Wednesday, October 28, 2015

John Hosea Mead - work in progress

I ran the Niagara International 5k this weekend with some other ladies and we all decided to walk through the Drummondhill Cemetary in historic Lundy's Lane. It was nice to be with people who share my interest and fascination in old cemeteries. We weren't there long, but long enough for me to discover a few people that I wanted to get to know better. The first stone that caught my eye was for 11-year-old John Hosea Mead, only son of Hosea and Lucy Mead. A few things interested me about John: his unique middle name, the fact that the stone seems to show that he was born in 1811 in the USA, died in 1852, and that was 11 years old when he died. The numbers don't add up. It is however very possible that the 4 in 1841 has faded on the stone.
The first thing I did was look up exactly where Clyde, Wayne County, New York is located geographically. According to Wikipedia, it is a small village in the Town of Galen and between Rochester and Syracuse.(1) Quite a distance from Niagara Falls. I did some google searches for John and didn't come up with a lot, other than pictures of his stone.
 I decided to search Ancestry for his parents in the 1851 census and didn't have any luck there either.
 According to the Niagara Falls Public Library, the Welland Tribune contained news for Chippawa and Drummondville area. (2) The Welland Public Library does have an index of records, but only from 1872. (3) I contacted the Niagara Falls Public Library to see if they can help me determine if they had a microfilmed version of the 1852 newspaper that would have serviced the area. The librarian was only aware of newspapaers that dated back to 1872. I explained that there were a number of papers prior to that in the Niagara Falls area and sent her the LAC link for their own reference!

  I poked around the 1851 Census but I can't seem to find the family yet so I decided to work back and focus on Clyde. I found a couple of things. From the Fulton Postcards website (awesome website btw) I discovered an announcement to dissolve the co-partnership between Hosea Mead and William C. Ely, dated Nov 8, 1845. It appears that they had some sort of stand where they sold goods. William was going to continue to sell goods "a little cheaper than they can be bought in this place hopes to receive, as heretofore a large share of public patronage." (4) The announcement appeared in the Clyde New York Eagle. I then found an obituary for who I can only assume is Hosea Sr. He died in Clyde on Wednesday, Aug 11, 1847. This announcement appeared in the Geneva Gazette. (5) Further research uncovered a cause of death (Palsy) and that he was 34 when he died. (6) Poor Lucy lost her husband and son within 5 years of each other.
  Armed with this new information, I returned to the 1851 Census and searched instead for Lucy. I found Lucey Mead immediately in the Census for the Village of Chippawa. I found her, with her children Caroline, aged 13 and John, aged 11. She was turning 34 on her next birthday. All three were born in the United States and were Presbyterian. (7) This at least tells me that John was born in 1841. The stone must be incorrect or the 4 too faded to properly read.
  I looked for Lucy in the 1861 census without luck. Rather than leave the grave of her only son I suspect that she remarried. I tried to search for Caroline in the 1861 census to see if she might be living with her mom and a new husband but no luck there either.
  Determined to not give up, I've started to research the history of the Drummond Hill Cemetery to see if I can find information about someone who might have already done some research about the people buried in the cemetery. I may have found something that will help. Apparently William C. Dalton, the Sexton of the cemeteries kept a journal of the burials with some interesting background on the deceased. (8) So, I contacted the Niagara Falls Public Library and asked if they could look at the journal and let me know if there is mention of John. Cathy got back to me pretty quickly.  She provided me with a link to the Niagara Falls Cemetery website.  From this link, I discovered that John was buried the day after he died and  it provided me with the plot location, but not much else.  A few hours later, she sent me a couple of scanned images of information about John.  One from was the book "Historic Drummond Hill Cemetery transcriptions", which also noted that this date of birth was 1811. The other was an image from Dalton's book. The scan was a typewritten copy and provided disappointingly little information.  The image has three columns of information without a header.  The first column seems to be the burial date, the second column is the name of the deceased (John Mede) and the last column is the age of the deceased.  In this case, John is recorded at 15 years....,   I would like to see a copy of the original journal entry instead of a typewritten index...  

7. 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Year: 1851; Census Place: Chippawa, Welland County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11757; Page: 31; Line: 7

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The DesJardins Canal Catastrophe

  I've lived almost my entire life in Burlington and Oaville, Ontario and I've never heard about the DesJardins Canal Catastrophe.  I was in one of the older cemeteries in Oakville (St Marys) over the weekend whose claim to fame is Chisholm family plot,  Colonel William Chisholm being the founder of Oakville. 
  My research for a fellow genealogist from Michigan took me to the Husband family plot surrounded by the Chisholms but a different stone is what caught my eye.  It lay broken in three pieces in the ground under a tree and not really close to other stones.  It read ".... of Michael and Rose who were killed at [the] DesJardin Canal Catastrophe March 12 1857".  It was a memorial for two sisters, Mary Devine, aged 15 and Ellen Devine aged 20.  I decided to dig a bit further and discovered that one of my favorite places in Burlington was the scene of a rail disaster.  The Great Western Railway company built a railway swing bridge 40 feet above the DesJardins Canal near Cootes Paradise. On March 12, 1857, the front axle of a passenger train broke as it approached the bridge. As a result, the train jumped the tracks, crashed through the bridge, and fell through 2 feet of frozen canal, destroying the engine and submerging the two passenger cars.  The second passenger car apparently landed on it's front end, sticking up out of the water.  Mary and Ellen were on their way to see their brother in Hamilton and various newspaper report state they were from Port Nelson, now Burlington.  Mary and Ellen died together and did not appear to have been thrown apart as many families riding the train had.  Their brother instead of picking them up at the nearby station, ended up identifying their bodies. Poor sisters and poor family.  What a tragic way to end young lives.

While many died gruesome deaths, there were also a few miraculous survivals. I've found a number of websites about this disaster the last one including accounts of the rescues:

The Sarnia Observer, March 19, 1857 (full newspaper text online):,107185

Full details of the railway disaster of the 12th of March 1857 at the DesJardins Canal of the line on the Great Western Railroad:

The DesJardins Canal Disaster on the Hamilton Public Library website:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mabel Reid Bryan

I decided to stop at the Midhurst Pioneer Cemetery on a recent drive home from Midland to do a geocache and wander.  I found this stone.

I'm not really sure what drew my attention to it.  I think it was her age and the fact that she was referred to by her maiden name. I decided to do a little digging, well not literally ;)

The first record I uncovered was her marriage record. Mabel Reid, daughter of John Reid and Emma Coady married Michael John Bryan on 30 Jan 1906 in Toronto. She was 20 and Michael was 27.  Michael was a cook.
  I found her death record next.  Mabel died on 30 July 1911 in St Michael's Hospital in Toronto,  as a result of burning. Yikes!  I logged in to the Brampton Public Library website and accessed the Toronto Star's Pages of the Past.  I did a search for Mabel without luck.  I decided to turn the search to the historical newspapers for Barrie in the hopes that they wrote about her in her hometown paper. Unfortunately, she made front page news of the August 3 Northern Advance.
  At 9 am on Sunday July 30, Mabel went downstairs in her house at 309 Church Street to make her husband breakfast. Three minutes later, Michael raced downstairs when he heard his wife shrieking in the kitchen. What he found would have been terrifying.  Mabel was entirely engulfed in flames, and he used his bare hands to beat out the fire.  She went by police ambulance to St Michael's within 20 minutes and died an  agonizing 7.5 hours later, at 4 pm.  Apparently, Mabel had just sold her gas range and replaced it with a small plate burner.  When she went down to light the flame, the burner detached from the gas tubing and fell to the ground. A flame shot out of the tube and set fire to her night dress. When the ambulance arrived, she was conscious but was a "mass of burns from her feet up"
 Wow.  Totally not what I was expecting when I took the picture of the stone.  I figured she died in childbirth or from TB.
   Michael did go on the remarry.  On 11 April 11 1916 Michael married 22 year old Bessie Hossie at St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A stone all on it's own - work in progress

So I took the kiddies out to Port Burwell and we took the long way home along Lake Erie.  As we meandered, I saw this sign, which of course I passed but couldn't pass by.

I turned around to check it out. The cemetery was well back of the road and most of the stones were on top of what appeared to be a small mound.

Once I got to the top, I discovered that the cemetery was much bigger than I expected.  I walked around looking for something interesting.  I took a few pics and as I was walking back to the van, along side a pond, I came across this stone:

It was well away from all of the other stones in the cemetery.

  I decided that these were the two people I wanted to get to know.

  I found Joseph and Louisa fairly quickly in the 1891 census living in South Walsingham West in Norfolk County.  Joseph was 36 and like his parents, he was born in Quebec.  He could neither read nor write.  Louisa was 31 and like her parents were born in Ontario.  She could read and write.  They had 5 children at the time:
Lundy - aged 9
Crellon - aged 6
Myrtle - aged 4
Beatrice - aged 1
The boys could read and write.

  The 1901 census finds the family in Port Rowan with one more child, Pearl born 2 Nov 1895.  This census gives Joseph's date of birth as  9 June 1854 and Louisa's as 5 June 1859.  The tribal origin of everyone in the family is French and their religion is Methodist.  You would think this will help narrow down the search for Joseph's baptism record, but it was not to the case.
  Luckily I found their marriage record.  Joseph Reauso married Louisa Brisseau on 7 December 1878 in Port Rowan.  Joseph's parents were Mitchel and Margaret.  Louisa was the daughter of Sylvester  and Jane.  Their witnesses were T.L and Jane Hollywood.
  Louisa proved to be much faster to research.  She appears with her family in the 1861 census with her brother Damos.  They lived in a one storey frame house.  The Reauso family appears above them but Joseph is conspicuously missing. Mitchel and Margaret appear with their children Samuel (14), Hannah (12), Eugene (4), and Delmer (2).  Seems Joseph should appear somewhere between Hannah and Eugene. Mitchel was born in Canada East and Margaret was born in Canada West.  They lived in a one storey log cabin.
 Louisa appears with her family again in Walsingham in the 1871 census but the Reauso family seems to have moved.  In this census, I can see that her father is Roman Catholic and her mother is Baptist.  Neither parents can read or write.  All the children attend school.
  As is almost always the case, sometimes the only way to move forward is to first move sideways.  I started to search Joseph's siblings.  I managed to find Delmer in some census records with his son.  He seems to have been a widower at a young age.  He remarried at age 63 and in this record, I got his mom Margaret's maiden name: McLean.  Argh.  Way too common a name to help narrow down my search.  From all my sideways research it appears that the Reauso family all decided to change their last name to Russel in the 1890s.  In the Voter's list they appear as Reauso but in later census records, everyone from Margaret to Delmer change to Russell.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Canadian serving in the U.S Civil War

was recently up in Innisfil, Ontario at my parent's cottage.  Early one morning, I did my Tim Hortons coffee run in Stroud and decided to do a geocache in the nearby St James Cemetery.  As usual, I became interested and started to walk around and read the stones.  There was one that caught my eye, ok well a few.

This one interested me for a few reasons:
-Someone took pains to ensure that this person was not forgotten by erecting a plaque and not damaging the original stone.
-He was a Canadian who served in the Civil War.
-He was only 16 when he died.
-My parent's cottage in Innisfil is a few houses away from Warnica Avenue. The Warnica family were prominent and early settlers in Innisfil, which explains the street name.

Charles Manson Warnica was born to George Frederick Warnica and Phoebe on 1 June 1849.  He was baptized by Rev. Rice in Barrie on July 29th of the same year.(1)
In the 1861 Census he was living with his parents, older sister Abigail (age 14), and older brother Alfred (age 16) in a brick home.  He was attending school. His father was born in the US and his mother in Upper Canada. (2)  According to his father's death registration, George was born in Salina (Syracuse) New York.

At the age of fifteen, Charles walked from Barrie to Detroit, Michigan to join the Civil War.  He enlisted in Company G, Michigan 15th Infantry Regiment on 05 Apr 1865 as a private. He was mustered out on 25 Jun 1865 at Washington, DC.
The 15th was a volunteer regiment and he took the place of Clark Knowland who was drafted for service. His fee to replace Mr. Knowland in the war was $269.70.  (3) Note: Sources are not cited for this information.  According to, the historic standard of living value for this income in 2014 is about $4040.00 USD.

I did a little digging about the 15th.  The regiment moved to Louisville, Kentucky and stayed there from June 1-6.  They moved to Little Rock, Ark on June 28 and stayed  there till August 13. They were mustered out August 18, 1865.  The regiment lost 3 Officers and 60 Enlisted men, who were killed and mortally wounded.  Four Officers and 268 Enlisted men were killed by disease. (4)

Poor Charles was one of the 268 who succumbed to disease. On 25 June 1865 he died of typhoid fever in Louisville, Kentucky.  His obituary appeared in the Barrie Examiner on 10 Aug 1865, page 3.
His siblings John Lyon and Abigail paid $270.05 to have Charles Manson Warnica reinterred at the Stroud, Ontario St. James Cemetery on 7 Sept 1865. (5) Note: Sources are not cited for this information.

During my research, I discovered that there were two other Warnica men who joined the war, Charles' uncle and cousin. Both joined Company E of the 1st Regiment Engineers and Mechanics, Michigan and both held the rank of Artificer:
Joseph G Warnica Sr (6)
Joseph Warnica Jr. (7)
I wonder if the thought of them serving further encouraged Charles to join the war.

Other interesting Warnica history web pages that I came across during my research:

Andrew Hunter my favorite Simcoe County historical author wrote a book about Charles' parents: Brief Memoirs of the late George F. Warnica and Memoirs of George and Phoebe Warnica, Pioneers of Innisfil, which is available at the Simcoe Archives

(1)Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register  -

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Leaver Family

I came across these stones a couple of years ago while on a wild goose chase for my husband's ancestors in Lowville Cemetery, just north of Burlington.  Leaver was a well known name in this area many years ago when the mushroom farm up in Northern Burlington/Campellville was known as Leaver Mushrooms.  The main stone was what first caught my eye and then the markers directly in front of it.  Three young girls and two adults, all who died on June 13, 1971.  I figured it was probably a tragic car crash that killed an entire family.  I decided to dig a little deeper to see if this family was a member of the Leaver mushroom clan and to also see if I could discover the details surrounding their death. 

The front page of the Toronto star on June 14 provided the details. A Cessna 182 crashed 300 ft short of the runway in Tobermory around 5:30 PM in dense fog. L. David Leaver was flying the plane.  His wife Marian (nee Waters)  and daughters Kathryn Elizabeth, Ruth Ann and Jeanette Eleanor died.  One daughter Heather Dianne Leaver, aged 6, survived with multiple fractures and chest injuries  She was carried from the wreckage by Angus Ralph, the airport caretaker on an airplane door that he used as a stretcher.  The family had left their cottage in Little Current on Manitoulin Island and were planning to have dinner in Tobermory with David's father.  Page 4 of the June 15th Toronto Star reports that Heather took a turn for the better the previous night but was still in critical condition and was being treated for chest injuries, multiple fractures and leg injuries.  I tried to find some more information about Heather but couldn't.  I do know that she is not buried in the family plot.  Her grandparents Lloyd Holtby (died 1977) and Amy Mildred (died 1995) are buried with their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  According to Lloyd Holtby's death notice, (Toronto Star March 30, page C6) he died in Venice, Florida of a heart ailment. He started the mushroom farm in 1924 with his father an English grocer after he graduated from the Ontario Agriculture College at my alma matter, the University of Guelph.  His death notice and his obituary the following day (Toronto Star page B8) names his wife and surviving children Dianne and Jonathan but does not mention Heather.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

War of 1812 Powderhouse & an old grave near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

On July 19, 2010 the kids and I were near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia  looking for the Fundy Geological Museum to pay a quick visit before watching the tides come in.  Along the way to getting lost we passed by Ottawa House another museum (and former summer house of Sir Charles Tupper) and decided to visit it instead.  I turned down a dirt road and was about to circle back around when we saw these painted footprints on the road.  We followed them and they led to a cairn on the side of the road. Much to my son Patrick's despair, I pulled over and we got out to have a look.  The inscription on the monument read: "This building believed to have been built as a powder magazine during the War of 1812 was later used as a school house for many years." We looked around but couldn't find any traces of the building or foundation. 

About 4-5 metres behind the monument, a tombstone caught my eye.  The memorial read: Sacred to the  Memory of James N. Shannon, Esq who departed this life on the 7th of November 1822 in the 72nd years of his age.  There were no other gravestones nearby.

James was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Sept 1751 to Cutts Shannon (a lawyer) and Mary Vaughan (born 26 Apr 1713 & daughter of Lt Governor George Vaughan(21)).  He was named after his uncle (by marriage) James Noble of Boston. James Noble Shannon was raised and educated in Boston.  As an adult James went into the lumber business in Machias, Maine.(14)
I found the following information about James while he was in Machias:
  •  The Massachusetts Assembly of July, 1776, lent 1200 pounds to the  inhabitants of eastern part of the County of Lincoln from Camden to Machias.  This money was to be distributed equally by James Noble Shannon, John Taylor, and William Jones. It appears that these men were able to deliver 1006 pounds 13s 8d, but could not deliver the rest.  James was ordered to return the remaining money to the Treasurer of the colony who would then charge Major Minot with distributimg the remaining amount to the outstanding settlements in the county. The money was used to purchase ammunition to defend the settlements. (5)
  • In the Journal of the Massachusetts House of Representative, Feb 1776, James Noble Shannon and Benjamin Foster petitioned on behalf of the Committee for the Safety of Machias that the court authorize "some persons to take charge of a number of armed vessels which were taken from the enemies the summer past." These men also petitioned successfully (representing Capt John Coulson) for 1500 weight of powder and that Ebenezer Beal who was wounded in the taking of the Schooner Margaretta on 12th June 1775 be received into a hospital.(6)
  • He was a Private in Capt. Joseph Seavy's company(7) with:
    •  Colonel Benjamin Foster's regiment (service, 1 day). The company served at Machias from Dec. 5, 1778  to Dec. 25, 1778;
    •  Lieut. John Scott's detachment from 6th Lincoln Co. (service 8 days). Te regiment was at Machias between Aug. 31, 1779, and Nov. 20, 1779, the roll was sworn to at Machias and endorsed " Service at Penobscot."
  • Lived with his brother William in Machias for a few years during the Revolutionary War and "subscribed 6 for Parson Lyon's salary 1778, committee of correspondence 1781." (8)
  • Samuel Rich sold land in Machias to the brothers for £8 on 9 May 1775(17)
  • John Berry sold land in Machias to the brothers on 13 October 1777 for £8. (18)
  • John Young sold to brothers, trader land on the northeast side of Quaker's or Gardner's Lake on         Feb 15 1777 for  £63, 6s. 8d. (19)  John Young also sold land to Benjamin Foster Jr. (9)
  • In consideration of "sixty-three p'd six and eight-pence" conveyed to Benjamin Gooch, Jr, of Machias, yeoman, "a certain Lot of Land lying and being in Machias aforesaid, it being a piece of Land whereon the said Benjamin Gooch, Junr now liveth, it being about two Acres more or less, it lying in Eastern River, it joins the lower Saw Mill on the said Eastern River, and joins the said Benjamin Gooche's Land with a dwelling House and a Barn and a shop on the said Land, it being a Lot of Land that the said William and James Noble Shannon bought of Stephen Young(20)
  • On 18 Sep 1788. James, now a merchant in Horton, Nova Scotia and William in Dover, NH, sold land on East River, Machias, for £30.(16)
  • He was a mason in Lodge Warren #2 (10)
James married Chloe (born Sept 24 1745) on 14 May 1778 in Machias, reverend James Lyon presided.(15) Chloe was the daughter of Silas Crane and Lucy Waterman. At some point shortly thereafter, Chloe and James went to Horton, Nova Scotia. In 1780, his store was robbed by a lieutenant of Machias privateer.  The unnamed Machias lieutenant and two of his 7 men were killed by Lieutenant Wheaton and 5 of his Regulars.  The remaining 5 thieves were taken prisoner. (12)

James Noble Shannon become one of the first permanent residents of Partridge Island (now Parrsboro) and the first merchant.(1)  James was also one of the earliest known owners of the Ottawa House, then referred to as the Old Shannon Store.(2)

In 1786, James Shannon and Col. Jonathan Crane donated $200 to build a church at Horton.  According to the History of King's County nova Scotia, James and his wife Chloe first lived in Horton and then spent the rest of their lives in Parrsborough.  It also goes on to say that Chloe is the older sister of Col Jonathan Crane and that the compiler of the information of this book will never forget the parental kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Shannon when he did the Parrsbourgh circuit when he was 17 years old.(11)

On June 18, 1796 there was an assembly in Parrsborough to contribute to the King's government in support of the war (against Napoleon).  James "subscribed" to this cause. (11)

Around 1798, James "adopted" the second son of his still living sister Elizabeth and her husband Richard Cutts.  The boy born in 1788 was named James Noble Shannon after his uncle.  James Sr, who had no children of his own, took James Jr in to teach him the mercantile business (which James Jr became very successful and prominent in).3)

In 1807, Chloe Shannon, relict of Obadiah Ayer, as a "refugee of Canada and Nova Scotia" was granted 960 acres of land by the American Government for her loyalty to the American cause.(4)

In 1814, James was granted land in Parrsborough with his brother-in-law Silas H Crane and built a very successful business with his partner James Ratchford.(13)

As it always happens when you research one person, it leads to interesting stories about another person.  After poking around for awhile I found very little about Chloe, but when I did, it seems she had a tragic adult life before meeting James.

Chloe was married twice before James. First to a man with the last name of Connover with whom she had one son, Samuel and then to Obediah Ayer who she met in Machias shortly after her husband's death.  Both husbands were strong supporters of the American government. In 1776, under the command of Colonel Eddy, Obediah took part in the capture of the British garrison at Fort Cumberland and was given command of a sloop called Defiance, which carried British prisoners to Boston in November.  During the voyage he was wounded in the face and during his ride from Newbury to Boston, his face froze.  He suffered from Feb -Aug 1777 in Boston before he died and apparently rang up $1000 in medical expenses. For his troubles, the British seized his property and destroyed his papers, leaving Chloe destitute.  While all this is happening, her son Samuel while travelling in a birch bark canoe with Mathew Sharp from Cumberland to Machias was attacked by Nova Scotia Indians.  Sharp is shot in the head and killed in the canoe.  Samuel, then 14 was killed while asleep in a wigwam.(16)

(4) American State Paper: Documents, legislative and executive of the congress of the United States 10th Congress First Session #142 1807, pg 585
(5) American Archives page 324
(6) pg 1131
(7)Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War
(11) , (12), (13) The History of King's County Nova Scotia page 325, 328, 120-121
(14) & (16)
(17)& (18) & (19) & (20)
(21) The New England Historical and Genealogical Register page 245
Other interesting resources: