Matrilineal Monday – Nancy Terry

Some time between 1878 and 1881, John Irving and his wife, Nancy Terry, left Nova Scotia and took up farming in Manitoba. They had three small children in tow, and Nancy would have eight more in the next sixteen years. Then when Nancy was fifty, she gave birth to their last child. Her name was Edith Gertrude, for the daughter who died in 1901 when she was fourteen.

In some ways, Nancy had it a bit easier than Agnes. She and John had a two storey house, with eight rooms. They lived closer to town. (The Dunns lived in Oakville, about 25 kilometers outside of Portage La Prairie. Kemnay, where the Irvings lived, is only ten kilometers west of Brandon.)

John died in 1909 in Victoria, BC and Nancy and the younger children returned to the Irving farm in Kemnay. (The farm was likely run by George after John left in 1908.)

Nancy’s children were:

George William – (b. 1874 – d. 1966)
Catherine (Cassie/Casey) Jane – (b. 1876 – d. 1962)
Jennie Ann – (b. 1878 – d. ????)
John Robert – (b. 1882 – d. 1962)
Martha Angelina – (b. 1885 – d. 1966)
Edith Gertrude – (b. 1886 – d. 1901)
Mary Agnes – (b. 1888 – d. ????)
Elizabeth Maude – (b. 1890 – d. ????)
Mabel May – (b. 1893 – d. 1984)
James Albert – (b. 1894 – d. 1955)
Frank Sterling – (b. 1897 – d. 1918)
Edith Gertrude – (b. 1904 – d. ????)
(In the 1911 census, there is a phantom son. He is indexed as Earnest on Automated Genealogy, and in the original the name is pretty much a scrawl with the dates too blotchy to read. He does not appear in any other census, or in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Index. Little Edith is not enumerated. There are other mistakes, so it seems likely that the enumerator hastily scribbled something down and later added “son” instead of “daughter.”)

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. ????)

The Two Edith Gertrude Irvings

When infant mortality was higher, it was quite common for families to reuse the name of a deceased child. If Little Mary lived only a month, why not name the next one that if she had a chance to carry it for a full life? Less usual was the use of the name of a sibling who had died late in childhood.

In 1901, John Irving and Nancy Terry had eleven children, with George born in 1874 as the oldest and Frank born in 1897 being the littlest. Their house was a lively one, with young people and their friends always about. Reading through the personal notes in the Brandon Daily Sun, the Irving children always had their hand in hosting dances or setting up a rink in winter for their friends to go skating. But in July of that year, the unthinkable happened. Their fourteen year old daughter, Edith Gertrude, died.

Edith Gertrude Irving - Funeral Notice Brandon Daily Sun 31 July 1901

The funeral of Edith Gertrude Irving, daughter of John Irving of Kemnay took place yesterday afternoon, from the family residence. The funeral was largely attended by the many sympathetic friends of the family. The service was appropriately conducted by Rev. Mr. Fee. Interment took place at the Brandon Cemetery, the funeral being conducted by Messrs. Campbell & Campbell.

Two years later, it must have come as a great surprise to Nancy to find herself pregnant again at nearly fifty. A little girl was born, and named for the sister she would never meet: Edith Gertrude. Strangely, they may share the same birthday. In the 1901 census, elder Edith’s birthday is listed as February 13, 1886. When younger Edith registered her birth in 1956, she stated her birthday was February 13, 1904.

The Sisters of Agnes Irving

The earliest census in which my third-great grandmother Agnes Irving appears is the 1871 Canada Census. She is living with her family in New Annan, Nova Scotia:

We have Robert, the head; Janet, his wife; and six children, John, Marey I., Marget A., Adhan (Adam), Agness (Agnes), and Jessey L. (Jessie Elizabeth).

In 1881, they are still in New Annan. Robert and Janet have two more children, Robert and Jane. Jessie is enumerated as Elizabeth. John had married Nancy Terry, and they were already in Manitoba with three children. Mary and Margaret either died or were married in the meantime, or were living with the Irvings but weren’t the children of Robert and Janet. I love Nova Scotia Genealogy (the province’s digitized historical vital statistics site) for a lot of reasons, but it turned up nothing on a Mary or Margaret Irving (or any female Irvings in Colchester County) between 1871 and 1881. At least I know where they lived so I can try for some microfiche or paper records! Another thing to put on my to-do list is to contact the archives of Manitoba to see if Robert Irving left a will, and hopefully he mentions Mary and Margaret.

In 1891, the Irvings are in Manitoba. Janet and Robert have Adam, Jane (enumerated as Margaret, which is presumably her middle name as she goes by Jane or Jennie later in life), and Robert living with them. Agnes had already been married to George Dunn for six years. This is where I lost Jessie.

The Irvings went to Manitoba some time between 1882 and 1884, because Agnes married George Dunn in Portage La Prairie on January 7, 1885. Jessie would only have been around twelve or thirteen, so unless she died or stayed with relatives in Nova Scotia, she was in Manitoba too.

The Manitoba Vital Statistics index lists a promising looking marriage in 1888, between Wm. B. Fawcett and Elizabeth Irving in Portage La Prairie. I can’t find a William Fawcett in the 1891 census or any William and Elizabeth Fawcett pairs who are the right age to be Jessie Elizabeth, but there is an Ansel B. Fawcett who is widowed. There is a marriage in the Manitoba Vital Statistics index for an Anele Bennett Fawcett to an Elizabeth Leary in 1892. Anele is almost certainly a mis-transcription. Could Wm. be a mis-transcription of a hastily scrawled Ansel? Did Jessie die some time between 1888 and 1891? I’m putting that certificate on my list of things to get eventually.

Military Monday: Farm Exemptions

A few weeks ago, I got the bug to look up all of the Canadian men in my family tree who would have been of an age to have fought in World War One. Library and Archives Canada has an excellent and easy to search database of service files of people enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. I idly wondered why some families had only one son who went overseas, because I had learned about conscription back in school. That thought kind of sat on the back burner for a while, until I ran a search through the archived newspapers available on Manitobia. I had been looking for news on the Irving family in Brandon (obituaries in particular) when I saw this:

(Article from the Brandon Daily Sun, November 21, 1917. Click on the headline to read the article, or read the transcription below the “more” cut at the end of this post.)

The Irvings were one of the families I had been wondering about. John Irving (Agnes Irving Dunn’s brother) had four sons. Both George and John Robert would have been too old in 1917 to be conscripted. Frank enlisted back in October of 1916. Why hadn’t James? In addition to running a farm, he likely had to support his mother, who was already in her late 60s. He must have wondered who would help his mother care for the land when his name came up in the draft. Then the tribunal offered a chance for exemption, and he took it.

Men were exempted from military service for a variety of reasons: health, farm or business obligations, or religious beliefs. (This is a good timeline with focus on Mennonites of conscientious objection in Canada.) However, by 1918 the military had nowhere near the number of soldiers it had hoped because up to 90 percent of the conscripts they called up found an exemption. The act was amended to allow no exemptions.

I’m not sure how common it was to publish the names of claimants in the paper, but it may be worth a look at their local papers between August 1917 and spring 1918 to see if you can find that Canadian relative who didn’t go to war.

More

(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.

Saturday Surnames: Last Names Like First Names

There are times when I just want to use transcribed indexes to get my bearings or do a quick Google of a name to see if some cousin out there is already doing research. It seems like I get thwarted at every click, because of that common scourge: a surname that is also a common first name.

All of these searches turn up a glut of results that it takes more time to sift through than if I had actually intended to look manually. No, I’m not looking for George Lloyd Smith or George Lloyd Jones. His name is George (forename) Lloyd (surname). That’s it. Or Family Search decides that a man named Ralph Thomson in Michigan is more relevant to my search than the Thomas Ralph in British Columbia that I was actually searching for. Or, forbid if you go from having a first-name-surname to marrying into another one like Jennie Irving when she married John Jack.

Those are the times when I take a deep breath and remember that the best way to find something is to relax and then concentrate on it. It’s like asking a stranger to find your keys; they might look between couch cushions because they don’t know that you usually throw them on the kitchen table and forget about them when you come in. A search engine has a different way of considering relevancy than I do, and I’ll have to forgive it for not being in my head.

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.

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