A Death by Drink or Not?

Today marks the 124th anniversary of the death of Cornelius McMahon my mother’s great-grandfather. Cornelius left Ireland with his parents and siblings when he was in his 20s, the family had lived through most of the famine but decided to leave. He settled in Ayton, Grey Co., Ontario, married and had seven children. I was surprised to find that he was ‘accidentally killed’ when reading his death record.

Naturally, I wanted to explore this more and I contacted the Wellington Archives which houses newspapers that cover Grey Co., Ontario.

Initially, when reading through the newspaper account I was impressed to read when he was attending an event in nearby Durham he…

was given a place of honour on the platform with all notable men present.

But this quickly turned to dismay when I read…

Before leaving for home he became intoxicated, being addicted to drink.

The newspaper goes on to report that Cornelius and his companion John McIntee both had imbibed too much at the event and on the journey home…

…the colt became unmanageable and on the the road leading through the swamp on this side of Varney ; that both were thrown out and when he [McIntee] went to McMahon’s assistance he found him dead.

The cause of death was declared a broken neck, Cornelius was 69 years old.

McMahon Corn. acc. death001

Mount Forest Representative Sept 21, 1893 pg.8

Another search to see if the coroner’s report had made its way into the newspaper and I found a retraction of the previous story.

…there was nothing in the evidence to show that the unfortunate man was the worse of liquor at the time of his death, and as it is alleged he was not, we cheerfully state these facts and regret the report got abroad and found its way in these columns that he was not sober.

McMahon Corn. acc. death002

Mount Forest Representative 5 Oct 1893 pg.8

So was Cornelius a drinker or not? Did the newspaper have to retract because it was an error? Or maybe the family just didn’t want it said? I am sure I will never know, and no matter what he is remembered.

Cornelius McMahon.

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Ayton, Grey Co., Ontario 

Cornelius McMahon 1824-1893; His Beloved Wife Sara McCue 1825-1915; May Their Souls Rest In Peace; Sarah McMahon Wife of Michael Culliton 1886-1925 Rest In Peace. 

 

Connecting at Conference

I was lucky enough to attend the Ontario Genealogy Conference that was recently held in Ottawa. A few of the reasons I LOVE attending:

  1. Deals. The vendors are there in spades and they offer great deals, DNA kits at unheard of prices, renewing your subscription to sites again at reduced rates, books, scanners, and more.
  2. Networking. Talk to societies, archives or other organizations face-to-face. They are there to help and answer your questions.
  3. Learning. The speakers, oh the speakers, their informative talks help to give you focus and direction in your research.
  4. Volunteering. You can put your own knowledge to work by volunteering at these events or by helping out. I was a part of the Social Media Team and they were a truly fun group to work with.
  5. Access. Did I mention the research room? FREE access to many great genealogy sites. The access given allowed me to research and locate many records that I didn’t even know were out there. Genealogy Quebec is the site where I found many new discoveries. The room also had free access to Find My Past, My Heritage, Ancestry, and others. This is a great way to ‘try them out’ and see if they would be a worthwhile purchase for you.
  6. Excursions. I had never been to Library and Archives Canada and felt a little intimidated about visiting. I shouldn’t have been, the tour was quite informative and I was able to ask questions when I wasn’t sure about something. It was a day well spent.

One thing I did this year was showcase my own surnames. I had a T-shirt printed and I was a walking billboard. My t-shirt received a lot of comments and because it was tweeted so many times I was contacted by people who matched my Gedmatch number! Goal achieved.

 

IMG_0331

Photo creds to LDC

 

I think we may see more of these shirts at future conferences.

You may wonder why I would travel so far (Alberta) to attend and there is really one over-riding reason, the people. The new-found friendships, renewed and strengthened are really the reason I keep coming back.

 

 

It’s Not All Unicorns and Rainbows in Newspapers

A new favorite site of mine is Chronicling America a historic newspaper site. I may be a little late to the party on this but wow, I am impressed. The site offers a huge collection of newspapers covering most of the states in the US from 1789-1924.

I do not have a lot of USA research, but there is the odd family I keep my eyes out for. A branch of my mother’s family the Stewarts left Grey Co., Ontario and moved to Manannah, Meeker Co., Minnesota. They were not the only ones to make this move, other surnames that were in both Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario and then neighbours in Manannah were the Garvey, Ryan, Gibney, Cody, McIntee families and a few others.

Margaret Stewart with her husband Michael Cody joined the exodus and you can find them on the 1897 map of Manannah in Eden Valley. The map on the Historic Map Works site also shows the land owners names right on their plot of land, you can easily see all the other families close by. And one of the reasons I was fooled about when Michael Cody died, his name is on the map in 1897, I soon discovered he was not actually living there.

Margaret and Michael Cody (so I thought) left Manannah and make another move, this time to Montana. I lost track of them for a few years but find Margaret, a widow running a boarding house aptly called Cody House in Helena, Montana. A story surfaced from a relative that Michael her husband, died in a railway accident in the early 1900s and Margaret never remarried.

 

stewart-girls

Margaret (Stewart) Cody with her nieces who helped her run the boarding house Cody House in Helena, Montana.

 

I have always kept an eye out for Michael’s death to back up this tale, I was sure it would be in the newspapers if it was true. Yesterday, within five minutes of searching on Chronicling America, I found the proof. It seems Michael wasn’t actually working when he died but traveling to find work and according to the report was under the influence of liquor when he fell off of the train! The date of the newspaper is 1892, which means that on the Meeker Co.map he actually was not the landowner, he had been dead for five years.

The Livingston Enterprise March 19, 1892

Cody, Michael - The Livingston Enterprise Mar 19 1892  copy 2.jpg

Now I know what the truth of the incident, I am not surprised that it wasn’t completely accurate, it has been over 100 years! The article also mentions that they held an inquest in Bozeman, something  I will be investigating further.

As more and more newspapers are added on-line we will truly be able to discover the day-to-day lives of our ancestors. The good times, the maybe not so good, but life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows.

 

How Far Can DNA Take You?

Can DNA break down my long-standing brick wall? Good question, and one of the reasons I started doing DNA testing. Last night I found new information that may yet hammer down another wall and it was uncovered due to DNA.

I have been on the hunt for information on a maternal great, great, grandmother for ages. Here is a brief summary of what I know –

  • Name: Anna Eliza Stickle
  • Born: 1814 in USA
  • Married: 1835ish to Lewis Harrop
  • Lived: Pennsylvania, New York and Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. She had children in all these locations.

I have census records, land, and death records but as this is the main details I will not list all the information here. I don’t know a lot when you think about how long I have been researching this family. Maybe DNA will help me to find some of the missing information.

Ancestry DNA Tools

The tools that Ancestry offers are the most useful I have found in comparison to other testing companies. Why? The trees! Many people have connected their trees to their DNA results which is the key to unlocking many puzzles. Couple that with the search feature and discoveries are within reach.

If you haven’t used the search feature on Ancestry here is a quick walk-through. On your DNA page click on View All DNA Matches.

View All DNA matches.png

The following page, you want to click on Search Matches.

screen_shot_2017-02-23_at_9_37_03_am

I entered the Stickle surname and left the birth location blank.

screen_shot_2017-02-23_at_9_37_21_am

I received 5 matches to people and each person has a tree that I am able to access! screen_shot_2017-02-23_at_9_37_36_am

The matches were not close matches (5th-8th cousin) so instead of getting in touch with them I wanted to investigate their trees to see what I could glean from them. I proceeded to look at each tree, my Anna did not show up in any of them, but there were clues.

Locations

What the trees offered were locations which I did not have before. Most of the Stickle matches have the location of Rhineland, Dutchess County, New York. This information is not conclusive but it contains clues to where I can look for information on Anna.

Try doing a surname search and see if you can find clues to follow. I also recommend connecting your DNA results to a tree so you and your DNA matches can do what I have done. If you would rather keep your tree private create a DNA tree, this is what I have done, it will help you to get the most out of your matches. If you haven’t yet taken a DNA test, what are you waiting for?

And to answer the question how far can DNA take you? I think pretty far and farther all the time.

Ontario Genealogy Conference 2017 Adds Another Day of Learning

Ontario Genealogical Society’s 2017 Conference that will be held in Ottawa  June 15-18, has added an aptly named Ancestry Day to take place on June 19th.

The Conference already has a full weekend of genealogy learning starting with their excursions on Thursday (* the trip to Library and Archives Canada is already full) followed by three days of sessions. The fourth day will take place on Monday the 19th.

The Ancestry Day schedule covers

  • Getting the Most Out of Ancestry 1&2
  • DNA: Testing Everything You Need to Know
  • Adding Genetic Evidence to Your Family Tree
  • Sharing Your Story

This great line up of talks will be given by speakers Crista Cowan and Anna Swayne and they will also have Ancestry DNA kits on sale.

For those that have already registered you will have to go in and register separately for this added day. To register or find out more about Ancestry Day it is on the Conference Page under Special Events.

 

 

JAMES STEWART – His History

His Life

From Ontario To British Columbia 

 

James Stewart Hedley, B.C. c1915


James Stewart was a broad-shouldered stocky man, who lived a life that embraced possibilities and adventures. Born to William Stewart and Mary Loftus in West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario and baptized on Jan. 6, 1847. James was their first son as a couple but not the first child to the household. Mary Loftus had been married previous to Felix McGowan, and they had three children. As well as three McGowan siblings, on the Stewart side three more brothers and two sisters joined the family for a total of 9 children.

William Stewart was Presbyterian and Mary his wife Catholic; all the children are raised Catholic, which caused some issues in the family according to stories told by a cousin. That’s a story for another day!

The 1861 census reveals that the family had relocated to Normanby Twp., Grey Co., Ontario. Normanby will be home to James for the next 40 years.

At the age of 28 James married Mary Curran, who was living with her parents Edward & Jeanette in Normanby. Together they bought 100 acres on Con 3 Lot 32 and farmed the land.

Mary died after eight years of marriage and is buried in Mount Forest, Wellington Co., in her parent’s plot. They did not have any children, and James must have felt the loss deeply as he did not marry again.

James and his mother Mary, both widowed are living together in the 1891 census for Normanby, James is still farming the land. He must have been ready for a change though.

Around 1902 James left his farm, friends and all that was familiar joining many gold seekers heading west. His first stop on his journey was Fairview, B.C.  and while there he was joined by his sister’s adopted son James Cody. James Stewart opened a store in Fairview, and his nephew worked with him.

 

Plaque at the Hedley Museum


1906 finds both the James have relocated to Hedley, BC., a mining town. Gold was found close to Hedley in 1898 at Nickel Plate Mountain. 1903 saw a flurry of activity with men digging tunnels in the mountain. At its peak, the population of Hedley was 1,000 people but in 1915 it was in decline as there were under 400 people calling it home.

In Hedley, James was a setter at the diamond drill camp as well he owned a general store.

Here are two of the of ads that I found in the Hedley Gazette which was the local paper that was in publication from 1905-1917.

STEWART Jan 28 1915

Hedley Gazette

Hedley Gazette

Hedley Gazette

The newspaper was one of the best sources of information about James and his life in BC. For instance, I learned that in 1915 had him installing a new floor and shelves in a store upgrade,  as well James regularly gave to the Patriotic Fund to support troops in WWI. There were trials as well, in 1909 he had a small roof fire that was quickly spotted and extinguished thankfully, and in 1916 $12.00 stolen from the till in his store. James’ nephew, James Cody left for Vancouver, B.C. to fix his varicose veins and after went to Helena, Montana to visit family. He wrote back to his uncle and is noted by the newspaper. James lived an active life at the age of 67 years old he was still working at the diamond drill camp. He was injured when sitting on the edge of a tram car when the cables switched, and he was “sent spinning on the track.” Thankfully both James’ recovered from their conditions.

I was also able to learn about other family members from the newspaper. In 1914, it was reported that James’ sister Margaret Cody is traveling to see her son (and brother). After her visit she is heading to Yorkton, Saskatchewan to visit another brother. I love small town newspapers!

Reading through the columns of the paper life in Hedley was relatively normal for the times. The community hosted gatherings; there were women’s groups and dances.

James was far from most of his family in a time when communication was not easy or fast. I am sure he had great friends and enjoyed his life in Hedley. James lived in Hedley until his death that took place at the hospital in the nearby community of Princeton, Jan 23, 1921, at the age of 74 years. Hedley at this time was in decline. According to the papers filed with his estate due to the closing of the mine at Hedley and the general business depression James’ estate owed money. He had property in Hedley and also in Fairview, B.C., which at this time had become a ghost town. His property was not worth very much and the administrator of his estate was having a hard time selling it. James Cody offered to buy one of his lots in Hedley for $250.00.

In 2015, a descendant of James’ brother, David Stewart made the journey to Hedley. Mary Stewart traveled over 11 hours to see the community and learn more about his life. It was a memorable trip and incredible to see where James called home. The fact that the miners lived at the top of the mountain and had a community there was jaw-dropping to see first hand.

James didn’t leave any direct descendants, but we his family remember him and his exciting life. He endured loss and day-to-day struggles but continued to adventure on and explore new horizons.

My fingers highlight the camp location.

My fingers highlight the camp location.

Mary pointing to the camp at on the Nickel plate Mountain

Mary pointing to the camp on the Nickel Plate Mountain

 

Patricia & Mary in Hedley with the Nickel Plate Mountain in the background.

Patricia & Mary in Hedley with the Nickel Plate Mountain in the background.

Mary (Stewart) Dever at the Hedley Cemetery, Hedley, B.C. June 2015. In Memory of James Stewart 1849-1921 May His Soul Rest In Peace

Mary (Stewart) Dever at the Hedley Cemetery, Hedley, B.C. June 2015.
In Memory of James Stewart
1849-1921
May His Soul Rest In Peace

SOURCES

1852 census West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario; William Stewart; Family Search index https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWT2-XMG

1861 census Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario; Family Search Index https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQ78-K1T

1891 census Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario; Family Search Index https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWLM-6CT

Hedley Heritage Museum, Tenacity, the Story of Hedley, Then and Today- http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=story_line&lg=English&fl=0&ex=00000834&sl=9272&pos=1

Penticton News, Hedley Boys http://www.castanet.net/news/Penticton/119516/The-WWI-Hedley-Boys

Hedley Museum –  http://hedleybc.ca/go-to/hedley-heritage-museum/

Princeton & District Museum & Archives – http://www.princetonmuseum.org/Princeton_Museum/Home.html

Fairview, B.C. information kept at the Oliver Archives – http://www.oliverheritage.ca/

Hedley Newspaper available on-line and ran from 1905-1917 http://historicalnewspapers.library.ubc.ca/info/collection/hedley

Royal BC Museum which has b/m/d records for British Columbia http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy/BasicSearch

History of Fairview, B.C. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairview,_British_Columbia

Photo of James Stewart is a copy of a tintype that was owned by Mary McIntee. Mary McIntee’s obituary http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesmanjournal/obituary.aspx?pid=172811956

From the Letters of Administration –

At the time of his death James owned Lot 3 Block 24 Map 107 Hedley; N1/2 Lot 12 Block 4 Map 27 Ellis Subdivision Fairview & Lots 10,11,17 & 20 Block 4 Map 27 Ellis Addition Town of Fairview;  Lot 18 Block 24 D.L.’s 1975 & 1976 Group 1, Similkameen Division, Yale District Map 107 – James Cody to purchase for $250.00.

Rachel (Hodgins) Harrop a Fearless Female

Rachel Margaret Hodgins was born on Dec. 3, 1870 in Huntley, Carleton Co., Ontario to parents Rachel Mordy and William W. Hodgins. On the 1871 census Rachel was enumerated at the age of 4 months and was surrounded by Hodgins families. Rachel’s grandparents and many of her father’s siblings are listed next door on the census. Living close by, and appearing below them on the census is William’s brother Henry Hodgins.

The Hodgins family is quite an old family to the Huntley area. They were one of the first settlers to arrive after the war of 1812. Thomas Hodgins, Rachel’s great grandfather was said to have been a soldier in 1812 (another research project for another day). Thomas had 4 children with his first wife and then married again and had 11 more children. There are Hodgins relatives everywhere! But back to the story of Rachel.

Rachel welcomed a sister and then a brother before her mother died in childbed when she was 9 years old.

HODGINS, Rachel M. death 1879

Rachel (Mordy) Hodgins death record

As many widows with young children, Rachel’s father looked to remarry and quickly, as his youngest child William was only 2. Less than a year after his wife’s death William married Caroline Jordan who was 30 years his junior and they lived in Torbolton, Ontario. Similar to his grandfather William went on to have 9 more children with his second wife. It’s funny how I do not know many stories about this family, but one that I did hear was that the children of the first marriage did not stay long in the home and they moved and became house maids or labourers to neighbors in the area. An indication of this is in the 1881 census as none of Rachel’s older siblings are living in the house. Rachel is not living in her father’s home in the 1891 census and in 1901 I can find Rachel Hodgins living in Ottawa and a servant to William Parris who was a brewer. I do not know if this is my Rachel as she has a different birth date according to the census.

Rachel was married to William Harrop Feb. 7, 1907 when she was 37 years old and he was 16 years her senior.

Rachel Hodgins & William Harrop c.1907

Rachel Hodgins & William Harrop c.1907

Rachel worked very hard on the family farm located in Balcarres, Saskatchewan and she welcomed three children into the world. Their farm was large and William proved to be a good provider.

The  Harrop home in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. c1915

The Harrop home in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. c1915

In 1932, William passed away and the Great Depression hit the Harrop farm hard. The farm was taken away from the family shortly after his death and Rachel lived with her daughter Dorothy until her passing in 1950 in Binscarth, Manitoba.

Rachel (Hodgins) Harrop is my great grandmother and one of my fearless female.