Friday, 29 August 2014

Week 35 - George Chester Kinnaird

George Chester Kinnaird (1819 - ?)

My great great grandfather George Chester Kinnaird was born in Upper Canada in 1819 son of Irish immigrants, Francis Kinnaird and Jane Gordon.  I have found record of 2 more boys in their family, Hugh (1815 - 1851) and Francis (1818 - ?).

 The Military Depot at Perth, Lanark County have land records from 1817 online.  They say:
362.Francis Kinnard, emigrant, 1 adult male, 1 adult female, 2 males over 12, 1 male under 12, 1 female over 12, 1 female under 12, country Ireland, ship Sally, July 18, 1817, located Oct. 3, 1817 Bastard, CR8, R8. SDP
Thanks to Shirley Hackett for the explanation that follows:
 I think that CR8 R8 means the rear portion of lot 8 in concession 8 of Bastard Township [Leeds County]. That is only about two miles from the boundary of Kitley Township."SDP" meaning Settlling Duties Performed, and was probably added later.  These Irish emigrants had to prove they had actually settled on the land and were making improvements (clearing etc) before the final grants were made, usually 3 or so years later.Most of these settlers were from County Wexford and County Carlow Ireland. 
Census records for 1818 in Bastard County (on line 95) have a Francis Canard with a wife, 3 sons and 2 daughters.

George Chester Kinnaird was married to Ann Wallace around 1850 but I have not yet found the record of it. In the Kitley Township 1851 census of Canada, George C "Kinnaud" is 31 and living with his wife Ann who is 24 and born in Ireland.  They have a 2 year old son Hugh and George's mother Jane at 67 years old is living with them.  Jane Gordon was born in 1785 in Ireland.  The census record says they had 75 acres of land with 30 under cultivation, 15 in crop and 15 in pasture.  The other 45 is declared as wooded.  George claimed 6 acres of wheat in 1851 that produced 100 bushels.  Location of their land is Concession 6, lot 10.
George and Ann had three more children,  Margaret in 1852, Nancy in 1854 and Ellen in 1857.  According to her stone pictured above in Toledo Presbyterian Cemetery, Ann Wallace died in 1859 at the age of 32. 

On April 22, 1860, a marriage between George "Kincaid" and Mary Ann Nesbit is registered in Leeds and Grenville County.  George's parents are listed as Francis Kincaid and Jane Gordon.  Mary Ann's are James Nesbit and Margaret Seymour.  She was born in Ireland and both bride and groom claim Kitley Township as their present residence.  What I have seen online is a transcription of the marriage certificate so his surname it may have been copied wrong or perhaps this is how he spelled it?

On the 1861 census he is with new wife Mary Ann and his 4 children with Ann Wallace in a one story log house. Hugh is 11, Margaret is 8, Nancy is 7 and Ellen is 4.  His last name was enumerated as "Kenaird".

 Mary Ann and George have 3 children who each have their own biography in this blog.William George - my great grandfather - was eldest, next was Elizabeth and youngest was James (who was blind).  All three are baptized in St. Andrews Presbyterian in Toledo in 1863 and 1864 but then George Chester is never in a census or any other record again.  With all the misspelling I have found of his surname though, he may be there somewhere but I haven't found him yet!

I did find a another marriage registration in 1868 for his second wife Mary Ann although the record has her last name as Redmond.   I am not sure if it was a clerical error or perhaps she was trying to avoid her first husband! Her parents are listed as James and Margaret Nisbit on this document where she marries Thomas Levi Cummings who becomes the step father to her 3 children.  The 1871 and 1881 census list her children's surname as Cummings instead of Kinnaird.  

I can't yet find the record of the death of George Chester Kinnaird or where he might be buried. Always more searching to do...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Week 34 - Agnes McAllister Simms

Agnes McAllister Simms (1859 - 1947)

Agnes was my great grandmother and she is one the people I have had difficulty finding information about, especially before she came to Canada.
According to census documents, Agnes was born in April of 1859 in Ireland.  Online family trees seem to identify her father as Alexander McAllister but I can't find the name of her mother.  She may have had a brother Ephraim who went to Horn Hill, Alberta. 
Agnes married William Simms in March of 1880 and shortly after they set sail for Canada aboard the ship "Montreal" from Liverpool, England.  They arrived in Quebec City on June 15, 1880 according to passenger lists found on    Their son William was born October 26, 1880.  In the 1881 census of Canada, the family of 3 can be found living in Dundas County, Ontario by the small town of Mountain.  William Sr. is listed as a farmer.

Agnes and William went on to have eight children, including my grandfather, Alexander, and she lived in Mountain most of the rest of her life.   When her son William died in 1945, she was living in Kemptville according to his obituary.  This would have either been with her daughter Eleda or in a care home.  It would seem Eleda was a nurse or the family caretaker as she came to Manitoba to care for her sister in law when she was sick, my Grandma Mary Simms.

My aunts, Dodie and Gwennie, went to visit Southern Ontario and Montreal in 1945.  Dodie's diary from that time says:
Thursday, August 2, 1945. Cliff, Gwen and I went into Mountain for mail.  Went up to Kemptville to see Grandma.  Aunt Elida came home with us.  
Monday August 13, 1945. Luella brought Gwen and I up to Bryan's to get Aunt Mary then went up to Kemptville to see Grandma.
Tuesday, August 14, 1945 Hilda, Aunt Mary, Gwen and I went up to see graveyard.  Carl took Gwen and I into Ottawa at night. Train was late.  Saw V-J celebrations in Ottawa.  Got on train about 11 o'clock.  
Agnes died 67 years ago this week, August 20,1947 at age 87 and is buried in South Gower cemetery south of Ottawa.  My sister and I visited the rural Ontario area where our grandfather came from in 1990 before I really took an interest in genealogy.  It amazes me now to think that we really had no idea if anyone we were related to would be in that cemetery as we drove by and decided to go in. We didn't know where to look or who we were looking for but were almost led to this grave!  I used the self-timer setting on the camera (the original selfie) with a perfectly placed stone on the next row to take us both in this photo.  Serendipity?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Week 33 - Samuel Robert Henry

Samuel Robert Henry (1907 - 2004)

This week marked the 107th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Robert Henry in Blanshard, Manitoba.  It was also the week in 2014 of a ceremony in honour of him and his wife, my Aunt Dodie, and their donation of land to the MWF Habitat Foundation Inc.  Three generations of Henry's owned  NW 22-13-21 W1 and have passed it on to an agency who will see to it that the land returns to its prairie beginnings and will forever be a spot for wildlife of all kinds.

Sam's grandfather, John Henry, was born in Kirkgunzeon in Scotland in 1828. He studied law and married Jennet (aka Janet) Cook who was born in 1834. John developed a chest condition and his doctor advised him to go to one of the colonies.  They travelled to Perth County, Ontario where he farmed near Mitchell and Cromarty in the mid 1800’s. John and Jennet had a family of eight sons and three daughters and in order to give his sons the opportunity to have land of their own, they decided to head west.

In 1878 at the age of 50, John went with Lawrence Short and his family of six by rail through to Chicago and then by boat on the Red River to Winnipeg. From there, the two men walked to the district west of the present day Rapid City - at that time, it was known as Shanks's Settlement, Northwest Territories.   He took out a homestead entry on 6 quarters, one for him and each of his 5 oldest sons . The next year in the spring of 1879, the Henry family came on the newly completed railway to Winnipeg and then an "ox train" to their claim.  In 1881 John and Jennet welcomed the widow of John’s brother William,the former Mary Tait, and her 11 children who had also been living in Perth County.  John died at the age 60 on September 13, 1888.   Jennet died in 1905 and they are buried at Rapid City Cemetery.

John and Jennet’s 10th child, Samuel, who was born August 9, 1872 in Ontario and came west with his parents at age 7 took over the home farm. He married the former Amelia "Millie" Ollett, a Welsh immigrant,  in 1903 and had a daughter and three sons. Samuel was a successful farmer and also lived for a short time in Winnipeg as well as in Rivers where he built and operated a livery stable. Samuel and his brother Alex operated a steam threshing outfit for many years from 1880 on, threshing stacks from October until February in surrounding districts. The Avery thresher that they purchased in 1927 is on display at the east entrance to the village of Oak River, Manitoba today. He continued to operate the farm until he died in 1947 and Millie died ten years later.Their farm home pictured below was said to have been built in 1898 or 99.


Samuel Robert "Uncle Sam" was the middle son born in 1907 and spent his life on the farm. He had an older sister, Jessie who married Bill Sinclair. His older brother Bill and younger brother Jim worked on the farm until they married and struck out on their own. After a long courtship, Sam married Doris Simms in 1950 and they farmed and lived in the original house.
Donald Simms, Sam and Doris in about 1943
 I spent a lot of time there and although they had no children of their own, Uncle Sam loved kids. He and Dodie would keep my sisters and I when our parents would go to Dine & Dances and would host us for a summer holiday every year. I specifically remember being there when my younger sister was born in 1969. Sam was always a retired farmer from as long as I can remember, but he always kept busy making things, fixing things, looking at the wildlife, and whistling. I can still hear his whistle when he came up from the garden into the back kitchen with whatever he had dug up from the garden. Special friends George and Sally Cotter shared his love of wildlife and George was eager to take pictures and video of everything that Sam found.  Sam was famous for his shooting accuracy, ironically remarkable since he lost the sight of one eye, in an accident with a gun when  he was young.  He had a glass eye after that,and kept several spare ones in the safe in the dining room recalled his nieces!

When the cousins got together at Sam and Dodie's we played auntie-I-over at the pump house by the windmill. Raiding the berries in the garden and playing with Mrs. Beasley the cat and Scottie the dog are other memories.  Fiddle playing will forever make me think of Uncle Sam.  He would often play a tune in the evenings and we were so glad when he played for us on his 90th birthday party in 1997. A video of that moment in time is below:

The dedication ceremony was held on a beautiful sunny day where a cairn had been built at the end of their lane to honor the donation of their land.  Family, Habitat board members and representatives of various levels of government spoke about the past, present and future of these 2 quarters of land.  I could almost see Uncle Sam and Aunt Dodie smiling and nodding in approval.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Week 32 - Lewis Milne

Lewis Milne (1815 - 1867)

My 3rd great grandfather Lewis was born October 10, 1815 in Keith, Banffshire, Scotland and baptised three days later.  He was the son of William Milne (1782 - 1867) and Helen Gordon (1788 - 1858).  At age 24 on June 30, 1840, he married Annie Brown in Keith.  Historians believe they had 12 children, including my ancestor, John

In the Scotland Census of 1841, he is living at Stupetide with his 50 year old parents and his wife Ann and their first child Jean.  I can find no reference online to that place name which is likely a cottage that is long gone.  

Census of 1851 shows Lewis and Annie with 5 children and his 63 year old mother Helen living with them.  He is a crofter of 2 acres at Bogbain. There is a wedding and festival venue in Scotland today called Bogbain Farm that is just south of Inverness.  I'll have to add that to my places to see in Scotland!

The 1861 Census has 44 year old Lewis as a labourer living with his father, his wife and 6 children  including  his 7 year old son John (my great great grandfather)  in the household. 

A daughter of Lewis and Annie was Clementine and I found this photo of her online at Ancestry.  She immigrated to the USA in 1867 and the next year married Robert William Gunn and had 12 children.  She lived to be age 73 and died in Pennsylvania in 1918.

At the age of 52 on February 17, 1867 Lewis died. It is said that he died 2 days after his father, William Milne. Lewis supposedly had asthma, and this may have been exacerbated by the death of his father.

Above is the photo of a Milne gravemarker in Keith cemetery thanks to Donna Marie and Greg who took the picture in June, 2014 and supplied the transcript below:
“Erected by William Milne, Bogbain in memory of his daughter Clementina Milne who died 16 August 1819 age 6 years and 6 months. Also his wife Hellen Gordon who died 20 April 1858 age 85 years. Also his son Lewis Milne who died 17 Feb 1867 age 52 years. Also his grandson Alexander Milne who died 25 July 1873 age 25 years. Ann Brown his wife of the above Lewis Milne who died 4 April 1901 82 years.”

It seems a bit confusing that if Lewis died 2 days after his father William, how did he place the stone in Lewsi' memory?  I guess I explain it by William Milne put up the stone in 1819 for his daughter, Clementine (aunt of the one pictured above) and dates and names were added as members of the family died.  Interesting that William's own death is not recorded on it though.

Annie Brown Milne was 52 years old and a widow on the census of 1871.  The family of crofters is on 12 acres.  In 1881, her address is given as Croft Rimmach on 13 acres with 3 of them being arable.  She died at Upper Drakemyres Farm, Boharm, Moray on April 4, 1901.

Week 31 - Thomas Wilson

Thomas Wilson ( 1876 - 1920)

Online family tree researching has turned up some fascinating stories.  Thomas Wilson is certainly not a close relative, Ancestry calculates he is my first cousin, three times removed.  His is an interesting story including a fair bit of tragedy that makes it worth telling.

Thomas Wilson was born in Perth County, Ontario in 1876, the son of Ellen (Helen) Tait and Robert Wilson.  He had an elder brother, Robert.  The family of four moved to farm at Hope, South Dakota for a time and in 1898 they relocated to Blanshard Municipality in Manitoba near his mother's sister Mary Tait Henry. Their farm was about 2 miles south of Whitebank Lea School.
In 1903, Thomas married Elizabeth Hayes in Brandon, Manitoba. In the 1901 census, Elizabeth could be found nearby working as a domestic servant in the Glinz household in Oak River. The Glinz family were the storekeepers in Oak River.

In the 1906 census, Thomas and his wife Lizzie along with their 2 young children, John Gordon and Hazel were living with his widowed mother Ellen. In the 1916 census, she was called Helen and is 76 years old and was still living with Thomas and Elizabeth and now their 6 children.
Thomas and Elizabeth eventually had nine children. Thomas is remembered in a local history book as a very athletic man whose nickname was “Blackie” or “Tommy”. He was a member of the C.O.F.- Canadian Order of Foresters.  

Tragically, 3 of their children died in 1919 during the same week in an influenza epidemic.  There are lots of online accounts of what must have been a terrifying time in rural Manitoba as well as in the cities with the Spanish flu of 1918-19.    

Melvin Wilson 1910-1919
Doris Wilson 1917-1919
Irma Wilson 1915-1919

The next year, Elizabeth lost her husband in a terrible accident. The following article from the Oak River Post details what happened.
Clear Day From the Oak River Post, Oak River, MB 12/1/1920 SUDDEN DEATH OF T. WILSON The community was shocked on Thursday last to learn of the sudden death at Elphinstone the night before of Thomas WILSON, one of this district's old-timers. The late Mr. WILSON died in his bed in the basement of his garage from gas poisoning, caused by a leaky exhaust pipe leading from a gasoline engine in the basement close to where he was sleeping. Some repairs had just been made in the basement, including a new foundation and alterations in the exhaust system, and no ventilation had been provided. Mr. WILSON had not slept in the room since the alterations were made until the fatal night, as he had been visiting his family here. The fact that Mr. WILSON had expired was not known until the following morning when C. R. FOWLER, who is employed in the garage, entered the room. Medical opinion is that death took place about 10 p.m. on Wednesday, November 24th. The late Mr. WILSON was born at Cromarty, Ont. When five years old he went to the United States with his parents. He returned to Canada twenty-two years ago, and took up farming in the Oak River district. He married Miss Elizabeth HAYS seventeen years ago. He retired from farming three years ago and bought a garage business at Elphinstone. When younger, he was one of the foremost athletes of the community, and was still an enthusiastic curler and ball player. He leaves to mourn him besides his sorrowing wife, one son and five daughters, all at home, a brother, Robert at Gilbert Plains, and his mother at Brandon. His father died several years ago, and two daughters and a son succumbed to influenza during the epidemic of February, 1919. The funeral was held on Saturday to White Bank Lea cemetery, following a service at his late residence in Oak River at 2 p.m. Rev. MC CARTNEY of Bradwardine officiated. The pall-bearers were Messrs. J. G. BARR, E. H. GLINZ, W. MC KENZIE, JR., J. GREENAWAY, C. G. SPARLING and Thomas BROWN, all members of the C.O.F., of which order deceased was a member. A large concourse of people, including several from Rivers, Bradwardine and other outside points, were in attendance. The community extends sympathy to the bereaved in their grief.

Thomas Wilson gravestone at White Bank Lea Cemetery
Elizabeth remarried William Green in 1926 and moved to Shoal Lake, MB.  From there they moved to Neepawa where William died suddenly in 1936.  Elizabeth then moved to Dauphin where she died in 1944.