Friday, 16 September 2016

Our People

The phrase "Our People" reminds me of my Aunt Dodie and Great Aunt Nannie. It is an expression I remember them using when they talked about anyone connected to the Widow Henry's connections. I don't suppose they were the type of people to intend to exclude others but it reminds me of another description of theirs for the Henry's - we come from "Good Stock".   It was 35 years ago this past summer when a Henry Reunion (program below) was held in Oak River which included over 250 descendants of Mary Tait Henry.

It is amazing to think that 3 generations back, all but 2 of Mary's 10 surviving children lived in Blanshard Manitoba within a few short miles of her.  Daughter Ellen Turriff lived at Rapid City,  some 30 kilometres away with her family and Mary Wilson was further afield at Gilbert Plains.  Her sons Ned, Charles, ThomasWilliam and Jack homesteaded adjacent quarters and daughters Elizabeth and Janet and Joanna married neighbouring farmers and raised their families close to home. Keeping up on the lives of "Our People" was important to them with many hours spent visiting and no doubt writing letters back and forth.

My recent connection with one of "Our People" makes me realize how far the Henry descendants are spread across the world today.  At his home in Nagasaki, Japan while searching his mother's name, Brian Burke-Gaffney came across my blog page here about his maternal grandparents.  Their young tragic deaths is one of the saddest stories I've uncovered in my family history research.  The post included a photo of Hubert and Janet Sparling's gravestone at White Bank Lea Cemetery, just across the road from the original home of his 2nd great grandmother Mary Henry, also the resting place of his McKenzie great grandparents. After his comment on the blog, my sister Donna remarked how small the Internet has made the world today and I must agree. 

Brian was kind enough to send along the picture below of his mother Elizabeth Jane (Beth) and her older sister Leila Sparling, orphan daughters of Janet and Hubert Sparling.  Beth was raised by her Mother's sister Elizabeth Ismay McKenzie - known as "Bessie" and her husband Frank McDonald.  Frank and Bessie married in 1925 and farmed just south of Oak River on 22-13-22.  They had one daughter of their own, Thelma. After leaving Oak River in the late 30's, Beth went to business college in Winnipeg and began working for the CBC.  She met John Burke-Gaffney and had three sons before succumbing to cancer in 1981 at the age of 58.

Beth and John's middle son Brian had never been to Oak River before taking a detour into town in 2002.  With the help of a friendly storekeeper and relatives including his mother's cousin Gerry, Brian was shown around his grandparents' former neck of the woods.  I hope he left with the feeling that he is one of Our People and always will be.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

180 and 160 Years Ago Today

The Ancestry app on my phone came in very handy again when it told me that it was 180 years ago today - July 12, 1836 - that Mary Tait, my 2nd great grandmother was born in Scotland.


What I did not realize before was that her daughter, my great grandmother Elizabeth was born the same day, exactly 20 years later in 1856 in Troqueer, Scotland.  Mary and her husband William Henry left Scotland with baby Elizabeth for a new life in  Canada two years later. The photo below of William and Mary was taken in Perth County Ontario in the mid 1800's.


After the birth of 11 children and the death of her husband, Mary and her family left Ontario to homestead on the open land in Manitoba in 1881.  Elizabeth went on to marry local homesteader James Sinclair and have a large family of their own.  


July 12 - a date to remember in my family tree!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Born 152 Years Ago Today

The Ancestry app on my phone tells me that my great grandmother, Margaret Carruthers Kinnaird, was born 152 years ago today on June 25, 1864.  She was the fourth of eight children born to farming parents Andrew William Carruthers and Jean Steven at Winchester, Ontario.  

George and Margaret Kinnaird 1888
On August 8, 1888 when she was 24 years old, she married William George Kinnaird at Russell, Ontario. I never have to look up the date for their marriage and wonder if 08/08/88 was chosen on purpose for good luck or if it was their wedding date by chance.  The picture above was recently discussed on this blog post.

She became mother to my maternal grandfather, William Francis Kinnaird and his older brother Stephen and the little family farmed near her parents in Finch Township near Winchester. George was also a carpenter so I imagine them having a nice little home and looking forward to many years ahead.  Tragically, Margaret died of tuberculosis on the 25th of May in 1894 just before reaching her 30th birthday, leaving her husband and two young sons.  She is buried with her parents at the Morewood Presbyterian Cemetery in Ontario.

Even though she has been gone for over 122 years, her legacy lives on.  My mother is named Margaret, presumably in her honour and I (the family history blogger) was born almost exactly 100 years after her to carry her story on.

Friday, 17 June 2016

History of the Dishes

Cleaning out cupboards at our cabin at Oak Lake Beach, I came across these dishes and knew they were handed down from family and was curious about their history.  Google can find (almost) anything! 

The set above was a wedding gift to my parents from Dad's Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Jack Morcom almost 56 years ago.  The pattern is called "Heritage" and they were made in England at the Myott factory.  Replacements is an online store that specializes in china, crystal and silverware and the pattern can be found here. A five piece setting can be purchased for about $45 and other pieces are available separately in limited supply. E Bay has other pieces for sale including a gravy boat and covered serving dish so it was an extensive pattern.

The set above belonged to my Grandma Kinnaird and was made in Canada by the Rideau Pottery company. Online information about this company is hard to come by so it must have operated for a very short time.  I haven't found any similar dishes online bu will continue to look.

We don't use these anymore but they are now packed away with other dishes from Randy's family that have a history and may be used again someday!  

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Picture of Great Aunt Eleda

When I wrote this blog post about my paternal grandfather's sister Eleda Simms in September of 2015, I lamented I didn't have a very good picture of her.  My cousin Marilee recently came to the rescue with a picture from her Mom's album.  The picture below that she knew was of Eleda would have been taken about 1958 and the back says "the family including myself".

Luckily, there was a another picture taken on the same day (below) with the names of the children on the back of it naming them as Bobbie and Sandra in the back and Janice and Jimmie in front.  The family tree from Aunt Dodie helped determine these were great grandchildren of Eleda's older sister Mary Bryan. Mary and Ezra Bryan's oldest daughter was Luella Agnes (1906-1996) who married a man named Benson George (1901-1983).  Their only daughter Shirley (1930-2010) married William Crummy(1928-2006) in 1947 and eventually had 5 children, the older four are pictured below. 

Eleda would have been about 63 years old in the picture and was likely living with the Crummy family and helping to take care of the house and the children at the time.  A caretaker her whole life, Eleda died in 1973 at the age of 78 in the Ottawa area.