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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Week 43 - Thomas Henry

Thomas Henry (1870 - 1949)

Thomas was the brother of my great grandmother, Elizabeth Henry Sinclair and the son of the Widow Mary Henry.  This blog has also previously featured his sisters Ellen Turriff, Janet McKenzie and Joanna Braid.  At the age of 11, he came to the RM of Blanshard area with his mother and 10 siblings from Perth County, Ontario in 1881 after the death of his father three years earlier. 

Thomas lived the rest of his life farming this soil on the quarter known as "sixes".  He never married but lived with family, mainly his brother Jack.  Thomas was the engineer on the Henry brothers threshing gang.  They had bought one of the first portable steam threshing units around and for years they toured the district, threshing grain for neighbours who didn't own their own machines.  He also helped in the organization of the United Church in Oak River.

In the 1891 Canadian census, 20 year old Thomas lived with his 54 year old mother Mary, elder brother John (also known as Jack) age 23, and younger sisters Mary (17) and Joanna (15).  Brothers Edward (29), William (27) and Charles (25) are enumerated on the next farm.

The census of 1906, shows 36 year old Thomas and 37 year old Jack at 6-13-21 in a stone house with their mother Mary.  They indicate that their farm has 17 horses, 17 milk cows, 30 other cattle and 35 pigs.  Three unrelated people are also in the household, 2 hired men and a servant, Agnes Brown.   Purebred Aberdeen Angus cattle were raised at the Henry's and the 1959 Blanshard history book says they supplied breeding stock to many farmers during the early part of the century.  This same book says Thomas had a Model T in 1912.

The 1916 Canadian Census lists Thomas living with his brother Jack and wife Winnie with their sons Homer and Orville. Thomas and Jack are named as partners in the farm in this document.  A lodger in the home at the time was a 45 year old named Alex Galician.  I happened to notice farther up the same census page there was another man with the same name but 23 years old.  Their birthplace is listed as Galicia and scanning through the surrounding farms, there are several men of Galician birth noted.  Today, this Eastern European region is divided between the countries of Poland, Romania and Ukraine.  Widespread emigration from this area to Canada started in the 1880's due to poverty and it continued until war broke out in 1914.  I suppose that the English speaking census takers could not begin to write what the men's names were so they were all given the surname "Galacian".  How sad for their ancestors trying to track these mens' journeys without their real names on the census documents!

The photo above was taken of the surviving Henry siblings in 1948.  Back row left to right- John (Jack) who was 80, Thomas at 79, Edward (Ned) at 86, and Charles (Charlie) at 82.  Sisters in the front are Joanna Braid ( 72), Janet McKenzie (88) and Mary Wilson (74).  This may have been Jack's 80th birthday celebration since he is wearing a flower boutineer on his lapel.  (Jack lived another ten years, until age 90 in 1958.)

 Thomas died on September 14, 1949 with his sister Elizabeth Sinclair's family at Bankburn farm and is buried in Whitebank Lea Cemetery.  His obituary says he was well known for his generosity and kindness to those in trouble and need of help. 

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