Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fearless Females: Female ancestor who died young

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family.

Mary Creak Smith, my great-great-grandmother, was born in Sutterton, Lincolnshire, England about 1830.  She was twenty-five when she married Samuel Rason in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1855.  Samuel was a mariner with the merchant marine when he married and when my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Rason was born in 1856.

The family grew to six children by the end of 1871 but by this time Samuel was master of his own fishing boat called the Magic.  Circumstances changed for the Rason family and they moved from Boston, north to Grimsby.  Mary was forty-four years old when she gave birth to her seventh child, Robert in 1874.  This child died as an infant.  She once again fell pregnant and an unnamed male child was born and died just before his mother.

Although Mary's death registration states she was forty-two years old when she died, she was actually forty-six, too old to bear a child, but much too young to die.  She died at home on Freeman Street in Grimsby on March 17, 1876 and she was listed as the wife of Samuel Rason, greengrocer.  The cause of death was "puerperal Peritonitis", also known as childbed fever.  Samuel was not the informant for the death registration, it was a neighbour, Hannah Lee.

So there was Samuel, no longer a master of his own boat, just a greengrocer or fruiterer left with five living children.  What did he do?  He took up with Mary's younger sister, Sarah Ann Smith.  Sam and Sarah Ann's first child was born in Grimsby on August 4, 1897, less than seventeen months after Mary's death.  I have no record of a marriage, perhaps because marriage to a wife's sister was forbidden by law in England at that time.  The family moved to Canada before the turn of the century and I haven't found a marriage after the emigration either.  Sarah Ann was known as Grandma Rason to all the descendants of Samuel.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fearless Females: Religion

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

Lucy (Crockett) Davies
in Salvation Army Uniform
Although both the Crockett and Davies had a background with the Salvation Army, my grandparents belonged to the United Church of Canada.  They attended St. Aiden's United Church from the time they arrived in Victoria until they died and my Dad's sister and family still go to that church.

My maternal grandparents also belonged to the United Church and attended Norwood United Church in Edmonton until 1926 when they buried their son, Jimmy.  After the death of his little boy, Grandpa Bellamy went off religion and would not enter a church.  For this reason he did not attend my parents' wedding.  Granny attended church regularly when she was with the Hopkins family in Oliver in her later years.

Regardless of the fact that Mom and Dad met at a church outing and a few years later married at Norwood United, in Edmonton, God had no presence in our home. Sundays were reserved for family activities and usually started with waffles or pancakes cooked by Dad while Mom enjoyed the chance to sleep in.

This routine was interrupted for about one year when I was six years old. I do not remember who was the donor, but in a bundle of used children’s duds was a perfectly good suit which fit my brother, Gordon.

Now that Gord had a suit, it was decided that he should go to church and that I should go along too. The closest United Church to our home was about three miles away but our neighbours regularly attended St. Michael of all Angels, an Anglican church on West Saanich Road.  We attended church with the Macdonald family for a year or so until Gordon outgrew the suit and we were glad to return to our regular Sunday mornings with the family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fearless Females: A family document

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

I have chosen a page from the manifest for the ship SS Lake Manitoba on its sailing from Liverpool to Quebec from 31 August to 12 September, 1911.  My grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett, her sister, Alice, and her sister-in-law, Jessie are listed on this ship's list.
The following picture is of the Crockett family in England before they left for North America.  My grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett is shown seated on the right.
Back: James, Richard (Bert), Jessie (wife of Bert), Thomas, Alice, George
Front: Ada, Amos (holding grandson George) Alice, Lucy
This picture was taken about 1910, and by October 1911, all eleven people in the picture had immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta but they departed on eight separate sailings!  I have underlined the family members who were in the picture in the following list of ships.

The father of the family, Amos, was the first to leave, sailing aboard the "Merion" from Liverpool to Philadelphia in February 1911.  He was accompanied by his brother, George Crockett, who returned to England two months later.  It appears that Amos made his way to Alberta and set up a sawmill on the shores of Lake George near Busby, Alberta.

Bert, the oldest son, was the next of the Crockett family to leave, sailing from Liverpool to Quebec aboard the Laurentic, arriving July 15, 1911.  He was sponsored by the Salvation Army and took the CPR train directly to Edmonton.

The manifest shown at the top of this page shows the next group to cross the Atlantic: Bert's wife, Jessie, and her two sisters-in-law, Alice and Lucy. They listed their destination as Edmonton and Jessie was joining her husband.

Bert and Jessie's little boy, George Albert, came with his grandmother, Alice, and his aunt, Ada in October 1911 aboard the Royal George which sailed from Avonmouth.  All previous sailings were from Liverpool, in the northern part of England but Alice, Ada, and young George traveled south to catch their ship in Avonmouth.  They were listed with a Salvation Army party and Alice was listed as a wife - lumberyard 9 months.  Does that mean Amos arrived 9 months previous?

At the end of 1911 there were still three Crockett brothers in England as well as Alice's sister and family, Rebecca and Bagot Arnold.  The Arnold and Crockett families had been close since they lived in Wales, and Ada Arnold married her first cousin, George Bunnagar Crockett a few years after the emigrated.

Bagot Arnold and his son, Harry sailed aboard the Canada in February 1912; Bagot claimed to be joining his brother A. Crockett.

George Crockett, brother to Amos, left from Bristol with his family and his nephew, Thomas Crockett, aboard the Royal Edward in April 1912.

James Crockett and his new wife, Emily, boarded the Empress of Ireland in Liverpool on September 20, 1912, just one day after they were married in Staffordshire.

In October 1912  the rest of the Arnold family left Liverpool aboard the Lake Manitoba.  George Bunnagar Crockett accompanied the Arnold family, his future in-laws, on this voyage.

At last the family was reunited in Edmonton where many descendants still reside.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fearless Females: Diary or Journal

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.
Unfortunately, my female ancestors did not write much about themselves, although my Granny Bellamy did write many letters.  I have some letters written to her, but none in my Grandmother, Vinetta's hand.  I hope that some of Granny's letters surface some day and that I can get a chance to read them.  I do have a diary that she received as a Christmas present from her Grandson, Norman Hopkins.
Granny filled the diary for all of 1968, mostly with entries about receiving and writing letters, hair appointments, daily chores, and going to church.  She was living with the Hopkins family in Oliver at the time and in spite of being seventy-eight years old, did many of the household chores because my Aunt Vivian was not well.
I am very thankful that my cousin, Norm Hopkins, had the insight to give Granny a diary, the only thing I could ever think of giving her was writing paper.

Fearless Females: Recipes

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.
You can tell that this recipe has been pulled from my mother's recipe index many times. I remember asking Mom who Beth was and she thought it was some relative. I do not think she ever met her mother's cousin, Beth.

Elizabeth (Beth) Carr
I recently met Beth's daughter, Andrea, and her sister, Karen, over the internet and we got into a conversation about a bun recipe that has been passed around the family.  While going though the recipe file looking for Granny's bun recipe, I came across the card pictured above and the connection with the name Beth hit me.  Sure enough, Karen has the same recipe with the exception of the spices added at the bottom.

Beth's Ginger Snaps are my absolutely favourite cookies and my recipe is just as messy looking as Mom's.  Running a close second to Beth's Ginger Snaps is an oatmeal-coconut cookie called Mother's Cookies.  Who's mother?  My maternal grandmother was always referred to as Mother, not Mom, or Mum, perhaps that is where it started, or could it be Granny's mother, Maria Moyer Butchart?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fearless Females: An heirloom

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

Jimmy Bellamy portrait
I cherish this little portrait that I found in my parents' trunk while clearing out their house after my Dad died.  It was with some of my maternal grandmothers possessions including her address books and a diary.

Reflections from the curved glass make it difficult to take a photograph of the portrait, so today I unframed the picture for the first time.  I always thought it was a photograph that had been touched up, but I was surprised to find it is an original piece of artwork done in pastels.

Vivian, Jimmy, Margaret, Bill, Ruth
I believe it is a portrait of my uncle, James Roy Bellamy, who died as a result of a tragic accident when he was only five years old.  Mom was only seven when she lost her little brother but she spoke often of him long after she had lost her memory of more recent events.  Jimmy was the youngest of the Bellamy children and he is pictured at the lower left in the group photo.  My Mom, Ruth Bellamy is beside him.

Jimmy was struck by a streetcar outside the Bellamy home and it had a devastating effect on the family.   My grandfather tried to drown his grief with drink and my grandmother only displayed her feelings when she was playing the piano.  Mom remembers the music becoming louder and louder when Grandpa was late coming home.  I can't remember Granny displaying emotion much at all and I shared a room with her for many years when I was a child.

Portrait unframed
Although the picture is of a little boy who was taken from this world long before his time, it is also about my grandmother, a fearless female, who had to grit her teeth and carry on raising her other four children in spite of her tremendous loss.

How My Parents Met

Ruth Bellamy and Bert Davies, summer 1936

My parents were both born in Edmonton, Alberta and that is where they met and were to spend the first few years of their marriage.

My Mom was about sixteen when she met my Dad, who was five years older.  The small wedding took place at the Norwood United Church Manse, Edmonton, Alberta on December 31, 1938.  They were happily married for over sixty-five years and as my husband, Len would say "that's not counting courting time".  The following is from my Dad's memoirs:

"About 1935 my cousin, Norman bought a Model "T" coupe. We often would pick up girls if one of us knew them and it was on one of these times I met the girl that I was to spend most of the rest of my life with. The next time I saw her was at a Norwood Church young peoples sleigh ride. The sleigh skidded and threw everyone to one side which split and one of the pieces caught my pants just below the pocket and ripped them to the knee. As it happened near a friend's house, we went there and I borrowed a pair of pants and joined the party at the church, so I took the young lady home in a borrowed pair of pants."
Mom and Dad - sixty years later - January 1999

Fearless Females: How My Grandparents Met

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

I have my Dad's words on how he met my Mom and that will be in a separate post.

I have no idea how the shy stenographer, Vinetta Butchart, met my grandfather, John Bellamy.  My grandfather died when I was very young and Granny never spoke about herself.  I am presuming that they probably met about 1910 when Granny was working for a law firm, Boyle & Parlee on Jasper Avenue.  John S Bellamy worked and lived on Jasper Avenue, just two blocks to the east.  Jasper Avenue was the main street in Edmonton then and still is, but could this busy thoroughfare be the connection for this unlikely couple?

My paternal grandparents also met in Edmonton, but I have Grandpa's words from an interview done on New Years Day, 1980. 

Grandpa with his great-children about the time he related his memories
"At that time we came to Toronto and stayed from 1905 to 1911 and then I read all these placards that said "go west young man, go west" and I took that advice and I came west and arrived in Edmonton on Sunday, the 4th of April, 1911. 
So of course at that time a young man is looking for a gal. So my wife came over from England and she landed in Edmonton on Sunday morning at 6:00 and I met her at 10:00 and that was it. I didn't get married right away but I picked my gal right away. I didn't give anyone else a chance to get her."

My grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett arrived in Edmonton about September 1911 in the company of her sister, Lal. and her sister-in-law, Jessie.   She was only fifteen years old when she met Grandpa and he was almost twenty.  They married in November 1913.

We are so lucky to have Grandpa's personal memories on a tape.  His memory was still good even though he was eighty-eight when the tape was recorded.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearless Females: Grandparents' marriages

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

Both sets of my grandparents were married in Edmonton, Alberta.  I had a few hours to spend at the Alberta Archives the last time I was in Edmonton in 1998 and I found it very difficult to search their records at that time.  I have no pictures of the weddings. The marriages were written up in a large register and I could not take copies.  I did find the following for my paternal grandparents:

Register of Marriages, Edmonton 87.385 510 Wm. D. Davies Lucey M. Crockete 10-11-13 691 - 23rd St. (Manse) Clergy -P. G. Stewart.

The picture is of my grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett, with my Dad, William Herbert Davies. My father was born April 11, 1914.  My grandfather was at war in Europe when this photograph was taken.  The first picture of my grandparents together is a family portrait taken about 1921.

William, Evelyn, Herbert (Bert) Lucy Davies

I do have a marriage Certificate for my maternal grandparents, transcribed below:

This is to Certify that on the 29th day of June in the year of our Lord 1912
John Bellamy and Vinetta Tremaine Butchart
were by me united in Marriage at the city of Edmonton according to the laws of Alberta.
Witnesses: W. D. Gardner, M. Moore
J. E. Hughson

 The clipping on the left is from the Edmonton Daily Bulletin dated July 3, 1912.  Granny's parents, Edward Neil Butchart and Maria Moyer, moved with their family from Bruce County, Ontario to Edmonton just about the same time Alberta became a province of the Dominion of Canada in 1905.

Edward Butchart, his brother, Peter E Butchart, and his cousin, Peter T Butchart were principals in The Great West Land Company which held many properties for development in the growing city.

The article states that the couple would be making their home in Vancouver, but to my knowledge they never lived there.  Their oldest child was born in Calgary on February 4, 1913.

Both of my grandparents' weddings were quiet affairs rather hastily planned, probably in view of the fact that the morals of the day required marriage before the birth of the first child.  My Dad came along five months after his parents were married and Uncle Bill was born seven months after the Bellamy wedding.  Both marriages lasted until the death of a spouse.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearless Females: My first name

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

Although I go by Joan, my first name is Barbara.  The only ancestor with the name of Barbara in my tree so far is Barbara Shantz, born Waterloo County, Ontario, about 1812.  She and her husband, Abraham Moyer, were my third great-grandparents.  Barbara was also my second cousin five times removed on the Bechtel side because these families were all part of the Mennonite community who emigrated from Pennsylvania to Waterloo County in the early 1800s.  Being a small settlement of large families, most marriages were from a small gene pool.

The Shantz family were on my mother's side and Mom would have had no knowledge of her ancestry that far back when I was born.  I do not know why they named me Barbara or why I was always called Joan.  To my knowledge I have no ancestors named Joan.

Vinetta, my maternal grandmother, came from the Moyer line and I think it is a beautiful and unique name.  My grandmother is one of five women named Vinetta on my Mom's side of the family, three of them are from Mennonite families.

Granny's full name was Vinetta Tremaine Butchart and she hated the name so much that she named my mother just Ruth.

Fearless Females: Hannah Duckworth

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Hannah Duckworth was the mother of Esther Letitia Brown, which would make her my Great-great-grandmother.  She was married to John Brown, an army veteran who was blinded in the Crimean War.  Hannah had four children before she died on 26 July, 1871 at the age of forty.

I chose this picture because it is oldest photograph in my possession, probably taken about 1870.  The family lived in Weston, near Runcorn, Cheshire, England and Warrington was across the Mersey River from Runcorn. 

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

She was known as Nana to the family, my great-grandmother was born in Manchester, England.  I have her registration of birth where she is named Sarah Esther Letitia Brown, daughter of John Brown and Hannah Brown formerly Duckworth.  The name Sarah only appeared on her birth and death certificates, she was always known as Esther Letitia on all other documents including her marriage to John Davies at age seventeen on 16 February 1879.  John was an illiterate widower who had fathered fourteen children with his first wife. John was forty-three when he married Esther and three living children were older than his new bride.

Why did Nana marry a man old enough to be her father?

Why am I drawn to Nana as my favourite ancestor?  Esther Letitia Brown is the only great-grandparent who was still alive when I was born and I do have some memories of her.  I was only seven years old when she passed away on 5 November 1952.  I remember being told to be quiet when we visited my grandparents' house on Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria because we couldn't disturb Nana, who lived with Granny and Grandpa.

Another reason I chose Nana as my favourite ancestor is because she was brave enough to move on and venture forth from England to Toronto to Edmonton and finally to Victoria.

I have many facts and stories about Esther but there are many questions still to be answered, including her trip back to England from November 1910 to June 1911 with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  Why? During that time the rest of the family moved from Toronto to Edmonton.  At some time Nana had a double mastectomy, was this done while she was back in England and was she an early cancer survivor?  She has been referred to as a nurse and a midwife, did she have any training or was it just life experiences that prepared her for those roles?

I hope to answer some of the un-answered questions about my great-grandmother before too long and finish writing her story.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March is Women's History Month

Lisa Alzo has suggested daily blogs to celebrate Women's History Month.  I hope to participate in as many of the thirty-one suggestions as I have time for.  Back in the 1800s and before, the women in the family are hard to track because they lost their identity once they married.  So often I have found listings for Mrs. "first and surname of husband"  I am looking forward to this project.