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.