52 Ancestors #12: Charles L. Kirkland (1841-1912)

Once again, I’m profiling someone who is not a direct ancestor. This week’s prompt is “misfortune”, and nothing says misfortune quite like being a passenger on the Titanic.

rms_titanic_3

 

The passenger in question was Charles Leonard Kirkland, younger brother of my 2nd great grandfather John W. Kirkland. At the time of the 1861 census, Charles, then aged 20, was living in Richibucto, New Brunswick with John and his family, including my then 2- year-old great-grandmother, Wilhelmina Kirkland. Charles and John were both cabinet makers and were both Baptists. Charles would eventually become a Free Will Baptist Minister.

1861 census
1861 Census, New Brunswick, Kent, Richibucto, Pg 44

Three years later, in 1864, Charles married Rachel Warman. They had 9 children over the next 20 years, some of whom were born in New Brunswick, others across the border in Maine. Two years after Rachel’s death in 1896, Charles married Nellie (Carver) Wheeler, a divorcée with four children. In 1900, Charles, Nellie and her four children were living Dover, Maine, where Charles was working as a clergyman. That marriage appears to have been short-lived.

1900 census
United States Census, 1900, Maine, Piscataquis, ED 134 Dover town, image 16 of 38

Charles became a well-known preacher who led revival meetings throughout New Brunswick, Maine and frequently in Saskatchewan. In the summer of 1911, Charles spent three months preaching in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, while he was visiting his sister Emma (Kirkland) Withrow, who lived in nearby Tuxford.

In late 1911, Charles travelled to Glasgow, Scotland, reportedly to settle an uncle’s estate, but I’ve yet to be able to confirm that. There was a Kirkland who died in Glasgow in Sept 1911, but I’ve not been able to substantiate the family connection. He was much too young to have been Charles’s uncle. But in any case, there is no doubt that Charles was in Glasgow, as he wrote a letter to his daughter Maud in March 1912. In that letter, he mentioned that a coal strike was making it difficult to book passage home.

Unable to leave from Glasgow, Charles travelled to Queenstown, Ireland, where he bought a 2nd class ticket aboard the RMS Titanic. He perished in the sinking and his body was never identified. A gravestone was erected in the Mattawamkeag Cemetery in Maine, where his wife and 3 of his children were buried. It simply says “Charles L. Kirkland – buried at sea”

I’ve often wondered if my great-grandmother Minnie even knew that her uncle was on the Titanic. I suspect not, as there was nothing in the PEI newspapers about it. As Minnie’s husband, Albert Prowse, was a politician at the time, a local connection to the Titanic disaster would surely have been a subject of great interest.

Much of what I’ve learned about Charles Kirkland comes from his profile on Encylcopia Titanica, although the information on his parents differs from what I have found, which I discussed in an earlier post. As always, sources I’ve used can be found on Charles’s WikiTree profile.

52 Ancestors #11: Eva Magdalena (Sarah) Somers (1753-1824)

For this week’s theme of “Lucky”, I used a random number generator to pick the ancestor I would profile. I asked for a number between 1 and 500, and got #253, which I then compared against an Ahnentafel Report of my ancestors. So by the luck of the RNG, this week’s ancestor is Eva Magdalena (Sarah) Somers. She did have an slight advantage in getting selected, since she is in my tree twice! I’m a descendant of two of her sons, Ephraim Allen and Matthew Allen. Ephraim’s grandson, Isaac Trenholm Allen, married Matthew’s daughter, Miranda Allen. Isaac and Miranda Allen were my 3rd great grandparents, which makes Sarah both my 5th great grandmother and my 6th great grandmother.

Luck comes into this profile in other ways as well. I’ve been very lucky in that other descendants of Sarah Somers and her husband, Benjamin “Shy Ben” Allen, have been researching this line since long before I ever gave family history a thought. Most of what I know of this branch of my family tree comes from the work of others – in particular, Barbara Trenholm-Merklinger, whose website Trenholm.org, published in 1999 and last updated in 2011, is still my first go-to site for sorting out the many children of my Allen and Trenholm ancestors, and Arthur Owen, whose family tree intersects with mine in several places. In addition to his tree on “Our Maritime Ties”, Arthur has documented much of what he knows about these ancestors on WikiTree. I am grateful to both of them for sharing their many decades of research so openly!

The first story I read about Eva Magdelena (Sarah) Somers was on Barbara Trenholm-Merklinger’s site, in her introduction to the Allen family.

The story is told that Benjamin Allen was extremely shy, hence the name “Shy Ben”. One night after returning from a long trip, he found a New Year’s Eve dance in progress at Fort Cumberland. After suitable liquid fortification, he went to the center of the dance floor and said: “I am in dire need of a wife! Who will have me?” Up stepped a hearty lass of German descent, Sarah Somers, who said “I’ll have you, Ben!”. The happy couple were married on the spot by a minister who happened to be in attendance. It is said that any pugnacious tendencies in the Allen female descendants can be attributed to Sarah.

This “hearty lass of German descent”, was born in Whitefield, Pennsylvania in 1753. Her parents were Mathias Somers/Sommer and Maria Christina Null, who were both born in Germany and married in Pennsylvania in 1749. The Somers family was among the original group of German families in Philadelphia who settled the Monckton Township on the Petitcodiac River in what was then Nova Scotia (now Moncton, New Brunswick), in 1766.

On January 1, 1771, a month shy of her 18th birthday, Sarah Somers married Benjamin Allen, some 20 years her senior. They had 12 children, most of whom also had large families – my 4th great grandfather, Matthew Allen, had 11 children and my 5th great grandfather, Ephraim Allen, had 15 children (with two wives). As a result, there are likely thousands of descendants of Sarah Somers and Benjamin Allen alive today, many of whom show up among my DNA matches. Even if the likelihood of matching a 5th or 6th cousin is low, the shear number of them means that I match a lot of Allen/Somers descendants.

How many of them have pugnacious tendencies has yet to be determined.

52 Ancestors #8: Bessie Hicks (1892-1965)

Every Christmas of my childhood, my mother wore a gold bracelet. Engraved on the back is “A.S.P. to B.A.H. Xmas 1913”. This bracelet was a Christmas gift from my grandfather, A. Samuel Prowse, to my grandmother, Bessie A. Hicks, two years before they were married. The rest of the year, the bracelet lived in a velvet box in my mother’s dresser drawer. I always loved opening that box and reading the inscription. As a child in the 1960s and 70s, 1913 seemed like an eternity ago. Now that I’ve been researching ancestors back to the 1760s, 1913 seems so very recent.

braceletBracelet inscription

My maternal grandmother, Bessie Hicks was born on August 31, 1892 in Midgic, Westmorland County, New Brunswick. She was the daughter of Arthur Hicks (52 Ancestors #2) and Morinda Wheaton. Bessie grew up on the family farm in Upper Sackville, the eldest of 8 children.

Hicks, Bessie - Birth
New Brunswick, Canada, Provincial Archives, Late Registration of Births, Code 1892-H-75, Microfilm F18782

Bessie attended Mount Allison Ladies College (now part of Mount Allison University), where she met her husband-to-be, Sam Prowse. They were married on December 1, 1915 at the home of Bessie’s parents in Sackville, NB.

Newspaper wedding of Samuel Prowse and Bessie Hicks
The Charlottetown Guardian, Dec 4, 1915, Pg. 5 (islandnewspapers.ca)

Following their marriage, Bessie and Sam settled in Sam’s home town, Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island, where Sam was a partner in the family business, Prowse and Sons. Bessie and Sam had 4 daughters: Audrey in 1917, Hazel in 1919, Betty in 1923 and my mother, Florence, in 1930.

Samuel and Bessie (Hicks) Prowse, Audrey, Hazel
Albert and Bessie (Hicks) Prowse, with daughters Audrey and Hazel, 1920 Family photo collection.

The Great Depression spelled the end for the Prowse family business. In 1932, the family moved to Moncton, New Brunswick to start over.

Newspaper - departure of A.S. Prowse and family
The Charlottetown Guardian, May 17, 1932, Pg 5 (islandnewspapers.ca)

As I side note, I giggled when I saw my mother referred to in that article as “Baby Florence”.

The 1930s and 1940s were hard on the family, with little money and their share of difficult times. In 1939, Bessie’s 2nd oldest daughter, Hazel, then age 19, married with 2 children and pregnant with her third, lost her home in a house fire and then lost her husband in a car accident. Bessie and the two younger children moved to Riverside, New Brunswick to support Hazel. They later moved to Sunny Brae, New Brunswick and Bessie raised Hazel’s youngest son. Bessie was widowed in 1949, when her husband died of cancer.

Throughout these tragedies, Bessie was always the rock of the family. She made sure there was always food on the table and plenty of love to go around.

I’ve always felt a strong connection to my grandmother, even though I never had the chance to know her – she died in January 1965, when I was just 10 months old. My mother has often told me that I remind her of her mother, especially when I laugh. This is my favourite picture of her – she looks like someone who was not afraid to be silly, and I admire that in a person.

Bessie (Hicks) Prowse, Cedric and Maude Hicks
Bessie (Hicks) Prowse (centre), with her youngest brother Cedric Hicks, his wife Maude, and Bessie’s grandchildren. Abt. 1956. Family photo collection.

 

1932 Canadian Olympic Men’s Speed Skating Team

With the Olympics in full swing, I thought I’d share a postcard from my family photo collection, of the 1932 Canadian Olympic Men’s Speed Skating Team.

1932 Mens speedskating team.jpg

The third man from the left was my great-uncle, Harry Smyth. He was the husband of my paternal grandmother’s half-sister.

The full team was (left to right in the photo):

  • Marion McCarthy
  • Leopold Sylvester
  • Harry Smyth
  • Herb Flack
  • Frank Stack
  • Alex Hurd
  • Willy Logan

At the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, 31 men competed in 4 speed skating events. They represented 6 countries: Canada, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, United States. What? No Netherlands? Imagine!

The Canadian men took home 1 silver and 4 bronze medals, won by:

  • Frank Stack – Bronze, 10,000m
  • Alex Hurd – Bronze, 500m; Silver, 1500m
  • Willy Logan – Bronze, 1500m; Bronze, 5000m

I wonder what my Uncle Harry and his fellow Olympians would think of the 2018 Olympics? It’s a different world than they experienced 86 years ago. The outfits sure have changed! And there are a lot more women – in the 1932 Olympics, there were 21 female athletes (figure skaters) and 234 male athletes.

 

52 Ancestors #7: Clara Lockhart (1875-1906)

I struggled with this week’s prompt – Valentine. I do have a person named Valentine in my tree, but he was the husband of an ancestor’s sister. I’d rather stick to my direct ancestors for now than branch that far out. So I looked for people who were born, married or died around Valentine’s day. But again, all of the possibilities were on collateral lines.

As nobody was coming to mind, I decided to skip the theme and just pick an ancestor I felt like writing about. Since my first six 52 Ancestors posts have been on my mother’s side, I figured it was time to venture over to my father’s side for this one. And then it clicked. Lockhart. Lock Heart. Close enough to Valentine! And can you get a more romantic name than Clara Belle Lockhart? But this won’t be a romantic story. Quite the contrary, in fact – no happily-ever-afters here.

Clara Belle Lockhart was my great grandmother. She was born in 1875 in Perth, New Brunswick, Canada, the daughter of David H. Lockhart and Annie Emma Morris. Shortly after Clara was born, the family moved to Moncton, New Brunswick, where David worked as a machinist with the railway. Clara’s mother, Annie, died of consumption when Clara was 13 years old.

Lockhart 1881 census
1881 Canada Census, New Brunwsick, Westmorland (33), Moncton (F-3), Pg. 24

Clara married Robert Sharpe on April 15, 1896 in Moncton. While Robert  worked as a painter at the time of his marriage, he later worked on the railroad, as a brakeman. They had four children: Beulah in 1897, Helen (my grandmother) in 1899, John in 1901 and Vera in 1905.

Marriage Robert Sharpe and Clara Lockhart
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS141B7, Index to New Brunswick Marriages, Number 2683, Code B4/1896, F15581

In 1906, when my grandmother was only 7 years old, illness swept through the family. First came the death of 15-month-old Vera in August 1906. Three weeks later, Clara died, at the age of 31. Two weeks after that, 5-year-old John died.

Growing up, I knew my grandmother, Helen (Sharpe) Cooper – she died when I was 15. She always struck me as an unhappy person, but I knew nothing about early her life until I started exploring my family history, many years after her death. Losing her mother at the age of 7 clearly had a strong impact on her. She memorialized her mother in the names of her children. She gave her son (my father) the middle name Lockhart, and her daughter (my aunt) the middle name Clara.

So Clara Lockhart, who died at the early age of 31, lived on in the grandchildren she never knew.

52 Ancestors #6: Joseph Providence Richardson (1774-1846)

This week’s prompt for the 52 Ancestors challenge is “Favourite Name”. I’ve come across some great names in my family tree – names like Snowball, Silver and Submit. But none of these are in my direct line. Oh no, my direct line is full of Williams and Johns and Elizabeths and Sarahs, with the odd biblical name like Hezekiah and Mehitable thrown in for good measure. So I decided this week to go with my 5th great grandfather, Joseph Providence Richardson. While I don’t know a lot about him, what I do know explains the story behind his name.

Joseph was the son of John Christopher Richardson and Mary Flintoff. If you’ve been reading my blog and these names seem familiar, it’s because they were one of the sets of possible parents of another 5th great grandparent, Charlotte Richardson, who was the subject of my Mitochondrial DNA research. But unlike in that case, there is no question that Joseph was their son.

Yorkshire

John and Mary were both born in Yorkshire, England and were married 1765 in Hutton Rudby, Mary’s home town. Following the birth of their first two children, they left their homeland for a new life in the Colonies. They were among the over 1,000 immigrants from Yorkshire who settled in the Chignecto Isthmus (the neck of land between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Canada) between 1772 and 1775.

In April 1774, John, Mary and their two children, Christopher and Elizabeth, boarded the Providence in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. There were 72 passengers on board. When it arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia some 5 weeks later, there were 73.

That newborn, named Joseph Providence Richardson, was my ancestor.

The Richardsons settled in Sackville, New Brunswick, where Joseph became a farmer. He married Jane Patterson and they had 5 daughters and 3 sons, including my 4th great grandfather, John P. Richardson.

Joseph died on July 27, 1846, at the age of 72.

Joseph Richardson Gravestone
Photo courtesy of Mike Richardson. Used with permission.

52 Ancestors #5: Ellen Easton (1826-1912)

This is the story of how a census entry helped me discover the parents of my 2nd great grandmother, Ellen (or Helen) Easton. It all started when I was researching my great grandmother, Wilhelmina (Minnie) Kirkland. I first found Minnie as a 2 year old on the 1861 New Brunswick Census:

1861 census Kirkland

From this census, I had Minnie’s mother’s name as Helen, born about 1836 in PEI of Scottish origin. I discovered her maiden name easily enough – I found the marriage record for John W. Kirkland and Ellen Easton, who married in Chatham, NB on November 2, 1854.

Kirkland and Easton marriage

And on the 1891 census, she’s listed as Hellen Easton Kirkland, born about 1828 in PEI, with a father was born in Scotland and a mother born in Ireland.

1891 census Kirkland

So this is what I had…

Easton tree 1

Not a lot to go on. I was unable to find anything giving Ellen’s parents’ names. But I did find this:

John Kirkland obit

Exciting as it was to know that my ancestor was a ventriloquist, I was even more interested in the last line “Mrs. Kirkland, who survives him, is a sister of Surveyor General Tweedie.”  Huh? Everything else I had found said that Mrs. Kirkland was an Easton.

I had seen this Tweedie name before….

Tweedie examples

  1. 1871 Census – Next door to John & Ellen Kirkland were some Tweedies
  2. 1881 – Marriage of my great grandparents Minnie Kirkland and Albert Prowse – witness L.J. Tweedie
  3. 1891 – Marriage of Minnie’s youngest sister – newspaper announcement mentions that “Among friends present were Hon. L.J. Tweedie, M.P.P and Miss Tweedie of Chatham.

So who was this L. J. Tweedie?

 Lemuel J. Tweedie tree

  • Lemuel John Tweedie practiced law in Chatham, NB. He was admitted to the Bar in 1871, at the age of 22. His Law partner was R.B. Bennett, who would later become the Prime Minister of Canada
  • Tweedie was first elected to the NB Legislature at age 25. At 51 he became Premier of NB, for 7 years. Then Lieutenant Governor for 5.
  • He was the son of Irish immigrants, Joseph Tweedie Jr & Catherine McGary

Interesting, but none of this answered the question of whether he was the brother of my Ellen Easton, who was some 20 years older than him and born in PEI. Obviously there was a long-standing connection between the families, but what? Could she have been his aunt perhaps, and not his sister? Or maybe she was a Tweedie and Easton was her married name from a first marriage?

I had no luck finding anything that would lead me to Ellen’s parents. But then one day, while searching the PEI newspapers for information on my my great grandfather, Albert P. Prowse, I came upon her obituary.

Mrs. JW Kirkland obit

“The late Mrs. Kirkland was born in Rexton, NB and was a half-sister of Lt. Governor Tweedie of New Brunswick.” Well, her birth place was wrong, but could her being a half-sister to Lt. Gov. Tweedie be a clue? Perhaps researching Tweedie’s family would uncover something that researching Ellen Easton’s family had not.

Since Lemuel Tweedie was born 1849, the obvious place to start was the 1851 NB census. There he was, age 2, with his parents Joseph & Catherine Tweedie, as expected, along with two older sisters, ages 5 and 9. But look who else was in the household….

1851 census Tweedie

 Ellen, age 25. I may have said “Gotchya” so loud I startled the cat. And this explains why I could never find her on the 1851 census – she was not listed as an “Easton”, she was listed as a “Tweedie”

As there were only 13 years between Ellen and Joseph Tweedie, could Ellen have been Catherine’s daughter from a 1st marriage? I started looking for more on Joseph and Catherine, and found a newspaper notice for the marriage in 1841 between Joseph Tweedy and Mrs. Catherine Easton.

Marriage Tweedie-Easton

And BINGO. A marriage between Catherine McGeary and William Easton in 1825.

Marriage Easton-McGeary

Finally, the puzzle was coming together…

Tree

Ellen Easton was the only daughter of William Easton & Catherine McGary (or McGeary or McGarry). Catherine later married Joseph Tweedie, Jr. and had 3 more children, the youngest being Lemuel J. Tweedie.

I still have some unanswered questions:

  • Who were Catherine McGary’s parents? Where in County Down was she born? As per the 1851 census, she was born in 1805 and came to Canada in 1817 at age 12. Did she come alone or with her parents?
  • What happened to William Easton? There was a William Easton who died in PEI of excessive drinking in 1833. Was this him?
  • Where and when was William Easton born, and who were his parents. An autosomnal DNA match has shed some light on this, but that’s a story for another day.

And speaking of the census, Ellen (or Helen) is one of those miraculous women we hear about who did not age at a steady rate. Here’s her age in each of the 7 years I found her in the census:

Ellen's ages

Since the first and the last are consistent (born in 1826), I’ve gone with that as her year of birth, but who knows for sure. Not even her or her family, by the looks of it. And was her name Ellen or Helen? Hard to say. But at least I’ve figured out who her parents were, so I’m counting that as a win!