Author Archives: Lucy H. Anglin

My Formidable Tante Marie

I trail closely behind my petite 97-year old aunt as she pushes her walker towards the residence dining room. Her recently repaired hip doesn’t appear to bother her as she purposefully maneuvers herself to the front of the line.

Ironically, she was born with a curvature to her spine and the doctors pronounced baby Mary “delicate” informing her parents that she would not have a long life.

“Ha!” she has been known to utter on many an occasion.

Another favourite saying has become “I shall never surrender!”[1] It is stated with such passionate theatrical flair leaving no doubt that she means what she says.

Her parents, Millicent and Sydenham Lindsay, provided their first born child with numerous quiet diversions such as books, art supplies and writing materials during her childhood. She was not to tax herself physically much to the dismay of her brother and two sisters. Consequently, her artistic talents and imagination flourished and by the time she completed high school, she was ready to perform!

Mary was a talented actress and enjoyed memberships in several different theatre groups in and around Montreal during the 40’s and 50’s. She also occasionally designed store windows in connection with the theatre that drew the attention of the local paper.

“A departmental store window display, depicting characters in a scene from Kings in Nomania has aroused considerable interest and admiration to the gratification of Mary Lindsay, talented young display artist who designed the window.”[2]

In 1950, Trinity Players and The Montreal Repertoire Theatre produced the play “Jupiter in Retreat” and 30-year old Mary won the best actress award for the Western Quebec Region in the Dominion Drama Festival for her leading role. The Herald raved about her:

“Mary Lindsay Kerr, actress playing a leading role, gave a performance of confidence, sincerity and absolute conviction. This artist didn’t put a foot wrong. She played right from the beginning with ease, and she had the power of making lines appear spontaneous.” [3]

The prize was a beautiful handcrafted painted wooden bowl that she later passed on to me. It currently hangs on my kitchen wall as a proud memento from my much-loved aunt.

Mary was blessed with a true soulmate when she married Robert Black-Byrne Kerr in 1946.  Not only did he continue to look after her but he shared her love of the theatre! They were known to host house parties with themes like “Ye Gods” where guests dressed in togas as Roman Gods and probably ate and drank excessively!

Lively games of charades were played at every family gathering. Halloween was a fabulous excuse for a little play-acting! Mary would dress up as a witch and stir a giant pot of steaming “witch’s brew” in the large front window while Bob handed out treats to anyone who dared to come close enough!

In the 50’s, they moved to Vancouver for Bob’s job and Mary was welcomed enthusiastically as “a prize winning actress” into the Vancouver Theatre Guild. She also developed a reputation for radio work (Trans-Canada Matinee on CBC) and several TV and screen appearances (she was the voice of Clarence the Caterpillar on the children’s “Peppermint Prince” program).

As they didn’t have children of their own, Mary and Bob took great pleasure in doting on their nieces and nephews. When they moved back to Montreal in the late 60’s, Mary taught me how to bake a “four egg sponge cake” folding in the stiffly beaten egg whites just so. Weekly tea parties featuring just the two of us were a real treat. Sometimes she would serve “backwards dinner” starting with dessert first!

Over the years, we were often treated to hand painted watercolour cards sent to us for every special occasion. Her joie de vivre was obvious throughout her notes by the abundant use of exclamation marks. They were always lovingly signed: “Big Hugs, Tante Marie!”

(Tante Marie is presently residing in Ottawa, Ontario, where she is now doted on by her nieces and nephews.)

[1] Based on Sir Winston Churchill’s famous WWII speech.

[2] Newspaper clipping, personal collection – “Novel Store Window illustrates C.A.T. Play (Canadian Art Theatre), December, 1944.

[3] The Herald, Montreal , Friday, March 10, 1950.

Social Media – Then and Now

My hitherto unknown relative pulled open an old book of Tennyson poems from the bookshelf and out fluttered a newspaper clipping that had been there almost 100 years.

The clipping was a photo of two small boys posed in their Sunday best from a Philadelphia newspaper published in 1921[1]. The names of my father, Thomas Anglin, and his brother Bill were printed at the bottom.

 

Jenn Garro, who found the clipping, Googled the names and my recent story about Uncle Bill Dear Uncle Bill on the Genealogy Ensemble website was the first hit. She located me on Facebook and sent me a message:

Was I the daughter or niece of one of these boys? My answer – Yes!

The boys’ mother, my grandmother, Josephine Eveline Sherron, married William Wendling Anglin The Stock Broker, of Kingston, Ontario in 1915 in Philadelphia.

Not only do I have a copy of this newspaper clipping, I also have the original photo. My grandmother relished the world of the newspaper social pages and this early photo of her boys was their introduction into that world.

Another photo, taken six years later, captured the boys lovingly looking over their mother’s shoulder while she read to them. It was first published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in December, 1927[2], and then again in the June 1930 issue of Mayfair Magazine.[3]

 

Josephine began modeling from an early age. She modeled hairdos, hats and fashions of the day, and the photos were widely distributed. One such photo, published in the December 11, 1915 issue of the Philadelphia Evening Ledger[4], featured her wearing a black lamb’s wool hat and muff with matching coat. The caption announced that her marriage had taken place that day.

 

Like many other people at that time, her mother and sister contributed regularly to the newspaper’s social pages, with announcements of teas, luncheons and bridge parties. Special events, such as the 1924 June Ball at the Royal Military College near Kingston, provided eager readers with short descriptions of the ball gowns that the “distinguished guests at the social event of the season” were wearing: “Mrs. Wendling Anglin, rose georgette beaded.”[5]

Most surprising, however, were detailed announcements of the comings and goings of the family.

“Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Anglin, Westmount, Montreal, Canada, will be the guests over this week-end of Mrs. Anglin’s mother, Mrs. William Thomson Sherron, in Germantown.  Mr. and Mrs. Anglin will leave by motor on Sunday for a several weeks’ trip to Florida.”[6]

Then, a short while later:

“Mrs. Sherron has as her guests over the week-end her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Anglin, of Montreal, Canada, who arrived in this city Friday from Florida, after spending several weeks in the South.”

IMG_0006

One visit from her sister was followed so thoroughly that it was announced on four separate occasions!

To begin with, it was announced twice in her local Germantown paper:

” …will leave next Wednesday for a visit of several weeks with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Anglin, of Westmount, Montreal, Canada.”

And then,

“…has left for Montreal, Canada, where she will remain for several weeks as the guest of her sister…”[7]

Again, on the receiving end of the visit, in the Montreal Daily Star:

“Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Anglin have as their guest, Mrs. Anglin’s sister …of Philadelphia, Penn.”

And finally, home again:

“…who has been spending a month with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Anglin, in Montreal, Canada, taking part in the winter sports, recently returned to this city.”[8]

Any decent burglar could have seized these well publicized opportunities to plan the perfect theft!

These newspaper articles from 80 years ago are very similar to posts that enthusiastic friends might share on today’s social media networks. Nowadays, anyone can share family activities and photos with the whole world in a similar fashion. Nevertheless, I wonder whether any family photos will flutter into a distant relative’s inbox 100 years from now.

Meanwhile, my newly discovered relative Jenn lives in Bolivia, and we are keeping in touch by messaging on social media.

Note: 

On the inside cover of Tennyson’s Poems is written the name “Lizzie Gould”. Lizzie (Elizabeth) Gould was the sister of Harriet Gould (Josephine’s mother-in-law and my great grandmother, Mrs. W.G. Anglin Surgeon and Mentalist). Their brother Harry (Henry) Gould was the father of Pearl, who was Jenn Garro’s great-grandmother.  It appears Lizzie kept the clipping of her sister Harriet’s grandchildren in the book of poems. Jenn inherited the book and the clipping.

 

 

[1] Public Ledger – Philadelphia, Sunday Morning, July 3, 1921

[2] The Philadelphia Inquirer – December 19, 1927

[3] The Mayfair Magazine – June 1930

[4] Evening Ledger- Philadelphia, Saturday, December 11, 1915

5  The Kingston Standard – June 17, 1924 

[6] Local newspaper, January 28, 1938

[7] Germantown local newspaper, January 4, 1935

[8] Germantown local newspaper, about February 4, 1935

You can go back!

“It’s so much smaller than I remember!” was overheard again and again as we five sisters toured our childhood home.

The family matriarch awoke one morning weeks before our annual Christmas get together with a brilliant idea! She wanted to organize a family visit to our old home that my father had built 65 years ago. She helped raise his seven children in the 40 years that we lived in that house.

The new owners of the house cautiously agreed to the idea. Little did they know that there were 22 of us gathering at our mother’s Kensington apartment that day! Only twelve of us actually toured the family home.

The memories came flooding back the minute we stepped through the front door.  We were tripping all over ourselves reminiscing about this and that and all the good times. There were sad memories as well  which were acknowledged and gently released.

The most impressive feature of the house was the sunken living room with an entire wall of windows overlooking downtown Montreal. Opposite the windows was a spectacular floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace where many a family photo was taken over the years. The mantelpiece, however,was still annoyingly off centre! The walls echoed with years of children’s dress-up performances and lively after dinner family games of charades and fruit basket.

IMG_1542

The dining room was the scene of more than a hundred birthday parties over the years. We would march around the table singing and bearing gifts for the celebrant. There are tons of photos depicting this very special family tradition .

BirthdayWithGeorgeTooley62

Sunday nights we watched the Walt Disney movie on the 12″ black and white TV with supper.  Sometimes we would have lemon and sugar roll-up pancakes or for a very special treat Chalet BBQ chicken dinner was ordered in and devoured.

We all remember the delicious roasts (and legendary roast potatoes) for Sunday lunch after church. Somehow the table stretched to include old aunties and uncles or grandparents who would join us. “Dad would methodically carve the roast but we could not wait to eat. I doubt he ever actually enjoyed his dinner as we always clamoured for gravy bread (bread dipped in the meat juices) and seconds.”

The kitchen had been completely renovated (although our stove was still in use!) but it didn’t deter our memory of Dad sitting on his stool at the end of the counter with his water jug from Vermont, eating his healthy breakfasts. On the kitchen wall behind him was the family bulletin board dotted with scraps of important notices and a handmade birthday calendar.

We delighted in seeing the original wood floors and doors, the built-in cabinetry and the bannister (since reinforced). The glass door knobs on the doors throughout the house stood out although I never remember giving them a second thought growing up. The wood floor in the upstairs hall triggered giddy memories of running and sliding the entire length of the hall in stocking feet.

Thanking our hosts, with a promised donation to a homeless shelter, we strolled back to the Kensington apartment to join the others. “Upon entering the crowded  apartment, we were greeted with the delightful smell of roast lamb dinner and we knew we were home”.

3170StSulpice2010

Photo:  3170 St. Sulpice Road, Montreal, Quebec – The house my father built  in 1952.

Dear Uncle Bill

Dear Uncle Bill,

While rummaging through the Dusty Old Boxes containing family memorabilia, I came upon letters written by you to your only brother, my father, Tom.  There were also letters written to your sweetheart during WWII while you were stationed in England serving with the RCAF. So I thought the best way to remember you would be in the form of a letter.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lucy and I am one of your nieces.

Our paths never crossed.  I was only born in 1957 and you died in 1943. Your brother had seven children.  I was his fourth.  His eldest son, born in 1949, was named after you – William Sherron Anglin II.

While staying with my family in England in 2016, I visited you in person at your last known address:  Runnymede Memorial[1], Panel 179, Surrey, UK.  My grandchildren, who always enjoy a challenge, accompanied me in my search to find you. It didn’t take them long to find your panel and you – or your name, that is – inscribed on one of several stone walls, along with 20,000 other airmen,  at this dedicated memorial building on Cooper’s Hill overlooking the Thames River.

Your name was too high up for the children to touch but I brushed my fingers lovingly over your name and told you we were there. I am quite sure you knew it. You had an interest in mental telepathy, as did your grandfather, and his story was documented in the family boxes as well.  (Surgeon and Mentalist)

Throughout your letters to Tom, along with childhood memories, you shared and referred to an interest in The Rosicrucian Order which “is a community of mystics who study and practice the metaphysical laws governing the universe”.[2]

You maintained the belief in an ability to “project” yourself and to send mental messages. I can only guess that a feeling of closeness to your brother by any means must have consoled you greatly while away at war in England.

In your letters to your sweetheart, you described England in general (with the usual complaints about the rainy weather), your life with the RCAF, weekend leaves to Scotland and dances in the mess hall “wishing you were there”.  Although I don’t have her letters in response, I am sure you took great comfort in hearing from her.

You were sent on a training course at the end of May 1943 and, while away, your crew went on a mission without you – never to return. In the last letter to your girl, you confided that you were feeling “depressed” at their loss.  On the very next mission, you went missing as well.

Last picture of Uncle William

Last picture of Uncle Bill (far left) – 1943

Not long afterwards, your sweetheart sent a bundle of your cherished letters, wrapped in a bow, to your mother and wrote “I know I want to forget as soon as I am able, everything – and so I am sending you the few letters I had saved from those Bill sent me from England.  I hope that you would rather have them, than not … perhaps they will make you glad to have something more – to know something else of Bill’s life in England … rather than rake up memories you are trying to forget. For while I want to forget, I feel so sure that you will want to remember.”

Your mother never gave up hope that you would return one day.

Wendling & Josephine Anglin and sons Bill and Tom (1940)

Bill, Wendling  (the stock broker), Josephine, Tom and family dog (1940).

The abundant number of photos found with the letters in these boxes show your 27 years filled with family times – gatherings, annual trips, formal portraits, a few pets and a full life.

You will not be forgotten.

Lovingly,

Your niece Lucy

Note:

http://www.aircrewremembered.com/richmond-bruce.html

William Sherron Anglin was an Air/Gunner and Warrants Officer II with the 429 Squadron flying in a Wellington X bomber, Serial no. HZ471.

Reason for Loss:

Took off from R.A.F. East Moor, North Yorkshire at 22.36 hrs joining 719 aircraft attacking the town of Wuppertal, the home of the Goldchmitt firm which produced Tego-Film, a wood adhesive used in the production of the HE162 and TA154 (aircraft).  Around 1000 acres was destroyed in the firestorm that followed – 211 industrial buildings and nearly 4,000 houses were totally destroyed. A figure of 3,400 fatalities on the ground has been recorded. Bomber command did not escape lightly on this operation losing some 36 aircraft.

It is thought “probable” that HZ471 was shot down by Lt. Rolf Bussmann, flying out of Venlo airfield, and attacking this Wellington at 3,700 meters with the aircraft falling into the sea off Vlissingen.

429 Squadron possible loss area

[1] https://wiki2.org/en/Runnymede as at November 19, 2017

[2] https://www.rosicrucian.org/ as at November 19, 2017.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” called out my grade two teacher as the last word on our daily spelling test. It was the surest way to get our full attention on that April Fool’s Day!

When I begin to work on a story about one of my ancestors, it is not always clear on how to best start the story.  One very helpful tip, from the Genealogy Ensemble writers group, has been to find a way to capture the reader’s interest in the first few sentences.

Dick Francis, a famous British jockey and thriller writer (and one of my favourite authors), began almost all of his books in this fashion.

Here are some examples of excellent openers from stories posted on our website Genealogy Ensemble:

  1. A Small Life by Barb Angus – https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/10/21/a-small-life/

“I hold the documents as gently as I would the child for whom I have searched for so long. A birth certificate. A death certificate. Four days apart.”

  1. Call me Ismael by Mary Sutherland- https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/04/call-me-ismael/

“He arrived when the service was almost over. He walked to the pulpit and announced the last hymn “Seigneur Tu donne Ta Grace.” As the organ played he collapsed to the floor. So ended the life of Ismael Bruneau, my great grandfather.”

  1. The Cipher by Sandra McHugh – https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/02/08/the-cipher/

“When I say that my grandfather, Thomas McHugh, worked as a cipher, Bletchley Park, MI5, and Russian spies immediately come to mind. He was neither a Russian spy nor did he work as a cipher during the war. His employer was the Bank of Montreal and it was his first job when he came to Canada in 1912.”

  1. No Fairy Tale Ending by JaniceHamilton https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/11/no-fairy-tale-ending/

It must have been a happy wedding. For a girl from relatively humble American roots to marry the owner of one of Quebec’s vast seigneuries, this must have seemed like a wonderful match. And the groom had recently lost his parents, so family members were no doubt pleased to see him marry. Unfortunately, there was no fairy-tale ending to this story.”

  1. Like Father, Like Son by Lucy H. Anglin – https://genealogyensemble.com/2016/06/01/like-father-like-son/

“My husband was mesmerized by the photo of a young man hanging in a sling close to the giant propeller of the airplane he was repairing.  He had never seen it before.  It was a photo of his father, Allan, in his early twenties.”

Nonsensical words are great fun for children, but I think the opening sentences of these stories are excellent examples of how to capture my interest as an adult reader.

The Stock Broker

His timing could not have been worse.  Just a few years before the great stock market crash of 1929, my grandfather, Wendling Anglin, started up his own brokerage branch office in Kingston, Ontario.

The market crash was followed by the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis of modern times.  The stock market and Wall Street were plagued with uncertainty throughout the 1930’s.

Wendling gave up the Kingston office to take over the Toronto office.  But business was too poor to carry on and that office had to be closed as well.  So he transferred to the Montreal, Quebec, office in 1933 and became manager of Johnston and Ward.  This brokerage firm later changed its name to G.E. Leslie and Company, and ultimately became Nesbitt Thompson.

In July 1940, while Wendling was struggling to make a living as a stock broker, Canada joined the allied forces of World War II.  He writes in a letter to my father, Tom, his youngest son:  “Business is fierce, nothing at all … and I cannot get to first base with the government.  I will go after private industry.  I certainly want to do something in war effort.”[1] The answer:  Victory Bonds.

Approximately half of the Canadian war cost was covered by War Savings Certificates and war bonds known as “Victory Bonds”. These bonds, which were loans to the government to allow for increased war spending, were sold to individuals and corporations throughout Canada. War Savings Certificates began selling in May 1940 and were sold door-to-door by volunteers as well as at banks, post offices, trust companies and other authorised dealers.[2]

In December 1942, he wrote to his oldest sister, Mamie: “Market has been better, and business picking up somewhat. This I am thankful for as it was an awful let down coming back after Victory Loan. Worked hard on Loan and raised 1/4 million from my dozen companies, but as I was loaned to the government by our firm, just received my salary as usual.”[3]  Six months later, in another letter to his son, Tom: “Have been very busy on Loan, received order for $880,000 from my 14 companies – $80,000 over objective – so feel satisfied I did a good job.”[4]

The eldest of his two sons, Bill, joined the RCAF in May 1942, so raising this government money might have enabled him to feel a little less helpless in supporting him and bringing him home safely.

Sadly, Bill was declared “missing in action” in May 1943, age 27 years.  Wendling’s hopeless frustration is obvious in his August 1944 letter to my father:  “Wish this damn war would end so that we might get some news of Bill should he be with the underground—.”[5]

The much needed closure from an official notice of his death never came.  However, Wendling and his wife, Josephine, never gave up hope on their “missing” son.

Meanwhile, their younger son Tom and his wife, Ann (my parents), offered them a joyful diversion with their growing family of three grandchildren.

Wendling died of lung cancer in 1955 at age 63 – still waiting for his oldest son to come home.

[1] Letter written to his son, Tom Anglin, July 16, 1940 – author’s collection

[2] Wikipedia – Victory

[3] Letter written to his sister, Mamie, December 1942 – www.billanglin.com – as viewed October 24, 2015

[4] Letter written to his son, Tom Anglin, May 17, 1943 – author’s collection

[5] Letter written to his son, Tom Anglin, dated August 7, 1944 – author’s collection

The Anglin Brothers

When Robert left Ireland for Canada in 1829, young William Anglin (my great-great-grandfather) missed his older brother terribly. For the next 14 years, he wrote letters frequently as the only way to keep him close to his heart. Upon hearing of the rebellions in 1838 in Upper Canada and near Kingston, Ontario, where Robert had settled with his family, William wrote a worried letter:

Another reason why I have not written is the very disturbed state of your country – you cannot think the feelings of my mind on account of you my dear brothers and family for fear you should suffer loss of property, or life. I pray that you may receive this and that it will find you all well. I was afraid that a letter may not pass from here to you, and was kept in awful suspense to know how it would terminate – and anxiously waiting for every account – and you cannot imagine what joy it gave me to hear that the Rebels are in a great measure defeated.      ..…     I was glad to know from the papers that they did not get up to Kingston, and I hope that you in that city do still enjoy peace. We were glad to hear the stand the Protestants have made with the Army against them. Things may be worse than we know with you but do hope our next account will bring us satisfactory news. A good deal of the Army sailed from England and Ireland for America and do hope they have safely arrived before this date. I forbear to say any more on this, to me, painful subject, and know that you are better acquainted with it than I can be. I only mention what I have said to let you know what I have heard about the agitated state of your country. Under such circumstances as these I hope you will write as soon as you receive this, for I long to hear from you or to see you. 

 – Excerpt from a letter from William to his brother Robert in Kingston – Feb 23, 1838                                         

In 1843, William at age 28, arrived in Kingston, Ontario, where he finally joined two of his older brothers, Robert and Samuel, in business.  William, the youngest of four brothers and one sister, was born in 1815 in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He hadn’t seen his brother Robert in 14 years.

Before long William branched out into business for himself, partnering with an iron-gray pony named ‘Fanny’.  He travelled along the Rideau Canal as far north as Big Rideau Lake, and also along Lake Ontario to Hay Bay near Adolphustown, purchasing cordwood as fuel for the mail boats operating between Toronto and Montreal – steamers named ‘Passport’, ‘Spartan’, ‘Corsican’, ‘Corinthian’, and ‘Algerian’[1].

Later he purchased his own powerful tug, named ‘Grenville’, as well as two barges and continued to manage the cordwood contract with his young son’s help.  The cordwood was then freighted up on scows and barges, and piled on the Long Wharf in Kingston, later known as Swift’s Wharf.[2]

In 1847, four years after his arrival in Kingston, William married Mary Gardiner who had been born in County Durham, England, in 1817, and had also immigrated to the Kingston area with her family.

William and his wife first had two daughters, Mary Frances, who died shortly after her birth in 1850, and Annabella ‘Annie’ Jane.

Annie was born in 1853. Sadly, on July 1, 1878, while watching a fireworks display in the Cricket Field from the roof of a neighbors’ house, she took ill and developed pulmonary tuberculosis.  She was only 26 years old when she died on April 18, 1879.[3]

Then came two sons, William Gardiner Anglin (my great-grandfather), in 1856, and James Vickers Anglin, in 1860. They grew up in the house at 56 Earl Street where they moved as young boys with their parents in 1865.

Both sons eventually studied medicine at Queen’s University and became well respected surgeons in Kingston. William, however, also built an extension on his father’s house at 56 Earl Street which served both as his own home and medical office.  To this day, the name “Dr. W.G. Anglin” is still etched on the window at 56 Earl Street.[4]

When William’s mother died in Ireland, in 1863, twenty years after William’s arrival in Kingston, his eldest brother, John, was finally able to move to Upper Canada to join the rest of the family.

The Anglin brothers were re-united once again.

[1] http://www.Images.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca

[2] The Anglin Family Story – Part 2 – www.billanglin.com

[3] The Anglin Family Story – Part 2 – www.billanglin.com

[4] Helen Finlay, owner-operator of  52 Earl Street Cottages, Kingston, Ontario

Dusty Old Boxes

The latest de-cluttering guru tells us to keep only things that give you “joy”[1].  All other items should be thanked for their purpose or usefulness or memory and then given away.  At the end of this exercise all that should remain is an environment of pure joy!

We are told to start with clothes, then books, kitchen cupboards and desktops.  Then, after all that practise discerning the feeling of joy over an object, we should be ready to tackle photos and personal memorabilia.

On the top shelf of my largest storage cupboard are three dusty old boxes that have been there for years.  They were to be the last step of my de-cluttering exercise.

I slowly opened the lid of the first box and found masses of old photographs, mostly black and white, some labelled and others not.  The first handful of photos was of loving couples and families enjoying reunions at the dinner table.  Others showed groups of people standing proudly on the front step of a house. The next scoopful was of children at play sometimes happily holding pets in their arms or on their laps.  Another handful produced proud young adults in various uniforms – ready for war or to start a new career. The next bunch showed lazy days on sandy beaches, birthday parties and yearly Christmas gatherings.  Frozen moments in time captured forever, I quietly and gently put them back in their box.

The next box was filled to the brim with letters and cards. Some still neatly tucked into their envelopes, others held together with yellowing scotch tape and looking well fingered.  Most of them had handwritten messages in big loopy writing that was difficult to read.  The stamps alone told another story postmarked from places and dates from long ago.  Amongst the letters were children’s drawings, thank you notes, lists of party guests, menus and lots of much loved recipes.  But my very favourite find in this box was the love letters, written with such passion and folded lovingly into perfect little rectangles decorated with doodled hearts.

The last box contains loads of newspaper clippings mostly of all the family’s birth, death and wedding announcements from over the years.  Underneath all the newspaper, I found grandmother’s lace handkerchief and what looks like a tiny baby’s christening dress and a lock of hair.  I picked up a lone slim book and several dried flowers fall to the floor.  There are numerous small diaries, every page filled with the writing which continued up the sides of the page. Carefully folded in some tissue paper was an old dated sampler proudly stitched by a young girl two hundred years ago.  Treasure after treasure had been lovingly stored in this last box.

I quietly closed their lids and stacked the three boxes on top of each other.

Just then, it dawned on me that someone had already sorted the family memorabilia into those three separate boxes, leaving me to find three dusty old boxes of pure joy.

[1] Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

 

The Needlework Sampler – 1811 A.D.

I am so excited!  I am embroidering my very own sampler.  Creating the border around the outside edge has been excellent practice getting used to the needle and thread.

What a shame, though, that there are so many daily chores to be done before I am allowed to work on my sampler!  I wish my little brother would help out a bit more.  However, I must remember that Mother and Father work so very hard and we must do our part without complaint.

The border is almost finished.  I have mastered this simple first stitch.  I love the stiffness of the cotton fabric. The silk threads feel heavenly to touch but are annoying when they get tangled. Too bad the colours weren’t brighter. Mother says it’s more important to learn the stitches.  She’s going to teach me a lot of them – the cross-stitch, the slipstitch, the whip stitch, the satin stitch and even the French knot! I can’t wait!

Sometimes it’s difficult to pay attention during weekly classes at school.  The headmaster tells us that James Madison is our President and that we have 15 stars and 15 stripes on our flag which represent all our states.  The British are restricting our local trade and making our young American men join their Royal Navy. Imagine that!  And the Indians…is America ours or theirs?  It’s very hard to be a good pupil when I’d rather work on my sampler!

I’ve started on my alphabet letters now.  Capitals first and then the lower case ones.  They are quite tricky and take a lot of patience.  Oh, how I wish I had more patience!  But Mother says that I am doing very well and that some girls are two or three years older than I am before they start their samplers.

The other day, my brother put a huge beetle in my sewing basket!  Ewww! Why do boys have to be so silly? Maybe if he did more chores, he wouldn’t have time for pranks!

Numbers are wonderful. Stitching twelve numbers is much easier than all those alphabet letters – twice around!

It’s hard to believe the number of stitches that I’ve done already but there are many more to go.  Much patience is required.

…and less chores!  Just think how quickly I could finish my sampler if I didn’t have my daily chores!

Hurry! The daylight won’t last much longer and it’s getting difficult to see my stitching with the dim lamplight.

I am working on my name now.  I like my name.  Mary House.  It looks and sounds very neat and tidy – like a row of my very best stitching.

Beside my name, I am adding the date.  It takes a while to create a sampler so the only dates that are sewn are the year: “my eleventh year” and 1811 A.D.  “My eleventh year” sounds so much grander than “ten years old”.  I know A.D. stands for the number of years since the death of Jesus.  Ah! Maybe I should pray for more patience.

My stitches are improving and I haven’t had to undo as many lately.  Undoing stitches is almost worse than doing chores!

I’m working on the poem next.  It goes like this:

                          When I am dead and laid in grave

                          And all my bones are rotten

                          When this you see remember me

                          Lest I should be forgotten

I wonder who wrote this poem.  It makes me sad.  And can you imagine someone admiring my sampler after I die?

Finished at last!  Mother praised me saying that I did a very fine job indeed.  I am thrilled with it and will store it safely under my bed.

 

Mary was my 3x great grandmother. She died in 1830 at 29 years old.  Her sampler hangs proudly in our home.  She is not forgotten. 

mary-house-tapestry-1811

Surgeon and Mentalist

Shortly before graduation from medical school at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario in 1883, William G. Anglin (my great grandfather) and a few fellow medical students attended the performance of a “thought-reader”, English mentalist Stuart Cumberland[1]. So impressed with what they had seen, they went back to their place and tried one of the simpler experiments.

 The operator was blindfolded, and the Medium, placing the back of the fingers of one hand on the operator’s forehead was to think intently as to what was required to be done. For instance – pick up an article from some position and place it in another position – the operator having previously gone out of the room while the experiment was being agreed upon. Everyone singly failed, and I was the last one to try. Immediately I went across the room and picked up a small object from the mantelpiece – crossed the room and placed it on the middle of a chair. Tore off the handkerchief from my eyes and said: “That’s what you wanted done”. “By George, you’re right, Anglin, we will try you again”, and I did correctly five or six other experiments – each a little more difficult than the last. Could not account for the success, but in every experiment I was conscious that I was doing the right thing. When my fingers touched the desired object, I closed on it with a feeling of certainty.[2]

The next week William left for Halifax to sail for Liverpool to continue his medical studies in England. He met a fellow doctor and, eventually the conversation turned to “thought-reading”.

It proved to be a very entertaining voyage for the passengers, as he successfully performed time and time again. A passenger would say – “Well, Doctor, I hid a pin somewhere on the ship – an hour ago” and blindfolded, William would take the passenger’s right hand and, holding the fingers to his forehead, he would say, “Think where it is”, and they would start upstairs and downstairs, and along corridors to the spot, and he would pick up the pin from a curtain or a chair wherever it had been placed.[3]

Later in life, his son Douglas, referring to his father’s diary, lamented “End of Diary – too bad – I wish we could have heard about my father’s time studying in London and Edinburgh, where he was entertained at many high society places on account of his thought-reading.”[4]

Following his medical degree from Queen’s in 1883, William spent eighteen months as the house surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, the Sick Children’s Hospital, and the Royal Maternity Hospital in England. Then he successfully completed the M.R.C.S. exam (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons) in England.

When he returned to Kingston, in the fall of 1885, he lectured for a session in surgery at the Women’s Medical College. A year later, he became Professor of Pathology and finally head of the department of Clinical Surgery.

Around that time, William built an addition to his parents’ home at 52 Earl Street in Kingston, which provided him with both office and home. 3

This is where he brought his childhood sweetheart and bride, Harriet (Hattie) Eva Gould, in 1886. The name ‘Dr. Anglin’ remains embossed in the upper portion of the glass of the front window to this day.[5]

He remained a member of the Medical Staff at Queen’s until May 1915 when he departed with the Queen’s Stationary Hospital for Cairo, at age 59. Cairo, Egypt - Dec 7, 1915 - Lt Col AnglinHe served as a civil-surgeon with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel until 1916 when he became ill with Malta fever and phlebitis. He was given a medical discharge and sent back home.

William’s attestation papers, dated May 1st 1915, declared that he was fit for duty but noted a missing middle finger on his right hand.  In 1904, it was reported that Dr. William G. Anglin was severely ill, and lost a finger due to this illness. There was much relief when it was announced that he would live.[6] Middle Finger The story told was that by using his “thought-reading” skills, he was able to physically draw down the infection in his right arm to his middle finger. The amputation of that one finger removed all traces of infection from his body probably saving his life… and enabling him to continue his work as a surgeon.[7]

 

 

 

[1] Wikipedia-Stuart Cumberland (1857–1922) English mentalist known for his demonstrations of “thought reading”.

[2] Personal recollections – W.G. Anglin, 52 Earl Street, Kindston, Ontario – November 14, 1927

[3] Personal recollections – W. G.Anglin, 52 Earl Street, Kingston, Ontario – November 14, 1927

[4] Written note from Douglas Anglin at the end of Personal recollections – W.G. Anglin, 52 Earl Street, Kingson, Ontario – November 14, 1927.

[5] Helen Finlay, owner-operator of  52 Earl Street Cottages, Kingston, Ontario

[6] The Kingston Whig, January 12, 1904,

Queen’s archives, Biographical History – Anglin, William Gardiner (1856-1934)

[7] As told to Lucy Anglin from Thomas Gill Anglin, grandson of W.G. Anglin, who read his grandfather’s diary

 

%d bloggers like this: