Author Archives: Janice Hamilton
If you google Charles Clark Waterford pewter, you may see some ads on ebay for antique dishes made by this Irish pewter manufacturer in the early 1800s. You may find his name in my blog post about the Shearman family, and you may also come across a 2009 post on RootsWeb by Lorraine Elliott, looking for more information about him.
Earlier this year, Lorraine, who is descended from Clarke’s grandson Robert Clarke Shearman, got in touch with me. Charles Clarke was an ancestor to both of us. I’m descended from his granddaughter Martha Bagnall Shearman, who immigrated to Canada in 1847. Robert, who was Martha’s brother, settled in New Zealand.
Lorraine did some research on Clarke and discovered quite a bit about his professional accomplishments, although his personal life and family connections are still something of a mystery.
Charles Clarke ( – 1830) was a Waterford ironmonger and brass founder as well as a maker of pewter flat ware in this ancient city in southeast Ireland. He was active in metallic crafts from at least 1788 until his death.
An advertisement in the Waterford Mirror on June 8, 1807, advised Charles’ customers that he made plumbing supplies and sold tea and coffee urns. Ten years later, the same newspaper reported that his factory had made a beautiful set of wrought iron gates, “a model of lightness, simplicity, strength and elegance,” for the Chapel Yard at Craig in nearby County Kilkenny. His foundry designed and made bells for many of Waterford’s churches, and he made stills, condensers and brewing coppers for the distilling and brewing industries.
He may have been in the family business. Waterford Streets Past and Present lists Nehemiah & William Clarke, Brass Founders, Braziers and Engine Makers on Peter Street in 1788. There is also a solo listing for William Clarke. Pigot’s 1824 City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory listed Terence Clarke, hardwareman and ironmonger, on Waterford Quay. How these people may have been related to Charles is unknown.
Charles was located on Barronstrand Street by 1790 with what appears to have been a household ironmongery shop at the front of the building and a foundry and a factory in the rear. He lived nearby at 38 Barronstrand Street.
The year 1782 was an eventful one in Ireland, with members of the Irish volunteer militia forcing the British government, which then ruled Ireland as a colony, to make Ireland an equal partner. These attempts at reform soon failed and political unrest continued throughout Charles’ life. Meanwhile, on Dec. 18, 1782, The Dublin Hibernian Journal announced the marriage of “Mr. Charles Clarke of Peter St. to Miss Bennett, late of Bath.” Bath is located in southern England, across the Irish Sea from coastal Waterford.
Charles had at least two daughters, Charlotte and Arabella, however, the girls may have been half-sisters. It is likely that Charlotte Bennett Clarke — the mother of both Martha Bagnall Shearman and Robert Clarke Shearman — was the daughter of Charles Clarke and Miss Bennett. The 1955 article in the Waterford News noted that Arabella Clarke died in 1822, age 13, at her father’s residence in Barronstrand Street. It is not clear whether there were other children, or when Miss Bennett died. Lorraine found hints that Charles married several times, however, Clarke is a common name.
When Charles died on Jan. 9, 1830, there was no male heir willing or available to inherit his business and, according to the Waterford News, it was sold to Samuel Woods and renamed the Phoenix Foundry.
Breaking Through my Shearman Brick Wall, July 6, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2016/07/breaking-through-my-shearman-brick-wall.html
Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford: A Tale of Two Weddings, June 8, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2016/06/christ-church-cathedral-waterford-tale.html
This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca.
Charles Clarke is mentioned in two booklets by David Hall: Types of English Pewter and Brass, Bronze and Copper, 1600-1900. Both are published by the author in association with the National Museum of Ireland and available at the shop in the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History, Dublin.
See Robert S. Hill, “Shearman, Robert Clarke”, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://TeAra.got.nz/en/biographies/1s10/shearman-robert-clarke.
The National Archives of Ireland has a transcript of Charles Clarke’s will, dated 1830 and proved in the Prerogative Court. (Reference number IWR/1830/F/217, volume 4/236/16.) The executor was William F. Clarke of Waterford.
Lorraine found other references to Clarke marriages in Waterford, however, we do not know how these individuals were related to Charles. In 1771, Miss Clark of Peter Street married Capt. Thomas Doyle. In 1773, Mr William Clarke, brass founder of Waterford, married Miss Thomson. In 1792, Miss Jane Clarke of Peter Street married Mr. Magrath, cabinet maker. The National Archives of Ireland has an abstract of a marriage licence grant for William F. Clarke to Mary Mackesy, dated 1826, for the Waterford and Lismore diocese.
Miss Bennett, late of Bath, is of great interest to me because she is represents the most distant of my direct maternal ancestors, but without more information, it is hard to trace further back in that line.
In 2014, I wrote about the brick wall surrounding the Irish origins of my great-great grandmother Martha Bagnall Shearman.1 Thanks to the generosity of a new-found distant cousin, I have now demolished that brick wall, moved the family tree back another six generations and discovered additional Shearman family branches in New Zealand and the United States.
I knew that Martha Shearman was born in Waterford, Ireland, married Charles Francis Smithers there in 1844 and came to Canada three years later.2 Because of Charles’ career in banking, the Smithers family lived for several years in Brooklyn, New York, and I discovered that two of Martha’s brothers and a sister had also immigrated to Brooklyn. I knew nothing, however, about the Shearman family’s roots in Ireland.
I posted the article online and eventually Lorraine Elliott, who was born in New Zealand and lives in Australia, came across my blog, Writing Up the Ancestors. She contacted me to tell me that her ancestor Robert Clarke Shearman,3 a New Zealand policeman, was another of Martha’s siblings. The clue that helped convinced her we were related was a photograph in her great-great-grandfather’s album identified as Maria Boate, Martha’s and Robert’s sister in Brooklyn.
Some years ago, Lorraine’s research had led her to a genealogy of the Shearman family written in 1853 by John Francis Shearman (I’ll refer to him as JFS). He was a cousin of Martha’s and Robert’s, an amateur archaeologist and a Catholic priest. (Some of the Shearmans were Protestants, others converted to Catholicism.) This document is in the archives of the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, near Dublin. She sent me the notes she had on that document, along with some of her own research on the extended Shearman family.
The JFS genealogy takes the Shearmans back to the mid-17th century when Thomas Shearman (c 1610-1704) came to Ireland from England with Oliver Cromwell’s invasion forces. He then settled in Burnchurch, County Kilkenny. Subsequent generations of Shearmans lived in and around Grange, not far from Kilkenny City.
Lorraine’s notes stated that Martha was one of 13 children, and that their parents were Thomas Shearman (c 1785-1850) and his wife, Charlotte Bennett Clarke (no dates available).4 Her research suggested that Thomas lived in Dunkitt, Kilkenny, near the city of Waterford, but other sources say that he was from the nearby city of Waterford. Perhaps he lived in Dunkitt in his early life, then moved to the city.
I recently came across another Shearman genealogy on familysearch.org.5 This 15-page manuscript was written in 1863 by a member of another branch of the family, George Shearman (1818-1908) of Penn Yan, a small town in New York State. It was clearly based on the family history written by JFS 10 years earlier, and it added more detail about George’s line and had less information about mine. It listed Thomas Shearman and named his sons, but only mentioned that he had five daughters.
All this information comes with a caveat: neither of these documents meets the requirements of genealogical proof standards. The names and dates of birth, marriage and death were probably based on family records and anecdotes and parish records that existed at the time, but today there are no official records in Ireland to back them up.
Nevertheless, records of the Shearmans can be found in various cemeteries, old Irish city directories, newspaper articles, Tithe Applotment Books and indexes of wills. Kilkenny researcher Edward Law found numerous records pertaining to Grange House, home to my Shearman ancestors, and the librarian with the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, Rothe House, Kilkenny was extremely helpful in my search for traces of the family.
This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca.
- Janice Hamilton, “My Shearman Brick Wall”, Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 9, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2014/02/my-shearman-brick-wall.html
- Janice Hamilton, “Waterford Cathedral: A Tale of Two Weddings”, Writing Up the Ancestors, June 8, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2016/06/christ-church-cathedral-waterford-tale.html
- Robert S. Hill, “Shearman, Robert Clarke”, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://TeAra.got.nz/en/biographies/1s10/shearman-robert-clarke. Note that this article says Robert’s uncle was William Hobson, first governor of New Zealand; Lorraine has been unable to confirm that.
- Charlotte was the daughter of Waterford pewter manufacturer Charles Clarke and his wife “Miss Bennett, late of Bath.” My maternal line has now come to another brick wall.
- “Genealogy of the Shearmans”, prepared by George Shearman of Penn Yan, New York, c. 1863 https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-VQH2-8?mode=g&i=113&wc=9DWX-ZNL%3A1040900401%2C1040900901%3Fcc%3D1880619&cc=1880619
I am often curious to find out where my ancestors lived at different times of their lives. For most of my 19th and 20th-century Montreal ancestors, this has been relatively easy using online maps and city directories, and I have used the same techniques to find ancestors in Philadelphia, Winnipeg, and other cities. And once I locate them, it is fun to look at the same addresses today using Google Street View.
In Montreal, the main directory has been published by Lovells since 1842, and these resources are searchable online on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) website. While the directories themselves are in English, this post should help you navigate that French-language provincial archives site.
Go to http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/lovell/index.html and, on the left, click on explore. Then click on Montreal et sa banlieue (Montreal and its suburbs), then on serie principale (1842-1977) and choose the year you want to explore. You can search for either the name of the household head or for the street address. This directory often includes the occupation and/or employer of the household head.
Once you find your ancestor’s home address you can try to find it on a map of the city during the same time period. The page http://services.banq.qc.ca/sdx/cep/accueil.xsp will take you to the BAnQ’s collection of digitized cartes et plans, or maps and diagrams. You can search by lieu (place), by region of Quebec or Canada, or by title of the map, date, author or subject.
If you are looking for the easiest maps of Montreal to understand, go to the left hand side of that opening page and click on the bottom choice of Collections, Pour en savoir plus, “Sur les cartes de Montreal utiles à la recherché” (to learn more about easy-to-use maps of Montreal). This will take you to a list of useful maps of the city, such as Goad’s maps, which were created for insurance purposes and identify property owners.
Searching for property ownership documents is a whole other complicated story I’m not going to talk about here, except to say that these documents can be found — with a lot of effort. Go to https://www.mern.gouv.qc.ca/english/land/register/index.jsp, a site of the provincial department of Énergie et Ressources naturelles Québec, and follow the links to the Land Register of Quebec site.
First, though, you need to know the ward of the city your ancestors lived in, and the cadastral number of the property they owned, which is not the same thing as the street address. You may have to compare different maps of the same area over different time periods to nail this down, remembering that street names and numbers sometimes changed. Once you have a firm idea of your ancestor’s geographic location, the 1874 map titled Cadastral plans, City of Montreal (http://services.banq.qc.ca/sdx/cep/document.xsp?id=0000337579) can help you to identify the cadastral number.
Once you see the image of the map you want, you can click above it on the left to download it (télécharger l’image) or on the right for a full-screen view (image plein écran). Move the red rectangle in the small map at the upper right to navigate your way around the screen.
Good luck and have fun!
Lucie Bagg, half-sister to my three-times great grandfather Stanley Bagg, has represented a brick wall for me ever since I started genealogy five years ago. I had never heard of her, or of her two half-sisters, before I started to research the Bagg family. I found a record of her baptism in La Prairie, Lower Canada (now Quebec),1 but that was it.
Gradually, clues emerged. Lucie was mentioned as a beneficiary in the will that her half-sister Sophia Bagg, veuve (widow) Gabriel Roy, wrote in 18562, so I realized she must have lived to adulthood. Then I ran across an 1816 marriage record for Lucy Baggs and William Kaene in Buffalo and Vicinity, Erie County, New York.3 It was easy to imagine that she had moved to Buffalo since her family was originally from the United States. I found the Kaene family on several public members’ trees on Ancestry, but I wanted evidence that the Lucy I had found was the Lucie I was looking for. Finally, I found it: the 1860 U.S. Federal Census listed Lucy Kaene, born Lower Canada.4
Now I can tell her story:
Lucie Bagg was born on 11 Jan. 1789 in La Prairie, Lower Canada to American-born, Protestant parents, but since there was no Protestant church in the town, she was baptized in the local Catholic church. The priest who recorded her baptism was French-speaking and he used the French spelling of Lucy in the register. Lucie lived much of her life in the United States and appears in census records as Lucy, but to her family in Canada, she remained Lucie.
Lucie’s father, innkeeper Phineas Bagg (c. 1750-1823), had moved to La Prairie, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, from Pittsfield, Massachusetts with his four children by his now- deceased first wife and with Lucie’s mother, who was probably Ruth Langworthy.5 He had fallen into debt in Pittsfield and lost his farm to repay his creditors, so he had come to Canada to start a new life.6 La Prairie was then a prosperous town on the route between Montreal and New England, and a number of Americans lived there.
By 1810, Lucie’s half-siblings were beginning to launch their careers and marry. Phineas and son Stanley moved onto the island of Montreal and opened the Mile End Tavern at a crossroads about a mile north of the city.7 The Mile End property was a farm as well as a tavern, and perhaps Lucie helped feed the animals or serve the tavern guests.
In 1816, when she was 18, she married William Kaene, a 19-year-old Pennsylvania-born farmer, somewhere in or near Buffalo. At that time, Buffalo was a village on the eastern shore of Lake Erie. Several years earlier, during the War of 1812, British troops had burned it.
In 1825, the Erie Canal linking Lake Erie with Albany and the Hudson River was completed. Perhaps Lucie attended the canal’s opening ceremonies in Buffalo, the waterway’s western terminus.8 The canal gave a big boost to Buffalo’s economy as the town became a transfer point for both passengers and goods.
In an 1832 city directory, William was listed as “grocer, main Street, dwelling public square”.9 A directory published in 1836 indicated the couple lived a short distance northwest of the town, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Tenth streets, and identified William as a farmer.10
Lucie and William had at least three children: Louise Sophia (1817-1911), Julia Elizabeth (1829-1910) and Ella (1836- ).11 There are big gaps between the girls’ ages, so Lucie may have had other children who died young.12
Julia married John Alexander Brewster in 1858, moved to California and had three children.13 Louise married Harrison Otis Cowing in 1839 and had nine children, two of whom may have died young. 14
Harrison Cowing was a grocer and merchant in Buffalo and became the official head of the household. In 1850, the Cowing family, Lucie and William and their unmarried daughters were living in the brick family home at Pennsylvania and Tenth.15, 16 At that time, William’s occupation was land dealer. He died two years later.17
Lucie was still living with the Cowing family at the time of the 1860 federal census and of the 1865 state census.18 After the Civil War, several of the Cowing children moved to the Midwest, and it appears Lucie joined them. She died in Lafayette, Indiana on February 2, 1874.19
“Opening of the Erie Canal” engraving of a print by Howard Pyle (1853-1911), from The Evolution of New York: by Thomas A. Janvier. www.eriecanal.org, accessed Feb. 28, 2016.
Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, embellished with a new and correct map. Jewett, Thomas & Co., publishers, 1850. p. 5. babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015049262119;view=1up;seq=29
This article is also posted on Writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
Notes and footnotes
- “Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line]. Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.ca, accessed 27 Feb. 2016), Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
- Labadie, Joseph-Augustin, # 14278, 18 Mai 1856. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
- “Early Settlers of New York State, Their Ancestors and Descendants”, extracts from Vol. 2, No. 12 (June 1936) Akron, NY: Thomas Foley. Genealogical Research Library, comp. New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s [database on-line] (www.Ancestry.ca, accessed Feb. 27, 2016).
4. 1860, Buffalo Ward 10, Erie, New York; Roll: M653_748; Page: 729; Image: 157; Family History Library Film: 803748. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
There are two errors in Ancestry.com’s transcription of this census entry: Lucy’s last name was transcribed Kene instead of Kaene, and her age was copied as 68 rather than 62 as the census taker had written it. The original census entry reads, Lucy Kaene, age 62, born Lower Canada.
- It is not clear whether Lucie’s mother’s name was Ruth or Lucy. I will write about her soon in another post on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca.
- Janice Hamilton, An Economic Emigrant, Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html
- Janice Hamilton, The Mile End Tavern, Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 21, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/the-mile-end-tavern.html
- The History of Buffalo, New York, Index, http://www.buffaloah.com/h/histindex.html links to a variety of articles and images about individuals, businesses, politicians, the arts, the military and the Erie Canal. Buffalo Research.com, http://www.buffaloresearch.com/onlinedirectories.html, links to online city directories from 1828 to 1941. See also the virtual exhibit focusing on Buffalo in the year 1832: Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. 175 Years Celebrating the Incorporation of the City of Buffalo. http://www.buffalohistory.org/Explore/Exhibits/virtual_exhibits/buffalo_anniversary/175th/index.htm
- 9. A Directory for the City of Buffalo containing the names and residence of heads of families and householders of the said city on the first of July, 1832. Buffalo: L.P. Chary. p. 84. http://nyheritage.nnyln.net/cdm/pageflip/collection/VHB011/id/5034/type/compoundobject/show/4911/cpdtype/document/pftype/image#page/1/mode/2up
- 1836-1837 Crary’s Buffalo City Directory, p. 94. http://nyheritage.nnyln.net/cdm/pageflip/collection/VHB011/id/8820/type/compoundobject/show/8679/cpdtype/document/pftype/image#page/74/mode/2up
- Ella was born Nov 19, 1836 according to her 1865 christening record: “New York Births and Christenings, 1640-1962,” [database] FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FDLB-NYM (accessed 27 February 2016), Ella La Fontaine, 19 Nov 1836; citing reference 2:112NCB1; FHL microfilm 1,378,628.
Ella was 29 years old in 1865 when she was christened at Grace Episcopal Church, Buffalo. Ella was not listed on the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, but she did appear with the rest of the family on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census and the 1865 State Census. Perhaps she was adopted.
- The 1850 census mentioned a daughter Johanna but I have not found any other mention of her. Also, the transcription of the 1850 census on Ancestry.ca incorrectly lists two other family members, Catherine and Fred. The census gatherer did not write down last names for these people, so they can be mistaken for family, however, Fred was identified as a labourer born in Ireland, while Catherine was born in Germany and may have been a domestic servant.
- “Public Member Trees,” [database] http://www.Ancestry.ca, Adams Family Tree, Stuart Lauters compiler (accessed 28 Feb. 2016), http://person.ancestry.ca/tree/16093254/person/341207597/facts. This is a well-sourced public member tree on Ancestry.ca for Lucie Bagg and her family.
- “John Cowing Revolutionary War Soldier” provided by Joe W. Cowing, 2002, submitted by Dolores Davidson, www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nychauta/Families/Jcowing.htm (accessed 1 March, 2016). Harrison Otis Cowing (1814-1839) is part of generation 7 in this family tree. His son Stanley Bagge Cowing, born 1844, may have been named after Lucie’s brother Stanley Bagg.
- Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, embellished with a new and correct map. Jewett, Thomas & Co., publishers, 1850, p. 118. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015049262119;view=1up;seq=174
16. 1850, Buffalo Ward 5, Erie, New York; Roll: M432_502; p. 491B; Image: 486. Entry for William Kaene; digital image. Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.ca; accessed 28 Feb. 2016), 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
There is a transcription error on Ancestry: the family is indexed as Rane, rather than Kaene.
- “Public Member Trees,” [database] http://www.Ancestry.ca, Adams Family Tree, Stuart Lauters compiler (accessed 28 Feb. 2016), http://person.ancestry.ca/tree/16093254/person/762097336/facts.
18 New York, State Census, 1865 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.ca, accessed 28 Feb. 2016), Census of the state of New York, for 1865. Microfilm. New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
Note the census-taker erroneously spelled the family name Kane.
19 “Public Member Trees,” [database] http://www.Ancestry.ca, Adams Family Tree, Stuart Lauters compiler (accessed 28 Feb. 2016), http://person.ancestry.ca/tree/16093254/person/1077026843/facts.
Many genealogists are aware that the Montreal’s McCord Museum has a large collection of digitized photographs taken in the 19th century studios of William Notman (1826-1891). Although it is best known for its photographs of Montreal’s English-speaking elite, the collection goes far beyond the studio, including pictures of Montreal’s Victoria Bridge, the Canadian Pacific Railway, First Nations people across the country and ordinary Montrealers at work and at leisure.
This is only one image collection of potential interest to genealogists researching Montreal. As you try to try to imagine the people and places that would have been familiar to your ancestors in what was once Canada’s largest city, here are some other resources that might inspire you.
The place to start exploring the McCord Museum’s images is http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/collections/. This page links to the museum’s online collection of more than 122,000 images, including paintings, prints, drawings and photos. There are documents such as diaries, letters and theatre programs, as well as costumes and archaeological objects. While the museum’s collections focus on Montreal, they include images and objects from the Arctic to Western Canada and the United States. You can search the McCord’s online collection for an individual name, or you can browse time periods, geographic regions and artists.
The McCord also has a flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/museemccordmuseum/albums.The historically themed albums on the flickr page include old toys, Quebec’s Irish community and an homage to women.
The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is another excellent source of digital images, including photographs, illustrations, posters (affiches) and post cards (cartes postales) from the past. To start exploring these collections, go to http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/images/index.html.
There are two collections of special interest to people with Montreal roots. The first is a collection of 22,000 photos taken by Conrad Poirier (1912-1968), a freelance photojournalist who worked in Montreal from the 1930s to 1960. He covered news (nouvelles), celebrities, sports and theatre, and he did family portraits, weddings, Rotary Club meetings and Boy Scout groups. I even found a photo of myself at a 1957 birthday party (fêtes d’enfants). You can search (chercher) the collection by subject or by family name.
The other collection of interest to people researching Montreal is the BAnQ’s Massicotte collection (http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/collection_numerique/massicotte/index.html?keyword=*). Edouard-Zotique Massicotte (1867-1947) was a journalist, historian and archivist. The online collection mainly consists of photos and drawings of Montreal street scenes and buildings between 1870 and 1920. Some illustrations come from postcards, while others are clippings from periodicals. There are also a few blueprints and designs. The accompanying text is in French. You can search this collection by subject, by location, date of publication or type of image, or you can put in your own search term.
Philippe du Berger’s flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbexplo/albums is a gold mine of Montreal images. He includes contemporary photos of the city, including neighbourhoods that have recently been changed by big construction projects such as the new CHUM hospital. There are old photos of neighbourhoods such as Griffintown, Côte des Neiges and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and he illustrates the transformation of the Hay Market area of the 1830s that eventually became today’s Victoria Square. Some albums include old maps to help the viewer put locations into geographic context.
The City of Montreal Archives has uploaded thousands of photos to its flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesmontreal/albums/. They are arranged in albums on various topics, ranging from city workers on the job to lost neighbourhoods, newspaper vendors, sporting activities and cultural events.
James Duncan. Montreal from the Mountain, 1830-31. M966.61, McCord Museum. http://collection.mccord.mcgill.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M966.61?Lang=1&accessnumber=M966.61
This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
As a well-known Montreal land-owner, writer and philanthropist, my great-great grandfather Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) was profiled in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (DCB). Unfortunately, several errors appeared in that article and, when researchers look to the DCB as a reliable source of information, these mistakes are perpetuated.
The DBC is correct in saying that SCB, as I like to call him, was the only son of Stanley Bagg, a Montreal merchant, and his wife, Mary Ann Clark. The entry adds that SCB was a notary, large landowner and president of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal and of the English Workingmen’s Benefit Society.
Then it states, “The Bagg family claimed to be of Norman descent. At the end of the 18th century Stanley Clark’s grandfather emigrated from England to America. At his death he left large estates in Durham County, England to his son Stanley.” This paragraph seems to refer to SCB’s grandfather Bagg. In fact, it was SCB’s maternal grandfather, John Clark, who emigrated from Durham, England. A butcher by trade, Clark owned property in Durham and he purchased a number of farm properties in Montreal that his grandson inherited.
Far from being wealthy, SCB’s paternal grandfather, Phineas Bagg, brought his family to Canada after he lost his farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to pay off his debts. On this side of the family, SCB’s immigrant ancestor was John Bagg, possibly from Plymouth, England, whose marriage in Springfield, Massachusetts was recorded in 1657.
The DCB was correct in saying that Stanley Clark Bagg married Catharine, eldest daughter of Robert Mitcheson and Frances MacGregor of Philadelphia in 1844, however, it went too far in adding that Frances was descended from the chiefs of the MacGregor clan and the old Scottish kings. This is a family story that may or may not be true. My research on Mary Frances MacGregor’s ancestry has come up against a brick wall.
The Dictionary says that SCB and Catharine “had one son, Robert Stanley.” True, Robert Stanley Clark Bagg was their only son, but they also had four daughters: Katharine Sophia, Amelia Josephine, Mary Heloise and Helen Frances.
The final inaccuracy in the DCB article was the statement that “his family was one of the oldest English families on Montreal Island .…” Both the Bagg and Clark families arrived in Montreal in the late 1790s, three decades after the British conquered New France and after many English, Scottish and Loyalist families had made their way here.
These errors may be minor (although the descendants of SCB’s daughters might consider them quite important), but the online version of the DCB should be corrected quickly when issues are brought to their attention. The home page of the DCB (http://www.biographi.ca/en/index.php) invites readers to suggest corrections or additions, so I assume SCB’s biography will eventually be fixed. Meanwhile, in 2013, I wrote them and included extensive footnotes so they could verify my sources. Not long after that, without changing a word, they highlighted Stanley Clark Bagg as the Biography of the Day. Two years later, the corrections have yet to be made.
The takeaway from this article: even if you read about your ancestor in a source you consider reliable, check as many details as possible and be skeptical about sweeping or grandiose claims.
Photo: Stanley Clark Bagg, portrait by William Raphael; private collection.
Janice Hamilton, “John Clark of Durham, England,” http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2014/05/john-clark-of-durham-england.html
Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant,” http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html
Janice Hamilton, “The MacGregors: Family Legend or True Story?” http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-macgregors-family-legend-or-true.html
The wording I have quoted here is from the online version of SCB’s biography: Pierre Landry, “Bagg, Stanley Clark” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/bagg_stanley_clark_10E.html, accessed November 29, 2015. This is a rewrite of the original print version of SCB’s biography, published in Volume X of the DCB in 1972, which had even more errors.
I decided to blog about this after a friend showed me an article about Robert Stanley Bagg and Stanley Clark Bagg in a book edited by Col. William Wood, William Henry Atherton and Edwin P. Conklin, The Storied Province of Quebec, Past and Present, vol. IV, Toronto: Dominion Publishing Company Ltd., 1931, 435; http://www.ourroots.ca/page.aspx?id=3660140&qryID=7ac7b13a-a7be-4ef4-9eb9-ab5b20789894, accessed Nov. 29, 2015. That article not only invented a military career for SCB, it also erroneously stated that Stanley Bagg was born in England.
The most extensive biography of SCB was written shortly after his death and appeared in the journal to which he had been a regular contributor. The article is “In Memoriam, Stanley Clark Bagg, Esq, J.P., F.N.S.”, The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, vol. II, no. 2 (Montreal, Oct. 1873), p. 73, accessed through Google Books, Nov. 29, 2015.
Writing a family history blog is a lot of work, but the effort is rewarding in many ways. Since I started writing my own blog and contributing to http://www.genealogyensemble.com, I have heard from several relatives I never knew I had. A distant relation in Australia is helping me break through a brick wall in Ireland. A researcher in Vancouver has provided information about a great-great aunt who moved there from Montreal. And a distant cousin in Ontario forwarded some of the letters our newly immigrated Hamilton ancestors sent home to Scotland.
Another breakthrough came through the kindness of the parish archivist in Lesmahagow, Scotland, hometown of those Hamilton ancestors. He ran across the article I posted about my three-times great-great grandfather Robert Hamilton, a tailor in the town Lesmahagow near Glasgow. Robert’s son and grandchildren left Scotland in 1829 and settled as farmers in what is now Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. Robert, an elderly widower, stayed behind and died in Lesmahagow two years later.
My uncle did some research on the family in the 1950s and copies of the documents he collected eventually made their way into my hands. One of the items I acquired was a sketch of the parish cemetery in Lesmahagow, showing the location of the grave of Robert Hamilton and his wife Janet Renwick. When my husband and I visited in 2012, there was only grass in that spot, so I was delighted when the parish archivist recently emailed me a photograph of the missing Hamilton gravestone. The photo was taken in 1999. Since then, the stone must have fallen over and been covered by dirt, or perhaps it became unstable and had to be removed for safety reasons.
The text shown in the photo says: Erected in memory of Robert Hamilton tailor of Abbey Green who died 18th Nov. 1831, aged 77 years, and of Janet Renwick, his spouse, who died 2nd May 1821, aged 63 years, and of their son Archibald, who died in infancy.
Most Scots could not afford gravestones in those days, and I am sure the Hamiltons were no different. Tailors did not make much money. This is a nice big stone, and I suspect it was erected by family members many years later, perhaps with money sent to Scotland from the farm in Canada.
See also: Robert Hamilton, Tailor of Lesmahagow, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/12/robert-hamilton-tailor-of-lesmahagow.html
This article is simultaneously posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
Genealogy has taken me many places including Scotland, Philadelphia and Winnipeg. Last week my husband and I visited New York State to research my three-times great-grandmother’s family, the Thompsons. I wanted to find out whether there was a link between the 18th century Thompson family of Goshen, Orange County, New York and the John Thompson family of Sophiasburg Township, Ontario, Canada.
Orange County is located in the Hudson Valley, about 60 miles (100 km) north of New York City. It has gentle hills, historic villages and rich agricultural soil. The area was first acquired from the Munsee Indians in 1703.
New York State is not an easy place to do genealogy research, especially for this early period before there were vital records or detailed censuses. My ancestors were Presbyterians and I did not expect to find a neatly microfilmed database of church records. But the Orange County Genealogical Society (OCGS) has a research library in Goshen, staffed by a handful of knowledgeable volunteers, and an expert on the Thompson family lives nearby.
The trip was worth the effort and I came home with enough information to show that these families are related. (I’ll explain in another post.) With that link established, I can now take the male Thompson line to Ireland in 1729.
The Thompsons are confusing because there were several families of that name in Orange County during the 18th century, including individuals in every generation named John, George, William and James Thompson. There were even two George Thompsons, both born in 1719, both married to women named Elizabeth, and both died in 1782. One was a soldier in the American Revolution, the other was not, and more than one descendant has confused them.
I tried to prepare thoroughly before I left home. First, I researched my three-times great-grandmother Elizabeth “Betsey” Thompson’s siblings and children in Ontario. Their death certificates were particularly helpful since some indicated place of birth. I should have spent more time on Betsey’s father, John Thompson, his siblings, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. It would have been easier to sort out Goshen’s Thompson families if I had known more about them.
When we got to the OCGS, I looked through several excellent collections of research done by now-deceased Orange County genealogists. There were also several family histories of the Thompsons and four large file folders full of query letters and family group sheets submitted by members. Unfortunately, the documents in the file folders were mixed up. I suspect that, when it came to filing, the society’s volunteers had as much trouble sorting out the Thompsons as I did. I photographed all the documents I thought were relevant and brought them home for a closer look.
After lunch, we visited the person who knows the most about this family in her big old house in the countryside. Elmire Conklin’s husband was a Thompson descendant and she has been researching them for more than 35 years. She has a degree in botany, and that scientific training helped make her an excellent genealogist. In an article she wrote for the OCGS Quarterly (May, 1991), and in her correspondence with other researchers, she zeroed in on inconsistencies and proposed logical answers to some of the questions that arise about this family.
The whole experience reminded me of three things. First, we cannot just do genealogy research online. Second, we have to be grateful for the generosity and hard work of genealogists who have preceded us. Third, we have to question their work: when family stories and genealogies contain errors, those mistakes are easily passed down through the generations and they are difficult to correct.
This article has also been posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
The Orange County Genealogy Society website is at www.ocgsny.org/. The society does not have an e-mail address; if you want to contact them, you have to do so by snail mail. If you intend to visit, take note of the hours: the research library is only open two mornings and one full day a week.
I have several other ancestral families in New York State, so I recently joined the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, www.ocgsny.org/. It now partners with Findmypast.com to make its records available, and The New York Researcher magazine it publishes is extremely helpful in explaining where and how to find New York records. In addition, the society recently published the must-have New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer.
Among the male ancestors on my father’s side of the family were many farmers, several doctors, two carpenters, a weaver, a tailor and two botanist-explorers. These were brothers Thomas Drummond (1793-1835) and James Drummond (1787-1863), and both are remembered today through the plants that carry their names. Thomas studied plants in Scotland, western Canada and the southern United States, while James immigrated with his family to western Australia and collected plants there.
Thomas Drummond, baptized on 8 April, 17931 at Inverarity Parish Church, near Forfar, in southeastern Scotland, was one of four children born to Thomas Drummond and Elizabeth Nicoll. Besides brother James, there were two girls: Euphemia, and Margaret, my four-times great-grandmother, who married David Forrester and came to Canada in 1833.
Thomas and James no doubt first learned how to identify plants from their father, who was the head gardener of an estate named Fotheringham, near Forfar.
At age 20, Thomas became manager of the nursery and botanic garden at Doohillock which had belonged to the retired director of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. During the 10 years he worked there, he became an expert on the mosses of Scotland. He also became acquainted with botanist William Hooker, who eventually became director of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, in London.
In 1820, Thomas married Isobel Mungo,2 and the couple eventually had three children, Ann, James and Isabella, however, a quiet family life did not suit him.
This was a period when Europeans were exploring the far-flung corners of the world and learning all about the plants and animals they found there. Many of these explorers were Scots, such as David Douglas, after whom the Douglas fir tree is named. Their job was to describe these plants in their natural habitats, identify their key features and bring home specimens and seeds.
On Hooker’s recommendation, Thomas was hired as assistant naturalist on Captain John Franklin’s second expedition to the Arctic in 1825. Rather than following the main party to the Arctic, Thomas headed west with a Hudson’s Bay Company party. In the account he wrote of his journey to the Rocky Mountains on horseback and by boat along the Saskatchewan River, he described some of the birds and animals he encountered. They included blue-beaked Ruddy Ducks, a species of flycatcher that courageously attacked larger birds, and packs of impudent Prairie Dogs.
Thomas also explained how he gathered plants. “When the boats stopped to breakfast, I immediately went on shore with my vasculum, proceeding along the banks of the river and making short excursions into the interior, taking care to join the boats, if possible, at their encampment for the night. After supper, I commenced laying down the plants gathered in the day’s excursion, changed and dried the papers of those collected previously; which operation generally occupied me until daybreak, when the boats started. I then went on board and slept until the breakfast hour, when I landed and proceeded as before. Thus I continued daily until we reached Edmonton House, a distance of about 400 miles, the vegetation having preserved much the same character all the way.”3
Thomas spent the winter alone on the shores of the Athabasca River, sheltered by a spruce-bough hut. He rejoined the brigade the next summer and spent the winter of 1826-27 at Edmonton House, where he was nearly killed by a grizzly bear. He nearly died a second time as he attempted to rejoin the Franklin group: a gale blew the small boat he was aboard far into Hudson Bay.
In October 1827, he finally arrived back in England, having succeeded in collecting hundreds of plants, birds and small animals during his travels. The following year, he was appointed curator of the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society’s garden. He returned to Scotland in 1830.
A few years later, Thomas returned to North America to continue his botanical explorations in Texas and Louisiana. There he faced floods, cholera and near-starvation. He died in Havana, Cuba in 1835, survived by his wife and children in Scotland. About a dozen plant species, including the well-known Phlox drummondii, a moss genus and a small mammal, are named after him.
This story has also been posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca
Photo credits: Janice Hamilton
Related articles: Glimpses of a Life (the story of Margaret Drummond Forrester) http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/glimpses-of-life.html
Notes: I have never been fond of cold, wet weather or long, uncomfortable hikes in the woods, so the discovery that one of my ancestors endured these and many other hardships as a 19th century botanist and explorer came as quite a surprise. Thomas Drummond has to be one of my most interesting ancestors.
A number of articles have been written about his life, including one in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/drummond_thomas_6E.html). My favourite, however, is “Drummond of Forfar” by Louise H.R. Meikle, Thomas’s three-times great-granddaughter. It was published in The Scots Magazine, April 2005. A portrait of Thomas Drummond can be seen at http://images.kew.org/thomas_drummond/print/4232976.html.
It is interesting to note that many articles give Thomas Drummond’s birth date as approximately 1790. Genealogy has been able to contribute to our knowledge about him by providing more precisely the dates of his baptism and marriage. We have to rely on letters written by his contemporaries regarding his death, although the exact date does not seem to have been recorded.
An article at http://www.forfarbotanists.org/thomas_drummond_detail.pdf lists many of the plants Thomas discovered. It is on the website of the Friends of the Forfar Botanists (http://www.forfarbotanists.org), an organization that has created a garden in memory of the Drummond brothers and several other local horticulturists.
Another Scottish organization that recognizes the Drummond brothers’ accomplishments is the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden in Pitlochry, Perthshire. (http://www.explorersgarden.com). Visitors to this lovely garden can see species of plants brought to England and Scotland by 19th century Scottish-born botanists such as David Douglas, David Lyall and Archibald Menzies.
- “Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950,” Database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XYJZ-DBX : accessed 16 June 2015), Thomas Drummond, 08 Apr 1793; citing INVERARITY AND METHY,ANGUS,SCOTLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 993,436.
- “Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910,” Database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XTVL-QJS : accessed 16 June 2015), Thomas Drummond and Isobel Mungo, 18 Nov 1820; citing Forfar,Angus,Scotland, reference ; FHL microfilm 993,432.
- Drummond, Thomas, “Sketch of a Journey to the Rocky Mountains and to the Columbia River in North America” p. 95-96, 178-219. Botanical miscellany, Volume 1, edited by Sir William Jackson Hooker, London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street, 1830, p. 183. https://books.google.ca/books?id=8LkWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA95&dq=Thomas+Drummond+sketch+of+a+journey+Hooker+Botanical+miscellany&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAWoVChMI3eblpMqUxgIVSM2ACh10DgBc#v=onepage&q=Thomas%20Drummond%20sketch%20of%20a%20journey%20Hooker%20Botanical%20miscellany&f=false