A Sad Sad Story and the Re-writing of a Reputation

My Grandma Brice always seemed to have a sadness about her. I heard stories, from my Mom, about how Grandma’s mother left the family when she was young and that her father, who had a drinking problem, put all the children in foster care. My Grandma, who was the second youngest surviving daughter, was the only sibling to never find a foster family to care for her.

I have to question myself as to why I haven’t looked into my Grandma’s sad story. There is such an emphasis in genealogy to look into your “Blood Line”; search for the ancestors whom you are descended from. Where does that leave the adopted… those whose “Blood Line” has been severed? I guess I haven’t looked into the Brice’s because, genetically, I’m not connected. My blood is not their blood. My Mom was adopted.

But it’s nature vs nurture. My Mom was raised by Jack and Hannah Brice from infanthood to adulthood. They were not her birth parents, but behaviours and expectations and moral also get passed on from generation to generation. My Mom is as much of a product of the Brice’s as she would be from any “blood relation”. I guess that makes me a by-product.

So I decided to delve into my Grandma Brice’s family history. Why did her mother “abandon” the family? Who was she and where did she come from?

First step: check the 1911 Canadian Census.

Hannah Brice was born in 1910 and it was nice to see her little one year old self accounted for on the top of the Census page.

In that census the family is living in Bridgeburg ON (now Fort Erie). They are:

  • Samuel Bews, born November 1878 in England, age 32
  • Johanna Bews, born July 1886 in USA, age 25
  • George A. Bews, born May 1906 in USA, age 5
  • Elizabeth G. Bews, born August 1908 in Canada, age 3
  • Hannah L. Bews, born May 1910 in Canada, age 1

So, according to the birth dates of the children, sometime between 1906 and 1908 the Bews moved to Canada.

Second step: look up my Grandmother’s Birth Registry.

The Registry lists her full name as Hannah Loretta Bews, born on May 26, 1910. Her parents are Samuel Bews and Johanna Coleman and they were married on October 30th, 1907 in Buffalo NY.  Dr. Douglas attended the birth and on the date that Samuel registers the birth (June 6, 1910) he puts their address as Crook St. Bridgeburg ON.

So, now we know that they came to Canada sometime after Oct.30th, 1907 and before August 1908 when their oldest daughter was born. But even more important than that we now have the name of Grandma’s mother: Johanna Coleman. The Census tells us that she was born in USA. My own Mom has told me that she remembers visiting her Aunt Emma & Uncle George Coleman in Harrisburg Pennsylvania when she was a child. Another interesting thing comes to my attention. Samuel & Johanna’s oldest son George is born a year and a half before they are married! Assuming George was born full term that means that Samuel and Johanna were together as late as Summer 1905.

Third step: check out the 1900 US Census. From the 1911 Census I know that Johanna was born in July 1886. She would be 14 in 1900.

I find Johanna living with her aunt and uncle, John & Ellen Coleman, in Buffalo, NY. They have 2 children (Celia & John), 3 American boarders, 3 Irish boarders, 1 Polish boarder, a Mother-in-Law, and 2 nieces living with them (one niece is Johanna, the other is Elizabeth). It is unlikely that Johanna & Elizabeth are sisters because Johanna’s birth date is listed as July 1886 and Elizabeth’s is listed as June 1886. Celia, their cousin, is also 14. I can imagine the three of them as close friends and confidants! I hope there was some joy, during this time, for Johanna. I wonder why, at such a young age, that Johanna is not living with her parents. Are they still in Pennsylvania? Was the Uncle George Coleman that my Mom visited when she was a child really Johanna’s brother? Sadly, the 1890 US Census has been lost in a fire and that would have held many clues for Johanna’s early years.

Fourth step: Check death registry for any Bews that died in Bridgeburg Ontario. There I find little Mary Bews, born to Samuel and Johanna on January 21st, 1921. That is my birthday! (52 years earlier). Mary lived for 4 hours and died of dropsy. She was buried the next day on January 22nd. On the registry her mother’s, Johanna’s, birthplace is confirmed as Pennsylvania. My Grandma would have been 10 years old when her little sister came into life and died on the same day. What a sad day that would have been.

My Mom inherited many of my grandparents old papers after they passed away. One of the items found was the foster papers relating to my Grandma and her siblings. In it they say that the mother (Johanna) LEFT in 1921 and the children went into foster care because the father could not look after their needs. There are also 2 other children listed: Kathleen (born in 1913) and Carl Bews (born between 1913-1921).

My Mom told me that Grandma mentioned her own Grandma Bews occasionally. She was a very matriarchal woman who was an integral part of the family, the solid rock, perhaps. My Grandma remembered her as always being angry with her father. Mrs. Bews was disappointed in her son, in his drinking and his lack of responsibility toward his family. She was witnessing her sons family falling apart and there was nothing she could do about it… apart from a stern tongue lashing, perhaps!

Apparently my Grandma and her siblings often stayed with Grandma Bews after school.  She lived on the same street. In the 1911 Census this “Grandma Bews” is also living on Crook St., Bridgeburg ON. Her name was  Grace and she lived with her two sons, 36 year old Thomas (a sea man fro the M.C.R. (Michigan Central Railway)) and 34 year old John (a baker in Bridgeburg). Were these the only siblings of my Grandmother’s father?

Fifth step: Check earlier Census’ in Canada and England for Grace Bews. I was able to find her as a middle age Mom in the 1891 Census of Canada, along with her family:

  • William Bews, 40 (Carpenter)
  • Grace Bews, 46
  • Thomas, 16
  • Hannah, 15
  • John, 14
  • Samuel, 12
  • Charles, 9

I search for Charles Bews (the third “Uncle Bews” for my Grandma) in the 1911 Canadian Census. I am able to find him living within walking distance on Jarvis St., with his young family. He, like his older brother Thomas, worked as a sea man for the M.C.R.

The 1891 Census tells us that all of Grace & Williams children were all born in England. And so I look in 1881 Census of England and find them, 10 years younger, living in Devonshire, England:

  • William, 30
  • Grace, 36
  • Thomas, 6
  • Anna, 5
  • John, 4
  • Samuel, 2
  • Sarah, 10 months

There are more questions to search here. Where is Hannah/Anna in 1910 (likely married)? Did baby Sarah die before the family came to Canada? (She does not appear in the 1891 Census). That’s the great thing about genealogy. One answer only opens up more questions. It’s a continual quest.There is no end to genealogy.

But let’s focus back on the original question: Why did my Grandmother’s mother, Johanna, “abandon” the family in 1921?

Did the grief of losing baby Mary, in January 1921, cause her flee her family?

Sixth step: Johanna’s death registration.

There are two kinds of  exhilarating discoveries for a genealogist: those split second moments when you realize you’ve found what you’re looking for, and those shocking moments when you find something you weren’t even looking for but it changes the whole outlook of your family tree. Johanna’s death registration fell into the second category for me. I was looking for her death registration and I found it… but what I found in it made my heart sink. Here is what I read:

  • Johanna Bews died on February 6, 1922
  • she died in the Ontario Hospital, Barton, Wentworth County (Hamilton)
  • before arriving at the hospital she lived in the Welland House of Refuge
  • she was attended by a physician (Dr. H.A.McKay) between Jan.20-Feb.6, 1922 (indicating the length of her hospital stay)
  • Johanna died of “Exhaustion of General Paresis”

As my eyes raced over the document, I thought: Oh, she was young. She died where? she arrived from WHERE?! She died of…. what is that?!

And here’s what “that” is:

General paresis is mental instability caused by brain damage from untreated syphilis. (Yes, syphilis. This is where my heart sunk). It is also known as General Paresis of the Insane. It occurs 15-20 years after the initial infection. Symptoms include loss of speech function, loss of arm and leg musles, short and long term memory loss, dementia, hallucinations, and all manner of mental instability.

15-20 years before her death would have been sometime between 1902-1907. We know that Samuel and Johanna were together as late as the Summer of 1905. Did Samuel give her syphilis? Quite possibly. Did she know she had syphilis? Probably not. What we do know, though, is she had syphilis during her later pregnancies (and possibly all her pregnancies). And syphilis passed through the womb results in only a 50% chance of infant survival. We know of 6 children born: George (1906), Elizabeth G. (1908), Hannah Loretta (1910), Kathleen (1913), Carl (?) and Mary who lived and died on the same day (1921). [As an aside, Elizabeth G. always went by the name Grace. I knew her personally as Great Aunt Grace. She is the  namesake of my oldest daughter. Until only a few weeks ago I was unaware that Great Aunt Grace was named after her Grandmother, Grace Bews].

Samuel worked at the Rail Road and when he was home he drank heavily. He was unfit to care for his  wife as she slipped further and further into her mental breakdown and he was certainly unfit to care for his children who needed him more and more as they lost their mother to her disease.

The solution that Samuel came up with was selfish but not surprising. He drove Johanna to the Welland House of Refuge and left her there. He returned to his children and told them their mother had left them. Then he put them into foster care and left them as well.

Samuel’s mother, at this point, was too old and ill to fight him on his irresponsibility. According to her death record Grace Bews died at home on Crook St., on March 22, 1922, just one month after Johanna died.

I struggled with whether or not I should post this story. There is a shame attached to having syphilis. But what I find more shameful is that for 90 years Johanna’s reputation was dragged in the mud for something she did not do. What kind of mother abandons her family and leaves them with their drunken father? Not Johanna. She was a victim of her disease. Johanna’s body was ravaged by a poison that she could not control.  Samuel was motivated by shame and alcohol to remove his problems.  He removed his wife, told his children that she had left them, and then he removed his children as well.

My hope is that Johanna Coleman Bews be validated as a Mother who never abandoned her children, a Wife who struggled to be supportive of her alcoholic husband, and a Women who lived with a disease she may have never know she had.

In case you’re curious, Samuel Bews, died on June 21, 1936 from an acute heart attack. He died in the Welland Hospital and on the death registry his brother Thomas acted as the Informant. There is no indication that Samuel ever had contact with his children again after they went into foster care. Samuel Bews  breathed his last, alone, at age 59.

Published in: on 16 April 2011 at 11:10 pm  Comments (4)  

Father Unknown and the Birthday of Known Father

On the early hours of my husbands 40th  birthday I will do what I have never done, so far, on this blog… share a story of a non-blood relative. But I have married into this family and these are the ancestors of my children.  So I come to share part of that history.  I have spent the past week delving into my Mother-in-laws family. Her father was Robert Samuel Drake and he was married to Doreen Magdalene Wellhauser.

Grandma Drake (Doreen) is the only Great Grandparent my children have left on this earth. They met three of their Great Grandmothers but since my youngest child was born, in 2005, two have since passed away: Ewilda (Beyea) Fisher & Anne (Hamilton) Langille.

So I would like to tell the story of Doreen’s side of the family: The Wellhausers.

There still is a lot of research to be done, but here is what I was able to find in one week…

Sometime around 1813 Mathew Wellhauser was born in Germany. Eventually he married a woman named Cresentia Teufel and together they headed to Canada (I have yet to sort out when).  By the 1871 Census Mathew is widowed and living with his children in Pilkington, Wellington County, Ontario.

In the 1881 Census Mathew is still listed as widowed and living with his children. His oldest child is Philipine, age 26, and his youngest is 7 year old Joseph. That set off alarm bells in my head… and here is thought pattern that developed:

If Mathew has been widowed since 1871 how could Joseph be his child, born in 1874?

Perhaps Mathew was married and widowed twice! Did he remarry after 1871 and his second wife died after 1874 and before the census was taken in spring 1881?

So I checked the Ontario marriage registry and couldn’t find any marriage for Mathew during that time.

So the next step was to look for Josephs birth registry and there was the answer.

Joseph Phillip Wellhauser


born on 27 March 1874

Mother: Phillipine Wellhauser

Father: no father listed (blank)

Informant: Mathew Wellhauser, teacher.

So sometime in the summer of 1873 Phillipine, who was 17 or 18 (she was born in 1855), had a relationship of some sort. It could have been a torrid love affair, or an abusive situation; it could have been a married man, or a fellow of the wrong religious denomination (Phillipine was Roman Catholic)… it could have been any number of possible situations.

Since the Informant for the register was Phillipine’s father, he might have known who the father was, but didn’t want it known publicly. Or perhaps Phillipine would not tell him and he honestly couldn’t answer the question of paternity. It is a question that will likely have no answer… and there’s a good chance Phillipine took the secret to her grave.

In the 1911 Census Philipena Wellhauser is 55, exactly the age our Phillipine should be in 1911.  Her birth month is listed as September and her marriage status is Widowed. In the Census she is living in the house of William Walsh as his Mother-in-Law. William’s wife, Cecilia, would be Philena’s daughter. Also living in the home was William’s brother-in-law, John Wellhauser (indicating Philipena’s son). If this is our Phillipine Wellhauser, now widowed,  why does her son John have last name Wellhauser?! There is certainly more digging to be done here!

But, like I said, it has only been one week. I will keep digging and I will find more answer. This woman intrigues me. I am certain there is a lot more to her story than what I’ve written here.

What we do know, however, is this: Grandma Drake’s maiden name would not have been Wellhauser if the father of Phillipine’s child had taken responsibility for his son. Little Joseph took on his mothers last name, grew up, became a carpenter, and eventually married Magdalena Howse.

One of their children was Arthur Wellhauser who, on 30 December 1919, married Madeline Beckler in the Church of Our Lady, Guelph ON. They are the parents of Doreen Magdalene Wellhauser who still lives in Guelph today and who carries a middle name that honours her mother (Madeline Beckler) and grandmother (Magdalena Howse). She has 9 children, 15 grandchildren, and at least 10 great grandchildren.

Half of those great grandchildren are the grandchildren of my In-laws, Robert & Patricia Langille, and two of those are my own daughters, Grace Anwen Fisher Langille & Bridget Eilidh Fisher Langille. Their Daddy is Kevin Langille.

Happy 40th Birthday Kevin Langille. You are a wonderful and responsible                    husband  and father and WE LOVE YOU!

Too bad Kevin’s Great Great Great Grandmother, Phillipine Wellhauser, couldn’t say the same about the father of her child.

Published in: on 26 February 2011 at 1:39 am  Comments (5)  

Richard Smith of Kings County New Brunswick

So much of my personal history is wrapped up in Kings County, New Brunswick. As a child I visited the family farm on Golden Grove Road every summer, with my parents… and the occasional Christmas too. I love that farm, which is now owned by my Aunt Beatrice and my cousin Mandy.  I have warm memories of playing cards and watching Matlock with Gramma and hiking to Blueberry Hill with a bucket in hand (for berries) and an eye out for wildlife, from porcupines to skunks, deer and moose to coyotes.  Grampa & Gramma purchased that farm in 1951 and it was just a short distance away to where Gramma spent her childhood at home (Lakeside NB) and Church (Smithtown NB).

Smithtown is the resting place of a great many of my New Brunswick ancestors. Four of my United Empire Loyalist ancestral families settled in the Smithtown/French Village area: James Isaiah & Joanna (Davis) Smith, Richard & Jemima (Budd) Bull,  James & Martha Curry (Sherwood) Beyea, and Andrew Sherwood (whose wife, Martha Curry, died in NY in 1778).

Yes the Smith’s of Smithtown had something to do with the naming of the town, as you might have guessed. The name of Smithtown was not named directly after J. Isaiah Smith, as I first had thought, but after the town where he was born and likely grew up: Smithtown,  New York, which is on the North end of Long Island.

Richard's grandparents & parents buried at Isaiah's original Loyalist Farm, Smithtown NB.


On 24 October 1802, Richard Smith was born. He was the grandson of UEL Isaiah  Smith on his father, James’, side and grandson of UEL Richard Bull on his mother, Elizabeth Bull’s, side.

As a young boy Richard likely worked hard helping his father and  brothers clear land, hunt, farm, and prepare in advanced for the cold winters. Before he was born Richards two grandfathers and his maternal grandmother passed away. He only had Granny Joanna Smith left and I can imagine her telling great tales of what it was like to live through the American Revolution and leave for Loyalist lands.  Richard would have heard stories from his parents as well but they were both under age 11 when they sailed to Saint John Harbour in 1783.

Things changed for Richard the day after his 13th birthday.  On that day (25 Ocotber 1815)  his 5 year old sister, Phoebe died. The reason for her demise is uncertain, but we do know that 3 weeks later Richards 2 year old sister, Margaret, also died. There are many possibilities for the cause of deaths, but it was likely one of the many contagious diseases of the time (typhus, cholera, yellow fever etc).

Two years later Richards mother, Elizabeth, died from complications of childbirth. This occurred two days after Christmas in 1817. Richards little brother, Joseph Edmund Smith, survived, most likely with the help of a wet-nurse and went on to live to the age of seventy-one. Richard was 15 when he lost his mother.

Richard had seven other siblings who also lived well into old age: James, Mary, Elizabeth, Joanna, Isaiah, Jemima & John. It is interesting to note that three of the Smith siblings married Beyea siblings. I am also a descendant of Richard’s older sister Mary Smith who married James Beyea on 4 February 1816 (just months after her two little sisters died).  The oldest Smith child, James, married Rachel Beyea on 8 October 1821. Richard, in fact, married his brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s little sister, Phoebe Beyea on 25 January 1826. Both of the Beyea girls married their Smith fiances under the direction of Reverend James Cookson.

Richard and Phoebe were born 3 days apart, October 24th (Richard) and October 27th (Phoebe) in 1802. They went on to have 7 children: Elizabeth in 1826, James in 1827, Richard Jr in 1830, Andrew Beyea in 1831, John in 1833, Joseph in 1835 and Phoebe in 1835.

1835 was a tumultuous year for Richards family.  On the 5th of  March their youngest son Joseph Leslie Smith was born.  Phoebe must have gotten pregnant again right away because sometime in December Phoebe goes into labour for the final time and dies during childbirth.  The tiny baby, likely premature, dies as well. They named the baby Phoebe after her mother and together they are buried at the United Baptist Cemetery in Smithtown, NB.  And to top it off, sometime during that year of 1835 their two year old son, John, died as well.  Richard gained a son, lost a son, lost a daughter and lost his wife… all in one year.

But life continues on for Richard and his family. After the trying year of 1835 Richard marries again. This time to Mary Blair.  No children came from the union and I have yet to find a wedding date, but I do know there is a 13 year gap between the first wife and third wife that we know nothing about. That 3rd wife is Margaret Belding.

Richard must have been a determined worker for he is listed as a farmer, Innkeeper, and blacksmith with a lime kiln on the farm. He was the proprietor of Smith’s Tavern & Inn and had all manner of interesting guests, no doubt.  One legend claims that in the early years of 1850, Acadian Monsieur Thibodeau returned to his original Acadian farm with his son. The land was now Richards. When he first received the land there was still an Acadian building on the site. Richard may have built onto it or used it as a barn/shed.  Monsieur Thibodeau was not asking for his land back, instead their only desire was to locate a grand old ash tree.  During the Acadian expulsion, in their haste, they had hid their family treasures into an old ash tree, with a plan to come back for it.  The expulsion was from 1755-1763, almost 100 years earlier.  Monsieur Thibodeau must have been very young at the time of the expulsion, but more likely he was a descendant hoping to come back and claim the family treasure. Regardless of the concern he must have had, Richard was most accommodating and welcomed the Acadians into his Inn (which was located at the turn of the river in Smithtown). According to the legend the tree full of treasure was never found.

Around the same time that the Acadians were visiting, Richards family was dealt another blow. In April 1851 his 19 year old son, Andrew Beyea Smith, drowned while steam driving logs up the Hammond River. Later that calendar year the Census takers came around. Richard (48) was living with his 3rd wife Margaret (32), three of his children from his first marriage, James (23), Elizabeth (22) & Joseph (17), and little one year old Elvira, the first child of Richard & Margaret. Richard’s only other surviving child was Richard Jr. who was likely married by this time to Eleanor Jane Wilson.

In the 1851 Agricultural portion of the census Richard has one employed female “hand” (likely to help with the Inn), 19 acres of cleared land and 285 acres uncleared. He has 1 horse, 5 “milch” cows, 2 oxen, 7 other “neat” cattle, 16 sheep and 1 pig.

By the time the next census rolled around in 1861, Richards children with Phoebe had began their own families but his young family with Margaret had continued to grow. Besides Elvira there was also William, Margaret, and Charles, along with one extra resident living in their home. With the success of the Inn it seems that Richard & Margaret needed some help to keep things running smoothly. Jane Hapsel, age 13, is listed as their Domestic Servant (this cannot be the same unnamed female employee in the 1851 agricultural census).  Also, everyone in the household is listed as Baptists.

In 1871 Richard is 68 years old and his four youngest children are still living at home. The last three, William, Margaret & Charles are listed as “in school”. All are Baptists EXCEPT Richards wife Margaret, who lists the Church of England as her religion.  Within the next ten years, before the 1881 Census, Margaret dies and is buried in the cemetery of St.Andrew’s Anglican Church in French Village, NB (the closest community to Smithtown).

Religion must have been a hot topic. Did Margaret turn from Baptist to Anglican between 1861-1871 or did the 1861 census list her religion incorrectly? Who knows. However, I’m certain it caused some interesting discussions over the dinner table. It is a testament to Richards character that he would allow his wife the liberty to choose her house of faith.

By the time the next census rolls around, in 1881, Richard is 78 years old and widowed. He is living with his son William and daughter-in-law Addie. Richard and Addie are Calvinist Baptists, William is listed as Unitarian (the cause of more dinner debates, no doubt!).

Richard died on 6 January 1890 at the age of 87. He is buried in the United Baptist Cemetery, Smithtown NB, alongside Phoebe & Phoebe, his first wife and their infant daughter, who perished together fifty-five years earlier in the devastating year of 1835.


View of the Hammond River from the original UEL farm of J. Isaiah Smtih, Richards Grandfather. Richard's son, Andrew Beyea Smith, drowned in this river in April 1851.

Published in: on 31 January 2011 at 12:22 am  Comments (2)  

I’m Spending My Christmas Money on Death Certificates

It’s a new year… with new goals… and I’m adding a few lofty ones to  my to-do list this year. I’m working on becoming a Certified Genealogist, which appears to be a rather time consuming endeavor… but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m also hoping that this is the year that my elusive and mysterious great great great grandmother, Lydia Mosher Beyea, will finally reveal to me her parentage.

I have ordered Lydia’s death certificate from the New Brunswick Archives. Please, dear God, let it list her parents names!

I shall keep you posted!

I shall also promise to Post you, should you have any queries for me! I spent most of this evening replying to your questions over the past year. I still have some responses to send out, in case you are still waiting.

2010 was a busy year… and my poor blog suffered for it. We sold our home in Guelph ON and moved to the very lovely village of Alma ON. Between selling and buying and moving things got left behind… not our children or possessions (Thank God!), just my genealogy work (my third child really!).

I certainly plan to make up for it in 2011! I’ve done more GenWork in the first 11 days of January than I did in the entire summer of 2010!

In total I’ve ordered four Death Certificates with the Christmas money I received from my In-Laws. Their faces were priceless when I told them I was getting Death Certificates with their Christmas money. I don’t think they share my enthusiasm… although they have always been very supportive (even if, deep down, they think I’m wack-a-doodle)!

Cheers to a New Year!

Keep those questions coming!


Published in: on 12 January 2011 at 2:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Why are young genealogists drawn to Cabbage Patch kids?

When I was a little girl I really wanted a Cabbage Patch kid… and I never got one. My Mom’s cousin made “fake” cabbage patch kids and I got one of those. They were actually very well made… lovely really. But the truth was, it wasn’t the doll I was interested in, it was the Birth Certificate that drew me in.  I wanted one of those official looking Adoption/Birth Certificates. That’s what made the Cabbage Patch so alluring to me. I was a genealogist even then!

I do not have the birth certificate of my Great9 Grandmother, Martha Curry Sherwood, but I do know that she was born on the 12th of July, 1765 in New York State.  She came to Canada in 1785 as an United Empire Loyalists.

During the war Martha’s parents, Andrew Sherwood & Martha Curry, decided to remain neutral. However, Andrew’s brother and one of his own sons joined the British troops.  Because of this the supporters of Independence became suspicious of the Sherwood family and raided their farm. Andrew & Martha fled to the British for shelter. While with the British, Martha died in childbirth. Andrew remarried and brought his children and his new bride to Canada in 1885.

Not long after they arrived in Canada, daughter Martha married James Beyea, a man who was the same age as her father. Regardless of the age difference, history reports that the pairing was one of great love, and mutual respect.  James encouraged young Martha to form her own opinions and to support the causes she believed in. When the Baptist movement swept through Kings County, New Brunswick, Martha became a champion of the cause. James was very supportive of her decision and even helped a persecuted Baptist preacher as he came through Smithtown. James also gave up some of his land for a Baptist Church to be built.  The Smithtown Baptist Church still sits on this land! Yet, to his dying day, James remained faithfully Anglican.

Martha was described as  being of medium height, medium complexion, dark hair & black eyes. She likely inherited her looks from her grandmother, Rachel, who was a Mohawk Indian maiden.

In the 1851 Census of New Brunswick Martha is living with her daughter, Rachel Smith, son-in-law James, their nephew Richard Smith, and three boarders (the local schoolmaster and his two children). In her frailty Martha had left behind a home that was, for years, known as Old Granny’s House!

Martha Curry Sherwood died on April 16th, 1856 at the age of 90. She had been a widow for 46 years of her life.

Martha & James are buried in one of the most serene and picturesque spots in New Brunswick: the Acadian/Loyalist cemetery, just on the border of Smithtown & French Village, NB. Their tombstones are adorned with ferns, the symbol of humility and serenity.

Loyalists: James Beyea & Martha C. Sherwood Beyea

By the way, we now have 4 Cabbage Patches in our family: Grace Catalina born Feb.26th, Deborah Adalia born Jan.17th, Penny Viola born Feb.3rd and one unidentified Cabbage Patch doll that my daughter bought at the school toy sale.  Her birth certificate has been lost and I can’t find her in the census records. She was lost to history until my daughter found her, gave her the name Alice, and picked out a new birth date for her in June.

If only it was that easy to identify great great great Grandma “Question Mark”.

Published in: on 28 November 2010 at 2:38 pm  Comments (2)  

Loyalist: Samuel Doty of Nova Scotia and his descendant Old Bill Barr

Those who know me well are aware that I tend to be glued to my tv set in the middle of March, watching the World Figure Skating Championships. And with this being an Olympic year I have been glued to the tv more often than not. I’ve loved watching medal performances by Virtue and Moir, Rochette & Chan… and I still go through my old tapes to watch the heart-stopping jumps of Elvis Stojko.

What does this do with genealogy? Not much. Except it made me wonder if I had any athletes in my family background. Well, my research has come up with a victorious amount of nothing. As far as I can tell I get my lack of athleticism from pretty much everyone in my family tree.

So we weren’t formally athletic… but there certainly was strength in my family. Had there been an Olympic event for rock lifting, my great great great Grandfather, William Riley Barr,  could’ve taken gold. But before we get to my award rock-lifting ancestor, we’ll take a look at his Loyalist roots through his maternal Grandfather.

Samuel Doty was a Loyalist. He joined the British forces as a volunteer in the 17th Dragoons and served as quartermaster. He was  captured by the Rebels and became a prisoner of war, released,  and then became injured in battle. At the end of the Revolution he left America as a Loyalist and settled in Nova Scotia.

The following is an account is taken from a biographical sketch of his life, with his personal input, and published, 1831, by the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel, at Weymouth, N. S.:

At three weeks of age, his mother being too weak to properly care for him [took him] to the residence of his grandparents, at Fresh Meadows, on Long Island, with whom he remained till their deaths. When of sufficient age he was sent to school and obtained a fair education. His grandfather was a Presbyterian, a man of integrity and piety; his grandmother was a Quaker. His grandfather died about 1770, at the age, it is said, of 107 years, and the grandmother in 1774, aged above 90. He then returned to his parents at Westchester.

The Revolutionary War now coming on, he espoused the cause of the king, and crossing to Long Island, avoided joining the American army. When the British landed on Long Island he joined them as a volunteer in the 17th Dragoons, in the capacity of Quartermaster, though never regularly enlisted in the army. During the war he was for a long time a prisoner to the Americans, and after his release returned to the army where he received a dangerous wound with the ball shattering the thigh bone and rendering him unfit for active service for three years. At the close of the war, 1783, with many of the royalists he removed to Nova Scotia, landing at Annapolis Royal and was soon allotted lands at Sissiboo, now Weymouth. Here he engaged in the blacksmithing business, and soon after removed to New Edinburgh, a settlement on the opposite side of the Sissiboo River, where he married. He lived here about ten years, then two years at Clare, and subsequently at Yarmouth, Weymouth and Digby. A portion of this time he led a dissipated life, but subsequently reformed and became an active Christian worker in the temperance cause.

In his biographical sketch, Samuel does not mention ever returning to the United States, but there is an indication in the Westchester NY archives that he returned once or twice to visit his parents.

Samuel married Hepzibeth Porter and in 1791 they had a daughter that they named Hepzibeth Doty. Her son was William Riley Barr… and he lifted rocks (among other things).

William R. Barr, also known as “Old Bill Barr” was noted for his strength.  He used to carry 200 lb barrels of flour on his shoulders from Weymouth NS to his home in Weaver Settlement NS (over 2 kms). But there is a bigger, heavier legend about Old Bill Barr in his younger days. On an old stone fence, apparently still visible today, sits 2 massive stones. These stones were carried a good distance by Bill and his brother John. The largest of the two stones was 3 foot, 5 inches in length and 2 foot, 2 inches in diameter with maximum rock density.  The weight would have been enormous!

There is a picture of this stone, and the stone carried by his brother, in the book, “Captain Henry Barr and his Descendants” by Annie (Barr) Dennison. There are more Old Bill Barr feats of strength and interesting anecdotes in this book including signing up for the Fenian Raids; the loss of sight in one eye from an occupational  shipyard accident; working on the railroads and in the spring log river drives.

It is easy to see that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Bill, like his grandfather Samuel, was a man of strength, perseverance, hard work and determination. For many, it is the Loyalist legacy.

Published in: on 31 March 2010 at 11:57 pm  Comments (6)  

Loyalists: Manzer Family of New Brunswick

Barnet Manzer was born in Duchess County New York in 1749.

He married Mary Ann Lester on the 25th of January 1776 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany, NY. Just over a year later their first child, Dorcas, was born.

When little Dorcas was only 15 months old, Barnet joined the (Loyalist) DeLancey’s Brigade, 2nd Battalion, which was formed for protecting Long Island, NY.  Also enlisted were Christopher Manzer, Martin Manzer, Daniel Manzer, and John Manzer (possilby Barnet’s brothers or cousins). Eventually Barnet was promoted to Sargeant and served under G.G. Ludlow. When the war turned it’s advantage to the American’s, Barnet remained faithful to Britain and left as a Loyalist.

Loyalists Barnet, Mary Ann & Dorcas first settled in the Saint John, NB, area. They were given 4 acres of what is now know as Waterloo & Golding St. Over the years they moved to Gagetown (where Mary Ann was baptised as an adult) and then to Waterborough, and finally to Briggs Corners, near Chipman NB.

Barnet lived to a wise old age. From the document Old Revolutionary Soldiers and their Widow’s Pension (dated 8 February 1843) Barnet, Queens Co. resident, is listed as age 94 and the year he first received relief is listed as 1839. This is the last time Barnet’s name shows up in a primary source. He therefore died sometime after 8 February 1843. I have been unable to find the date of death for Mary Ann, but it is likely long before her husband passed away in his 90’s.

Their daughter Dorcas, my great5 Grandmother, was their only child born in America. When she came to Canada as a Loyalist she was 6 years old. After they would settle in New Brunswick many more siblings would come, but the experience of leaving one country and traveling by boat to a new land was shared with Dorcas and her parents alone.

Dorcas would pass on the Manzer name to her son, Barnet Manzer Dykeman. He would pass on the Manzer name to his daughter, Dorcas Manzer Dykeman. Dorcas Manzer Dykeman’s daughter, Phoebe Sophia Smith (my Great Great Grandmother), must have passed on the love of her mother and her pride in the Manzer name because Phoebe’s first grandchild was named Manzer Eldon Nichols. He was born on 18 May 1903 and he was my Grandmother’s cousin.

The Manzer named traveled down the female line from 1777-1903… that’s a legacy and is a testament to the strength and notoriety of a great family!

Cemetery Marker for Dorcas Manzer at Lower Jemseg, Queens Co., NB

Published in: on 27 February 2010 at 1:13 am  Comments (1)  

Letters in the Mail

I received a special treat in the mail this week.

In 1907 my great grandfather, John Marshall Fisher, came to Canada with his cousin James Fisher.

This week I opened a letter from Clive Fisher. His father, Eric, was the younger brother of James Fisher, who left England and crossed the ocean with my Great Grandfather. Clive, who lives in Yorkshire England, was able to drive around and do some investigative research on our shared family. And thankfully he has shared his findings with me.

I now know that my great3 grandfather, John Fisher, worked as a corn miller in Sand Hole, Yorkshire, England. In 1861 they lived at 115 Town Street, Holme upon Spalding Moor, Yorkshire and then shortly afterwards they moved to Sand Hole to be closer to the mill (which has since been demolished).

John was married to a woman named Hannah. It is uncertain what her maiden name was, but we can suspect that it may have been Marshall because John and Hannah name their first son John Marshall and from this point on Marshall becomes the predominant male middle name in our family. My great great grandfather was John Marshall Fisher; my great grandfather was John Marshall Fisher; my grandfather was Bruce Marshall Fisher; my father is John Marshall Fisher; and I also have a cousin named Marshall in honour of that family name.

I will focus my research, this year, on studying the Marshall’s in the Yorkshire area and looking specifically for a Hannah that may be my great great great grandmother.

My other focus this year (and the blog theme for 2010) will be my Loyalist Ancestors. I have just applied to be a member of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada.  In honour of that, I would like to share with you my love and appreciation for the loyal ancestors who came to Canada, worked the land, and cherished the country. I think we all need to know their sacrifices and hardships, and cherish and appreciate this country more.

Over the next 12 months we will be looking at the following United Empire Loyalists.  If you have relatives on this list, let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

James Beyea
Andrew Sherwood (daughter Martha Curry Sherwood married above James Beyea. Martha’s mother died in NY).
Isaiah & Joanna (Davis) Smith
Richard & Jemima (Budd) Bull
Garret & Eunice (Hatfield) Dykeman
Barnet & Mary Ann (Lester) Manzer
James Hatfield (and daughter Phoebe Hatfield)
John Wesley Gavel
Jeremiah Sabean

I’m hoping that the next  letter I receive is from the UELAC… although the best mail treats come from relatives sharing their family history.

Published in: on 31 January 2010 at 5:09 pm  Comments (5)  

Down a winding road…

…over a covered bridge, along the twisting Hammond River and nestled into a mountain valley, sits a pretty little white sided church called the Smithtown United Baptist Church.  This is probably my quintessential family historical church because not only did my ancestors start the Church, but my own grandmother went there as a youth and eventually became a member. I recall Gramma’s memories of the Sunday School picnics across the road at the river’s edge.

My great great great great  Grandfather, James Beyea , gave up some of his newly inherited land so that this little Church could be built… and although his roots were as an Anglican, this land he gave to the Baptists.

Nine years earlier James’ father, James Beyea UEL, died.  He was a staunch Anglican and he had, earlier in his life, invited a Baptist man to preach to the community. Why would a staunch Anglican invite the Baptists to share their ideas?

Descendant Andrew Beyea was the first published Beyea historian. He wrote “The History of French Village” and “A Biographical Sketch of the Beyea Family”. In these he tells the tale of a “club-footed itinerant Baptist preacher” named Giles Smith. He had just come from Sussex NB where they had tied him to his horse, backwards, and whipped the horse so that he bolted out of town.  When he arrived in the Smithtown area he most certainly did not expect a joyous reception. God’s guidance led Giles  to James Beyea’s homestead, and although the locals tried to get James to expell Rev. Smith in a similar way as Sussex had, James remembered his own father’s sufferings as a Huguenot and apparently said the following:

Since my forefathers, in their day,

had suffered so much for the sake of the Gospel,

my house will always be open to any person

who desires to preach its truth.

James followed this speech with an invitation to all his neighbours to listen to what the preacher, Giles Smith, had to say.

James’ wife, Martha Curry Sherwood Beyea was a tiny dark eyed beauty, with a touch of native blood, and she took the preacher’s words to heart. She really believed that this was the way that God was meant to be worshiped.  Martha’s sister Rachel also felt the conviction to become a Baptist, and they shared, with their husbands, their newly energized faith!

James loyalty to Britain in the Revolutionary War reinforced his commitment  to the Anglican Church, but thankfully his loyalty was not blind and one sided. James listened to the musings of his wife and supported her decision to believe in a different method of worship, although he decided to remain an Anglican.  Rachel’s husband, Humphrey Bull, was not as tolerant, and he sought a legal way to prevent her from becoming Baptist (what the outcome of that was, I do not know).

In 1818, when there was enough local support to build a Baptist Church, the son of James Beyea, the Anglican, gave one acre of land for the building of the Smithtown United Baptist Church… in honour of his mother and in memory of his very tolerant father.

Buried at the Smithtown Baptist Church, NB,  are my great grandparents, Harry & Annie (Barr) Beyea; my great great grandparents, James Henry & Phoebe (Smith) Beyea; my great great great grandparents, James & Dorcas Smith; my great great great great grandparents, Richard & Phoebe (Beyea) Smith. This Phoebe was the daughter and sister to the two James Beyea’s mentioned above.

Published in: on 28 December 2009 at 1:45 am  Comments (2)  

40 Years Ago…

… my Mom & Dad were married in the Central Avenue United Church in Fort Erie ON. It was a Church nestled at the end of Dufferin St. where my Mom grew up:

134 years ago today my great Grandparents, James Henry Beyea & Phoebe Sophia Smith were married (see Nov.’08). Phoebe’s father was the deacon of the Smithtown Baptist Church in New Brunswick (which is the Church we will discuss in December). Phoebe’s grandfather, Barnet Manzer Dykeman, was baptised in the St.John Anglican Church, Gagetown NB, by Reverend Richard Clarke.

Thanks to Roger G. Melin’s online addition of the transcribed archives of the Gagetown Anglican Church there is a lot of information available to us!

For our family, I know that Barnet Manzer Dykeman was baptised as an infant on June 14, 1807. Barnet’s maternal grandmother, Mary Manzer, was baptised, as an adult, by Rev. Richard Clarke on 7 August 1787.  Barnet’s father, uncle, and grandmother Dykeman were also all baptised as adults on the same day: 26 August 1792, again by the Reverend Richard Clarke.

Barnet’s parents, Gilbert & Dorcas, were married by the Rev. Richard Clark on 10 July 1794. And this same Pastor also buried Barnet’s grandmother Eunice on 17th of November 1808 in the Gagetown NB, St. John Anglican Cemetery.

So who is this Rev. Richard Clarke? He was the first Rector  of the St.John Anglican Church in Gagetown. In 1787 Richard came to see his new post. He returned to the States to gather his family (wife Rebecca and 11 children) and came back to Gagetown to settle in for a 25 year service to the community. It seems that Richard was a prolific baptiser! He had a strong black population in his Church and was very inclusive in baptising them as well. In his first year he noted that the people were, “much scattered about and the Lord’s Day greatly neglected”. He indicated that parents seemed to be hesitant in letting him baptise their children. However, during his first year in 1788 he baptised 68 white infants, 2 black infants and 2 adults. He buried 5 people and married 3 couples.  He was busy tending all of his flock and that flock began to thrive! In 1790 an official Church and school was built. Here is what the Church looks like today:

St. John Anglican Church, Gagetown NB

Rev. Richard remained actively involved in his Church for the next 25 years until tragedy struck in the early morning of March 13th, 1811. A fire blazed the home of Richards daughter. Nine family members escaped the flames by jumping out their windows, but the fire took the lives of Richard’s daughter,(Sarah Coldwell Clarke), his grandson, (Marshall Clarke Andrews), and his neice, (Mary Hubbard).

The loss was so overwhelming for Rev. Richard and his wife Rebecca that they ended their ministry in Gagetown and moved to St.Stephen NB, some distance away. Their son Samuel Clarke continued in Gagetown as the new Pastor of the Church.  Richard & Rebecca’s cemetery inscription, in the Old Burial Ground, St. Stephen, reads:

Sacred to the memory of the Rev’d Richard Clarke, the first rector of this parish & the oldest Missionary in the Colonies having accomplished in the 58th year of his ministry being much respected & living in the utmost harmony with the people of the several parishes to which he was appointed. Departed this life 6th October 1824, aged 87 years. Also Rebecca his wife who died 7th May 1816 aged 60 years. Those worthy examples of piety, extensive charity and Christian fortitude after long and afflicting sickness resigned their spirits unto the hands who gave it looking forward to their crown of immortality which the Lord the righteous judge shall at the last day bestow on all his faithful servants. New Milford, Connecticut, 19 years. Gagetown, N.B. 25 years. St. Stephens, 13 years.

Funny how I know all this but I do not know the name of the officiant who married my parents. Mom & Dad, Happy Anniversary, I have a question for you….

Published in: on 29 November 2009 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment