Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lena Sarah Marlow Smith Hart Weyman, Part Two

As you will recall, my widowed grandmother, Lena Sarah Smith, (nee Marlow), had purchased her father’s farm in Lougheed in about 1929. As it happens, her father’s farm was next to the farm of my grandfather, George Leslie Hart, one of the most prosperous and well-respected farmers in the area. George and Lena were married in 1930 when Lena was forty, and George was fifty-three. On July 7, 1930 a terrible hailstorm struck the community, destroying everything in a strip ninety miles long and twenty-eight miles wide. This included everyone’s crops, and much property. Three days later, my grandfather was found dead in the hayloft of his barn from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. According to his obituary, the wound was self-inflicted. His son, my father, Harold Leslie Hart, was born later that year.

Of note, something positive involving the Marlow family did come out of the devastating hailstorm. Lena’s brother, and my great uncle, Joseph Robert Marlow, known as “Tom”, on realizing that the families of the area were now going to have a difficult time paying the doctor, came up with the idea of a health care plan. He had read about one being considered in a community in the U.S., and shared this with the local physician. It was thought to be a good solution, and on July 8, 1931 the Flagstaff Municipal Health Plan came into effect. It is my understanding that this was the very first public health care system in North America.

Lena, too, distinguished herself. She was elected to the school board in 1937, and was elected School Board Chairman in 1939, the first and only woman to hold this position on that particular board. My mother has told me that her mother-in-law was a very intelligent and “down to earth” woman, who was loving and not judgmental. I am also told that she and her children were all known for their senses of humour. This is certainly true of my father, (and my mother’s family, for that matter).

Lena Hart became Mrs. Thomas (“Tom”) Weyman on November 15, 1937, when she was forty-eight years old, and he was fifty-five. Tom was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England in 1882--an Englishman like her father. His wife, Catherine, had died in 1933, and they had had seven children: Donald, Doris, Mabel, Percy Douglas, John “Jack” Haig, Margaret, and Thomas Jr. Lena and Tom moved to Calgary in 1940, where Tom worked at the “Ogden Shops”, a huge rail yard that built and repaired locomotives and train cars. They lived there until at least 1950, when Tom retired. (Of note, Tom’s daughter Mabel married Lena’s nephew and adopted brother, Arnold, in 1943). I remember “Gramma Weyman” and “Grampa Weyman”. Here is a photo of me and my grampa:

Grampa Weyman and Yours Truly

Tom died in 1960, and Lena died on February 23, 1968, both in Alberta, and both at the age of seventy-eight. I am hoping that family members will read this blog, and contact me with more details of the lives of Lena and her family. Any help or feedback would be much appreciated.

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