Monday, 18 May 2015

Edith Simms Murdock (1890-1930)

Edith was the younger sister of my grandfather Alexander Simms.  She was the fifth of eight children born to farmers William Simms and Agnes McAllister in Dundas, Ontario.  Her date of birth was January 13, 1890.

On the Census records of 1891, 1901 and 1911, I have found Edith living in Mountain Township with her family.

Edith (with no middle name I've been able to discover) married Erroll Glen Arron Murdock (1896 - 1975) in about 1920.  On the 1921 Canadian Census of Mountain Township, Erroll is actually the enumerator and he and Edith are married and listed as boarders.

Over the next 8 years, Edith and Erroll were blessed with 5 children, a boy and then 4 girls.   Tragically, as Edith was expecting her sixth child, it was found she suffered from uterine cancer.  The child was stillborn and buried beneath a tree in the yard as they knew Edith would follow within days.  This sad event happened on March 15, 1930 and Edith was buried with her baby in the South Gower Cemetery.  Thank you to Erroll's grandson Dave for this information.

 Her five surviving children ranged in age from 9 to almost 2 and Erroll would have likely been encouraged to give them to family or others to raise but it seems he was determined to keep his family together.  

Erroll remarried Lillian Bainbridge and they went on to have 4 children together.  Dave shared with me that they were all raised as one family - not "step" or "half" just brothers and sisters -  in the South Mountain area.  Their Aunt Mary (Simms) Bryan  often hosted the Murdock children and memories of her kindnesses lived on with those little children.  Family is certainly more than blood lines and DNA, as Mary knew and showed.

William Henry Simms (1880 - 1945)

William Henry Simms was the eldest son born to Irish immigrants William Simms and Agnes McAllister.  He was given the middle name of his paternal grandfather.  Born in the South Gower area of Ontario on October 26, 1880, his birth record says no doctor was present and the birth was registered by his father William on November 18 of 1880.  William and Agnes had married in Antrim, Ireland in March of that year and had crossed the Atlantic to make their home in Canada in June, arriving on the 15th on a ship called the Montreal.

On the 1891 Canadian census, William was enumerated as a ten year old with four younger siblings in the farming household.  There was no change looking at the 1901 census.

In 1917 on the11th of April, 36 year old "Bill" married Mae Miller.  She was the 21 years old and a resident of Haddo.  Her father James was owner of the General Store in Haddo in 1905.  

On the Census document from 1921, Bill and Mae were renting a farm in Dundas county and had one child.

The 1930 US census records showed the Simms family in Oswegatchie town in New York State with 5 children and William as a labourer.  This form says they immigrated in 1918 but that doesn't fit with the 1921 census, unless they returned for a time.

His son, William John Alton's obituary from 2008 says:
He immigrated to this country with his family, when he was almost 4 years old. The family
crossed at Prescott, Ontario to Ogdensburg by way of the very huge ferry, the Joseph Dubrule. They brought some horses and horse drawn equipment to start their new life on this side. The family eventually settled on a farm on the Black Lake Road.
The following is the text of the letter that Mae wrote to her sister-in-law, my grandmother Mary Simms upon learning of the death of William's brother Alexander in 1941.  Alex was my grandfather and last time they would have seen each other was 38 years before.  It is hard to imagine this reality two generations ago and it makes me sad for them.


My dear Mrs. Simms,
We just received word Alex has passed away.  Will is awfully upset - although he knew he had not been well.  Doris used to write to Jean.  Will has intended to go out to see him since he knew he wasn't well but he didn't get.  He hasn't seen him since he went out west.  You have our deepest sympathy.  I am sure Will wants to know if you have any snaps if you would mind sending one and we will return it.  He just would like to know what he looked like.  I suppose the funeral might be today.  We hope you or someone will write us the particulars.  Well will close now and may the Lord bless and keep you all in this hour.  You are ever on our minds.  I am not a very good writer any more.
Lots & lots of love & sympathy - Will & Mae Simms

Less than 4 years later, William died on January 20,1945.  He was buried in Pine Hilł (Eel Weir) Cemetery. His wife Mae died on October 19, 1960 and is buried beside him.
Edna and Billy Simms in the summer of 1945 - children of William and Mae

Children of William and Mae:
Norma Jean (1919-2005) married Earl William Livingston and had a family of 4
James Miller (1923-1985) married Charlotte Hughes and had 2 daughters
Claude Malcolm (1924-1938) drowned at age 13 - link to his blog post
William John Alton (1926-2008) married Dorothy Jane Livingston and had a family of 7- link to obituary
Edna Lorraine (1928-2012) married Webster Fields and had 3 children - link to obituary

Steven Carruthers (1873 - 1939)

Steven was the brother of my great grandmother Margaret Carruthers Kinnaird.  He was born in Winchester, Ontario on April 12, 1873, the son of Andrew William Carruthers and Jean Steven.  As the second youngest of a family of eight, he soon realized he would need to move west to get his own land.  At the age of 19, it seems it did just that.

The local history book called Prairie Neighbours written in 1981 says that Steven came west to Kinsmore, north of Lenore in 1892 but eventually decided to homestead in 1894 at Umatilla, north of Grandview, Manitoba.  The image below from Western Land Grants is for the Northwest Quarter of 28, township 26 in range 23 W1.  

On July 1, 1896 a marriage between 23 year old Steven and Grace McCrae who was 17,  was recorded at Strathclair, Manitoba. Online records say she had been born on November 28, 1878 in Grandview, Manitoba to James McRae and Jane Steven.  

Research on the town of Grandview has found that T.A. Barrows built the largest saw mill in Manitoba in Grandview in 1903 on the banks of the Valley River.  The incredible thing to me is that this operation employed up to 1000 men at one time between logging, planing and milling lumber to supply the pioneers to the south.  This enterprise continued for 5 years until a larger mill opened by Mr. Burrows at Bowsman.  This prosperity meant that Grandview has water sewer and electric systems second only to Winnipeg in Manitoba at that time.  

The 1901 Canadian Census showed Steven and Grace on their farm, north of Grandview, with 3 children.  Ten years later the family lists seven children and in 1916 there are nine.  
Thanks to Ancestry contributor "Bowdige60" for the above photo of Grace and Steven.
On the 1921 census the same nine children are listed and three of them are recorded as being "deaf and mute".  If that was true, what a challenge that must have been in so many ways.  One more daughter was born after this census.  Ten children would be another challenge but large families were the custom of many of the Carruthers families it seems.  

Steven and Grace's 4 sons and 6 daughters were named Stewart (also spelled Stuart), Ross, Mabel, William, Elsie, Jane(Jean), Les, Hazel, Edith and Grace.  Their community would have included the nearest school called Spruce Bluff and the United Church at Umatilla.  The Prairie Neighbours book says that as the boys came to working age, they came to the Hargrave-Victor area where they were employed as hired men for local farmers.  The eldest son Stewart married and had 4 sons in the Virden area and Elsie married Charlie Forester (who ran the Pool Room)  and had 2 sons and 2 daughters who lived in the same area.  
This wonderful photo was taken at a studio in Virden by W. Henfrey from the 20's of Elsie and Jean Carruthers.  It was among photos in my Grandma and Grandpa's trunk.  

Grace died on April 14, 1949, ten years after Steven who passed away on October 31, 1939.  Both are buried in Grandview Cemetery.