Sunday, 17 March 2019

Shamrock with a Past

Another most amazing piece of Boulton family history has been shared with me by cousin Ann Milliken Patmore and on this St. Patrick's Day  I’d like to pass the story on to my blog readers. 

Boulton family research indicates that 3rd great grandfather George Boulton and his wife Nancy Bickfort/Bickford immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Ballinvally, Wexford, Ireland somewhere around 1765-70. He went on to become a Loyalist and head for Ontario due to the American Revolution. Perhaps it is the Irish roots of the family that has kept alive the subject of today's post - an almost 90 year old shamrock plant!  Ann tells me: 
I remember it was one of the days we were helping Mom and Dad move into Reston from the farm in July, 2008. A plant pot was sitting on top of the frig and the plant in it was not looking very healthy. I suggested we should throw it out, but mom said it was just taking a little rest and we packed it up to move it to Reston. She went on to tell me the story behind the plant.
The story begins around 1930 when little Mary Boulton (later Milliken) is sick with a cold and her Aunt Susie Boulton Bigney comes to the Boulton farm to visit and brings a little shamrock plant to cheer her up. Susie's granddaughter Maxine White Morrow remembers a shamrock plant in the Bigney house so no doubt it was a piece of her own plant.  Thanks to Maxine, that detail of the story is no longer lost to history.

Oxalis Regnelli, as the clover or shamrock plant is officially known,  needs a dormancy period in which some owners mistakenly believe the plant has died. The Boulton women obviously have faith however!

The plant survives and thrives under the tender loving care of Mary’s mother Elsie Bushby Boulton for the next 30+ years.  Mary then moves the plant to her home and continues the tradition of watching it die down in the winter only to come to life each spring.  It would witness another generation of children grow up and marry and have children of their own.  As Mary aged and the years went by, it must have remained an important link to the past.  Ann continues:
When mom moved into the Willowview in 2011, I brought the plant to my house in Virden and then to the lake in 2017 when we moved here.  It’s been a travelling plant! Originally in Reston to the Boulton farm to Mom & Dad’s farm, back to Reston, Virden and now Oak Lake Beach. 
In fact, the shamrock plant took a place of honour at Mary's funeral in September, 2013. Granddaughter Jennifer Milliken Bell made mention of it in the eulogy she gave that day:
 Grandma also loved plants inside the house.  There were always plants in the windows.  A true testament of her gardening skills can be seen at the front table where there are two shamrock plants.  They are pieces of an original plant given to Grandma’s mom when Grandma was just two years old.  Grandma kept that plant or pieces of it alive for 83 years.
The plant now sees its fourth generation of children growing up as Ann's daughter Kaitlyn Patmore Stoop was “plant sitting” it at her house while the Patmores were away this winter.  The shamrock plant now happily lives with Ann and although other family members have tried to take cutting to start a new plant, they don’t have the success of the original plant.  Perhaps the next cutting will be the lucky one!  The last word goes to Ann along with my sincere thanks for sharing the story with me:
I’m so glad I did not convince her to throw the plant out that day way back in 2008!  

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

WW1 Veteran Thomas Colthorpe

Along with a wonderful collection of  family letters from England including ones from James, Dorrie, Lena and Gertie Bushby was this gem - a single one from Private T. Colthorpe to Randy's Grandpa Boulton.  Over my Christmas holidays, I had time to research his story.   Library and Archives Canada has scanned and posted online all the service records from WW1 soldiers and with his helpful inclusion at the top of his letter of his Regimental Number (276529), it was easy to find out more about him here.  
This very descriptive letter of a soldier's life was written in July of 1917 from Camp Bramshott in Hampshire, England which coincidentally is just north of the former home of Grandma Elsie (Bushby) Boulton

(Transcript of the letter is below - some editing done by this teacher including adding punctuation!)
I expect you are wondering where I am and how things are with me after all this time. You will see by the above address that we are in England and we have been in England about six or seven weeks. I can’t say much about our voyage across the Atlantic beyond saying it was pretty uncomfortable. We come over on the Olympic a tremendous vessel. They said there was 6 or 7 thousand on board but can’t say how true it is.  They said also she brought 10,000 Australians across on one voyage.  If it was so I pity them for we were pretty well crowded.  We slept in hammocks slung underneath the different decks strung so close together there was barely room to turn over and underneath were the mess tables. Some of the beggars would lay in bed till the breakfast was on the table in mornings and then roll out right down. Pull and maul the grub - about the food wasn’t of the best - ugh. I tell you I was glad when we arrived this side.  We had to wear lifebelts all the way across wasn’t allowed up on deck without them. The boats were slung out both sides of the ship off the top deck to the level the next one where we drilled. She carried great guns and some of the best gunners in the British Navy to man them. She didn’t run in a straight line she come like this all the way across. (Drawing of a zig zag line) We were met by 5 Destroyers when we were off the Irish coast - little narrow craft with only small guns on board as far as I could see but they could certainly move through the water coming toward our ship when we first saw them at a great rate cutting through the water like a knife.This country was looking at its best just simply Ba verdant green and roses in flowers in the gardens and different creepers on the walls off of the houses.  If you were to ever come to England Tom arrive in June but don’t come now.  Things are not at their best here now everything is dear as dear as they are in Canada and food is not too plentiful. We count on rations we have enough but that’s about all.  We get more variety of food and better cooked than we did in Canada but there is none thrown away. We are putting in stiff training here. There is something to go through after a Canadian soldier arrives in England before he is fit for the front. We only get the rudiments of training in Canada. Here we have to learn musketry, bombing, gas. Have to put the gas helmets on in so many seconds and before we go to the front we have to go through a room full of it put the helmet on in so many seconds before they turn it on. The live bombs they explode in four to 5 seconds.  You just have to pull a pin out and hold the lever attached to them.  When you pull the pin out it release the lever if you hold that down till you throw it. When the lever is released it release a spring inside which operates on the works inside.  Then look out - they are the lucky ones who are not close to it. Then we have to learn barbwire entanglements, trench digging, sand bag building, bayonet fighting, all sorts of things. I guess we are booked ...
What a great letter!  I am yet unsure of the connection between the two Thomases. Thomas Colthorpe was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk England on May 13, 1878  which puts him 3 years younger than our Thomas. When he enlisted in Brandon on July 21, 1916 he was 38 years old, with dark complexion, grey eyes and dark hair.  He stood 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall and with both parents deceased, his next of kin was listed as his brother Edgar back in England.  He listed his occupation as farmer and resident of Reston at that time.

His online personnel file confirms his voyage on the Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic) that left Halifax on the 6th of June in 1917 and landed in Liverpool a week later.  
His file also confirms that he trained in England until later the next year until he landed in France.  Records indicate he was part of a brigade burial party in September of 1918 and received a gunshot wound to the back a month later. He ended up back in the hospital at Bramshott until April 16, 1919 when he left Liverpool for the return trip home. Reston, Man is stroked out and 181 Logan Avenue East in Winnipeg is indicated as his latest address at that time. I can find no other trace of him in the last 100 years. There is a card in his file stamped DESP - December 29, 1922 that may be his death date but that is just a guess.

Besides his brother Edgar, he had a sister Rachel who lived at 8 Montagu Square, Marble Arch, London W. England at that time. The will in his file leaves her as his beneficiary. I can find no further trace of the family but have found the last name could also be spelled Coldthorpe, Cowlthorpe, Colthorp, etc...  As always, any information my readers may have would be most welcome! 

Thomas Colthorpe, your memory lives on in that letter back to a friend.  We will remember you.  

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Local Reston History - The Peanut


This blog post originated after being connected through a Facebook post with a former Restonite who has fond memories of her childhood and "The Peanut" - a steam freight and passenger train that traveled between Reston and Wolseley, SK.  A booklet (pictured above) written by Gilbert McKay in 1976 and the pictures included from the Reston Museum helped me tell the story to go along with her recollections. 

Apparently "The Peanut" was so named by Ed Scriver, editor of the Wolseley News.  On hearing the train’s whistle for the first time the former Englishman is said to have exclaimed, “It sounds like a peanut vendor”.   The usual timetable of the train was a early morning run from Reston arriving in Wolseley at 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It left Wolseley at 7 am on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to return to Reston. The round house/engine house still stands where the train was serviced and turned around that night until 1930 when a "wye" track was built instead. 

(Randy and I had quite the Abbott and Costello moment when I asked him what a turn around track was called.  My former railroader husband said "wye" but I heard "why".  That's how the fight started... haha)

 The train was noted for being slow, covering the 122 miles in fourteen hours, but that is somewhat understandable with a potential of fifteen stops along the way to pick up and unload passengers, freight, cream cans and the like.  It could also be delayed due to having to wait to cross the CNR line at Peebles (then called Kaiser).  The final train, still a steam engine, left Wolseley on August 31, 1961 along with cheers and tears along the way. 

My thanks to Arlene Breland of Aldergrove, B.C. for sharing her memories with me and for whetting my curiosity about this important chapter from Reston's past. 
When I was eleven years of age, my father who worked for the CPR Rail, was bumped to a small town on the south-western area of Manitoba called Reston.  When Mother, my brother & myself arrived we were in disbelief, for the house we were to live in had no running water and a wood burning stove.  What a culture shock that was coming from the city of Winnipeg with all the amenities.  We arrived during the summer holidays not knowing a soul and thinking what planet have we arrived on.  The summer seemed endless with many tears shed every night.
Then came the first day of school and Mother told me to get dressed in my school uniform, which consisted of a tunic, white shirt, black tie and black knee socks.  Upon arriving at school was dismayed to see the kids dressed in blue jeans and very casual tops.  Their reaction was immediate, filled with laughter and snickers at the new girl standing in line.  I ran away from school that day and vowed never to return and even contemplated running away from home.  Mother took sympathy on me and after talking to my father they went out and got me some jeans, some tops and a pair of saddle shoes.  I returned to school with trepidation and although it was not easy, the kids finally accepted me.  
During that time my Dad was working on a small steam engine train which was affectionately called “The Peanut”.  It consisted of about four cars and travelled from Reston to Wolseley, Saskatchewan every second day of  the week.  Dad would be gone overnight and then return from Wolseley to Reston.  
Dad worked in the baggage car of the train and often let me make a trip with him during the summer holidays.  What an experience that was for me as we made stops in all the little towns on the way to Wolseley.  I remember sitting on the cream cans and listening to the “clickity-clack, clickity-clack” of the train as it traveled along the rails.  The whistle would always blow as we came to another town.  My father would unload and reload and then we would be off again.  He made that trip every weekday back and forth.
Many a time after school I would listen for the whistle of the train as it stopped at the water tower, just outside of town to refill before it pulled into the station.  I would quickly run across town and stand on the wooden platform patiently waiting for it to pull into the station.  What a beautiful station it was.  I still recall the station master, Mr. Anderson, if it was raining he would call me inside and let me sit at the telegraph desk until "The Peanut” pulled in.  How I loved its musical sound as it chugged in and came to a stop with its last few breaths of steam and there she would sit in all its glory for the child who absolutely adored her.  I would help my Dad as he finished unloading take his weigh bills and we would walk back home together. 
"The Peanut” existed from 1906 until 1961 and to this very day whenever I hear the lonesome whistle of a train, memories flood back to that very special time in my life, where times were at a slower pace and almost magical.
Now as I reflect back on the past, I realize how fortunate I was to grow up in the 1950’s, to have the opportunity to reside in Reston, where to this day have two very special friends who have remained in my life throughout these many years.  It was a “Camelot Era”, which will forever remain in my heart..
Written 2004 by Davina Arlene

Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Mystery of the Auction Sale Pictures

Well then.  Something I could never imagine has happened.  Today's post could appear on both my family blogs-  52 Ancestors 52 Weeks and The Boulton Blog.  No, I’ve not found out we are actually related - but it got me wondering!

At a recent Prairie Lane Consignment Auction sale at Souris, I was just about to leave empty handed when I took one last stroll around the tables of treasures.  I’m not sure how I missed it the first look around, but sitting on the table with items waiting for the top bidder was this picture!  I'm sure my chin hit the floor and looked around to see if someone had a hidden camera on me.

As featured in this previous post, it shows the Boulton family in front of their 1892 home south of Reston around 1910!  An identical picture hung on the wall in the old house for many years and was moved to hang in the new building in the yard a few years ago.  As I sat there (trying to look cool) waiting for it to come up, I wondered where it had been in the 108 years since then.  It has a mark in the corner to indicate it was taken by the Reston photographic company Boynton & Eaton.  The RM of Albert history book from 1984 includes the same picture and identifies the people as (standing on veranda) Herb Boulton, Susan Bigney, Annie Kendrick, (standing beside) Stanley Boulton , Anthony Boulton, Thomas Boulton (Randy’s grandfather) , Louisa Roe, Russell Roe, Ann Boulton (Randy’s great grandmother) and little Tom Roe sitting in front.  Wherever it's been, the picture is now framed and takes its place on top of the old Boulton sideboard buffet in our home alongside pictures of the next generations.

The same consignor,  #16, had another beautiful old portrait for sale and the more I looked at it, the more I thought I saw facial similarities to some of Randy’s cousins.  When I sent him a photo of it, he agreed the face looked familiar so I was waiting on pins and needles again.  (I really had to visit the washroom but just couldn’t leave and risk missing it come up for bids! haha)  It and a few others in the lot went up to $30 before the auctioneer looked at me and said "Sold!"  I may have scared the other bidder out with my waving frantically...

After getting it home, Randy took the shingles off the back of the portrait.  I was so excited to see if there was a name on the back.  We had guessed it was likely Louisa Roe, Grandpa Thomas Boulton’s sister.  When the first board was off, I could see there was indeed pencil cursive writing on the back of the picture!  The second board was removed to a gasp - Jas Milne, Griswold, Man.  Whaaaat?  Milne’s are my relatives! 

Milne is a common name in the North East part of Scotland and a Milne who I found on Facebook and a former resident of Griswold has helped me immensely in my research by telling me there were 3 families of that name in Griswold when she was growing up and none were related!  As we talked, we found we had shared Milne roots with the same great great grandfather John! My Grandma Kinnaird’s first cousin was Roy Milne, the UGG grain buyer at Griswold for 30 years. 

I have done some online (and on ground) research and have made a few discoveries about this Milne family. I found a James Milne and his wife Isabella Bean are buried with matching marble stones in Griswold Cemetery.  He died in 1907 at the young age of 44 and she at 60 years old in 1924. He came to Canada in 1887 and she in 1891.

They had 4 children that I found using the Manitoba Vital Statistics website. They appear in the town of Griswold on the 1906 and 1911 Canadian census.   
  • Eric James born July 23, 1892.  He died in WW1 on April 17, 1917 and is buried in Nine Elms Military Cemetery in France.  his name appears on the war memorial in Griswold.

  • Victor Maurice born January 30, 1894. He was buried in Griswold Cemetery after his death on March 17,1963.  He had married Mabel Sanders on October 16, 1935 and she died in 2005 and is buried at Griswold.
  • Coralie Isobel born September 24,1895. She went on to marry Edward Senkbeil and they farmed near Kemnay
  • Cecil Vivian born April 25,1898
If the portrait was taken in the 1880's, it may be of Isabella or perhaps it is James' mother back in Scotland.  Maybe I have the wrong people altogether!  If anyone knows any descendants of James and Isabella, please let them know that I have this picture and would be glad to get it back to them.  When I contacted the auctioneer, she told me that Consignor 16 is looked after by the Public Trustee. She had spoken to the Public Trustee on my behalf and unfortunately all information is confidential and cannot be released. Those beautiful pictures will remain a mystery, she said.  She obviously doesn't know my genealogy detective skills!😉