Whither Thou Goest . . .

In 1906 my grandfather, Richard Walker Phillips, was granted a land patent in the tiny hamlet of Magnet, Manitoba, Canada. The town was surrounded by 3 lakes; Lake Dauphin to the west, Lake Winnipegosis to the north and Lake Manitoba to the east, as you will see below.

Magnet, Manitoba Location

When it was first settled in the 1880’s, it was primarily inhabited by Ojibway and Cree people who proved to be of invaluable help to the early settlers. In fact, I have often thought on how the line was blurred between my mother’s upbringing and that of a native child. Of course, a certain social divide was maintained but growing up on the land was something they all had in common. One of my aunts just recently told me that she used to gather seneca root (snakeroot) to sell when she was a child. Seneca was used initially for snake bite but was later used as part of medicinal formulas to treat bronchitis. During the depression it was gathered to provide income for the farmers.

To obtain a land grant you first had to register and meet the requirements of the “Dominion Land Act“. That stipulated that you must clear 10 acres within 3 years or lose the land. Since Richard was working on a farm in Portage la Prairie in 1911, I assume he found time to clear the land in Magnet while he was working there. By 1915, he and my grandmother, Jane Gartshore Smith, were living in Wellwood, Manitoba and were married at the Methodist Church in Neepawa.  By this time, Sophie Phillips, Richard’s sister, had come to the area and married Richard Mason. Now, you had George, Sophie and Richard all living in the same area.

Sophie Phillips Mason and family

Sophie Phillips Mason and family

By 1916, Richard and Jane had come by wagon to the homestead with their new baby, George Holmes, the third. I have seen a picture of the log house they built with laundry hanging on the line outside of it.  Whatever, my grandmother felt about the new life she had signed up for, she apparently was not lowering the standards she had learned in Glasgow. Her house never did fall into that state of country homeliness that I found in so many of my friends homes. Rather, it had a somewhat spartan air about it, comfortable but everything in it’s place. Of course, I only knew her when she was in her 70’s, what her house was like when she had 7 children running around I don’t know. Somehow I don’t see it being too different. Later in life, she acquired some lovely furniture, but kept it all tucked away in her tiny front room. No one could enter unless it was time for Don Messer’s Jubilee or the Tommy Hunter show.

There are a few things to think about here. One is how one makes it in these circumstances, not just physically but mentally. I have moved many times in my life and each time was full of expectation and hope for the future. AND a leaving behind of the problems that got you moving in the first place. So it goes that the hardship in setting up a new place is an adventure and a fresh experience. Leaving a life of service and the grime of an industrial city for the fresh air and freedom of a new land would be a great incentive for Jane. For my grandfather, Richard, the loss of both his parents and a beloved grandfather, would drive him and his siblings overseas.

But first, you had to worry about shelter, heat and water. My grandfather got the shelter built, they would probably have had a wood stove of some kind (with the accompanying threat of fire) and water hauled from the creek . There was still a leg-hold trap under the sink when I visited as a teen-ager which my crawling brother almost got into.  For food, everything was there, if you wanted to go and get it. There was fish in the lakes, deer and moose to be hunted, and berries to be picked in spring.

I cannot be sure if my grandmother’s cooking was the same when she was older as before but we had some pretty plain food. She always gave a farm breakfast, eggs, porridge, toast and tea. But you were likely to get crabapple preserves with cream for lunch, including the stem and all (with a few cloves thrown in for good measure). At night you might have a meal of “mince”, which was basically simmered ground beef thickened with flour.  As a ravenous teen, I did not appreciate my mother carrying on this tradition! Jean would have had to cook for the men during harvest as well. Her later house in Ochre River, only had a tiny root cellar in it where her preserves were stored. At times it would fill with water if the sump pump failed.

Meeting Gramma Jean (I'm the baby)

Meeting Gramma Jean at 4 months

In 1916, Richard and Jane had the brother in law, George living with them. He spent most of the remainder of his life with them; though he had his own farm and when he wasn’t travelling back to Ireland or making trips to Winnipeg. He did meet a girl and marry once, but she wasn’t for that kind of life. The sister, Sophie took up residence on a neighboring farm. She had taken up nursing when she was young and delivered some of her nephews and nieces. When her husband died, she even ended up marrying a man from a neighboring farm. So, by this time they were surrounded by the people they would know for the rest of their lives.

By 1921, Dick and Jean were living on a different section of land with the 3 oldest children. Sometime around this period, a little girl was born who lived to be 4 years old (this told to me by my grandmother). I don’t know how she died and I have no certain record of her. Diphtheria was rife at that time and many families lost children to it.

George, Heather and Sheila Phillips c.1836

George, Heather and Sheila Phillips c.1936

At times like those, the community banded around each other. That is part of how you survived out there. They created there own social times, played hockey (even if a few eyes got knocked out) , had a women’s committee, which my Aunt Sophie belonged to and seasonal dances, played baseball in the summer when they weren’t swimming in the lakes. When my grandfather finally built a house, he had help from the neighbours. When it burned down, taking all my grandmother’s memories and money she was saving for a trip home, they helped him put another one back up. Later on, Dick and George would buy and sell cattle and horses, an activity they would have known something about since some of their Irish relatives did the same. In 1918, Dick belonged to the Orange Lodge in Wellwood.

Lodge-membership-R.W.

 

 

Uncle George St. Rose

George Phillips (dark suit on the right) at a Cattle Auction

In that environment, everything was new. The train line didn’t come into Magnet until 1924 and on that day there would have been great celebration, after all the work it took to clear the land and make way for it. It was 1921 when a pay phone was installed in the local store but it would be 1959 before home phones could be installed and 1996 before private lines were installed. I actually remember living in Dauphin, the nearest main centre in 1968 and finding out that other people were listening into my teen conversations!

Mail was of course delivered by horse and buggy in summer and sleigh in winter. Eventually post-offices were set up in private homes with the owners making bids for the privilege but eventually, in 1970, the mail was moved to the post office in Rorketon a near by town and you had to pick it up there. I remember my grandmother actually getting dressed up to walk down to the post office after she moved to Ochre River, another small town. It was only a block away but it was an outing for her. She was “going into town”. There she would meet and have a small conversation with the post mistress and meet her other neighbours. They always called her “Mrs. Phillips”.

Jane Smith Phillips c.1942

Jane Smith Phillips c.1942

My grandmother’s last pregnancy, with my mom, was a difficult one. She was 46 and the years had taken some toll on her health. My mother was the first child to be born in hospital ( if you want to call it that, it was part of the doctor’s house). My grandmother started to hemorrhage and it was a close call for both of them. I think that is one reason my grand mother called her Sheila JOY Richard Phillips. She was probably so glad to just get through it. Here is a pic of the darling little girl.

Sheila kitten 1942 c.r.

Sheila Phillips c. 1940

The horse below, Jessie, was the horse that my mother and her siblings rode to school. I say rode but Jessie (so named after Gramma’s oldest sister) knew the way back and forth. She would walk home by herself and come and get Mom when school was over. Mom rode her bareback. Mom never was afraid of horses, unlike her daughter!

Jessie and Mae Rev 2014

Jessie and Mae                      Sheila’s School Horses

 

Richard and Sheila c.1943

Richard and Sheila c.1943

Magnet School c.1942

Magnet School c.1942, Sheila top left

Magnet School c. 1945

Magnet School c. 1945   Sheila 3rd back right

By 1957, Dick and Jean had retired to Ochre River, Manitoba. I don’t know why they picked Ochre River, but there seemed to be many families of British extraction there. My grandfather bought half of an airport hotel (re-purposing buildings was a major activity there) and they set up house on a very pretty piece of property which sat on the highway going into Dauphin. There was a small river over to the side of it, called Ochre because the rock under it had that colour. That little river still wreaks havoc in the spring if it gets plugged with ice. In the late 60’s they were still pumping water and using the outhouse.

Richard, George and Jean Phillips c.1960

Richard, George and Jean Phillips c.1960

In Ochre River, they made many friends and lived out the rest of their lives. Family came and went including myself.  I remember sitting on the floor beside my grandmother as she sat knitting. I knew I would probably never get another chance to ask what it was like. She did not like talking about the past.
She said  ” Londa, the wind blew and the wolves were throwing themselves at the door. Your grandfather was away and I had to go out to see to the animals.”
“What about the kids? I asked her.
Well, there were 6 of them and I left them with the oldest.”
The oldest boy, George who had to help deliver one of her babies.
“But what about the wolves?”
“I just opened up the ” blammed” door and shot at them!”
There were always two guns in the house, one above the door and one standing in the corner.

In 1967, my grandmother was awarded a Pioneer Certificate of Recognition for her contributions to the settler community.

Pioneer Award for Jane Richard had passed away in 1964 at age 74. She joined him in 1975 at age 88. Until then, she lived in the little house by the river. This is one of my favorite photos of her, though poorly taken. It is Jane as I knew her.

Jane in front yard c.r.

This is my grandfather, Richard Phillips as I knew him.

Richard Phillips

They are both buried with old Uncle George in the Magnet Cemetery.

Headstone, Jane Phillips, Magnet, MB 2007

Headstone, Richard Phillips, Magnet, MB. 2007 Headstone, George Phillips, Magnet, MB. 2007

Who Are These People?

Aside

One has to wonder who some of the people that collected census information were. That is the case with many records online and off. As I come nearer to writing about my maternal grandparents lives in Canada, I am once again looking at the various records available for them. Two of the census records for my grandfather are ridiculously incorrect, not to mention the handwriting alone. I mean, how hard is it to add an s onto the end of a name? Were they hard of hearing? Also, the transcribers; one wonders how much effort they actually put into reading a document. When does ” —-ger”  turn into “son”? Thankfully ancestry.ca lets you correct the index supplied with the image ( or rather, add alternative information). It may be a little more difficult with other websites.

But what if you are looking at the actual document? These things can throw you off the trail. My grandfather’s death certificate is a blithering mess! They have his name as Richard Walter instead of Walker. His birth date is wrong. There is no known birthplace in Ireland for both the parents. Thank you very much Uncle George! It’s hard to believe that he would mistake his brother’s second name. So you have a combination of clerical error and the unknown. But Uncle George went back to his home in Ireland he knew where it was. One has to make allowances for trying times.  That is why you need more than one source of information.

So, my grandfather who was a LODGER at a farm became the SON of the farmer and who knew where he came from because it was all blotted out when the writer tried to overwrite his mistake. His birthplace was transcribed as England not Ireland. That was the 1911 Canadian census. In the 1916 Prairie census, George is spelled Gorege, Anglican is spelled Anghica! Those are straight forward mistakes to correct and the fact that they are transcribed on ancestry is a bonus. But if they are wrongly transcribed that is a problem. I have other records which help but many other people might not.

That being said, the census records are wonderful because they tell you so many things which I will not go into here. There is an almost psychological effect created. For example, why did my grandfather say he came over in 1905 on the 1916 and 1921 census when it was 1907 (He says on the passenger list he had not been across before). His older brother George, whom he was very close  to, came in 1905. One wonders if he thought it would be better to say they came over in the same year for some reason. My grandmother says she is the same age as him. She was in fact 3 years older. She says she came over in 1914 one time and 1915 the next. And that’s great because the closest passenger list I have for her is in 1911!

You get to see who their neighbors were. I read the names on the lines above and below and I hear the varying emotions in my mother’s voice as she talked about them, laughter, sarcasm, sadness and wistfulness as she looked back at her girlhood. You could take the girl out of the country but not the country out of the girl.

I think that one of the best ways to get on the path of your family is to get the actual birth, marriage and death certificates. That gives you something solid to start on. For the main part, family stories are just that, stories. They alter as they are passed on though there is always a thread of truth in them  What they told the law is another thing. Time to “fess up” as they say!

 

The Family of Jane Gartshore Smith 2

One might think of Glasgow, Scotland as being a perfect example of the effects of the Industrial Revolution, why the very catalyst for it was a Scottish invention. James Watt, the mechanical engineer and inventor had improved upon the Newcomen steam engine allowing for greater production levels than ever before. However, along with the great prosperity came unprecedented population growth that led to poverty, disease and squalor. You can get a sense of the situation here.

Initially, James and Marion lived at William Millers Land in Airdrie, New Monkland along with their first born Jessie and Marion’s sister Elizabeth Gartshore.  My grandmother, Jane was born at 7 Paddock Street on December 13, 1887. I believe Paddock Street still exists, and 7 Paddock would have been where there is now a care center. In the 1891 census, the family was at 6 Sykeside .Sykeside is a continuation of Paddock Street but though I contacted the map department of the National Library there, no location for that address could be found on a map of that time. Paddock was there but no #7. Perhaps, the two addresses were in the same location.

Paddock and Sykeside Streets, Coatbridge

Paddock and Sykeside Streets, Coatbridge

After the death of Jane in 1975, my aunt and uncle went to Scotland to try to find these places. My aunt said they had gone to a large house which I believe would have been at 3 School Street. I am not sure whether she knew that it was a multiple dwelling. They then went to visit my grandmother’s two youngest sisters who were quite elderly and did not want to let them in. That behavior was also typical of my grandmother. No one got past the door unless they were invited in!  I remember her telling me to never live in a “port city”, glad she doesn’t know where I am now!

Here is a picture of my grandmother, taken at Studio Cecil on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. That studio operated between 1901-14 which would put her age at between 14-25 years. She looks very young though and her clothing shows a modicum of affluence.

Jane Gartshore Smith

Jane Gartshore Smith

One of the ways that people survived these times was through family and acquaintances. That being said, once you were old enough, generally around 14, you were out in the world. My grandmother was not at 6 Sykeside in Coatbridge in the 1901 census nor any that followed very likely out at work. I do know that she came to Canada with a trunk full of beautiful gowns which she “made down” for her oldest girl Heather.

Marion Smith died in 1913 of a cerebral hemorrhage at 4 School Street in Coatbridge. James, surprisingly, in view of his profession, would not die until 1934, aged 77, from heart problems. That was at 3 Reid Street in Coatbridge, the home of Margaret his youngest daughter. There were murmurings of the coming war with Germany. Whatever Jane was doing, she packed up her trunk and left Scotland for good. She left behind the following siblings:

Jessie born in 1880, was the oldest of the Smith children. She went to work as a domestic at the home of the Montgomery family who were grocers at 6 Cecil Street in Govan, Glasgow. She spent all of her life with that family, finally marrying the son, Alexander in 1914 when she was 34 and he was 36.  One wonders what the impediment might have been previous to that. One of the witnesses is Jeannie Smith, one would suppose to be my grandmother.
The couple had no children. So Jessie rose to becoming a woman of some means, passing some money on to close members of the family and the remainder of her estate to another sister upon her death in June of 1949.

Annabella, the second child, born in 1883,  spent her young years in the same way (in service) until she met Joseph Collins Peat. It is likely that Joe was an acquaintance of her brothers since he was an iron worker as well. They were married in 1908. Joe served in the machine gun corps during the war. In 1920, they left Scotland for New South Wales, Australia. At that time, they had 4 children, Marion, Joseph, James and George. Marion was 7 years old which would mean that they had no children until 1915 unless some stayed behind. Like my grandmother, Annabella would be leaving her family behind to start a life in a strange and hard land, especially with her husband working in the mines. You can find them at Linlithgow, McQuarrie, NSW, in the Australian Electoral Rolls.

Joe and Annabella Smith Peat 1908

Joe and Annabella Smith Peat 1908

I have always been fascinated by the bodice of Anna’s wedding outfit. It shows such an intricate celtic design. She was obviously proud of her heritage. Now if we only knew what colour her dress was!

Annabella's Wedding Dress

Annabella’s Wedding Dress

To Be Continued …..

The Family of Jane Gartshore Smith

In previous posts, I had talked about my grandfather, Richard Walker Phillips, being sent to Canada by Walter Bates, his uncle. Walter and Sophie, the youngest McDowell girl had taken over the farm at Lisheenamalausa in Tipperary when Alice McDowell died in 1904. It has been difficult to gauge the exact circumstances of the family at that time. William, the patriarch, had died under very unusual circumstances, his throat being cut by a scythe in a cart accident. The resulting hemorrhage did not kill him immediately but rather debilitated him until his death some months later. He left a substantial estate including houses, land and insurances by which all the family benefited including Richard and his siblings. There was enough money for Richard (called Dick of course) to come to Canada via New York on the maiden voyage of the Lusitania in 1907. Neither brother, Richard or George brought a lot of money with them and took labouring jobs when they came to Canada. There is no sign of them actually working together but George is listed as Richards contact in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The main purpose for both was to earn enough to “land a homestead” which they eventually did in the Lawrence municipality.

In the meantime, Jane Gartshore Smith, my grandmother, worked and saved enough to go to New York to meet her intended. As you might guess, her name is a logistical nightmare when looking for genealogy records. Her claim was that she arrived in Canada in 1913. The engagement did not last however, because she did not get along with her fiance’s sister.After that, she took work as a domestic and in that way, met my grandfather who was working on either the same farm or one close by.

Jane (called Jean) came from a large family of iron-worker. The Smith family originated in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, the Gartshores in Dunbartonshire. Like most people of that time, they were originally farmers until the mines came in. Then they traveled to where the work was.

Jane’s paternal grandparents, John and Annabella Smith were married on the 5th of August, 1836 in Muirkirk, Ayrshire.

Marriage of John Smith and Annabella McGhee

Marriage of John Smith and Annabella McGhee

By 1861, they had 8 children, James my great-grandfather being the youngest. In 1863, Annabella died of uterine cancer. John was still alive on the 1881 census at the age of 65.

On April 11th, 1879 James Smith married Marion Reid Gartshore in New Monkland, Lanark.

Marriage of James Smith and Marion Gartshore

Marriage of James Smith and Marion Gartshore

Marion’s parents, John Gartshore and Janet Gray were from Coatbridge. He too was an iron-worker. They married on the 28th of November, 1847.

Marriage of John Gartshore and Janet Gray

Marriage of John Gartshore and Janet Gray

John and Janet had 10 children, my great-grandmother, Marion being the seventh. Janet died in 1875 of gastritis (so easily treatable today) . The story in our family was of how Marion had to help raise the family after her mother died. By following the Scottish censuses you can see John, her father moving around from one child’s place to another, possibly lost after the death of his wife. He lived for a period of time with James and Marion so my grandmother would have known him well. John died in 1901. Here is a chart with my Gartshore family line on it. Thanks to Sondra Gartshore Jernigan.

Family Line for John Gartshore

Family Line for John Gartshore

In the next post I will talk about my grandmother and her siblings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration and Incentive

What is the relevance of family history? Part of it is simply finding the names of your ancestors listed in connection with the main players and events in history. My maternal grandmothers name was Jane Gartshore Smith. Her parents were Marion Reid Gartshore and James Smith .These names were found in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, a place with some historical connection to Charles I, Bonny Prince Charlie and Robert the Bruce.

Kirkintilloch and Glasgow

Kirkintilloch and Glasgow

The name Gartshore (in the form Galfrud) was found on a charter of exgambion (land grant) from Alexander II and was written about in a book by Thomas Watson called “Kirkintilloch, Town and Parish” (1894).

Gartshore Land Grant

Gartshore Land Grant

Later on in the book he quotes :

Gartshore and King Charles I

Gartshore and King Charles I

I have not researched these families intensively yet but I did have an experience with a lady  who is related to the Gartshore family that came to Canada around 1800. They were an educated family of engineers and one of them, John Gartshore became well known in Canada for supplying steam driven pumping engines to the old Hamilton Waterworks. We have the same ancestors up to a certain period but then my “Two Brother” theory kicks in. That is based on the concept that every family will have two brothers who part ways and the fortunes of their families differ accordingly, either up or down. If you would like to read about the above John you will find a paper on him by his descendants here.  The Gartshore estate in Kirkintilloch passed into the hands of a Murray who took the name of Gartshore but it is now basically a pile of rubble.

What happened to my family up to 1800 I will have to find out. As far as I can tell they were miners and then iron-workers. As I say my grandmother was the first over in 1913. Her family were a direct product of the Industrial Revolution. Glasgow was the archetypal city of that era, calling herself “The Second City of the Empire”.

Watson also writes about James Smith as being one of the Covenanters,who is buried at the Martyr’s Stone outside of Kirkintilloch.

Martyrs Stone t.wat.

Martyr's Stone

Martyr's Stone (fjstuart)

Martyr’s Stone (fjstuart)

The two were found unarmed and made an example of but gave up their lives willingly.

The  MacDowall clan were part of the rising against Robert the Bruce.Their kin, the MacDougall’s were in possession of the Brooch of Lorn, said to be torn off of the Bruce’s cloak when they ambushed him at the Battle of Dalrigh. Today there is some question as to the authenticity of the brooch but it has been legend for many years. William McDowell was my 2nd great grandfather. His family went to Ulster during the Plantation of Ireland.

On the flip-side, my maiden name is Beauchamp. That side of the family is French-Canadian. William de Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick, was Edward I’s best friend and lead military commander against the Welsh . There is a long history of chivalry and crusades in that family and a Coat of Arms.

Beauchamp Coat of Arms

Beauchamp Coat of Arms

Which would you rather, a colorful history or a page of names and dates? How much is YOUR ancestors life worth?

 

 

 

 

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