Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Act of Kindness

I am not a religious person but I do believe in the Golden Rule: "Do onto others as you would wish them do onto you."

The world of genealogy is filled with people who have been helped and are willing to help others by sharing their knowledge and time without asking for anything in return. I have benefited from many acts of kindness from family historians, the following is just one that comes to mind.

I was just starting out on my genealogical journey on the internet in January, 1998. I had a small amount of information about my CROCKETT ancestors before writing to a mailing list on Rootsweb with a query about the families of William Crockett and his son, James Crockett.

Two days later I received an answer from Elena Nairn giving names of Williams parents and the particulars of both marriages. She ended her letter by saying "I hope this is of some help. If you want to know anything else let me know. Good hunting, and kind regards, Elena Nairn"

Thinking that I had discovered a long-lost cousin, I responded with my line of Crocketts down to myself and asked how she was related. One day later, after explaining that she was not related to the Crocketts directly, she gave me the christening dates of all the Children of William and James who were born in Tring. Wow, the pieces of the puzzle were filling in quickly, all thanks to this kind woman.

The following Monday, I received a long email message with dates and particulars of every Crockett marriage Elena could find on a microfilm that she was borrowing at the Family History Centre near her home in Toowoomba, Queensland. She had copied the two pages of film that contained my great-great and great-great-great-grandparents and offered to mail them to me. These copies of parish records were my first documented proof for my files.

There was no way I could repay Elena for her kindness except send her a card of thanks, but I hope to help others as she helped me with whatever I can offer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uncle Harry

My Mom was surprised when I told her she had an Uncle Harry. Her father's older brother, George Henry Parker Bellamy, was never mentioned in the time she was growing up.

My great-grandparents, John Henry "Harry" Bellamy and Elizabeth Rason, were both school teachers in Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire. This area on the south-east coast of Lincolnshire, England was known as Holland or the Fens because of its flat, low-lying land. The Bellamys were living at the school where they taught when George Henry Parker "Harry" was born on April 12, 1881. The "Parker" in George Henry's name refers to John Henry Bellamy's mother, Mary Frances Parker.

Thinking that there was just my grandfather, John S Bellamy, and his sisters Edith and Gladys, I was very confused when I read Gladys Walmsley, Elizabeth Rason's neice referring to a "Harry" as Harry and Lizzie's son. Was my grandfather known as Harry as a child? I thought he was called Jack.

Gladys Walmsley wrote in a letter to a Margaret Rason on July 31, 1979 and in the letter she wrote:
There was also a girl in the family "Lizzy" whom I imagine was Elizabeth. I believe she married a Harry Bellamy. My fathers sister was a school mistress in England and her husband Harry a schoolmaster.
After having a copy of the letter sent to me, I was in contact with Gladys Walmsley's granddaughter, Deborah Glover, who gave me part of Gladys' memoirs:

Lizzie as they called her lived on Garden Avenue in the Sunnyside District. She was married in England to a man named Ballamy, Harry, I think his name was. They both taught school in England. He was a school master and Aunt Lizzie was a school mistress. They had "Harry" and a girl named "Gladys".
Harry my cousin was a great organist and they had great hopes from him but he was hit by a train and was deformed which ruined his career. I do not know who Gladys Bellamy married. Cousin Harry died young. Aunt Lizzie's husband Mr Bellamy did not teach school in Canada - he had to take a six month course to acquaint him with the standard of "School Certificate" required in order to continue to teach here. He felt this was below his dignity so my father said. However he was hired by the old Toronto Street Railway and was to be a very important man for them when he retired or died.
By the notes above, I realized that "Harry" Bellamy could not have been my granfather, and I was able to view a microfilm of the 1891 census for Lincolnshire, England. There he was, listed with the family as "George H Bellamy, a nine-year-old male, born in Kirton." This was when I told my Mom about my discovery.

I asked my Mom's brother, Bill Bellamy, if he know about Harry and the question and answer follow:
Grandpa had an older brother, George Henry Parker Bellamy. This was news to Mom, did you know about him? I believe he was known as Harry Jr., was a good organist, and died young. I got this information from Elizabeth Rason's niece, Gladys Walmsley.
This is correct but I never knew him. He was in poor health and died young.
So the general consensus was that George or Harry had health problems and died young. At age nineteen, George H P Bellamy was counted in the 1901 Ontario census as a gardener with no income living with his parents. In 1911 the thirty-year old George Henry was listed as a motorman with the street railway earning $687 per year, just slightly less than his father, who had the same occuptation. The last sighting I have of Harry alive is in the 1915 Toronto City Directory where he is listed at the same residence as his father with no occupation given.

Harry outlived his mother, who died in Oshawa on February 6, 1926. Harry's sister, Edith and her husband, Sidney Spall, were living in Oshawa and Elizabeth's death registration indicated that she had been living in Oshawa since 1920. Did Harry Jr. move to Oshawa with his parents?

I wonder when Harry was injured and how he came to end up in the House of Refuge in Whitby, Ontario. Every county in Ontario was required to build a House of Refuge for the poor and friendless. Was Harry cast out by his father after Elizabeth's death because he couldn't look after him or had Harry Sr. become poor himself before moving in with his daughter?

The following information was given on the registration of George Henry Parker Bellamy's death:
Surname of deceased: Bellamy
Forename of deceased: Henry
Place of death: House of Refuge
Sex, Racial Origin, Single Married Widowed: Male, English, single
Age: 48 years
Place and Date of Birth: England 1881
Trade or Occupation: Inmate
Name of Father: John Bellamy
Birthplace of Father: Boston, England
Maiden name of Mother: Elizabeth Rason
Birthplace of Mother: Boston, England
Name of Physician: Dr. chas F. McGillivray
Address: Whitby
Name of Informant: J. F. Lavery
Address: Manager, House of Refuge
Place of burial: Union Cemetery
Date of Burial: Jan. 8th, 1929
Name of Undertaker: W. C. Town
Address: Whitby
Date of Death: Jan. 7th 1929
Dates Medical Practitioner attended deceased: From his admission to the Refuge to January 6, 1929
Cause of Death
Primary: Anaemia dnd General Debility
Contributory: A cripple from youth
Did an operation precede death? No Was there an autopsy? No
Name of Physician: Dr. Chas F. McGillivray
Address: Whitby, Ont.
Date received by Division Registrar: Jan. 8, 1929
I would not consider dying at age forty-eight as young, especially in 1929. Perhaps the family was ashamed to have a son die in the poorhouse. It is no wonder that Grandpa did not tell my Mom that she had an Uncle Harry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bellamy family in Edmonton

The clipping on the left is from the Edmonton Journal. My grandmother, Vinetta Tremaine Butchart, a quiet, modest woman, was born in Mildmay, Bruce County, Ontario. Her mother was from a Mennonite family and her father's family originated in Scotland and arrived in Ontario in a very poor state in 1827. The Butcharts managed to become prominent citizens in Bruce County before coming to Edmonton about 1905. By the time my grandparents were married, my great-grandfather, Edward Neil Butchart, and his brothers owned large tracts of land in Edmonton and were principals in the real estate company Great West Land Company. My mother recalled that the Butchart family had their own pew in McDougall United Church in Edmonton.

The wedding announcement tells me that Edward Neil Butchart was a pretentious snob. I can't imagine putting "The many handsome gifts included a substantial cheque from the bride's father" in a wedding announcement. Perhaps Jack Bellamy started the story of coming from a wealthy family in Toronto because it would put him on an equal footing with his inlaws. My grandmother never met Grandpa's parents and my Mom was given the feeling that the Bellamys were "above" the Butcharts.

The wedding announcement stated that the bride and groom left on the midnight train for Vancouver where they would reside, but they were back in Alberta by February, 1913. Uncle Bill was born in Calgary in February 1913 and Aunt Vivian was also born in Calgary in 1914. While in Calgary Grandpa was working as a clerk for Wood, Vallance, and Adams, a company later taken over by Marshall Wells Hardware.

The family moved back to Edmonton about 1916 and resided for a time with Vinetta's parents until they found a home of their own. Jack worked for Revillon Wholesale as a clerk and then as a buyer and their address from 1922 until 1943 was at 11437 - 95th Street. Three more children were born in Edmonton: Margaret in 1916, Ruth in 1919, and James Roy in 1920. The Bellamy children are pictured on the left, with Vivian and Bill in the back row, Margaret in the middle, James Roy and Ruth in the front.

On March 8, 1926 a tragic event took the life of young James Roy Bellamy. He died from his injuries after being struck by a streetcar in front of their home on 95th Street. Things were never the same for the Bellamy family after that. My grandmother became withdrawn and my grandfather took to drink. Granny was a very talented pianist and she used the piano as an outlet for her feelings. My Mom could recall the music becoming louder and louder when Grandpa was late coming home. It was after the death of Jimmy that my grandfather went against religion and would not go to church, even for my mother's wedding.

The 1930s brought the Great Depression to Canada and the prairie provinces were hit especially hard. Revillon Wholesale ceased business and sold their hardware division to Ashdowns. There was no room at Ashdowns for Jack in Edmonton and he was asked to move to Winnipeg. He did not like it in Winnipeg and finally got a job at Northern Hardware, where he worked as a clerk from 1933 to 1937. The job did not pay well and my grandmother managed to scrimp to make ends meet.

Grandpa was not employed from 1938 to 1941. My mother, Ruth, married Bert Davies on December 31, 1938 and they lived with Granny and Grandpa. My Dad explained that Grandpa did not work at that time because he had suffered a breakdown. Mom and Dad moved to Victoria in 1941 and my grandparents stayed in Edmonton for two more years, Grandpa worked for W W Arcade as a clerk in 1942 and 1943. This was a time of change for the Bellamy family. War had broken out in 1939, Aunt Vivian joined the Air Force, Aunt Marg married Ab Walker, and Uncle Bill, after riding the rails to Toronto to unsuccessfully find work, returned to Edmonton and married Ona Innes.

Vinetta and Jack Bellamy left Edmonton in 1943 and moved to a cottage in Saanich at 751 Middleton Street. Grandpa may have been in poor health when he moved to Victoria because he started seeing Dr. Scott in January 1944. Dr. Scott reported that he treated my grandfather for cancer of the rectum for three years before he died of that disease on May 15, 1947. He was only sixty-two years old.

I heard a family story that one of grandpa's sisters, I think it was Edith, heard that he was terminally ill and came out from Ontario so see him before he died. After traveling all the way to the coast she decided she wanted to remember him as a healthy young man and returned home without seeing him.

Grandpa was buried at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria on May 17, 1947 and my grandmother was laid to rest beside him thirty-five years later in 1982.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grandpa Bellamy - a research challenge

The picture is the last picture taken of my grandfather that I have in my files. Granny (Vinetta Tremaine Butchart) is holding my cousin, Ted Hopkins; and Grandpa (John S Bellamy) is holding me. My brothers, Gordon (left) and Larry (right) are in front. Grandpa died before I was two years old.

I did not know much about my maternal grandfather before I got involved with genealogy. I sometimes wonder if he did not want us to trace his family tree.

The first thing I did in my research was to order his death registration from the British Columbia government. From this I learned that he died of Cancer of the Rectum from which he had suffered for three years before his death on May 15, 1947 in Victoria. At the time of his death he had lived in the province of British Columbia for four years and he risided at 751 Middleton in the municipality of Saanich. The informant was his wife, Vinetta Butchart, and she did not know a great deal about his origins. She knew that his father's name was John Bellamy but did not know the name of her mother-in-law. She did have the birth place of John Stanhope and his parents as England and his birthdate as September 6, 1884.

Granny started asking questions about Grandpa's origins twenty years after his death and sent a letter to Jack Spall, the son of Edith Mary Bellamy and Sidney James Spall. Jack replied in 1967 with the following information:

Grandma Bellamy's maiden name was ELIZABETH RASON if I remember correctly she died in 1924 or 1925 at the age of seventy which would place her birth date about 1854. Grandfather's name was JOHN HENRY BELLAMY - he died in 1941 and was 87 about so his birth date would be about 1854.

The next discovery about my grandfather was that his name was not John Stanhope Bellamy! My mother just casually mentioned one day that he did not like the name John Samuel Bellamy because John and Samuel were both biblical names so he decided to change it to John Stanhope Bellamy and he preferred to be called "Jack". I have not been able to find why he chose the name "Stanhope" or any record of a legal change of name. His name was "John Samuel Bellamy" on his birth certificate, his baptism and on the Certificate of Title for the cemetery plot for his young son, James Roy Bellamy in 1926. His marriage certificate has his name as just "John Bellamy". In 1940 all men in Canada were required to fill out a National Registration Card, on that card he entered his name as: Bellamy, John Stanhope (Samuel). My grandmother listed his name as John Stanhope Bellamy on his death registration.

The next problem was to find where John S. Bellamy was born. It was known that he did not like to be referred to as an "Englishman" and had told my mother that his father was a mariner and he was born at sea on his way to Canada. (His father was a teacher but both his grandfathers were mariners so there is a connection to the British merchant marine.) I now have his birth certificate and know that he was born in Kirton, Lincolnshire, England and his parents were both school teachers. He actually lied when he registered my Uncle Bill's birth and put birthplace of the child's father as United States and on my mother's birth certificate he stated that he was born in Canada. He had told my mother that Edward Bellamy, the American author of "Looking Backward" was his cousin but I doubt that connection because Edward's family came to the United States back in the 1600s.

Once I had the name of my grandfather's parents I could look for them in the 1881 census index from England. I found them in Lincolnshire living in Kirton-in-Holland near Boston. Both John Henry Bellamy and Elizabeth Rason were born in Boston, Lincolnshire and were school teachers. They had no children in April 1881 when the census was taken.

It was about this time that I made contact with a Bill Rason who turned out not to be related to our branch but was very helpful in connecting me to some people who were. Bill sent a copy of a letter which was written to a Margaret Rason in Calgary from Gladys Walmsly (Elizabeth Rason's cousin) dated July 3, 1979. In the letter while referring to her father's family she mentioned: "there was also a girl in the family "Lizzy" whom I imagine was Elizabeth. I believe she married a Harry Bellamy." Later in the same letter she wrote: "My father's sister was a school mistress in England and her husband Harry a schoolmaster."

Soon after receiving the copy of the letter I was in contact with Deborah Glover, also thanks to Bill Rason. Gladys Walmsley was Deborah's grandmother and Deborah was kind enough to give me part of her grandmother's diary referring to Elizabeth Rason.

"Lizzie as they called her lived on Garden Avenue in the Sunnyside District. She was married in England to a man named Bellamy. Harry, I think his name was. They both taught school in England He was a school master and Aunti Lizzie was a school mistress. They had "Harry" and a girl named "Gladys". Harry, my cousin was a great organist and they had great hopes for him but he was hit by a train and was deformed which ruined his career. I do not know who Gladys Bellamy married. Cousin Harry died young. Aunt Lizzie's husband, Mr. Bellamy did not teach school in Canada - he had to take a six-month course to acquaint him with the standard of "School Certificate" required in order to continue to teach here. He felt this was below his dignity so my father said. However he was hired by the old Toronto Street Railway and was to be a very important man for them until he retired or died."

I was now pretty sure that the Bellamy family in the 1881 census was the same family referred to by Gladys Walmsley but young Harry Bellamy did not sound like my grandfather. At this point I searched for the Bellamy family in Kirton in the 1891 census and found them still living at the school on Wash Road. Both parents were still school teachers and the children listed were: George H. Bellamy aged 9, Edith M. Bellamy aged 8, John S. Bellamy aged 6. Gladys did not appear on the census because she was not born until 1892. The George H. Bellamy was George Henry Bellamy who was christened on June 18, 1881 in Kirton and must have been the "Harry" referred to by Gladys Walmsley. My mother had no idea she had an uncle on her father's side. I now have the birth certificate which states that John Samuel Bellamy was born on the sixth of September, 1884 at Kirton, Lincolnshire, England to John Henry Bellamy, School Master, and Elizabeth Bellamy, formerly Rason. He was baptized on the fifth of February, 1885 in Holbeach while all his siblings were baptized in their birthplace, Kirton. Holbeach is about nine miles south of Kirton and I have found no family connections in that parish other than my grandfather's christening.

The date that the Bellamy family immigrated to Canada is another enigma with conflicting information. According to the 1901 census, they arrived in 1899. It is possible that that information is wrong, because the years of birth for the whole family were incorrect on the form. In 1911 the date of immigration was given as 1898. Jack Bellamy reported on the 1940 National Registration that he came to Canada in 1892, quite a difference. They were definately still in England for the christening of Elizabeth Gladys Bellamy in July of 1892.

Another problem I have had is confirming J. S. Bellamy's education. My mother was told the family was wealthy when they arrived in Canada and John attended a private boys school, Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. He claimed to have been expelled for cutting down the flagpole. There is a picture of him taken in front of a building which is supposed to be that school taken in about 1901. According to the 1901 census in West York, Ontario, the family emigrated to Canada in 1899 and were living in a six-room house on 4 1/2 acres in Etobicoke. John S. Bellamy was still living with his parents and was working as a clerk and earning $200 per year. If by March 31, 1901, the date of the census, he had been working for twelve months as a clerk and the family moved to Canada in 1899, there would not have been much time to attend that school. I have an Email message from the Archivist of Trinity College School which states that they have no record of him at the school from 1890 to 1910. The archivist claimed that even if my grandfather had been expelled, they would still keep his entrance card and name on the admissions list.

At Christmas of 1999, I asked my mother's eighty-six year old brother, William Edward Bellamy, what he remembered about his father. When asked about the school, he answered: "Yes, my father did go to Trinity College School, Port Hope. He was a poor student and I do not think he stayed very long. Your Aunt Vivian visited the school when she was in the Air Force and she found out about him. They must have lost his records." In the 1841 National Registration his education indicated: Primary and Secondary and Business College but no College or University degree.

Yes, it has been a challenge to sort the truths from the myths about my grandfather, but with every little discovery one more piece is fitted into the puzzle of his life. I am still trying to find proof of his existance from 1901 in Ontario until he showed up in Edmonton, Alberta in 1909.

Grandpa Bellamy - Childhood in England

Grandpa's parents were both born in the original Boston, a town south-eastern Lincolnshire, England. Boston, Massachusetts in the United States was named after this small town. His father, John Henry “Harry” Bellamy was the son of a mariner and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who were both laundresses. His mother, Elizabeth Rason, was also the daughter of a mariner, but her father moved from the sea to the land and was listed as a fruiterer or green grocer when Harry and Elizabeth married in the town of Great Grimsby in 1880.

By March 1881, Harry and Elizabeth were living at the school in Kirton, just south of Boston, where they were both teachers. All Harry and Elizabeth Bellamy's children were born in Kirton. The oldest was George Henry Parker Bellamy born on April 12, 1881, George was referred to as Harry Jr. Edith Mary Bellamy was born on August 3, 1882 and my grandfather, John Samuel Bellamy was born on September 6, 1884, Grandpa preferred to be called Jack. The youngest child, Elizabeth Gladys Bellamy was born in Kirton on June 2, 1892, Elizabeth was always known as Gladys. All children were christened in Kirton except my grandfather who right from the start was treated differently and was christened at Holbeach, a town south of Kirton.

Elizabeth's parents, Samuel Rason and Mary Creak Smith, moved from Boston to Great Grimsby before her mother died as a result of childbirth in 1876 at age 47. Eighteen months after the death of his first wife, Samuel and his sister-in-law, Sarah Ann Smith, became parents of Charles Henry Smith Rason. Samuel and Sarah Ann lived as man and wife but I have not been able to find a marriage and it was illegal in England at the time for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister. This situation may have led to Elizabeth's father and siblings emigrating to Canada about 1883.

Harry and Elizabeth Bellamy continued to live and teach at the Kirton school until they decided to join the Rason family in Canada. I have not found the ship's manifest, but from census returns I have concluded that the Bellamy family immigrated to Ontario in 1898 or 1899.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grandpa Bellamy

My maternal grandfather has been a challenge, partly because I never knew him, and partly because he left a trail of untruths behind.

My quest to know more about my grandfather started with my Mom's knowledge about her father. She did not believe his claim that he was born at sea on his way to Canada, but she had no reason to doubt the other stories handed down by her father. Grandpa went by the name of John Stanhope Bellamy and I was well into my research when Mom happened to mention that he changed his middle name from Samuel to Stanhope because John Samuel sounded too biblical.

The family story was that, as a child, he lived with his father (a mariner) and mother and two sisters in Toronto. The parents were wealthy and owned a lot of real estate in Toronto before losing most of it in the depression. His uncle was Edward Bellamy who wrote the futuristic novel Looking Backward in 1888. He went to Trinity College School, a private school for boys, until he was expelled for cutting down the flag pole.

The only truth in the above paragraph is that my grandfather had two sisters, Edith and Gladys. I have been doing online research since 1997 and I went through many blind alleys looking for Stanhopes, the history of Edward Bellamy, and wealthy people in Toronto before the true John S. Bellamy revealed himself to me. The myths with the actual facts are listed below:

He was born at sea - John Samuel Bellamy was born on September 6, 1884 in the town of Kirton, Lincolnshire, England. His father was John Henry Bellamy, a school master and his mother was Elizabeth Rason. The information has been verified by his birth registration. John Henry Bellamy's father was a mariner, perhaps that is where he got that idea. The census returns from 1901 and 1911 in Canada show that the family emigrated in 1899, when my grandfather was fourteen or fifteen years old.

He had two siblings - He had three siblings including a brother, George Henry Parker Bellamy, who was born April 12, 1881. Edith Mary Bellamy was born on August 3, 1882, and Elizabeth Gladys Bellamy was born on June 2, 1892. All the siblings were born in Kirton. I was able to put the family unit together using the census returns for England and Canada.

His father was a mariner – John Henry Bellamy was a school master when he married Elizabeth Rason, a school mistress on May 27, 1880. He continued in that profession until they emigrated to Canada. John Henry or “Harry” Bellamy worked as a motorman for the Toronto Street Railway until his retirement.

The parents were wealthy – In 1901 the family was living in Etobicoke and Harry was earning $500 per year, an average income at that time. Other occupations in the neighbourhood included bartenders, a brickmaker, a gardener, and a general labourer. In 1911 the family was listed at 550 Gladstone Street which appears to be another working class neighbourhood.

Uncle Edward Bellamy – I managed to trace the author, Edward Bellamy, who's ancestors came from England to New England many generations before my grandfather was born. I did find that Edward had a first cousin, named Francis Bellamy, who wrote the American Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Both Edward and Francis were considered socialists in their time. My grandfather, being a bit of a rebel to conformity, might have felt a kinship to these men.

Trinity College School – The picture of my grandfather as a young man is supposed to be him in front of Trinity College School but I have not found any pictures of the school that look like the building in the picture. In 1999 I sent an email to Cathy McCart, Archivist of Trinity College School, and this was her reply to my query:

I have researched your grandfather's name in our records, unfortunately came up with nothing.

We have files with all the entrance cards with information on incoming students, and their records at the School. These are usually a pretty reliable source of information however there is always the possibility that the card could have been lost or misfiled, although it is unlikely.

I proceeded to go to the list of all students' names who, upon entry to the School are given a number and listed in a large book which begins in 1865 and still records the names of todays students. It is a handwritten list, done by the Headmaster. A copy of this list is also printed in The School On The Hill, a book on the history of TCS. I went through all the names from 1890 through 1910 and came up with nothing.

Neither the Development Office records nor the deceased files had any such name.

My conclusion is that John S. Bellamy, born in 1884, never attended Trinity College School.

Even if your grandfather had been expelled, we would still keep his entrance card and name on the Admission's list.

With regrets,

Cathy McCart


Grandpa filled out a National Registration form at the time of World War II and when asked for educatation beyond elementary or secondary school, he reported “Business College”.

I sometimes wonder if Grandpa Bellamy is watching me put together the puzzle of his life and laughing at me as I follow the red herrings he has thrown my way. That's okay Grandpa, I have enjoyed the trip.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Royal Tour of Canada, 1939

This is a picture of my grandparents and other family members waiting on Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria on May 30, 1939.

This royal tour of the parents of our reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was a historic event because it was the first time a king or queen of the British Commonwealth set foot on North America.

The royal couple disembarked from the Empress of Australia and were greeted with cheering crowds in Quebec City on May 17, 1939. They traveled by train across Canada and charmed the population by being visible and accessible in large cities and small towns throughout the land. They left Vancouver on May 29 aboard the CPR ship, Princess Marguerete and were greeted that evening in Victoria by Premier Pattullo. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, was the most western point of the tour. The royal couple stayed two nights at Government House, the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

May 30 was the only full day spent in Victoria with a visit to the provincial legislature in the morning, followed by a drive though the streets of Victoria and Oak Bay culminating at the Empress Hotel where King George gave an address which was heard throughout Canada and around the world. The next day the king and queen returned to Vancouver and resumed their train trip across Canada on the royal train. Afterward the CPR trains of that class were known as the Royal Hudsons. King George and Queen Elizabeth returned to England aboard the Empress of Britain on June 15.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

William Duckworth Davies in World War I

This is about my grandfather, William Duckworth Davies, who lost a leg in World War I.

Grandpa volunteered in January 1916 and joined the 138th Battalion in Canadian Expeditionary Force on Monday, July 24, 1916.

Acting Corporal. W. D. Davies embarked from Halifax on August 21, 1916 aboard the S.E. Olympic, arrived in Liverpool nine days later on the 30th. The Olympic was a sister ship to the Titanic and was converted to a troop ship for the war effort.

The next year was spent in England where the raw recruits were turned into soldiers. He finally arrived in France with the 50th Battalion Alberta Regiment on September 11, 1917 and joined the unit in the field on September 20.

Grandpa sent a letter to my father from England before he was sent to the front in WWI. The letter was written before my Dad's third birthday which was on April 11, 1917. It is transcribed as follows:

My dear little Bertie,I am awfully sorry that I have not got you anything for your birthday yet, but it is hard to get anything for you in these little places. Never mind sonny, I will get you something just as soon as I see something that I think you will like. You must be getting quite a big boy now. Three years old. You are making mamma and me feel old.. I must ring off now as I have to write to mamma & nana. Good bye and lots of kisses to the best little 3 year old boy on earth ; lot of love from your Soldier Daddy. x x x x x x

Grandpa landed in France on September 11, 1917, just before the deadliest battle for the Canadian forces in the war. After weeks of losses for the allies, it was decided by the British generals to launch an assault in the area of Ypres, near the border of France and Belgium. The Canadian Corps under a reluctant General Currie, carried on this assault, known as the Battle of Paaschendaele, from October 12, to November 10, 1917. Conditions were horrible for the Canadian troops fighting in soupy mud against the Germans who overlooked the morass from concrete bunkers. The Canadian Corps achieved its objective at a cost only fractionally less than General Currie's pre-battle estimate of 16,000 casualties. It was all for naught, within six months, the ground they had won was retaken by the Germans. From Grandpa's service records, I have concluded that he lost his leg at the Battle of Paaschendaele.

Grandpa said very little about experiences at the front in Europe, and in an interview by his great-grandchildren when he was eighty-eight years old, he said the following:

"How did I lose my leg? You'll have to ask Fritzie that. He knew I'd gone to France and he thought I was going to cause him some trouble so he sent over a 9.2 and I got part of it and that was it and that had to come about eleven miles to get me."

Perhaps Grandpa was lucky to be wounded at Ypres on October 12, 1917, after just a month on the front, because it took him off the battlefield where so many of his comrades lost their lives. The injury was caused by shrapnel entering the right knee, badly shattering it, and fracturing the femur. The leg was amputated through the thigh at C.C.S. (Casualty Clearing Station) the same day. Two days later he was admitted to No. 1 South African Gen. Hospital, Abbeville, France where he would start his long recovery. On November 10 he was considered fit enough to return to England and was admitted to General Military Hospital in Colchester, England, also known as Whipps Cross War Hospital. He stayed at Whipps Cross Hospital for 102 days, then he was admitted to Granville Canadian Special Hospital, Buxton, Derbyshire on February 21, 1918. On April 23 he was admitted to Military Hospital Kirkdale, Liverpool where he would stay another month before finally being transferred back to Canada.

He boarded the hospital ship Araguaya on May 25, 1918. It had been thirteen years since he taken the same route from Liverpool across the Atlantic to the Gulf of St. Laurence, then on to Montreal before taking the train to Toronto. He was eager to return to Alberta and resume life as a civilian, but he had one more hospital to visit first. He was admitted to Military Orthopedic Hospital, Toronto where he continued to recuperate from June 10 to August 6, 1918. Finally declared unfit for further service, Grandpa was able to return to Busby, Alberta where he had applied for a homestead before the war.

When asked about his experiences while overseas in the war, Grandpa had very little to say and was reluctant to talk about the horrors of the battlefield.

"Well there wasn't very much to tell except of course once in a while when Fritzie decided to come over and give us an air raid that made very exciting times because we didn't know just when a bomb was going to drop right on us; and in fact after I went to France and was wounded and came back to hospital in England why there I was in the hospital in London, at Whipps Cross Hospital and he came over one night and blew 60 feet of the hospital fence away of the hospital I was in, so he wasn't very particular. We often had experiences like that and whenever there was an air raid we used to get up and go out and watch the flack in the sky where the anti-aircraft guns were happening. But it was very exciting, very exciting."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Social Networking Tools for Genealogical Purposes

I have mixed feelings about the various social networking sites on the internet and their usefulness in genealogy.

I suppose I have been using a form of social networking for several years at WeRelate, a wiki for genealogy. This site has been very useful for posting a public family tree in which anyone can participate. Adding data can be difficult for anyone not accustomed to the format and few people have given input to my family tree. I have been in contact with many cousins through WeRelate though, because the site shows up on search engines. Like everything else, most of my tree on WeRelate is unfinished and is waiting for me to have more time.

I became active on Facebook about a year ago and have found it very useful to share pictures with family in the various groups that I have set up. I do not like most of the Facebook applications because I find them to be very intrusive as far as privacy is concerned. I no longer use the We're Related application because of the repetition every time a person is added as a relative. I do not like to bother people who are not as interested in genealogy as I am.

I have recently joined a social network for genealogists called Genealogy Wise. Although it is created by the same company that brought We're Related to Facebook, it has less nonsense and is very helpful with serious research.

I also have a family tree on Genoom where cousins can contribute and build on your tree. I am finding this site gets a bit out of control with so many offshoots springing up on the tree. Like WeRelate, I am sporadic in adding updates and will never finish.

My newest activity is posting blogs when I feel the urge or have time. There is less pressure to finish a project and I can ramble around in any branch of the family that I choose. A family tree is never finished, like a jigsaw puzzle without edges. The missing pieces in the middle are the most challenging but the outer twigs are exciting too.

I enjoy making contact with cousins and others who enjoy the stories and facts relating to my family and I will continue using the social networking tools that are available.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peter Butchart and the La Guayran Settlers

My gr. gr. greatgrandparents were married on the third day of May, 1821, by the Rev. Mr. John Leslie, Minister of the Parish of Fintray, Aberdeen, Scotland. Peter Butchart was a tailor when he married Elspet Livie, the daughter of Donald Livie, a deceased labourer.

Four and one half years later Peter, Elspeth and children left Scotland forever. They first traveled to South America, then eventually settled in Guelph, Ontario. The following gives some of the details of their adventures:

The La Guayran Settlers

In 1825 the Columbian Agricultural Association was organized in London to take out emigrants from Scotland to Venezuela. A Canadian historian, C.C. James, wrote:

"A London sailing vessel of 600 tons called the Planet was chartered to take out the settlers. The boat left the Thames with a few English emigrants and then picked up the rest of her passengers, 250 in all, in the Bay of Cromarty. This was in 1825. They sailed for La Guayra, calling at Madeira on the way to take on a cargo of wine. Twelve weeks out of Cromarty Bay, the party landed at La Guayra. Disappointment met them from the first. The country was in disorder, life and property were insecure, the climate was unsuited to the Scotsmen of the north, the estate that had been purchased by the company was composed partly of barren mountains and partly of valleys that required irrigation. Transportation had been provided and land allotted by the company to the settlers who were bound by written contract to locate upon the land and to repay their debt in ten years. The poor, deluded people were thus left in a most pitiable condition. After vain efforts to make a living and reconcile themselves to their inhospitable surroundings, they were gradually forced to abandon their lots and soon found themselves gathered together in temporary quarters at Caracas."

The experiment was foredoomed to failure if we are to believe the report of an eyewitness to the arrival of the immigrants in Venezuela. The following is written in the diary of the unknown witness:

"On the second of December arrived here the ship Planet of London bringing upwars of 200 Emigrants sent out by the Colombian Agricultural Association....From the first sight I had of the Settlers I pronounced them unfit for the employment they undertook--they consisted chiefly of tradesmen from Aberdeenshire and Highlands from Inverness shire neither of whom knew how to cultivate land at home, far less how to produce the fruits of this country. The selection made by Mr. Ross could not have been worse than the specimen he now produced. Being quite intimate with the agents of the Association here I communicated my sentiments freely to them, and told them as my opinion that the plans of the Association would never be brought about if they did not get people of more skill and capital to emigrate--they differed in opinion with me; but events have shown that I was right. Of Mr. Ross I knew nothing formerly--I thought he was too fond of rum, and in this I found I was not mistaken. The Gibbses were my lodgers for 10 days. I accompanied Miss Gibbs to Topo, the place allotted for the Settlers.

On our arrival at Topo (10 o'clock a.m.) we found numbers, indeed almost all the settlers, perfectly drunk. Their Parson and Superintendent, with his Privy Councill, being the drunkest of the drunk. An invitation to dine with such a set was of course refused and I set off for La Guayra so early as 2 o'clock. If any proof were wanting to confirm the opinion I first formed of this set of men what I saw at Topo was quite convincing. On Sunday so early as 11 o'clock there were not thirty sober men among the settlers!! From such a exhibition as this it was easy to foresee the downfall of this Colony--no order--no subordination--no obedience to Superiors was observed--How could there when the Parson & Superintendent at Topo for the Colombian Agricultural Association--in whatever place a drop of spirits of whatsoever kind, was to be found there was also to be found the Rev. John Ross. His conduct was so notorious that the Common black negro labourers did not pay him the least respect--on contrary they imitated or mimicked him in his drunken frolics and nicknamed him el Padre Chupon, or the Sucking Priest."

But the story did not end in Venezuela. Conditions evidently got so bad that the emigrants sought some escape. In the words of C. C. James:

"They laid their case before the British consul, and with the help of Mr. Lancaster, the Quaker educationist, who happened to be there at the time, they sent home an appeal for help. This did not fail. A British frigate was dispatched to their assistance. The captain in charge was a brother of Sir Peregrine Maitland, then Governor of Upper Canada. After consultation, they decided to accept the offer of transportation to Canada. They were taken north and landed at New York, where they were met by Mr. Buchanan, the British consul, who also acted as agent of the Canada Company."

The Gore Gazette of August 7, 1827 reported: "Eight families of British Emigrants consisting of 57 persons, arrived at Dundas today from South America, via New York; and proceeded immediately to Guelph"

An address from the immigrants to the king, dated Guelph, Upper Canada, January 25, 1828, gives a full account of the proceedings of the settlers and also provides a list of the heads of families involved.

"To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty:


May it please your Majesty, we the subscribers natives of your ancient and loyal kingdom of Scotland beg leave to approach the throne with sentiments of special thankfulness and gratitude for the great favor shewn to us by Your Majesty's Paternal Government in removing us from the barren territory of Venezuela in the State of Columbia and in bringing us into your Majesty's Province of Upper Canada.

In the year 1825 we were led to embark for Columbia to become Settlers under the patronage of a Company of Merchants in London called the Columbia Agricultural Association, on our arrival in the Province of Venezuela we discovered that the Association whose good intention towards us we had no reason to doubt had been deceived in regard to the Soil and climate by their Agents and we had cause great cause to rue and repent of ever having emigrated to that inhospitable region.

Finding all our hopes frustrated and our means consumed we applied to Your Majesty's Consul General Sir Robt. Kerr Porter for relief and received from him by direction of his Excellency Mr. Alex. Cockburn, Your Majesty's Ambassador to Columbia the means of Subsistance for some time. They afterwards sent us to the United States to be forwarded to Your Majesty's American Dominions and on our arrival at New York we were advised by Mr. Buchanan, Your Majesty's Consul to proceed to Upper Canada where he informed us the Canada Company was forming a settlement. On reaching the Province we delivered to Mr. Galt, the Superintendt of the Canada Company, the letter we had brought but he having no instructions to receive us could only advise us to go to this Place where such as were able to work would find employment until some better arrangement would be made. We accordingly came in with our families amounting to 135 souls of whom 58 were children under 13 years of age--but many of us were in bad health, and all in need of the very necessaries of life, so that we became a burden on the Canada Company--Nevertheless we were treated with kindness and provided with clothes cordials and medical assistance.

It was sometime after explained to us by the Superintendent of the Company that we might become Settlers on the Company's land on undertaking to pay in time by labor or otherwise, the value of the land and the debt incurred for our maintenance. To this we were happy to accede and we are now living on the lands and inhabiting the houses provided for us by the liberality of the Canada Company thankful to God for having permitted us to be brought again under the beneficient protection of Your Majesty's Government.

But in the enjoyment of this great blessing--we are still much depressed in mind when we reflect on the debts we owe to the Company for our support as well as for our land, and on the long time that must elapse before we can receive assistance in labour from many of our children. We have therefore ventured to beseech Your Majesty to be graciously pleased to take our misfortunes into consideration for we have seen better days and hope that the severe trials and afflictions we have endured will be mercifully regarded as sufficient punishment for our error in believing we could improve our condition by passing into the dominions of any other State.

Guelph 25 January 1828"

Among the twenty-six signatures to the above letter were those of Peter Butchart and Alexander Butchart.

When they arrived in Guelph, the La Guayrans presented a pitiful spectacle. Because of their poverty, the unhealthy climate of their Latin American residences, and the long and difficult journey, several of the men and many of the women and children were in a weak and unhealthy condition. What was Galt to do when faced by this ragged and emaciated group? Clearly the La Guayrans ought to have been the responsibility of the British government, and Galt had neither the spare funds nor the authority of the Canada Company to spend money on their behalf.

Galt's decision was typically decisive. He made the assumption that government authorities would accept responsibility for the La Guayrans, and witheld a portion of the government funds in his hands to pay for their care. Those capable of labour, he put to work clearing the Elora Road. The government, however, refused to accept responsibility for the La Guayrans, and ordered Galt to immediately forward the money that he had held back to pay their expenses.

In the meantime, the La Guayrans had recovered their health and strength, and by their industry and thrift had demonstrated to Galt that they were likely to become desirable settlers. Galt, therefore, allotted each of them fifty acres of land, at the usual price, but allowed them to defer the down payment, with the understanding that they were not only to pay for their land and supplies, but also the cost of their upkeep during their illness, all at six percent per annum interest.

From Galt's point of view, the affair, while provoking, turned out well in the end. The La Guayrans, to their credit, fulfilled their obligations to the Canada Company to the penny. But many and bitter were the memories retained by them and their descendants of the interest charged and the high prices exacted for goods bought on credit at the Canada Company store. The settlers were better fitted to face the climate of Canada than that of Venezuela.

There is some confusion about the names and ages of Peter Butchart's children; he was married twice, to his first wife Anne Webster in 1810 and to Elspit Livie in 1821 as noted in the first paragraph. There is some assumption that Peter Butchart (sometimes spelled Butchard) and Alexander Butchart who were both La Guayran settlers were brothers but I have found no proof of a relationship. It seems that the more information I get the more unanswered questions I have.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Swimming Crocketts

My grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett, and her siblings lived in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England before emigrating to Canada and they were all involved in some form of aquatics. The picture on the left is of my grandmother's brother, James William Crockett. Uncle Jim is shown wearing some of the swimming medals that he won in England. Jim and his wife, Emily emigrated to Canada in September 1912.

I remember my father relating a family story that my grandmother's brothers were all strong swimmers and they had an undefeated water polo team in their home town of Stourbridge. There is no proof of their prowess at water polo, but there is no doubt that my grandmother and her siblings all were born with the love of water sports. The following quote is from a Stourbridge newspaper: "those giants of local swimming circles, the Crocketts. It is evident that the family has no mean reputation"

Edmonton, Alberta was a raw prairie town when the Crocketts arrived in the years 1911 and 1912. The only swimming pool available was at the YMCA, a four-story brick building in the heart of the city with the pool in the basement. James William Crockett worked at the YMCA as a swimming instructor from 1916 until 1922.

The first of several outdoor pools that would make Edmonton a swimming Mecca opened on Edmonton's south side on August 3, 1922. Jim Crockett was the superintendent of the South Side pool (also known as the Civic Swimming Pool, Riverside, and later, Queen Elizabeth Pool) from 1922 until the second world war. The following is part of an article about the pool's opening in an Edmonton newspaper: "In regard to Mr Crockett, it should be said that he is a swimmer and instructor with years of experience, He is a native of Birmingham, England, and held positions in swimming baths and clubs there that have particularly fitted him for the post that he now occupies. He comes of a swiming family, all the members are experts, both men and women."
By 1924 there were three pools: South Side, West End, and Eastend at Exhibition Park. Richard Herbert Crockett was superintendent of the West End Pool from 1925 until he moved to Fergus, Ontario in 1930. See previous article on Richard Herbert Crockett

In 1928 my grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett Davies, was employed at the West End Pool under her brother, Bert. In 1929 their father, Amos Crockett was an employee at the Eastend Pool as well as his daughter, Ada Annie How. As the 1920s drew to a close, the only Crockett siblings not employed at the swimming pools were George and Tom.

George, who was with the Edmonton Fire Department from 1923 until his retirement in 1954, started the learn to swim sessions at the Eastend Pool with his father, Amos "Dad" Crockett, in the late 1920s. George also ran similar classes at the West Side Pool with his brother, Bert Crockett, . Throughout the 1930s, George instructed swimming at the YMCA. Tom Crockett seemed to be less involved with swimming but he was an expert diver.

An article in the Edmonton Journal this week made me think of this topic:

The old South Side pool has been closed for several years and is to be replaced with a new multi-million dollar outdoor swimming complex. The picture below shows Don Crockett and his wife, Lynn, at the presentation described in the newspaper article linked above. Don is Jim Crockett's son; he and Lynn are on the left side of the picture.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Richard Herbert Crockett


Uncle Bert was born on February 23, 1886 at Glossop, Derbyshire, but moved with his parents while still an infant to Colwyn Bay, North Wales. The family moved from Colwyn Bay about 1890 and moved around a fair amount with stops in Broseley, Chester, and Northwich before settling in Stourbridge, Worcestershire by 1901. At the time of the 1901 Census, Richard Herbert Crockett was aged 15 years. He gave his place of birth as Glossop, Derbyshire and his occupation as a Fishmongers Assistant. He lived at 20, High Street, Stourbridge, Worcestershire. He lived there with his Mother and Father and Brothers and Sisters: James (aged 13), George (aged 12), Alice (aged 9), Thomas (aged 9), Ada (aged 6) and Lucy (aged 4). Bert married Jessie Heathcock at Stourbridge in 1907. Their only child, George Albert Crockett, was born in England in 1908.


Following his father, who had already emigrated to Canada, Bert set sail from Liverpool on July 8, 1911 aboard the Laurentic and arrived in Quebec on July 15. When Jessie and her two sisters-in-law, Mary Alice and Lucy, departed for Canada on August 31, 1911, Jessie stated that she was going to her husband who was a fitter in Edmonton. Bert and Jessie's son, George was not on that voyage; he arrived with his grandmother and aunts in October.

The Crockett family was probably drawn to Alberta by the Homestead Act. Quarter sections (640 acres) were granted to settlers who were willing to make the rough land into a farm. The cost to file an application for a Western Land Grant was $10.00. Richard Herbert Crockett applied for NW Section 27 Township 57 Range 1 Meridian 5. This quarter section was in Seymour, a settlement northwest of Edmonton later known as Busby. His father and brother were on the same section; James William had the SE quarter and Amos Crockett had the NE quarter. Amos set up a sawmill on his quarter which was on the shores of Lake George.

Bert had to delay his development of the homestead when Britain went to war with Germany in 1914 and on 21 May 1915, he signed up to join the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. At that time he was a miner in Seymour, Alberta and he was described as 5'6", 40" chest, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair. After serving 2 years and 71 days with the 51st Battalion overseas, he signed up again on the 17 January 1918; his physical description was the same except he had gained 1" in his chest and he had a scar on his left hand. The war ended later in 1918 and I doubt he actually went overseas for a second time.

Bert gave up the homestead shortly after the war and moved to 12009 92nd Street in Edmonton and worked for the Hudson Bay Company from 1920 until the city hired him as Superintendent of the West End Swimming Pool. Bert and his brother, Jim, were both well known and respected as coaches to champion swimmers in Edmonton.


In 1930, a new pool was opened in Fergus, Ontario and Uncle Bert was hired to manage the pool. The following are excerpts from the local history book, Looking back : the story of Fergus through the years, Vol. 2, Publisher: Fergus, Ontario: P. Mestern, 1983

M. J. Beatty traveled extensively for Beatty Brothers. On a trip to Edmonton, soon after construction started on the pool, he learned of Mr. R. H. Crockett's accomplishments at the West End Pool and Edmonton.

Immediately after returning to Fergus M.J. sent Mr. Crockett a proposition to come to Fergus and manage the new Fergus pool. He readily accepted and the F.N.R.reports:

"Yesterday, (February 26, 1930) we learned by wire from a member of the Edmonton Journal that the services of one of Canada's leading swimming instructors is been secured in the person of Mr. Bert Crockett, a prominent swimming and hockey coach of that city, who has an enviable reputation along these lines. He operated the large arena there in the winter and three city pools in the summer along with his father and brother of which have the reputation of being the best operated pools in the province of Alberta. Mrs. Crockett also an expert swimmer and instructress and her services will also be appreciated here."

They arrived in Fergus March 31, 1930 and will be living in quarters provided above the pool bathhouse and will be able to personally, assist the superintendent in the completion of the pool.

Most early users and spectators of the pool can recall the many conveniences of the pool. The individual cubicles for changing, hair dryers for after swimming, lockers with keys, the Beatty ringer under the steps to wring out all those wool bathing suits, the spic and span appearance of the pool at all times, the sign on the veranda giving dimensions and distances, the manually operated thermometer giving pool water temperature, Mr. Crockett and his assistants in their white ducks, shoes, and shirts they wore with pride and the beautiful flower boxes on the many posts around the pool and especially the crystal clear water still a trademark of Fergus pool.

Mr. Crockett spent 24 seasons at the Fergus pool. Many of his accomplishments and successes with swimmers will follow. For the man himself he loved children spending many hours and days with his rope and canvas collar around small children pulling them across the small pool. Learning their first strokes. He did Fergus and neighbours a great service far beyond the terms of his contract. He was also a disciplinarian, a necessity with this type of recreation, it only takes a few seconds to drown and the rules were for safety purposes as well as general behavior in the pools. He didn't hesitate to disqualify a swimmer for one day or two weeks of swimming, depending on the severity of the infraction. Unfortunately one swimmer (who will remain anonymous) advises me he was ejected for a misdemeanor and never went back to the pool. Mr. Crockett, I am sure could be credited with a perfect record with no serious accidents at the pool. A record that is still intact.

Mrs. Hilda Clark advises that in his last year at the pool he had to dive into bring up the girl who was unconscious on the bottom and Mr. Crockett wasn't able to get down to her. Shirley Campbell was near and assisted in getting her out and she was soon revived. This incident seemed to indicate that he should retire. More of Mr. and Mrs. Crockett's accomplishments with swimmers will follow.

In 1951 water was put into the big pool in early March. So the girls to train for a meet on March 31. Two car loads traveled to Vancouver with four swimmers Joan and Shirley Campbell. Elaine Chapman and Doreen Howatt. They won the 400 yd. relay by 100 ft.. Shirley 1400 yd. setting a record and Doreen was second. They returned home to a civic reception. Races at the C. N. E. were won again, and the possibility of the girls making an Olympic team in 1952 was hoped for.

In 1952 Doreen Howatt set a record in 400 yd. at 5 minutes 7.7 seconds. The Olympic swimmers picked were medley swimmers and Fergus girls were very disappointed. They continued their winning ways that the C. N. E.. Shirley Campbell won the senior mile championship and Doreen, still a junior came seconds and on August 27, 1952. Shirley turned professional winning the 3 mi. event in 1 hour and 21 minutes and 40 seconds, just 17 seconds short of the record. She one $1600 and came home to a civic reception in the arena. Gus Ryder regarded Bert Crockett as one of the finest swimming coaches nominated Shirley for the Lou Marsh trophy.

Shirley won the professional swim again in 1953 defeating several notable swimmers. Elaine Chapman came fourth, and Doreen Howatt won the silver bowl for junior 1 mi. in 1952 and the Ross Gold trophy one mi. championship for two years 1953 and 1954. Shirley Campbell was rewarded by the Egyptian long-distance swimming federation, who sent a special trophy presented on their behalf by Albert Menzies. 3 ft. high on a black ebony base with Egyptian symbols lotus petals a scarab. A sacred truth and a winged head.

Shirley made two valiant attempts to swim across Lake Ontario swimming under terrible conditions bad weather currents, mechanical problems that gained much fame for her efforts.

Again, she received a civic welcome with 5000 people attending with dignitaries, a street dance and full page editorial in the F.N.R as well as radio, TV interviews and many newspaper articles and photos .

Truly, the golden years for the Fergus pool and its much admired manager and coach Bert Crockett. It would take many pages to list all the accomplishments of these girls. They worked hard swimming many hours every day get in shape for the various events. They deserve all the fame they received and Mr. Crockett, fulfilled his fondest dreams.

At Mr. and Mrs. Crockett's retirement dinner feelings were expressed all around. Mrs. Crockett expressed her thanks stating "no one realizes the anxiety and responsibility of looking after a pool". How true! With all the enjoyment achievements and participation in the water, someone will always have the responsibility for safety and concern of the swimmers. An old axiom states. Records were made to be broken. Let us hope the goals and achievements of the pool will continue. That the boys and girls will constantly improve on time speed and distance and the perfect safety record at the pool will remain forever.

On a rare occasion, Mr. Crockett paid a summer visit to Mr. W. G. Beatty's cottage in Musokoka. Mr. Crockett worked six days a week and only had Sunday off. On arriving, W. G. was not available. But soon appeared from the lake having just completed his regular swim around the bay in front of the cottage. He had been swimming alone definitely a practice not condoned by Mr. Crockett. W. G. received a tongue lashing equal to anything handed out that the pool by Mr. Crockett, for his infraction of safe swimming practice.

Hundreds of people learned to swim under the most favorable conditions including careful instruction by Mr. Crockett and his assistants. And who can tell how many lives this may be the means of saving in years past, and yet to come. No better gift could have been built for the benefit of the community than the swimming pool constructed by Beatty Bros. and given to the town.

I remember Uncle Bert's trip west with the girls swim team in 1951 and I still have a white towel that he gave our family with Fergus Swimming Pool faintly stamped on it. What was not mentioned in the book was that Shirley Campbell asked Uncle Bert to come out of retirement to be part of her support team when she made her attempt to swim across Lake Ontario.


Bert and Jessie retired to Victoria in 1953 and bought a little bungalow at 3280 Epworth Street . They were the first people in our family to own a television and we would go over to their house on Saturday nights to watch the fights. When the house became too much for them to maintain, they moved to a residence for seniors run by the Salvation Army in Esquimalt, Matson Lodge.

The following article appeared in the Victoria paper in September 1972:

65 years together

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Herbert Crockett of Matson Lodge, 847 Dunsmuir Rd.., will celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary Tuesday, Sept. 26th.

Arrangements have been made to honor them with an open house by their neice Mrs. C.E. Hayward at the Amps Hall at the Oak Bay Junction from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Sept. 24th. In the evening a buffet supper has been arranged exclusively for relatives.

Among the guests will be relatives from Oregon and others from Vancouver.

The photo on the left is the last picture I have of Uncle Bert with Auntie Jessie. It was taken at Matson Lodge on September 26, 1974.

Uncle Bert died October 8, 1974 and Auntie Jessie followed him on November 15, 1975.

The following obituary appeared in an Edmonton newspaper:

Former swim Coach dies in Victoria, 88

Bert Crockett, 88, a former Edmonton swimming and hockey coach who branded marathon swims as "cruel and stupid" died recently in Victoria.

Once manager of the West End Swimming Club, Mr. Crockett made the comment in 1958, after his former pupil Shirley Campbell attempted to swim a treacherous 32 mile stretch across Lake Ontario.

Hampered by a painful shoulder injury after a grueling 18 hours, 44 minutes in the chilly water, she was only a mile from shore when Mr. Crockett decided to pull her out.

Born in Glossop, Derbyshire, Mr. Crockett came to Edmonton in 1911.

He was the supervisor for the West End pool in 1925 when it was first opened and during the winter managed city rinks. While at the West End he coached several provincial diving champions.

In hockey, he coached the juvenile champions for the province in 1923 and 1929. He was manager of the 82nd Street rink and one of his clubs produced the Colville brothers, Neil and Mac, who played for the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.

In 1947 his four-girl relay team from Fergus captured the Junior Women's Canadian Championship held in Victoria and four years later, his four-girl team won three Canadian championships in Vancouver.

He moved to Victoria in 1953 and retired in 1954.

Mr. Crockett died on Oct. 8 and funeral services were held on Oct. 11.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jessie; one grandson, Robert George Crockett of Stettler; four great-grandchildren; one brother, Thomas of Edmonton; and one sister, Ada How of Vancouver.

I remember Uncle Bert always having a twinkle in his eye and I would start to giggle just by looking at him. I loved all my Dad's uncles but Uncle Bert was my favourite, probably because I knew him best.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

George (John Bull) Crockett

The picture to the left is a depiction of John Bull on a WWI recruitment poster. Amos Crockett's brother, George, was known as John Bull because of his similarity to that figure who represented all that was English, like Uncle Sam to the United States.

George was born on May 23, 1867 in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, which lies three miles from Tring to the east and four miles from Aylesbury to the west. George was christened at Aylesbury with three of his siblings on February 9, 1868.

George worked as a piecer at the cotton mill in Glossop in 1881 when he was thirteen years old. While still in Glossop, he married Betty Sandiford in 1887. Betty was twenty, George was only nineteen when he married.

George and Betty had moved seven and a half miles north west to the town of Dukinsfield by 1891, where George was working as a labourer in an iron works. It appears that Betty had no children with George and by 1901 they had separated. Betty moved back to her birthplace in Glossop and was found living with her mother; she gave her status as married in both the 1901 and 1911 census returns.

George continued moving west, this time over forty-five miles southwest to Chester, where he was a fried fish dealer in 1896 at 15 Brook Street; nearby, his brother, Amos, was a greengrocer at 47 Brook Street.

By 1900 he had moved again, south seventy miles to Kidderminster, where he had a fried fish business on Blackwell Street.

A year later, George had moved again, to Northfield, Worcestershire and had changed his situation significantly when he appeared in the 1901 census as a thirty-three-year-old general labourer living with a twenty-year-old landlady who was a laundress. Young Sarah Ann Jones had a two-month-old son, named Ernest W Jones. At that time George Crockett was listed as married and Sarah Jones was listed as single, yet they lived as man and wife for over forty years.

Three more children were born before 1905 came to an end, Sarah and all her children used the surname Crockett including Ernest William.

When George accompanied Amos on the voyage to Philadelphia, he gave the address for his next of kin as his wife, Sarah, at Moor Street, Brierly Hill. That was on February 23, 1911. By the time the census was taken on April 2, 1911 another family was living at that residence and I have not been able to find George's family in the 1911 census.

One of the stories that my father told me about George Crockett was that when he and Amos arrived in New York it was the fourth of July and there were American flags everywhere and George remarked that there wasn't a Union Jack to be seen. This has turned out to be family lore because they landed in Philadelphia in March.

On the ship's manifest of the SS Merion, George gave the name of the person he was going to visit as his brother-in-law, Charles Jones. George is described as being 5' 5½” tall with fair complexion, auburn hair, and gray eyes, a true Crockett.

George only stayed in Philadelphia long enough to visit Sarah's brother for a few weeks and then he returned to England on the Lusitania, leaving New York on March 17 and arriving in Liverpool on March 28, 1911. Amos did not return to England with him and I presume he made his way to Alberta overland.

George and Sarah Crockett left England the next year, departing from Bristol on April 3 and arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 12, 1912. Thomas Amos Crockett, son of Amos, accompanied them on the voyage. The manifest listed the following aboard the SS Royal Edward:

Crockett, George, 44, Poultry farmer

Crockett, Mrs. G, 32, wife

Crockett, Thomas, 20, Farm labourer

Crockett, Ernest, 11

Crockett, George, 10

Crockett, Ada, 8

Crockett, Mary, 7

On the ship's manifest, both George and Tom Crockett claimed to have worked on a farm in England, but I wonder if that was to get assistance with the passage from the Salvation Army. The family was in “steerage” class with SA noted in the right margin of the manifest. Their destination was given as Edmonton.

According to a map in the Busby history book, George's homestead was located on a ¼ section described as South-east quarter, Section 23Township 57 Range 1 West of the 5th Meridian in the Busby Park School District.

From another reference to George and family in the same book about the Busenius family:

My Dad spent his first year of school at Busby Park and recalled George and Sarah's children were: Ernie, Joss, Ada, and Alice. Joss must have been the younger George. George and Sarah moved into Edmonton after leaving the homestead and my Dad recalled that Uncle George worked as an elevator operator and Aunt Sarah worked as a maid at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. In the city directory for 1943, George was listed as retired and Sarah was still working at the hospital.

Amos Crockett's granddaughter, Evelyn, recalls a story about Uncle George John Bull: "There was a dentist's office in the building where John Bull ran the elevator and he offered to make Uncle George a set of false teeth because he had none. A couple of weeks after setting him up with a fine set of dentures, the dentist noticed that George was not wearing his new teeth. When asked the whereabouts of the teeth, John Bull said they were in his pants pocket. To this the dentist replied: I hope they bite you in the ass!"

George passed away in Edmonton in 1944 at age seventy-six and was buried in Edmonton Cemetery on May 13, 1944.

In the city directory for 1947 Sarah was still working at the hospital as a maid and living at #32, 11045-97 Street (Lambton Block). In 1953 she was living at the same address but no occupation was given.

According to my Dad, Aunt Sarah had some sort of mental breakdown and died in a mental facility in Oliver, just north of Edmonton. I wish my Dad was here to ask, because I think I can recall that Sarah also worked at the Oliver hospital.

Sarah died in 1964, twenty years after her husband, she was eighty-four years old. Her body rests beside her husband, George in the Edmonton Cemetery.

When I asked Amos Crockett's granddaughter, Vera Becklake, about her memories of George and Sarah, she had the following to say:

Uncle 'John Bull' was a bit of a rascal. I was surprised to hear that he had been married in England. I know there was some scandal about him and a girl who worked in Grandpa's (Amos) fish and chip shop. Perhaps they were never divorced as I was told that he and Auntie Sarah were never married. I don't recall the circumstances of her death. She worked for years at the Royal Alex Hospital in Edmonton and was badly injured in an elevator accident there but as far as I remember, she recovered enough to go back to work. She was a very sweet and gentle person.

George Crockett and Sarah Ann Jones had the following children:

  1. Ernest William Crockett (1901-1994)

  2. George Crockett (1902-1990)

  3. Ada Millicent Crockett (1904-)

  4. Mary Alice Crockett (1905-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Abraham Moyer

Yesterday marked the 203rd birthday of my g.g.g.grandfather, Abraham Moyer who was born July 14, 1803 in Springfield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This branch of the family were all Mennonites who fled Europe to avoid religious persecution in the early 1700s and were allowed to settle in Pennsylvania. These German-speaking people were known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Waterloo County in Ontario lured many of the Mennonites in the early 1800s and on March 7, 1825 Abraham Moyer left Bucks County, on foot, for Canada. He and Samuel Fried arrived in Waterloo after walking for 18 days. When they arrived they only had twenty-five cents between them. Abraham settled near Berlin, now known as Kitchener, Ontario.

On November 28, 1830 Abraham Moyer married Barbara Shantz, another Mennonite. Barbara was born in Canada on May 6, 1912. Abraham and Barbara had thirteen children, the fourth child was my g.g.grandfather, Aaron Moyer.

Abraham died November 20, 1893 in Berlin at age 90.

Genealogy Wise

I have just joined Genealogy Wise - The Genealogy Social Network. In some ways it is like Facebook without the nonsense. I think I am going to like it. I have joined the Ontario group and the Roots Magic group so far and haven't posted any comments yet. It is too early to tell if it will be an aid in my research or just another distraction. The link follows for anyone wanting to give it a try:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Amos from Tring

I started a blog on Amos last year but did not get very far. I have decided to continue with Amos Crockett's life story on that blog. It can be found at:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bagot Arnold, born on July 13th

Bagot Arnold was born on this day 147 years ago. Bagot, born in Leek, Staffordshire, England was one of seven children born to Thomas Arnold and Eliza Abbott. Bagot fits into my family tree because he married the sister of my great-grandmother. In 1881 Bagot was an apprentice cabinet maker living in Colwyn Bay, Wales and his future bride, Rebecca Bunnager was a confectioner's assistant living in Withington, Lancashire. Colwyn Bay is about 75 miles west of Withington. I wonder how Aunt Beck and Bagot came to meet, but I do know that they were married in Colwyn Bay in 1885. My great-grandparents, Alice Bunnager and Amos Crockett were married in Glossop, Derbyshire in 1884 but their first three children were born in Colwyn Bay starting with Richard Herbert Crockett in 1886.

The Crockett and Arnold families lived together until 1891 when Alice returned to Broseley, Shropshire where she was staying with her brother at the time of the 1891 census. Alice gave birth to twins soon after the census, perhaps she wanted to be closer to her family for the birth. Amos and Alice moved, spending time in Chester, Cheshire, and Stourbridge, Worcestershire while the Arnolds stayed in North Wales until sometime after 1901.

Bagot and Rebecca's oldest son, Harry Arnold, married Lettice Lawton in 1907 in Stourbridge. The picture above shows the wedding of Harry and Letty. Seated on the left is Bagot and Rebecca Arnold and seated on the right is Alice and Amos Crockett. By census time in 1911 things were changing and the Arnolds had moved down to Stourbridge where Bagot was a fishmonger at his home on 20 High Street, the same address occupied by Amos Crockett from 1900 until 1910.

The Arnold and Crockett families emigrated to Canada in 1911 and 1912. George Bunnager Crockett, Amos and Alice's third son, sailed on the same ship as Rebecca and her children, including her oldest, Ada Alice Arnold. These two cousins, George and Ada, married each other in Edmonton, Alberta in 1914.

World War I started in 1914 and Bagot enlisted on July 26, 1915 giving his birthdate as July 13, 1871 reducing his age by nine years. He probably wouldn't have been accepted into service had they known he was actually 53 years old. When the census was taken in Edmonton on June 1, 1916 three families shared the home at 11824 91st Street: Arnold and Rebecca Arnold, George and Ada Crockett, and Harry and Lettice Arnold. It was not as crowed as it appeared because seven of the men were overseas in the war.

I did not have the pleasure of meeting Bagot and Rebecca Arnold or Amos and Alice Crockett but I fondly remember their children: Uncle George and Auntie Ada. The picture of George and Ada below was taken in 1974

Getting Started

I am endeavoring to put flesh and bones onto the names of my family tree and hope to post some interesting stories about ancestors and their descendants.

There are over 10,000 names in my database, with 7,600 on the Butchart side alone. I have been concentrating on the Davies and Crockett side recently and thank my Dad's sister, Ev, for sharing her memories with me.