Matrilineal Monday: Agnes Irving

In keeping with my Ten Things for the Tenth Month theme, every Monday in October I am going to feature a woman in my family tree who had ten or more babies. I have a lot of respect for these women, and the difficulties they must have had carrying and raising so many children.

My third-great grandmother, Agnes Irving married George Dunn in 1885, and bore eleven children in 14 years. In 1891 they were living in a three room wooden house with three children as well as George’s brother James and someone I am almost certain is Agnes’s uncle Adam. How cold it must have been in the winter, with the Arctic wind blowing down across the prairie and getting in through cracks they could never find.

Agnes’s children were:

John Henry (b. 1885 – d. 1885)
Elizabeth (Lizzie) (b. 1888 – d. ????)
Cassie – my great grandmother (b. 1889 – d. 1947)
William (b. 1890 – d. ????)
Frank (b. 1893 – d. ????)
Ross (b. 1897 – d. 1985)
Frederick (b. 1900 – d. ????)
Emmanuel (b. 1902 – d. 1988
Albert (b. 1904 – d. 1911)
Lawrence – (b. 1906 – d. 1990)
Wesley (b. 1909 – d. ????)

Thankful Thursday – Digitization and Our Roots

I had an ungrateful kind of day earlier this week, the sort of day where I’m too impatient and headachey to see the gems in the coal. The kid took a long nap and I should have been glad to have time to myself. I should have been glad that she would wake up happy and refreshed. Instead I had a little sulk, because I wanted to go out. It was in that unreasonable mood that I decided to use the time to do some reading on Our Roots, and try to dig up more on the Lloyds and Dunns from Pioneer Ways To Modern Days.

A browse through the School Districts chapter dropped this picture of children at the Moose Range school in 1917 in my lap:

Moose Range School 1917 - from Pioneer Ways To Modern Days page 185

I admit that my first feeling was disappointment. Oh, it’s just Ena and Bill Lloyd. Why isn’t Illa in the picture? How come I can never find anything out about Illa? I don’t even have a picture of her! Why isn’t anything about my direct ancestors digitized?

I took a break. After a bottle of Mexican Pepsi (do I ever love that stuff!) my headache was gone and I realized what a wretch I’d been. Sure, it would have been exciting to see a photo of Illa. But there were little clues I could tuck away for later. The Meachem kid? Yes! The Meachems were close to the Ralph family. Ena and Illa both married Ralphs, but I wasn’t sure if they both married into the same Ralph family. If the Lloyds knew Meachems, it seems more likely.

I am very grateful for every scrap regarding my family connections that is digitized. If there weren’t scanned certificates and transcribed indexes online, I probably never would have started seriously mapping my family. Nearly every hobby and interest I have has to fit into my sleepless lifestyle, where I feel restless late at night and need something to do. I love that I can just go online to make lists of the tiniest slivers of hints to track down microfiche to confirm things that haven’t yet seen the light of the Internet. I love that without a repository of unusual Canadian books readily available to me from nearly anywhere, I could have pulled my hair out trying to hunt anyone who knew anything about Moose Range, Saskatchewan.

Wednesday Women’s Work – Hazel Webb Dunn, Hairdresser

Hazel Lenora Mae Webb Dunn was the wife of my great great grandmother Cassie Dunn’s little brother, Emmanuel (also called Manuel). She was born in 1909 and grew up in High Bluff, Manitoba. In her late teens, she went to Winnipeg to become a hairdresser.

The 1920s must have been an exciting time to be getting into hairdressing, because of the bob. When bobbed hair first became popular, there was nowhere for women to get their hair cut. The salons at the time provided services like marcel waves and styling, but since women generally didn’t cut their hair there was no call for someone to do it. Then the bob hit the scene and women showed up in droves to barber shops. At first the men didn’t know what to make of it. Some were uncomfortable sharing a masculine domain with girls. As these things usually go, money won out and a lot of barbers were happy to cut hair for women. Then the salons realized they’d like to make a buck, and trained women to cut hair, too.

There was new technology, too. Hairstylists were competing to create a method of permanently curling hair.

Eugene Suter curling a woman's hair

(Photo of Eugene Suter, using a heated curler machine designed by Isidoro Calvete. Courtesy of Isidoro’s son, Louis, from the wikipedia article on perms.)

This is an early 1920s permanent wave machine, designed by Isidoro Calvete. I can’t imagine the patience it would have taken to be the hairstylist winding the hair on the curlers while making sure that each cord stayed untangled, or to be the woman sitting there with all of this equipment on her head, worrying about urban legends that a friend of a cousin got electrocuted by one.

In 1929, Hazel moved to Manitou, where she opened her own business. I wonder if it was a hair salon and if it was, how many permanent wave machines she had to set up.

Hazel passed away on July 24, 2005. Her obituary can be read here, on the Passages Manitoba site.

(Mini) Mystery Monday: After Agnes

When Agnes Dunn died in 1910, her husband George was left with six of his sons at home, including one who would have still been in diapers. How did he handle this?

In 1911, George was still living on the farm with Ross (13) and Fred (11). Little Albert had died earlier in the year, before his seventh birthday.

The older boys had already moved out. George was listed as a labourer on Richard and Cassie Lloyd’s farm, and Frank was working for the Drain family as a domestic.

Lizzie married Albert Page in 1908 and had two little girls, Ruby and Winnifred, when they took in two of the littlest Dunns, Manuel (nine) and Wesley (two).

But where did Lawrence go? I feel like I must be missing something, even though I pored over the census for Portage La Prairie and looked to see if he went with one of Agnes’ relatives in Brandon. I even ran a search of the 1911 census on Automated Genealogy to see if maybe he got sent to George’s family in Ontario. No dice. Perhaps in all of the confusion, someone forgot to tell the enumerator about him. He went with Cassie to Saskatchewan in 1914, so he could have been living with the Lloyds. Or since Lizzie took the other little boys, it would make sense for her to have Lawrence as well especially because agewise he was in between Manuel and Wesley. I don’t think George would have kept a four-year old on the farm and sent away a nine-year old.

By 1916, Manuel and Wesley were no longer living with the Pages, but George was. Manuel boarded with the Staples family, and worked as a farm labourer. I am having a heck of a time finding Wesley. I couldn’t find him near Portage La Prairie in the census, and as far as I can tell (census, Ena Ralph’s account for “Pioneer Ways to Modern Days”) he didn’t go west with the Lloyds. That leaves death, even though there is no listing for him in the Manitoba Vital Statistics index; adoption; or being missed by the enumerator.

Maybe something will pop out at me on another look-through, or all will be revealed in 2013 when I can finally get my hands on the 1921 census.

On to Portage La Prairie – The Dunns


Photo by Cameron Grove, used under a Creative Commons License.

My search for Illa Lloyd’s ethnicity led to Oakville, Manitoba, a small town in the Rural Municipality of Portage La Prairie. For that matter, Portage La Prairie isn’t that big, either. (Does anyone else remember commercials where Subway or Tim Hortons would say they said they sold a million of something everyday, and compare it to the population of Manitoba? Yeah.) In 1901, the population of the entire province was around two-hundred-seventy-two-thousand, and Portage La Prairie had about ten thousand residents.

What I knew from the census was that Illa, Ena, Bill, and Cassie had been born in Manitoba; and Richard was from Ontario. I decided to start out with the maternal line because it stayed within the province longer.

Using the Manitoba Vital Statistics index, I was able to find birth records for Illa and Ena that confirmed that Cassie’s maiden name was Dunn.

I also found birth and death records for another son, Clifford Hilliard Lloyd, who was born in January of 1908 and died in February. His death was likely related to his premature birth, as Richard and Cassie had only married in June 1907.

First stop was the 1906 Prairie Census. Since Fred wasn’t enumerated with Cassie’s family in 1916, I had no idea of his age. I didn’t want to overshoot and start with 1901 in case he was born after that date. I also was unable to find Cassie’s birth in the Manitoba Vital Statistics index, so I was unsure if she and the Fred Dunn born in Portage La Prairie in 1900 shared the same mother.

1906 Census - Dunn Family, Oakville

We’ve got Cassie (the only one in the province, and the right age), Fred, and Agnes. That’s good enough for me to go back to the 1901 census to see where George and Agnes’ parents were from.

George and Agnes both said they were Scotch. Agnes was born in Nova Scotia if you believe the 1901 census, or Ontario if you take 1906.

If nobody is lying, we’ve eliminated any Plains Cree connection in Cassie’s line. If any Native ancestry exists on this side, it has to be through either Agnes or George’s mother, or one of their paternal grandmothers.

(Side note: George and Agnes registered the births of most of their sons with the province, but not of Lizzie and Cassie.)

Tombstone Tuesday: Agnes Dunn

Agnes wife of George Dunn Feb. 12, 1910 Aged 44 Yrs 20 Days  DUNN - Photo by Amy Hickmott
(photo by Amy Hickmott, from Canadian Headstones)

Agnes
wife of
George Dunn
Feb. 12, 1910
Aged 44 Yrs
20 Dys
DUNN

Agnes Irving Dunn was my third-great grandmother. She was born in New Annan, Nova Scotia around 1866 (I haven’t yet located a birth record for her). Her family arrived in Manitoba some time between 1881 and 1884. She and George Dunn were married in January of 1885, and they had 11 children.

She is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.

Vic and Cassie Lloyd

My Brother: “I wish I had inherited his epic moustache!”

(Photo from “Pioneer Ways to Modern Days, History of the Town of Carrot River and the Rural Municipality of Moose Range”, page 643)

The Benefits of Asking Questions and Questioning Answers

My mum’s family always said that mum’s grandmother, Illa Lloyd, was Native or Metis. “They all look like Indians in those old pictures” someone would say, or “Your aunt looks part Native because our grandmother was probably Cree, from Saskatchewan.” Illa was a huge brick wall in my family tree research. What my mother told me: She died in the 1930s, when my grandfather was 6 or 7. Her name was spelled “Ila.” She was little and dark, Saskatchewan First Nations.

Based on that, I started with the 1916 census of the Prairie Provinces. A quick search on Ancestry.ca didn’t turn anything up, so I went downtown to the Vancouver Central Library, and pulled out a roll of microfilm for the Indian agencies of Saskatchewan. There were no Ilas, Islas, Ellas, Illas, Idas, or Aylas the right age to be the one I wanted.

Then I tried the 1911 Canada census index on automatedgenealogy.com, hoping for any number of things: That a transcription error on Ancestry or mistake by the enumerator in the original had made her hard to find in the 1916 census; that she wasn’t from Saskatchewan, but had moved there later; that she was a different age than I originally assumed.

There were Ila and Ida Lloyds in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. The one that looked most promising was the Manitoba family:

Lloyd Family, Household Detail on the 1911 Census

Ila lived in the Prairies and was born in 1911 (the right age to have been married young and have a child by 1930). But what was this?

The Lloyd Family - 1911 Census - Nationality

The census records the nationality of each person enumerated. Here, Richard is listed as English, Cassie as Irish, and the two girls, Ila and Eva, as English.

I looked at it with a different eye. Each person’s nationality is determined by their father’s ancestry. This opens up several possibilities: This is not the family I am looking for. Or, this is the right family, and they do have Native ancestry from one of the grandmothers. Or there is no Native ancestry at all, and my Mum was mistaken.

I sat on this for a while, and moved on to easier research in other lines. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I had been approaching finding Illa the wrong way, with secondhand oral information from people who had never met her. Finding someone who knew her was going to be a problem. Her son William, my grandfather, had died in 2001. He and Grandma had separated when Mum and her sisters were little, and they weren’t particularly close to him and didn’t know that much about that side of the family. That left Grandma, who had been married to William in 1950. She must have met some of his family in the years they were together.

Grandma had met them. “They lived outside of Arborfield (Saskatchewan), and I guess they were pretty well established there. Her older sister was named Enid, and a bunch of other brothers and sisters,  George and Gordie or Geordie or something like that, and Bernice. One of Bill’s uncles was a redhead and he was adopted. Larry, maybe?”

Could Enid have been misheard by the census enumerator as Eva? I was a little doubtful. Besides, these Lloyds were nowhere near Arborfield. After combing through the Arborfield census returns for 1911 to make sure I hadn’t missed someone there (I hadn’t), I left the Lloyds behind until I could get my hands on Illa’s death certificate.

It was entirely by chance that I found the missing connection. I had been using ourroots.ca  to look through old town histories in Saskatchewan. It seems like every small town has to put out a book with family histories and the stories of old timers. I had plugged in a search for books about Arborfield, to see if I could find anything about Illa’s husband’s sister, who had married a farmer in the area. (As it turns out, Sarah and Jesse Meachem hadn’t stayed long in Arborfield. They appear on the 1916 census there, but one of their sons was born in Rossland, BC, in 1922.) In a book called “Pioneer Ways to Modern Days: History of the Town of Carrot River and the Rural Municipality of Moose Range” was this:

The Lloyd Family history by Ena Ralph

I pulled up the 1911 census, and realized that what I thought might have been “Eva” could also be “Ena.” And siblings that matched what Grandma said! First hand account! I may have pumped my fist in the air and looked like a complete nerd to everyone around me.

It still didn’t conclusively answer the question of Illa’s ethnicity, but at least I had enough clues to find the previous generation. Score one for persistence and questioning indirect information!

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