This map of Amherst Island, Ontario is from 1878 and shows my great-great grandfather’s land that he owned just to the west of Stella, the island’s biggest town. In the larger map at the top, it would be just below and to the left of the “Q” in Bay of Quinte. John Wilson (former Johan Rustad from Sweden) arrived on the island in 1857.
I stumbled upon this website, Rural Diary Archive, because I was researching my Wilson/Thompson/Gibson line on Amherst Island, Ontario. The founder of the project, Dr. Catharine Anne Wilson (maybe a relative, maybe not!), wrote a book called A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada, which explores landlord-tenant relationships on Amherst Island especially tenant families that migrated from the Ards Peninsula in County Down to Amherst Island between 1820 and 1860.
Anyway, the Rural Diary Archive “showcases over 150 Ontario diarists from 1800 to 1960.” The diaries come from museums and archives across Ontario. You can search transcribed diaries, as well as browse by county, occupation, ethnicity/nationality, and religion. I did find one diary from Amherst Island, written in 1872-1879 by George Wright. That is part of the time period the Wilson’s and Thompson’s lived on the island, but I haven’t a chance to read it yet. Hopefully, it will give me some insight on daily life.
The Archive also has a Twitter account (@RuralDiaries) that tweets diary entries in an “On this Day” format.
Week 24 (June 10-16): Dear Diary
I love learning family members’ middle names. Sometimes they are unusual or passed down in the family. But sometimes they are the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden names. So if a relative has a middle name that sounds an awful lot like a surname, you may have hit on a female relative’s maiden name.
My grandfather and two of his siblings have the maiden names of their mother and both grandmothers as middle names:
- Charles Thompson Wilson, born May 1907 – Thompson was his mother Mary’s maiden name
- William Gibson Wilson, born September 1908 – Gibson was his paternal grandmother Mary Ann’s maiden name
- Theresa Dunning Wilson, born December 1909 – Dunning was her maternal grandmother Elizabeth’s maiden name
Week 23 (June 3-9): Namesake
For this prompt, I though I would include some pictures of a couple of farmers from both sides of my family, caught in the act of farming.
Week 20 (May 13-19): Nature
John Andrew Wilson is #12 on my ahnentafel table (a numbered ancestor chart). He is my mother’s paternal grandfather.
John was born February 26, 1874 on Amherst Island, Lennox & Addington, Ontario, Canada to John A. Wilson, a mariner from Sweden, and Mary Ann Gibson from Ireland.
In the 1881 Canadian census the Wilson family was living on Howe Island in Frontenac, Ontario. At the time, John was 7 years old, living with his parents, his sisters Annie (17), Eliza (15), and brother Hugh (9). A married sister, Rose Mary Beaubien, was living on Amherst Island with her husband and baby. By 1891, all the sisters were married and their father had died in 1889. Hugh was now a farmer and the head of household at aged 20. His mother, brother John (17), and a servant John Breene (21) were also living there.
On November 1, 1898, John married Mary Agnes Thompson (1872-1940) in Deseronto, Hastings, Ontario. At the time, John was living on Howe Island and was a farmer, while Mary lived in Deseronto.
In the 1901 census, John, Mary, and their 1-year-old daughter Annie Maud were living with John’s mother on Howe Island. There was also a farm laborer named Matthew Farrell living with them. On March 9, 1902, John and Mary’s son Hugh was born on Howe Island. In 1902/1903, John bought a farm property on Highway 2 in Pittsburg Township, east of Kingston and across the river from Howe Island. There, son Cecil was born on March 19, 1903. Over the next five years, five more children were born including John (1905), Marjorie (1906), Charles (1907), William (1908), and Theresa (1909). In the 1911 census, the family was still farming in Pittsburg Township and John’s mother was living with them. However, their daughter Annie Maud had died in 1904.
John and Mary had two more sons: Clarence Stuart (1914) and Earle Sanford (1916). In the 1921 census, John’s mother was still living with the family in Pittsburg Twp. and the Hugh had moved out work across the river in Syracuse, New York. Throughout the 1920s, many of the Wilson sons would go to either New York or Detroit, Michigan for work. John’s mother Mary Ann died in September 1923 after a broken hip and pneumonia.
John died of carcinoma of the stomach on November 25, 1930 at home. He had had cancer for 7 months and on May 13, 1930 he had an operation to prevent a stomach obstruction. He was buried November 27th in Willowbank Cemetery in Gananoque. His wife Mary died April 29, 1940. Their son John was living in Detroit with his pregnant wife at the time. His son, also named John, was born in Detroit on May 16, 1940. After this they returned to Pittsburg Township to run the farm.
Week 12 (March 18-24): 12
My great-aunt Grace, the wife of my grandpa’s brother Hugh, was always described as a nice woman. I didn’t know her well; I only remember meeting her once or twice.
Grace Wood was born August 19, 1901 in Frontenac County, Ontario to William Edlow Wood and Mary Ellen ‘Nellie’ Barr. In 1911, the family, with the addition of a son William Earl, was living in Kingston, Ontario. William was a contractor and the family’s religion was the Holiness Movement.
In 1921, Grace was a boarder with the Robert Ranous family in Pittsburgh Township, Ontario (the same township Hugh was from and where his family was living in 1921). She was a schoolteacher and a 7th Day Adventist. I don’t know anything about how Grace and Hugh met, but they were married in Ottawa on March 26, 1940 when both Grace and Hugh were 38 years old.
Hugh was elected reeve of Pittsburgh Township for 1967-1968. According to Wikipedia, “in some small townships in Ontario, the title reeve was historically used instead of mayor.”
In 1976, Aunt Grace got to meet her pen pal of 62 years Muriel Stafford from Sydney Australia. They began writing in about 1914 when Grace was 13 and Muriel was 11. According to the article, “The Victoria League in Australia and the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire in Kingston sent names of potential pen pals into schools.” Grace said she chose Australia because she “was more interested in Australia than any other part of the British Empire.”
This sweet lady died in 1995. Hugh had died February 2, 1979. They are buried in Glenwood Cemetery on Amherst Island, Ontario next to Hugh’s grandparents.
Week 51 (December 17-23): Nice [still trying to finish up 2018!]
In looking through my photos on my Ancestry tree, I noticed I don’t have very many photographs of bearded ancestors. Most are clean-shaven or have mustaches. However, I have this great image of my great-great grandfather Archibald Thompson.
Archibald Thompson was born in either 1838 or 1841 in either Ireland or Scotland. He arrived in Canada in about 1857 and lived on Amherst Island, Ontario. He married Elizabeth Dunning in about 1860. He was a sailor, then a farmer. Archie and Elizabeth had 11 children, including my great-grandmother Mary. In the mid-1890s, the family moved to Deseronto, Hastings, Ontario. Elizabeth died in 1912 and Archibald died on 24 Feb 1931 at the age of 93 (if the DOB on his death certificate is accurate).
“Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNSZ-YHC : 8 March 2018), Archibald Thompson, 24 Feb 1931; citing Frontenac, Pittsburg, Ontario, 108, Registrar General. Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 2,296,529.
52 Ancestors Week 45: Bearded (Nov. 5-11)
This my Great-Grandfather, John A. Wilson’s farm in Pittsburgh Township, Ontario. The farm was located on R.R. 2 near the Howe Island Ferry Road/Joyceville Road.
I did a post in 2008 about an architectural survey done about the farmhouse, formerly the Robert Way house. Find that post here.
Week 25 – The Old Homestead
Today I’d like to discuss the last surviving child of John and Mary Wilson, my grandfather’s brother Stu. He lived to the age of 98!
Stu was the 9th of 10 children born to John Wilson and Mary Thompson. He was born in Pittsburgh Township (now Kingston), Ontario on April 21, 1914. In the 1921 Canadian census, Stu is living on the Wilson farm in Pittsburgh Township with his parents, his paternal grandmother, and 7 brothers and sisters. The oldest son, Hugh, had moved out. The oldest daughter, Annie Maude, had died at the age of 4 in 1904.
Stu crossed the border at Buffalo, N.Y. on April 26, 1948 in order to reside in the United States. He lists my grandfather, Charles, as his contact in the U.S. At the time, Stu was a machinist living in Toronto.
His Declaration of Intention for U.S. citizenship is dated March 18, 1949 in Houston, Texas. Stu married Willa Mary Craig (Aunt Mary) on July 30, 1949 (I’m assuming in Canada). On October 18, 1949, his new wife Mary came through Port Huron, Michigan on her way to her husband’s residence in Houston. Within the next few years, they had a son. By 1952, the Wilson family was living in Flint, Michigan where, according to the city directory, Stu was a machinist at Buick.
This is all I know about Uncle Stu from the documents. I know they moved to Ottawa, but I’m not sure when. I remember them coming from Canada to visit my grandparents in the 1980s.
Today is the third anniversary of Uncle Stu’s death. His obituary from The Ottawa Citizen of Jan. 9, 2013 reads as follows:
WILSON, Clarence Stuart (longtime resident Fraser Ave.) Passed away in Ottawa on January 7, 2013. Born April 21, 1914 in Pittsburg Township (Kingston), Stuart was the surviving member of his family of 10 brothers and sisters. He is predeceased by his beloved wife Mary (nee Craig of Tamworth/Kingston) and survived by his son, Gordon, daughter-in-law, Joanne, and grandsons, Mark and Jeff. Stuart lived a long and wonderful life, characterized by a positive attitude, quick wit and concern for others. He will be missed by all who knew him. Thanks to all who have assisted Stuart in various ways over the past few years. There are no words to adequately express our gratitude to Chris and Astrid whose capacity for caring made such an immense difference in the quality of Stuart’s later life. A private family service will be held. Online condolences can be made at http://www.colefuneralservices.com.
The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902-1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: M1480; Roll: 159; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number: 85
52 Ancestors #16 – Live Long
Yikes, I’m really behind on my 52 ancestors. Now to play catch-up.
Robert Gibson, my 3rd Great-Grandfather, was born about 1805 in Ireland. His family was from the Ards Peninsula (shown on map above) in County Down, Northern Ireland. They likely moved to Ireland from Scotland. According to Catharine Anne Wilson, Scotch-Irish families “emigrated from 1820 to 1860 from the United Parish of St. Andrews in Northern Ireland to Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada.” (Wilson, C. A. (1997). The Scotch-Irish and Immigrant Culture on Amherst Island, Ontario. In H. T. Blethen & C. Wood (Eds.), Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish (134-145). Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press.) St. Andrews was six miles north of Portaferry, from which many ships departed.
Robert married Mary McCormick in Ireland in the 1830s. They had at least five children between 1837 and 1850, including my great-great grandmother Mary Ann. According to her 1911 Canada Census entry, Mary Ann arrived on Amherst Island in 1857, which is when, I assume, the rest of the family came. This also fits the emigration time frame put forth by Wilson. She was married with a daughter by 1859 on the island. In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, Robert and Mary were living on Amherst Island. He was listed as Presbyterian and she was listed as Roman Catholic. In April 1881, they were living with their son Hugh (1848-1881) and his wife Elizabeth and their two children, William and Mary Ellen. Hugh died in June 1881 and a son, also named Hugh, was born in February 1882.
Robert died on May 5, 1882 of dyspepsia. He might be buried in St. Bartholomew’s Cemetery on Amherst Island. His wife Mary died on January 13, 1886 of dropsy of the heart.
52 Ancestors #11 – Luck of the Irish