Tuesday, 19 June 2018

News from the McAllister Branch

Since beginning my genealogy journey, I had very little family information about my Dad’s paternal grandmother - Agnes McAllister Simms.  I knew she was born April 1859 in Ireland,married William Simms in March of 1880 in Antrim and left for Canada with him shortly after.  William and Agnes were farmers in South Mountain, Ontario just south of Ottawa.  Recently, to my delight, more details about Agnes' family has emerged.

First, I had a message from an Ancestry contact Jimsummers54 who was able to tell me the names of  her parents.  They were Alexander McAllister (1830-1901) and Mary Ann McIlwaine (1831 - 1908).  This couple were married at Inver, Antrim on January 19, 1853 and farmed at Duffs Hill northwest of  Carrickfergus.  His father’s name was Ephraim (1794-1860) as well.  Another generation back was also revealed from the same source, Arthur McAllister (1770-1846) and his wife Mary Templeton (1772-1841).

Then I had another message from a researcher who was looking for Agnes' brother Ephriam.  I had researched him before but she gave me the more specific locale of Penhold, AB and that Google search gave an amazing result  here!

 Ephraim (pictured left) married Mary Jane Niblock (below) and went on to have a family of nine. One son Arthur died in WW1 and is buried in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery in France.  His service file has been digitized and is online here.  Ephraim’s descendants continue to farm his original homestead, Antler Valley Farm.

I had been told that my grandfather Alexander Simms  made a trip to Alberta when he left home in Ontario about 1903.  Now I wonder if he was visiting his Uncle Ephraim and Aunt Mary at Penhold?  I do not yet have a picture of Agnes McAllister Simms but this latest success makes me keep searching.   Thanks to those fellow genealogists and my McAllister cousins for their help!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Aunt Dodie's 1950 Neepawa Class

My Aunt Doris Simms Henry  was the subject of my very first family history blog post over 4 years ago and when I came across this picture in her cedar chest yesterday, I decided to do a little more investigating about it . The photo is identified on the back as coming from Morrish Studios in Neepawa and shows 24 pupils in her "Surplus" Grade 1 & 2 Class in June of 1950. Thirty-one names are listed on the back of the photo as follows:
Grade 1
Edward Zahadnik
Elizabeth Kasprick
Faye Schmans
Karen Breitschmid
Patsy Crabbe
Marjorie Kasprick
Elaine Kostenchuk
Sandra Tyack
Leonard Watts
Barry Scott
Ellen Brown
Gary Tomasson
Kenneth Crabbe
Douglas McLaughlan
Gerald Kozak
Nelson Gutaski
Eldan Faullus
Mervyn Warnock

 Grade 2
George Dalinger
Ronnie Zynger
Darwin McIntyre
Lesley Laidlaw
Mary Ann Parwingsty
Bernard Holod
Norman Chapman
Dawn Leader
Donna Mae Bell
Earl Kyaldgaard
Marion Partridge
Mervyn Hajnrych
Jimmie Lukin

Dodie had graduated from Normal School in Brandon in June of 1941 as described in this blog post . She taught at schools in Lavinia, Penrith, White Bank Lea and Strathclair but had not been teaching for a couple of years when she took on the class in Neepawa

I have her diary from that time which helps fill in a few of the details of those six months.  On December 30, 1949 Dodie accepted the job at the school at Neepawa and writes that January 9 was the first day, she had 31 pupils and it was very cold! The day before classes began she visited at the hospital which makes me wonder if she was taking over for an ailing teacher.  On January 20 she writes that she went home on the bus to Strathclair and her two brothers Bob & Don (my Dad) met her there and took her the rest of the way home.  She went back to Oak River about once a month along with Easter Break.

On January 23 she reports that Inspector Beecher was in her room all afternoon.  The Manitoba Historical website gives a list of inspectors responsibilities here and confirms that Robert Edward Beecher  held that job from 1929 to 1956.  

She writes about going to church Sunday nights at the Calvary Temple and also the Baptist Church. She mentions listening to Lux Theatre and Ford Theatre on the radio, going out for a bean supper, big dances at the airport and bowling.  The girls gave each other "Toni's"  and spent time after school together. She often went out for a Coke at the Bamboo Garden with her teacher friends after work and a google search tells me the same restaurant continues in Neepawa today.
Picture from Prairie Towns website
This blog post from 2015 has some great pictures of the town including of the outside of the restaurant in 2015. The opening of Fenwick's Department Store on April 27, 1950 was a big event and she visited it many times from then on, usually just to look. Dodie remarked on 
May 11 the first evacuee train from Winnipeg (due to the flooding) arrived with 130 people on board.  The next day being Arbour Day, she and her class cleaned up the school yard. Her fiancee Sam Henry took her to Minnedosa for supper then to a show "All The King's Men".  Shows were popular evening entertainment in Neepawa as well and she gave favourable reviews to "Challenge to Lassie" , "The Wizard of Oz" and "Jolson Sings Again".  A week of evening sewing lessons given by the Singer Sewing Company was a June highlight.

Her teaching colleagues were often mentioned and this card as well as a cup and saucer were given to her on one of her last days at Neepawa. 

Interesting that included in the group is Hazel Kellington, the celebrated lady that taught in Neepawa primary rooms for 45 years and whom the current elementary school there is named for.
These would be her last days as "Miss Simms" and aside from a few days filling in at nearby Medina School, her last days teaching.  A new routine awaited her as farm wife as on July 17 at the First Church United on 8th Street in Brandon, she and Samuel Robert Henry were married at 2:00 in the afternoon in front of 10 members of her family.  Above are pictures from that day - Doris and Sam posing in front of his 1947 Chevrolet and with their attendants Jim and Gwen Milliken. After lunch at the Olympia Cafe they left on their one week honeymoon.  She writes that they spent the first night in Roblin then Elfros, Kindersley, Calgary, Maple Creek and Regina before heading back to the farm.

I would love to hear from any of Miss Simms's Neepawa pupils to pass your class picture onto you.  Please contact me at ssimms@escape.ca

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Greeting Postcards

The three Easter postcards on today's blog post come from the collection of my dad's Aunt Elizabeth (Lizzie) Sinclair Morcom. It seems these greetings began at the turn of the century but after WW1 they were in their heyday.

Only one has writing on it and that identifies that it predates her marriage in 1930.  Her nephews, the little Fortune boys were born in the early twenties and  are the little boys in the picture below on the Sinclair house steps. Their little sister Irene, born in 1925 is being held by Nannie, their mother Jean is in the black tie.  Lizzie (with the glasses) and Jessie are on the right side.

The picture above shows Lizzie is sitting on the same steps with her brother Bill.  My sister Janice and I have said his wild hair gene may have been passed down to her son!  The postcard that appears to be in a car has Lizzie at the back (in the glasses), Nellie holding Irene but I'm not sure of the other two sitting in the front seat.  Hopefully my blog readers can help me identify them!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Grandma Kinnaird's Birthday Post

Today marks the 112th anniversary of my maternal grandma's birth - Frances Jeannie Milne Kinnaird.  My previous blog post about her  was written over 3 years ago and since then I've been able to scan many more great pictures of her that I'd like to share today.  Cousin Karen has invited us to supper tonight along with Frances and Frank Kinnaird's daughters Marjorie and Margaret (my Mom) to share memories and I'll take this blog post along.

The first above picture is of Frances in the back with her two younger brothers Charlie born in 1913 and  Jim born in 1910.  That would date this picture of them posing in a pumpkin patch to about 1918 perhaps.  The picture on the right is a young Mr. and Mrs. Kinnaird shortly after their wedding in 1927.  I have never seen any pictures of their wedding day, maybe there are some out there in someone's album?

This one of a young mother Frances carrying Marjorie wrapped in a shawl and with her hand on son Keith's shoulder is a favourite of mine.  Looks like Keith is wearing the same hat later that summer while saskatoon picking near Miniota in the next picture.  He is sitting on his Aunt Nan Milne's knee, Frank is next with the glasses, then Marjorie on Jane Milne's knee and Alex Milne on the end with the moustache.  Grandma was known to avoid the camera but I love this picture of her with her hands on her hips! These photos would both be from 1931, I'd guess.

Grandma is having a tea party with her granddaughter Dolores Tapp in 1960 and maybe baby Karen is in the buggy?  Christmas 1965 was the occasion of the colour picture of Frances with her Simms and Kinnaird grandchildren and she is holding me!


And finally, a postcard she sent to us from B.C. in March of 1968:
Sat 4:30 M.S.T.
Hi Sharon & Donna & all
Just got back from a drive around Princeton, mountains on all sides, been having a wonderful time. wish you were all here. grass is just beginning to get green, a few early flowers out. We are going to Penticton tomorrow & Mon to Vancouver for the day. Had a lovely train trip stayed in Kamloops till Thurs. noon. Have not missed any sleep yet.
Be seeing you before long.
Love to all

Arcade Cards

These arcade cards from the 20's and 30's were found among the belongings of Harry Clyne and before they were sent off to a niece in Scotland with his other prized belongings, I scanned them and finally got around to doing a little research. Arcade cards like these were postcard sized and were sold in amusement parks in the US and Canada and thus their name.

Bud Baer was a boxer in the 1930's who also acted on television and in films.  His nephew, Max Baer Jr. , became famous for his role as Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies in the 60's. A copy of the same photolithograph can be found in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  in New York City.  He died in 1986 and is buried in California.

Harry Carey was the lead actor in the silent film Burning Bridges that was released by Pathe Exchange Inc in 1918.  During this time, Carey grew into one of the most popular Western stars of the early motion picture, occasionally writing and directing films as well. Carey would appear in at least 233 films, including short features, between 1909 and 1949.

Rex Lease and Tim McCoy acted in The Masked Stranger, another silent movie. 
From the 1928 film "Beyond the Sierras".

 The machine that these cards were dispensed from were like the one below from the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago  for a penny or two.

Harry kept these arcade cards with his family photos and I wonder what memories they held for him of the place he got them or the person who gave them to him. I'm just glad he kept them.
Henry "Harry" Clyne - 1950's