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.