Sunday, 8 November 2015

Widow Mary Henry's Homestead

Mary and William Henry came from Scotland in 1858 when they were 22 and 29 years old respectively with their two year old daughter Elizabeth, my great grandmother.  They had been married in 1856 in Troqueer, Kirkdudbrightshire in Scotland and joined his brothers John and Edward on their adventure to the new world.  Mary and William worked hard on their land near Perth, Ontario for the next 20 years and 11 children were born to them there.  With their growing family, there was less opportunity for land of their own in the east and the western migration was underway.  About this same time, Mary was widowed by the tragic death of William at the age of 42.
William and Mary Henry - about 1860
His brother John staked out his homestead in Manitoba in 1878 and his wife Janet and their own 11 children left for Manitoba in 1879. Two years later, Mary and her family followed them west. They took the route to the west by railway through the US then made their way to Brandon, where the railway ended. They stayed with John and Jessie that first year -  25 Henrys under one roof!  Her children and their ages were: 
Alexander 10, 

Since her eldest three children were girls, they were not entitled to apply for homesteads but Mary did and she entered for the South West quarter of 6-14-21 on June 18 of 1882. The Inspector's report from November 21, 1893 states they occupied a residence on the quarter as of October 1, 1882. It was described as a log house with half stone valued at $200.  The frame stable, granary and the wire fence around 15 acres was valued at $420.  The Inspector relates the quarter is composed of sandy loam soil with clay subsoil and it is cut up by a large ravine.  I think it reads that the family have 30 acres of hayland and 70 cropped but it is hard to make out .

The Manitoba Archives in Winnipeg contains a few documents about this quarter as well as the Northwest one of the same section including the letter written by Mary herself on September 7 of 1899 below:

Department of Interior. Sir , find enclosed statement for homestead.This is a second homestead and I was to get the patent by cultivating 40 acres in three years and living on my first homestead.We put down the buildings that are on the first homestead.I hope you will grant the patent this way.Mrs. Mary Henry
The accompanying documents state that the NW homestead was entered on June 25, 1895 and they commenced breaking 2 days later.  She has a family of three boys and one girl living with her and she writes she has resided continuously on her first homestead from the date of entry until the present time.  In 1895, 12 acres were broken and cropped the next year when they broke a further 23 acres. By 1899, 37 acres on that section were in crop and Mary and her family had 70 head of cattle, 7 horses and 20 pigs along with a half mile of wire fence, a 18 X 20 house, three stables and a granary.
Neighbour Louis Boniface of 22-14-21 wrote a statement of support for her patent and it was granted on March 21 of 1900.

Her sons also took out homesteads or purchased nearby land according to the local history books:
NE 1-14-22 1898 - John Henry
NE 6-14-21- 1883 - Charles Henry
SE 6-14-21 - 1883 - William Henry
NE 31-13-21- 1895 - Edward Henry
NE 32-13-21 - 1895 - Edward Henry
SW 32-13-21 - 1898 - Edward Henry
SE 32-13-21 - 1893 - Edward Henry
These quarters may have their own documents in the Archives.  There's always more stories to uncover!