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.


Friday Funny: As Lively A Man As You Would Expect

This item from the “Around Town” column in the January 16, 1906 issue of the Portage La Prairie Weekly tickled me. The breezy editorial tone is kind of hilarious, and the society page reporting always struck me as a bit quaint. Someone is visiting someone popular around town! There might be parties! Something is happening! Nowadays we’d be more likely to see a fluff piece about a guy suing the paper for mistakenly printing an obituary.

Walter Vansickle - He read his own obituary- PLAP Weekly 16 Jan 1906

Mr. Walter Vansickle of Swan River is visiting his sister Mrs. J.J. Darling in town. Walt was the man who was reported to have died by a Dauphin paper and copied into the Times, which must have made very interesting reading for him. He is about as lively a man as you would expect to see after his obituary notice has been writtin. -Treherne Times.

The last line is what really shines here. Is the writer saying that Walt is a carpe diem kind of guy, or that he is so boring he may as well be dead?

(Article found on Manitobia, which is a great resource for Manitoba history.)

Ethel “Baby” Aspdin

In my read-through of stories about the Aspdins, I came across this Moose Jaw Times article which says that Mary and Thomas had three daughters who lived, and one unnamed one who was sickly and was born and died in 1893. Every time I see a record or a story or a grave for a child who died so young, I get a pull at my heart to mark their name because even though they lived such a short time they did touch the lives of others.

Baby Aspdin did have a name. The Saskatchewan Vital Statistics Index lists an Ethel Aspdin who was born to Thomas Aspdin and Mary Wihikanska on March 14, 1893. On August 1, 1893, Ethel Aspdin died.

Ethel is buried in the Moose Jaw Cemetery.

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)

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

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.