Sidney Imms Prodgers was born on September 4 1887, in Pimlico, Westminster, London, to Louisa Jane Mersey Prodgers (Pusey) and William Edward Imms.
Louisa was born to single mother, Jane Pusey on January 13 1861. On April 9 1861 Jane married Thomas Charles Prodgers. On the Census, Louisa was listed as Louisa P. Prodgers. She used the name Prodgers for the remainder of her single life. In May of 1883 Louisa was a single 22 year old lady, working as a Barmaid in Brighton, Sussex when she met William Edward Imms, who frequented the bar where she worked. According to Louisa, William talked her into moving to Pimlico with him, with the promise of marriage. Louisa moved with William and when she became pregnant she discovered he was a married man. On August 16 1885 Louisa gave birth to Hollie Imms Prodgers. Two years later Sidney Imms Prodgers was born.
William Edward Imms was a Bookmaker (gambler) and was in charge of the “Green Man” public house in Blackfrair, London. In January of 1889 when Sidney was just 16 months old, William left the Green Man and left no forwarding address. Louisa received money regularly from William until May of 1889 when she received a letter stating he could do no more for her and the children and she would have to do the best she could on her own. Louisa provided for her children as long as she could but in November of 1889 she went to Barnardos’ and asked if they could take Sidney as she could no longer provide for the two children.
Sidney entered the Stepney Causeway on November 27, 1889 and was transferred to the Babies Castle Home on December 11, 1889. Sidney met a little friend, Ernest Bassingthwaite who was born in Westminster as well and was just one month older.
Although Barnardos’ claims to have no records for the following time period, Sidney and Ernest were placed in a foster homes in Goudhurst, Kent at the age of 4 1/2 years, where they remained until March 23, 1899. From here, they were returned to Stepney Causeway and boarded a ship for Canada on March 27, 1899. They arrived in Halifax on April 3, 1899, at the age of 11. Sidney arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 11, 1899 and was placed on a farm in Broadview, Assiniboia, The Territories, Canada. He was placed with Ann & Charles Dash, a couple in their mid 60’s. Ernest was placed in Rosser, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada. Sidney ran the farm as Charles was an invalid. Sidney remained with the Dash family for 8 years. Sidney and Ernest were in contact off and on over the next 10 years. Sidney had become friends with John C. Barwell, another British Home Child that had been placed with the Dash’s eldest son and his family just down the road.
In November of 1910, at the age of 23, Sidney and John traveled to London England together in search of their families. They were in London from November 4, 1910 until March 28 1911. Sidney never said if he had ever found any of his family. I don’t believe he ever did, he had always told people that he was an orphan.
In October of that same year, the sister he never knew got married. In 1915 Sidney became an Uncle to a little girl and 4 years later in 1919 another niece arrived, nieces that he would never know existed. On March 18 1920, Sidney’s childhood friend, Ernest Bassingthwaite died of injuries sustained in an accident in Yorkton, Sk while on a farm digging a water well. I’d like to believe that Barnardo’s would have had the decency to write to him and tell him the news, and he didn’t just find out from the Ups and Downs article. Sidney farmed for Albert Glydon in Windthorst, Sk and gave that name as his next of kin on his Attestation papers on April 7, 1917.
On July 12, 1919 Sidney returned from England and resumed his life in Canada. On November 5, 1926 Sidney wrote to Barnardo’s in response to a letter he received from them. He told them he had left Hillsden, Sk in the spring of 1922 and had moved just over the line to Alberta, about 420 miles to the west. He described his land as hilly and very rocky. Sidney told them he had not left the farm since he had arrived there, that would have been 3 1/2 years. He talked about being single and he said he didn’t think it would be right to ask a lady to help carry the burden of the land as of yet.
On February 7, 1928 Sidney married Kathleen Lix, a 21 year old woman that he had met when she traveled to Lloydminster, Alberta with a friend. Kathleen had been born the youngest and raised in Indian Head, Sk to Hungarian immigrants who had come to Canada just one year before she was born.
Sidney was 20 years Kathleen’s senior. Kathleen gave birth to a son (Kenneth Sidney) on December 19, 1928. They planted beautiful flower gardens around the house and worked their farm together. On June 15, 1931, Doris June was born, followed by Francis Marion on January 17, 1933. Little Stanley Gene was born on June 10, 1934 and Sidney and Kathleen’s little family was complete. Life was hard but their little family was happy.
Little Stanley was a pale child and was sick a lot. Kathleen was always taking pictures of the children and Sidney. In January while Kathleen had traveled to Indian Head, Sk , for her mother’s funeral, Stanley took ill and Sidney took him to the hospital in Lloydminster, Sk, 16 miles away. Word was sent to Kathleen in Indian Head, but before Kathleen could return home, little Stanley passed away. He died on February 1, 1939.
In 1947, Sidney turned 60 years of age, Kathleen was 39 and couldn’t see herself with a man that old, the youngest of the children was now 14 and she felt Sidney was too old for her to be tied to. Kathleen asked Sidney for a divorce. Sidney proposed an agreement to Kathleen, he would buy a lot in town, move their beautiful little 4 bedroom home into town and she could live in it, he would live on the farm with Kenneth who was now 19 years old, for the summers if she would allow him to live in the rooms upstairs in town in the winters, and so the agreement was made.
Sidney and Kathleen never divorced and they lived with their agreement for the next 14 years. Kenneth, Marion and June all married and started their families. In February of 1961, Sidney fell sick and was taken to the hospital. An undetected blood clot in Sidney’s leg traveled to his heart and killed him. Sidney died on February 19, 1961 at the age of 73 years, 5 months & 15 days. Sidney had 13 grandchildren at the time of his death. 54 years later Sidney has had 21 grandchildren, including 3 grandsons who have died, 49 great grandchildren, including one great granddaughter born dead and 2 great grandsons who have died. He has had 46 great, great grandchildren, and one great, grea,t great grandchild. The oldest of his grandchildren is Irvin Prodgers (deceased). The youngest descendant, a great, great, great granddaughter just turned 2 years old. That makes 117 descendants born in 62 years, from 3 children.
Sidney’s wife said that Sidney had told her he was born in England, was a foundling (his words, he said he was left on the steps of an orphanage in a basket as a baby with his name pinned to his clothes). He may have been told this by the orphanage. Sidney had also told Kathleen that someone had paid his fare to Canada when he was 14 years old. Being a British Home Child was never mentioned, and his children never even heard about the British Home Children and who they were prior to 2010, when my sister and I started our research of my grandfather’s history at the request of our, then, 82 year old dad.
Kenneth, Marion and June said that their father never talked about his past prior to his marriage, they told of a trunk that was in a shed at the farm, when they were young they got in the shed once and their dad told them the trunk belonged to a friend and they were never to touch it, and they never did. When I was about 11 years old my siblings and myself would always go down to Grandpa’s old house and play. My dad decided one day that the little shed was getting too run down and he thought one of us might get hurt so he decided to burn down the little shed.
Dad went through the shed and the trunk was still sitting there in the corner. He pulled it out and he told us the story told above. The only thing I remember dad taking out of the trunk was some old English photos. He gave the trunk to my 19 year old sister, and he started the fire. I remember dad going to throw the pictures into the fire and I asked him if I could have them. I was fascinated with the old pictures. Dad gave me those photos and I kept them all these years.
When I started the research on grandpa, I remembered the photos that I had long forgotten I had. I went under the stairs where I had many boxes of things stored. I hadn’t seen those photos in years, and the first box I opened, there they were, laying right on top just like grandpa was saying, “here they are, thank you for keeping them for all those years!”
I believe they are pictures of some of his family. Maybe they were given to him by the orphanage. I don’t know. I don’t know if grandpa knew the people in the photos or not. If he did, he never told a soul.
To Date Sidney’s 3 children remain alive along with 111 of the 117 grandchildren! Although I was only 14 months old when my grandpa died, I know I missed getting to know my hero! I think about him everyday and I know my cousin, nephew, brothers and children are with him and when I think of that, I smile!