Road Trip Progress

Yesterday traveled Toronto to Delhi 149 km

Met mom’s third cousin for the first time and stayed in the McMahon home that is 118 years old. The famous Irish welcome we were granted was followed by quick-witted conversation, offers of food and a warm place to sit by the crackling fire. We were quickly at ease with our newly met family; the conversation and stories flowed, soon followed by bursts of laughter. A sense of ease and comfort that can only be identified as the familiarity of family.

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McMahon family home built in 1900

 

Followed by hours spent happily scanning their enormous family collection of pictures/documents

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One of the 3 bins of family pictures and documents they have preserved + a very long evening of scanning = genealogy heaven

 

Today began with a visit to La Salette Cemetery to pay our respects to my mother’s great-great uncle Michael McMahon and many of his descendants buried there

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Mary Stewart with her cousin John McMahon at Michael McMahon’s headstone in La Sallete Cemetery, Norfolk

 

Followed by a 166 km drive to our next stop at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Ayton, Ontario. This is where my mother’s paternal great-grandfathers are both buried, William Stewart (1804-1883) and Cornelius McMahon (1824-1893). As well her paternal great-grandmother Sarah McCue/McHugh (1825-1915) and her great aunt Sarah Culliton (1866-1925).

Words cannot convey how amazing it has been the last couple of days. Connecting my mother with her McMahon family and seeing her standing beside the final resting place of people that she did not know the names of before I began my genealogy journey.

*featured image is the interior of the La Salette Catholic Church in Norfolk County, Ontario

 

Did Your Ancestor Leave You A Clue at the Cemetery?

Did your ancestor leave you a clue at the cemetery? Mine did.

Sites like Find-A-Grave and Canadian Headstones are great tools to use in helping us research our family but a trip to your ancestors grave could lead to more discoveries. What you don’t see in the pictures posted on those sites is the headstones surrounding an ancestor. I found the clues my ancestor left on a visit to a cemetery which I wouldn’t have found without being there.

The trip took place in 1998 when my mother and I drove to Saskatchewan to discover more about her grandparents whom she had never met. They were all deceased so the trip would be to the cemeteries to pay our respects.

Up until that point, I had done most of my research on my mother’s family by making phone calls, sending emails, applying for b/m/d certificates and visiting my local library & LDS Centre looking at census records. I was on a limited budget and working with next to no information (my mother knew very little about her family history).

My husband agreed to watch our kids and my mother and I set off, loaded with maps and hope in our hearts. On our list was Indian Head, Saskatchewan (where her mother was from) and Yorkton, Saskatchewan for her paternal side. We hit up numerous antique shops along the way and enjoyed our mother-daughter time.

In Yorkton, we visited King Cemetery armed with the knowledge that this was the final resting place of David Stewart & his wife Bridget McMahon, her grandparents. After locating her grandparent’s headstone and getting a photo, I noticed that beside was a matching headstone but the names were unfamiliar. It read –

In Memory of Margaret McGowan
Beloved wife of John McGowan
Born Nov. 27, 1848 Died Dec. 27. 1916.
RIP
Also the above named
John McGowan
Born April 1842 Died March 28, 1920

This was puzzling, further investigation around the stones showed that there was a cement border enveloping the stones and a third stone that was David & Bridget Stewart’s daughter Violet. But who were these McGowans?

Finding The Connection

Once we returned from our trip, I checked the Rootsweb mailing list for a surname mailing list for the McGowan name. These mailing lists were a great way for genealogists to be in touch before the advent of Facebook and more modern communications. So I joined the list and sent a query asking if anyone knew why the McGowan stone was close to the Stewart’s and if anyone knew of the connection. About an hour later I zipped back down to the basement to check and see if I had received a response, after waiting for the dial-up of our internet I saw that there was a reply from Dani Lee McGowan. Dani Lee had been to the same cemetery two years previous and took nearly identical photographs.

David Stewart stone King Cemetery

The Stewart stone, photo by Patricia Greber

McGowan stone, King Cemetery

McGowan stone, photo by Dani Lee

Stewart, Violet stone, King Cemetery

My mother Mary (Stewart) Dever is holding back the bush so we can read the inscription on Violet Stewart’s stone. This is the third stone enclosed in the cement border which you can see on the right.

Dani Lee knew the families were connected, but she also questioned how. This began the start of a friendship and collaboration that continues to this day. I started researching the McGowan family and eventually found that we share a common relative, Mary Loftus.

Mary Loftus McGowan Stewart

Mary was born about 1822 in Sligo, Ireland (not proven) and married Felix McGowan, either in Ireland or in New York. In 1839 their first child Bridget was born, and two sons John (1842) and Thomas (1844) arrived after the family moved to West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario. In about 1845 Felix passed away, the following year Mary who was a devout Catholic marries a Scotch Presbyterian in 1846. Enter my ancestor William Stewart who becomes a father to Mary’s children and together they have six more, James, Margaret, Alexander, David, William all born in West Flamboro. Mary Ann, their last child, was born in 1857 after the family moved to Ayton, Normanby Twp., Grey Co., Ontario.

The flurry of emails between Dani Lee and I during this research period and discovery was almost daily. Every new discovery was celebrated, we were thrilled to have found our connection.

Evidently, our great-grandfathers David Stewart and John McGowan were close. They traveled from Normanby, Ontario settling in Manannah, Meeker Co., Minnesota for about 30 years, and later they both moved back to Canada and finally chose to rest side by side in death.

The Trip was Worth It

Would I have ever discovered this without a visit to the cemetery? I may have, but I think it would have taken me a lot longer to figure out the connection and I would have missed out on years of collaboration with my cousin!

Seeing the stones side by side was a big clue that these families were connected. The cement border indicating the shared plot drove home that I needed to spend time researching this family.

My advice to you, take the time to visit your ancestors final resting spot and keep your eyes open for any clues the left you.

Meet Up?

Dani Lee and I have never met face-to-face but she has plans to travel to Canada this summer and I hope that we will be able to have a reunion that is 20 years in the making!

Still to Discover 

We still have yet to find when our common ancestress Mary Loftus died. We know she was in Minnesota in 1888 according to “Illustrated Album of Biography of Meeker and McLeod Counties Minnesota” where she is mentioned in the write up for John McIntee, her son-in-law.

Her next and last appearance is in the 1891 Canadian census where she is living with her oldest son James Stewart in Ayton, Ontario. That is the last record we have been able to find for her, someday we hope to find where she is buried so we can journey to her resting place and pay our respects.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

Create Family History Videos

One of the things I learned while attending the OCG 2016 Conference in Toronto was to continue to work on using video to share family stories. Thanks to a session given by Lisa Louise Cooke on How to Create and Leverage Your Own You Tube Channel for Genealogy and her suggestion of Animoto as user-friendly I took the time to play with it. The video took about 20 minutes to create with most of my time spent gathering the photographs and adding the text. Animoto is quite easy to use, they do put a watermark on the video unless you upgrade, which costs $13 a month. This is not a bad a bad price but if I subscribe I would have some projects already prepared in folders and do more than one at a time.

Once on the Animoto site and create an account you can pick a theme from the choices offered. Next up is adding the photographs, drag and drop style. There are also text boxes that you can use to proceed the photographs, caption each one or both. Animoto even adds the music for you! I am sure there are more options but these are a few I used in my creation. I was then able to download my video which I uploaded to my You Tube channel. It was very seamless!

Animoto does put a watermark on the video unless you upgrade which has different options but runs $13 for a month. Although not a bad price I think if I subscribe I will have some projects gathered in folders ready to go and create more than one at a time. My reasoning for a month at a time is I seem to go in waves as far as what I am working on and what my time allows. All in all it was an easy experience and I can see where I can improve and expand my video.  Let me know if you give it a try!

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.

Working Woman – Fearless Female

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation. Blog prompt from Lisa Alzo.

My mother Mary Stewart was one of my first female ancestors to work outside of the home. She grew up on a farm by Albright, Alberta, and the closest town was Beaverlodge. She decided nursing would be the career for her, the closest training school was the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton which was 540 km away. This was not a small distance for someone who had experienced a very small school and hadn’t done much traveling. I asked her about it, this is what she told me

I trained for three years at the Misericordia School  of Nursing. We all lived in residence which was right beside the hospital. Across the alley directly behind us was the interns residence and beside that residence was the Crèche, where unwed mothers were lived and were cared for. Many of these girls were very young.  After their deliveries, some of the girls gave up their babies for adoption.

Sister St, Delphina was in charge of the student nurses. I think she was a very smart  nice person, but we had our regulations. During our first year we had to be in residence by 9:30 every night.

We were allowed a few 10:30 pm and something like  four 12:30 passes each month, the number of passes increased slightly each year as we got older.

After three years, we wrote our government exams and I went with my roommate Collette to work at the Blairmore hospital in the Crows Nest Pass in southern Alberta. It took what seemed a long time before our marks from our exams reached and for us to find out that we had both passed .

We returned to Edmonton in September (I think) for our graduation ceremonies. My mother came out to Edmonton to attend. It was all so impressive to me. The graduation ceremony was at the McDonald Hotel.

A few years ago while I was in Edmonton my friend and classmate, Terri Ellis and I went there to have lunch and catch up. It is a very grand place.

I do know that my mom went on to nurse in Detroit, Michigan after she was married. Later the family moved back to Montreal (1971) and she taught at the preschool I attended.

In Rosemere Quebec, I worked with Binny Goldman at the Rosemere Cooperative Nursery School  Which I think she started and was very sought after place for people to enroll their preschoolers.  I initiated a little gym program for the children which seemed to go over quite well. I believe I worked there for three years before moving out to Alberta.

In 1981, we moved back to Alberta, very close to the place where my mom had grown up. Mom had to go back to school, redoing some courses so she could again nurse in Alberta. She returned to nursing as a VON and later worked at the Hythe Hospital, retiring a few years ago.

52 Ancestors – #5 James Raymond Stewart

James or Ray as he was known was born 1900 in Manannah Twp., Meeker Co., Minnesota. His father David first settled in the area as a young man and travelled north to Canada to marry Bridget McMahon who lived in the same community he had before leaving Ontario.

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James had quite a journey in store. He was the 7th child born to David and Mary and a few short months after his birth he travelled with his family to their new home in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. This journey today is 662 miles and takes about 10 hours, travel in 1900 would have taken quite a bit longer. Ray’s dad David was a farmer and his boys grew up knowing farm life.

At the Stewart farm in Yorkton, SK.

At the Stewart farm in Yorkton, SK.

Ray lost his mother when he was 12 which left his older sisters to care for him. Ray knew that having two older brothers he would have to make his own way, he adventured off to the Peace Country in Alberta and liked what he saw. This prompted him to file for a homestead, then travel back to Saskatchewan to gather up his meagre supplies. His goods arrived by train in 1927 and Beaverlodge was now home.

James Stewart  abt. 1920

James Stewart
abt. 1920

Same photo with some photo editing.

Same photo with editing.

Ray spent the rest of his life in the Beaverlodge area, where he raised a family and worked hard to provide for them. It wasn’t always easy, they lost their home to a fire and finances were always  struggle. He had a positive attitude and a generous heart. James died in 1990 surrounded by his family.

My children standing on the location of Ray Stewart's homestead.

My children standing on the location of Ray Stewart’s homestead.