Monday, 11 May 2015

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.

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