marjorie

Female 1883 - 1983  (99 years)


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  • Name Pennyfeather, Marjorie 
    Born 12 Nov 1883  St.Kitts, British West Indies Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Attribute KN0006 
    ONS ID KN0006 
    Died 7 Feb 1983  Los Angeles, California, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1821  Pennyfather
    Last Modified 4 Mar 2014 

    Father Pennyfeather, Samuel Wentworth,   b. 1860, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Feb 1900, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 40 years) 
    Mother Tota, Maria,   b. Calcutta, India Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1920 
    Family ID F590  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Brownbill, Wilfred Burns,   b. 27 Jul 1885, St.Kitts, British West Indies Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1930, New York, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 44 years) 
    Last Modified 3 Mar 2014 
    Family ID F872  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • I interviewed my great grand mother, Marjorie Pennyfeather, (listed in the Ellis Island records) several times.
      The first time for a family history home work assignment in 1960, the last time in May of 1981. Marjorie died in 1983.
      Marjorie told me that her father, Samuel Wentworth Pennyfeather was born in England about 1860, and his family owned a shoe factory there. He went to India doing some kind of work for the family business. Whilst there, he married an Indian woman named Maria Tota. At some point he seems to have abandoned (or sold) his shoe business, and taken his wife, his two children (Marjorie and Samuel Jr.), his mother and father in-law to St Kitts in the Caribbean.
      During the voyage the ship was attacked by pirates. The Pennyfeathers did have some money, gold coins, and nice jewelry, which was all taken. When the family arrived in St. Kitts, about 1888, they lived in Basseterre and later settled in the Sandy Point area and attended St. Ann’s Church. Marjorie would sometimes walk up to 15 miles a day to get around the island or take a horse and carriage. There were sugar cane fields on the island. She talked about the processing of the sugar and seeing it being put in wooden barrels.

      Samuel Pennyfeather already had two elderly aunts living in Sandy Point. Marjorie visited them, but she did not remember their names, she only visited once, because they weren’t very friendly. The aunts did have a big house with mahogany furniture and nice sliver ware and sliver cups on the table. Marjorie believed that her grandfather Pennyfeather lived in that house before he died. They owned the house and the property that it was on. The aunts did not appear to have ever married or have had any children.

      The Pennyfeathers and Totas all went to work. (The Caribbean went through a time when they recruited workers from India, and Portugal) Maria and her mother Masabia Tota did sewing and weaving. Maria’s
      father (name unknown) was an interpreter for the English speaking plantation owners and their Indian workers. He went from island to island as needed. Maria’s brother also came with them, and he worked with horses on one of the plantations. The children went to school. Marjorie was home schooled by Alice Wizard from Antigua until she was 12 years old, and she took music lessons down the street. She did not go to the public school.

      The question is what did Samuel Pennyfeather do in St Kitts? His daughter said he was unhappy and he went to the United States to make more money and send for his family. The last letter the family received was from Chicago, but years past, and he never sent for them.

      I was able to get Samuel Pennyfeather’s death record from Cook County. It stated that he was a white man; he died in February 1900, born in 1860, was a laborer, with no family, and was an American. The informant was not part of his family and was not knowledgeable about his life, no parents were listed. He died from typhoid fever the same year that Chicago cleaned up its notoriously bad drinking water. My guess is, he was too poor to send for his family, and his wife never knew what happened to him.

      Samuel’s two Children Samuel Pennyfeather Jr. and Marjorie Pennyfeather moved to New York when they become adults. They joined the Episcopal Church. They lived in an area of New York, where other West Indians lived, and they both married West Indians and had children. Marjorie has about 45 descendants still alive today. Samuel’s children did not have children. Samuel worked for the New York Central Railroad as a Red Cap, and was said to have looked like Charlie Chaplin. I never met him.
      Maria Tota-Pennyfeather did not remarry. She became a maid for a rich man in the Tabernacle part of St. Kitts. She did have another child by an unknown man. This child was named Lloyd Pennyfeather. Although he is not genetically a Pennyfeather he stayed in St. Kitts and had a big family. I never met him, and don’t have much information about him. Maria came to New York in her later years and died there, although I can not find a death record or any written information about her.

      Renee Cochee, Los Angeles, California, USA - Newsletter No.12


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