The itinerary of my grandparents’ 1906 honeymoon sounds more like a business trip than a romantic get-away, nevertheless, they both seemed to enjoy their trip to Chicago, Toronto and Montreal.
The bride and groom were Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton 33, a Winnipeg physician (usually known by his initials, T.G.,) and Lillian May Forrester, 26, a nurse. Lillian trained at the Winnipeg General Hospital, graduating in May, 1905, but she resigned from nursing when they became engaged.
The wedding took place at the Winnipeg home of the bride’s uncle, lawyer Donald Forrester, at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, 1906: According to the newspaper, “The bride, who wore a pretty gown of white net over taffeta and carried bride’s roses, was given away by her father, Mr. John Forrester, of Emerson…. There were no attendants, only the immediate relatives of the happy couple being present.” Following the brief Presbyterian service, the bride changed into a red and grey travelling outfit and they left for their honeymoon on the 5:20 train.
Lillian kept a diary of the wedding trip, leaving out any romantic details. They spent their wedding night on the train to St. Paul and reached Chicago late the following evening. Staying at the 16-story Great Northern Hotel, they visited Marshall Field’s department store, viewed the impressive tower of the Montgomery Ward Building and attended a play. They also visited the 1,400-bed Cook County Hospital which, Lillian noted, treated 25,000 patients a year and did an average of 10 operations per day. They then headed to Detroit for a brief stopover, and Toronto, where they began by exploring the area around Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto.
Niagara Falls was on their honeymoon bucket list. T.G. and Lillian spent a snowy day there, seeing both the Canadian and American falls. They dressed in waterproof clothing to access the back of the falls, and took a cable elevator car to view the Whirlpool Rapids.
After several nights in Toronto with T.G.’s Aunt Lizzie Morgan, they boarded a train for Montreal. Lillian noted some of the towns they passed through en route, including Belleville, where she was born.
It was now early December, and there was a heavy snowfall in Montreal, nevertheless they took the street car to Notre Dame Cathedral, which they found to be “as grand and beautiful as we anticipated.” Lillian ordered 50 visiting cards – she would need them in her new social role as the wife of a busy physician – and she visited several stores “and spent her first pin money.” She described Morgan’s department store as “the most beautiful store we have ever seen. The art gallery, glass room, electrical room and furniture department are all exceedingly fine.”
T.G. was planning on running for election to the school board in Winnipeg, so he took advantage of the trip to do some research. While Lillian was shopping, he interviewed the Superintendent of Schools.
No visit to Montreal is complete without a trip up Mount Royal. T.G. and Lillian went to the top in a sleigh and enjoyed “a splendid view of city, canal, river and Victoria Bridge.” On the way back downtown, they visited the Royal Victoria Hospital, ”a beautiful, well equipped building” with 300 beds. The next day they explored the Redpath Museum, had dinner at the Windsor Hotel (one of the city’s best) and took the overnight train back to Aunt Lizzie’s in Toronto.
It was a Sunday so, after church, T.G.’s cousin accompanied them to visit relatives. The following day, T.G. met with the Superintendent of School Buildings in Toronto and with a former principal of Wellesley Public School, said to be the most handsome and modern school building in Toronto.
Over the next few days they visited more family members and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, where T.G.’s father and grandparents were buried, as well as the farmhouse where T.G. spent his childhood. On their final day in the city, they attended a lecture on new developments in vaccines.
Finally, they headed west to Chicago and Minneapolis. Back in Winnipeg, Lillian’s brother picked them up at the train station and they went to buy furniture.
The last entry of the trip diary was dated almost a month after their wedding: “Dec. 22. Had tea at 8 a.m. in our own house.”
Note: a slightly longer version of this article is posted on my family history blog, writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com.
I was just eight years old when Grampy, my mother’s father, died, so I have few memories of him, only photos. There’s one of him holding me on his lap when I was about a year old, and another that shows him playing a toy musical instrument. A shot of him demonstrating his stone-skipping skills on a Maine beach was probably taken in 1956, during the last summer of his life.
At that time, children were to be seen and not heard; not all grandparents were as involved as he was, and that makes these photos all the more special.
In fact, he was close to all the women in his family, young and old, as he provided moral support and financial guidance to his mother and his three unmarried sisters, as well as to his wife and his daughter.
Frederic Edmund Murray Smith was born in Montreal in 1879 to Jane Mulholland and her husband, John Murray Smith, a bank manager. Fred was the third of their six children. His was a life of privilege, as the family lived in a grey-stone house on McGregor Avenue (now Dr. Penfield Avenue), on the slope of Mount Royal. They also had a summer cottage on the shores of Lake St. Louis, in what is now one of Montreal’s West Island suburbs.
In 1891, Fred’s seventeen-year-old brother, Henry, died of appendicitis. Three years later, when Fred was just 15, his father succumbed to a heart attack, and Fred became the man of the family.
Women supposedly did not understand money matters, so his mother and sisters looked to him for advice. For example, many years later, when his sisters finally sold the house on McGregor, the task of handling the sale and helping them move to an apartment fell on Grampy’s shoulders.
Fred decided not to attend university, but started his career as a messenger. It did not take long for him to move up the corporate ladder. In 1918, he was a manager with the Royal Bank of Canada, and in the late 1920s, he was with Verret Stewart Co., a firm that was an agent for Windsor Salt. Between 1930 and 1936, there was no profession listed beside his name in the Montreal Lovell’s street directory, but he went to work as treasurer of Champlain Oil after the depression and stayed there until he retired.
He lived at home with his mother and sisters and remained an eligible bachelor until age 37, when he married Gwendolyn Bagg. Their only daughter, Joan, was born two years later, in 1918.
Fred and Gwen were both quiet people, more interested in spending time with family than in enjoying Montreal’s night life. In fact, Fred was a strict Presbyterian who never appeared at the dining table without a jacket and tie, and would not allow my mother to play cards on Sundays, but my cousin who is 10 years older than I am remembers him as kind and having a good sense of humour.
In a 1946 letter to my father, Fred described his view of marriage: “We … hope that you both may have as happy a life together as your future father-in-law had in his married life, keeping in mind that it is a partnership, which means both of you have to give and take, and that in the home, it is the woman’s department.”
For the first dozen years of their lives together, the Murray Smiths lived on tiny Selkirk Avenue, near the corner of Cote des Neiges and Sherbrooke streets, two short blocks away from Gwen’s mother’s house and several long blocks from Fred’s mother’s house.
In the late 1920s, my grandparents decided to build a larger house. According to my mother, when they looked at the architectural plans, they did not realize how big it would be. Not only was the house more than they needed, but their timing was bad since Fred lost his job during the depression. Fortunately, Gwen’s Aunt Amelia Norton helped out financially, but this must have been hard for Fred. He was accustomed to helping others. My grandparents lived in that house for the rest of their lives, and he died there, of a heart attack, at age 77.
Grampy is buried in the Murray Smith family plot at Mount Royal Cemetery with his father, mother, brother, three sisters and wife. My mother is buried with them.
This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com
Legally, the family name was Smith, however, because Smith was such a common name, the family used Murray Smith as if it were a hyphenated last name.
The row house on Selkirk Ave. is still there, the Murray Smith family home on McGregor was demolished to make way for a high-rise apartment building, and my grandparents’ house on Saint-Sulpice became the Iraqi consulate.
“10 Foreigners at Woods Hole: Summer Students From Europe, Asia.” This was the headline on a story in the Cape Cod Standard-Times, Thursday, June 19, 1947. The story added that seven of the 10 students were from Canada. My father, Jim Hamilton, was one of them.
World War II had been over for two years, and people were starting to put their lives back on track. My parents had been married for a year, and I wouldn’t make my appearance for another year, so this was an opportunity for him to study physiology for six weeks at the famous Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod.
At the time, Dad was working on cancer research at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. Cancer research was in its early days then, and the aim of the project was to learn more about the fundamental character of cancerous cells. According to an article in the London Free Press describing the study he was involved in, “the methods employed in physical chemistry are to be used wherever they are applicable…. The services of a well-trained physical chemist, J.D. Hamilton, have been obtained for the research project.”
My father had an M.A. in physics, mathematics and chemistry from the University of Toronto, but he needed to improve his knowledge of the biological sciences, hence the summer course at Cape Cod.
Every summer the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), founded in 1888, attracted graduate students, as well as some of the world’s best biological scientists, to carry out research and share ideas about invertebrate biology, botany, embryology and other subjects, focusing on the marine life found in the waters around the institute. (The MBL still exists today, affiliated with the University of Chicago, and its research and educational programs are now year-round.)
My father had endless curiosity about esoteric facts and was interested in everything from history, philosophy and psychology to mathematics. I can imagine him thoroughly enjoying himself as he dissected a starfish or watched a sea urchin egg multiply under the lens of a microscope, and the knowledge of physiology he acquired during that six weeks no doubt helped him when he studied medicine several years later.
My mother, Joan, accompanied him on this trip. Now that the war was over, she, like many other married women, had left the workforce, so she had the time to travel. Fortunately, the institute had accommodations for married couples and even children. She was also an intelligent and curious person, and she aspired to be a writer, so rather than just sit on the beach, my mother wrote her own article about the lab. It was never published, but she kept a copy of the draft article, along with clippings and photos.
“The lovely New England setting of Woods Hole provides a working example of the internationalism of science. In the lab mess hall you may hear Dr. Jean Brachet of Belgium discussing his experiences as a scientific hostage of the Nazis. At another table Dr. Dashu Nie may be telling some of his companions how scientific terms are described in the Chinese language. Still another group may hear Dr. Mohan Das, Professor of Ecology at the University of Lucknow [India], tell how marine life in India differs from that found on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
“On the beaches, in the dorms, or over a cup of coffee at Cap’n Kids, one hears shop talk. For students and research workers alike, the conversations with some of the best scientific minds of many countries provide tremendous inspiration and encouragement, and from a word dropped at such friendly conversations may come the germ of an idea which will lead to the answer to one more problem.”
Both my future parents found Woods Hole to be a stimulating place. They also enjoyed the social activities, which included Thursday night square dancing and Monday’s traditional record night, when, my mother recalled, “it is very peaceful to sit in the darkness, watching the lights come out across Vineyard Sound and listening to Bach or Beethoven.”
After the course ended, they drove up the coast to Boston and to Maine before heading back to Ontario.
This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com
Clark Street in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood features two-storey row houses, most of them red brick or grey stone, set back a few feet from the sidewalk. Two hundred years ago, this now densely populated street was just a gleam in the eye of my four-times great-grandfather John Clark (1767-1827), who owned that land. Today, Clark Street looks remarkably similar to the way he envisioned it.
John must have foreseen that his farmland would someday get swallowed up by the expanding city. He wanted to see it developed properly, and he wanted his descendants to profit from it. Thus, he carefully outlined his development vision in his last will and testament.
A native of County Durham in northeast England, John Clark1 immigrated to Montreal with his wife, Mary Mitcheson, and their young daughter around 1797, and he became a butcher and an inspector of beef and pork.
He probably had a nest egg of cash because he soon bought property here. In 1799, he purchased a property on Montreal’s La Gauchetière Street. Perhaps the Clark family lived there. When he sold it 11 years later, the deeds showed it to be a double lot including two houses and several other buildings..2
Between 1804 and 1814, John purchased several neighbouring farms north of the city limits of Montreal.3 He purchased these properties from French Canadian farmers, then named them Mile End Farm, Blackgate Farm and Clark Cottage Farm. The land, including several houses, barns, stables and outbuildings, was on the west side of Saint Lawrence Street, now known as Saint-Laurent Boulevard and one of the city’s major arteries. At the time, this was the main road to the countryside, leading past the eastern flank of Mount Royal to the Rivière des Prairies on the north side of Montreal Island.
The area was rural, consisting primarily of fields of wheat, oats and peas, as well as pastureland, fruit orchards and woodlots. Both John and Mary had grown up in rural England, so they preferred to live in the countryside rather than in the crowded city. The Clarks’ grey stone house, called Mile End Lodge, was built around 1815 on Saint Lawrence Street, between what are now Bagg and Duluth streets. They had few neighbours: most Montrealers, especially recent immigrants from Britain like them, lived in town.
Land ownership was important. It conferred social status, it carried the right to vote, and land was a financial tool, commonly used as security for loans. I do not know for sure why John purchased so much land, but even in the short term, it was a smart decision: the soil was fertile and the area was close to the city, where there was a growing demand for meat and produce. John no doubt wanted to graze his own cattle on that land, and to grow timothy hay for them. Meanwhile, in 1816, he placed an advertisement in the Montreal Herald saying he was willing to pasture cattle on his property for between eight and 10 shillings per cow.4
John probably collected rental income from these farms. It was not uncommon for members of the city’s elite, and for skilled tradesmen such as John, to purchase land and rent it to local farmers. He went one imaginative step further and, in 1810, leased a two-storey house on the Mile End Farm to father and son Phineas and Stanley Bagg to operate as a tavern.5 The building was located at a major intersection on St. Lawrence Street, so it was in an excellent location for thirsty travellers.
Phineas and Stanley ran the Mile End Tavern until 1818. The following year, Stanley married John’s daughter, Mary Ann. As a wedding present, John gave them a lot on St. Lawrence Street, including a two-storey house he named Durham House, that he had purchased in 1814.6
John may have had an emotional attachment to the Mile End Farm and Durham House, but he certainly saw his land as a long-term investment. The population of Montreal had increased from about 6000 in 1780 to 20,000 in 1820, and he foresaw this area would eventually be developed.
In 1825, at age 58, John wrote his will, leaving his properties to Mary Ann and to his young grandson, Stanley Clark Bagg.7 He added a codicil a few months later that included a plan for housing lots on St. Lawrence Street and on the yet to be created Clark Street, one block west. He specified that the lots should be 44 feet wide by 90 feet deep, and that the buildings should be built of stone or brick and set back from the road.8
John’s codicil also specified that the sale of the lots were subject to a rente constituée, meaning that, in addition to the initial cost of the property, the buyer was to pay the vendor an amount every year, usually about 6% of the property’s value. This was a common practice in Quebec, designed to provide funds to the seller’s family members for several generations. However, when Clark Street was finally developed decades after John’s death, buyers were not interested in this old-fashioned practice and the rente constituée was eliminated.9
Meanwhile, most of the property lines and all of the street rights-of-way shown on the plan in John’s will are still in effect today. Also, the specifications for building quality were respected, and similar conditions were imposed by neighbouring landowners.
Mile End Lodge, watercolour by John Hugh Ross, copyright Stewart Museum, 1970, 1847
Codicil to the last will and testament of John Clark, December 1825, BAnQ, CN601 S187.
Notes and Sources:
John Clark is usually identified as an inspector of beef and pork. There was another John Clark, a master butcher, living in Montreal at the same time. That John Clark made a will in 1804, while my John Clark made a first will in 1810 and a final one in 1825.
Thomas Barron, notarial act #2876, “Deed of sale John Clark to William Scott,” 18 Oct. 1810, BAnQ.
These properties are listed in John Clark’s will, (Henry Griffin, notarial act #5989, “Last Will and Testament of Mr. John Clark of Montreal,” 29 August 1825, BAnQ) and in the inventory of his grandson’s estate (Joseph-Augustin Labadie, notarial act #16733, “Inventory of the Estate of the Late Stanley Clark Bagg Esq.” 7 June, 1875, BAnQ.)
J.A. Gray, notarial act, “Lease for five years John Clark to Phineas and Stanley Bagg,” 17 Oct. 1810, BAnQ.
Records for lot 110, Saint-Laurent Ward, Montreal, p. 395, Registre foncier du Québec online database.
Henry Griffin, notarial act #5989, “Last Will and Testament of Mr. John Clark of Montreal,” 29 August 1825, BAnQ
Clark Street as laid out in the plan attached to John’s codicil ran from just south of the city limits (Bagg St. near Duluth) to Saint Catherine Road (now Mont-Royal Ave). Clark Street was developed in segments throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, with the first part, around Mile End Lodge, subdivided in 1873. In the early days, a section of Clark Street was called Mitcheson Street (Mitcheson was John’s wife’s name), but by 1912, it became Clark Street along its length.
The rente constituéewas often used in France, England and French Canada. In those days, there was no modern money-lending system, so people could rent land for an annual sum. The borrower/purchaser could redeem the rent, however, the capital value of the property was not reduced by previous rent payments. John Clark and his grandson Stanley Clark Bagg complicated things by using testamentary substitutes to require that their real estate be subject to such arrangements far into the future. Their wills specified that the actual beneficiary was three generations down, while the intervening generations were responsible for keeping the estate in good shape for their children. When the Bagg and Clark properties were subdivided in the late 19th century, the Quebec legislature passed an act to end the substitution.
Justin Bur, Yves Desjardins, Jean-Claude Robert, Bernard Vallee and Joshua Wolfe, Dictionnaire Historique du Plateau Mont-Royal, Montreal, Les Éditions Écosociété, 2017.
Yves Dejardins, Histoire du Mile End, Québec: Les éditions du Septentrion, 2017.
Justin Bur, “À la recherché du cheval perdu de Stanley Bagg, et des origins du Mile End,” Joanne Burgess et al, Collecting Knowledge: New Dialogues on McCord Museum Collections, Montreal: Éditions MultiMondes, 2015.
Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton, Peopling the North American City, Montreal 1840-1900. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2011.
Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton (1873-1935) became internationally famous because of his investigations into psychic phenomena.1 But his more mundane activities probably had a greater impact on the lives of his patients, friends and colleagues than his psychic research did.
TGH, or T. Glen Hamilton, as he was known, grew up in a farming family, first in Ontario and then in Saskatchewan. He graduated from Manitoba Medical College in 1903, at age 30. After interning for a year, he set up a practice in medicine, surgery and obstetrics in Elmwood, a suburb of Winnipeg. Several years later, he and his wife, Lillian, moved into a large house in the neighbourhood. They raised their family there, and he had an office on the ground floor.
Elmwood’s first doctor, he was the kind of old-fashioned physician who made house calls (by horse and buggy in the early years) and delivered babies at home.3 According to his daughter, Margaret, his outstanding quality was his genuine concern for people: “To his many patients, he was not only the beloved physician, but he was the staunch friend and wise counsellor as well.”4
He plunged into community involvement and was elected to the Winnipeg Public School Board in 1907. Perhaps his experience as a teacher before he went to medical school inspired his interest in education. He remained on the school board for nine years, serving as chairman in 1912-13 and helping to guide the board as it built several new schools in the fast-growing city. He helped to establish fire drills and implement free medical examinations for public school students, and he believed in the benefits of playground activities.
He was a member of Elmwood Presbyterian Church (later known as King Memorial United Church) from the time he settled in Elmwood. An elder for 28 years, he was chairman of the building committee and helped raise funds for the construction of the church.5
In 1915, TGH resigned from the school board after he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature as the Liberal member for Elmwood. At that time, his riding stretched all the way to the Ontario border.
These were times of social change. Manitoba’s Liberals brought in several landmark bills, including the right to vote for women, the mother’s allowance act and workmen’s compensation. Nevertheless, a strong Labour vote swept the Liberals from power in the 1920 provincial election and TGH lost his seat.
He then shifted his energies to the medical field. He was a lecturer in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, and a member of the surgical staff of the Winnipeg General Hospital. He wrote several articles that were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the treatment of hand injuries, on the incidence of goiter (enlarged thyroid) in children, and on ulcerative colitis. He served as president of the Manitoba Medical Association in 1921-1922, and he was a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Medical Association from 1922 to 1931. He founded the Manitoba Medical Review and he was the first president of the alumni association of the University of Manitoba.6
All these volunteer activities in addition to his medical practice must have made him a very busy man. Nevertheless, after the death of his three-year old son Arthur from influenza in 1919, he found time for a new passion: psychic phenomena. His ultimate question was whether some part of the human mind, consciousness, or personality survives bodily death.
For more than a decade, he and Lillian organized weekly séances at their home, watching tables that moved on their own and communicating with spirits. He tried to take a scientific approach to his observations and to prevent fraud, so he took hundreds of photos of these events.
When TGH addressed an audience of Winnipeg physicians about his research in 1926, he was afraid he would lose his professional reputation as a result, but they listened to him with what he later acknowledged was “a tolerant and good-natured skepticism.”7 Most of them probably did not agree with his comments, but he had accumulated a bank of good will through his many professional and volunteer activities, and he had a strong reputation for integrity.8
When he died of heart attack in 1935, at age 61, hundreds of people filled King Memorial United Church, where he had been active for so long, to say goodbye to this man who had been such an important part of the community.9
This article is also posted on https:writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com
2 Although TG was my paternal grandfather, I never met him. He died many years before I was born.
3 “Elmwood’s First Doctor,” TheElmwood Herald, June 10, 1954.
4 Margaret Hamilton Bach. “Life and Interests of Dr. T. Glendenning Hamilton.” Proceedings of the First Annual Archives Symposium. University of Manitoba Department of Archives and Special Collections, 1979, p 89-90.
My father’s mother was born in rural Ontario and grew up on a farm on the Manitoba prairie, but that doesn’t mean she wanted to live on a farm all her life. In fact, she had other plans.
There were basically two career paths open to women in the early 20th century: teaching and nursing. She pursued both. Then, when she married a Winnipeg physician, her future in the city was assured.
Lillian May Forrester (1880-1956) was the daughter of John Macfarlane Forrester (known as Jack) and his wife, Samantha Rixon (known as Mattie).1 Lillian’s twin brother, Arthur, died the day of their birth, but, according to a family story, Lillian was placed in a box behind the woodstove to keep warm, and she survived.
The Forrester farm was located in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ontario. The property was quite small and the Forresters were a large and expanding family. They needed more land. Good farmland was becoming scarce and expensive in Ontario, while Manitoba, which had recently been opened up to settlement, looked very attractive.
In 1881, the Forresters bought land near Emerson, close to the American border and the Red River. Lillian’s parents farmed one property, her uncle William farmed the property across the road and her grandparents, James and Janet Forrester, farmed an adjoining half section with their son Donald. Lillian grew up with her five younger brothers and sisters and many cousins. According to Lillian, the Forresters “loved” their new home on the prairie.2
There was always work to do and, as the eldest of the children, Lillian must have had to do chores, such as helping to care for the animals. She had a bossy personality (years later she was nicknamed The Duchess), so she probably liked to tell the younger children what to do.
In a memoir, Lillian’s cousin Charles Reid Forrester wrote that the Forresters had their share of hardships. One year the crops were flattened by a hailstorm, and another time, lightning struck Grandpa Forrester’s stable, killing two horses, a cow and a sheep. 3
Lillian may also have remembered her grandmother’s flower garden, her mother’s freshly baked bread, and festive family parties when everyone danced to the music of the piano, violin and mouth organ and her father sang his favourite Scottish ballads.
She was exposed to many books and ideas at home. Cousin Charlie described Jack Forrester as very intelligent and a student of American and Scottish history, 4 while Lillian later wrote that she owed a special debt to her grandmother, who was an avid reader and a poet.5
Lillian attended the Des Marais school, a one-room schoolhouse that served the area. After graduating, she became a teacher herself,6 but she must have decided that teaching was not the right career for her.
By the early 1900s, nursing had become a modern, well-organized profession, with nursing schools open across Canada.7 Perhaps Lillian thought there was a need for better medical care in rural communities, or maybe she saw this as an opportunity to move to the city. Whatever her motivation, she applied to the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing.
She was 25 years old when she graduated, however, she did not work as a nurse for long. A year later, she married Dr. Thomas Glendenning (T.G.) Hamilton. T.G. practised medicine, surgery and obstetrics just across the river from the expanding city of Winnipeg.
The wedding took place in November, 1906 at the Winnipeg home of Lillian’s uncle. Three years later, the first of the couple’s four children was born, and in 1910, the Hamiltons’ newly built three-storey house in suburban Elmwood was ready for them. It was Lillian’s home for the rest of her life.
Lillian Forrester Hamilton, “Our Ancestors,” photocopy of a four-page typed document, in the author’s possession.
Charles R. Forrester, My World in Story, Verse and Song, self-published, Altona, Manitoba, 1979. p 29
Charles Forrester, Ibid, p 109-110
Lillian Hamilton, Ibid.
1901 census of Canada, Montcalm, Provencher, Manitoba, population schedule, page 3, family no. 25, Lillian Forester; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca, accessed 26 Nov. 2009); citing Library and Archives Canada, Census of Canada, 1901, Ottawa, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, RG31,T-6428 to T-6556.
The Ancient Burying Ground of Hartford, Connecticut,1 one of America’s oldest cemeteries, is tucked beside a historic downtown church2 and surrounded by insurance company office towers and state government buildings. This is the final resting place of many of the city’s founding settlers, and a tall monument lists their names.3 Several, including Bull, Bunce and Mygatt, are on my family tree, but it is the name Stanley that interests me most. Hartford settlers Timothy Stanley (c. 1603-1648) and his wife Elizabeth (c 1602-1678) were my direct immigrant ancestors.
Three brothers, John, Thomas, and Timothy Stanley, with their wives and children, set sail for the new world from England in 1634. They were part of a wave of strongly religious Puritan settlers who came to New England because they disagreed with the Church of England.
Their father, Robert Standly (c 1570-1605), was a whitesmith (meaning he made things out of metal) in Tenterden, Kent, in the southeast of England.4 Their mother’s name was probably Ruth. It could not have been an easy voyage for this extended family because John, the eldest of the brothers, died at sea, leaving his young children to be raised by Thomas and Timothy.
The Stanley family spent about two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Timothy was granted six acres of land and was named a freeman and admitted as a member of the Congregational church.5
Some Cambridge residents complained that there wasn’t enough land for all the new settlers. Then, after Pastor Thomas Hooker had a dispute with Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, Hooker and about 100 parishioners followed the old Indian trails south to the spot on the Connecticut River (also known as the Great River) that became Hartford.6
Timothy Stanley quickly established himself as a farmer, and when a land inventory was taken in 1639, he held nine parcels of land of varying sizes. His house lot, including outhouses and gardens, was about two acres, on the west side of Front Street and with a view of the river. Later, he also bought property in Farmington, CT, about 10 miles away.
The Stanley house was described in 1670 as follows: “It is a small, two-storey building, having on the first floor only the hall and “kitchinn”, the latter serving alike for a cook-room, living-room and parlor. Meager enough is the furniture: a deal table with a “form” or bench for sitting upon at meals, and standing in winter before the great open fireplace….. Such a luxury as a carpet is unknown.”7
Timothy and his wife Elizabeth (whose maiden name is unknown) had seven children. The two eldest, Joseph and Timothy, were born in England; both died very young. Elizabeth, Abigail, Caleb (my direct ancestor), Lois and Isaac were all born in Hartford.8 Timothy also raised his niece Ruth.
Timothy was active in the community. He served on several juries, he served as a Hartford selectman (town official) and was on a committee to distribute land.
As Puritans, their religious beliefs were central to their lives. Puritans believed that man was inherently sinful. Even though they were unworthy, God chose to save some people and to send others to hell, and there was nothing anyone could do to change this. They believed everything happened for a reason. Meanwhile, the Puritans believed in hard work, and in the importance of education.9
Timothy died in April, 1648, at age 45. The inventory of his estate, taken on Oct 16, 1648, totalled £332, of which £167 represented the value of his real estate. The inventory counted household goods such as a bedstead and pillows, a hall chest, kettles and dishes, several books, a warming pan and two muskets. The farm animals included six oxen, several cows, a horse, sheep, pigs and bees.10 The court ordered that all his children be awarded something from his estate, while the house and lands in Hartford went to son Caleb.
In 1661, the widowed Elizabeth married Andrew Bacon and she inherited Andrew’s land in Hadley, MA when he died eight years later. By 1671, when she made out her will, she had returned to Hartford to stay with son Caleb’s family. Elizabeth Bacon died in 1678, around age 76.
While many of Hartford’s early settlers moved to other Connecticut towns, my ancestors stayed in Hartford for several generations. Eventually, great-grandson Timothy Stanley moved to Harwinton, CT and then to Wethersfield, and his son, Timothy Jr., settled in Litchfield, CT. Perhaps there are more family graves waiting to be found in Connecticut.
Leslie Mahler, “Re-Examining the English Origin of the Stanley Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut: A Case of Invented Records,” The American Genealogist, vol. 80, July, 2005, p. 218. http://www.Americanancestors.org, accessed July 24, 2013.
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, series 2, vol. VI, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009. 463.
David M. Roth, Connecticut: A History. American Association for State and Local History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1979, 39.
Israel P. Warren, compiler. The Stanley Families of America as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT, 1636. Portland, Maine: printed by B. Thurston & Co., 1887, 228.
Francis J. Bremer, Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 43.
World War II was raging across Europe and the Pacific and the newspaper headlines were dire, but for my mother, the war years may have been the best of her life. After a sheltered childhood, she finally moved out from her parents’ house and found a job. Best of all, towards the end of the war, she met my father.
Joan Murray Smith was born in Montreal in 1918. She grew up an only child and attended a small, all-girls private school a short distance from her house. She was a good student, but shy and unsure of herself.
After finishing high school, she enrolled in art and typing courses. She kept up with her old school friends and there were always lots of parties to attend. In 1937, she and her parents boarded The Empress of Australia and sailed to England and Scotland for a short holiday. It was to be her only trip abroad. Two years later, the war broke out and such vacations became impossible.
A few years later, Joan joined the war-effort in her usual quiet way: she found a clerical position with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). At that time, the NFB was in its infancy. It was headed by John Grierson, a Scottish-born pioneer in documentary film-making, and my mother was thrilled to work there. She later told me that she helped set up the film library at the film board. She was well-organized, and no doubt she found the job both interesting and rewarding.
Many of NFB’s early films were morale-building movies focused on Canada’s role in the war. They also produced documentaries informing people about civilian defence and the roles of different branches of the armed services. Other films were short educational documentaries about food and agriculture, and there was a series of films targeted at women to help homemakers deal with shortages of consumer goods. These were shown in movie theatres across Canada, while libraries made them available to school and church groups. In rural areas, they were shown in community centres, using travelling projectors supplied by the NFB.
The NFB’s head office was located in Ottawa, a two-hour train trip from Montreal. Joan lived with her friend Denny and Denny’s father for a year, then she moved into a house with several other young women. Using the office typewriter, she wrote to a friend, “I am enjoying myself hugely. I got caught up in a round of small gaiety and am finding housekeeping wonderful fun. Not that I do anything but wash up as all the other girls have earlier hours than I do and always have the food ready for me at breakfast and dinner, which is very lucky for all concerned.”
Ottawa is a quiet city, but it was probably more interesting during the war. One of its chief advantages for a young single woman was that it was full of officers. As Joan wrote in another letter, “I have discovered a very nice captain whose chief virtue is that he is a wonderful dancer, but who unfortunately isn’t stationed here.”
Then she met Jim Hamilton, her husband-to-be. He too was working for the NFB. He had a science background and was making a film to educate members of the armed forces about sexually transmitted diseases.
Intelligent and something of a non-conformist, Jim was shy with women, while Joan was looking for someone different from the conservative sons of wealthy Montreal families she had grown up with. My vision of my future parents in their dating days comes from a photo, taken in the Gatineau hills on what looks to be a warm day in early spring 1946 in which they looked happy and carefree.
William the Conqueror must have thousands of descendants, but it seems quite a coincidence that I had thoroughly researched his life before I was aware there was a direct connection between us.
I learned about that connection from Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Researcher Emeritus of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and author of many books, including The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies of the United States. A half-hour meeting with Roberts was part of a weekend research event at the NEHGS that I attended a few years ago.
Roberts was a bit intimidating. He insisted I not look at my notes, but look at him, and he was baffled that I was interested in my ancestors’ lives. For him, the births, marriages and deaths were all that mattered. He seemed to have memorized the lineages of just about every family in colonial New England, and he indicated the pages of the family history books I should photocopy. When he learned I am Canadian, Roberts remarked that I have a “nice chunk of Yankee.”
He then pointed to the name Margaret Wyatt on my family tree and stated, “she was of royal descent.”
That royal ancestor was King Henry I, but the name did not ring any bells until I returned home and looked up Henry I on the Internet. Then I realized that Henry was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, about whom I had written a book!1 The book told the story of how William, Duke of Normandy, became King William I of England almost thousand years ago. Titled The Norman Conquest of England, it is one of several non-fiction books I have written for children.
William’s own ancestry was actually Viking: the Normans were people from Scandinavia who began raiding northern France around 800 A.D. In 911, William’s ancestor Rolf the Viking took control of the area that became known as Normandy.
William was born in Normandy around 1028, the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy and a young woman named Herleve, who was probably the daughter of a tanner. Even as a child, William had many rivals, but eventually he succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy. In 1066, he famously crossed the English Channel and defeated the English troops at the Battle of Hastings. He was a powerful and violent man, and a good military commander.
The story of how William the Conqueror evaded his enemies and invaded England is full of intrigue and coincidences. After writing about these events, my husband and I toured northern France, including Bayeux, home of the Bayeux Tapestry that illustrates the Norman Conquest. Little did I know at the time that William was one of my ancestors.
After William I’s death in 1087, his son William Rufus became king of England. Following the death of Rufus, William the Conqueror’s youngest son became King Henry I. Henry, who had been born in England, ruled from 1100 to 1135. Well educated, decisive and energetic, he was known as the Lion of Justice.
Henry married Matilda of Scotland, but the line of descent that leads to America was through an unnamed mistress. Their illegitimate child was Robert of Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester. At generation 19 came Margaret Wyatt ( – c. 1675).2 She married Matthew Allyn (1605-1671) in Devonshire, England in 1626/27 and a few years later they sailed across the Atlantic, settling in Hartford and later in Windsor, Connecticut.
From there, my line goes through their daughter Mary Allyn who married Benjamin Newberry; their daughter Mary Newberry who married John Moseley; their son Consider Moseley, who married Elizabeth Bancroft; and their daughter Elizabeth Moseley who married David Bagg in Westfield, Massachusetts. Their son Phineas Bagg, my four-times great-grandfather, left New England for Montreal, Quebec with his children around 1795.4
This article is also posted on https:writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
Janice Hamilton, The Norman Conquest of England, Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2008.
Gary Boyd Roberts, compiler, Ancestors of American Presidents,2009 Edition. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009, p. 408.
The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III.(Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols, 1995) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB393/i/12107/42/235171345
I have always been fascinated by the carved images found on early American gravestones. Imagine how thrilling it was to discover that this kind of tombstone marked the final resting place of one of my colonial New England ancestors in Westfield, Massachusetts. I found it when I visited Westfield’s Old Burying Ground a few years ago, en route to the New England Regional Genealogical Conference which was being held in nearby Springfield.
Westfield was founded in 1669. The oldest known gravestone in the burying ground is that of Abigail Noble, who died in 1683. Childbirth, consumption, dysentery, smallpox and accidents were common causes of death, but a surprisingly large number of those interred here lived to more than 80 years of age.
Among the more than 1100 gravestones and several hundred more unmarked graves in this cemetery, I was looking for the resting places of three of my direct ancestors: my six-times great-grandfather Daniel Bagg, his father-in-law, Isaac Phelps, and his son’s father-in-law, Consider Moseley. I found them in the southeast section of the cemetery where many of the oldest plots are located.1
My first stop was the Athenaeum (the public library) to pick up the key to the cemetery. From there, it was a short walk to what is known as the Mechanic Street Cemetery. Set back from street between two houses, the wrought iron gate was a bit hard to find, but once I entered the cemetery, I was amazed at how large it is, and how well cared for. This old burying ground, which is included in the U.S. National List of Historic Places, was carefully weeded and mowed, protected by a fence and shaded by mature trees. The historic tombstones have been cleaned over the years, and local citizens are trying to find the funds to better preserve them..2
The grave of Captain Isaac Phelps (1638-1725) was easiest to find because there was a small American flag next to it. Carved in capital letters on his gravestone are, the words, “Capt. Isaac Phelps Anno 1725 age 87 year.” Westfield lay at the western edge of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the tiny settlement was vulnerable to attack from American Indians, so Isaac probably played a role in protecting the community, and a military title to acknowledge that contribution.
Born in Windsor, Connecticut to George Phelps and Philura Randall, Isaac Phelps married Ann Gaylord around 1663 and moved his family to Westfield around 1670. Isaac carried out many civic duties in Westfield over the years: he was town clerk, assessor, surveyor, town treasurer and schoolmaster.3
Isaac and Ann had 11 children, four of whom died young.4 He and Ann were my seven-times times great-grandparents through daughter Hannah, who married Daniel Bagg (1668-1738).
Lieut. Consider Moseley’s red sandstone tombstone, with a carved face, crown and wings symbolizing everlasting life, was close to Isaac’s.5 Consider (1675-1755) was the fifth of 10 children of John Maudsley (the name was spelled various ways) and Mary Newberry. The Maudsley/Moseley family moved from Windsor to Westfield around the time of Consider’s birth. In 1709, when Consider was 34 years old, he married Elizabeth Bancroft. They had eight children, including twins Elizabeth and Daniel, born in 1714. After his first wife died, Consider married widow Rebecca Dewey. His daughter Elizabeth married David Bagg, the son of Daniel Bagg and Hannah Phelps, in 1739.
According to a history of Westfield, Lieut. Consider Moseley was “one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the town,” however, I have found few details of his life.6 He died on Sept. 12, 1755, age 80.
The grave of Daniel Bagg was more difficult to identify. The stone that I suspect marks his grave is almost illegible. The other problem is that there are three individuals named Daniel Bagg buried in this cemetery. The Daniel Bagg I was seeking was the son of John Bagg and Hannah Burt of Springfield. Many of Springfield’s younger residents moved to Westfield. Daniel became a farmer in the Little River area of Westfield. He and his wife Hannah Phelps had 10 children, and their son David and his wife Elizabeth Moseley were my direct ancestors.
Ann Gaylord, Elizabeth Bancroft, Hannah Phelps and Elizabeth Moseley are also likely buried in the Old Burying Ground, but their graves are not marked.
Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin, compilers. The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, with copies of wills, deeds, letters and other interesting papers, coats of arms and valuable records. Vol. II, Pittsfield, MA: Eagle Publishing Company, 1899, p. 1269.
Henry R. Stiles. The History of Ancient Windsor, Vol. II, a facsimile of the 1892 edition, Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1976. p. 509.
Bob Clark, Stories Carved in Stone: Westfield, Massachusetts, West Springfield, Dog Pond Press, 2008.