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.

 

 

Robert Andrew Jeffery

Robert Jeffery lived until he was 69 years old, and during his lifetime he was married three times and had twenty children.

Robert was one of three sons born to Robert Jeffery and Elizabeth Tipper, he was the only one to have children, and have them he did.

Robert’s first marriage was to Delphine Guenet at Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City. A Catholic marriage meant a change for the Scottish Presbyterian Jeffery family. Dephine gave Robert five children, only three survived infancy. Delphine died in 1855 and Robert married again.

His next wife was Sara Duclos, they signed a marriage contract in May of 1856. Their marriage took place in the Catholic Church in Lévis, Quebec. Six children were born to the couple with only four that survived infancy.

In 1862 tragedy struck the family, when son Antoine drowned. I wonder if Joseph Dube who also died from drowning was with Antoine on that sad day. Antoine was Robert’s son from his first marriage.

JEFFERY, Antoine obit The Morning Chronicle Jul 5 1862 p2.JPG

The Morning Chronicle Jul 5 1862 p2

There are a few mentions of Robert in the Quebec Gazette, which is useful in understanding his financial situation. The description below mentions where his land was located. The second clipping from the Quebec Gazette is a judgement against him and sale of his land.

JEFFERY, Robert - location mentioned

A lot of land next to Robert Jeffery’s for sale found in the Quebec Gazette, 9 Dec 1871

JEFFERY, Robert A. Quebec Gazette

city  Robert Jeffery, Quebec Gazette 7 Dec 1878.

Sara Duclos Jeffery died in 1872 leaving Robert with seven children. In the space of a couple of months, Robert marries his third bride, Odile Brousseau. Together they had nine children and I have found that two of their children died at a young age. This would mean in 1886 when their last child was born Robert potentially had fourteen children living, likely his oldest children had moved on to households of their own. When Robert’s last child was born he was 59 years old!

In his lifetime Robert was a boatman, but I am not sure in what capacity. I picture him shipping product for merchants between Quebec City and Lévis but I am unsure at this point if that was the nature of his work.

There are numerous Notary records referring to Robert, many of the documents refer to business deals, leases and sales. I did find one Notary record dated 1873 (in English) in which Robert promises his sons Francois-Xavier, George & Robert Andrew that the deed he is signing will be ratified when they come of age. I am sure more treasures will be found when I focus on this area of my research.

Robert died at the age of 69 in 1897 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Quebec.

JEFFERY, Robert A obit 4 June 1897 Morning Chronicle

Quebec Morning Chronicle 4 June 1897

JEFFERY, Robert A obit 2

Obituary for Robert Jeffery

Many of Robert’s children left Quebec and settled in, Maine, Massachusetts and other locations in the USA.

* I have to give credit to Dr. William Arthur Jeffrey who did extensive Jeffery research in the 1970s. Arthur was a descendant of Robert and his third wife Odile through their eldest son Arthur Theophile Jeffery. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jeffrey as he passed away before I had an opportunity but someone shared his research with me. His research was my starting point of my genealogy research on the Jeffery family. Dr. William Arthur Jeffery’s memorial on Find-A-Grave

More reading on Robert Andrew Jeffery’s sisters can be found following these links – Caroline, Margaret, Hannah, Elizabeth, Mary Anne, Harriet & Julia Heathfield

 

 

 

 

Margaret Jeffery

This is the second part in a series I am writing on the Jeffery sisters.

When I first started researching the Jeffery family I had no idea how I would be drawn to Margaret’s story, it may be because I was able to learn many details about the trials in her life, which was possible with the release of the Quebec Notary records on Ancestry. With the help of Ancestry, I was able to uncover details of Margaret’s life that had long been forgotten.

Margaret Stock[w]ell Jeffery was born 1832 to parents Robert and Elizabeth Tipper. Margaret was their fifth child, with only two of her older siblings still living.

Margaret was baptized Nov. 1, 1832, in St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City and lived in that city for most of her youth. At the age of seventeen, she married an Englishman, George Grey Humphry who was Captain of the aptly named ship The Margaret.

HUMPHREY George m. Margaret Jeffery

In the 1840s there was a regular shipping route between Torquay, England and Quebec City. Passengers were brought to Quebec on timber ships like The Margaret and the return journey brought wood to England where it was in high demand. [1]

After doing some digging I discovered that after her marriage Margaret moved to Devon, England, the home of her husband. A journey across the sea to a new life, I can picture Margaret standing onboard the ship with her face in the wind sailing towards her future.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 8.08.27 AM

Screenshot highlighting the distance between Quebec City and Totnes, Devon. I think the journey would have been quite a bit longer by boat in 1847.

The Humphrys settled near Totnes in Devon, Margaret had a lot to adjust to as her husband would have been gone for months at a time on his voyages. The children started arriving and with Margaret’s family far away, the letters back and forth would have been greatly anticipated.*

Their first child was George who arrived in 1851 but died the following year. The next two children were daughters, Emily arrived in 1854 and Margaret Adelaide (aka Addie) in 1856. Two years later the girls were baptized at St. Andrew’s Church back in Canada. Why did they return? The baptism record answers that question, Margaret was a widow and why George died has yet to be discovered.

Times were tough for a single mother with limited ways of earning an income. In 1859 Margaret gave up the right to raise her girls, Notary Leon Roy (document No. 2618), drew up the agreement between her and La communauté des Soeurs de la Charité (Sisters of Charity Community) also commonly referred to as the Grey Nuns (Soeurs Grises) [2]. At the time Emily and Addie were only five and three years old. A moment that would tear at any parent’s heart.

In 1861 while at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Quebec City Margaret is again meeting with a Notary. This time she is moving the girls to the Ladies Protestant Home of Quebec. This home was located at 95 Grande Allée Ouest.  I am not sure why she would move the girls from one institution to another, one possibility is the Ladies Home was newly established.

A portion of the Notary document reads that Margaret

doth relinquish and renounce all paternal authority and continual that she now has or might hereafter have or pretend to over the said two minor children in any manner or may whatsoever from this day until they respectively attain the aforesaid age of eighteen years

The document also states that the girls will be provided with clothing, lodging, education and medical attention as needed as per “their station in life”. Their religious education will follow the doctrine of the Church of England and they will conform and comply with the rules and regulations of the institution. The girls were ages five and three.

13970-19

Ladies’ Protestant Home, rear view: Quebec Gouvernement; Inventaire des oeuvres d’art A-4; circa1950. Photograph used with permission

1864 brings hope when Margaret walks down the aisle a second time. Her husband is James Atkins from Ohio, a civil war veteran. Three children are born to the couple, daughter Fannie and son Henry in Montreal and after a move to New Jersey, daughter Lillie is born.

You may wonder what happened to the Humphry girls, Margaret was able to return to the Home and claim them once and for all. The joy that day must have been overwhelming for all of them.

The Atkins family eventually settles in New York where they are all found on the 1875 census with James working as a printer.

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Atkins family, Brooklyn Ward 21, Kings, New York, USA, Ancestry.com

Emily is noticeably absent from the household, she married the same year to Constantine Philips, also a printer.

The happiness for Margaret doesn’t last, three years later she dies in New York, making her time with her family fleeting and so precious.

James Atkins marries again, another girl from Quebec, Esther Martin. The Atkins family makes a final move to San Juan, Washington which is where James dies in 1900.

With some research I have found descendants of Margaret’s, her story had been lost to them over time.

Not anymore.

 

  1. Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec by Lucille H. Campey

2.  This document was in French and I am grateful to expert Sharron Callaghan for her help in interpreting it as well as offering an understandable interpretation of the legal jargon. I am continually grateful for her assistance in my Quebec research.

-More reading on the Sisters of Charity in Quebec

-More reading on the Ladies Protestant Home of Quebec

Following Her Footsteps

There always so much to see when I travel to Quebec City and I made a point to visit some places that I knew were frequented by my ancestors.

Before leaving I created a list of places to visit and on the list was the Jeffery family home in the 1840s. Robert and Elizabeth (Tipper) Jeffery lived at 43 Ursule Street in the 1840s-1853 with their children. Robert was arrested for domestic violence and ended up in jail, I am not sure what happened to him when he got out but he does not come back and live with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth opened up a boarding house at 45 Ursule Street and passes away in 1853 and her daughter who was living with her relocates to New York.

Photo3501128

 

Here I am outside her home which is now the Hotel Acadia and is advertised as “cozy rooms in a 19th-century townhouse”.

 

 

Jeffery, E 1850-51

Quebec City Directory 1850-51.

 

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The location of where Elizabeth’s home was in Quebec City. It is quite close to many tourist sites.

 

 

Finding Margaret

You know when you first started doing your family tree and it seems that every time you hit the library you found something new? Well, that’s what my memory of first starting out researching my family tree was like. It probably was a bit more onerous than that, but it’s the discoveries that suck you in. It is like winning the lottery or sitting at a slot machine in Vegas (minus the flashing lights), you get a win and you are hooked. In genealogy, uncovering another record or breaking through a brick wall is the best feeling in the world! These discoveries do not occur as often, but the euphoria still happens every time.

Today was one of those days, I am thrilled to say! I have been on the hunt for my geat great grandmother’s sister for quite a few years. Margaret Jeffery was born Quebec City October 8, 1830, to parents Elizabeth Tipper and Robert Jeffery and her nine siblings, four of which died in infancy. A life of adventure was in store for her, when she was seventeen, she met and married George Humphry, a Captain of the aptly named ship the Margaret.

Chalmer's Presbyterian Church, Quebec City

Chalmer’s Presbyterian Church, Quebec City — witnesses were her sister Elizabeth and her husband Frederick Yeates.

The Morning Chronicle Oct. 30, 1847

The Morning Chronicle Oct. 30, 1847

Margaret moves to her husband’s home in Saint Sauveur, Devon, England, and children start arriving. First George, followed by Emily and then Margaret Adelaide. Little George, only lives four months, but Emily and Margaret survive infancy. Margaret and her children are back in Quebec City in 1858, the girls Emily and Margaret are baptized and husband George is listed as deceased on the baptism record.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Quebec City

Baptism of Emily & Margaret, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Quebec City — Hannah my 2x great grandmother signs with the mother Margaret.

Margaret appears to stay put marrying again in Quebec City. The marriage takes place at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on September 8, 1864, and the groom is James J. Atkins. Further searching on the couple lead me to the birth record of Frannie Elizabeth. I wasn’t sure if this was the right family as the birth was in a Methodist church in Montreal. I next look for the family in New York, as I know daughter Margaret’s daughter Emily Humphry gets married there.

In the 1875 New York census I find this family and I think it could be them.

1875 census Kings, Brooklyn Ward, E.D. 3

1875 census
Kings, Brooklyn Ward, E.D. 3

The entry lists the Atkins family consisting of parents James, Margaret with children Addie, Fannie, Henry and Lillie. This family looks promising, it states the right birth places for everyone.

The clincher arrived in the mail today, I had ordered a marriage record for Frannie Atkins who married in New York. This Frannie I suspected to be from the family in the census. A longshot but I was feeling lucky! The marriage record arrived today for Frannie Elizabeth Atkins to Gerald Forest Burroughs taking place in Brooklyn, New York in 1886. Frannie’s parents were listed as… James J. Atkins and Margaret Jeffery,!!!! and Fannie is from QUEBEC!! Success! My gamble paid off and I am so happy I followed my hunch that this was her.

Frannie Atkins marries Gerald Burroughs

Frannie Atkins marries Gerald Burroughs

I was saddened to discover that Margaret (Jeffery) (Humphry) Atkins passed away in New York on July 30, 1878. I do hope to track down where she is buried and someday get an opportunity to pay my respects and connect with some Atkins cousins!