Sunday, 31 May 2015

Ann Boulton's Indulgences

Ann Boulton is pictured above with her granddaughters Edna and Ida circa 1916.  She was the matriarch of the Boultons in Manitoba and her ability to build her household from the ground up is amazing to me. The family moved from Ontario in 1892 to begin their life farming near Reston.   Recent cleaning out of her farm home has unearthed the bills and receipts that tell the story of these early days.   They seem to have purchased just about everything on credit and saved the receipts for the paid notes. I don't really know the total cost of some of these items but I am glad that some of their hard earned money was spent on entertainment and ways to make a pioneer woman's life easier.  I'm also glad they weren't thrown out after all these years! 

On June 2, 1903, the Boultons made a deal to pay sixty dollars by the first day of November to purchase a Doherty Organ like the one pictured below on an account with A.H. McLaren.  It appears to have cost them $62 on the first of December to pay this note off. Two dollars would have been the interest, I assume.  Randy recalls it sitting on the front veranda for many years .

March 24, 1897, from R.J. Hulow, Ann H. Boulton purchased a Singer Sewing Machine Number 18767984 in Style  "U.S.A. bak". This website indicates this machine was manufactured in 1874.  I remember Uncle Frank showing it to me years ago and he said he could still get it to work!  Five dollars was due on the machine on June 1, 1897 and the fine print states if this is not paid, the machine must be returned.  As owner of 160 acres of land, she must have been considered a good risk.  

The receipt above is toward the purchase of a washing machine in 1911, I think.  Many of the bills from this period don't use the 0 when writing the year so it may be 1901.  The signature appears to be from McMurchy Brothers.  

Ann's granddaughter Mary (Boulton) Milliken wrote the following description of clothes washing in 1984 for the RM Of Albert History Book Reflections of Time.
Clothes were washed in a hand machine, the handle of which attached to a dolly inside the tub.  When the handle was pushed back and forth, it swished the clothes around in the soap and water.  Two attached, hand turned rollers wrang the water from the clothes.  Water was heated on a boiler on the stove and soap was handmade from lard and lye.  

Although not necessarily an indulgence, this note for the Cream Separator like the one below was important for everyday life.  There is a website here with lots of information on separators.

The bill from G.S. Munroe Company from July 26, 1910 was made out to Miss Boulton.  I presume this would be Susan.  She got 13 (yards?) of gingham for $1.30, 5 more yards for 55 cents, sateen , ribbon, cuff buttons and collar buttons for a grand total of $2.95.  The sewing machine would have been put to use to make the clothing for the family.  

It is so hard to imagine life in the Boulton household over 100 years ago but these scraps of paper bring it closer!

Farm Machinery Purchases

The Boulton family left the Brockville, Ontario area in 1892 and headed west for the open land in Manitoba.  They were farmers there but would have likely not brought much with them and had many purchases to make.  Some of these receipts have survived well over 100 years and give an interesting glimpse back in time.

This note, dated November 1894, was for a $105.00 Mower and Rake from Frost and Wood in Winnipeg, perhaps somewhat like the one pictured below.

In Septmebr of 1893, Benjamin bought a No 7 Plow and Breaker Board from the Cockshutt Plow Company from Winnipeg.  This payment was for $25 and the interest rate was 8%.  

In the spring of 1898, this note is for a Massey-Harris 15 shoe drill. Besides being signed by Thomas, his mother Ann's signature is underneath.  Benjamin died unexpectedly in 1898 and his will was in probate for many years after, finally being settled in 1902.  
This payment was on an 8 foot Ideal Binder to the Deering Harvester Company likely similar to the one pictured below.  

This would be for the 8 furrow Junior Engine Gang Plow that was purchased to use with the Hart Parr tractor.  The $52 freight bill from Winnipeg to Reston on this plow is recorded in the bill below. 

The Boulton Brothers must have felt optimistic in 1912 as in October there is also a note from the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company for 40/62 Sep. Gilss Stkr, #2 Nghr & Wagon Loader, 150 X 8 X 5 Rub Ber .  I assume this is harvesting equipment of some type.  Any help with figuring out these words would be most welcome!

Horse Power

The Boulton farm relied on horsepower for the first 50 years or so and many of the pictures and receipts reflect this history. 

 This one records a transaction on the 4th of November in 1903 for a bay horse was made between Thomas and A.W. Harper of Brandon.  The horse was to be paid for in the next year for $65.
The nicest of the receipts from the farm is this one selling a gelding colt for $200 named Garta-tan-coil (?) to Thomas on October 18, 1909.  This street scene of Pipestone looks very different today! The seller was Julia B. Waters.  In the RM of Albert history book written in 1984, it says Julia and her husband James lived in the Paramount District and he died in 1907.  Julia and 2 of her 5 children moved to Moose Jaw in 1910.  Julia and one daughter returned to the farm the next year and stayed until 1925.  Julia died in Brandon in 1938.

In 1898, the family purchased a second hand sett (?) sleigh made by Frost and Wood Co. This company was eventually taken over by The Cockshutt Plow Company, as I found on the Manitoba Historical Society website.  This receipt for payment to the Fairchild Company in Winnipeg was for $15. 

Edwin ?

Not sure who the man is but the horse on the right are labelled Kat, Frank and Bell

Uncle Frank
Uncle Anthony and Frank with Dot and Lady
Russell riding Trigger being led by Uncle Frank

Randy on a colt, Richard and Uncle Frank - August 1961

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Salt and Peppers

A large collection of ornaments from the Boulton house was recently unpacked from this cupboard that sat above Uncle Frank's chair in the farmhouse.  Uncle Hazen Bigney made the corner cupboard for the Boultons, likely in the 30's.  I'm sure each item has a story and we took the photos below before repacking them for the next generation to find.

These plastic ones seem to be from the late 40's and early 50's, as is probably true about most of the collection. We imagine many belonged to Merle Cassell Boulton, perhaps gifts from her family or school pupils.

 These ones above were probably the utilitarian ones, used on a regular basis.  The one at the back may be the oldest, and one of the few singles who lost its mate in a long ago mishap.

 Animals of all sorts are the theme of this group.

 There's some cute ones in this group.  The flowers in the bottom right can be picked up from the "grass" base.
Lots of birds in this group as well as a orange Bakelite set on the left that say Chicago 1935.   The green set are made of plastic.

The items above aren't salt and peppers but other are decorative things.  The cow pitcher at the left pours out its mouth!  In front of it is a little boat that Uncle Frank demonstrated for the kids one time. Apparently a bit of lighter fluid on a cotton ball set alight and it would propel itself along in the tub!   The little yellow cream pitcher says it is a souvenir of Warroad, Minnesota.  Elsie Boulton's father James Bushby traveled through the states in the 20's and I wonder if he brought it back.  So many little treasures!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Ernest Leroy Cassel (1898-1917)

Ernest Leroy Cassel was born on February 9, 1898 in Sharbot Lake, Ontario.  His parents William and the former Agnes Snider along with his grandfather John, he and his sister Gertude left the Central Frontenac Region to homestead in Manitoba around the turn of the century.  They farmed north of Elkhorn at Burnbank and Ernie's young life would have been one of hard work on the farm, hoping each season for a successful harvest for his labours to pay off. Randy's maternal grandfather was his younger brother.

On the 9th of February in 1916, the day of his 18th birthday, Ernest made the trip to Virden to enlist as a soldier in WW1.  That day, he was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  His religion was declared as Presbyterian and he was given the service number 1000715.  

I imagine Ernie's parents, William and Agnes would have been proud of his choice but worried about what he would face.  His sister Gertie had left home by this time, married to Gordon Mills Turner in 1913 when she turned 18.  Remaining at home were his brother Russell (12), sisters Pearl (9),  Illa (1 year old) and Irene born after he left in April 1916. Russell would now have needed to step into his brother's shoes and assume more responsibilities on the farm.

According to the census in June of 1916, Ernest was in Camp Hughes receiving his training.  On December 18 in 1916 he boarded the S.S. Olympic at Halifax for the voyage overseas.  After spending Christmas on board the soldiers landed in Liverpool on the 28th.  He was a Private in the 226th Battalion at this time but was transferred to the 14th Reserve Battalion on April 7, 1917.

His digital file at Library and Archives Canada shows that Ernest's family back in Elkhorn received $15 per month from the Separation and Assigned Pay Branch.  This would be intended to make up some of the income that their family was missing with Ernest overseas. 

This pay could never make up for the tragic ending to this story.  At the tender age of 19, Ernest Leroy Cassel was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium along with 4000 other Canadian soldiers. This battle has often been described as the bloodiest, muddiest battle of all time for Canadian soldiers.   I do remember hearing the name of this place, perhaps in a long ago history class. Researching Ernie's story and reading the horror of this battle, I have a new appreciation for his and his comrades' sacrifice.
While taking part with his Battalion in the operations against Bellevue Spur, Paschendaele Ridge on the morning of October 26,1917 he was wounded in the head by shell fire.  He was evacuated to Number 17 Casualty Clearing Station where he died from the effects of his wounds 4 days later.
The above details about his death were found online here as well as the picture of his tombstone below.  He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium, pictured below right.   E.L. Cassel's name is memorialized on the War Memorial in Elkhorn as well.  

In another one of the startling coincidences I've had in writing my blogs I realized the significance of May 15, the day I was planning to finish and post this biography.  At 11:00 am, a soldier in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa will turn the page of the Book of Remembrance to page 214  including the name Ernest Leroy Cassel.  The solemn ceremony is shown in the video linked from this page Just another instance of feeling that someone is helping me to write this blog, leading me to these stories of my family.  A follow up post for Ernest is linked here.

Ernie's sister Gertie Turner had a son in October of 1916 that was named Ernest for his Uncle Ernie who was heading off to war. In a terrible twist of irony, that Ernest Turner died in Holland in WW2, on October 30, 1944 - exactly 27 years to the day after his uncle.  
Ernie Turner is in the back row in the middle. My thanks to his daughter (the little girl in front) for this picture.

In the words of the Ode of Remembrance

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Russell Cassell (1903-1994) and Agnes Coburn (1903-1966)

Russell Gerald Cassell was born on April 26, 1903 to William George Cassel and the former Agnes Snider.  He grew up on his parents' farm north of Elkhorn, MB.where they were a family of 4 girls and 2 boys.  Russell married local teacher Agnes Coburn in the twenties.

Russell and Agnes had a daughter Merle Lyla (pictured above) and went to Napanee, Ontario, the birthplace of his father, to work for the better part of a year.  They then returned to Manitoba but this time to the Two Creeks area where his parents had relocated to.  Russell and Agnes went on to have 1 son and 6 more daughters and spent time living and working at Burnbank, Kirkella and Elkhorn.  He farmed, worked on the coal docks and did carpentry work.  Russell worked building the Rivers Airport, according to his youngest daughter Allie in his biography in the 1982 Elkhorn History Book called Steel and Grass Roots. 
Russell Cassell and his daughter Merle Boulton in the 1950's

 Russell Cassell with his grandsons - namesake Russell on the left,  baby Randall and Richard - 1960

Randy remembers his Grandpa coming to build the cabinets above the TV in their home in the 60's.

Agnes Coburn was born in Maybole, Scotland on January 18, 1903 and came to Canada in 1907 with her family.  Her brother Bill had previously immigrated and settled in the Crandall area of Manitoba. Another brother James and her sister Mary (with husband Duncan Shaw) lived at Abbey, Saskatchewan where both had farms and families.  Agnes drove the horse drawn school van and went on to graduate from Normal School and teach at Oak Lake and later Burnbank, where she would have met Russell. A busy farm wife with 8 children - how did she ever manage?

Agnes passed away on April 1, 1966.
Found on

Russell carried on alone as a widower for almost 30 more years.  Many birthdays, Thanksgivings and Christmases and a few Cassell Reunions were enjoyed by the extended family at Grandpa's house in Elkhorn.  The above photo was taken there at his 90th birthday celebration in 1993 with Frank Boulton on the left and grandsons Richard, Russell and Randy behind him.  He passed away on May 1, 1994, exactly 28 years after his wife.  They are buried together in Elkhorn Cemetery, a life's work well done. Their legacy continues today with dozens of descendants with special memories of them.

Agnes Snider (1875-1930) and William Cassell (1871-1958)

Randy's great grandmother, his paternal grandfather's mother, was born at Bellrock, Addington, Ontario on August 6,1875 to John and Rebecca (Martin) Snider.  Agnes (pictured above with her granddaughter Merle in about 1926) was one of 6 children on the 1881 census with her farming parents.  Both sides of her family seem to have lived in the area for generations, originally coming up from the United States to Canada as United Empire Loyalists.

When she was 18 years old, Agnes married 23 year old William Cassel on October 6,1893 at St. Paul's Church in Sydenham, Ontario.  William was the son of John Cassel and Margaret Briggs and was described as a "yeoman" on the marriage certificate.  I believe this word refers to a family farmer who owns a small piece of land.  

William George was born on July 22, 1871 at Sharbot Lake, Ontario. His mother Margaret Briggs Cassel died in Oso Township at the age of 66 in 1898 and this event likely brought about thoughts of change.  William's father John Cassel along with William, Agnes and their young family decided to leave all they knew in Ontario sometime around 1902.  

As with many young eastern families, the lure of free land in the west drew them to Manitoba .  The Southeast Quarter of section 14 in township 13 range 28 first west of the prime meridian was homesteaded by W.G. Cassel, filed as Number 104740.  His father John homesteaded the northwest quarter of the same section.  The image below can be found on the Western Land Grants section of the Library and Archives Canada website.  One can imagine them doing what others had and building a house on where the two quarters met to satisfy the homestead requirements to live on their land 6 months of the year.  
The 1901 census which was completed on March 31st shows William and Agnes living with 2 children and his father John back in Addington, Ontario.  It would be shortly after this that their preparations to move west began. 

Ten years later in 1911 they are recorded in Manitoba on NE 14-13-28 with 4 children and a 15 year old niece Myrtle Cassel.  This piece of land in the Burnbank District, is 8 miles north of Elkhorn. William's father John had died in 1909 and probate documents posted on show the NW quarter of 14-14-28 being willed to his daughter-in-law Agnes.  I wonder why not to her husband William?

The 1921 Canadian Census records the three youngest girls with William and Agnes at the same location.  The local history book, "Prairie Neighbours" says William was a farmer, carpenter, and owned a draying business in Elkhorn for a time as well.  The picture of him above was copied from this book.

This family has been rather difficult to trace through the years due to spelling of their last name.  His surname on the Canadian Census changes every ten years!  In fairness, this can't be blamed on him since the census takers wrote what they thought they heard in many cases.

1871- Cassle
1881- Cassels
1891- Castle
1901- Cassells
1911- Cassels
1916- Castle
1921- Cassell (The family name has been spelled this way since then)

Agnes died in December of 1930 and William on April 18,1958 at age 86.  After he left the farm, he lived in a shack on the outskirts of Elkhorn.  Thanks to Ancestry contributor John Grove for the recent picture below of his residence.  Rick remembers visiting his great grandfather there.
William and Agnes raised a family of 4 girls and 2 boys
  • Florence Gertrude "Gertie" (1895- 1975) Married Gordon Mills Turner, had three girls and a boy. their son, Ernie was killed in Holland in WW2
  • Ernest Leroy (1898-1917) Killed in WW1
  • Russell Gerald (1903-1994) Randy's Grandpa - married Agnes Coburn and had 7 daughters and one son  
  • Thelma Pearl (1906-1996) Married Wilber Grant Gerow, moved to Cleveland, Ohio 
  • Illa Mary (1915-1940)  Married Harold Thomas Cooledge - had 2 daughters, she died in a house fire in Kirkella, MB in 1940 with her elder daughter Audrey Joan
  • Hazel Irene (1916-1922) died at age five

The clipping above of 5 generations of the Cassell family was from the June 16, 1955 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Merle Cassell Boulton (1925-1959)

Mother's Day seems like the appropriate day to publish this blog post about Randy's Mom, Merle Lyla Cassell Boulton.  She was born on June 16, 1925 on her paternal grandparents' farm in the Burnbank district, north of Elkhorn.  Merle was the eldest child of Russell Cassell and the former Agnes Coburn.  
 The above picture of Merle with her father Russell was likely taken in Napanee, Ontario where they lived for a year or so when she was little.  They almost look to be camping in this photo.  The three of them returned to farming in Manitoba, joining Russell's parents at their new farm at Two Creeks, north of Virden. Apparently she had a serious case of scarlet fever at one time and was fortunate to pull through. A brother Douglas was born in 1928 and then 6 more sisters joined the family.  The family moved around the rural area until settling in Elkhorn in 1938.
Merle is the girl standing at the back on the left, beside her parents Russell and Agnes.  In front are four of her younger sisters, Ena, Marie, Betty and Isobel.

Some of the Cassell Girls left to right - Ena, Merle, Agnes (their Mother), Doreen and Betty
Merle graduated from Elkhorn High School but may have also attended schools at Burnbank, Kirkella and West Two Creeks. She loved curling and was an avid gardener and cook.  According to her sister Allie in the Elkhorn History Book written in 1982, Merle often won ribbons for her beautiful baking at the local fairs.
Her sister Ena told me that Merle was a quiet person, quietly funny in her own way.  She had a very even temperament and a slow fuse. Randy has the same personality and whether by example or by genetics, so do our two sons.  
Aunt Ena remembers visiting at the Boulton farm once when Merle lost her wedding ring when they were hanging up the laundry at the back of the house.  They frantically searched on their hands and knees for it but never did find it. I wonder if it is still there?
Merle was a tall slim woman, apparently built like her Grandma Agnes Snider Cassell.  She had long lovely fingers and fingernails, recalls Aunt Ena, and those hands were strong enough to open jars and sealers without help from the menfolk!   Like her mother Agnes, Merle attended Normal School and became a teacher.  Her first school was at Kinloss in 1944.   Ena says she made a wonderful teacher with her kindness and patience.  The Boulton farm was situated one mile west of Kinloss School and the rest, as they say, was history.

On October 6, 1945 Merle married Edwin Benjamin Boulton, eldest son of Thomas Boulton and the former Elsie Bushby. She was 20 years old and he was 25.  The wedding took place in Virden at St. Mary's Anglican Church.  Eddie's cousin Ida and her husband Max White were their attendants.

Wedding guests in this photo left to right - Max White, Elsie Boulton, Merle and Eddie, Ida (Bigney) White, Viney Reeves (Merle's cousin), Russell and Agnes Cassell, Gertie Turner (Merle's Aunt, sister to Russell), Edna (sister to Eddie) and Ewen Pearn.
Supper's On!  Merle (standing on the far left) and her brother-in-law Frank are holding the pumpkin pies, Ida and Max White have the meat and potatoes.  Sister-in-law Jean is behind Edwin, whipping up the cream.
Merle was active in the community being a member of the Kinloss Ladies Club and she served for a number of years as Secretary Treasurer of the Kinloss School Board.  Farm account books, gardening, preserving, cooking, laundry, chickens, sewing, cleaning, and raising children would have been how she spent her days. Aunt Allie marvels at how she could cook for so many people like on Sunday suppers when more and more would roll in and she could feed them all.  Cousin Wendy remembers the blue and purple plaid skirt with pleats and straps that she made for her.   

In the space of 11 years, three sons were born: Richard Edwin, Russell James, and Randall Thomas.

On December 14, 1959 at the age of 34, Merle passed away in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg following an infection.  
Today I will have a cup of tea from one of her "Blossom Time" cup and saucers (a wedding gift from the Elkhorn Church Ladies) and wish her a Happy Mother's Day.