Friday, October 1, 2010

More Puzzle Pieces

Last March I posted a blog titled "The Puzzle of Genealogy" which related to questions and answers brought on by the Bellamy Letters.

This week I went back into my email messages regarding the Rason family from ten years ago and found messages clipped together with a note: Jackson - Rason - Smith puzzle.

The subject of the puzzle ten years ago was a diary kept by Samuel Jackson (1867-1920). In the diary was a list of birthdays but no year of birth. Samuel's mother was Harriet Hand Smith, who was sister to my g.g.grandmother, Mary Creak Smith. Harriet and Mary had a younger sister, Eliza, who married Josiah Triffitt. Aunt Eliza was mentioned in Bellamy Letters #5.

Samuel Jackson's grandson, Norm Ashton, posted his grandfather's diary to the internet in 1998 wondering where the Rason name fit into the Jackson family. Through collaboration between Norm, Deborah Glover, and myself, we were able to identify most of the Rason entries but there was reference to some cousins in Holbeach, Lincolnshire:
  • 12 May - G E J cousin Gertie Holbeach
  • 1 Jun - M E J cousin Mary Edith Holbeach
  • 2 Jul - A M J cousin Maud
  • 16 Jul - J C J cousin Holbeach
  • 22 Dec - Aunt E J
It was presumed that all names marked with a J in the diary were Jacksons, but I am convinced that the people listed above were all Triffitts:
  • Gertrude Ellen Triffitt (1887-1947)
  • Mary Edith Triffitt (1882-)
  • Alice Maud Triffitt (2 Jul 1880-1974) d.o.b confirmed on death registration
  • John Carrington Triffitt (1875-)
  • Eliza Smith Triffitt (22 Dec 1840-21 May 1921)
Sometimes it pays to retrace your steps and look at old correspondence; I'm glad I kept it. Hopefully all these little puzzle pieces will lead to the big picture one day. Now I am trying to locate Norman Dennis Ashton because his email address is not current.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bellamy Letter #7

1 Maple Grove
Sept 26th

My Dear Gertie

It was with much pleasure we received your kind & loving letter for I can asure you my dear we was very pleased to hear from you, for though we have not been writing to you, you have not been forgotten by us for my dear Gertie never a day passes but we talk about you & wish we could fly over to Grimsby to see you.

We was very pleased to hear my dear of your marriage & to know you have got such a good husband. Give our kind love to him although we have not the happiness of knowing him yet we feel that we have another to love & I do hope & pray my dear that he will always be a true & loving Husband to you & that he will never give you one moment of unhappiness. Also give our dear little baby a good hug & a lot of kisses from us all.

Oh what would we give to be able to hold you all in our arms & cover you with lots of kisses but I am afraid that we shall never be able to do for my dear it would not be safe to try & bring your grandpa across for he is so feeble. He can only just walk across the floor, he had a fall about 8 years ago & was never able to work again, & as seemed to get worse, had your Aunt Lizzie Bellamy not come out we had made up our minds to come back to Grimsby & I can asure you I have bitterly repented not coming. 3 of your Uncles would of come with us then so you see we should most of us been in England again.

Now my dear we was very surprised to hear of Mrs. Taylor's death although my darling you could not grieve for her for she was never a good one to you & I don't think your father could feel very happy the way she was treating you but she as gone before her Judge & to receive her reward. Is your Father still living in the same house or is he staying with you?

Is Mrs. Marshall still alive & her son & daughter? When you write again send word that is my dear if you know them. I have often wondered about them if you ever see them give our loves to them & tell them to write as we should like to hear from them. Now my dear give our love to your dear Husband & tell him we hope he will have your photos taken as I can asure you it would be a comfort to us to be able to have them so that we could see your dear faces, also my dear if you have one of dear Dorothy's you don't know what a comfort it would be to us so I hope before long we shall have the happiness of having them.

Now my dears I hope you are all well & happy & will always remain so. Your uncles wish their kindest love & they are going to watch for the post as they want to see all of your dear faces. I am not to forget to give your Grandpa's best love & a lot of kisses & tell you not forget the photos. Now my dears I must draw to a close again. Hoping you are all well & happy with love from us all & to still remain with love & good wishes.

Your loving Grandparents
S & S.A. Rason

Bellamy Letter #6

722 Dufferin St.
Dec 1906

My dear Gertie,

Just a few lines, though I am afraid it will be too late for you to get it on Xmas day to wish you & your papa a very Happy Xmas & a bright & prosperous New Year.

You will I know be lonely without your poor sister, but you know dear she is better off than to be as she was here in such terrible suffering.

I expect Grandpa, Grandma, & all from their house are going to be at our house for Xmas so we shall be quite a large party. I do wish you were going to be with us, however dearie I hope you will have a real good time.

You really must try & persuade your papa to let you at least spend a three months visit with us, I feel sure it would set you up in health, & I am sure you would like the country.

I haven't time to write you a long letter as I am so busy just now, * I know Edie sent you all the news.

All join in fondest love to you, & accept the same from your ever loving Auntie


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bellamy Letters #5

722 Dufferin St.

My Dear Gerty,

I was very pleased indeed to receive your nice long letter as I have often wondered if you had forgotten all about us. Of course we understand how hard it must have been for you to write after losing your dear sister. Poor Dorothy! She must have suffered dreadfully and although it was hard indeed to lose her, you must be thankful to think she is at last with your dear mother & free from her pain.

You will be lonely dear & I too wish you were nearer to us, or that we were nearer to you so that we could visit one another & be the chums that we naturally would have been, had we stayed in England. Now that the ice is broken through, you must write to me often & promise I will answer promptly & we will soon seem to know one another better.

Do you ever write to Aunt Eliza at Holbeach? I think you would like to go & stay with them sometimes for holidays. We used to love going to Holbeach when were children, we don't hear from them very often now. I don't know whether any of the girls are married but John was married a year or two ago.

Well dear, I will try to tell you all about your relations here. We have four uncles.
Uncle Sam, the eldest (next to your mother in age) is married & has five children. The eldest girl is about 15 years old & there are two girls & two boys younger than her. We don't see much of them as they don't live near to us & I don't like Aunt Maggie & so don't care to go there.

Next is Uncle Will, he has three girls & two boys. They are dear little children, just like steps in ages, the eldest little girl is about 10 years old. They live out at Toronto Junction & so will not be far from the friends whose address you sent in your letter.

Uncle Ben is next & he is a widower, his wife died about two years after they were married since we have been here & left one little girl,now about six years old. Grandma has berought her up entirely & she is a dear little girlie. May is her name. Then there is Uncle Charlie, who is only half brother to my mother & yours. He is not married & so of course lives at home with Grandpa.

Then you know all about our family. Harry, Jack, Gladys & I. Harry, I am sorry to say has been practically an invalid for the last five years. He had a hemmorage of the brain as the result of a sunstroke, & never got over it altogether Jack is away from home just now & we miss him so much. He has got a position in Welland, Ont. He only went last Monday & so we don't know yet how he will get along.

Gladys of course is still at school & I am still in the same office as when I wrote you last.

Now I think I have told you about your cousins & Uncles - Aunts except mother - you have none, because I am quite sure you wouldn't like either of our Uncles' wives, none of us can get along with them.

I certainly think you had better persuade your Father to let you come over here for a trip - just to see us all. It is not very expensive nowadays & it certainly would do you good. I'll guarantee you would not worry about your lungs any more after you had had a few months of our really beautiful climate. It would entirely remove any trace of consumption if you have it. Of course you would be quite run down after nursing poor Dorothy for so long & it is no wonder you felt the effects of it. I guess you'll be strong enough though with proper care & so don't take any notice of those kind (?) friends who try to frighten you. I do hope you will try to persuade your Father to let you come & stay with us for a few months. I quite understand that he would not like the thought of your coming for good, but he might let you come for a holiday. It would be better than paying doctor's bills & would be more lasting good. You might be a strong woman all your life with such a change as this.

Mother says she thinks Grandpa would die happy if he could see you, but he has a very great desire to see you. He is pretty well just now but, as you know, he is getting old & of course his health is very uncertain. He is well one day & ill the next. I suppose Grandma has answered your letter, or will very soon. Write to them oftener dearie, they are so delighted to hear from you.

I am indeed sorry t hear what a very unpleasant person your step-mother is. She must have a horrible disposition to be so mean to you when you had so much trouble too.

Oh Gerty, if you were only here we could comfort you a little bit surely. It does seem hard to think you are so much alone when we would be so glad to have you here. Of course you have good friends but they are never quite like your own people & you must be very lonely sometimes.

I have a very dear friend in England. I have corresponded with her ever since we left Kirton. We write to each other nearly every week, so you can guess what chums we are. Maybe you will remember Dorothy Dickinson. She has two brothers who came out here a couple of years ago & they have taken a farm out in Saskatchewan. She is hoping to join them next year & keep house for them in their log shanty. You must save up your pennies & come out when she does & see this beautiful country of ours. I wouldn't live in England again for anything. I would very much like to go over for a holiday & hope to do so some day but I don't think I would want to stay very long.

There are lots of people who are building their homes & digging wells etc, as your friends tell you they are doing. Most of the English people I know who have come here are quite happy & wouldn't go back to live on any account.

When you write again, tell me if your are collecting Post Cards, if so, I will send you some so that you can see what this place is like.

Don't forget so send the photos as we are very anxious to see them & I will send you mine & also the others as soon as we get some. We are not very good at getting photos taken & so haven't any around the house which I can send just now.

Well Gerty, I think I must close now. Please write to me again soon, I shall be very disappointed if I have to wait so long again for a letter from you.

We all send our fondest love to you dearie in kind regards to your father

Your loving cousin

You will notice we have moved again since I wrote you last.

Bellamy Letter #4

175 Lansdowne Ave.
March 16th, 1905

My Dear Gertie,

I received you letter this morning with much pleasure at hearing from you again, but was grieved indeed to hear that dear Dorothy is suffering so much, poor darling it does seem hard, that one so young should suffer so, but I sincerely hope that her suffering will soon be over, if it is God's will that she should recover. I hope she will do so speedily, but if not you must try to be brave dear, & feel that her troubles are over, & that she is at rest with her dear mother in heaven.

I can quite understand how much of late years you have felt to miss your poor mother, for she would have been so proud of you, for I remember how nice she used to keep you, *I know she thought there were not such babies as hers in the world. She was too a thorough help meet to your father & he must feel the difference between her and & his present wife.

I am so sorry to hear that you have been getting on so badly with Mrs. Taylor, whatever can she be thinking of? However you did quite right in speaking to your Papa about it, & I think he did all he possibly could under the circumstance, to get you right away from her, because if you had remained under the same roof, she could have made you miserable, in a hundred ways, which he could not prevent.

You see dear she is not a mother, & therefore does not understand a mother's love, but one would have that she would have been so glad of the companionship of you girls, but if she drinks that will drown all natural good qualities, let us hope she will change for the better for your father's sake!

I do hope you will send your photos, in your next letter, & don't be long before you write. I am so anxious about you & want so much to see what you are like now.

Please give my fondest love to poor Dorothy, oh! how I wish I was nearer to try & help her, but I am sure dear she has got the fondest bravest & best sister, & it will be a comfort to you if it is God's will to take her, that you always did your best & was like a little mother to her.

Please remember us all kindly to your papa, & tell him how sorry we are.

All write with me in fondest love to you both, hoping for better news next time darling believe me.

Ever your loving Aunt
E Bellamy

Bellamy Letter #3

175 Lansdowne Ave.
Dec. 14th, 1904

My Dear Gertie,

It is such a long time since I heard from you, that I think our letters must have miscarried. You will see by the above address we have moved, our house was sold so we had to get another. There is such a terrible demand for houses that you cannot be sure of keeping one if it suits you ever so well without you purchase it. However we have taken this one on a lease for 2 yrs. so unless anything unforeseen happens we are alright for that time.

When last I heard from you Dorothy was very ill indeed, with not much hope of recovery but I hope that no news is good news and that she is better as I have not heard from you. If you have written I have not received your letter. Try & write soon dearie, I am anxious to hear from you, with better news I hope.

In haste. With love to all & best wishes for a Happy Xmas and a bright and prosperous from all.
Your loving Aunt E Bellamy

If you have any photos dear do send me one. I do so long to see what you are both like. I have just been reading the last letter I received & you say you had been having dear Dorothy's photo taken. I do hope you get this & write soon darling. Love to your Papa.

Bellamy Letter #2

123 Brock Ave.

My Dear Gertie & Dorothy,

As Mother told you I was going to write, you will not be so surprised as you would have otherwise been to get a letter from me. I wonder if you have forgotten me in all these years. I have been intending to write to you so often, but have never got started. However dear cousins you must not think we have ever forgotten you, because we often think of you and have wondered how your were both getting on.

I can't seem to realize that you have grown up. I always picture you as I saw you last, & of course you were quite little girls then. I do so wish you were here. We could give you such a good time. I have a nice lot of friends & have very nice times, with picnics & boating in the summer & skating & parties in the winter time.

I go down to business every day. I am a book keeper in a very large wholesale firm & am getting on famously. We live in the suburbs & I go by street car every morning & evening. My hours are from 8 to 6 with an hour for lunch.

We live close to Grandpa & see him nearly every day. He is, of course, getting old now, & I am sorry to say, has been far from well for some time now. I am sadly afraid we shall not have him for very long. He was so very pleased to get your letter & is anxiously looking for another & so dearie I hope you will write again before long without waiting for him to write himself, as his hand shakes so & you will understand it is hard for him to write. He loves to hear from you & longs so much to see you both, so if you will write often dear cousins, you will be sure to get letters from some of us, if not from Grandpa.

I am sorry that you are not very strong Gertie, perhaps the climate is too damp. I know it was for me & I have been much better since we came over here. It is a beautiful country & Toronto is called the"Queen City" & so you see we have got a nice place to live in. Of course we are not making a fortune here, but we are getting on very nicely and I think most fortunes are only made in story books.

Well I must close now, but I would like to repeat dear girls that we long to have you both here & if you should ever feel that you would like to come, you may be sure you would get more than a welcome.

With fond love from all, I am
Your loving cousin

PS Please write to me soon, both of you & tell me all about yourselves. I want you to understand that though you are so very far away, we love you both very much & are interested in your welfare more than you can believe.

Edie Bellamy

Bellamy Letter #1

123 Brock Avenue
March 4th, 1903

My Dear Gertie

I expect you will be very much surprised to receive a letter from me from Toronto but we are living here now and have been for the past five years.

Well to explain matters, I went into your Grandpa's the other day and they had just received your letter.

I cannot tell you how very, very pleased your Grandpa and Grandma were to hear from you, in fact we all are, more than I can tell you dear.

I am writing you now, and Grandma will write in a few days, she is sick just now with influenza, but sends here fondest love and I am to tell you that you may expect a letter from her as soon as she is better, which will I hope be very soon. Grandpa would write, but he is getting old now, and writing is a trouble to him, but he was delighted to hear from you and he does so long to see both you and Dorothy and wishes you were both here.

We are all getting on nicely here, and now we are getting used to the climate, like it very much. Edie and Jack are in very good positions here, and doing well. Harry is at home now, an invalid, he had a very serious illness a year and a half ago and he is not yet able to work. Gladys is getting a big girl and goes to school.

They all like Toronto very much, it is a lovely city and they have very good times, plenty of skating on the rinks, with the bands playing all the time, in the winter and boating, pic-nics, and Garden parties in the summer. I can tell you they manage to have a very good time, I only wish you were here to join them.

You do not say what business it is you have learnt, but I expect millinery, and what is Dorothy apprentice at, you must write and tell me dear. I wish you were here for I am sure you could do well both of you. We have some immense stores here, such as you can scarcely imagine without you saw them.

You say your papa is married again, Who is the lady? Is it Mrs. Oliver? I seem to think it is.

Your Grandpa got the paper with the bills enclosed, you papa seems to be getting a good business, please remember us kindly to him.

Edie says I am to tell you she will write to you. When she heard you had written she said "How I wish they were here Mother, couldn't we give them a lovely time."

I wish you would send us your photos, tell Dorothy to write too, and you shall have letters from all. Jack says "tell them to come, I will take them for a row in my canoe."

I wish you were not so far away, your uncles are all longing to see you, don't be long before you write again dear, Grandpa, Grandma, uncles, aunts, and cousins all join with me in fondest love to you both hoping soon to hear again from you. I remain

Your ever loving Aunt
E Bellamy

Bellamy Letters

The Bellamy Letters, a Picasa Web Album has been posted Ruairidh Greig, The twenty-eight images contain seven letters and forty actual pages. I will be attempting to transcribe the letters in separate blogs, but I will endeavor to explain the cast of characters:

Samuel Rason - (1832-1912) with Mary Creak Smith had seven children including Elizabeth Rason and Sarah Ann Rason. Samuel is referred to as Grandpa in the letters. After Mary Creak Smith died, Samuel married his former wife's sister, Sarah Ann Smith. Sarah Ann Smith is referred to as Grandma in the letters.

Gertrude Taylor and Dorothy Taylor were the daughters of Sarah Ann Rason and Jonathan Taylor. Gertrude was the recipient of all the letters and was known as Gertie.

Elizabeth Rason is the daughter of Samuel Rason and Mary Creak Smith. Her sister is Gertie's mother Sarah Ann Rason. Elizabeth married John Henry (Harry) Bellamy. Elizabeth is my great-grandmother and refers to herself as Aunt E Bellamy or Lizzie Bellamy in her letters to Gertie.

Edith Bellamy is the daughter of Elizabeth Rason and Harry Bellamy. She married Sidney Spall in 1907. She signed her letters as Edie Bellamy.

Forty pages could take me a while to transcribe because this is a busy time of year for me, but if you are eager to have a look, the letters are available at the link at the top of this page.


The Puzzle of Genealogy

Many many years ago a fellow genealogist said that family history is like a huge jigsaw puzzle without any edge pieces. I have always enjoyed puzzles and can't leave them alone until they are finished, yet miss the challenge once they are completed. In genealogy, we start with ourselves in the middle and work out from there.

My puzzle was started for me with the help of John Hopkins on the Butchart side and Vera Becklake on the Crockett side but I had very little to go on with the ancestors of my two grandfathers, William Davies and John Bellamy. I have gradually been able to add ancestors on all sides to the early 1800s but there are many missing pieces of aunts, uncles, and cousins missing near the middle and, of course, the edges will never be completed.

Last night my cousin on the Bellamy side, Hugh Nichols, forwarded an email from Ruairidh Greig in England. His uncle, David Miller, has some letters that were sent from Canada from the Bellamy family and Ruairidh has put the letters (28 pages) on Picasa. The album is called Bellamy Letters and can be found at

I have printed, cut, and arranged the pages into seven letters dated from March 4, 1903 until September 26, 1910 and I will deal with letters in detail in separate blogs to follow. The letters were addressed to Gertrude (Gertie) Taylor in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. Gertie and her sister, Dorothy, were nieces of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Rason.

From these letters I have been able to add some missing pieces to my family tree, and more importantly to me, I now have some idea of the people behind the letters.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aaron Moyer

Aaron Moyer, the fourth child of Abraham Moyer and Barbara Shantz, was born on May 8, 1837 on a farm near Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario. At age seventeen, he left the farm and served two years an an apprentice in a store in Berlin.

From 1856 to 1862 Aaron taught school, including a few months in 1857 in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and in 1859 to 1860 he taught school in Quakertown, PA.

In 1863 he started a general store in New Dundee, Waterloo County, Ontario where he married a Mennonite, Veronica Bowman, on January 31, 1865. In 1870 Aaron sold the store in New Dundee and bought a 236 acre farm in Carrick Township, Bruce County.

n 1878 Aaron sold the farm and started a business in Walkerton where he stayed until 1884 when he moved to Mildmay. In 1896 he returned to Walkerton for a time but was back in Mildmay at the time of the 1901 census. Both Walkerton and Mildmay are in Carrick Township, Bruce County.

Aaron served four years in the Carrick Township Council as Councilor, Deputy Reeve and he served as Reeve in 1893.

In 1901 the family lived at Con. C Lot 26 in Mildmay. The property consisted of three lots containing at total of 46 acres, an eight-room house, a store, and seven outbuildings.

In 1905, when Aaron was sixty-eight years old, he and Veronica left Ontario to homestead in Saskatchewan. There was a large contingent of Ontario Mennonites to settle near Cressman or Guernsey, Saskatchewan in 1905 and 1906. Although Veronica had been raised as a Mennonite, the Moyer family were Methodist. Aaron died in Saskatchewan on May 21, 1907 and the following obituary from The Gospel Witness, a Mennonite paper, June 19, 1907 reflects their opinion of other faiths:

MOYER.-Aaron Moyer of near Cressman, Sask., died on May 21, 1907; aged 70 y. 13 d. Two years ago he moved out west with the Waterloo colony, from Ontario. Most of his lifetime was spent as a general merchant in New Dundee and Mildmay.

Sad to say, his life was not spent in the service of the Lord. During his sickness he accepted the claims of Christ. Funeral services were held by Pre. Poole at the house and at the church by E. S. Hallman and Pre. Gehrbrandt. Texts, Psalm 39:4 and I Samuel 20:3.

The Carr Family

This is a picture of my grandmother, Vinetta Tremaine Butchart Bellamy (left) and her aunt, Laura Moyer Carr (right).

So often, I connect with family by finding an obituary or memoir when it is too late to know the person who has died. Such was the case yesterday when I found a wonderful website while searching for Mary V Carr of Medicine Hat, Alberta. Mary was 98 when she died in October 2006.

I have many letters written by Mary to my parents from 1982 until a Christmas letter in 1999 which ends with the following sentence: "I hope that the millennium will bring you joy and prosperity in the year 2000."

Mary and her brother, John, were my grandmother's cousins. Their mother and Granny's mother were both the daughters of Aaron Moyer and Veronica Bowman. My grandmother, Vinetta Tremaine Butchart, was the daughter of Maria Moyer and Edward Neil Butchart; Mary and John Carr were the children of Laura Moyer and Frederick Carr. Maria and Laura were part of a large family of twelve children.

Many thanks to the Carr family for creating a memorial website for Mary Veronica Carr and John Lawrence Carr, especially the webmaster, Doug Carr. I have spent hours reading the memoirs and tributes for these interesting people.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter Sports in the Great White North

You can't get a much colder example of a Canadian winter than Edmonton, Alberta.

The picture is of my parents, Bert Davies and Ruth Bellamy, skating on the North Saskatchewan River about 1937. My Dad was wearing speed skates and my Mom was wearing men's tube skates. People in Edmonton were not restricted to skating on the river but when conditions were right it was fun to be able to skate in one direction for a long stretch, especially with the long-bladed speed skates. There were several open-air ice rinks in the city parks with a heated building to change into skates and my father's grandfather and uncles managed many of these rinks. When the first artificial ice plant was installed at the Edmonton arena, my great-grandfather, Amos Crockett, was manager of the arena and had the rights to the concession. My Dad worked there sharpening skates.

My parents also went skiing down the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton is situated in the prairies and the only sizable hills were on the riverbank. For every trip down the hill there was the long trek back up carrying the skis because there were no lifts or rope tows.

Although not a sport, another winter activity was the horse-drawn sleigh ride. My parents met on a sleigh ride put on by a young-peoples group of Norwood United Church in 1935. Mom was only sixteen and Dad was twenty-one. Times were simpler then but it sounded like they had a lot of fun in spite of the cold Edmonton winters.