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Friday, 30 May 2014

Week 22 - William Simms

William Simms (1854  - 1918)

Inscription on headstone in South Gower Cemetery, Dundas, Ontario

William, my great grandfather, was born on the 13th of March in 1854 near Carrickfergus in County Antrim in what is Northern Ireland today.  He was the son of Henry Simms from Week 9 of this blog and his wife Jane Lattimore.  He had 13 siblings, 2 of which emigrated to Canada and 4 to New Zealand.  In 1880 he married Agnes McAllister in Antrim and shortly after they can be found on Passenger Lists on the SS Montreal leaving from Liverpool to Quebec City.  The voyage by sea took several weeks.  William and Agnes settled in Dundas County, south of Ottawa near the village of Mountain.

An online book The Story of Dundas 1784-1904 was written in 1905 and contains a few photos and text of what this area of Ontario was like at this time. From page 55:

Bush-whacking!  Farm-making!  These were terms well descriptive of farming in pioneer times. The crude conditions lingered long, for even after the woodsman's axe had conquered the forest, and the fire had swept along leaving great heaps of ashes,  the huge stumps stood in apparent defiance.  Fortunately the soil was rich. 
On the 1881 Census, William is 27 years old, his wife is 22 and they have a 5 month old son, William.  His occupation is a labourer. 

Ten years later, 5 children are listed in the household from ages 10 down to one, including my 8 year old grandfather Alexander.    He is a farmer now in the Mountain subdistrict of Dundas County and his religion is declared as Free Church. 

The same family is enumerated as Baptist in 1901 with two more young children ages 20 down to 6.

In 1911, William is 57, Agnes is 52, and their daughters Edith aged 21, Martha 18, Elida 16 and son Cecil 8 are still at home.

In August of 1918, William died at Lot 8 Concession 5 in Dundas County of diabetes. 

Family of William and Agnes: (from Aunt Dodie)
  • William Henry (1880 - 1945) married Mae Millar and had 5 children. He moved just across the U.S. border to Oswegatchie, New York and farmed there.

  • Mary Agnes (1884-1948) married Ezra Bryan (pictured above) and had 6 children.  They lived and farmed in the Mountain, ON area and many of their descendants remain there.
  • Alexander (1885-1941) ,my grandfather, married Mary Sinclair after moving to Oak River, Manitoba  to farm and they had 6 children.

  • Jennie "Jean" (1887-1968) married a Swedish immigrant, Gustaf Rensta, and was a nurse in WW1.  They lived in Montreal in the 40's but died and are buried in Kelowna, BC.
  • Edith (1890-1930) married Erroll Murdock and had 5 children.  They lived in the Mountain area as well.
  • Ethel Martha (1893-1934) married James Edgar Scott and had one son.  They also lived near Mountain.
  • Eleda May (1895-1973)  did not marry but lived in the Ottawa area suburb Carp in 1945.  She came to Manitoba in the late 1950's to help when her sister-in-law Mary Simms was ill.
  • Cecil (1902-1975) lived at home and did not marry.

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