By Steve Cichon
Grandma Cichon’s parents and grandparents had a less-than-direct route to Buffalo.
The family of Grandma Cichon’s father, James Gibson Scurr, spent several generations making a living off the sea as sailors and sail makers in North Shields and Tynemouth in Northern England where the Tyne River empties into the North Sea in Northumberland.
James was born in 1906, and was only 11 years old when his older brother George H., a seaman on the SS Hazelwood, was killed when a German U-boat planted mines that destroyed the ship.
Only 13 weeks later, another brother, William Gordon, a Merchantile Marine- Second Engineer on the SS Trocas, was also killed by a German U-boat.
James was a 15 year-old clerk when he joined his aunt, Sarah Scurr Wilkinson, and her family in Hamilton, Ontario in 1922.
James’ parents, George Henry Scurr and Mary Alice Pilmer Scurr, followed him to Canada a year later. George got a job at Bethlehem Steel in 1924, and the family moved to 5th Avenue in Lackawanna.
George and Mary Alice eventually moved to Hamburg. She died in 1947, he died in 1952.
Marie Scurr Cichon’s mother, Margaret “Peggy” Doyle Scurr, was Irish, but she was born in Scotland.
Her parents, William Doyle and Mary Ann Vallely Doyle moved from what is today Northern Ireland to Coatbridge, just outside Glasgow in the 1880s.
It’s not entirely clear what precipitated the move, but being Catholic in Northern Ireland has been challenging for generations. William was born in 1860 in Bainbridge, County Down. Mary Ann was born in 1864 in nearby Armagh, County Armagh. The third youngest of their 11 children, Peggy Doyle was born in Coatbridge in 1902.
In 1923, Peggy Doyle, then a 20-year-old housekeeper, arrived at the port of Boston from Coatbridge, Scotland aboard the SS Megantic.
She had $25 with her when she travelled directly to Buffalo to live with her sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Doyle-Anderson (later Fox). She lived on the corner of Seneca and Geary Street, raising two boys on her own after her husband was killed in France World War I.
William Doyle died in 1920. Six years later, his widow Mary Ann and youngest daughter Agnes also came to Buffalo through St. John, New Brunswick aboard the SS Montcalm of the Canadian Pacific line. They moved in with another daughter, Mary Doyle Sands, who lived on Weyand Street off Seneca.
During the last year of Mary Ann Vallely Doyle’s life, four generations of her family lived on Seneca Street with the birth of my father’s older (half) brother, Michael Doyle (1945-2006.)
Jim Scurr and Peggy Doyle were married in 1927, and moved around the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood, on Orlando and Lester streets, Melvin Street, and then in an apartment above the storefronts at Seneca and Kingston for decades.
James G. Scurr died in 1980, Margaret A. Doyle Scurr died in 1987.