Thursday, December 31, 2015

Aunt Angie

Climbing My Family Tree: Angela Henn Bollinger Ver Ploeg
Angela Henn Bollinger Ver Ploeg
photo gifted me by Angie's cousin, JD (used with permission)
Click to make bigger

In early December, I started looking further up my Bennett line, having connected with a distant cousin (BJ) on that line who connected at the person I thought might be my 3rd great grandfather (since we connected through my Dad’s DNA test, it’s more than likely that he is my 3rd great grandfather!). BJ didn’t have a lot going down my line, so, this time, I had something to share. She did have some more on the early life of my 2nd great grandfather, William Bennett, the one who left the “old country” to come to North America that I look forward to sharing in a future “prequel” post. Combining her information and mine, I’d also started finding more on his siblings and his parents, and I was so looking forward to sharing that with my family, especially my Aunt Angie, because she would be so interested. But I didn't get to share it with her.

My aunt Angie, Dad’s sister, died the Friday before Christmas. She was the one who led me into family history. She was fiercely proud of her family and did not want her family stories to be forgotten. She would send emails out to everyone detailing her memories of family stories. She would answer almost every question I asked her and was always excited by my newest discoveries, and, last summer, when I asked her to give me a DNA sample, she eagerly agreed. But now, I wish I had asked her more about herself and her life because in writing this post I realize that there is a lot I don’t know. Or rather, that I had asked more, and sooner, because I did ask her some questions about her own life but she was at first too busy packing to move, and then too sick, to have the energy to respond.  But I do want to share some of my Aunt Angie because she was one of the most admirable, fiercest, faith-filled women I know. She did not have an easy life but she fully lived the life she was given.

Angela Joy Henn was born to Owen Carl and Anna Mae Henn, their third child, and first daughter, on December 17, 1934. At that time, they lived at 39 Denison Ave. in a neighborhood southwest of Dayton Ohio. When Angie was a young child, her parents inherited $500 and bought property in Jefferson Township, Southwest of Dayton, initially moving into a one-room dirt-floored garage on the property while they built a home on the property. My granddad built the house by hand, room by room, with the help of his children. They moved into the house as it was built – after they finished the living room they moved out of the garage and into the living room and expanded out as more rooms were completed.

Climbing My Family Tree: Henn Home in Jefferson Twp Montgomery County Ohio built by my grandpa and the kids
Henn Home in Jefferson Twp Montgomery County Ohio,
built by my grandpa and the kids.
Click to make bigger

Angie helped her father and brothers build the house. In a book I compiled of my father’s memories of growing up, my Dad remembered one occasion when Angie, who was under eight years old, was helping their father put up the chimney, their father had jury-rigged a scaffold, and Angie was up on the scaffold helping him lay bricks, wearing a nail apron when she stepped on an apron string and fell off the scaffold. She fell through the kitchen ceiling below (which was mostly tarpaper at that point) and landed on the stove where her mother was cooking supper. Dad said that everyone was scared to death except Angie, and that his mother really lit into his father for having her up there.

My father remembered another time when Angie was gored while leading a goat which was pulling a cultivator in the garden. Another time she fell from the tongue of a trailer breaking her pelvis. Dad described his sister as “tough as a pine knot.”

Climbing My Family Tree: Angie Henn, her father Owen Carl Henn, and her brothers
Angie Henn, her father Owen Carl Henn, and her brothers,
gifted me by Angela's cousin M.S. (used with permission).
Click to make bigger.

In 1944, when Angie was 10 years old, her father was drafted into the Army, leaving her mom at home alone with four children, one an infant. She and the other kids wrote him every day while he was away and prayed for him each night. He wrote back to each one every day. Due to medical issues, he was discharged from the Army seven months and 22 days after he entered. 

In high school, Angie maintained good grades, studying at home by kerosene lamp. She was also very active in extracurricular activities, including Future Homemakers of America, Y teams, Try-Hi-Y ( "an organization associated with the YMCA which meant to create, maintain and extend throughout the home, school and community, high standards of moral character through improvement, sisterhood, equality, and service in High Schools"), the Girls Athletic Association, Basketball, Glee Club, school librarian, and Future Teachers of America.

Climbing My Family Tree: Angela Joy Henn, 1952 Jefferson High School Yearbook, Sr. picture
Angela Joy Henn, 1952 Jefferson High School Yearbook, Sr. picture.
Click to make bigger.

After high school, she worked for a year  as a clerk for Otterbein Press typing letters then went to Manchester College in Manchester Indiana where she majored in psychology. She married a man she met in college on April 5, 1957, in Wabash County, Indiana and they both graduated from college a couple of months later. (This is a good place to note that, in my blog,  I do not name, or otherwise give identifying details about, people who are still living.) She and her then-husband moved to Delphi Indiana where he became a teacher in the local schools and the superintendent of the local Brethren church school. Their three children were born in the next seven years. The marriage was not an easy one.

Angela Henn Bollinger, her daughter and eldest son, approximately 1961
Angela Henn Bollinger, her daughter, and eldest son, approximately 1961.
photo gifted me by Angie's cousin, M.S. (used with permission).
Click to make bigger.

In 1977, when Angela’s mother died, the family lived in Wakarusa Indiana. In 1979, tragedy struck and Angela’s oldest child, Melody Ann Bollinger died on June 12, 1979. The marriage ended in divorce shortly after that.

I don’t know much about the middle of my Aunt Angie’s life. I wish I’d been able to ask her more. (She liked to tell me about her parents and grandparents and bits of stories of other ancestors, but she never really said much about herself, or at least not about the middle years, and I, unfortunately, was too young to pay much attention to anything outside my own family at that time.) Most of what I know of this period, I know from family stories and/or listening in at Christmas gatherings over the years. I know that she helped support an immigrant family in Indiana, in the beginning as part of a mission of her church. She loved and supported  her younger two children who were just entering their 20’s and going to college and starting their own lives.  She was a strong advocate for children with Asperger’s and autism. I know that at various points that she worked as a real estate broker and owned in rental properties in Ohio and Tennessee, and that she worked as a school counselor and/or school psychologist for schools in Ohio and Tennessee. I know that, when in her forties, Angela decided to go back to school and obtain a graduate degree in school psychology. She moved to Tennessee then and took classes at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville while working for the Tennessee School for the Deaf. She *qualified for a Master degree in psychology and received a higher degree as an Educational Specialist, in 1984. She later regretted not taking the Master's degree because the Columbus school system gave a monthly bonus to employees with a Master's Degree, but no bonus for an Educational Specialist. 

Unfortunately, 1984 was not only a year of achievement for her; it also dealt her a serious blow when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the course of her fight against the disease, she had a *mono-lateral mastectomy of her left breast, chemo, and radiation. Eventually, she went into remission and we all believed she had beat it.

After leaving Tennessee, Angie moved to Ada Ohio to work as a school psychologist in the local schools. Per the city directory, she was there by 1986.  Angela met Dan Ver Ploeg through their shared passion for square dancing (a passion they shared for the rest of their lives). He was a chemist for an Ohio state agency. They fell in love. She moved to Columbus Ohio in 1987, where worked as a school psychologist in the Columbus, Ohio, city schools in 1987,  Angie’s favorite number was eight and on August 8, 1988 (8/8/88), they married. In 1999, Angie and her husband, both 69, retired in Ohio; but Angie wasn’t ready to quit and they began looking for their next adventure. After much discussion, they decided to move to Alaska. Angie obtained work with the South East Regional Resource Center which hired itinerant school psychologists to serve the more remote areas of Alaska. She was based out of Anchorage and served 40 schools in seven school districts. The schools ranged in size from 10 students to 500 students and she flew into those towns because many of them were not reachable by road: including the Alaskan Peninsula, the Yukon Flats, Bethel, Chevak, Hooper Bay, Beaver, Aleutians East, Arctic Village, Sand Point Island, Cold Bay, King Cove, Dillingham, and Tenana. She also continued to work as an advocate for children with Asperger’s, travel with her husband, and to square dance (they also gave square dancing demonstrations and helped teach beginners).

Map of Alaska
Copyright to Brad Cole at
Click to Make Bigger

Angie and her husband lived in Alaska -- he sometimes accompanying her on her trips to the schools with which she worked -- for 15 years, mostly in the first few years. In 2008, she cut her hours down to a one-third position due to some health concerns that adversely impacted her energy levels. In 2009, her doctors discovered that the cancer she had had in 1984 had never completely gone away and was back, at stage IV, as metastatic breast cancer (or, not in the breast this time, but scattered throughout her body, mainly in her lung, bones, and spine). She immediately began treatment and began to feel better than she had in the last year, despite the side effects of the treatments. Her square dancing stamina greatly improved and she continued to live with stage IV cancer, getting treatment every four weeks for a year and she felt better enough in a year to increase to a half-time position, serving five school districts in western Alaska for the 2009-2010 school year. In 2011, she discovered that the cancer had spread to her liver. Angie tried a new monthly chemo treatment which held her stable for another two years and she continued to serve the children in the remote school districts of Alaska. However, in 2014, the cancer progressed further and, at age 80, Angie and her husband decided to retire to Tennessee, where she had family, in 2015.

It was her turn to host the Henn family Christmas in 2015. She and her siblings (and, while alive, their parents) had met at Christmas-time (on a weekend before or after December 25), alternately sharing the hosting duties, every year since leaving the family home.  Initially, they brought their families with all the young cousins, and we all sang all the Christmas carols in two books, ate a delicious meal, exchanged gifts and talked for hours. As the cousins started moving into their own lives, the original siblings and their spouses continued to meet for the Henn Christmas every year, the now adult children (cousins) coming as they could.  Angie had never missed a Christmas. She and all of her siblings were all together for every Christmas of their lives (except one year when my father was in the Army during the Korean War). Angie died the Friday before Christmas, December 18, 2015, with her family beside her (the day after her 81st birthday). She was buried on December 22, 2015, near her daughter in New Paris Cemetery in New Paris, Elkhart County, Indiana. Rest in peace, Aunt Angie.

Climbing My Family Tee: Aunt Angie
Aunt Angie

[*Edited, 1/5/16, to add corrections supplied by Angie's husband, Dan Ver Ploeg, who also gave me permission to use his name, and some new facts found pursuant to the clues given in his corrections and my other Aunt's memories spurred by Dan's comments. I'm happy to have the corrections. If anyone wishes to share information about Angie, please contact me.]

Interviews of my father over a decade, compiled into a small book in or about 2008, pp. 5-6, 14; Email interviews of my aunts, uncle and Dad; Jefferson High School Yearbook 1952, U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012,, Provo, UT, USA; "Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007," database with images,FamilySearch (,  ____ Bollinger and Angela Joy Henn, 05 Apr 1957, citing , Wabash, Indiana, county clerk offices, Indiana, FHL microfilm 2,240,269; Obituaries of Anna Mae Bennett Henn, from The Brown City Banner, Sanilac County Press, North Branch News, Thursday, September 15, 1977 & from The Dayton Daily News (Ohio), Thursday, September 8, 1977; City directories for Ada, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Obituary of Angela Ver Ploeg, The Elkhart Truth;; Angela Ver Ploeg (1934-2015);; Bollinger-Ver Ploeg Wedding, Oskaloosa (Iowa) Herald, p.3;;; “Journal of My Alaska Adventure” by Angela Ver Ploeg, 17 pp, emailed to me 3/5/09; cancer update emails from Angela Ver Ploeg to me (among others) dated 3 September 2008, 18 May 2009, 9 September 2011; 13 February 2014, and 19 November 2014.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NoteWorthy Reads #24

Image from

For me, Noteworthy Reads are articles, websites, or blog posts I found recently which are fascinating, interesting and/or helpful, and occasionally “wacky” or “wonderful” will likely sneak in as well. When I have the time I review the posts to determine which entries should be put in my Resource pages; the rest will remain available through the blog's search function.

Note: Just because I list an article does not mean I endorse its contents. It just means I want to be able to find it easily in the future when I may want to consider the issue in more depth.

13 Things for History Lovers to Do Online When They're Bored  – 13 fascinating transcription projects from


Immigrants to Canada, Porters and Domestics, 1899-1949  – the Library and Archives Canada has a new database containing more than 8000 references to people who came to Canada as porters or domestics during this timeframe.

New England Planters  from the Vita Brevis blog - "...before the Loyalists fled to Canada after the American Revolution, another important group settled Maritime Canada: the New England Planters. This often overlooked group of New Englanders (and others) left a cultural and political impact on Canadian history."


X Marks the Spot  rom the Vita Brevis blog – good explanation of the nature of the X chromosome inheritance




Looking for Immigrants from the Rhineland? from Connecting the Worlds blog – if your people are from the Northrhine-Westphalia area, you’re in luck!


The Pages from the Ancestry Binders blog has been running a nine part series entitled Dad’s War Letters in which she’s been printing transcriptions of excerpts of several letters from when her father was in World War II. They are wonderful letters. So far she has posted six parts. Here is the link to Dad's War Letters, Part One of Nine, go read ALL of them.

Holbrook line: Susan Eddy Stanard 1835-1910 from the Happy Genealogy Dance blog – sometimes it’s amazing what you learn when you think you’re learning something else


What Presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, & Wilson Sounded Like  from – recordings of the above-named presidents from the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.


Missing Great Uncle Rex in the 1939 Register… A Puzzle Solved from the Family History 4U  blog – interesting story and a good explanation of how to get around transcription errors.

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State  from 24/7 Wall St – long, but interesting article. Did your state surprise you?

Scary Times for Joses Bucknam from the Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog– Revolutionary war prisoner of war 

Object of Intrigue: the Prosthetic Iron Hand Of a 16th-Century Knight  from AtlasObscura – Götz von Berlichingen, the owner of the prosthetic iron hand, sounds like a very interesting man. 

1900 Census Instructions for San Diego Enumerators from the Genea-Musings blog– didn’t you always want to know how enumerators were chosen and what their instructions were?

Her Choice, Not His  and The Rest of Ann’s Story from The Legal Genealogist – the probate lesson, and the rest of the story.


The blog for the Ancestor Cloud community is running an ongoing series on Genealogy in Ireland. So far they have five parts:


What Happened to the Family Fortune? Historic Scottish Probate Records Now Online!  from the blog from the blog – two centuries worth of historic Scottish probate records are now online at Ancestrydotcom.


The New FamilySearch – I’m Loving It! from the Opening Doors in Brick Walls blog – FamilySearch has made it easier to search non-indexed records and Cathy shows us how, with screenshots



Warrantee Township Maps  – the Pennsylvania State archives holds warrantee Township maps which show all original land purchases from the Proprietors or the Commonwealth made inside the boundaries of present-day townships [includes name of warrantee, name of patentee, number of acres, name of tract, and dates of warrant, survey and patent].

OFF TOPIC  - but since family historians care about family heirlooms…

            A personal warning. If you want to move or ship a piece of furniture or family heirloom that you truly care about and want it to arrive intact, I strongly recommend that you do NOT use a company named Minimoves, even if directly referred by larger moving companies. [I am not linking to them. The website inspires a trust that would be seriously misplaced.] 

Monday, November 16, 2015

George Graham (1838-1926), Canadian pioneer, my first cousin three times removed.

Climbing My Family Tre: A Settlement Home, painting by William Henry Bartlett. (In the Public Domain)
A Settlement Home, painting by William Henry Bartlett. (In the Public Domain)
Click to Make Bigger

When I finished my post on my third great grandfather, George Taylor (1795-1862), last December, I closed it by asking anyone who knew more about George Taylor or Ann McArthur Taylor or their children to contact me. I further said that like to know more about “Margaret, Marianne, and Duncan – starting with whether they exist, whether they had life (marriage, kids?), and when and what did they die of.” (The names were mentioned on the website of the Puslinch Historical Society as being George and Ann McArthur Taylor’s children.) I’ve been contacted by a woman (EG) who told me that George and Ann Taylor were also her husband’s three times great-grandparents by way of their daughter Margaret who married William Graham. We've exchanged several emails, shared information, and gave each other guest access to our Ancestrydotcom trees. Any mistakes in the following, are solely my own, not hers, as I’ve diverged a bit in one or two places from her research in an experimental attempt to find a documented connection. It’s too soon to see whether that will actually fly, and there is more research that I would like to do, in terms of looking for homesteading records and, now that I’ve heard of them, checking out whether any of the Grahams appear in the Upper Canada Sundries records, and the Sessional Minutes, but it occurred to me that if I waited to be “done” before I wrote a blog post about this, it would probably never be written. Also, I have recently been contacted by another new to me distant “cousin” on the Bennett line, through my administration of my father’s AncestryDNA results and I would really like to table this current line of inquiry for a while in order share information with my new found “cousin” and explore that line further back for a bit (she’s got them further back than I do).

Before I get to George Graham, Sr.,  my first cousin 3X removed, I would like to talk a bit about his parents, Margaret Taylor and William Graham. In my last post about my Taylor branch [52 Ancestors: #48 George Taylor, Sr. (1795 -1862), pioneer settler of Puslinch Twp., Wellington County, Upper Canada], I listed Margaret Taylor as the daughter of George Taylor and Ann McArthur; but while I have been able to find baptism records for all of their other children, I haven’t been able to find one for Margaret. In looking further, I have found an index of a baptism record for a Margaret Taylor as the daughter of George Taylor and Helen Robinson, in a different county approximately 53 miles from where George and Ann McArthur Taylor were married and all their other children baptized; this indexed baptism record shows that this Margaret Taylor was born on 26 March 1815 in Midlothian, Scotland and baptized onto April 1815 in Canongate, Edinburg, Midlothian, Scotland. I want to track down the original of the baptism record because I’m not certain that “Robinson” will be the name shown on the original as I have also found an earlier index of a marriage record for George Taylor and Helen Robertson (daughter of Thomas Robertson), on 31 March 1812 in Canongate, Edinburg, Midlothian, Scotland (I also need to get the original of that record to verify the names recorded). It could be that George was married and had a daughter, Margaret, before marrying Ann McArthur. I’m unable to confirm or deny this theory through DNA testing because it isn’t my direct line. I have a lot of double-checking to do before I can confidently say that George married Helen before and that Margaret is Helen’s daughter and not Ann’s, but it is a possibility I am exploring.

As noted in my prior post, George Taylor and family arrived in Puslinch Township, Wellington County, Upper Canada in 1832. As reported by the Puslinch historical Society, in their section on the research regarding the owners/residents of the original lots of the Township, George's daughter Margaret Taylor (age 19) was married to William Graham (age 33) on 9 December 1934 in Ancaster by John Miller, minister. William Graham was born to  William Graham and Catherine Ross, in Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland in about 1801; he was baptized on 25 November 1801. He arrived in Québec in 1830 and bought land in Puslinch Township outside of Guelph, Ontario in 1833. When he married Margaret Taylor, he was a millwright and built the first sawmill in Puslinch on lot 23 in the 8th Concession. His obituary said he built the first three sawmills in Puslinch Township. The 1840 Puslinch Assessment rolls shows that William owned Lot 13 of Concession 8, a 100-acre lot with 15 acres of cleared land. William and Margaret had four sons: William Graham (1836-1891), George Graham (1838-1926), Alexander Graham (1840-1926) and Duncan Graham (1843-1906). I think Margaret died shortly after the birth of her fourth son. I haven’t found a record of her death yet, but William Graham married Catherine “Connie” McKenzie (1815-1888) on 2 January 1846. I found it interesting that one of the witnesses to their marriage was a Peter Robertson; it made me wonder whether he was related to George’s first wife Margaret Taylor (which would tend to support my hypothesis that her mother was Helen Robertson and not Ann McArthur – it’s something to check out). William and Connie had three children: Robert (1849-?), Murdoch (1849-1931), and Catherine (1855-?).  William Graham died on 25 September 1892, in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada after four days with pneumonia.

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

For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on William and Margaret’s second son George Graham, Sr., my first cousin three times removed, mainly because I was intrigued by his pioneering spirit: courage, sense of adventure, and dedication to hard work. Some of my nieces have asked me if I’ve found that we are related to anyone famous. My answer has been: not that I’ve been able to find yet, but we are related to a whole bunch of pioneers, people who go off into the unknown and choose to hack out a life at the edge of civilization and help make it into a community and a Country. George Graham is a good example of this.

George Graham was born in Guelph, Upper Canada (which later became Guelph, Ontario, Canada) on 13 August 1837. I wonder whether his mother was visiting someone in Guelph at the time because the family lived in Puslinch Township, which was about 16 miles southeast of Guelph. In those days, you didn’t just drive 16 miles to give birth. Roads were few and rudimentary; vehicles were not necessarily common and were pulled by horses or slower moving oxen at about 5-9 miles per hour. Most people just walked. In the 1851 census (actually taken in 1852), George is 14 and living with his father and stepmother and brothers on the east side of Brock Road in Puslinch Township. His father is listed as it a farmer and he and his brothers as laborers.

According to Beautiful Stony Keppel: including the village of Shallow Lake, 1855-1986, page 335, “In 1856, George Graham walked from Guelph to North Keppel. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Graham and other family members had come from Glasgow Scotland and settled on a farm at Guelph. The farm he chose has a wonderful view from the top of the hill overlooking the bay. Two other brothers, Alexander and Murdoch, followed George to North Keppel to purchase farms.” A History of the County of Grey, p.201, 202 states that William Graham arrived in the Township of Keppel, Grey County, Ontario, in 1863. The family lore told me by my newly found distant cousin’s wife holds that George walked from the farm in Puslinch to Keppel Township with only the axe his father gave him and his father’s blessings. It is about 170 km or 105 miles between Puslinch and Keppel Townships. [Can you imagine, at age 19, walking about 100 miles, through mainly frontier wilderness, to look at land to bid on and buy, knowing you intend to carve your life out of that wilderness with not much more than an axe to start out with? Can you imagine encouraging your 19-year-old son to do so?]

Climbing My Family Tree: Representational Map of George Graham's walk in 1856,
Representational Map of George Graham's walk in 1856,
edited section 1860 map of Canada West (in the Public Domain)
Click to make bigger

Keppel Township is a peninsula between the Colpoy Bay on the north and Owen Sound on the east, on the Great Lakes.  A huge fishing industry developed there early as there was an abundance of fish. The town of Wiarton was later located on the northwest corner of the Township. Keppel was the largest Township in Grey County and was named after the family of Lord Bury, head of the Department of Indian Affairs, who negotiated the land transfer of the Owen Sound Indian Reserve, from the Ojibway to the Canadian government under the Saugeen Treaty of 1854. According to the Bond Head treaty of 1836, the Saugeen Peninsula in Owen Sound was supposed to be reserved and protected as Native territory. However, the Saugeen Treaty of 1854 granted the government approximately 50,000 acres in return for being paid regular annual interest payments on funds from all Crown sales of the ceded territory (the payments received, or amount of them, has subsequently been disputed, as well as the capacity of the First Nation participants, who may not have been the actual leaders of the tribe to whom the land belonged, and who largely couldn’t read or write English, to contract away the rights of the Ojibwa to the Saugeen Peninsula). [Link to text of the Saugeen Treaty.] As soon as the 1854 agreement was signed, survey teams began to lay out the concessions and divide the township into lots of 100 acres each. The surveying continued through the early spring of 1856. In about that time, the Government of Canada began advertising land in the County of Grey saying it was open to settlers on the following conditions: 50 acres as a free grant, and 50 more on the purchase at $.50 an acre, to be paid at a later date. No one could get a grant if he did not go and reside on the land and make certain improvements before the issuance of the deed. A public sale auction of hundred acre plot of Keppel Township land was held in Sydenham (later the town of Owen Sound) was held on September 2, 1856. It is probable that George walked to Sydenham to bid on property in 1856, and having bought it, initially returned to Puslinch, as he shows up in the 1861 census, in Puslinch with his parents and siblings, where he is described as age 23 and a laborer; it is also possible that he may just have been visiting that day and recorded as present at that location that day. According to the Gazeteer & Directory of the County of Grey for the year 1865-1866, George Graham had obtained Lot 37 of Concession 24.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Keppel Twp, Grey County, Ontario, original concessions and lots.
Map of Keppel Twp, Grey County, Ontario, original concessions and lots.
Published in 1880 Historical Atlas of Grey County. In the Public Domain.
Click to Make Bigger

Climbing My Family Tree: Graham Hill Keppel Twp, Grey, Ontario CA  June 2014  by E. Graham, used with permission.
Graham Hill Keppel Twp, Grey, Ontario CA  June 2014
Today called Big Bayside Road 250537-250536
used with permission  from E. Graham
Click to make bigger, 

George’s future wife Julia Lenora Ward was living in Grey County in 1861, in Sullivan Township. Their daughter Josephine was born in 1861. It was not abnormal for children to be born before the wedding on the frontier; there may not have been a Presbyterian church in the area yet (I’ve been looking for a reference to one and not found one yet in that year). George and Julia were married in the Grey County on 14 April 1863. Their family quickly grew: Margaret was born in 1864, James was born in 1865; Mary Ann in 1867, William in 1869, and George Taylor in 1870.

An early pioneer, Elizabeth Atkinson Hambly, in the late 1920s, gave a talk to the Mount Horeb Women’s Institute, which was excerpted in Beautiful Stoney Keppel: including the Village of Shallow Lake, 1855-1986, pp. 9-10. The talk described life in Keppel in the early pioneering times; her family came to Keppel in 1862, about the same timeframe as George Graham and his young family. According to Ms. Hambly, the first thing one had to do was clear a space in the bush to build a log cabin or shanty, which was usually 10’ x 12’, using only a hand axe. Wedge pieces of timber called chinks were shoved between the logs, and if necessary, stuffed with moss to keep out the wind. There was only one door, hung on wooden hinges, and one tiny window about 8” x 10” (small to protect against bears and wolves, which were plentiful). The roof of the shanty was made of split cedars called clapboards and the floor of hand-hewn basswood. There was a fireplace where cooking was done, a roughhewn table, and a bunk which served as a seat by day and a bed by night – you would either lie lengthwise or crosswise depending on the size and number of children. There were no cupboards, but only holes bored in the walls and pegs pounded in with a flat piece of timber laid the top to form shelves.

Climbing My Family Tree: Drawing of Log Shanty, Ontario CA by William Harlow White. 1875.
Drawing of Log Shanty, Ontario CA by William Harlow White. 1875. In the Public Domain.
Click to make bigger.

After the home was built, and the timber cut down, rolled into piles and burned, potatoes or grain was planted among the stumps. The following season wheat was generally planted and when ripe was cut with a sickle and bound by hand. The County History noted that while the grains produced in the area were excellent, in the beginning farming was primitive. When it came time to harvest the grain, a tree with a spreading top would be cut down, the branches on one side trimmed off, a pole laid across the top and the branches spread out and fastened to it by vines or strips of basswood bark, and the grain or hay would be placed on top of that. Then oxen were hitched to the log end of the tree and the load was drawn this way to the stack, or barn if there was one. Initially, the grain was flailed by hand, and later a horse or oxen-powered threshing machine was used. [YouTube video of threshing wheat by hand with a flail  In the springtime, maple sugar and syrup was made and stored or taken to the store in exchange for provisions. In Ms. Hamblys family, when enough land was cleared and fenced, sheep were raised. I don’t know if George Graham raised sheep, but the rest of this account is likely very close to how George and his family lived in the early years of their settlement. The production of livestock developed slowly at first because of a large number of wolves in the area.

From about 1833, when the British Parliament abolished slavery, to the end of the American Civil War, escaped slaves made their way across the Canada-US border via the Underground Railroad which included Great Lakes steamboats and sailboats. Many settled in the Village of Sydenham (now Owen Sound), Grey County, the last terminal of the Railroad. Keppel Township is a peninsula northwest of Owen Sound. As soon as the land survey was underway in the late 1850’s, Keppel’s population began to increase, as white men and their families made their way into the area, purchasing farming lots. By 1865, there were 194 families in Keppel, and by 1871 there were 379 families. The increase in population brought in such conveniences as several saw mills to Keppel so that houses and boats could be made with sawed lumber rather than hand-hewn, lightening the load of the early pioneers. Blacksmith shops and cooperages (barrel makers) also arrived, as well as shops to make wagons and sleighs, and general stores.

The County History noted that in the years 1860 and 1862, the effect of the early frosts on the crops planted by the pioneers was so serious that the Council petitioned the Governor General for a remission of the interest accruing on the price of the Crown and school lands held and occupied by the settlers. Beautiful Stoney Keppel noted, at pp. 440-441, that in 1869 the winter came on soon after the middle of October and stayed persistently until the middle of April 1870, the snow becoming deeper and deeper. “Potatoes and turnips were left in the ground all winter and were dug up in good condition in April. The total amount of snow that fell during this winter was 22 feet.” (22 FEET!!)

In the 1871 Canadian Census, George, Sr., was 32, and Julia, 29, and their children Josephine (12), Margaret (7), James (5), Mary Ann (4), William (2), and George Taylor (7/12) lived in the Township of Keppel, County of Grey. Although George, Sr., and the children had been born on this continent they identified as Scotch. The local culture encouraged that; even the church services were in Gaelic.  George’s wife Julia was born in England. George is listed as a farmer and the three oldest children as “going to school”. The family was Presbyterian. George and Julia’s family continued to grow, adding sons, Joseph Tuckey in 1874 and Duncan in 1876, and their daughter Ruth Elsie in 1880. Sadly, they also mourned the brief life and death of their son John Alexander Graham who was born in 1873 and died 11 months later on January 29, 1874. The death record states that he was teething and had been ill for three weeks before he died.

In total, George and Julia had 10 children. Think of it, Julia was nearly always pregnant and/or nursing for over 10 years. In addition to George’s continuous farming labor and hunting to feed and support his family, Julia’s work would have been as difficult. A woman’s work in those pioneering times was described in Beautiful Stoney Keppel, at p. 215. In addition to caring for the children; there may have been chickens to feed and eggs to collect; cows to feed and to milk; butter to churn; a garden to plant, tend, and harvest; food to cook for the family on a daily basis, and more food to preserve for the winter months; washing to be done; clothes and home furnishings to be sewn; wool to be carded and spun; socks and mittens to be knitted; quilts to be made and stuffed; candles to be dipped; soap to be made from animal fat and lye leached from ashes. In addition, many women worked in the field with their men, and  nursed the sick in the family and/or community. It was not an easy life on the frontier for anyone.

In 1873, the Toronto Grey & Bruce Railroad arrived at Owen Sound, and in 1882, the new railroad line to Wiarton opened on July 1st, making it easier to take trade goods out of the area to bigger markets, and to visit family in other areas. Prior to that, most communication with the outside world was done via ship on the Great Lakes out of the port at Owen Sound. With the arrival of two railways in town, Owen Sound became a major shipping center. By the 1880's, the waterfront was frequented by Georgian Bay and Lake Superior steamers.

Climbing My Family Tree: Drawing of the town of Owen Sound,  by  George Harlow  White. 1875
Drawing of the town of Owen Sound,  by  George Harlow  White. 1875
In the Public Domain.
Click to make Bigger.

At the time of the 1881 Canadian Census, George was 40 and a farmer and his wife, Julia, was 38. Josephine was 21, Margaret 16, James 15, Mary 13, William 12, George 10, Joseph 6, Duncan 4, and Elsy was 1. James, Mary, William, George, Joseph, and Duncan attended school. They are still Presbyterian and everyone except Julia identifies as Scotch; Julia is from England. But by the time of the 1891 census, the census taker indicates that George (51) and the children were born in Ontario while Julia (49) was born in England. George is still a farmer and James and George are listed as working as farm labor. Josephine and Margaret have gotten married and left the household (see below). James was 26, William was 22, Mary Ann was 24, George was 20, Joseph Tuckey was now known as Tuckey and was 16 years old, Duncan was 14 and Ruth was 11. The whole family could read and write, and no one was deaf, dumb, blind, or unsound of mind.

George’s wife Julia died in on January 5, 1897, when she was 59 years old. In the 1901 census, George (62), now widowed, is shown as living with four of his children in a household headed by his son Duncan (24). The other members of the household are Mary Ann (32), Joseph T. (26) and Ruth E. (20). Duncan is a farmer; and while no one else is listed as working or having an occupation, I expect all of them are helping on the farm. Beautiful Stoney Keppel, at p. 336, states that George Sr.’s son George, Jr. bought the farm from his father some point; it looks like that occurred after 1901. I lost George, Sr. in 1911. I cannot find him in the census. Well, I found one George Graham, age 72, in Toronto but I don’t recognize the people that George is living with so I can’t confirm that he is my George Graham even though the search function for the 1911 census at the Library and Archives of Canada (which I used after I couldn’t find anything on Ancestry) tells me that there is no other George Graham age 72 in all of Canada in 1911 (and 119 George Grahams total in Ontario, and 200 in all of Canada, looking with the age box left blank, and I can’t confirm any of them as him). But then, I also seem to have lost all of George’s offspring in the 1911 census, as well, since I can’t find any of them (odd and aggravating).

I found George (now 83) again in the 1921 census; he is living at 546 Alpha Street in the city of Owen Sound with his youngest daughter Ruth (30). Confusingly, they indicated that the house they are living in is both owned and rented monthly, but it doesn’t list a payment amount, so I tend to believe that they own it as the instructions to enumerators for the 1921 census indicates that column 7 is to give the amount of the rent paid per month if rented (it says “BB” or “88”, but the instructions for enumerators do not indicate what that abbreviation should mean – I observed that this particular enumerator frequently broke the rules as set forth in the booklet “Instructions to Commissioners and Enumerators, Approved by Order in Council, 1921”). 546 Alpha Street is a single detached home made of concrete block and has six rooms. They can speak English but not French. It indicates that George has an income and is retired; his daughter has no a job or income.

Climbing My Family Tree: 546 Alpha Street, Owen Sound. June 2014. Used with permission from E. Graham.
546 Alpha Street, Owen Sound. June 2014. Used with permission from E. Graham.
Click to make bigger.

George Graham, Sr., died five years later on 11 May 1926. George was 80 years and nine months old when he died. He was buried on May 13, 1926 in Greenwood Cemetery in Owen Sound; the cause of death is listed as apoplexy and contributory causes were old age and valvular heart leakage. The physician who signed off on the death record was W. J. Frizzell, and the name of the undertaker was R. A. Breckenridge.

The children of George Graham, Sr., and Julia Lenora Ward are as follows (as I’ve been able to find):

Josephine Graham (1861-1937), married Donald McKenzie and had one child, Oswald.

Margaret Graham (1864-1936), married John Thomas Perry and had three children: Minnie Alberta, George Thomas, and Viola May.

James Graham (1865-1923) – I was not able to find very much about him and don’t know whether he ever got married or had children.

Mary Ann Graham (1867-1937, of ovarian cancer), never married, 30 years a nurse.

William Graham (1869-?), married Margaret Walker. I don’t know if they had any children.

George Taylor Graham (1870-1941), married Bertha Marshall and had 12 children: Gertrude, Clinton, Ross, Julia, Tressa, Mina, Donald, Duncan, Gordon, Sadie, Inez, and Malcolm.

John Alexander Graham (1873-1874).

Joseph Tuckey Graham (1874-1936), married Hattie [?] and had three children: Donald, Ross Tucker, and Evelyn.

Duncan Graham (1876-?), married Maud Gardiner in 1901 – I have been unable to find out whether she died or whether he divorced her – but he subsequently married Goldie L Eddy in 1909. Goldie and he had seven children: Ruth E., George Edward, Arthur T., Vernon W., Marjorie M., Robert W., and Mary L. I’ve not found any children with Duncan and Maud. He immigrated to the United States in 1904 (settling in Shiawassee County, Michigan).

Ruth Elsie Graham (1880-? – she died sometime after 1937).

Many thanks to EG for letting me look through her private Ancestry Tree.

In the future, I’d like to look for George’s homesteading records, and check the Upper Canada Sundries records and the Sessional Papers for him. I’d also love it if I could find a historical (contemporaneous) local newspaper archive that has been digitized and is online.  And if anyone knows where everybody got to in 1911, please let me know in the comments below or at the email address in my “Contact Me” page; I am intensely curious (since I lost everyone in the family)!

If you want citations in greater detail, contact me. However, I’m not a professional genealogist and I don’t keep them to professional Mills standards; mine are just to ensure I and others can find it again., Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA, FHL Film Number: 1067742, 990561, 990561., Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: FHL Film Number: 1067744; Annals of Puslinch (1850-1950), Puslinch Historical Society, Puslinch, Wellington, Ontario, Canada (; 1840 & 1844 Assessment Rolls, Puslinch Historical Society, Puslinch, Wellington, Ontario, Canada; The McPhatter Letters, collected by Matthew McPhatter and compiled by Anna Jackson, Published by the Puslinch Historical Society, p. 31, John Hammersley interview letter; Obituary of William Graham (clipping, paper unknown); “Historical background on traveling in the early 19th Century,”;; Beautiful Stoney Keppel: including the village of Shallow Lake, 1855-1986 by Betty Warrilow, Betty Siegrist, William Bev Shouldice, Keppel Township Historical Society, Shallow Lake Ontario: Keppel Township Historical Society, 1986; A History of the County of Grey by Edith Louise Marsh, Grey County Council (Ontario), Owen Sound, Ontario: Fleming Pub. Co., 1931;;;;; The Canadian Census of 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1921; transcription of the “Gazeteer & Directory of the County of Grey for the year 1865-1866”,;; Booklet “Instructions to Commissioners and Enumerators, Approved by Order in Council, 1921” found at;; Gaelic in Grey County,  by Mary McTavish, 2010,; Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1938. MS 935, reels 1-615, Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 [database on-line]; and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]; Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 [database on-line]; 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913 [database on-line];USA Federal Census for 1920 and 1930;, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]; Owosso Michigan City Directories, U.S. City Directories, 1822-1989 [database on-line] ; U.S. WW1 Draft Registration Card; U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]; Find A Grave Memorial# 121602063 (; and Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913 [database on-line].

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honoring My Family's Veterans

My family’s U.S. Veterans (that I know of at this point)

On my Dad’s side:

My Dad –  Specialist, 3rd Class, U.S. Army, Korean Conflict veteran, Japan as a Petroleum Laboratory Supervisor

My grandpa, Owen Carl Henn (1906-1988), U.S. Army (albeit briefly), WWII

My first cousin, twice removed, Benjamin F. Bentley (1893-1926), Sergeant, WWI

My 2nd great grandfather, John Henn (1842-1919), private, Company G 3rd Regiment, New York Light Artillery, Union Army, U.S. Civil War

My 3rd Great Uncle, Andrew Henn (1832-1911), private, New York Light Artillery, Union Army, U.S. Civil War

On my Mom’s side:

My cousin KMR, Master Sergeant, U.S .Air Force, retired

Great-Uncle Don B. Snyder (1918-2012), Technical Sergeant, 151st Infantry, 38th Division (“Avengers of Bataan” – he served in the operation that won them that nickname), WWII

My great-grandfather, Vernon Erwin (1872-1947), private, G Company, 4th Illinois Infantry, Spanish American War

My 2nd-great-grandfather Edward Carleton Bailey (1849-1926), private, Company D, 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry, Union Army

My 3rd great uncle John W. Bailey (1843-1864), 1st enlistment 1861: private, Company C, 45th Pennsylvania Infantry, Union Army; 2nd enlistment 1864: corporal, Company C, 45th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, Union Army – died of wounds incurred in the siege of Petersburg, VA. U.S. Civil War

My 2nd great grandfather John Erwin (1841-1917), 1st enlistment 1861: private, Company D, 11th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, Union Army, wounded at the Battle of Corinth and discharged; 2nd enlistment (1864): private then corporal, Company B, Illinois 48th Infantry, Union Army. U.S. Civil War 

My 3rd great uncle William Erwin (1838-1865), enlisted 1861, Sergeant, Company D, 11th Regiment Missouri Volunteers, Union Army, discharged to accept commission as Captain July 1, 1864, died of wounds received at Spanish Fort, Ala. U.S. Civil War 

My 3rd great uncle Eli Erwin, private, Company F, 18th Regiment Missouri Infantry, Union Army, badly wounded at the Battle of Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing 6 April 1862, sent to field hospital a Savannah, TN. He was discharged August 31, 1862, near Corinth MS due to wounds incurred at Shiloh. He didn’t make it home alive. U.S. Civil War 

My 3rd great uncle Lafayette Erwin (1848-1935), private, Company E, 155th Illinois Regiment, Union Army. U.S. Civil War
My 3rd great grandfather Henry Y Zimmerman (1794-1853), private, “Captain George Sanderson’s Company” Ohio, War of 1812