Friday, December 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49 James McGregor/Gregor (???? – before 1852), immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1834 with his family

Climbing My Family Tree: Scottish & Canadian flags pin
Scottish & Canadian flags pin
used with permission


This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

James McGregor / Gregor, is my 3rd great grandfather on my father’s mother’s line. He was born in Scotland, but I don’t know exactly when, or where. I have been guesstimating backwards from the date of his first marriage, to about 1780, but it’s just a guess and could well be wrong. Also, right now, I have no idea who his parents were.

I’ve seen his name spelled as McGregor, Gregor, McGrigor, Grigor, and Gregory. He seems to have mainly used McGregor in Scotland and Gregor in Canada. (Likewise, those of his children who came to Canada used the name Gregor in Canada, and thereafter.) I mostly identified him as my James by the other people listed in the record or article with him, and vice versa. Putting together James’ story was like piecing a jigsaw puzzle where the box top is missing, and some of the pieces as well -- and there may or may not be pieces mixed in from another picture puzzle but right now it looks like they go with this puzzle based on the other pieces they fit in with. This is my current arrangement of the pieces I’ve found. The story is subject to change as more is found, or as it is found that “this piece doesn’t go there!”

Climbing My Family Tree: Jigsaw Puzzle
Jigsaw Puzzle
Photo by Enlightment Photography via  Photopin.comcreative commons license  


James married Lillias Addie/Eddie on June 25, 1799 in Canongate, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland (near Edinburgh today). He is listed under the name James Gregory, a labourer – the reason why I’m sure it’s my James with his surname misspelled fits in the story later. Lillias was born on September 23, 1781 in Dunning Perth, Scotland, and baptized on the 30th of that month. She is the daughter of Hugh Adie and Sarah Flockhart; her father was a labourer in Clairridge, parish of Denoon.  

James and Lillias had three children: Hugh, John and Lillias. I‘m not certain of the birth order because the only one I know a birth date for is Lillias McGregor/Gregor. Well, actually, I know a baptism date. Based on the rest of such I’ve found thus far in Scottish records, she was probably born a week to ten days before she was baptized Lillias Steil Mcgrigor on May 6, 1804 in Dunning, Perth Scotland.  Her parents were listed as James Mcgrigor and Lillias Eadie.

James’ wife Lillyas must have died sometime before 1815, but I don’t have a record of it. He then married Grizel Drummond. I have no marriage record, but I have plenty of birth records showing the two as parents, and other records referring to them as husband and wife.  

Climbing My Family Tree: Drummond Castle
Drummond Castle (castle grounds were used as back drop for  1995 film, Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson)
Photo by denisbin  via photopin.com  pursuant to creative commons license 
click to make bigger

According to “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark, James Gregor was a forester at Drummond Castle, Craigcrook Castle, and at Harburn House near West Calder in Scotland. Grizzel may have lived in the area of Drummond castle given her last name, and they may have met while he was working in that area. I find it difficult to believe that she was a member of the named gentry. Upper class women marrying foresters tends to happen more in books than in real life, even without the complication of the centuries old feud between Clan McGregor and Clan Drummond. But, after two hundred years or so from the underlying cause (relatively succinct retelling of story here on a McGregor  website and here on a Drummond website), such political considerations are more the concern of the gentry than of the working folk, and the McGregors had been officially restored in 1775.

A forester’s job in Scotland in the early 19th century involved more than simply patrolling the forest like some sort of border guard looking for poachers. It involved planting trees and other plants to improve the land. Some Scottish landowners began to introduce foreign tree species from continental Europe such as sycamore maple, Norway spruce, larch and European silver fir, and to experiment with new planting methods. The experimentation and improvements were done with an intent to use their forest resources in ways that improved revenue for the estate. It was also important to the landowners that the esthetical beauty of the forest be maintained as well, allowing for multiple uses of the forest. Foresters in Scotland combined game management, commercial timber production and esthetic planting and were members of a respected profession. (To read more about Scottish Forestry in the 19th century, read this.) 

James and Grizzel had seven children that I know of (designated McGregor in the birth records & Gregor in any Canadian records): William born March 16, 1816 in Muthill, Perth, Scotland and died in 1834 in Hamilton Upper Canada; Ann was born October 14, 1817  in Muthill, Perth, Scotland and died in 1834 in Hamilton Upper Canada; James was born July 6, 1820  in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland  and died in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada after 1891;  Grace Gregor Hawkins August 6, 1822 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland and died December 21, 1916 in Oxford, Ontario, Canada (she married Francis Hawkins March 16, 1849 in Montreal, Quebec); my 2nd great-grandfather Benjamin,  born May 14, 1824 West Calder, Midlothian,Scotland and died in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada on March 15, 1880 (he married Elizabeth Taylor); Janet, born April 3, 1826 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland - ??;  and Peter, born August 6,  1828 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland – died 28 April 1908 in Brant, Ont., Canada (he married Margaret Rintoul).

In 1834, James gathered his family and immigrated to Canada. According to “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark, he joined several other Scottish families [the Beattie, Cockburn, Todd, Walker, & McFarlane families] on the “Alfred of Alloway” to Quebec, Canada.  The voyage lasted 9 weeks and three days.

The Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada before Confederation, by Donald Whyte, cited the passenger record as showing that “James Gregor” [note the change to “Gregor”] arrived in Quebec in 1834 with the following family members: “Wife Grizel Drummond, Child William [died later that year], Child Ann [died later that year], Child James, Child Grace, Child Benjamin, Child Janet, Child Peter, Child Hugh [from first marriage], Child Lilias [(Linn), with son-in-law (James Linn) & three grandchildren (Alex, James, & John Fleming)] and Child John [from first marriage].” From this document I deduced that James’ daughter Lilias had been married twice, one to a man named Fleming (turned out to be John Fleming) and at that time to James Linn. This is also the only document I’ve found, so far, that mentions Hugh and John McGregor, James’ sons from his first marriage.

The “Genealogy of Badenoch Families” states that James brought with him a letter of recommendation to Adam Fergusson at Woodhill near Waterdown. With this document, he obtained work in Hamilton, Upper Canada, working on the grounds of Dundurn Castle. He later worked on the grounds at Victoria Park, in Niagara Falls.

Climbing My Family Tree: Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Upper Canada as seen in 1835
Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Upper Canada as seen in 1835
In the Public Domain
Click to make bigger


Tragically, shortly after the family moved to Hamilton, James’ two oldest children, William and Ann, contracted cholera and died. It must have been very hard to have come so far from home to see your children die within the first year. In addition, James’s daughter from his first marriage, Liilias (McGregor) (Fleming) Linn, died in 1835. James and Grizel took in her infant daughter Lilias Linn and the three Fleming boys (all James’ grandchildren) and raised them.

After working on Victoria Park, James moved his family to the Puslinch settlement in Upper Canada to be near the other families from the same area of Scotland, including some who had arrived on the same ship that they had. I expect it granted them a feeling of home in this strange land. They settled on Lot 33, rear Concession 8, and began clearing the land and farming.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Published in 1860 Historical Atlas of Wellington County,  In the Public Domain.
Click To Make Bigger

I have only found one more reference to James and Grizel Gregor, to date, in a history of the Badenach portion of the “Scotch settlement” in Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Upper Canada (now Ontario) found on the ClarksofTomfad website (“Badenach to Badenach”). It notes that James and Grizel Gregor were said to be buried on the hillside of the front field of their lot, near the road, but that the stone piles that marked their places had disappeared. I don’t know when they died, nor of what. I think they likely died before 1852, because I found a 17 year old Lilly Linn living with James (30), Benjamin (25), Janet (23), and Peter Grigor (21), with no sign of their parents in this census.

If you know anything more about James McGregor or Gregor or Grizzel Drummond Taylor or their children, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me through the email address on my Contact Me page or  leave me a message below  (even if just to tell me to check my junk email if you've tried the other way and haven't heard from me - it does that occasionally, but these comments to end up in my email.)

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I hope to find James’ parents, and more about his younger years. I’d like to know more details about his life in general. I’d like to know when he died and what of. I’m sure there’s more but it’s late and I can’t think right now.

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Ancestry.com. Midlothian (Edinburgh), Scotland, Extracted Parish Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001; Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013; “A Genealogy of Badenoch Families" by Llewella MacIntyre & Marjorie Clark (1999); http://www.scotweb.co.uk/info/gregor-or-macgregor; Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada before Confederation by Donald White (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2002); From Badenach to Badenach, Emigration - http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/FromBadenochtoBadenoch.htm; Conquering The Highlands: A history of the Afforestation of the Scottish Uplands, by Jan Oosthoek (Canberra: ANU E Press, 2013), chapter 2 - http://press.anu.edu.au//wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ch021.pdf; 1851 (taken in 1852) Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49 George Taylor, Sr. (1795 -1862), pioneer settler of Puslinch Twp., Wellington County, Upper Canada

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Scotland, showing Perth shire
Map of Scotland, showing Perth shire
Click to make Bigger


George Taylor, Sr. is my third great grandfather. He was born in Perthshire, Scotland on 29 August 1795, according to a record index on FamilySearch.org (which also references his wife’s name and his death date). Unfortunately, the index does not name his parents. This is another record I hope to order and look at myself when I get to one of that organization’s Family History Centers.

George married Ann McArthur on 12 May 1816, in Kincardine by Doune, Perth, in the southern highlands of Scotland. To my certain knowledge they had four children born in Scotland. Other writings I’ve found indicate there were at least one other born in Scotland. The four that I’m sure of are Isabella Taylor, born on 12 April 1819 in Perthshire and baptized in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married John Horrocks in Ancaster, Canada in or about 1834, and died on April 15, 1905 in Burleigh County North Dakota, USA) ; Janet Taylor, born January 5, 1823 in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married Duncan McFarlane, and died on February 11, 1899 in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada); George, jr., born July 24, 1825 in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married Mary Smith in or about 1849, and died on August 26, 1907 in Brookfield, Huron, Michigan); and Mary Ann born September 27, 1829, and baptized ten days later in Hutchesontown Relief Church, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland.  

In 1832, George Taylor decided to take his family to the British Colony of Upper Canada (later Ontario).

The British Government had been focused for several years on enticing highlander Scots to move to the frontier lands of Canada. Even since the War of 1812, the British had been afraid that they would lose their Northern American colonies to another American incursion, and began recruiting Highlanders to settle the buffer areas near the United States.  They focused on Highlanders because they were known to be fierce and to be able to live in difficult, remote areas. Their campaign was helped as good reports of the new land came back to friends and families left behind. At the same time, in the highlands, rents were rising, and land that had been used for farming was being restructured for sheep farms, and the economy was stressed in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.   
Climbing My Tree: Poster Advertisement for Passage to Upper Canada, approx. 1844
Poster Advertisement for Passage to Upper Canada, approx. 1844
Click To Make Bigger


The height of the influx of highland Scots to Upper Canada was between 1830 and 1855. At that time emigration from Scotland to Canada was only available to Scots who could pay the travel costs involved in getting to Upper Canada by an approximately 6-8 week sailing ship trip, and then the inland travel to their destination. If a ship docked at Quebec, the immigrant would go onto Hamilton by river – another 10-14 days, and then proceed to their final destination by wagon. It was a long trip!  And it was a trip that ended in what was still old growth forest, not cleared farms, according to descriptions given by old pioneers of what they found when they arrived in Puslinch, Upper Canada, in the McPhatter Letters on the Clarks of Tomfad website.

For the Taylor family it was a long and traumatic trip. In a copy of the letter George Taylor sent to the Commissioner of Crown Lands upon his arrival at Puslinch, one of his children died on the trip, and his pregnant wife gave birth on the trip.

Transcript of body of George Taylor's 20 August 1832 letter:

“Honored Sir

As I have arrived hear (sic) just now with wife and family from Scotland, owing to the distress that I had on my voyage in my family, and one of my children died and my wife had a child upon the sea, and my money has been done and as I have no fiends, no home [? - 1 word/symbol] worldwide to get lots to improve before winter come on. I have left my wife in an acquaintance house and have gone myself to work for them. I have hired two of the eldest and hope I will soon be able to answer your installments if you be pleased to grant me one. The lot that I am for is No. 22, the front half. It was called the rear half before the new survey but I suppose (sic) it is now called the front half in the 7th Concession old surveys and as it is aside a good del (sic) of my acquaintance if your honour (sic) would grant it I would improve on it as soon as possible and if you will grant it to me a lise (sic)  of it [? 3 words] and please write in the answer what terms the lise (sic) will be on and what it is to pay yearly if you will not grant it the other way if you would give it it would ever be remembered.  Most honourable sir your most obliged servant.

George Taylor – N23

I am staying in Mr. Peter McBeath and intend stopping in it til I receive and answer from you direct to me to said place by Guelph Post Office.”

ClimbingMy Family Tree: Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Published in 1860 Historical Atlas of Wellington County,  In the Public Domain.
Click To Make Bigger


According to the research done by the Puslinch Historical Society into who owned the original lots of the township, he and his family ended up being granted Lot 27 in Concession 1, Rear. The entry at the Puslinch Historical Society website says, in relevant part, “This lot was settled about 1833 by George Taylor Sr. and wife Ann McCarthy m. 1816 The 1851 census found George Taylor from Scotland, age 56, his wife Ann age 56, and children, Elizabeth born on Atlantic Ocean age 19, Jane age 16 The older children were Margaret Taylor married William Graham on 9 Dec 1834 in Ancaster by John Miller, Minister, Isabella Taylor married John Horrocks on 2 Aug 1834 in Ancaster by John Miller, Minister, Janet Taylor 1822, married Duncan McFarlane of Puslinch (Janet was a great person. If anyone was sick, she was called for), and George Jr. m Mary Smith, a daughter of Rev. James Smith. Information is scant on other first names, Duncan, Maryann, Elizabeth and Jane. Puslinch Papers have George Taylor’s letter indicating arrival in 1832 after losing one child at sea, and birth of another, he asked for F7 L 27. They were staying with McBeaths. R1 L27 was the second last lot in the new survey, almost adjacent to the 7th concession in the old survey.

This research and George’s letter are what led me to say that there was perhaps another child born in Scotland other than those I found birth records for and named above. I’ve found birth records for Elizabeth, and  for Jane who born in Canada, so I think the other one born in Scotland could be Duncan. The child who died on the trip over could be Mary Ann or Duncan as I’ve not found records of either one in Canada. Both names reoccur in subsequent generations of the extended family – Duncan a bit more often than Mary Ann.

My 2nd great grandmother, Elizabeth, is the child that was born on the Atlantic Ocean on the trip to Canada. I wrote about her & her husband’s story last week and you can find it HERE.

The last child I found for George and Ann, Jane, was born in their new home is, in or about 1835 (she married Alexander McCaig on October 25 1866 in Puslinch, Wellington, Canada, and died on December 4, 1914, in Galt, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada).  

In 1852, according to the census, George (56), Anne (56), Elizabeth (19), and Jane (16) were living together in a log home and George farmed their land. They attended the Free Church of Canada. Ten years later, according to the 1861 census, George (66) and Ann (66) are living in a frame house and farming their land. Jean Taylor (20) is also listed as living with them. I don’t know whether to assume that Jean is their youngest daughter, Jane, and that the census taker got both the first name and the age wrong (– she should have been 27), or to assume it’s a grandkid or some other relative there to help with the farm. I did note that they live fairly close to their daughter Elizabeth and her family is only a page away in the census.

George died the next year on June 10, 1862. I don’t know how or why. Ann survived him by 18 years According to a transcription of an obituary sent to me by Marjorie Clark, a Puslinch historian, she initially went to live with her daughter Mrs. Duncan McFarlane (Janet), and after a short time, she moved to Kepple to live with her son-in-law Alex McCoag  (Jane’s husband) until her death on April 27 1880. It finished by saying that she was greatly respected by all who knew her. A very nice epitaph.

If you know anything more about George Taylor or Ann McArthur Taylor or their children, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me through the email address on my Contact Me page or  leave me a message below  (even if just to tell me to check my junk email if you've tried the other way and haven't heard from me - it does that occasionally, but these comments to end up in my email.)


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I would like to know a lot more about George and Ann’s life in Scotland. And about Margaret, Mary Ann, and Duncan  -- starting with whether they exist, whether they had a life (marriage, kids?), and when and what did they die of. I’d like to know more of George and Ann’s life in Puslinch. And then I would like to know more of Ann’s life after George died. And, as always, I’d love to see pictures of everyone.


Canadian Census for 1852 and 1861; The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855 by, chs. 1 & 8.; Canadian Birth records, Canadian Marriage records, Scotland’s birth and baptism records – all via Ancestry.com http://multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/e3/6; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-topic-immigration-migrate.html; http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/Migration/articles/harper.html; http://www.scotstocanada.com/new_page_2.htm; http://jubilation.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/emigrants1832.html; http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/McPhatter.htm


Friday, December 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #46 Benjamin Gregor (1824 – 1880), Scotland to Canada, and #47 Elizabeth Taylor Gregor (1834 –before 1880), born at sea.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Scotland & my people's home areas
MAP OF SCOTLAND - In the Public Domain
 The Taylors are from Perthshire and the McGregors are from Midlothian
Click to make bigger



This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

Part of writing a family history blog is deciding which stories/facts actually “belong” with which ancestor’s story – does this story go better in my post about the son or the father, the mother or the daughter, or do I do a separate post on a non-direct line sibling? Another part of writing a family history blog is figuring out when to stop researching and start writing! I have a terrible habit of looking for “just one more thing” and end up writing a word. Procrastination or curiosity?

Benjamin and Elizabeth (Taylor) Gregor are my second great grandparents, on my father’s mother’s side.

Benjamin Gregor was born to James McGregor and Grizzel Drummond, on May 14, 1824, in the former Scottish county of Midlothian and baptized in the parish of West Calder, Midlothian, on June 3, 1824. (Midlothian was between, of course, East Lothian and West Lothian, on the shore of the Firth of Forth, a bay of the North Sea on the east coast of Scotland; it is now near or in Edinburgh.) So the Gregors were from the Scottish Lowlands. Benjamin was the fifth child of James and Grizzel; their third son.

In 1834, when Benjamin was 10, James and Grizzel and all of James’ children and took a ship to immigrate to the British colony of Upper Canada. Benjamin may have viewed it as a huge adventure, but his parents probably viewed it as an opportunity for greater economic opportunity. Early 19th Century Scottish immigrants to Canada were not poor; they tended to come from the more comfortable middle classes and moved with family groups. Letters were sent to the commercialized Scotland Lowlands, from land investors and the British government seeking laborers, craftsmen and farmers to populate and develop Canadian frontier lands, and to work on various public works projects. The Gregors may have responded to such an appeal.

Climbing My Family Tree: Ontario Immigration Poster from late 1800's
Ontario Immigration Poster from late 1800's
Too late for the period I talk about in this post, but representational.
Click to Make Bigger

In the early 1800’s most passages were by sailing ship and took six weeks. The family would bring their own supplies and food and hope that they calculated correctly and that it lasted the duration of the voyage. It could not have been an easy voyage for the family, but I’ll cover that in his father’s story next week.

They arrived in Quebec, and moved to Hamilton, Upper Canada, in 1834. I unsure of where Benjamin or his family were for the next several years. I’ve seen some family trees on FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com saying that his father helped plant the grounds for Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario, (which was completed in 1835) and for Victoria Park in Niagara Falls. I’ve not yet been able to find that in my own research but put it in this post on the off chance that someone reading this can help me determine whether that story is true. Trolling for clues. : ) It would be neat if it were true (& fine if it isn’t).

The Gregor family finally settled on Lot 33, rear, Concession 8 in Puslinch Township, Wellington County, in Upper Canada, or Canada West (depending on when they settled there – they named changed a few times over the years). It became the Province of Ontario when Canada became a country.  I don’t know when they arrived, but they were there by the time of the 1851 census (which was taken in 1852).  The property passed on to another person in 1866. In 1852, Benjamin was 25 years old, and he was living with his brothers James and Peter and his sister Janet. All were single at the time, and they lived in a one story, single family log home on the east side of Brock Road. James is listed as a farmer, and Benjamin and Peter as laborers. They all belonged to the Free Church of Scotland (a breakaway form of Presbyterianism.).

In the family documents I received from my Dad (lots of family trees – his side of the family has been really into genealogy), no one had more than the name “Elizabeth” for Benjamin’s wife. I found an index entry on FamilySearch.org for Anna Gregor Bennett’s death certificate that indicated that her mother’s name was Elizabeth Taylor. I had also noted that on various censuses Anna and her siblings indicated that their mother was born “at sea”. I figured that would be a clue towards identifying her in other records. Then, in researching Benjamin Gregor and his family of origin further, I stumbled across the website for the Puslinch Historical Society, where they have posted the results of their research into the people who lived – throughout history – on the original lots of the town. Bless them! I found Elizabeth’s family, and that one clue led to more discoveries! I love that feeling!  [If you have relatives from this area, I cannot recommend enough the websites for the Puslinch Historical Society and the Clarks of Tomfad website, both of which are chock full of truly helpful historical research  & articles on the area, the local villages, and on the early settlers of the area. Both sites are among the most helpful websites I’ve run across in the past year of doing this 52 Ancestors project. Moreover, they have publications of their research for sale, and they have very friendly and helpful people answering email queries. (I discover something new every time I’m on the sites. Go look!) ]

Climbing My Family Tree: Location of Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada
Location of Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada, courtesy of Google Maps
Click to Make Bigger

It was after the Gregors moved to Puslinch that Benjamin met Elizabeth Taylor, who was born in 1833 on the Atlantic Ocean during her family’s passage to Canada from the Scottish Highlands.  She was one of seven children (and the fourth of five daughters) of George Taylor and Anne McArthur. There may have been more children, given the gaps in birth years among the siblings, but so far I’ve found seven children. I’ll give their information when I do a post on her father, probably also next week.

I don’t know how Benjamin and Elizabeth met, and I don’t yet have a marriage record but as she took his last name in the subsequent censuses, I think they did get married. They had five children, beginning in 1857, so they likely were married by 1857, unless there were no clergy available to perform the ceremony before the birth(s). Benjamin and Elizabeth’s children were: James Gregor (1857 -? he moved to Michigan), Ann Gregor Bennett(1858-1928, also moved to Michigan, and married Andrew Bennett in 1885), George Gregor (1861 – 1952; married Emily Janette Lamont in 1888; and moved to Manitoba), Grace Gregor Bentley (1864-1929, moved to Michigan, married Anson J. Bentley in 1883 and they moved to Kansas and then Wyoming, she died in Nevada at her son’s home), and  Benjamin Gregor (1867-1840, he also moved to Michigan and then married Maude Amelia Thompson in 1900, and they moved to Indiana, after Maude died he moved to Illinois and may have married Louise Rau.)

In 1862, Benjamin and Elizabeth lived in Puslinch Township, with their children James and Ann. They are all listed under the surname, “Grigor”. The Census form is in French, so I can’t always figure out what it is asking. They reported that Benjamin was a farmer, and that they were members of the Free Church of Scotland (a breakaway form of Presbyterianism.). They were living in a log home.

In the 1871, the family was living in Wellington County, and they were again listed under the name “Grigor”. Benjamin was 46 and Elizabeth was 38. All of their children were living at home with them. Benjamin was a Laborer. They indicated they were born in Scotland, and their children were born in Canada. They also indicate that they are Closed Communion Baptists. I wonder whether that is an enumerator’s error or whether they’ve had some sort disturbance in their old church that caused them to change denominations.

Benjamin died in on 15 March, 1880, according to an index of Ontario deaths on FamilySearch. I think that Isabel died in or before 1880 as I haven’t been able to find her in any census after 1871, and the majority of their children moved to Michigan in or about 1880.

If you have any information on Benjamin and Elizabeth’s family or their families of origin and would be willing to share, please contact me by leaving a comment or by emailing me at the address in my Contact Me page.

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I realise this account is rather sparse.
I’d really like to find more detail about their lives, their passages to Canada, I want to find their marriage record and a date of death for Elizabeth. If possible, I’d like to know why each of them died. And I’d like to know if James McGregor did come over to install the grounds of those Canadian landmarks. And if there are any pictures of this family (or anyone in it, I’d love to see them.


Canadian Census of 1852, 1861, and 1871. "Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XTT2-LH7 : accessed 08 Nov 2014), Benjamin McGregor, 14 May 1824; citing , reference - 2:17K1XB9; FHL microfilm 106779; http://www.electricscotland.com/history/articles/migration_scotland.htm; http://www.historytoday.com/phillip-buckner/peopling-canada; http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/FromBadenochtoBadenoch.htm; http://clarksoftomfad.ca/; http://www.puslinchhistorical.ca/; "Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JFJW-84C : accessed 12 December 2014), Benjamin Gregor, 15 Mar 1880; citing Wellington, Preslinch, Ontario, pn 620 rn 9, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,853,231.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Naming Patterns

I have been on vacation and did not bring my computer, so I don't have an ancestor bio post for this week. I have had a few inquiries regarding the differences between the Irish and Scottish Naming Patterns that I referenced in my last post (where I have an Irish man who married a Scottish woman and had 13 children). Since I'm sitting in an airport with my flight home delayed and do have an iPad with a blogger app, I thought I'd just set out what I understand to be the traditional Irish and Scottish naming patterns, which I'd written down in a notebook I took with me.

As I understand it these are the traditional naming patterns, done to honor their forbears. But the pattern may be broken to honor a recently deceased relative or friend or admired person. So treat them as general guidelines, but not as written in stone requirements. 

TRADITIONAL IRISH NAMING PATTERN
Edit: My blogger friend, Dara (from Ireland!) of  Black Raven Genealogy blog, tells me the Irish naming pattern is correct but adds these caveats, "Bear in mind also, if a child died, their name was often given to the next child of that sex born and the names of grandparents also featured, especially in large families. It cannot be stressed enough though, the naming pattern was not universally followed!"  

1st son named for his father's father
2nd son named for his mother's father
3rd son named for his father
4th son named for his father's oldest brother
5th son named for his father's second oldest brother or his mother's oldest brother 

1st daughter named for her mother's mother
2nd daughter named for her father's mother
3rd daughter named for her mother
4th daughter named for her mother's oldest sister
5th daughter named for her mother's second oldest sister or her father's oldest sister


TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH NAMING PATTERN 

1st son is named after his father's father
2nd son is named after his mother's father
3rd is named after his father's fraternal grandfather 
4th son is named after his mother's maternal grandfather 
5th son is named after his father's maternal grandfather 
6th son is named after his mother's fraternal grandfather 
7th - 10th sons are named after his father's great grandfathers 
11th - 14th sons are named after his mother's great grand fathers

1st daughter is named after her mother's mother 
2nd daughter is named after her father's mother
3rd daughter is named after her mother's fraternal grandmother 
4th daughter is named after her fathers fraternal grandmother 
5th daughter is named after her mother's maternal grandmother 
6th daughter is named after her father's maternal grandmother 
7th - 10th daughters are named after her mother's great grandmothers
11th - 14th daughters are named after her father's great grandmothers 

If I have misunderstood the naming patterns, would someone please correct me in the comments below?










Wednesday, November 26, 2014

52 Ancestors: #45 William Bennett (about 1806 in Ireland – 1890 in Burnside, Michigan, USA), and #46 Margaret McFarlane Bennett Brown (1926 in Scotland – 1909 in North Branch, Michigan)


Climbing My Family Tree: Map of the United Kingdom by Matt Lewis through CC License
Map of United Kingdom (William - North Irish & Margaret - Scotland)
Matt Lewis [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Click to Make Bigger

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

William Bennett and Margaret McFarlane Bennett Brown are my 2nd great grandparents, my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandparents. I found about their lives sort of from the middle forward, and I tried to take that back to their beginnings but I wasn't so successful with that. But, even so, I’m going to tell you about them from their beginnings to the extent I can (and about the confusions and the simply missing) in the hope that somebody reading can help me fill in the blanks, fix the mistakes, and/or point me in the direction of how to find out more – because with these two we “cross the pond” and I don’t know how to find anything in the British Isles yet (unless it’s in Ancestry.com or in Familysearch.org - although I hate their a single index entries, absent context, because then I still can't tell).

William Bennett was born in about 1806 in Ireland to Thomas and Laura Bennett, according to the Michigan Deaths and Burials index on Ancestry.com (from FamilySearch’s files) and several censuses in Canada and the U.S. I don’t know exactly where he is from in Ireland, but his obituary said he was born in the northern part of Ireland about 1808.

Margaret McFarlane was born on March 10, 1825 in Scotland, according to her death certificate and several censuses in Canada and the U.S.  I have some discrepancies though, on who her parents may be. Her death certificate (information supplied by her youngest son, James) states that her parents are James McFarland and Jeanette Braiden, both also born in Scotland. But the marriage record for her second marriage (which, frankly, has one significant error that I know of – which I will get to later when it is relevant) states that her father is Andrew McFarland and her mother is unknown. I know nothing of when and how Margaret and her family, whoever they may be, came to Canada.

I next find both William and Margaret in Canada, and a couple. I was initially misled into believing I also found their transit (leaving from Dublin & arriving at Nantucket) -- one of those shaky leaves on Ancestry.com, and I also saw it included in others’ trees there, but upon further analysis, in conjunction with other evidence I found, I don’t believe that it refers to my 2nd great grandparents as the birth date for William Bennett is too late by 8 years and the birth date given for Margaret  is too early by 7 years, and the couple on the boat (William and Margaret Bennett) were already married, and originated from the same port. As we will see they were not married when they came to North America. I think they must have met in Canada, which, frankly, would have been easier than a Scottish girl and Irish boy meeting and marrying in the early 1800’s in the home countries.

Climbing My Family Tree: Steerage Travel in mid-19th Century
Steerage Travel in mid-19th Century
from The Illustrated London News, May 10, 1851,
found at http://amhistory.si.edu/onthewater/exhibition/2_3.html
Click to Make Bigger


According to William’s obituary he immigrated to Montreal, Canada, when he was quite young.  This would mean that William’s family (or William himself) left Ireland before the Great Famine. In fact, we know he and Margaret were in Canada by 1845 (the start of the Potato Famine) because their oldest child was born in Lower Canada in 1845. It is possible that they came with the flood of immigrants that were driven out of Ireland and Europe to North America after 1820 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars when the economy took a dramatic turn for the worse, and stayed in a Depression for nearly two decades. They traveled in steerage in the returning ships that brought Canadian timber to Ireland and Scotland. In British North America, those who went inland to Montreal were amongst the early pioneers in the country.  Farmers were on the front lines of clearing and civilizing the country. When a farmer obtained land, it was not what we think of as a farm but rather uncleared forestland. The farmer had to cut down the trees and pull the stumps before being able to plow up the land and plant; but the logging brought in extra income because the trees, once cut down, could be sold to the timber companies and shipped back to the home countries

As William was 20 years older than Margaret it is possible that he was married before. I don’t know.  I do know that they were together at least as of early 1845, as their oldest daughter, Mary Jane, was born in the Unified Province of Canada on October 28, 1845. However, they did not or were unable to marry until ten months after their third child and first son, Thomas, was baptized on January 21, 1849.

Climbing My Family Tree: Thomas Bennett Baptismal Record 21 January 1849,
Thomas Bennett Baptismal Record 21 January 1849,
Found at Ancestry,com, from the
Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Click to Make Bigger

[Transcription of birth/baptismal record Thomas Bennett:

On the Twenty-first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and forty nine we the undersigned first baptized Thomas born ten months before the lawful marriage of William Bennett farmer and Margaret McFarlane of this parish: the sponsors were James McAndrews and Anne Abbott, the former of whom as well as the father signed with us. (Signed) William Bennett.]

They probably had to wait years for a traveling pastor to come through the area, as there were not enough clergy to go around on the frontier. While people could gather to worship God without an official from the church, things like marriages and baptisms were usually delayed, without disgrace, until an ordained pastor came through the area.

I know about the existence of Irish naming patterns and Scottish naming patterns (patterns of naming the children by gender and birth order after particular ancestors), and I know that they aren’t the same. What I wonder now is, with an Irish father and a Scottish mother, whose naming pattern prevails?  William and Margaret had 13 children, 12 of which survived Margaret (according to her death certificate). If I knew which naming pattern applied I could learn a lot of ancestors’ names!

William and Margaret’s children were as follows:  Mary Jane (28 October 1845 in Canada East, married John Young on 12 July 1870, and died 15 July 1923 in Brown City MI); Charlotte Marguerite (1846 in Saint Martine, Canada East, married Charles Gray on 19 October 1873, married Joseph Bone on 20 November 1897 in Clark, Washington, and died 16 February 1916 in Portland OR); Thomas (born about 1858 in or near Ormstown, Canada East, married Margaret Cody, and died on 24 June 1934 in Reed City MI); Elizabeth (born about 1850 in Canada East - ?); Nancy Ellen (born about 1855 in Canada, married Adam Gleasure on 16 September 1876,  and died in Burnside MI on 7 November 1927); Dorothy (born about 1855, married Robert Watson on 25 December 1875 in Saginaw MI and died in Battle Ground WA  on 31 December 1927); Andrew (born 26 November 1858, married Anna Gregoron 10 April 1885, and died 30 January 1920 in Brown City MI); Sarah (born about 1858 - death date unknown), William (born about 1862 in Canada, married Teresa Tracy on 6 July 1884 and died after 1940), Janet (born 15 July 1863, married on 13 October 1886, and died 28 March 1932 in Flint MI); John Edward (born in September 1865, married Emma Masters on 28 October 1889 and died in Maple Valley MI on 2 March 1935); Lucretia (born in or about 1868, married William H. Baker, and died after 1905); and James (born in April 1871 in Michigan, married Martha Wengert on 27 January 1892, and died in 1958).

This means Margaret gave birth for 26 years (she had to love that man)! She had children born in each of four decades! So in addition to cooking, canning, cleaning, doing laundry, gardening, sewing, quilting, etc., --all without electricity or running water, or central heat or air conditioning – she always had kids around to raise, care for, and love. That’s a strong woman.


Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Beauharnois Township in Canada East
Map of Beauharnois Township in Canada East
Huntingdon County Quebec, 1861, on website Huntingdon County GenWeb, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~qchuntin/map.htm,
 found at http://oakbaychronicles.ca/
Click to make bigger
In the early years of their marriage the couple lived in the southwest corner of what became Quebec in Beauharnois township. In or about 1869, the family immigrated to Lapeer County in Michigan, USA. They may have been attracted by the excellent farming in land that had already been logged by the Michigan timber companies, and may have been enticed to move there by entreaties of family already there as both the Scots and the Irish tended to move in family groups (I’ve not yet sorted out who might already have been there, but there was a large Scots settlement in neighboring Sanilac county and my own family tree shows several generations of mixed Irish and Scot stock living in Lapeer and Sanilac counties in Michigan). They lived in Burnside Township of Lapeer County, Michigan, until William’s death at age 84, on 27 December 1890.  He was buried in the Deanville Cemetery, in Lapeer County, Michigan. His obituary appeared in The Imlay City Times on January 8, 1891:

Died at his home south-west of Deanville, Mr. William Bennett, Sr., on Dec. 29, 1890. Mr. Bennett was born in the northern part of Ireland about 1808. He emigrated to Montreal, Canada, while quite young, where he remained until 1869, when he moved to his farm near Deanville. He has raised a family of 12 children, all of whom have left and established homes of their own except the youngest, who still remains with his mother on the homestead. He was respected by his neighbors as an honest upright man and will be missed, for he always had a pleasant word for everybody.
[Appeared in the Imlay City Times, Jan 8, 1891 edition.]

I love that they said “He was respected by his neighbors as an honest upright man and will be missed, for he always had a pleasant word for everybody” about him. He sounds like such a nice man. That is a great way to be remembered!

Climbing My Family Tree: Grave of William Bennett, Deanville Cemetery, taken by Jack Vander-Schrier
Grave of William Bennett, Deanville Cemetery
found at Findagrave Memorial #14863074, taken by Jack Vander-Schrier,
used with permission
Click to make bigger
After her husband’s death, Margaret initially lived with her youngest son James, who was 18 at his father’s death, on the family farm. Two years later, on 27 January 1892, James married Martha Wengert in Brown City MI (per marriage record, daughter of Mike Wingart and Jennie Hagener [Mike Wengert and Janet Hagner]). According to the 1894 Michigan Census, taken on June 18, Margaret still lived her son’s family (they also had a boarder, David Bear – who over the course of many decades, boards with many different families of William and Margaret’s line & so may be related somehow). But six months later on 19 December 1894, Margaret married John Y. Brown, who was also born in Scotland. He had never been married before and was a peddler at the time of the marriage (thereafter he became a farmer). The registrar made a significant error in the ages of the couple, saying they were both 54. A comparison with later documentation assures me that the marriage record is for my Margaret but that the age listed for her should have been approximately 68 (Margaret may have shaved 4 years off her age for the event but I strongly doubt she shaved 14 years off!).

Climbing My Family Tree: Marriage record: Margaret McFarlane Bennett & John Y Brown, 19 December 1894 (3rd entry)
Marriage record: Margaret McFarlane Bennett & John Y Brown, 19 December 1894 (3rd entry)
Found at Family Search.org
Click to Make Bigger 


The 1900 Census shows Margaret (74) & John (60) Brown living and farming next door to Margaret’s son James’ family (James and Martha now have 3 sons and 2 daughters, ranging from 7 years to 8 months old), and seven doors from her daughter Nancy Bennett Gleasure's family (also two doors down from son Andrew’s brother-in-law, Anson J. Bentley, which confused me for a while since I knew I knew the name but couldn’t find a daughter married into that name – I finally went back to my actual tree and traced it to son Andrew’s wife’s sister Grace's husband. This genealogy stuff is starting to make me think in webs, lol!)

Margaret was widowed again when John Y Brown died on 6 February 1909 of Oedema of Organic Heart Lesion (which appears to mean a swelling caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues of a narrowing of the arteries going into the heart, or, essentially, heart failure). The more personal information was supplied by Margaret’s son, James, who didn’t know his birth date but said he was 67 when first married, and that he was a cabinet maker. He reported that John Brown’s parents’ were John Brown and Jeannie Young. John was buried two days later in the West Burlington Cemetery in Clifford, Michigan.

Margaret died eight months later on 15 October 1909 at age 87, 7 months, and 6 days. Her cause of death was listed as Old Age. James supplied the information for her death certificate too. She was buried four days later in the Deanville Cemetery, in Lapeer County, Michigan, which is the cemetery in which William Bennett was buried.

Climbing My Family Tree: Death Certificate for Margaret McFarlane Bennett Brown 15 October 1909
Death Certificate for Margaret McFarlane Bennett Brown 15 October 1909
Found at SeekingMichigan.org
Click to Make Bigger


If anyone reading this is related to William Bennett and Margaret McFarlane or their parents/siblings or children, and would be willing to share any information or stories or pictures they have with me, I would love to see it. (I’m also interested in John Y. Brown.) Please leave me a comment below or email me at the address on my Contact Me page.

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I’d really like to find out more about William and Margaret’s early years: where they were born, their family of origin, how they got to Canada and when, when they met, how they lived, etc.

I’d also like to find out more of how they lived in Canada and when and why they decided to move on to Michigan. I’d love to know how they made the trip.

I’d also like to find out more of how they lived after they got to Michigan, where the farm homestead was, what it looked like, etc.

I’d like to know if Nancy and Dorothy, and Andrew and Sarah, were twins.

And I’d really love to see pictures of any or all of them!

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Much thanks to Judy Wilcox for her help with information regarding Martha Wengert, James Bennett, and the Wengert family and James and Martha's family, and the Findagrave.com links for William Bennett and Martha Wengert, and her encouraging emails. (I’m related to her husband twice!)


Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 200 - Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin; 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia; 1894 Michigan Census; U.S. Federal Census for 1870, 1880, and 1900; Imlay City Times, Jan 8, 1891; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Quebecers ; http://www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/magazine/emigration/pre-fam.htm;  The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855, by Lucille H. Campey; Canada in 1849 – Pictures of Canadian Life; or. The Emigrant Churchman, by a Pioneer of the Wilderness, edited by the Rev. H. Christmas, M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A. (Richard Bentley, London, publisher in ordinary to Her Majesty, 1850); http://seekingmichigan.org; http://www.archaicmedicalterms.com; http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/decompensated+heart+failure; http://amhistory.si.edu/onthewater/exhibition/2_3.html; http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14863074 ; http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=bennett&GSiman=1&GScid=983&GRid=130261418&

Monday, November 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #44 Anna Gregor Bennett (1858 – 1929), my great grandmother

Climbing My Family Tree: Location of Puslinch Township in what is now Ontario Canada, courtesy of Google maps
Location of Puslinch Township in what is now Ontario Canada
 Courtesy of Google maps
Click to make bigger

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

I had been intending to write about someone else, and had found some fascinating things. But, I hit a snag, and figuring out how to untangle it is taking too much time right now. So I’ve decided instead to write up my great-grandmother, Andrew Bennett’s wife, for this week, especially since she leads to the person I have been researching (who I will post about in the future – so you now know you have something fascinating to look forward to). Finding and tracking Anna before her marriage to my great-grandfather was interesting to me as well --- and again proves the helpfulness of researching more than just my direct line into to find my people. I’m not going to repeat the historical information I put in Andrew’s post as it would be too repetitive; please read his post as well.

Anna Gregor is my great-grandmother:  my father’s maternal grandmother. Anna was born on October 7, 1858 or 1859 to Benjamin Gregor (1824 – before 1880) and Elizabeth Taylor (about 1832 – before 1880). She was probably born in Puslinch Township in Wellington County, in the British colony of the United Province of Canada (in what today would be Ontario, Canada today), as her mother grew up there and her father moved there sometime in the six years prior to Anna’s birth. Puslinch Township is  just south of the town of Guelph, which is  61 miles (99 km) west of where Toronto is now and in the peninsula east of Lake Huron, west of Lake Ontario and north of Lake Erie. (See map at the head of the post.) I’ll discuss its history more when I do posts on Anna’s parents and grandparents as some of them were among the early pioneers in the area.

In the 1861 Census of Canada, Anna was 2 years old and living with her parents and older brother James (he was 4) in Puslinch Township. Her father was a farmer. The census recorder spelled their last name as Grigor. By 1871, the family had expanded to include younger brothers George (9) & Benjamin (3) and younger sister Gracie (7). And, again the census taker spelled their last name as Grigor. I think Anna’s parent’s died in or before 1879, even though I’ve been unable to find a record of their death, as I cannot find them in any census in Canada or the United States after that date, and the children left Puslinch Township by or shortly after 1880 -- four of the five moving to Michigan. James moved to Michigan first, in or about 1878 and the others joined him in 1879.

Climbing my Family Tree: 1884 Michigan State Census (Goodland twp. Lapeer County, MI), found at SeekingMichigan.org
1884 Michigan State Census (Goodland twp. Lapeer County, MI)
Found at SeekingMichigan.org
Click to make bigger

I found Anna in the U.S. Census, in 1880, when searching for her brother James; she was living with him in Burnside Township in Lapeer County Michigan; she kept house for him as he farmed. Searching the surname “Gregor” at SeekingMichigan.org, I found James, Anna, and Benjamin in the 1884 Michigan Census (see above picture), living in the township of Goodland, in Lapeer County. James (27) worked in “lumber manufacturing”, Anna (24) was his housekeeper and Benjamin (17) attended school.  The census also indicated that a female of 18, who had previously lived in the household, had married Anson Bentley on August 18, 1884. I also found a marriage record for Grace’s marriage to Anson Bentley on that date. Between these three documents I felt I had enough information to confirm that this was indeed where my great-grandmother and her siblings had gone after the probable death of their parents, and to confirm this was my Anna (Anna Bennett is a very common name). The census form also asked the time of residence within the state, which is how I found out that that James moved to Michigan first. He reported he had been there 6 years and Anna and Benjamin reported they had been there 5 years.

I think Anna’s younger brother, George, remained in Canada when the others moved to Michigan, although I’m not certain of that.  The first record I found him in was a marriage record for 1888, in which he married Emily Janette Lamont in Puslinch; the record indicated that his residence was in Hespeler, Ontario which is 9 miles (15 km) west of Guelph. [George,and his wife subsequently moved to Manitoba Canada and lived out their lives there. Anna's sister, Grace, and her husband, Anson Bentley, moved to Kansas, then Wyoming, and then to Idaho where they were buried. Anna's youngest brother, Benjamin, married Maude Amelia Thompson, and they lived most of their life in Indiana. After Maude died, he moved to Illinois; he was buried in Newago, MI with Maude. Unfortunately, I lost James after 1884.]

I feel a bit sad for Anna, with her family scattered at long distances from her. My brothers are all at long distances from me, but I have telephones, the internet, cars, and airplanes, and Anna likely didn’t have any of them. While telephones had been invented by the late 1870’s, their use in homes wasn’t common in rural areas until into the mid-1900’s because it was so expensive to string the wires out to the farmhomes. Brown City itself received telephone service in 1898, but long distance calls were expensive and not private, as many families in separate households would share a “party” line and could hear whoever was speaking if they picked up their receiver. The rural areas of Sanilac County were slow to receive telephone service, until Federal Funds were approved to help run electricity and telephone wires to rural areas in the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 – seven years after Anna died.

I wonder if her brothers and sisters ever visited her, or she them? With railroad travel it would have been possible and a lot easier and less time than horse and wagons had taken—one could travel across the country in a week instead of the several months it had taken just a few decades before.

I bet letters from Grace, George, James, and Benjamin were like gold the rest of her life. I hope they were good correspondents.

Climbing My Family Tree: Postcard of Brown City MI  Main Street East in 1906
Postcard of Brown City MI  Main Street East in 1906
Off copyright and in the public domain, but
found at http://genealogytrails.com/mich/sanilac/citybrown.html (where there are more postcards)
Click to make bigger
Sometime after moving to Michigan, Anna must have met and gotten to know Andrew Bennett when he came home to visit family in Lapeer County (adjacent to Sanilac County – Brown City straddles both counties), from where he was working in Evart MI, as she married him on April 16, 1885. Anna and Andrew lived in Brown City, MI, on the Sanilac county side at least through their last child’s birth; the children’s birth records show a Brown City address. Their children were: Benjamin Gregor (born 15 February 1886, married Florence Short, and died 31 January 1970); William John (born 15 April 1889, married Mary Kalbfleisch, death date not discovered for certain yet); Elizabeth Grace (born 8 May 1891, married Arthur Bernard Martin, died 7 February 1920),  Blanche Maud (born in January 1894, married & divorced William John Huston, died 8 February 1948), Andrew Russell (born 26 January 1896, married Olive Gertrude Glover, died 23 July 1969), Anna Mae - my grandmother (born 16 May 1898, married Owen Carl Henn, died 12 September 1977), Margaret McFarland (born in August 1900, died 6 April 1935) and Thomas Edison Bennett (born 19 February 1906, married Lenore M. Griffen, died 1969). 

Climbing My Family Tree: 1900 Federal Census - Andrew and Anna Bennett Family
1900 Federal Census - Andrew and Anna Bennett Family,
found at Ancestry.com
Click to make bigger

By the time their youngest child was four years old, the family moved out to Maple Valley township, in Sanilac county and farmed until they retired. Then they moved back to a house in town in Brown City, leaving the running of the farm to their son William and his bride. Andrew died in 1925 and Anna followed three years later on April 18, 1928.


This is when I truly regret that I cannot find any Sanilac or Lapeer county newspaper archives online. When I can find historical newspapers online for where my ancestors lived, I can find out all sorts of things that help me build a fuller picture of them as a person as besides real news stories, the old time newspapers printed stories about who is going to visit who, who had someone over for dinner, church activities, school activities, legal notices, anniversary and reunion celebrations, as well as obituaries. But, try as I might, I can’t find any for any newspaper in Sanilac or Lapeer counties at any of the major (or minor) newspaper archive sites.

If you know anything about Anna Gregor Bennett and/or her family, and are willing to share, please contact me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at the address provided in my Contact Me page.

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I truly wish I knew more about my great-grandparents. I wish I had pictures of them. I’ve seen pictures of one of Anna’s brothers and of her sister on other people’s trees on Ancestry.com, and that just makes me want to see her more (I can’t post the pictures of her siblings here for you to see as I haven’t reached out to the tree owners to ask for permission to do so yet).

I’d also like to know when, where and why her parents died. And where did her brother James go after 1884; did he have a family of his own? And more of what her life was like.

By the way, did you know that there are petroglyphs in Sanilac County that are 300-1000 years old?! Too cool! I'd also like to go see them! But until I do, here’s a link to a blog by a guy who did go see them, who has lots of pictures at the bottom of his post about his trip to the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park
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Canadian census of 1861; U.S. Federal Censuses for 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930; Michigan State Census for 1884; http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/70th/rea-history.pdf; http://history.howstuffworks.com/american-history/early-twentieth-century-railroads.htm; http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/themes/story_48_1.html ; http://www.ci.brown-city.mi.us/history.php; http://genealogytrails.com/mich/sanilac/citybrown.html

Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #42 Andrew Bennett (1858 – 1925), my great grandfather, Canada East to Michigan, USA

Climbing My Family Tree: Flag of the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada (which existed 1840-1867)
Flag of the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada (which existed 1840-1867), in the public domain
This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

Andrew Bennett was born on November 26, 1858, in the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada in an area that would now be in the province of Quebec, Canada (see post on George Butler Wilcox and Mary Jane (Currier) Wilcox for explanation of the history of the making of Canada as we know it today).  He was the 7th child (of 13!) of William Bennett and Margaret McFarlane/McFarland. His siblings were: Mary Jane (1845-1923), Charlotte M. (1848-1916), Thomas (1849-1934), Elizabeth (1850 - ?), Nancy Ellen (1855-1927), Dorothy (1855-1927), [Andrew], Sara 1858-1877), William (1862 - ?), Janet (1863-1932), John Edward (1865-1935), Lucretia (1868 - ?) and James (1873 - ?).  [I’ll go into more detail about his siblings when I write about his parents.]

Climbing My Family Tree: Baptism record of Andrew Bennett (son of William) 1862
Baptism record of Andrew Bennett (son of William) 1862, found at Ancestry.com
Click to make bigger


I don’t know exactly where he was born in the Unified Province of Canada, but he was baptized, in 1862, in Valleyfield. It is in what is now the southwest corner of Quebec, about 20 miles from today’s Ontario-Quebec Province line. The delayed baptism likely came about because his parents had to wait for a traveling pastor to come through the area. While people could gather to worship God without an official from the church, things like marriages and baptisms tended to wait until an ordained pastor came through the area.

While Valleyfield was first incorporated as a manufacturing town years later in 1874, it existed as a frontier settlement before that. In 1858, it was a small hamlet about 40 miles west of the island of Montreal, on the eastern edge of Lake St. Francis, and at the head of the Beauharnois Canal (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway Canal system) on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. The hamlet is now a city named Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. This area was largely settled by Scottish immigrants; even the name Valleyfield came from a paper mill, Valleyfield Mills, in Scotland. Andrew’s mother was born in Scotland, according to most of the censuses (and his father was born in Ireland).

Climbing My Family Tree: Map showing the site of Valleyfield, east of Lake St. Francis, south of the St. Lawrence River and at the head of the old Beauharnois Canal
Map showing the site of Valleyfield,, Quebec, east of Lake St. Francis, south of the St. Lawrence River
and at the head of the old Beauharnois Canal, off copyright
Click to make bigger
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From 1830 through about 1870 was a period of immigration from Canada to Michigan in the United States called “Michigan Fever”, wherein large numbers of Canadian immigrants came to Michigan, including those newly arrived in the province of Canada. They were tempted by reports of the decline of the Indian population in Michigan, good climate and resources, including good farm land, iron and copper deposits, and a growing lumber industry.

Andrew’s father, William, moved his family to Lapeer County, Michigan towards the tail end of Michigan Fever, in or by 1870. From the 1830’s to 1870 Lapeer County’s main industry had been lumber, but after the trees were gone, the county began attracting farmers like Andrew’s father and became primarily agricultural. According to the 1870 U.S. Census, William and Margaret were living in Burnside in Lapeer County, Michigan in 1870 with William and their oldest son Thomas working as farm labor. Also in the household were the youngest six children Andrew (14) through Lucretia (either 4 or 2 - the census form is hard to read -- Ancestry.com’s indexer says she is 4, but I think it says she is 2). His oldest daughter Mary Jane was married to John Young and living next door. The youngest son, James, wasn’t born yet.

By 1880, Andrew was 22, and had moved away from home, and was living with his sister Dorothy (called “Dolley”) and her husband, Robert Watson, in the relatively new town of Evart, Michigan in Osceola County on the Muskegon River in the northwest portion of the Lower Peninsula. Both men worked in a saw mill. These would have been good jobs. The 1870’s through 1890’s was a time of remarkable growth for the railroads in the United States and as the first transcontinental railroads were being built, the companies building them relied heavily on Michigan for the wood ties used in constructing the railroads as they crossed the plains states where no trees grew. I don’t know that Andrew and Robert were involved in this industry but as it was a booming trade in Michigan at that time, they may well have been a cog in the trade. [Here is an interesting article on the “timber rush” in Michigan during those years]  

Climbing My Family Tree: Saw Mill on Budd Lake Michigan in the late 1880, about 35 miles north of Evart Michigan
Saw Mills on Budd Lake Michigan in the late 1880, about 35 miles north of Evart Michigan. Found at http://bluelemon.me/2013/09/25/anatomy-of-a-shingle-mill-by-roy-dodge,
click to make bigger



Andrew was apparently also making visits home to Lapeer County, because at some point he met and wooed Anna Gregor (daughter of James Peter Gregor and Elizabeth Taylor), whom he married on April 16, 1885. I know that he and Anna continued to live in Brown City, on the Sanilac county side (the city straddles the Lapeer County and Sanilac County line), at least through their last child’s birth. Their children were: Benjamin Gregor (born 15 February 1886, married Florence Short, and died 31 January 1970); William John (born 15 April 1889, married Mary Kalbfleisch, death date not discovered for certain yet); Elizabeth Grace (born 8 May 1891, married Arthur Bernard Martin, died 7 February 1920),  Blanche Maud (born in January 1894, married & divorced William John Huston, died 8 February 1948), Russell Andrew (born 26 January 1896, married Olive Gertrude Glover, died 23 July 1969), Anna Mae - my grandmother (born 16 May 1898, married Owen Carl Henn, died 12 September 1977), Margaret McFarland (born in August 1900, died 6 April 1935) and Thomas Edison Bennett (born 19 February 1906, married Lenore M. Griffen, died 1969).  I see the potential for a whole bunch of new-to-me cousins here! If we’re related I’d love to hear from you!

While I don’t know for certain what Andrew was doing to support his family during those years since the 1890 census was burnt in a fire in Washington, DC, and there seems to be a dearth of Michigan records for the same time period (courthouse fires, I’m told), family stories tell me he was a farmer, and I have a map showing the land he owned & likely farmed in 1894 (see below). This makes sense because agriculture was the main industry for Sanilac County after the logging period, like it was in next door Lapeer County, and because he listed himself as a farmer in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. It would have been a tough time to be a farmer as farm produce prices went down as the transcontinental railroads were completed and as the Great Plains states were settled towards the last quarter of the 19th Century, leading to an abundance of product making it to the stores, and in the Panic of 1893 which began when the Reading Railroad company declared bankruptcy, causing a severe economic depression. Stock prices declined, and over $1 billion worth of bonds were defaulted. Hundreds of banks closed, 15,000 businesses failed, and numerous farms went under. The unemployment rate in Michigan was at 43%. The U.S. economy began to recover in 1897, after the election of President McKinley and the discovery of gold in Alaska.

Climbing My Family Tree: 1894 Land Ownership Map of Maple Valley Township in Sanilac County Michigan, showing Andrew Bennett's farm
1894 Land Ownership Map of Maple Valley Township in Sanilac County Michigan, showing Andrew Bennett's farm,
 found at Ancestry.com
Click to make bigger
In the 1900 census, Andrew reported he had been married 15 years, was 46 years old, and he was a farmer.  Also in the household were  his wife Anna, 41; Benjamin, 14; William, 12; Elizabeth, 9; Blanch, 5; Andrew, 4; and Anna, 2. They lived in Maple Valley Township in Sanilac, County, Michigan. He also stated that he owned his farm but that it was mortgaged – likely as a result of trying to live through the bad times.

By 1910 Andrew had paid off the farm and owned it free and clear, and was farming with the help of his oldest son still at home – William (15). Benjamin had gotten married and started his own household the year before. Both Andrew and Anna reported their age as 51, Also at home were Elizabeth (18), Blanch (16), “Russle” A (14), Anna (11), Maggie (9), and Thomas (7).  

In the 1920 census, Andrew and Annie reported that they were 61, and that they became naturalized citizens in 1899. Andrew and William (31) are farming the property together and the farm is described as a general farm. Elizabeth had married and was working as a servant in a boarding housing at which she, her husband, and her infant daughter also boarded, in Muskegon, Michigan. Sadly, she died of pneumonia, complicated by influenza, a month after the census was taken. Andrew’s daughter Blanche (25) lived at home and worked as a public school teacher. Also at home were: Annie (21), Margaret (19), and Thomas (17).

Andrew died on January 30, 1925, at the age of 66. I don’t know of what or how he died. He was survived by his wife Ann, and seven of their eight children (his oldest daughter Elizabeth having died 5 years earlier).

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I’d like to find out more about the missing years in the late 19th Century, and about how he died. I’d also like to know more about the farm. I must remember to check the land and probate records (if they still exist). I’d love to find a photograph of him and Anna (I would love to see my great-grandparents!). There’s a lot more I’d like to know, but it runs to the details that make a personality or a life, and would take too much time to explain. If you are related to any of these people and would like to connect and/or share your stories, suggest corrections to my information, or pictures, I’d love it if you would contact me by leaving a comment below or by sending me an email at the address in my “Contact Me” page.

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Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. ( Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.); U.S. Federal Censuses for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920; Genealogical Research Library, Ontario, Canada. Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. (original source: Cadastres abreges des Seigneuries du District de Montreal (Vol 1) No 2, Beauharnois, Quebec, 1863.); Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. (Collection Number: G&M_64; Roll Number: 64); Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KF7H-R7Q : accessed 05 Nov 2014), Andrew Bennett, 30 Jan 1925; citing Brown City, Sanilac, Michigan, United States; 00552; Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 001973091.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~qchuntin/location/s.htm; Encyclopedic Canada, or, The Canadian album: Men of Canada; or, Success by example, in religion, patriotism, business, law, medicine, education and agriculture; containing portraits of some of Canada's chief business men, statesmen, farmers, men of the learned professions, and others., Vol. 5, William Cochrane, John Castell, Hopkins, W.J. Hunter (The Bradley-Garretson Co., LTD, Brantford and Ontario Canada, 1896.) [found as an e-book on Google Books];Quebec History, Valleyfield:  http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/Valleyfield-QuebecHistory.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salaberry-de-Valleyfield; https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Canada_Emigration_and_Immigration; “Michigan Fever”, part 1: http://web2.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/michigan_fever.html; Michigan Fever, part 2: http://web2.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/michigan_fever2.htm; Lapeer County Condensed history: http://www.county.lapeer.org/Clerk/county%20clerk%20history%20pg.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1893; http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/HIST312-10.1.2-Panic-of-1893.pdf

Also I’m currently listening to the History of the United State, 2nd edition, by The Great Courses, (which I’m getting in 6 CD installments from my local library), in the car on my way to work. This is where I learned about Michigan supplying the railroad ties for the building of the transcontinental railroads, and the Panic of 1893.

I also have the sources of my information on the kids; if you want it, please contact me,. Otherwise, I will include it whenever one of them gets their own post.