Saturday, 31 December 2016

Elsie's Order of the Crocus - 1967

 The Order of the Crocus as explained on the Manitoba Historical Society website -
In June 1967, the Manitoba Centennial Corporation commemorated the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation by issuing a ceremonial scroll to 500 selected citizens over the age of 75 years. Each scroll featured a coloured drawing of a prairie crocus and was signed by Premier Duff Roblin, Provincial Secretary Stewart E. McLean, Manitoba Centennial Corporation Chair Maitland Steinkopf, and a local community representative.
Elsie with baby Randy 1960
Elsie Bushby Boulton (1884-1968) was Randy's paternal grandmother and I was pleased to find this certificate and learn that she was one of the 500 Manitobans chosen to receive this award 50 years ago.  She has been described to me as an incredible pioneer woman of bravery and determination and the more I learn about her, I have to agree.  The Order of the Crocus certificate was found among her son Frank's papers and he spoke fondly of her at every opportunity, doing his best to recreate how she spoke with her British accent for me!

Elsie Norah was the fourth child born to James and Patience Bushby in Eastbourne on the south coast of England.  Her father was a carpenter and undertaker and she had 6 siblings that survived infancy. Two of her older brothers emigrated to Canada in 1906 and after the death of her mother, Elsie along with her father and younger sister Gertrude sailed for Canada on September 11, 1913 aboard the SS Ausonia.  Her brother Arthur and his wife Lou were living in Reston where he was a carpenter.  Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Arthur built the Municipal Office that proudly stands on the corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street today. 

Elsie met local farmer Thomas Boulton and they were married on May 14, 1914.  They raised a family of nine and built a successful farm and community at Kinloss, south of Reston.  This petite lady  not only had her own family to feed, clothe and look after but also extended family members and hired help without all the modern conveniences we take for granted.  In 1967, Elsie was 82 years old and I am glad she was recognized for her contributions to her family, community and adopted country. There are dozens of descendants today who should each proudly carry a little piece of her forward to the next generation.     
Elsie with some of her grandchildren in 1963

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Three More Books

Following up to this post in the summer, here are pictures and details of three more old books found in the Boulton house.  

The first is Titled Future Punishment or Does Death End Probation.  The alternate title is Materialism, Immortality of the Soul, Conditional Immortality Or Annihilationism, Universalism Or Restoration, Optimism Or Eternal Hope, Probation Or Purgatory, quite a mouthful!  Written in 1886 by William Cochrane, it is a compilation of papers written by many famous theologians of the time.  It is a huge book with 528 pages and several drawings as well. Internet research says it is a study of what really happens to those who commit sins on Earth after they die, although I didn't read it myself!
William Cochrane was a Presbyterian clergyman who was hired by the Zion Presbyterian Church in Brantford, Ontario in 1862 but was involved in Mission work in Ontario, Manitoba and B.C. so perhaps that is how his work came into the reading circle of the Boutlons. Cochrane is also well known for his books called the The Canadian Album; Men of Canada, biographies of the men who were influential in Canada's early days. 

It is available as a free ebook on Google Books here in case you are interested in reading it.  The book was reproduced in 2010 and a new copy is available on Amazon here for $30.95.  A few used ones like this are available online too for a wide range of prices, depending on condition. 

Next is the well worn copy of Light on Life's Highway by Wayland Hoyt.  It has a wonderful subtitle as well:
 for the despondent and the cheerful : the tired and the toiling ; the doubting and the believing ; for those under bright skies or grey, containing gems of knowledge and instruction. The most valuable truths and maxim; brightest thoughts from the brightest minds; light on all questions relating to daily life and conduct...embellished with a gallery of superb engravings from world-renowned paintings, executed by the great masters
At 605 pages, it is another hefty book and was published in 1891.  Online book sellers like abebooks have copies in similar condition for $40.00 but of course, they are not sold yet!  Wayland Holt was an American Baptist Minister and Author. 

This book is beautiful! There are so many etchings of so many subjects from Biblical figures and stories to ones showing life in the 19th century to the natural beauty of America... The author draws inspiration from history, his travels in the US and abroad and from daily life and ties it in with religious topics. He also includes a lot of poetry. 
The third book in this post is called Vivilore, the Pathway to Mental and Physical Pefection; The Twentieth Century Book for Every Woman written by Mary Ries Melendy in 1904. The book can be read online here but the 200 illustrations are not included. 

They are wonderful to flip through and a couple of examples are below. I don't think we can even imagine a time when access to information and pictures would have made this book a treasured possession.

The next two pictures from the Table of Contents show the vital information this book held for the Boulton household at the turn of the century.  Chapter 27, titled Childbirth Made Easy, and the following ones about care of infants would have been most important to Elsie  who had eight children beginning in 1915.  

Vivilore was also a beauty book, the equivalent to women's magazines like Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan of the next generation. Young women of today access the world's beauty information at the tips of their fingers.  In many ways, perhaps the world has not changed as much as we think.  

Friday, 25 November 2016

Ernest Leroy Cassel - Part Three

Ever since I've written blog posts about Randy's Great Uncle Ernie here and here, I've been searching for a picture of him and really didn't think it would be that hard.  I wrongly assumed that the government that recruited these young men to fight for their country would have had pictures taken and labelled with their names, to be able to identify them at least.  I was forgetting that photography was fairly new and likely costly in 1916 when Ernie enlisted on his 18th birthday, February 9th,  in Virden.  In my search, I have found some new details to add to his story but the gold star is the picture at the top of this post with Ernest Leroy Cassel in the middle!

The picture was sent to me from his niece Carol whose mother Illa was a younger sister of Ernie's.  The back of the picture shows it was a postcard that has been trimmed but I can only assume this was Ernie's handwritten message back home to his family. 

This link to an online book  at Peel's Prairie Provinces Library has given many more details about his group of 1025 men who formed the 226th Overseas Battalion nicknamed "The Men of the North" and "The Grizzly Bears".  They assembled in Camp Hughes in the early summer of 1916 and the panoramic picture below can be found in the Dauphin Legion, thanks to Don White for sending a photo of it.

This battalion was made up of  men with mostly agricultural backgrounds from all over rural Manitoba and   The book at Peel's says they 
...have the reputation of being physically superior to any battalion in Camp Hughes while their efficiency in physical training, bayonet fighting and musketry is considered equal to that of any other Battalion at camp... The prowess of the Battalion in this respect is evidenced by the fact that at the recent camp athletic meet they carried off the premier honors...
Apart from pay-day, "Visitor's Day" is the most eagerly looked for by every man in the Battalion , as that day invariably brings large numbers of welcome friends from all parts of the surrounding country.  In this the Battalion has become the envy of the camp and it is doubtful if any other battalion ever attained such popularity in Camp Hughes.  

That makes me wonder if his family (William and Agnes, Gertie, Russell, Pearl and Illa and Irene) was able travel the over 80 miles to visit him.  Ernie would have been part of the "C" Company along with other recruits from Virden, Neepawa and Glenboro and would have likely been in Platoon 9, 10, 11 or 12 but the quality of the pictures in this book make it next to impossible to pick him out.  I was advised by one helpful researcher to keep a look out for an original copy of the book, as they go on sale from time to time. 

The Nominal Roll of all the 226th shows three other recruits that Ernie may have grown up with - James Russell Grant (who lost an arm but made it home) and Robert Thomson from Elkhorn and Allan Gerald Nelson from Manson (who enlisted the same day and place as Ernie). 

On December 15, 1916, the 226th boarded the S.S. Olympic in Halifax and arrived in Liverpool on December 26th.  The Battalion was split up to fill in the ranks of other units and  he ended up in the 43rd Battalion.  Ernest Leroy Cassel paid the ultimate price of war at Passchendaele, and was laid to rest at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium

I am so glad to have a face to go with Ernie's story but am heartbroken when I think he was the same age as my own youngest son is now when this picture was taken and would only live a few months longer. We will remember him and all that his family sacrificed for us. 

Gertie Cassell Turner

Florence Gertrude Cassell was the first born daughter of William and Agnes in Frontenac County, Ontario near Kingston.  The Cassel family all lived fairly close together as is shown on her birth certificate online.  There are nine entries to a page and along with her, two of her cousins Eveline Keil and Clara Myrtle Butts were born in the same area within days of each other. In 1902 however, six year old "Gertie" as she was known, her parents and younger brother Ernie along with her grandfather John made the trip west to find  a homestead.

Her niece Ena tells me that Gertie taught herself to play piano by ear and that her brother Russell (Ena's dad) played the violin the same way. Sharing their musical talents would have been evening family entertainment before the days of TV.

At the age of 17, Gertie married 24 year old Gordon Mills Turner who had been born in Ontario in 1889 and moved to live and farm around the Miniota/West Two Creeks area.  Two years after their marriage on December 3, 1913, they moved to a farm at the top of the Miniota Hill.  The family grew over the years and they lived in Flin Flon for a time as well as in Elkhorn.  Gordon died in 1950. 

Back l-r - Ruby, Winnie, Ernie, Viney.  Gertie and Gordon in front
Children of Gertie and Gordon Turner
  • Ruby Lauretta (1915-1985) married Alan McClure - 2 daughters & 1 son
  • Ernest C. (1916-1944) married Tena Kirby - 1 daughter 1 son - Died in Holland in WW2
  • Lavina Agnes "Viney" (1919-2016) married Harry Reeves - 4 daughters & 1 son
  • Winnifred Jean "Winnie" (1921- 1996) married Wilfred Francis - 2 sons & 3 daughters

Cassell Siblings and their father on the right - late 30's

l-r Agnes and Merle Cassell, Gertie Turner, Pearl Gerow. - 1940's

Gertie lived next door to her father William after her husband's death and the picture above of her with her brother Russell and father may have been on his 80th birthday in 1951. She lived in Winnipeg for a time as well and the studio picture would have likely been taken a decade or so later.  Gertie died in Elkhorn on July 29, 1975.  

Gertie with her great nephews - the Boulton boys about 1960

Pearl Cassell Gerow

Thelma "Pearl" Cassell was born on June 13, 1906 on the family farm to parents William and Agnes. She grew up on the farm with Randy's Grandpa Russell who was three years older than her.  Pearl must have decided to make her way back east to her parents' families after she completed school because her marriage license from 1928 gives her residence as Napanee, ON.

At age 22 on August 8, 1928, she married Wilber "Grant" Gerow in Toronto at 22 Delisle Avenue according to their marriage registration found online at Ancestry. Grant was 39 years old and described as a machine operator who had been born in the nearby township of Fredericksburgh.  The newlyweds planned to make their home in Cleveland, according to the document.  Grant's father was Wilbur Freeman Gerow who was a cheesemaker and declares himself to be of French origin on the 1901 census.  His mother was Mary Maria Fraser and he had 4 older siblings - Frank, Allen, Olive and Donald. Grant left home to work in the U.S. in 1910 at the age of 20.

Grant and Pearl lived in Cleveland for 58 years but their nieces remember their annual driving trips back to Manitoba and area in the summers and driving around the streets of Elkhorn and waving to their friends from their Uncle Grant's fancy cars.

Merle Cassell with one of the Gerow cars
Isobel Cassell and Gerow's Cadillac 
Draft cards online from WW1 show Grant was working for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester New York in 1917 and for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland in 1942.  The 1930 and 1940 US Census list his occupation as a Pressman, operator of the printing presses for newspapers and other publishing companies. For many years they lived at 7309 Hough Avenue, just blocks from the Lake Erie shoreline.  Grant and Pearl did not have any children but they had his brother Donald Gerow's family nearby. Pictures below show Pearl and Grant and with Pearl's sister Gertie on the right in the 50's and 60's.

A few years after Grant's death in May of 1981, Pearl moved east to Elmira, New York where she died one day after her 90th birthday on June 14, 1996. She was the last remaining Cassell siblings.
Russell and Pearl in front of the  Cassell house in Elkhorn at 107 Kildare Street

Pearl and Russell Cassell - siblings and friends- pose for the camera, side by side over 80 years apart.

Illa Cassell Cooledge

Illa Mary Cassell was born on her parents William and Agnes's farm 14-13-28 north of Elkhorn on January 13, 1915.  Her elder sister Gertie was already married and gone at 19 years old, brother Ernie was 17 and about to enlist in WW1, Randy's Grandpa Russell was 12 years old and sister Pearl was 9.  Another girl Hazel "Irene" was born into the family a year after Illa, but died just short of her 6th birthday in 1922.  The picture below shows Irene on the left and Illa on the right and is perhaps the only photo of little Irene.   There are so many tragic stories in this generation of the family and another will be told in this post.

Illa with her mother Agnes in 1927
Illa attended school at nearby Jeffrey and West Two Creeks.  On September 29 in 1933, 18 year old Illa married Harold Cooledge.  Online information about Harold says he was born in Oshawa in 1901 and came west with his parents.  He was musical, played the banjo and entertained at local dances in the 20's and 30's.  He was manager at the Co-Op store in Kirkella when he met and then married Illa. Their first daughter Audrey Joan was born on April 27, 1935 and the family photos below would have been taken of the family of 3 in about 1937 and of 4 in front of their car in the fall of 1939.  Their second daughter Carol Anne kindly shared her pictures and clippings with me to help tell the incredibly sad ending to Illa's biography.

The Kirkella fire claimed another life on Wednesday last, January 31st, when Illa Mary beloved wife of Harold T. Cooledge, passed to eternal rest, in the Elkhorn nursing home.  Everything possible was done to save the life of the unfortunate young woman, but the injuries sustained in the fire were too great to remedy and a loving mother was called to join her five year old daughter who perished in the fire on Jan. 26th. The funeral took place from Elkhorn United Church on Sunday afternoon, February 4th the service being conducted by Rev. C. M. Bater of Fleming,  in the presence of sorrowing relatives and far more than 300 sympathizers from far and near.  Internment took place at Elkhorn Cemetery, the pall bearers being Wilfred Francis, Joe Ruddick, Ken Corbett, Archie Young, G.E. Bartley, Earl Frazer.  The many floral tributes silently spoke the sorrow and sympathy so widely expressed throughout the community.  Illa Mary Cooledge (Nee Cassell) was born on sec 14-12-28, north of the old Burnbank post office on January 13, 1914, she received her early education at Jaffray and Two Creeks schools and was a popular and well beloved girl at home and among the many friends with whom she grew up.  On Sept 29th, 1933 she married Harold Cooledge who survives her together with her infant daughter Carole Anne.  Other principal mourners are her aged father Mr. Wm. Cassell and one brother Russell of Elkhorn, also two sisters: Mrs. Gordon Turner, Flin Flon and Mrs. Grant Gerow, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.  To these the heartfelt sympathy of a host of friends goes out at this time of their great bereavement.   

A few years after, Harold remarried and lived in Hargrave as a storekeeper there for a time.  He later used his carpentry talents to make a living and lived in Fleming, SK.  Harold died in 1978 in Moosomin, Saskatchewan.  Sincere thanks to their daughter Carol for generously sharing her things with me to be able to tell this story.    

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Sniders of Portland Township, Ontario

This blog post will give my current best guesses for the ancestors of Agnes Rebecca Snider who left her home in Ontario to move to Manitoba as written about here.  She married William George Cassel in 1893 and they had a family of 6 as detailed here. The first picture below was taken of her about 1895 and the second would be in 1927 with her granddaughter Merle on her knee.

 Agnes was the daughter of John B. Snider (1828-1921) and Rebecca Agnes Martin (1836-1917).  Both were born in Ontario and their families seem to have been there for a few generations although on the 1891 census, John claims his father (John Boyce Snider) was born in the U.S.  His ethnic origin is listed as German on the 1871 and 1881 census. 
Rebecca was the daughter of Elisha Martin(1799-1876) and Thankful (great name!) Babcock (1799-1864).  John and Rebecca and their two eldest sons were farming with Elisha and Thankful on the 1861 Census in a one story log house in Portland Township near Bellrock.  They continued to farm in the area and increase their family for the next 30 years and then lived with children who were farmers for their remaining years.  Agnes seems to be the only child I've found who moved far from home. The family of John B. and Rebecca Snider: 

  • Victoria (1853-?) - married Thomas Babcock 
  • Chester (1861-1948) - married Maggie
  • Gladwin (1862-1943) - married Carrie Grant
  • Emma Arthusa (1865-1951) - married James Meeks ** 
  • James Edgar aka Edward (1871-1948) - married Mary Thompson.  Their son J. E. Snider died in WW1.
  • Agnes Rebecca (1875-1930) married W.G. Cassel and moved to homestead in Manitoba in 1902 
  • Jacob B. Allen (1879-?) married Annette McCabe
**A granddaughter of Emma - Gwen Meeks Smith - had contacted the Cassells in 1984 as she was creating a family tree.  She was very involved in researching United Empire Loyalists and one connection seems to be through Rebecca Martin Snider's grandfather Amos Martin aka Amos Tanner.  I am still searching for the "small booklet" Gwen said in her letter that she wrote about the Snider family history. 
Thanks to her granddaughter Carol for this picture of Agnes 

There has to be a story to the "B" initial that John always used and it certainly made my job easier in finding him in the records.  There were many families in the area with the name but also some spelled "Snyder" and "Schneider".  This website shows a family crest and coat of arms and lists several Sniders who were Loyalists who may have been ancestors to our John B. Any further information about this family is most welcome in the comments below or by email ssimms"at"

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Norman Stanley Cassel - WW1 soldier and casualty

Photo from ancestry contributor dianadandrade
Norman Stanley Cassel was born September 4, 1895 to James "Jim" Cassel and the former Almeda Babcock.  He was the grandson of John Cassel which made him a nephew to William. His first cousin, Ernest Leroy Cassel lead a surprisingly parallel life to Norman and I wonder whether they were aware of each other.

The day after Norman was born near Sharbot Lake, Ontario, his two and a half year old sister Martha Adeline died of what is described as an inflammation of the lungs.  That could have been pneumonia or even an asthma like condition but of course no medicines existed to help cure either.  There were two older siblings and seven more were born to Jim and Almeda after Norman. On the 1901 census, the Cassel family are listed as farming in the Oso Township.

On December 19, 1915, Norman enlisted at Westport, ON and was given #835152.  His enlistment form declared he had been part of the 47th Regiment for 2 years previously so his prior experience would have made him a valuable recruit.  As a Private, Norman was sent to the 102nd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry.  All 76 pages of his file are available from the Library and Archives Canada website here.  It includes the details of his treatment for a sprained shoulder, a contusion, and tonsillitis over the next 2 years. In the summer of 1918, Norman was fined one day's pay for "losing government property by neglect".  Assigned pay of $15 a month was being sent back to his mother Almeda in Westbrook during his absence.

In one of the last battles of WW1 near Bourlon Wood in France, 23 year old Norman paid the ultimate price of war. The Canadian troops led by General Sir Arthur Currie were charged with capturing a hill as one of the final assaults on September 27, 1918.  The casualty report says:
While in a sunken road West of Bourlon Wood, he was hit in the head by a shell splinter and instantly killed.
 N. S. Cassel is buried 4 1/2 miles south of Cambrai at the Anneux British Cemetery with 1, 012 other soldiers from Canada, New Zealand and the UK. A video at this link shows the lonely cemetery. The inscription on his gravestone, chosen by his family, says
Our Loved Soldier
Sacrifice is Felt
Very Greatly
The Daily British Whig newspaper published in Kingston printed the following death notice in their November 22, 1918 edition.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Coburn and Fisher Family Connections

Thanks to Aunt Allie, these two pictures (from around 1880) of the further generation back of the Coburns help tell the story of their lives before the widow and her family came to Canada as detailed in this blog post 

Isabella Fisher on the left married James Coburn on December 19, 1879 at Welltrees Square in Maybole, Scotland.  The photo of James on the right may have been taken in front of his own home, the detail of the stone cottage behind him and his pocket watch is amazing to see.

Isabella was the daughter of Charles Fisher (1820-1895) and Mary Hodgeon (1813-1871).  Charles' professional was described as a Nailer, a blacksmith who made nails as was his father William (1790-1861) before him. On the marriage register below (which she signed with her "X"), Isabella is described as a 20 year old outdoor worker. Online trees on Ancestry say she had at least 9 siblings, some of which I think came to Canada as well. At least one brother visited her at her home in Crandall, Manitoba. The photo below was labelled - Uncle Willy Fisher 1917 and the story goes he died shortly after returning to Scotland from his visit to Canada.  His sister Isabella, in her thick Scottish brogue, was to have said "At least his bones will nae lie on these rocks".  Going home to be buried with their families must have been an impossible dream for many immigrants.

James Coburn was born on August 15, 1857 at Weaver's Vennel, a street now called Ladywell Road, in Maybole.  His parents were William Coburn (1826-1902) and Elizabeth Murray (1827-1902). An amazing online recollection of James' sister's son William Peden here tells that the grandfather William Coburn was big rugged red haired man who had come to Scotland from Ireland. His occupation was a drainer, digging ditches and laying tile and pipes to help create land for farming. 

This same website gives a poignant description of the death of Wee Tom, the son of Isabella "Bella" Coburn (sister to our James) and her husband David Peden in 1902.  Bella (1862-1959), David (1860-1950) and their 9 surviving children left Maybole in 1909 and David found work on the railway at Portage La Prairie.  He had been a shoemaker in Maybole as were the Coburn brothers.  I was so glad to find this website and especially during Remembrance Week with learning about the 5 Peden boys who enlisted in WW1 and of the two of them who were killed.

picture from ancestry contributor hughpeden
Back to our James Coburn in the photo at the top of this post, he was a Journeyman Blacksmith according to their marriage register. James died on the 11th of August in 1894 at the young age of 36, likely shortly after the picture at the top was taken.  Isabella and James' eldest son William (Bill) was 12 years old and the second son James was only 10. The boys would have been compelled to then leave school, and work alongside many of their neighbours in the shoe factories for their family to stay out of the poorhouse.  

This school class photo includes Bill, the tallest one in the back row.  Research on the photographer  Jas Armour finds he was in business in Glasgow from 1880-1894.  Glasgow is about 45 miles northeast of Maybole and I wonder if Bill attended a boys only school there but I would be surprised if the family could afford that. The smaller photo to the right is a group of young men likely taken just before Bill left for Canada in 1904. Bill is in the back row, second from the left. 

It must have been an agonizing decision to leave their homeland and families and I am sure they regretted it at times.  They continued to put one foot in front of the other however and hopefully passed on a bit of that determination and courage to their descendants.