Saturday, 25 January 2014

Week 4 - James Garrioch Sinclair

James Garrioch Sinclair (1857 - 1935)

I am reminded when I gather my history on my Great Grandpa James that I have no photos of him.  I asked Aunt Dodie about it once and she said there was one but we got distracted by another picture when we went looking and never did get back to finding it.  She said he was a tall man with a big bushy moustache.  There are many Sinclair photos from the early part of the 1900's and several of his wife Elizabeth on the veranda but I imagine him being unwilling to pose for pictures, or just too busy!

Online birth documents for James indicate he was born on July 2, 1856 on a farm called Cavelton on the island of South Ronaldsay in Orkney, Scotland.  Family records however, give his birth date as July 3, 1857.  The above Proof Of Age dated 1906 to the Order of Forresters is not specific.  This organization was a life insurnace for pioneers on the prairies.  By investing in Foresters memberships, pioneer men knew their families would have financial help if something happened to them.

I am a member of the Orkney Family History Society and have written an article on my Sinclair branch for their newsletter.   According to the Canadian 1906 census, he arrived in Canada in 1873. Family information says he worked on the railroad and in Winnipeg, Manitoba for a time.  His daughter, my Aunt Nellie, told the story of him working in a draying business (hauling freight by wagon) on what is now Portage Avenue and being stuck in the gummy mud  many times. 

James later moved west to Blanshard Municipality where he took a homestead on the NW quarter of 22-14-22.  His mother's brother James Garrioch ( spelled Garrick in Canada) had earlier acquired the section 16-14-22 in 1877 and the nephew James dug the basement for a house which he later bought for his own home.  All four quarters were eventually bought for a just over $3000.  James Sinclair broke the prairie sod for planting wheat crops with oxen and later horses.

 He married Elizabeth Henry in 1890 and raised a family of 8 children.  Witnesses to the marriage ceremony performed by James Halliday were Elizabeth's brother Charles Henry and her mother Mary - the subject of Week 2 in this blog.

This photo of six of James' children was taken around 1902. Jean, Ellen, and my Grandmother Mary (the tall one) are in the back and Alex, William, and Lizzie are in front. This photo surprised me when we found it because it is so early and doesn't really look any different from others taken decades later.
Bankburn Farm was the name James gave to his farm, 16-14-22 W1 near Oak River, Manitoba.  There is currently a Bed and Breakfast near St. Margaret's Hope in Orkney with this name.  I have often wondered what the connection is and hope to visit there someday, after I retire!  The Oak River can be seen at the very bottom of the aerial farm photo above, probably from the 1960's.   

In 1901 Bankburn School District No. 1098 was formed on the corner nearby with an enrolment of seven pupils. The teacher boarded with neighbouring families in turns. The families received $10 a month for room and board, washing, and ironing. The highest salary received by a teacher was $500 a year. Family history tells that many good times were held through the years at Bankburn School at the yearly picnics, baseball games and football games, box socials through the winter months and of course dancing. The ravine was a big attraction in the winter for skating and sledding.  A class of 42 pupils from Grades 1 to 8 was enrolled by 1908. Sunday School was also held in the school every Sunday.

In 1917, the school closed and students were transported into Oak River school by horse drawn vans in summer and winter.  A cairn was erected in 1984 on the site where Bankburn School stood in memory of the pioneers who were instrumental in having the school built as well as to honour its teachers, pupils, and trustees.

James spent part of each winter hauling wood from the bush 75 kilometres north at Elphinstone and also hauled logs for many buildings in the district. He became well known for his Clydesdale horses which he showed at the Oak River fair.   His family wrote that he sold horses to Trotter and Sutton in Brandon .  I am guessing this is James' youngest son Bill in the photo above, pehaps taken in the twenties or thirties.  Over the years he built up a herd of  registered Hereford cattle which continued with my Uncle Bill  in later years. 

In 1981 the Sinclair farm was designated a Century Farm by the Manitoba Department of Agriculture and James' daughter Ellen wrote:
The hardships thru those first years of occupancy were many.  The land was broken by oxen and walking plows.  When the land was hot and dry the oxen made for the nearest pond of water and would not be coaxed out of it until they were ready for come.  The first few crops grown were always frozen.  When threshed the grain had to be hauled by team and wagon to Brandon, the nearest shipping point.  What a blessing when the rails were laid for a railway system to take the grain from the threshing machine to an elevator to ship out by box cars.  In this present system of PROGRESS when those same rails have been lifted - they meant so much to the pioneers of the late 1800's.  It is a blessing that those same pioneers are not around to witness this sacrilege. 

His 1927 Avery threshing separator was pulled out of the bush and painted to sit as a welcome on the west side of the town of Oak River in 2009. Aunt Dodie told the committee in charge that five other area farmers bought the same model in 1927 and they arrived in Oak River together by train. The machine used by the Henry Brothers was placed on the east side of town. 

James and Elizabeth both died in the winter of 1935 and are buried beneath a big spruce tree at the White Bank Lea Cemetery just a few miles from their former home.  

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Week 3 - Jeannie Morrison Jamieson Milne

Jeannie Morrison Jamieson Milne (1876 - 1948)

Jane circa 1896 - thank you Greg

My Mom's family tree in Canada is well documented in a binder of pages collected and recorded by my Aunt Marjorie and the Jamieson line in that resource started with Jeannie Morrison Jamieson. I was curious to know where she came from and luckily had help with finding out about her. I had email contact with Donna Marie who had been to Scotland in the area she came from and she was curious as well for confirmation of census records she had found online back in 2012. 
This picture of my great grandparents was from my Aunt Marjorie who had written on the back Grannie and Grandad. I think Jeannie, or Jane as she was  known, bears a striking resemblance to Aunt Marge here in the way she smiles. Beautiful ladies indeed! Jane was born in Aucherless, Aberdeen Scotland and had 2 sisters and 2 brothers.  On the 1881 Scotland Census I believe they lived in nearby Gartly.  Her father James W.D. Jamieson was listed as a railway porter and her mother was Margaret "Maggie" Duncan.  He father appears to have died by the time Jane and Alex Milne were married on Christmas Eve 1897. Alex's father was John Milne and his grandfather was Lewis Milne

Text of invitation: Mrs. Jamieson requests the pleasure of ___ company at the marriage of her daughter, Jeannie to Mr. Alex. Milne at the Lodge, Mayne House, Rothiemay, on Friday, twenty-fourth December at half-past two o'clock.  The Lodge , Mayne House.  An early reply will oblige. 
Reply Envelope Address:  Mrs. W.D. Jamieson 34 Shaftesbury Avenue, Chesterfield
I got a the above scan of their wedding invitation from Judy and her husband Sheldon and the location of their wedding Mayne (or Mayen) House was listed for sale online so current pictures of the property are below.   Rothiemay, Scotland is in Aberdeen but the only 34 Shaftesbury Avenue, Chesterfield that "Google" can find is in Derbyshire, England.  Donna Marie heard that Jane's mother lived to an old age in England so that piece fits the puzzle too.  I believe Jane's brother W.D. (William Duncan) can be found in Chesterfield on a 1911 census as a journalist.  I do wonder why their wedding was in Mayen House and what the "Lodge" is, however. 


Aunt Marjorie had also given me this photo of the young Milne family. My grandma, Frances Jeannie, is on her mom's knee which dates this picture to around 1906 when they lived and farmed near Virden. Her husband Alex Milne and three boys John, Alexander, and William Duncan Jamieson are also pictured. Alex emigrated to Canada in the spring of 1904 and then Jane and her three boys followed into the unknown the next spring. What a voyage and then a happy reunion that must have been!  They eventually had eight children - 5 boys and 3 girls.  She would have been a busy farm wife through the war years and the depression in between.
The photo above is of their gravestone in Virden Cemetery and one wonders how her maiden name on it came to spelled  without the "e". My mom was one of  26 grandchildren and she remembers hearing the Scottish brogue of her Granny and Grandad when they lived with her Aunt Nan and Uncle Jim near Hargrave.  When Mom had to leave for school and it was raining she was told she couldn't go.  She replied not to worry that she would "run between the raindrops!" Granny knit socks that Mom remembers giving at a White Gift service at church and she recalls that Jane suffered from "shingles" in her later years. 
Sheldon found and shared her obituary notice from the provincial archives in Winnipeg and that helped confirm the 1881 census was indeed her family when she had 2 sisters and 2 brothers.
This biography of my great grandmother was truly a co-operative effort and I hope that anyone with further (or correcting) information will include it in the comments below!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Week 2 - Mary Tait Henry

Mary Tait Henry (1836 - 1909) 

One of my favourite family photos is of this patriarch who we call the Widow Mary.  I love the Victorian black dress with the bow around her neck.  You can tell it was an event the way she is posed but it appears to be in her own or someone's kitchen.  Most photos of this period were taken outdoors due to lack of light but this seems to be an exception. 

 Mary was a widow of 3 years and 45 years old herself when she moved to Manitoba from Perth County, Ontario with her family of 11 children in search of prosperity and land for all of them.  Her husband William had died at aged 48 of "inflammation that had lasted 10 days" according to his death certificate.  His brother John had left for Manitoba in 1878 and moved his wife and family there the next year.  It must have been quite a leap of faith for Mary with her children ages 26 down to 5 years old to move west.  They were able to take the train to Brandon and then came to Blanshard by ox cart the rest of the way. 

I believe that the above photo is Mary as well even though it is named as her daughter Elizabeth on the back.  The photo was taken in Scotland and that is where Mary Tait lived and married William Henry in Troqueer, Kincardineshire, Scotland in 1856. The Taits were a large family and I have been in contact with some of the other descendants in the "Old Country" since I started researching my family.  I am not sure when they left Scotland but Mary and William can be found in Perth on the 1861 Census of Canada.

Family of Mary Tait and William Henry:

Week 1 - Aunt Dodie

Doris Ellen Simms Henry (1921-2010)


Where else to start with my year of blogging about my family than with Aunt Dodie?  When I saw the challenge  started by No Story Too Small , I knew it was where my interest in genealogy could go next.  It also didn't take long to decide to start with Aunt Dodie, Doris Ellen Simms Henry.
As a child, I remember sitting around the table after the supper or "lunch" before they went home and talking about people who used to live in the area, how many siblings were in the family and each ones name, where they are now, etc etc.  My parents and my dad's sister Doris and her husband Sam were the main ones I remember and although I had no clue who they were talking about, the fact that those people were left in the memory and minds of others was what stayed with me. 
Aunt Dodie talked more about her family with me as the years went on, and as I expressed an interest in the family tree, she shared everything she had collected with me and made sure it was well labelled and passed on to me when she died.
Dodie was born on April 12, 1921.  Her mom was of Scottish heritage and her dad was Irish.  They farmed on the next section to her grandparents James and Elizabeth Sinclair. 

Dodie had one older brother Bob, and two younger sets of twin siblings.  Gwen and Glen are in the middle in this photo and Donald (my dad) and Dorothy.  With so many younger siblings, she learned early to help with them and all the household chores that needed to be done.
In this picture, Dodie is riding the horse that her brother Bobby is holding.  Dodie said this was Bobby's horse named Billy that their Grandpa Sinclair had got for him for his birthday and he only let her on it occasionally! 
Dodie graduated from Normal School in Brandon in 1941 and became a teacher until she was married.  The above picture of her was taken in 1942 on the steps of Lavina School, north of Hamiota, MB.  She also taught in one room schools at Penrith and White Bank Lea, in Strathclair and she often talked about the "Surplus" Grade 1 and 2 class at Neepawa that was all the children that the other teachers didn't want!  She knew where many of her former pupils were living and kept in touch with their lives.  I have many of her diaries and the ones from her teaching days have many chuckles in them about such incidents as kids getting the strap and chronicles of her long tiring days at school.

Although they had dated for many years, Dodie and Sam Henry were married on July 17, 1950 in Brandon. She kept all the receipts for everything that day and they remain in the bottom drawer of the cedar chest of hers that I have. The Vogue sold her a dress for $15.50, Christie Grant's Department Store at 816 Rosser had shoes for $5.75,and  Bonnie's Bonnet Shop at 222 Tenth Street sold the hat for $4.95. The big purchase was at Wright and Wightman Jewellers on 904 Rosser Avenue on July 14, 1950 for a wedding ring for $13, a license for $5, and pearls for $12 for a grand total of $30!  Wow - priceless!

Dodie'd cedar chest
The cedar chest came with Moth Insurance!

This picture must have a story - Sam dressed up in a too big suit and Dodie with her ever-present apron, house dress, and pumps on grinning at him!
They lived on the homestead of John and Jessie Henry until they retired to Oak River, first just for the winters and later permanently.  They decided to donate this land to the Manitoba Habitat Foundation when they were gone to let it go back to its natural state.  This truck with the cap was their mode of transportation in the 70's.  I remember making many trips sitting between them to get water or go to town for groceries.
Although Dodie could never imagine being the subject of my first blog post, I think she would be glad to have the family history recorded and shared.