Uncle Tom's box - a handmade wooden box

Contributed by Jeremy Cripps

Uncle Tom's box - a handmade wooden box

This wooden box has a sliding lid which has split and been roughly repaired with small pieces of metal nailed in place. The box was made by Thomas Jenkins who emigrated to the USA from the village of Shenley, Buckinghamshire in 1890 when he was 20 because he wanted an education which he could not have in England. He got a job in a brickyard in Cleveland, Ohio to support himself through college. When he graduated in 1897 he entered Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1900. In 1902 Thomas, his wife and their newborn daughter went as missionaries to Ketchikan, Alaska and in 1908 to Skagway, Alaska at the height of the Gold Rush. In Alaska they preached and built churches. Later the family moved to Portland, Oregon and in 1929 to Reno when Thomas was made Bishop of Nevada. The box accompanied Thomas throughout his life. Back in England his brothers and sisters changed their way of life too by moving to the towns and cities. 'Uncle Tom's box' not only tells about emigration and the Gold Rush but also marks the point at which my ancestors started to earn their living from their brains instead of their hands.

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  • 1. At 20:56 on 18 August 2010, Anjami wrote:

    Bishop Thomas Jenkins (1871-1955) was my father's Great Uncle. He came back to England for a Lambeth Conferance in 1929 and Dad (aged 8 or 9) was taken to kiss his ring. Not sure that Thomas's siblings changed their lives that much. His brothers William (1865-1910) and George (1861-1906) were agricultural labourers in Buckinghamshire while another brother Charlie (1873-1918) was a platelayer killed in a railway accident near Wolverton. The sisters Sarah Jane, Martha, and Lucy married local men who, as far as I am aware, worked on the land or on the railways. The only sibling to move to a larger town or city was James Jenkins (1859-1938) who went to Birmingham. One of Bishop Thomas Jenkins younger 2nd cousins was the Shakespearian scholar Professor Harold Jenkins (1909-2000).

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  • 2. At 01:19 on 27 January 2011, robyn emily wrote:

    Thomas Jenkins is my great great great uncle. His nephew William was my great grandfather, who had two children, Wilfred (grandfather) and Phyllis. We've actually got a few pictures of Thomas with other family members, including James, also over the weekend just gone we were looking at the Jenkins family tree, all the way back to the mid 18th century, fascinating stuff.

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Probably Cleveland, Ohio


Between 1890 and 1897


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