IT’S ALL THERE IN BLACK & WHITE Sorry, still doesn’t mean it’s true

Digging into the family tree often leads to more questions than answers. This time I found the answer.

Long before Library and Archives Canada started adding their WWI soldier files online I was systematically ordering the records of family members. (On a side note these records are a treasure and the fact that they are going online for free is is a true gift to family historians).

My family was a very patriotic bunch and I have an archival box dedicated to the 30 plus military files I have collected on my relatives.

Back to the subject at hand. After having collected the service files for my close relatives I started on cousins. George Norton was on the list, having located his service file I proceeded to order the record. After weeks of waiting it arrived in a large envelope in the mail. Dissecting WWI service files is a little tricky but Glenn Wright’s book – Canadians at War 1914-1919, A Research Guide to World War One Service Records is endlessly helpful for gleaning all you can from these records.

What caught my eye other than the fact that George was working as a bartender was a form I had not come across in other service files – Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 7.38.47 PM

George stated that he was his mother’s sole support and that he had two other brothers serving in the military.

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The last line states that he has two other brothers in active service. What? Two brothers? I knew of one brother but not a second. I went back to my tree to try and see what I had missed. George did have two brothers Ernest, whose WWI file I already had and a brother Robert who was born in 1906. Robert would have been too young to serve, so did I miss a child in my research? A look through the records I had collected and I didn’t think so. Maybe George was telling tales? I left it alone, not sure I could solve it.

Newspapers to the rescue. I found this article in The Gazette for Montreal and it mentions George and TWO brothers!

Norton clipping WWI

The Gazette, 14 March 1917

How did I miss Alfred? Well, Alfred was not their brother! He was their cousin, but obviously, he was raised and thought of like a brother.

Alfred does have a sad story. Four of his siblings died in infancy, his mother died when he was 10 years old, and he and his remaining siblings were farmed out to different households.

It seems Alfred was raised by his uncle George R. Norton and wife Sarah Arnold and raised in Montreal. He obviously was one of the family.

Another news clipping recently located in The Gazette tells of a tragic end for his father Thomas Norton’s life. Thomas was working in lumber camps and ended up with frostbite, losing one foot, and gangrene attacking the other one in 1926. Alfred had to make a statement to the police upon Thomas’ death, this statement, as well as the coroner’s report, was published in the paper.

And although Alfred was a fantastic soldier earning the Miltary Cross his life came to a quick and tragic end. He was working as a doorman at the Montreal Athletic Association when he was found one morning by members. Alfred was just 48 years old, his cause of death was syncope, which is in definition is fainting so not likely his actual cause of death, but sufficient in 1930. Alfred left a widow Elizabeth Johnston and no children.

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The Gazette, April 5 1930

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The Gazette, April 8, 1930

What have I learned?

Really many things, family sticks together, Alfred was taken in by his Uncle and grew up with his cousins, which led them to consider themselves, brothers. I am comforted knowing that without his real parents, Alfred was in a loving home and well thought of and embraced by his cousins. Most importantly as a family historian, I have learned to take all the information I find and butt it up against what the records are telling me. Any discrepancies could be a clue to a hidden gem.

Yup, even in our families you will find FAKE NEWS!

Alfred Lee Norton 1900 8 yrs old Quebec Canada 2.

The only photograph I have of Alfred c1900

Oodles of Information in Newspapers for Family History

I think newspapers may be my favorite item to research in my family tree. I love that is real time, I love that it can tell a bit of a story (especially when those are few and far between in my family), I love the detail given in some of the older newspapers but I love it most when I find a mention of a family member.

Recently I discovered that Newspapers.com has more issues of The Gazette a Montreal newspaper. Newspapers.com has issues of The Gazette from 1857-2018! Maybe these papers have been there for a while but they were a discovery for me.

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I spent the next three days researching my Dever, Norton & Jordan families and found numerous articles to add colour and detail to the lives of my ancestors. My favorite find was the wedding announcement for my grandparents. My grandmother had kept a lot of genealogy-related items but other than a studio picture in her wedding dress I have very little information about her wedding.

Beatrice Jordan on her wedding day.

Beatrice Jordan

But thanks to finding this clipping I know details about what she was wearing, her bridesmaids, her mother and even her adorable flower girl.

Transcription – The Gazette (Montreal) Jan 25, 1928

At the wedding of Miss Beatrice Mary Victoria Jordan, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P.J. Jordan, of Outremont, to Mr. John Dever, son of Mr. S. Dever and the late Mrs. Dever, of Montreal, which will take place this evening at six o’clock at Taylor-East End United Church, the Rev. A. McTaggart will officiate. The bride, who will be given in marriage by her father, will wear a gown of white crepe back satin; her frock, which is fashioned with a bloused bodice and an uneven hemline, is draped at the left side and trimmed with an ornament of pearls. Her veil of tulle, banded with Chantilly lace in cap effect, will be caught at the sides with clusters of orange blossoms. She will wear silver shoes and will carry a shower bouquet of lily-of-the-valley and butterfly roses. Miss Isabel Norton, cousin of the bride, and Miss Lillian McGregor will be bridesmaids, and will be gowned in bouffant frescos of chiffon taffeta with trimming to match their gowns, and will carry arm bouquets of Columbia roses. Miss Norton will be in pink and Miss McGregor in mauve. Little Miss Dorothy Cartwright will be flower girl, and will wear a frock of pale blue chiffon taffeta and a taffeta poke bonnet to match, and will carry a basket of butterfly roses.

Mr. William Dever will act as best man for his brother, and the ushers will be Mr. Allan Jordan, brother of the bride, and Mr. Walter Dever, brother of the bridegroom. Mr. J. McLean Marshall will play the wedding music, and during the signing of the register Miss Lillian McHarg will sing. Mrs. Jordan mother of the bride, will be gowned in steel blue crepe black satin; she will wear a black silk hat and carry an arm bouquet of Freedom roses. Miss Edna Dever, sister of the bridegroom, will be in a gown of white georgette beaded with crystal, and will wear a black hat. She will have an arm bouquet of Premier roses. Following the ceremony a reception will be held at the home of the bride’s parents, and Mr. Dever and his bride will later leave for New York. Going away the bride will wear a gown of blue pissy-willow silk, a small blue silk hat and a Hudson seal coat trimmed with squirrel. They will reside in Outremont. Mrs. S. Jordan and Mrs. J. Frost, of Kingston, Ontario will be among the guests from outside the city.

Does anyone else when reading about the dresses that were worn, want to recreate them? And how about that seal coat trimmed with squirrel!

Searching can take some time but the rewards and discoveries are worth every second.

 

 

Sordid Tale of the Steamer The Montreal

A group of immigrants arrived on the shores of Quebec aboard The John Mackenzie. It had sailed from Scotland, its passengers full of anticipation and excitement, the date June 26, 1857. The 250 passengers upon their arrival to Quebec City disembarked only to find their way onboard The Montreal, heading to the next stop on their journey, Montreal.

There were up to 300 passengers onboard The Montreal when a fire broke out near the boiler. The two lifeboats quickly filled and were swamped. With limited choices, people remained onboard as long as possible before jumping in the water, many ended up with severe burns. It is estimated 248 people died in the incident.

I came across information on The Montreal when researching a relative, Robert Andrew Jeffrey. Robert is mentioned in the newspaper as he helped in the recovery of the bodies. What an incredibly grim task.

The Montreal Herald And Daily Commercial Gazette, Thursday, July 9, 1857 col. 3 reported that

“…of the bodies recovered, one hundred and thirty have been picked up by a boatman named Robert Jeffery, who is well known to be a strictly honest man, and who went up to the wreck in the same Steamer as the Mayor, on the night of the occurrence; the remainder of the bodies have been recovered by Michel Barribeau, Joseph Belieau, and the Water Police.”

Reports following in the newspaper condemn the recovery of the bodies claiming thefts of the victim’s belongings as rampant. The Commercial Gazette’s article is defending the recovery process of the victims as other newspapers reported that

“Quebec is the head quarters of two sets of the greatest scoundrels and ruffians on the face of the earth, crimps and immigrant runners.”

and that “…crimps have been reaping a rich harvest by robbing the bodies of the dead”

The victims were mostly laid to rest in Quebec City.

A partial list of passengers was found here – List of passengers

More information on The Montreal can be found here – Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Robert A Jeffery The Montreal 1857

Clip of the article from the newspaper mentioned above

The newspaper was accessed through the BAnQ website where the full article can be found.

 

 

1926 Census – When? No One Knows

The 1926 census has had many of us waiting for any word on when we will have access from Library and Archives Canada.

A look at the Library and Archives Canada website and a small paragraph indicates that it is going to be quite some time before we will be browsing through the 1926 census records.

They plan to have:

“the data from the census available on our website; in the coming months we will be in a better position to estimate a release date.”

What a disappointment. They do not even have an estimated release date? They can’t even guess?

LAC was able to plan a finish date for the WWI digitization project, why not this? It seems poor planning on their part that they couldn’t offer the public more information.

We waited until the allotted date and we get nothing…I for one am quite disappointed in LAC.

The waiting continues.

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Uncovering Dad’s Ethnicity Without Dad

So much buzz in the DNA world with DNA Day sales yesterday, and then 23andMe allowed Ancestry uploads, well only if you live in the USA but still it created some excitement.

This had me review the reports at 23andMe, years ago I had my brother take their DNA test, as I like to fish in all the pools. I recently tested my mother at that site as I wanted to take advantage of some of the utilities they provide when you add in a parent. My dad passed away in 2008 and I did get his DNA tested at Family Tree DNA but I cannot add his DNA to any site that doesn’t allow uploads.

A feature that people have been talking about at 23andMe is the Ethnicity tool which is quite good if you have a lot of mixture in your ancestry. Our family is mostly Irish and it is a broad category at 23andMe but there are some cool things you can see, even if you have only one parent tested.Screen_Shot_2018-04-26_at_1_52_44_PM_1This view shows that my mother and my brother and would like me to connect my father, which I cannot do.

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This next view shows my mother’s ethnicity on the right and what’s left over, so my dad! A very exciting thing for those that cannot test one parent.

*this is not a complete picture of Dad, it is the portion of DNA from dad that is passed to my brother.

Another interesting thing 23andMe does is break it down where on your Chromosome these pieces of ethnicity are showing up.

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And if you click on say the French/German in the table on the right it will highlight that portion of the chart – Screen_Shot_2018-04-26_at_1_53_44_PM

So my brother’s itty-bitty French-German ancestry appears for him on Chromosome 12. If I have someone who matches him at that spot I could explore the fact that they may fall into our Stickle line.

This is a fun exercise that I can also take a step further by downloading the ethnicity report and adding it into DNA Painter.

And it has made me decide to take a 23andMe test to see my comparison with my mother and brother.

PS. 23andMe is having a sale on kits right now, buy two and get the third one free in time for Mother’s Day!

Fairview, BC is No More

As with most genealogists, a trip for me anywhere is an opportunity to do some exploring in your family tree.

My kids are away this weekend swimming and no parents other than chaperones it meant a free weekend for my husband and me. With our corner of Alberta still blanketed in snow, we decided to find some better scenery. A trip to Osoyoos, BC was planned, an oasis to our eyes after so many months of beautiful but never-ending white landscape

Yesterday we landed in Kelowna and with a free-schedule, I convinced him to wait for the Kelowna Library to open before heading to our destination. I had some Harrop family members in the area and I wanted to see what I could find. It took 20 minutes to look them up in the newspaper on microfilm.

Microfilm reader at the Kelowna Library

Microfilm reader at the Kelowna Library

 

Next stop was Oliver. I have written before about my mom’s ancestor James Stewart who ran a store in Hedley, BC from 1908-1920 (approx. dates) but before James was in Hedley his store was located in the town of Fairview, BC. I had not tracked down where exactly the community of Fairview was located on previous visits. A quick stop at the Visitors Centre in Oliver and we were on our way. We were directed to follow the Fairview Road that cuts through the heart of Oliver (and right past the Oliver Archives I might add).

We traveled up the windy trail and found the Kiosk that marks the spot on the landscape where this mining town had once thrived.

The Fairview information Kiosk and the amazing view

The history of Fairview and the area was told on the panels. Fairview was a booming mining town that boasted to be the biggest city north of San Francisco in its heyday (the early 1900s).

A map of Fairview showing the location of some of the businesses

 

The history told at the kiosk describes a thriving community until the gold “played out” around 1906. A great reason for my 2x great uncle to close up shop and move to the next booming mine town of Hedley.

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Location of the Fairview Presbyterian Church stood at the old Fairview, BC townsite

 

 

A short 20 km drive down the road and we had arrived at Osoyoos, a favourite place for us to visit.

And last night I was enjoying our spectacular view from our balcony in Osoyoos.

Last Day of Our Mom & Daughter Road Trip

We spent time at the Flamborough Archives located in the Waterdown Library. Here we were helped two wonderful volunteers who brought out land books from the back shelves. We found the entries for William Stewart who was on Con 5 Lot 5 & Lot 8. As well we looked up the McGowan family whose connection to us is through William’s wife Mary Loftus. Other surnames on the radar were Kenny and Doyle so we had a look at them as well. All these families lived on the Brock Rd. in West Flamborough, Wentworth Co. This area had such a heavy concentration of Irish settlers and that it was dubbed “Little Ireland”. The 1840s-1850s  when the William Stewart’s family was living in the area means there are few records to be found outside of census, church and land records but it was great to visit the Archives after communicating via email over the years.

Another stop on our adventures was to pay respects at the grave of John McMahon. John was a deaf-mute who I wrote about, a brother to Michael, Cornelius and Edward he spent over 30 years institutionalized in the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital. A chilly walk through the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Section ‘S’ left us saddened that John’s his final resting spot was not marked.

It felt so important to me to make this journey to remember him.

We also made sure to visit what remains of the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital John’s home for so many years. (here we tried out the selfie stick, I think we need some lessons)

 

The trip has been fantastic, met family, toured Ontario and most importantly spent an amazing week one on one with my mom!

Shoutout goes to my husband who is at home managing work and kids. I am guessing he is already planning his next golf trip!

Cheers!u3%t3T6ZSUGvE0pH6JKrEA