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.