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 not 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.

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