When Albert Rebbeck travelled home to Wiltshire in 1910 the journey had been 40 years in the planning.
Albert Edward Rebbeck was born at Lockeridge, near Marlborough in 1857, the fifth child of Cornelius, a land surveyor and his wife Caroline Knight.
The Rebbeck Wiltshire family roots can be traced back to the 17th century but Caroline’s family appears to be more adventurous. In 1861 her brother James was living in India and before too long three of her sons would also fly the nest.
In 1863 eldest son James Knight Rebbeck joined his uncle in Calcutta. Six years later and the couple’s next son Frank, then aged about 15 took off for America, followed by Albert.
The two boys early period in America is difficult to navigate. It appears they may even have travelled first to Canada as in 1871 the census returns for Quebec include fourteen year old Albert Rebbick, born in England and working for Dominique Fox.
In 1883 Frank married Mary Jane Bree and spent his later working life as a landscape gardener. The 1910 US census records him living at Hamilton Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey with Mary and their only daughter Ruth. Frank also served in the US army.
The grand family Christmas get together in 1910 took place at 18 Long Street, Devizes, the home of the Knight family and where Caroline had returned following the death of her husband in 1896.
Just two members of the family were missing, James, who had died at his home in Canada the previous September and Frank. For Albert this was his first visit home in forty years.
Aged 90 and an invalid, Caroline was unable to join the family for the photo call in the garden. She does, however make an appearance in a photograph held by her granddaughter Rosa. Another of Frank dressed in his Spanish-American War uniform is held by Elizabeth Rebbeck, the wife of brother Charles.
Albert returned to America where he worked as a gardener for the Linkroum family in Hackensack, New Jersey. This would be the last time he saw his Wiltshire family. He sailed out of Liverpool on the SS Laurentic on January 14, 1911.
Frank eventually made it home for one last visit, sadly on the death of his mother in 1914. He returned to the States on the SS St. Paul sailing from Southampton on February 25.
Albert never married. The brothers ended their days living together at 171 E 21st Street in Paterson, New Jersey, cared for by Frank’s daughter Ruth. Frank died on June 4, 1941 and Albert on April 20, 1944.
Images - Christmas 1910 (top) Caroline Rebbeck (middle) Cornelius Rebbeck (bottom) courtesy of Judith Rebbeck Watten.