Saturday, 27 September 2014

Week 39 - Jessie Ann Henry Sinclair

Jessie Ann Henry Sinclair (1904 - 1987)

Jessie was the eldest child and only daughter of Samuel Henry Sr. and Amelia Ollett, born on January 19, 1904 on 22-13-21. They lived and farmed there aside for a few years when they owned and ran a livery barn in the nearby town of Rivers. Her 3 brothers were Bill, Sam (from Week 33 of this blog) and Jim.  Jessie herself wrote this passage in the Medina School history book written in the 1980's.
My school days started in the spring of 1909 in Rivers Where I lived with my father, mother and two brothers, Bill and Sam.  I had gone to school in the morning so happy and came home proudly carrying a paper with all I had learned that morning.  I also carried a letter home to mother from the teacher informing her not to send me back in the afternoon as the classroom was overcrowded, so my school days were short-lived.
School was important to the Henry family so the move was made back to the farm at 22-13-21 where the family attended Medina School #402.
So the years went by, very rewarding years, as I always loved school work and enjoyed the evenings in the winter time, studying and working at grammar, spelling and arithmetic.
She wrote her entrance exams in Rapid City, after having taken Grade 6 and 7 in one year.  She likely could have continued her schooling in Rapid City but the decision was made that at 13 years old, she stay at home and help with the daily chores.  Her contribution to the little history book gives a remarkable glimpse of life in the teens in rural Manitoba.
Spring was an exciting time for school children. With the breakup and run-off, the ravine between our home and the school always flooded, going over the road and taking the culvert out. The men came to our rescue, wearing their hip waders and carried us across. When the water subsided and before the municipality got around to repairing the damage, we wore high rubber boots and crossed the ravine by holding onto the page wire fence and inching our way along, mesh by mesh. If it sounds easy, try it sometime.

Jessie and Bill Sinclair - 1940's.  My dad remembers that the car they are standing in front of was the Simms' Model A Ford, the one he drove to the Municipal Office to tell them he was now 16 so they could issue him his driver's license!  It was also the School Van for many years when at least 10 kids would pile into it for the trip into Oak River.  The car in the background to the right is the Sinclair's 1934 Chevy Coupe.  

  Jessie married my great uncle, Bill Sinclair in 1938 and lived the rest of her life on Bankburn Farm with her sister-in-law Nellie.  Bill and Jessie had one child, Mitchell in 1939 who only lived a short time and sadly, they had no more children.  She did love children however and we were always welcome and treated royally in her house. She and I seem to be kindred spirits as she had a keen interest in family history as well.  Accounts of the children, spouses and grandchildren of John and Jennet Henry complied by her were in the chest of papers I inherited from Aunt Dodie.  Henry connection Mary Bole told me about Jessie travelling to Lethbridge to visit her in 1978 with a suitcase of Henry photos and family trees.  Aunt Jessie is well remembered for her positive attitude and a cheery smile for everyone despite living with arthritis for many years.  She died at aged 83 in Hamiota Hospital in 1987. 

This photo is so typical of Jessie and Nellie,side by side.  This is taken in the kitchen with the wood stove and basement stairs door behind them.  By their attire, I wonder if it was 1967, for a centennial celebration.

1930's ? - Jack Wareham (maybe), Lizzie Sinclair, Bill and Jessie Sinclair.

1930's ? - Jessie, Lizzie and Nellie Sinclair

Aunts in 1940 - back Olive Biccum Henry, Nellie Sinclair, Mary Simms
front - Lizzie Sinclair, Jean Fortune, Jessie Sinclair

Aunts in the 80's - Margaret Simms, Nellie Sinclair, Lizzie Morcom and Jessie Sinclair
Sinclair connections at the Century Farm Sign presentation in 1981.  Jessie in the front row in the blue dress

Friday, 19 September 2014

Week 38 - Mary Simms Bryan

Mary Simms Bryan (1884-1948)

Mary was born on March 9, 1884, the daughter of County Antrim, Ireland immigrants, Agnes McAllister and William Simms in Mountain, Ontario. At 20 years old, she married 28 year old Ezra Bryan in Dundas County in 1904.  He was an also of Irish descendant, the son of nearby farmer Daniel Bryan and his wife Chrsitina Hall.

Mary was the older sister of my grandfather, Alexander Simms.  He left their family home in Ontario in 1903 and didn't have the opportunity to return before his death in 1941.

Ezra and Mary were farmers but I found in a Ottawa Journal Newspaper from February 1940 where Ezra had been appointed school attendance officer and poor warden for Mountain Township.  There was also an interesting article in the same paper in 1934 giving Constable Ezra Bryan credit for solving the crime of a theft of $31 from the Feed and Seed Store in Mountain Station.  He had suspected who was involved with ongoing thefts while the store closed for noon hour and set up a "sting" where the thief was caught with marked bills!  His name is mentioned again in a 1949 edition where it tells of a night time fire at the home of Lester Bryan and his wife and two young daughters.  The family were saved from certain death after being alerted to a fire in their home by a passing motorist.  Ezra was in the home as well and just managed to escape with the pajamas he wore.  
Ezra and Mary - perhaps their wedding photo from 1904
Luella Bryan - born 1906
The 1911 Ontario Census finds the Bryan couple and two daughters at lot 9 concession 6 in Dundas County.  The family are declared to be Methodist.  They went on to have three more sons after this census.

Children of Mary Simms and Ezra Bryan: 
  • Agnes Luella (1906-1996) married Benson George and had 1 daughter and lived at Long Sault, Ontario
  • Ralph (1908-1910) died of appendicitis before he was 2 years old 
  • Dorothy Christina (1910-1997) married Harold Link and had a family of 7; 4 boys and 3 girls  and lived in the Cass Bridge community near Ottawa
  • John Lester (1912-1996) married Hilda Cassidy and had 3 daughters and 1 son; farmed in Mountain area
  • George Clifford (1917-1996) married Shirley Ball and had 2 children, one boy one girl; was with Air Force in WWII and trained at Rivers Air Base in Manitoba; later lived in Edmonton
  • Carl Beggs (1921 - 2013) married Fern Baker and had 3 sons and 1 daughter; was a dairy farmer in the Hallville area

The photos below are from a collection from my cousin Marilee whose mom Gwennie went with Aunt Dodie to visit family in Ontario in the summer of 1945.  The Bryan cousins were very welcoming to the girls, as Dodie's diary tells.  There were picnics, picture shows and afternoon teas.  It was a very memorable trip and Dodie often reminisced about that time at the end of WWII.

Mary and Sharon Bryan
Ezra Bryan

Fern Baker and Carl Bryan
Lester, Hilda and Sharon Bryan
Cliff Bryan
Shirley George
Benson George
Luella Bryan George

Friday, 12 September 2014

Week 37 - Ellen Henry Turriff

Ellen Henry Turriff (1858 - 1940)

Ellen Henry was the second daughter born August 14, 1858 to Mary Tait and William Henry in Perth, Ontario.  She was a sister to my great grandmother Elizabeth Sinclair and also to last week's Janet McKenzie. She was a namesake of her aunt,  Ellen Tait Wilson and had at least one niece named for her, Ellen Sinclair.  

In 1881, Ellen along with her mother Mary and her 10 siblings made their way to Blanshard, Manitoba after the death of her father in 1876.  That same year, she married Malcolm Turriff.  Malcolm was from Little Metis, Quebec and first came west in the 1870's.   He was the clerk of the municipality surrounding Rapid City, MB for 30 years as well as being involved in real estate, butchering, stone cutting, auctioneering and being an insurance agent.  Malcom also operated a ferry across the Little Saskatchewan River before a bridge was built.  The Manitoba Historical Society webpage is a wealth of information and I have used it many times in the research for this blog.  Malcolm Turriff is mentioned as copied below:

Memorable Manitobans: Malcolm Turriff (1849-1917)
                Farmer, municipal official.
Born in Ontario on 7 June 1849, he moved to Manitoba in April 1879 and purchased the entire land section at 10-13-19 southeast of Rapid City from the Dominion Steamship Company. In 1886, he took a job as the second Clerk-Secretary of the Rural Municipality of Saskatchewan, serving until 1906. In this capacity he attended the 1905 founding meeting, in Brandon, of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities. In 1908 he was appointed by the federal government to represent Canada at the World Fair in Britain.
He died at Rapid City on 24 March 1917.
I found that Malcolm Turriff's name lives on when I searched for him with Google.  An online book called "Colour Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada 1900 - 1950"  by Constance Backhouse, starting on page 58, tells the story of Malcolm arranging a pow wow with the local Dakota for the July 1902 fair in Rapid City and the ensuing arrest and prosecution of one of the Dakota elders, Wanduta,  for allowing this to take place.  It seems Prime Minister John A, MacDonald had forbid the Dakota people from dancing for profit and the authorities saw this show at the fair as a violation.  The government of the day did not want the first people of Canada to be encouraged to publicly perform their "savage" traditions.  Malcolm Turriff charged 50 cents each to fairgoers to see the Grass Dance over 3 days but seems to have not been held responsible in any way. Wanduta was not so fortunate and received a punishment of 4 months of hard labour at the Brandon Jail.  

Rapid City Thistle Lacrosse Club 1908

The 1959 Blanshard history book says that the Turriff name was on every line up of sporting events of the early days of Rapid City.  Lacrosse was a very popular game at this time and the Turriff boys helped the town win the provincial title in June of 1914. The above picture was found online at The Western Canadian Pictorial Index as image 22112 on contact sheet AO731and shows Stanley Turriff at the top, second from the left, as enlarged below. 


In later years, many of the family ended up in the city of Transcona, now a part of Winnipeg, working for Canadian National Railways. In fact, one of the children of eldest son William had a street named for him in 2011 on the very eastern edge of  Winnipeg, Stan Turriff Place.
Malcolm died on March 24, 1917 and in February of 1918, documents trace that Ellen lived in Transcona at 74 Harvard Avenue with her son Malcolm.  She died on March 8, 1940 and they have a gravestone at Rapid City Cemetery, pictured below. Thanks to Canada's GenWeb's Cemetery Project and photographer Patricia Green for this photo.  

Children of Ellen and Malcolm, eight boys and one girl:
  • William (1881-1955) married Emma Duneman and worked as a carpenter in Transcona
  • Alexander C. (1883 - 1935) married Maud McLarren and left in 1910 for Chicago then was a teacher in Port Moody, B.C. 
  • Effie (1884-1911) married Robert McKay, railway conductor- she died young with one daughter
  • Robert Gilles (1889-1967) married Pearl Forsythe and was a welder for CN in Transcona.  He served in WW1 and was wounded.
  • Stanley Morton (1890-1961) had a store in Asquith, SK - retired to Oak River
  • Malcolm Harrison (1892-1980)  married Louise Carrick and was a CN Foreman at Transcona and worked for Manitoba Hydro. He was also wounded in WW1
  • Wallace Cameron (1892 -1929) married Nellie Turner and also a CN Foreman at Transcona 
  • John Gordon (1895-1918) married Elsie Gertrude Short  Died in WW1 buried in France
  • Edward Byron (1898-1988) married Rosaline Harding and worked for Winnipeg Electric

With the century of the first world war, it is becoming easier to find information about John Gordon (Regimental number 1000607)  online including his attestation papers and the Commonwealth War Grave Register..He served with the 27th Battalion. Jack was tragically killed on his 23rd birthday. He left behind a wife, Elsie and 18 month old son, Leslie.  Annually on October 31, Page 515 shows his name on display in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa.  He is buried in Bellacourt Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais in France.  

Corporal John Gordon "Jack" Turriff

John's older brother, Robert Gilles (Regimental number 107) filled out his attestation papers very early in the war - September of 1914 at 25 years of age.  He was wounded in WW1 and his medals are on display in the Rapid City Legion as the photo below show (by fellow researcher Sharon).

WW1 Medals of Robert Gilles Turriff in Rapid City Legion

A third son, Malcolm Harrison ( Regimental Number 2380599) also was wounded in the war.  More information about these men and all the others who served is to be released by 2015 at the Library and Archives Canada website.  Follow that link and put in their regimental number to find more once it is online.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Week 36 - Janet Henry McKenzie

Janet Henry McKenzie (1860-1949)

Janet "Jenny" Henry was the third daughter born October 3, 1860 to Mary Tait and William Henry in Perth, Ontario.  She was a sister to my great grandmother Elizabeth Sinclair.  In 1881, twenty-one year old Janet along with her mother Mary and her 10 siblings made their way to Blanshard, Manitoba after the death of her father.  William's brother John and his wife Jennet had earlier made the move from Perth to Manitoba in 1879 and they helped the Henrys get settled.

Two years later, Janet married William Roderick "Will" McKenzie on April 4 in Minnedosa, Manitoba. It is said that Will was born in July of 1854 in harbour in Quebec City on the ship that had brought his family to Canada, presumably from Scotland. He lived with his family in the Perth area in Ontario and came west in the spring of 1880. He travelled by rail to Portage La Prairie and as that was the end of the railway at that time, he came the rest of the way by Red River Cart and on foot. He took out his homestead on NE 2-14-22, the present home of Terry Espey near Oak River. This was a short distance from where Widow Mary Henry and her daughter Janet lived in their stone house. I imagine this was not a coincidence as the pair likely knew each other in Ontario but either way, they married in 1883.

The 1959 Blanshard History book says the McKenzies broke the land on their farm with one horse and one ox.  They had to take their grain to Brandon with horse and wagon where they received 10 cents a bushel for it and brought groceries home with the money received.  This trip took 3 days, if all went well and Will slept under the wagon along the road.

An interesting story that is told in this history book tells of when her husband was away in Elphinstone gathering wood, Jenny was taking the cows to the river, half a mile away, to drink.  She was in the midst of chopping a hole in the ice when a cow got too close and the axe sunk into its nose instead of the ice over the river.  This cow would have been depended on for its milk so Jenny rushed back to the house for flour to pack the wound which was bleeding profusely.  It says that either the flour stuck or providence intervened, but the cow recovered and everything turned out fine.
McKenzie Family - about 1910
Back row: Bill, Kate,Russell
Center row: Janet, Mr. W. McKenzie, Violet, Jack, Mrs. J. McKenzie, Bessie
In front: Eddy

The children attended nearby White Banklea School.  Their first cousins, the Henry's and Sinclairs (including my grandma Mary) were living within a few miles and no doubt there was lots of visiting and holidays spent together.

Eight children, four boys and four girls, were born to William and Janet:
  • John Alexander "Jack" (1884 - 1943)
  • William "Bill" (1886 - 1968) married Laura Speers
  • Russell (1888 - 1966) married Ethel Allen
  • Mary Violet (1889 - 1969) married Thomas Hayhurst
  • Catherine Mabel "Kate" ( 1891 - 1946) married Thomas Davies
  • Janet (1892 - 1922) married Hubert Sparling
  • Edward Henry "Eddy"(1895 - 1971) married Ida Hazelwood
  • Elizabeth Ismay "Bessie" (1896 - 1962) married Frank McDonald
Attestation papers for WWI can be found online for Bill ( Regimental # 3348818) and Eddy (#871891) and this photo of the latter is in the White Banklea School history booklet.  The photo of Kate on the right from about the same time period was from a clipping from the local paper when a Henry from Ontario was looking for relatives in Manitoba.

About 1930, Will had cataract surgery but it was not successful and he eventually lost his sight.  He and Janet moved into Oak River where he passed away in 1941.  Janet lived to the age of 87 and died in 1948. They are buried with their son Jack under one of the magnificent spruce trees in White Banklea Cemetery.