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Friday, 14 February 2014

Week 7-Elizabeth Henry Sinclair

Elizabeth Henry Sinclair (1856 - 1935)

Elizabeth was born in Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightsire, Scotland, the eldest daughter of William Henry and Mary Tait.  She was likely named after her Grandma Henry, the former Elizabeth Ferguson (1799 - 1841).  At the age of  2, she and her parents left Scotland for Perth County, Ontario where her uncles John and Edward Henry had previously settled. Perth is one of the few counties in Southern Ontario that does not touch any of the Great Lakes and therefore one of the last to be settled.  The growing  William and Mary Henry family are on the 1861, 1871, and 1881 census living in Hibbert Township.  In 1861, they are living in a one story log house and William is described as a labourer.  By 1871, he is listed as a farmer so he would have acquired his own land by that time.  After the death of her father, Elizabeth and her 10 siblings and her mother moved west to Blanshard Municipality in Manitoba in 1882, following her Uncle John and his wife Jennet and their 11 children.  Elizabeth was 26 years old and this must have been a huge change for her.  Brandon was the end of the railway at that time and they then took ox carts the rest of the way west.
Elizabeth Sinclair on the veranda of her home with twin grandchildren Donald (my dad) and Dorothy on her knee in 1933. 
Family history says Elizabeth was an accomplished seamstress and that before she was married she sewed clothing for many people. Ready made garments were not widely available so being able to make them was an important skill for women.   She had a son out of wedlock that she kept with her at home, an unusual occurrence for the time. More often babies were adopted and raised by other married members of the family. Her sister Ellen is also said to have a child when then lived in Ontario and that child was raised by John and Jennet Henry.  When Elizabeth married my Blog Week 4 ancestor James Sinclair in 1890, her son James Henry was 7 years old and became part of the Sinclair family but retained the Henry surname. Aunt Dodie always said Jimmie was her favourite uncle and she thought it was so tragic when he died at the young age of 50.
Elizabeth went on to have 7 more children with James Sinclair including my Grandmother, Mary.  They lived a short distance from each other as Mary raised her own family so saw each other often. 
Aunt Dodie wrote the following about her Grandma in her memoirs:
My best times were spending weekends and holidays at the Sinclair home. Grandma would always go through our brown shopping bag (our suitcase) to see what needed to be mended. Maybe a button or two to be sewn on. Grandma always would be in her rocking chair always at the south end of the kitchen table. 
Fair day was about the only times that I ever saw Grandma out. They would put on her, a big old black hat, a blouse with a huge broach at the neck, and then put in her false teeth which made her look entirely horrible. She did not ever look like Grandma to us. Other times, she was herself if she ever came to see us in our home, which wasn’t too often. I just remember her being confined to a rocking chair, but she could walk to bedrooms and back. Another thing that I remember is that she always laid in bed with one or both legs out from under the covers. I want mine covered – even in the summer time.  
Elizabeth with her daughters Ellen (Nellie) and Lizzie on the veranda of their home.  I love the big geranium in the bucket beside her and the other potted plant as well.  They clearly planned the portrait and it would appear to be taken the same day as the photo at the top of this post. 
Her daughter Ellen wrote for Blanshard history book in1959 that Elizabeth valued the wild strawberries and gooseberries that grew in the bush on the banks of the Oak River. She tells the story in the White Bank Lea booklet that her mother often told about a neighbour who had come to get some sewing done when a severe thunder and lightning storm got up. The lady insisted that Mrs. Sinclair should hide her needle and thimble for they would attract the lightning!

Children of Elizabeth: (with clickable links to their blog posts)
James Henry (1883-1933)
Mary Tait later Simms (1891-1960)
Jane "Jeannie" Garrick later Fortune (1894-1978)
Ellen "Nellie" (1895-1988)
Wilhelmina Henry (June 28, 1896 -August 9, 1896)
Elizabeth "Lizzie" later Morcom (1898-1988)
Alexander (1899-1920)
William "Bill" (1900-1974)

Elizabeth died in January of 1935 at the age of 78 and her husband James died only a few months later.  She was truly a pioneer and I am proud to be one of her descendants.

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