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 autosomal 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!

52 Ancestors #3: Charlotte Richardson (1776-aft. 1861)

Charlotte Richardson was my 5th great grandmother. I’ve always had a special interest in Charlotte, as she was my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother. Considering that researching female ancestors is often more difficult than researching male ancestors, I love that I’ve been able to go back 7 generations and 240 years on my maternal line.

When I first researched Charlotte, I had her parents as John Christopher Richardson and Mary Flintoff. John & Mary were among the over 1,000 immigrants from Yorkshire, England who settled in the Chignecto Isthmus between 1772 and 1775 (for those of you Chignectowho don’t know Atlantic Canada very well, the Chignecto Isthmus is the neck of land that joins New Brunswick and Nova Scotia).  John & Mary made the journey from Yorkshire in 1774, with two young children and a third born en route. Their son, Joseph Providence Richardson, so named because he was born on the ship, “The Providence”, is also a direct ancestor of mine.

In 2014, I met a distant cousin, Arthur Owen, who is also a descendant of Charlotte Richardson. He had evidence that was inconsistent with Charlotte being the daughter of John & Mary Richardson. Arthur had previously used DNA to disprove the oft-cited parentage of another of his ancestors. Since I’m a female-line descendant of Charlotte, we realized that if we could find the right people to compare to, we could use mtDNA to test various theories about Charlotte’s parents. In 2016, with support from Arthur, I did just that.

In an upcoming series of blog posts, I will explain the process I followed. In the meantime, suffice it to say, I had to throw out everything I thought I knew about Charlotte’s parents, and begin anew!

Here’s the new story of Charlotte.

Charlotte Richardson was born in about 1776 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. She was the daughter of James Richardson and Hannah (Unknown).  James died when Charlotte was about 6 years old, following which Hannah married David Dobson. Ten years later, in 1794, Charlotte, then age 18, married her step-father David’s younger brother, Richard Dobson, age 25.

Charlotte tree

Charlotte and Richard settled in Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, where they raised 12 children, including my 4th great grandmother, Mary Ann (Dobson) Allen.  At the time of the 1851 census, Richard, age 82, and Charlotte, age 75, were living near at least two of their children – their youngest son Job and his young family, and my ancestor Mary Ann Allen, then widowed, and 6 of her 11 children.

Charlotte Dobson - 1851 Botsford Pg 10
1851 Census, New Brunswick, Westmorland, Botsford (83) – Pg 10

Charlotte’s husband, Richard, died in July 1855, as did her son Job two years later.  In 1861, she was living with her daughter-in-law Eliza (Wells) Dobson, widow of Job, and their four young children.

Charlotte Dobson - 1861 Census Botsford - Pg 111861 Census of New Brunswick, Westmorland, Botsford – Pg 11

Charlotte died some time after 1861, having had 12 children, at least 120 grandchildren and at least 91 great-grandchildren (those were the numbers in Richard’s obituary in 1855 – no doubt there were more grandchildren and great-grandchildren by the time Charlotte died.)

The reason I chose Charlotte for this week’s 52 Ancestors post is because the prompt for this week was “longevity”.

Longevity

With the exception of Miranda Allen, who died of dropsy at age 39, my maternal ancestors have all lived good long lives. So if longevity is passed down through mitochondrial DNA, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape!