Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Infamous Nicholas Hart (1610-1654?)

Nicholas Hart, the first Hart of this line in America, and the first known Hart of this line--period, is my eight times great grandfather. He is currently one of my top five favourite ancestors, along with Herbert Charles Saunders, Emma Green Cook, Melvin J. Hart, and Captain Charles Wright. This is not only because he is the first known Hart of the line and I carry his surname, or because he was part of the first great wave of emigration to Colonial America in the early 1600’s, but also because he was a bit notorious. I am still researching him, but I will tell you what I know so far.

Where and when he was born and died is not certain. It is likely that he was born around 1610 in England. Where he was born has not been ascertained with certainty, but London and Devon are candidates. His father may have been named “Richard”. Nicholas’s name does not seem have been recorded as one of the passengers on the early ships of the “Great Migration”, but this is not unusual. We do know that he was married to Joanna Rossiter of Massachusetts, youngest daughter of Edward Rossiter, who was an assistant to the first governor of the colonies, John Winthrop. The Rossiters appear to have come from London, England. Whether Nicholas and Joanna were married before or after they came to America is not certain. They appear to have had only one child, Richard, likely born in America. Nicholas was a merchant living in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1642. He then moved to Boston in 1643 where he lived until 1648, and from there moved to Warwick, Rhode Island. He is known to have served in the colonial wars of 1643 as a soldier in Captain William Pool’s company. He appears to have died in Warwick in about 1654.

Nicholas was excommunicated from the Puritan Church in about 1642, and I have not yet discovered why. When I was still thinking that Nicholas’s son Richard had married the daughter of Sarah Dudley, daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley, I discovered some references to Nicholas Hart having attended Sarah’s excommunication in October 1647. (Sarah was not only the Governor’s daughter, but also the sister of the first published poet in America, Ann Bradstreet). I also discovered that she was accused of having had an affair with “a man from Taunton”, and I naturally wondered if this man could be Nicholas. I later did find some references flatly stating that the man was indeed Nicholas Hart, and that they had fallen into “scandalous, lewd, and odious unclean behaviour”. I wonder if Nicholas’s decision to move to Rhode Island from Boston was precipitated by the scandal. I look forward to doing further research into both excommunications, and hope to read the detailed accounts. (Sarah’s excommunication appears to have been recorded in the records of the First Church of Boston). I am sure we will never know if they were really heretics and adulterers. Sarah’s husband certainly believed she was unfaithful, according to the letters he wrote about her. He did admit that he had no evidence, however. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knows anything further about Nicholas. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Three Richard Harts in Early America

My five times great grandfather, Captain Richard Hart, the third in a line of Richard Harts, was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island on December 22, 1704, and died there on July 22, 1792. He was the son of Richard Hart and Hannah Williams Hart. His siblings were Alice, Mary, Sarah, and a half-brother Stephen a and half-sister Comfort. He appears to have been a farmer his whole life. On February 4, 1725, he first married Mary Taber, great granddaughter of John Cooke, Mayflower passenger, and great great granddaughter of Francis Cooke and Richard Warren, Mayflower passengers who signed the Mayflower Compact. She was the daughter of John Taber and Susannah Manchester. Richard and Mary had ten children, John, Hannah, William Phoebe, Richard, Mary, Lombard, Susannah, Jeremiah, and Philip. On June 10, 1744, Richard inherited from his father his “beetle rings, wedges, and five shillings”, despite being the eldest son. His younger half-brother Stephen inherited their father’s land, and his mother, Richard’s stepmother, lived there with him after their father’s death. After Mary’s death, on November 1, 1760, Richard married Abigail Lake on October 18, 1761, at the age of fifty-six. Abigail, age 41, was the widow of John Taber, the son of Mary’s great uncle (i.e. Mary’s first cousin once removed?). Abigail and John had already raised a large family, and it appears that Abigail and Captain Richard had no children together. Richard earned the title of “captain” in the militia during the “Indian Wars”, which I believe is another way of saying the “French and Indian Wars”, the last major conflict in the colonies before the American Revolution. It seems that in Colonial America, these military titles were highly prized, and that once received they were kept.

Captain Richard Hart’s father, Richard Hart II, my six times great grandfather, was born in 1667 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island, and died in Little Compton, Rhode Island, about 1745. His parents were Richard Hart and Hannah (?Anna) Keen. Richard seems to have been the second eldest child in a family of six children. His siblings were Alice, Nicholas, Mary, William and Samuel. Richard, like his son and namesake, appears to have been a farmer. He is thought to have married Hannah Williams in 1693. They had the children listed above. Hannah is another “brick wall” on my family tree. I have not yet been able to determine her parents to my satisfaction, and I have not found enough evidence that the candidates chosen by other researchers are correct, and have excluded another. That is, this Hannah Williams cannot be the daughter of Capt. Isaac Williams and Martha Parke because their daughter was the second wife of John Hyde and died on April 28, 1739. See "History of the early settlement of Newton, county of Middlesex, Massachusets", p. 314 and p. 438 (available in card catalogue of This Hannah apparently had no children, and wrote a famous will leaving everything to her siblings and their children excluding the children of her spouse. After our Hannah’s death before 1708, Richard, at the age of about forty-one married Amey Gibbs, age about twenty, on October 31, 1708. They appear to have had two children, mentioned above, Stephen and Comfort. Amey is said to have long outlived Richard and to have worn a path on the farm to the small graveyard there, where his headstone was among five “plain granite stones”. This path was called the “Amey Hart Path”. Richard’s extant will, to which I have already referred,  interestingly refers to his “writings”, which are willed to his son Stephen, along with his farm. Would that his writings were extant, too. If anyone knows anything about them, I would be grateful if you would share this with me.

Richard’s father, Richard Hart the first, my seven times great grandfather, was born about 1640 possibly in Rhode Island. He was the only known child of the first known Hart of this line, and the first known Hart of this line in America, Nicholas Hart, and Joanna Rossiter Hart, the daughter of Governor John Winthrop’s assistant, Edward Rossiter. Richard’s wife is reported to have been Hannah Keen, yet another “brick wall” on my tree. They married about 1663 when Richard was about twenty-three. Many people on Ancestry have Hannah as the daughter of Sarah Dudley, the daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts, and Benjamin Keayne. However, their daughter Hannah was the wife of Edward Lane and Nicholas Page, and not Richard Hart. This is not to say that there is no connection between the Harts and the Dudleys. There is, and this will be discussed in my next posting, when I will talk about the infamous Nicholas Hart. One marriage record refers to our Hannah as "Mrs. Hannah Keen", therefore Keen may have been her married name. Our Richard and Hannah had the six children listed previously. Richard had been granted eight acres of land in Portsmouth in 1657 at the age of about seventeen, and sold half his land at the age of twenty-two in 1662 before he was married. He was a mariner, and likely lost his life at sea during a gale in January 1695 near Boston harbour at the age of about fifty-five. He had been on the sloop, the “Dragoon”, under Captain Robert Glover.  There is another report that he had been aboard the ship, "Elizabeth", when he died, and was on his way back from Barbados. The administration of his estate was granted to his “kinsman” Patrick Keen on February 4, 1694/5. This clue to Hannah’s family has not yet proven fruitful. Could Patrick have been her son from her previous marriage?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jeremiah Hart 1746 – 1822, Revolutionary War Patriot

I suppose that finding Jeremiah Hart and my four other Revolutionary War patriot ancestors was the original impetus for getting involved in family history. I made an offhanded remark to my husband, when I was watching a documentary on Abraham Lincoln, that I knew I had a great grandfather who fought in the Civil War, but wondered if I had anyone on my tree who fought in the Revolutionary War. My husband then suggested that he give me a subscription to Ancestry for my birthday. (He had already given me the John Adams HBO DVDs for Christmas). Voila. There was Jeremiah and so much more. Well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, but I eventually found him.

Jeremiah Hart, also known as Jeremy, my four times great grandfather, was born on April 5, 1746 in Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Captain Richard Hart and Mary Taber Hart. He appears to have been the ninth child in a family of ten children, his siblings being John, Hannah, William, Phoebe, Richard, Mary, Lombard, Susannah, and Philip. His mother was the great granddaughter of John Cooke, who had been on the Mayflower, and the great great granddaughter of Francis Cooke and Richard Warren, also Mayflower passengers, who were signers of the Mayflower Compact.

Jeremiah married Abigail Pearsall in 1768 in Dutchess County, according to family records, having moved there the same year. He had an interest in a farm owned jointly with his brothers Richard and Philip in Hart’s Village, Dutchess County. Abigail has become one of the “brick walls” on my tree. When I explored the parentage ascribed to her by other members on Ancestry, it became clear to me that she was not the same Abigail everyone had thought. That is, she was not the daughter of Samuel Pearsall and Mary Elizabeth Doughty. There was a clue to her descent in the book, Irish Pedigrees or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, in which it was stated that she was “nee Macomber”. This seemed to be a help, considering that other Harts had married Macombers, but I could not find a fitting Abigail Macomber or Pearsall, for that matter, either as a maiden or married name. I am thinking that “Macomber” could also be a middle name, or that the authors of Irish Pedigrees could have been mistaken, as I can find no other reference to Abigail being a Macomber. (By the way, the authors of the book decided that the Harts must have been Irish due to their coat of arms. I have discovered that this line of Harts seems to be English, at least going back to the first of these Harts in America, Nicholas). I would be much obliged if anyone reading this has evidence of Abigail’s parentage and is willing to share this with me.

In 1775, in the midst of the American Revolution, Jeremiah and Abigail settled in  Stillwater, Saratoga, New York, down by the bank of the east or west side of Saratoga lake, where they built a log cabin. It seems that they lived here for the rest of their lives, and had a large farm. They had eight children, Stephen, Philip, John H., Reuben, Phebe, Jeremiah Jr., Sarah and Hannah. During the American Revolution, Jeremiah was in the New York Militia, Albany County, 13th Regiment, under Lt. Col. Cornelius Van Veghten. Jeremiah also seems to have done some “scouting service”. On January 7, 1784, he sold his interest in the Dutchess County farm to his brother Philip. There is one reference to Jeremiah being a Quaker in a Sons of the American Revolution application form, but other than his having been born in Rhode Island, known for its Quaker population, I have yet to find any other evidence that he was a Quaker. Also, many Quakers chose not to fight, but Jeremiah did.

He died on July 4, 1822 at the age of seventy-six on the “old farm” in Stillwater. He is buried in the Hart Cemetery in Stillwater with his wife, who died four years later at the age of seventy-five on February 3, 1826.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Honorable Stephen Hart, a.k.a. "Old Squire Hart"

Stephen and Elizabeth Hart headstone
Pinckney Corners Cemetery
Courtesy of
(Not to be posted to a commercial site such as Ancestry)

The Honorable Stephen Hart, grandfather of Melvin J. Hart, and my three times great grandfather, was born in Hart’s Village, Dutchess County, New York in about 1769. He was the son of Jeremiah Hart, who fought in the American Revolution, and Abigail Pearsall Hart. When Stephen, the eldest of eight children, was about six years old, in 1775, the family moved to Stillwater, Saratoga, New York, where they homesteaded in a log cabin. His parents lived in the cabin for the rest of their lives. Stephen’s siblings were Philip, John H., Reuben, Phebe, Jeremiah Jr., Sarah, and Hannah. He married Elizabeth “Betsey” Scidmore sometime between about 1790 and 1795. She was born in May 1773, in Malta, Saratoga, New York, and was the daughter of John Scidmore, also a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and Elizabeth Brundage Scidmore. Betsey, like her husband, was the eldest child, but of a family of ten. Her siblings were: Rhoda, Mary, Wealthy “Peachey”, John, Abner Brush, Sarah, James, and the twins, Elijah and Elisha. While Stephen and Betsey were still in Stillwater, Stephen became a founding Officer of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Stillwater, which was incorporated on March 26, 1800. He was to remain an active member of the Methodist Church henceforth.

In 1805-1806, Stephen and his family came with the families of Betsey’s sisters, Wealthy “Peachey” Scidmore Hunt and Mary Scidmore Armstrong, who had married James Hunt and James E. Armstrong respectively, to the area now known as Pinckney, Lewis County, New York, but was then Harrisburg, Oneida County. They are all considered early settlers of the region, and all raised large families. They all purchased land on Whitesville Road, and the Hunt family lived next door to the Harts. Stephen was apparently quite close to his brothers-in-law all his life. Stephen and Betsey had the following fourteen children: Phebe, Sarah, John, Richard, Wealthy, Abigail, Fanny, Jeremiah, Philip H., Alvin S., George, Reuben, Stephen A., and James. (It is not clear where Phebe falls in the birth order).

The first meeting of the town of Pinckney in 1808 was held in Stephen’s home. He was to be elected Supervisor of the town for the periods of 1810 to 1814, 1816, 1818 to 1820, 1824 to 1826, and 1830 to 1831. He was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1813 and 1819, and Assistant Justice in 1816.

He was elected as a Member of the New York State Assembly for the counties of Lewis, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence in 1820, and served from 1820 to 1821. He was like a New York State congressman, if you will. When he was appointed Judge and Justice in 1821, there was some protest in the newspapers about state assemblymen receiving appointments such as these.

Some of his activities in the years after being a Member of the New York State Assembly were to be appointed to arrange for the building of a poorhouse in Pinckney in 1824, and to help found the first Methodist Episcopal Society in the town in 1831, which was charged with the building of a church. Before the church was built, Stephen and Betsey’s home was known as a Methodist “preaching place” for all that region, where itinerant preachers came for “services” or for “entertainment”. Meetings were also often held in their home, which was described as “an important factor in the community”.

Stephen was apparently widely known for his integrity. There is a story about how he braved a storm in order to pay back fifteen cents which a vendor had mistakenly neglected to charge him. There is another story, not about Stephen’s integrity, but about his relationship with his brother-in-law James Hunt, in which they were both “hunting cows” in the woods  unbeknownst to each other. They were both carrying guns. James, seeing Stephen, and being a jokester, hid himself behind a log and made some “hideous noises”. Stephen, having heard James make similar noises in the past, called out, “Jim--is that you?” Hunt made no reply, except to make another such noise. Hart then called again, “Jim, if that is you, speak, or I will shoot”. Hunt then apparently checked out the height of the log, and then decided to make himself known.

In his later years, Stephen was referred to as “Old Squire Hart”. He died at the age of ninety-two on November 1, 1861 in the house on Whitesville Road, his wife Betsey having died about a month earlier, on September 29, 1861. They are both buried in Pinckney Corners Cemetery.

Again, I am grateful to Jerry of the Lewis County Historical Society for information he provided me which I could not have obtained anywhere else, and to Sid and Bonnie of for kindly providing the photo above.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Hart 1797-1864 and Sally Wright Merriam 1796-1872

John Hart headstone
Groveland Cemetery
(not to be posted to a commercial site such as Ancestry)
Sarah (Sally) Hart headstone
Groveland Cemetery
(not to be posted to a commercial site such as  Ancestry)

John and Sally (a.k.a. Sarah) Hart were my great great grandparents, and were the parents of my great grandfather, Melvin J. Hart (could the “j” stand for “John”?) I am writing about them today, not because I have learned quite a bit about them, but because I am not yet satisfied by what I yet know. I am hoping that by writing about them I will learn more, as I always do when I write about my ancestors. I am also hoping that this post will draw the interest of those who are more informed, and that they will kindly share their knowledge with me. Due to there not being vital records for them that I am aware of, except for Sally’s birth, and  photos of their headstones, and due to their not being written about as much as all the other Harts in the line going back to the earliest Harts in America, they are a bit of a mystery. I am especially interested in linking them more strongly to Melvin (I do have some solid links here), but also to linking John more firmly to his father, the Hon. Stephen Hart. I will share with you now what I do know. Both John and Sally over the course of their lives travelled far from their places of birth, and were among early settlers as children, and in older age. I am grateful to Jerry of the Lewis County Historical Society for providing me with resources relating to the Hart and Wright families which I could not have otherwise obtained.

John was born on May 11, 1797 in Stillwater, Saratoga, New York. In about 1805, his father, the Hon. Stephen Hart and his mother Elizabeth “Betsey” Scidmore Hart brought the family with them from Stillwater to Pinckney, Lewis County, New York, where Stephen was one of the founders of the town. (Stephen and Betsey are to be the next subjects of this blog). It was part of Harrisburg at the time, and the county area was still part of Oneida County. It was often referred to as “the Black River country”. The data I have linking John to Stephen are a reference to a listing of Methodist church goers in the area which list John and Sally along with Stephen and Betsey as parishoners, and an article written by L.F. Wright about the founders of the area. In it, Wright lists the children of Stephen and Elizabeth Hart as “John, Sarah, Richard, Wealthy, Fanny, Alvin, Abigail, Jeremiah, Phillip, Stephen, George, Phoebe, Reuben, and James”. From records I have for the other children, John appears to be second eldest after Sarah, and the eldest son of the family. The Stephen Hart family appear to be the only Harts living in the Pinckney area, so it is unlikely that our John could be the son of another Hart. (There is another Stephen Hart living in Lewis County at the time, but he is living in Turin. I needed to find out more about this Stephen before I could be sure about the records I had for John’s father. I did a lot of research on this Stephen and discovered that although he was not related to the Pinckney Harts, he was part of another separate Hart line on Sally’s tree, which leads back to the famous early settler in Connecticut, Deacon Stephen Hart. So he was related to Sally’s Harts, but not to John’s. Therefore, the Turin Stephen has been included on my tree).

Sally Wright Merriam was born on August 12, 1796 in Winchester, Litchfield, Connecticut. She was the daughter of William Merriam, whose occupation was that of a “joiner”, and Lydia Wright Merriam. She came with her family and her extended family to what is now Denmark, Lewis County, in 1802. (I will say more about this journey when I write about her grandfather, Charles Wright). She is listed as one of William and Lydia’s children in The Annals and Family Records of Winchester Connecticut, and in The Merriam Genealogy in England and America, where it also stated that she married John Hart and removed to Minnesota. A Wright family genealogy provided by the Lewis County Historical Society states that Sally married John Hart. I have an unsourced report that John and Sally married on November 3, 1820.

Their son Melvin’s Civil War pension file provided a transcription of a family Bible page, which stated that the ten children of John and Sarah Hart were Chloe, Aldula, Lovina, Alvira, Delilah, Joel, James, Phoebe, Hester, and Melvin. (See my first blog on Melvin for the birthdates).

Luckily, the family is captured on the 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 United States Censuses. The 1830 and 1840 Censuses only provide the name of the head of the household, and a “John Hart” is living in Pinckney in both. The number of people in the household, their age ranges and genders in the 1840 census match perfectly with what would be expected from the family Bible transcription, and the 1830 census has a few discrepancies, which is common in census data. The 1850 Census finds the family farming in Hermon, Saint Lawrence, New York. By this time, only the four youngest children are living with them: James, Phoebe, Hester Ann and Melvin. The value of John’s real estate is listed as “$500.00”. By 1860, John and Sarah (she mostly seems to be referred  to as “Sarah” as an adult), are back living in Pinckney, and the value of John’s real estate has dropped to “$250.00”. His personal estate is listed as “$951.00”. Only one of their children, Hester Ann, is still living with them, and she is married, but not living with her husband. 

Sometime between 1861 and 1864, John and Sally move to Rice county, Minnesota, where their son Joel has been living since at least 1859, when he married Elizabeth Frances Poe. They may have travelled with some or all of their children who also eventually moved to this area, including Hester Ann, Melvin, Delilah, Chloe and Alvira. James settled in Iowa, as did Melvin later. Two of their other daughters may have also come with them, but I do not have much information about them beyond their births. These include Aldula and Phoebe. Lovina is the only one we know who seemed to have lived and died in New York State. Alvira and Delilah are both married to Glaziers, who therefore may be brothers, William and Daniel respectively. In addition, John's brother, Stephen A. Hart, is living in Goodhue, Minnesota with his family by 1854, where he is elected County Surveyor. Stephen may have been the first of the Harts to settle in Minnesota. John`s uncle, Philip Hart, died in Roscoe, Goodhue in October 1860, and may have been in Minnesota as early as 1850, when he is found in Pennsylvania in the census, the next earliest record that I have.

John Hart died on December 26, 1864, and is buried in Groveland Cemetery in Bridgewater, Rice County, Minnesota. Sarah and Melvin are living with Joel and his family in Forest, Rice County in 1865; and she is found living with her daughter Delilah and her family in 1870 in Walcott, Rice County. She died on February 17, 1872, and is buried with her husband. All three of their sons, Joel, James and Melvin, fought in the Civil War and survived.

By the way, my prediction was correct--I did find more records and make more connections in writing this post. These were the 1830 Census data, and Delilah's marriage, and therefore her later life and her descendants. Bonus.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Melvin J. Hart, Part Three: Canada

Melvin J. Hart and his family came to Lougheed, Alberta, Canada as part of a great wave of American immigration to Alberta and Saskatchewan after the turn of the twentieth century. The Canadian government had been actively recruiting experienced American farmers to help open up the west. Approximately three quarters of a million Americans homesteaded in Canada at that time, particularly as free land in the United States was becoming scarce. However, so far, I have found no evidence that any other members of his extended family ever came to Canada themselves. Melvin always seemed to live close to other family members, but this seemed to change with his move to Texas and then to Alberta. Melvin’s being amongst the first to homestead in places was part of a family tradition, beginning at least with his great grandfather, Jeremiah Hart, moving from Rhode Island to Stillwater, Saratoga, New York before the American Revolution. He also built a log cabin where he resided thereafter. This is not to mention the first known Hart of this line in America, Nicholas Hart, who came to America as part of the Great Migration in approximately the 1630’s. Many, many, other of Melvin’s ancestors also were part of this wave and earlier, including Richard Warren and Frances and John Cook, who were aboard the Mayflower.

I must refer you to Melvin’s daughter Charlotte’s (Lottie’s) account of the Hart family’s arrival and early days in the Lougheed area of Alberta, which appears in Verdant Valleys In and Around Lougheed. This is available, fortunately, on line at the following link: She also tells the story of herself and her husband, Robert Kells, at the following link: The stories are further told, along with that of Melvin’s daughter Flora Jane, in Cambridge School District Memories, which is not yet available on line. I summarize their story here with additional material.

Melvin Hart arrived in what is now the Lougheed area of Alberta, in March 1905, without his family. He is considered to be one of the earliest settlers of the area. He filed on the section of homestead land, section 16, township 42, and range 11, with a quarter each for himself, his sons Alva and George, and his son-in-law, Roe Jeffers--his daughter Flora Jane’s husband. He then went to Wetaskawin, where he bought four oxen, a plough, and a wagon. He broke up the soil on the land, and built a log cabin. It was 13’ by 22’ and had a sod roof. He wrote a letter to his family in November, asking them not to come until the spring, but by that time they were already preparing to join him. They had loaded a freight car with machinery, household effects, and five cows and five horses. His son George rode with the freight car to Daysland, while his wife Susan, their daughter Lottie, and their daughter Flora Jane with her husband and two young boys, Charles, age four, and Albert, age three, came as far as Camrose by passenger train. Once reunited in Daysland, they had to make their way from the train station to Lougheed by democrat, wagon, and on horseback. Along the way, they stayed at a railroad camp, from where they were guided to the home of Jess Layman, where Melvin was staying. Two weeks later, on Christmas Day 1905, they went to the homestead and started chinking up the log cabin, where the whole family would live through the winter and into the summer of 1906, with just the dirt floor and the sod roof. Flora and Roe then found their own accommodations, and built their own home, while the rest of the family lived in the log shack for a total of two and a half years, enduring the terribly cold and harsh winter of 1906/1907 there. They built a log barn and, in 1908-09, a brick house constructed of homemade bricks made by a local. The log house still got use over the years, and was enjoyed by their neighbours later on as a place to visit, have dinner, and read magazines after school. It had a second floor, with a set of stairs, which may or may not have been a later addition. The Harts got their basic provisions in Daysland, and their meat was prairie chickens and rabbits in the early days. They would also pick wild cranberries, raspberries and saskatoons.

According to the documents in Melvin’s Civil War pension file, all he accomplished in his life after the Second Battle of Bull Run  was done with disabling gastrointestinal disorders. He is reported multiple times as only being able to do a half day’s work every day of his life. In the last years of his life, with his eldest son Alva (“Al”) having died in 1922, and his youngest son Dell in 1918, his son George, my grandfather, saw to his every personal need. Melvin died on March 29, 1928 of a stroke. He is buried in the Lougheed Village Cemetery. George did not marry until 1930, when he married Lena Sarah Marlow Smith. He died the same year on July 10th, exactly four months before the birth of his only son, and the only male heir to carry on the Hart name from Melvin’s line, Harold. Melvin’s wife Susan passed away on December 28, 1932, and is buried with her husband.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Melvin J. Hart, Part Two--Minnesota, Iowa, Texas

The next time Melvin appears in the records he is registering for the draft in Roscoe, Minnesota, on July 1, 1863. His brother Joel has been living in Minnesota since at least 1859, where he was married to Elizabeth Francis “Minnie” Poe. Melvin’s parents, John and Sally (a.k.a. Sarah) Hart, moved to Minnesota between 1861 and 1864. His sister, Hester Ann Main, is also living in Minnesota, at least from 1862, when she has her first child. His sisters Chloe, Delilah and Alvira are also living in Rice County with the rest of the family by 1870 with their husbands and children. The family is part of a historical wave of westward migration in the nineteenth century, driven by economics and the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”.

On August 12, 1864, at the age of twenty-one, Melvin enlisted with Company D, the 11th Regiment of the Minnesota Infantry Volunteers, and the regiment was mustered out for a term of one year on September 1, 1864 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Melvin is described as having “blue eyes”, “dark hair”, having a “fair” complexion, and being 5’9” tall. His occupation is listed as “farmer”. Company D arrived in Nashville on September 20, 1864, via Chicago and St. Louis, where they camped without tents for two weeks, and were “much exposed” to the elements, including heavy rains. This cannot have been good for Melvin’s chronic medical conditions. Once provided with tents, they were charged with guarding the Louisville and Nashville railroads at Sandersville. They were mustered out on June 25, 1865, at Gallatin, Tennesse, and were discharged at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on July 12, 1865.

In the 1865 Minnesota census, Melvin and his mother are living with his brother Joel and his family in Forest, Minnesota. His mother is now widowed, as Melvin’s father, John, had died on December 26, 1864 in Rice County, while Melvin was away in the war. By 1870, at the age of twenty-eight, Melvin is living in Spencer, Clay County, Iowa, with his brother James and his family, and owns his own separate farm. His real estate is valued at $500.00, and his personal estate at $385.00. Wherever Melvin lives in Iowa in the future, he is never more than about 125 miles from Rice County, Minnesota. However, his brother Joel moves to California after 1895.

He marries Susan Monk, daughter of Jacob Monk and Jane Crawford Monk, on February 24, 1872 in Bridgewater, Clay County, Iowa, by the Rev. Lewis S. Ely. It is the first marriage for both bride and groom. Susan (a.k.a. Susanah) is descended on her father’s side from a Hessian (German) soldier in the Revolutionary War who changed sides, and her mother, born in Ireland but who always referred to herself as Scottish, had come with her family from the north of Ireland in 1847 during the potato famine. Susan was born on August 1, 1851 in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, and is the first of my direct ancestors to be born in this country. Her family had moved to Iowa when she was about three years old. All five of Melvin and Susan’s children are born in Clay County: Alva M. Hart on April 19, 1873, Flora Jane Hart on December 28, 1874, George Leslie Hart, (my grandfather), on January 5, 1877, Dell M. Hart on January 18, 1880, and Charlotte “Lottie” Hart on July 10, 1890. (Depicted below are Alva, George and Dell). Melvin is awarded title to two homesteads: on March 10, 1875 he becomes the owner of eighty acres in the fifth meridian (PM), in Clay County, Iowa, in Township 96N, Range 35W, and section 32; and on September 20, 1875, eighty acres in Clay County same meridian, Township 97N, Range 37W, and section 32. The certificates are issued by the Sioux City Land Office, and are signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, who may actually be a distant relation of Melvin’s. In the 1880 Census Melvin and his family are living in Bridgewater, Clay, Iowa, and are living one farm over from Melvin’s brother James, such that both families appear on the same census page. His brother James dies the next year.

According to Melvin’s obituary, the family moved to Rock Island, Texas in 1898. I have yet to find any other records of their time here. By 1905, they are back in Iowa, their post office address being Ruthven, Iowa, from where they all emigrate to Canada, except for Dell, who stays behind and moves to North Dakota.

View Melvin Hart in the midwest in a larger map

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Melvin J. Hart, Civil War Veteran, 1842 - 1928, Part One

The single most thrilling moment of my involvement in family history to date is when a Civil War era photo of Melvin popped up in a database on Ancestry. Although I would dearly love to post the photo here or the enhanced version I created, due to copyright restrictions, I cannot. Fortunately, you can see both photos, which I originally posted to Melvin’s profile on Ancestry, if you “google” “Melvin J. Hart” under “images”. I had only ever seen photos of him in his old age, and here he was, the Union solider in uniform--young, handsome, and with such expressive eyes. There was something terribly knowing and world-weary in his stare, despite his youth and the possible beginnings of a smile. Oh, and the wonderful family resemblance.

Melvin J. Hart, Civil War veteran, was born on October 29, 1842 in Pinckney, Lewis County, New York, the son of John Hart and Sally (a.k.a. Sarah) Wright Merriam Hart. He was the youngest of ten children. I will give their names and full birthdates, as I found them in a transcription of a family Bible page in Melvin’s Civil War pension file. This is likely to be of value to others researching this family, as vital records are hard to come by for this time period in Lewis County:

Record of Births, Family of John Hart.

Chloe – September 27, 1821
Aldula – February 15, 1823
Lovina – February 25, 1825
Alvira – March 27, 1827
Delilah – May 3, 1829
Joel – June 16, 1831
James – September 1, 1833
Phoebe – December 29, 1835
Hester – June 20, 1839
Melvin – October 29, 1842

Melvin’s grandfather, the Honorable Stephen Hart, had been one of the earliest settlers in the town of Pinckney in 1805, and had been a Member of the New York State Assembly in 1820 and 1821. As Stephen died in 1861, Melvin is likely to have grown up knowing his grandfather, referred to as “Old Squire Hart” by his neighbours. Melvin’s family was Methodist, and Melvin appears to have been a Methodist his whole life. The first time Melvin appears in a census, 1850, the family is farming in Hermon, St. Lawrence County, New York. Melvin is seven, attending school, and living with his parents and his siblings, Hester, Phoebe and James. Melvin cannot be found in the 1860 census, but there is a “Melvin Glazier” of the right age (seventeen) who is a “farmer” living with his sister Delilah, now Mrs. Daniel Glazier, and her family in Melvin’s parents’ neighbourhood back in Pinckney.

At the age of nineteen, on November 18, 1861, Melvin enlisted in Company F, the 94th New York Voluntary Infantry, the “Bell Rifles”, six months after the hostilities began in the Civil War. He was living in Pinckney at the time. His brother James was in the same regiment, but in Company G, and his brother Joel was in Company C, the 6th Infantry Regiment, Minnesota. His uncle Reuben Hart was with Melvin and James in the 94th, but was in Company H. Melvin was in the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1962 in Culpepper County, Virginia, and in the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 28, 1862, in Prince William County, Virginia.  Uncle Reuben is killed in this battle at the age of 46, leaving behind a wife and nine children, the youngest being three years old. Stephen Volentini Hart, Reuben’s son and Melvin’s cousin, died in 1864 from wounds inflicted during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Melvin is not wounded in this battle, but he becomes very ill with “dyspepsia”, which leaves him with lifelong disabling gastrointestinal disorders. He is discharged from the 94th New York Infantry on November 5, 1862, due to a “physical disability”. He is nursed back to health for several months by his sister Alvira and her husband, Rev. William S. Glazier, in back in Pinckney. They report that when he comes to them, he is “nothing but a skeleton”.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Herbert John Sanderson 1872 - 1937

Herbert John Sanderson

Herbert John Sanderson, one of my maternal great grandfathers, worked his entire life on the railroad in England and, according to the family story, upon his retirement brought his whole family with him to Canada. (Note that he emigrated at the age of fifty, which seems to be fifteen years before the retirement age in Britain at the time).  He was born in Wisbech Fen, Wisbech St. Mary, Cambridgeshire, England on May 22, 1872 to Mark Sanderson and Phoebe Johnson Sanderson. (The photo above is courtesy of Shirley M. of the U.K., and I am indebted to her and Ann S., also of the U.K., for their many contributions to my knowledge of the Sanderson family). His ancestors originally had the surname of "Sanders" and were from Gretton, Northamptonshire. He was the third of a family of eight children, his siblings being William James, Benjamin, Mark, Charles Walter, Abraham, Alice Maud, and George Henry. He was baptised the year of his birth in the Wisbech Primitive Methodist Chapel in Wisbech St. Mary. 

In the first quarter of 1901, he married Phoebe Green, born October 15, 1876 in March, Cambridgeshire. He is working that year as a railway goods porter, and by 1911, he is a “railway horse shunter” for the Great Eastern Railway. Phoebe was the daughter of Joseph Green and Phoebe Lefevre Green. She was descended on her mother's side from French Huguenots who settled in the Thorney area of Cambridgeshire in the 17th Century. Herbert and Phoebe had five children, William, Tom, Bert, Olive and Leonard Charles. All were born in March, Cambridgeshire. In 1911, the family is living in South Lynn, Norfolk, and in 1922 they are living in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. The eldest son, William, my grandfather, lists his occupation as “chauffeur” in that year. This is consistent with his own report of having worked on an “estate” before coming to Canada. He also said that his first job was working in a “munitions factory” during W.W.1.

The family story is that Herbert had always dreamed of being a cowboy, and so when he retired from the railroad, he brought his wife and all of his children to Canada with him to fulfill his dream. Apparently, he was able to make his dream come true when he worked as a cowboy in the B.C. Interior for a time. There is also a report that the move may have had something to do with his wanting to preserve his marriage. The family left England on May 18, 1922 from Southhampton on the Empress of Scotland, and arrived in Quebec on May 22nd, Herbert’s fiftieth birthday. All of the family members state that their aim is to do farming, and that their destination is “Saskatchewan”, with no particular address in mind.  On board with them, is Herbert’s nephew, George Henry Sanderson, son of his brother, Charles Walter Sanderson. He is eighteen years old and his prospective employer, a Mr. Stanley Day, a farmer in Craven, Saskatchewan, has paid for his passage. (I found a brief biography of Stanley in a local history book, From Buffalo Grass to Wheat: A History of the Long Lake Distrct, Since Herbert and his family described their destination as “Saskatchewan”, it is not inconceivable that they accompanied George to Craven. George had only ten pounds in his pocket, and returned to England shortly thereafter. (There is a Herbert Sanderson and a George Henry Sanderson who filed land claims in Saskatchewan, but it is not certain if they apply to this family). The family story is that the Sandersons worked their way across Canada from 1922 until 1926 when they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Herbert appears in a 1926 Vancouver city directory, and in the directories for every year thereafter until his death. His occupation is listed as “labourer” and “floor layer” in these directories. He is living at a variety of addresses. His son William is living with him until 1928, when he is there with his new wife, Alice. Herbert died February 5, 1937 at the age of sixty-four in Vancouver of “uremia, chronic nephritis, and arteriosclerosis”. He is buried in the Mountain View Cemetery on Fraser Street in Vancouver with his wife, Phoebe. Phoebe died of a stroke at the age of 69 on June 3, 1946, the same year that the other Phoebe Sanderson, her mother-in-law, died at the age of 99 in England. Phoebe, Herbert's wife, had been living with her son, Tom, the last two years of her life in Vancouver. Herbert is remembered by his granddaughter, my mother, as a "good grandfather". Phoebe is remembered as loving to play cards, and for teaching her grandchildren to play.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Emma Green Cook in Canada -- Part Two

Emma Green Cook Postcard

Mr. and Mrs. William and Emma Cook were residing in Halton, Ontario in 1891, according to the 1891 Census of Canada. Also residing in Halton were William’s brother Elijah, Elijah’s wife Charlotte Bemrose Cook, and their son, William. (I have been unable to date to find anything beyond this date about Elijah and his family).  William was employed as a “farm labourer”, after having been a “green grocer” in England. Both William and Emma can read and write, as can all their children over the age of six. William and Emma’s daughter, Mary Eliza Cook, was born the
same year on August 25th in Caledon, Ontario. She was the first child on my mother’s direct line to be born in Canada. Her mother Emma was 42 at the time.

We next find the family living in Moosamin, Saskatchewan by 1895, when their son, Alfred Godfrey Cook, was born. William is recorded in a local history book, Moosamin One: Town and Country, as being one of the “original settlers” between 1882 and 1900 in the Orangeville district of Moosamin. [I have just identified that there is a Saskatchewan homestead file on William, and I will be ordering it and then including the information in a future posting on William].  By my reckoning, they would have come to the area between 1892 and 1895, the year of their youngest son's birth. The family’s homestead address was Section 22, Township 15, Range 31, Meridian 1. The children attended Orangeville School No. 88, N.W.T., N.E. 10-15-3. There is a class picture, dated 1902 in the local history, which includes Faith and Mary Eliza ( Family lore is that while the family was living in Moosamin, Emma had her own business selling tractors.

The William and Emma Cook Family

Emma and her family are still found living in Moosamin in the 1906 Census, but it appears that by 1908, they are living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the year of William’s death. He is described on his death certificate as “retired”. Depicted above are, back row, Martha, Samuel, Lily and Faith; middle row, Emma, Clara and William; and front row, Albert Godfrey and Mary Eliza (as far as I can tell). Missing from the photo are Arthur and Edward. I estimate that the photo may have been taken about 1906.

We next find the widowed Emma, age 62, operating her own boarding house on Venables Street in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1911. It appears that the family has followed the daughter Lily Elizabeth Newton Cook, now Mrs. Henry Edward (Harry) Arnold, to Vancouver. Lily and Harry are found living there in 1907, where Harry is working as a journeyman printer. His father and brother have been living in Vancouver since 1900. Living with Emma in her boarding house include Faith, her husband Herbert Saunders, their baby daughter Clara, Edward William, Samuel, Mary Eliza, and Alfred Godfrey. Clara Matilda Cook, now Mrs. Moran is living in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, and Martha Annie Wheatly Cook, now Mrs. Druitt, is living in Manitoba. I can find nothing about Arthur Wilson Cook after 1906. He is one of those mysteries I am hoping to solve.

In 1912, Emma is living at 733 West Broadway in Vancouver, where she has her own bakery, the “English Home Bakery”. By 1913, she is back operating a boarding house at 735 West Broadway. Her children Edward William and Mary Eliza are still living with her. In 1914 and 1915, she is living with Mary Eliza at 877 Hornby Street. As of 1916, she is living with the now married Mary  Eliza and her husband William Foster in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Emma does not appear again in the Vancouver city directories until 1927, when she is living with her daughter Faith and son-in-law Herbert until her death on August 29, 1930 of “acute indigestion” and “general debility”. Emma is buried in the Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby, British Columbia, where her children, Faith Saunders and Mary Eliza Foster are also buried.

Emma Cook in old age

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Emma Green Cook 1849 - 1930 - Part One

Emma Green Cook
I am choosing to focus on Emma, my great great grandmother, today, and not her husband William to the same extent. This is because, although I never met her, my grandmother and mother always told me stories about her, what a strong and resourceful woman she was, and how she presided over the family as its matriarch. She is one of a handful of family members whose stories I always wanted to preserve, and about whom I was terribly curious. She is one of my favourite ancestors, and I am grateful to her as a genealogist for having given some of her children family surnames as their middle names. This “bread crumb trail” has helped me to identify ancestors in previous generations, which is challenging when you are dealing with common names like "Cook" and "Green". She was also good about having portraits done of herself and her family. Thank you, Emma. It may be that she did not want her family to be forgotten.  She did have a family Bible, but I am not aware of its whereabouts. (If you, gentle reader, know anything about it, please let me know). I have interwoven the family stories with the facts in this, the first part of two posts about her and her family.

Emma Green, my great great grandmother on my purely maternal line, and the mother of Faith Cook, Herbert Saunders’ wife, was born on June 28, 1849, in Helpringham, Lincolnshire, England. She was the youngest of the eight children of Edward Wilson Green and Elizabeth Newton. Her siblings were James, Ann Newton, Mary, Sarah Anne, Susan (Susanna), Eliza and Edward. Her father’s occupations, according to census and other records, included agricultural labourer and gardener. Emma was literate, and at the age of twelve she was in school according to the 1861 census.

She married William Cook, (born in Timberland, Lincolnshire), on January 10, 1871 in Wilton, Yorkshire, at the Church of Wilton in Cleveland, at the age of twenty-one. The 1871 census lists her a “dress maker” and him as  a “labourer” in the “iron mines”. (An aside to this story is that when I started sewing my clothes as a teenager, that I was told that I came from a long line of seamstresses, beginning at least with Emma). It is not known why they are both living in Yorkshire at that time, except possibly for work, or whether they met before or after moving there. Their eldest daughter, Clara Matilda, was born December 6, 1871 in Eston, Yorkshire.  Of their next two children, Edward William was born in St. Bottolpham, Lincolnshire, January 21, 1875, and Arthur Wilson was born in Bexley Heath in Kent on December 17, 1878. Since their daughters, Lily Elizabeth Newton (b. September 25, 1881) and Martha Annie Wheatly (b. October 13, 1884) were both born in Guisborough, Yorkshire, and the family is living there according to the 1881 census, we cannot assume that the family ever moved out of Yorkshire before then, despite the boys having been born elsewhere. Emma simply could have travelled to have them. Their son Samuel was born in Timberland, Lincolnshire, the birthplace of his father, on September 9, 1886, and their daughter Faith, my great grandmother, in Helpringham, Lincolnshire, Emma’s birthplace, on November 10, 1888. Four of the children were baptized in Timberland between 1886 and 1888: Lily, Martha, Samuel and Faith, which are all indicators that the family was likely living there or nearby at the time. Emma’s parents, who were living in Helpringham, died around that time, Edward Green in 1875, and Elizabeth Newton Green, in May 1888, before the birth of Faith. Emma had a pair of earrings made out of the coins she found in her mother’s pockets after her death. According to family lore, Emma was already struggling with her husband William’s drinking problem in England. She is said to have gone around to all the pubs in the town and persuaded them not to serve her husband.

William left for Canada, likely with his brother Elijah the same year, 1888, one year before the rest of the family. It seems that “serial immigration” was a common practice, that is, one of the family members, usually the head, went to the new country first to prepare the way for the others. Emma brought the children with her to Canada the following year, including her infant daughter, Faith, who appears to have been born after the departure of her father. There is a family story about this voyage, which involves Faith developing an infection in one of her arms. It is told that the ship’s doctor wanted to amputate her arm, and Emma would not allow this. She said, “I didn’t call her ‘Faith’ for no reason”. The arm healed, and Faith had no problems with it for the rest of her life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing about Herbert

Before I begin my next story, I just wanted to say a few words about the process of writing about Herbert. Since early on in my family history research, it has been in my head to write about my family so that the stories would not be lost. I made a promise to myself that I would start my blog when I had gathered all the files and records about Herbert that I needed to tell his story. His past was always so intriguing and such a mystery, and it always struck me as so sad that we were no longer in touch with his family in England, or with the relatives of my English grandfather for that matter. I am happy to report that I am in frequent contact with one of Herbert’s brother Alick’s descendants, and have made contact with some Herbert’s sister Lizzie’s descendants. In addition, recently, I have met a relative of Herbert’s paternal aunt, Maria, on line, and we have been corresponding. I am indebted to Bert S., Alick’s grandson in Australia, for his contributions about Alick, and the family’s early life in England, and also Julie E. of the U.K. for data about Alick’s life which I have not included here. My email correspondence with Bert and Julie has been an amazing and inspiring adventure of discovery, which has been my pleasure to share with other close family members who also have been supportive of my research.

I also extend my thanks to my mother Barbara, my brother Brad, my Uncle Roy, and my late grandmother Alice for their contributions; and also to my son Devon, my sister Susan, and my Uncle Stan for their support. And, of course, I would not even be doing family history if it were not for my husband Jerry’s inspired birthday gift of a subscription to Also, I want to express my gratitude to my friends who have allowed me to “bend their ears” while I gushed about my findings. Last, but not least, I would like to thank Tamara, of the Family History Centre in Bellingham, Washington, and the volunteers at the British Columbia Genealogical Society in Surrey, British Columbia, for their assistance in researching Herbert's life. Putting Herbert’s story together bit by bit over the past year has been one of the best puzzles I have ever tackled, and it is by no means “solved”. The more I find out about his quintessentially Canadian story, the more questions arise. I look forward to learning more, and to making more connections with family, both near and far, as time goes on. Writing about Herbert in this blog, and charting the rest of my family history, has been a soul-satisfying process.

It has also been helping to bring my research into focus, and to examine my data more closely. It has already led to my finding a local history on line which includes information about Herbert’s wife Faith’s family, and a photo of her! (You’ll hear more about my favourite resource type, the local history, as time goes on). I have read that it is good genealogical practice to write a narrative about each ancestor when you have completed your research, so this blog is a place for me to do this.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Herbert Saunders - Part Four - WW1

Herbert's family: Wife Faith with daughters Clara (standing) and Alice (seated)

Herbert and Faith Saunders brought their new baby Clara with them to Vancouver from Winnipeg in 1911, and the 1911 Census shows them living there in the boarding house of Faith’s mother, Emma Green Cook, on Venables Street. Also living there are four of Faith’s siblings, Edward William, Samuel, Alfred Godfrey, and Mary Eliza. Herbert is working as a clerk in a shipping office. By November 1912, Herbert and Faith are back in Winnipeg for a short time, where their daughter, Alice May, my grandmother, is born. (Faith, Clara, and Alice, seated, are shown above). They are back in Vancouver in 1913, where Herbert works as a stevedore, and becomes a Charter Member of the Vancouver A Division Veterans of the Royal North West Mounted Police.

Herbert did not talk about his World War One experiences, so they were always a mystery to his family. The only correspondence extant between Herbert and Faith at this time are some postcards, which had only the word, “Herbert”, on them. Fortunately, his World War One military record survives so that we can finally know what went on.

He enlisted in 1916 in Vernon, British Columbia, for World War One, after having been in the 30th British Columbia Horse Militia for fourteen months. He joined the 238th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, the Canadian Forestry Corps. This was a special corps of the Canadian Armed Forces, which helped reduce the need to import timber to England from North America by logging local forests and milling the timber. As a member of this corps, Herbert appears to have spent the entire war in England and Scotland as a “sawyer”. He arrived in Liverpool after an eleven day voyage on the S.S. Scandinavian on September 22, 1916. He appears to have been stationed in London and Witley, Surrey in 1916, and by October 10, 1917, he is in Carlisle, Cumbria, near the Scottish border, where he seems to be until 1919. He is hospitalized for a week in April 1918 in Leith, Edinburgh, for an injury to a finger on his left hand. He is awarded a good conduct badge on August 13, 1918. He embarks from Liverpool to return to Canada on May 7, 1919 on the S.S. Celtic, and is discharged from the corps on May 19, 1919, the reason given being “demobilization and a wife”.

Family lore is that Herbert visited his “sisters” at some time during the war. It appears that during W.W.1, the only sister he has still living in the Liverpool area (Bootle) is Elizabeth (Lizzie) Saunders Dayer with her husband and children. His brother, Alick, and his father, James, who has remarried, are also living in Bootle. It seems that his two other sisters, Henrietta Saunders Windsor and Lily Saunders are both living in Somerset again. Which of his family members he actually met with is not clear. It seems most likely that he would have had easiest access to his family in Bootle, as he arrived at and departed from Liverpool, but he was also for a time further south in England.

It is also not known whether Herbert knew at the time that his eldest brother, Albert John Saunders, had been killed in action on August 4, 1918, in northern France, at the age of forty. Albert is buried in Houchin British Cemetery in Pas de Calais. He had been a private in the King’s Liverpool Regiment, and left behind a wife, Frances J. Cooke, whom he had married in 1917 in Chard, Somerset.

Herbert’s wife Faith and his children moved from Vancouver back to Winnipeg during the war, where her mother and some of her siblings appear to have been living at the time. The Herbert and Faith are back living in Vancouver by 1920.

He worked as a lather for the rest of his life, and lived in the same house in south Vancouver from 1935 onward. Herbert and Faith had two more children, Herbert Edward and Verna Doreen. Herbert worked at North Vancouver Ship Repairs during W.W.II, from 1942 to 1945, where naval ships were built. He had re-applied to the R.C.M.P. in 1939, possibly to help replace officers who had gone overseas. He continued working as a lather until about the age of eighty, when he fell and broke his hip due to an unsteady scaffolding which someone else had built. He was still had a full head of white hair in old age, and walked every day from his home to the Fraser River until his injury. I remember his roses which he grew in front of the house on East 23rd Avenue. He died at the age of eighty-two in Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver. Cause of death was “arteriosclerotic heart disease”. He is buried in  Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

As for further contact with his family in England, there is evidence that his brother Alick tracked him down through the R.C.M.P. in 1926, (there is a letter from him in the North West Mounted Police file), and received what appears to have been Herbert’s correct address at the time. Alick also wrote to the Liverpool Sheltering Home in 1926 to try to find him. I believe it is likely that Alick was able to write to Herbert, and that Herbert received his letter. A family tree completed by one of Alick’s descendants in England indicates that Herbert’s English family lost contact with him in about 1938.

Great Grampa as I remember him

To close the story of Herbert, it seems fitting to tell a story about him and Faith, which was told to me by my grandmother, Alice Saunders Sanderson. One day, Herbert brought home a huge box of raspberries. Faith thanked him for them, and made a raspberry syrup out of them. They would mix the syrup with water to make a kind of raspberry drink, which the family drank all winter. The next year, Herbert brought home another huge box of raspberries. Faith thanked him, and then quietly buried them in the garden.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Herbert Saunders Part 3: Constable H. Saunders of the Royal North West Mounted Police

Constable Herbert Saunders

Herbert Charles Saunders engaged with the Royal North West Mounted Police on March 22, 1905, for a period of five years. His application, dated March 18, 1905, gives his address as Danford Lake, P.Q., his age as twenty, his height as 5’8”, and his occupation for the past five years as “farming”. He answered “yes” to “understands the care and management of horses and can ride well”. A Charles Warwicker wrote a letter of reference for Herbert, stating that Herbert is going to Ottawa to look for work, and although not being at all acquainted with city life,  is a “good, honest hard working young man”, and that  he “was brought up in these parts since about eight years of age, but was born in England and sent to this country. In fact, he has quite a history”. Indeed. He is described in his medical examination, as “complexion: fair”, “eyes: grey”, and “hair: light brown”. Interestingly, eleven years after leaving England as a child, he still names his father James Saunders as his next of kin, and gives an address for him in Bootle, which is different from James’s address when Herbert entered the Liverpool Sheltering Home. Although there were no letters in the file of that institution, this is a clue that there may have been some communication between father and son, even through third parties, during Herbert’s childhood.

Constable Herbert Saunders was made to pay for all his own transportation, which was deducted from his pay, including the journey from Ottawa, Ontario to Regina, Saskatchewan. He appears to have been stationed there at first, but by April 1907 is stationed in Moosamin, Saskatchewan, which happens to be where William and Emma Cook, late of Helpringham, Lincolnshire, are living with their children, including Herbert’s future wife, Faith. William Cook is described in a local history as one of the “original settlers” of the area. Family lore is that Faith and Herbert met when he escorted her drunken father home one night.

By October 8, 1907, Herbert is stationed at Norway House, Manitoba, which seems to have been a remote outpost further north. He receives an increase in pay due to “Yukon service” around this time, but this is the only evidence he was ever in the “Yukon” as such. He always claimed to have worked in the “Yukon”, and to have known the poet, Robert Service. He always said he had done Service a good turn, which seems to have been helping him with an injury, which may have been to his nose. Herbert was known by his family in later life as being a “teller of tall tales”, but some or all of them may have been true despite seeming far-fetched. For example, It is quite possible that Herbert’s claim that he spoke Cree was true, as Norway House is home to a Cree Nation. He also told a story about a man at a camp he was working at walking down the centre of the table to get something he wanted. Next, on August 27, 1908, Herbert was transferred to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, which was closer to Faith Cook and her family, but still quite far away.

Herbert is granted furlough with pay from February 22nd to March 21, 1910, the last day of his Royal North West Mounted Police service, to “attend to important business in Winnipeg”. He and Faith Cook are married three days after his service ends, on March 24, 1910, at the St. Andrew Anglican Church in Winnipeg. Upon his discharge from the force, the quality of his service is designated "Very Good", the second highest possible standard. Perhaps he did not achieve "Exemplary" status due to having been absent from his post early on in his career.

Their first child, Clara Evelyn Hope Saunders, is born April 8, 1911. Shortly thereafter, the young family moves to Vancouver.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Herbert Charles Saunders, Part Two: British Home Child

Upon his arrival in Canada, it is likely that Herbert first went from Halifax to the receiving home in Knowlton, Quebec, routinely used by Miss Louisa Birt of the Liverpool Sheltering Home as a distribution point for uniting the children with English speaking families. He was nine years of age, and was described in his British Home Child file as “good looking” and “very lively”.

He was placed with a Mr. Robert (George) H. Howard near “Alleyne”, Quebec, also described as “Danford Lake, Pontiac, Quebec”, who owned a farm there. This area of Quebec is close to the border with the province of Ontario, with the nearest major centre being Ottawa. Herbert was to work on Mr. Howard’s farm until the age of about twenty, two years longer than the majority of British Home Children usually stayed in their placements. Mr. Howard’s home was described, by an official who visited Herbert, as “an excellent home” with “no young children”. It was reported that Herbert would be “carefully trained” by Mr. Howard, who was “well off”. Although the closest church was “rather far off” in Alleyne, Mr. Howard was described in a genealogy of another local family, the Heeneys, as figuring “prominently” as a layman of the Anglican parish, whose home was always “a home for the clergy”. Herbert was always described in the reports of the officials who visited him as “contented”. It does not appear from the records that Herbert received more from Mr. Howard than room and board, but he is reported that a “Mrs. Heeney” left him “something by will at her death”. This may be what allowed him to leave Mr. Howard’s farm and to join the Royal North West Mounted Police.

The Liverpool Sheltering Home file cites a letter from Mr. Howard in 1906, in which he states that Herbert left him two years before, and that that he had “heard that he had got into the N. West Mounted Police”. He said that he “never hears from him now”. The official who had been Herbert’s main visitor wrote in 1906 that he had heard from another source that Herbert had been “doing well in the N.W. Mounted Police”, and in 1908 that he “was doing splendid duty in connection with the C.P.R. strike”, and that he “earns over $1.00 a day”.

One of the ironies of family history is that although Herbert was abandoned and alone in a foreign country, he may have actually been "surrounded" by family and not have known it. As it turns out, his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Cross Saunders, had a a great aunt and a great uncle who emigrated in the early 1800's to roughly the same area of Quebec where Herbert was placed. Mary Cross Sully (1787-1883), (along with her husband and family), and Isaac Cross (1799-1859) were in Quebec by 1838. Both had several children who were also prolific with offspring. Isaac has been described as one of the "pioneers" of the Gatineau region of Quebec. Some of the places they and their families lived were Hull, Cascades, Wakefield, and Ottawa county.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Herbert Charles Saunders, 1884 to 1966, Part One

Herbert Charles Saunders

My great grandfather, Herbert Charles Saunders, was born in West Monkton, Somerset, England on October 22, 1884. He had five older siblings, Henrietta, Elizabeth “Lizzie”, Albert John, Lily, and Alick. They lived in a cottage which was part of a squire’s estate, where his father, James, worked as an agricultural labourer. His mother, born Mary Jane Goff, died before Christmas, when Herbert was two, likely in childbirth, of tuberculosis. It appears that his father did not cope well with the loss, and took to dissipated behaviour, which lost him his job, and, since it was tied to his employment, his home.

It seems that James took at least four of the children with him (all except Albert and Herbert) to the Liverpool area, the town of Bootle, where they and his brother John lived for a time with Mary Jane’s sister Phoebe, and her husband William Henry Drower. Herbert and Albert are found in the 1891 census living with their maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Cross Saunders in West Monkton. Herbert was likely in school as he is listed as a “scholar”. It is possible they also had spent quite a bit of time with their maternal aunt, Elizabeth Goff Lee, as Herbert named her as his mother on his marriage certificate. It seems that in time, James returned for the boys and brought them back to Bootle with him. There is a report that the aunt in Bootle could not cope with the added burden of James’s family after a while, and all the children spent some time in “Major Lester’s Orphanages”. By 1893, when Alick was taken to live at Miss Louisa Birt's Liverpool Sheltering Home, Lizzie and Henrietta were in service, and the three youngest children were back with James. He is reported to have intermittent work at the docks. The children were “running the streets” when he was not at home.

Children were sent to the Liverpool Sheltering Home expressly to be sent to Canada, mostly to live with families there and to work on farms. Alick was the first of the Saunders family to be sent from this institution to Canada. He, like Herbert the following year, sailed on the S.S. Parisian of Titanic fame, to Quebec. It is reported that he did not like the conditions on the remote Quebec farm where he was sent, and “misbehaved”. He managed to hide himself in the straw in a cattle car on a train, and then to stowaway on a ship back to Liverpool. He was discovered after a few days, and was turned over the authorities when the ship docked. This led to his being incarcerated at the age of about twelve on the correction ship, the H.M.S. Akbar, which was anchored in the Mersey River. He was there for about two years, where he was beaten and made to climb the rigging and to stay in the crow’s nest for days at a time. Conditions were harsh aboard the ship, and one of the winters saw the freezing of the river.

By the time it was Herbert’s turn to go to the Liverpool Sheltering Home in 1893, Alick would have been back from Canada and already aboard the Akbar. Alick’s experience may have been a cautionary tale to Herbert. It is stated in his Sheltering Home file that Herbert had attained “Standard II” at the “Bedford Road School”, and had also attended the “Christ Church School” and the “S.S. Bootle”. He boarded the S.S. Parisian with Miss Louisa Birt and the other 105 British Home Children on March 22, 1894. The Manitoba Free Press on April 30, 1894 reported that they had received a cablegram from Miss Birt, stating that the other passengers had “remarked what a fine-looking set of intelligent, healthy children they appeared, full of promise”.

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to my blog. I admit it—I am crazy about genealogy. It all started when my husband gave me a subscription to for my birthday last year, and I have not looked back. My plan is for this to be a blog about my experience of my family history research, with a focus on stories about my most interesting and even fascinating predecessors. At this point, after exploring my family history in depth for a little over a year, I really want a place to share my findings beyond I am Canadian, and my family’s story in Canada goes back over a hundred and sixty years, yet I am sure that the vast majority of people to whom I am related, and who are alive today, live in England and the United States.

Some of the surnames I have been researching are, on my maternal side, Sanderson, Saunders, Sanders, Cook, Green, Lefevre, Johnson, Goff, Goff or Newbery (yes, all three names are one surname), Farrent, Plowright, Newton, Remington, Cross, Banes, Baines, Leverington, and Smart. These family lines are mainly British, however, Lefevre is Huguenot in origin. The counties involved include Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Somerset, Devon and Dorset. One of my great grandfathers was a British Home Child who joined the Royal Northwest Mounted Police. Another was a railroad worker from Cambridgeshire who realized his lifelong dream of becoming a cowboy.

On my father’s mother’s side, I descend from folks from Yorkshire, England, in the nineteenth century, via Illinois to Alberta, Canada. These are the Marlows, Bosomworths, Dickensons, and Johnsons.

My father’s paternal grandmother’s family are from Northern Ireland and Germany, the former coming to Canada during the potato famine (Crawfords and Diamonds), and the latter likely descended from a Hessian solider in the American Revolution who changed sides (Monks and Muencks).

I am fascinated by my father’s paternal grandfather’s lines, which all lead back to the earliest days of colonial America, including the Mayflower. These are the Harts, Merriams, Wrights, Scidmores, Rossiters, Tabers, Cookes, and Warrens, to name but a few. The states where they lived include New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Five of my several times great grandfathers fought in the American Revolution. One was at Lexington and Ticonderoga.

I am excited to share my adventures in genealogy with you, and my hope is to engage the interest to those who do not share a passion for genealogy as such, but who want to know the highlights of our mutual family history. Another hope is to share the process of learning about how to do genealogy in this day and age of being able to find so much on line. It continues to astound me how much you can actually discover.

My plan is not to use the names of living people without their permission, or to reveal sensitive material that is a little too recent, which could even be from a century ago.

I will not be citing my sources fully in my postings, as doing this would have been a barrier to writing what I hope will be a near daily blog. I have cited my sources in detail on, so if you need more information about my sources, you can visit my "public" tree there if you have a subscription, or you can contact me by email.

Many thanks to Louise Louise Cooke and her Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast for her step by step instructions in how to create a family history blog. I have learned so much from this podcast and also her Genealogy Gems podcast, of which I am a premium member.

Also, I wish to thank Thomas MacEntee for his inspiring Geneabloggers podcast.

Welcome, and enjoy. I look forward to our future connections, and to meeting cousins I never knew about.  Please feel free to comment and share. Join me as we “time travel through the centuries” together.