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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Week 12 - Christina Carruthers O'Neil

Christina Carruthers O'Neil (1878 - 1964)

Up until now my blog posts on the 52 Ancestors Challenge have been direct ancestors of mine.  I still have to gather more material on some others so in the meantime I am moving sideways on the family tree to siblings.   Much of the information and pictures in this post have been taken from a local history book written in 1989 called Binding Our Districts.
Christina was a sister to my Great Grandmother Margaret, who married George Kinnaird and she was the daughter of William Carruthers from Week 8.  She was the namesake of her maternal grandmother, Christina Shearer (1768 – 1825) from Lanarkshire in Scotland. My mom talks of Christina, who was called Tine (say it Teen), and her husband John or J.J. being like another set of grandparents to her. My Grandpa Kinnaird lived with the O'Neil's when he moved from Ontario to Manitoba after the early death of his mother. 

These are pictures I have of my mom, Margaret Christina, from the late thirties that she remembers being taken in her Uncle John and Aunty's yard, south of Hargrave.

Christina Carruthers was born in Morewood, Ontario, the youngest child of the large family of William Carruthers and Jane Steven.  On the 1881 Ontario Census, she was the youngest in the family at 3 years old.  She is listed on the 1891 census with her widowed mother Jane and 3 brothers, Andrew, Stuart, and Steven.   Some members of her family were beginning to look west to the homesteads in Manitoba and Alberta as having more of a future for them as much of Ontario was already settled.  Some others had come west on harvest excursions and liked what they saw and moved out permanently.

In the 1901 Manitoba census, 23 year old Christina can be found living with her brother William, his wife Bessie, and their 2 children near Kenton, Manitoba. They later moved to a farm one mile west of Hargrave.  On December 2, 1903 John Joseph O'Neil and Christina were married. J.J. O'Neil was the son of an Irish immigrant to Canada after the potato famine there.  Born in Casselman, Ontario, he had come west on the harvest excursions.  The local history book says that John had purchased new furniture but it had been hidden in a strawstack until his bride arrived to share his home.  The photo above is Tine at their stone house, likely shortly after their marriage.  Below is another photo of their  stone house but the farm site today is marked only by a lone pine tree.

The 1906 census has them living at 33-10-27 with her 12 year old nephew, Frank Kinnaird. John is listed as 26 years old and Christina is 28.The 1911 census shows the same three people in the household at the same place. The 1921 census is the same along with the O'Neil's daughter Sybil who was born in 1916. John was involved in local government as a councillor and the couple enjoyed curling and were members of the United Church.  Frank was my grandfather and because of his Aunt Tine and Uncle John, here he was living close to his future wife and my grandmother, Frances Milne. Frank began farming on his own in 1926 and married Frances in 1927.

John and Tine O'Neil retired off the farm to Virden  in 1947 where my mom spent many holidays and lunches during the school year. Aunt Marge recalled that her parents would bring one of the turkeys that the Kinnairds had raised for holiday suppers at Uncle John and Aunty's house every year. One of their daughters taught my mom to play the piano and she fondly remembers spending time with them.

John died in 1957 and Tine in 1964.  Both are buried in the Virden Cemetery.  I also found a grave marker at the Hargrave Cemetery for two baby children of J. and C. O'Neil.  The inscription on the stone says "Born and died June 8, 1914 and Born and died October 15, 1915  Safe in the Arms of Jesus" .  Happily, the O'Neils went on to have 2 other daughters later. 

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