Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Report of Henry Erskine, Lord Advocate of Scotland

In 1980, as I was just beginning my family history research journey, I enjoyed for a brief time the hobby of autograph collecting. Back then, I received and perused mail order catalogues that various, primarily American, autograph and historic manuscript dealers would send me. The catalogues assisted me with valuing my 'celebrity' autographs and introduced me to a range of 'historic' documents that were available for sale from time to time. Usually these documents would be of direct interest to American collectors as they were Revolutionary War or Civil War era in nature. As my Hadden family ancestors had no ties to those times, I had little interest in purchasing those items.

Then I happened upon a document from Scotland - a report written in 1806 by Henry Erskine, twice Lord Advocate of Scotland. I had no idea as to who he was but it was from Scotland and that was all that mattered to me. I paid $25.00 for the 1806 document signed by Henry Erskine. For thirty years, the document has remained in my collection during which time I have never opened it nor read it's contents. Over the past few years I have become more and more concerned with my inability to properly care for and preserve this original manuscript that has survived for 205 years, likely not in the best of archival conditions for most, if not all, of that time.

So the time has come to fix that problem. As my wife and I prepare for this year's genealogy vacation and visits to friends and family, I will be donating the manuscript to the University of Guelph's (Ontario, Canada) Centre for Scottish Studies. It's somewhat embarrassing to admit but I began discussions about donating the manuscript with Kevin James, a professor at the Centre and a regular panelist on the Canadian genealogy television show Ancestors in the Attic, back in 2007. Well, the time has come.

But before it goes into the Centre's collection, here is a transcript of the text of Henry Erskine's report (I had to read it once before I donated it):

"To The Kings Most Excellent Majesty

May it please your Majesty

In humble obedience to your Majesty’s Commands signified to me by the Right Honourable Earl Spencer one of your Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State and assigns the Sole benefit and Advantage of his said invention within that part of your Majesty’s Kingdom of Great Britain called Scotland aforesaid for the Space of fourteen years if your Majesty shall be graciously pleased so to do –

Provided the said Petitioner do within such reasonable time as shall be limited in the said Letters Patent to be computed from the date thereof cause a particular description of the nature of his said Invention, and in what manner the same is performed under his hand to be enrolled in your Majesty’s Chancery in that part of your Majesty’s Kingdom of Great Britain called Scotland aforesaid otherwise the said Letter patent to be void.

All which is humbly submitted to your Majestys Royal Wisdom by

(signed) Henry Erskine

Majesty to encourage all arts and inventions which may be for the public good I am humbly of opinion that your Majesty may by your Royal Letters Patent under the seal appointed by the Treaty of Union to be made use of in that part of Great Britain called Scotland in place of the former Great Seal thereof grant unto the Petitioner his Executors, Administrators referring to me the annexed petition of Thomas Johnson Mechanic in Glasgow to consider thereof and to report my opinion what may be properly done thereon.

Which petition sets forth – That your Petitioner hath after much trouble, labour and expense invented a machine for Weaving Yarn. That your Petitioner is the first and true Inventor thereof and the same hath never been made or used by any other person or persons to the best of your petitioner’s knowledge and belief. Your Petitioner therefore most humbly prays that your Majesty will be most graciously pleased to grant unto your petitioner his executors Administrators and assigns your Majesty’s Royal Letters of Patent under the Seal appointed by the Treaty of Union to be made use of in that part of Great Britain called Scotland in place of the former Great Seal thereof for the sole use benefit and advantage of his said Invention within that part of Great Britain called Scotland for and during the term of fourteen years and that your Majesty may be pleased to direct that your Majesty’s said Royal Letters Patent may pass the said Seal per Lattum.

And I humbly beg leave to certify to your Majesty that in support of the allegations contained in the said petition the Affidavit of the Petitioner hath been laid down before me whereby he maketh Oath that he is the first and true Inventor of this said Machine for Weaving Yarn and that the same hath never been made or used by any other person or persons to the best of his knowledge and belief.

Upon consideration of all which, and as it is entirely at the hazard of the said Petitioner whether the said Invention is new, or will have the desired success, and as it may be reasonable for your Majesty."

The reigning Monarch at the time of the report was George III, someone apparently not too popular in that era in the United States.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Family Bean Counting

Well, actually the family name started out in Switzerland as Biehn.

According to Ezra E. Eby's
A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and Other Townships of the County, published in 1895, the name change occurred likely sometime in the 1870's when John Bean, the adopted son of Daniel Biehn (Bean), changed the spelling of his surname to the more anglicized version for reasons not fully explained although there is some suggestion that John's marriage to Susannah Biehn, an daughter of Daniel, may have caused a family rift that caused John to desire a way to distinguish himself from the family.

Eby's biography of the family indicates that John Biehn was born in Switzerland in 1737 and immigrated to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in 1742. John eventually married Barbara Fried, a native of Montgomery County, and they moved along with their adult children to Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada in 1800 where they purchased and settled on a large tract of land immediately south of present day Kitchener, Ontario and immediately west of present day Cambridge, Ontario.

John's grandson, Daniel was born in this area around 1832. He married Mary Ann Shantz in January 1856. Together, they adopted a son John, and had three daughters. Mary Ann died following the birth of her third daughter, Emeline, in 1861. The following year, Daniel married Margaret Wagner (nee Hailer), the widow of Rev. Jacob Wagner, my wife Ellen's second great grandfather. Over the following fourteen years, Margaret and Daniel brought six additional children into the world. Daniel left farming following his marriage to Margaret and taught school in small communities across southwestern Ontario such as New Dundee, Freeport, Dashwood and Bright. In 1876, Daniel returned to farming near Mildmay in Bruce County, Ontario. It was here that he passed away on March 15, 1885.

Ellen's second great grandmother, Margaret, returned to then Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario following her second husband's death. It was in Kitchener, where a major street is named in her honour, that the city paid tribute to Margaret on her death in 1918.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Facebook Cemetery Hunt

Michael and Kate are good friends, work colleagues, and additionally, Kate is an inspiration as a cancer survivor. During a conversation not too long ago, Michael told me they lived in the east end of Toronto, near the St. John's Norway church and cemetery. I was able to share with him a little of my family's history in Toronto's east end and specifically, that my great grandparents, Alexander Shand Hadden and Jessie McKenzie Hadden (nee Gaull) were buried in St. John's Norway cemetery but that I had yet to find their grave and headstone.

Kate seized the opportunity to provide a summer distraction and a bit of a history lesson for their children. So off they marched on "The Hadden Hunt" - an adventure to see if they could find my great grandparents! First, a bit of the magnitude of the search - the cemetery covers about 35 acres of land and contains about 50,000 graves. Little wonder I couldn't find the grave and a daunting task for my friend and her children.

I was able to provide a general location for the grave that older family members have over the years passed on to me - north-west part of the cemetery, a stone that lies flat on the ground near the cemetery's back fence, and both my great grandparents had died in 1945 within a few months of each other.

The grave and headstone was located in a low lying area, the inscription not fully visible due to years of growth around the stone. An easy solution was provided by the sleuths - gain the assistance of a cemetery worker who dug the stone out (pictured below), cleaned it off and re-laid it after explaining that the stone rested directly above my great grandparents heads and that they were facing east.

Photos of the event recorded the successful adventure and were quickly shared with me through Facebook.

For the first time, I have seen the headstone of my Hadden ancestors and I have the photo above to show for it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - My "Heritage Pie" Chart

The Saturay Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) challenge this week, presented by Randy Seaver at Genea-Musing, is to:

1) List your 16 great-great-grandparents with their birth, death and marriage data (dates and places).

2) Determine the countries (or states) that these ancestors lived in at their birth and at their death.

3) For extra credit, go make a "Heritage Pie" chart for the country of origin (birth place) for these 16 ancestors.

4) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a post on Facebook or Google+.

So here are mine:

16. John Hadden - born 1 Jan 1866 in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and died 5 Nov 1924 in Glasgow, Scotland.

17. Helen 'Nellie' Shand - born 20 Sep 1864 in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and died 2 Apr 1951 in Ponteix, Saskatchewan, Canada. John and Helen never married.

18. John Gaull - born 8 Feb 1860 in Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and died 6 Jul 1942 in Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

19. Harriet McKenzie - born 17 Mar 1858 in Cluny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and died 26 Jan 1925 in Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. John and Harriet married 15 Jun 1883 in Cluny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

20. James Little - born 19 Dec 1840 in Corrie, Dumfrieshire, Scotland and died 9 Apr 1911 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

21. Dorothea Carson - born about 1848 in Scotland and died 18 Dec 1916 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. James and Dorothea married 30 Apr 1878 in Kilbarshaw, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

22. William Mitchell - born about 1868 in Scotland. His date of death is unknown.

23. Agnes Sweeney - born 17 Oct 1870 in Paisley, Refrewshire, Scotland and died 2 Sep 1928 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. William and Agnes married 28 Sep 1886 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

24. John O'Neill - born about 1813 in Ireland. His date of death is unknown.

25. Mary Murphy - born about 1828 in Canada. Her date of death is unknown. No date of marriage is known for John and Mary.

26. Patrick Graham - born Mar 1802 in Ireland and died 8 Aug 1893 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

27. Catherine McRae - born 20 Dec 1822 in Glengarry County, Ontario, Canada and died 22 Mar 1907 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Patrick and Catherine married in 1838 in York County, Ontario, Canada.

28. William Foley - born about 1830 in Ireland. His date of death is unknown.

29. Bridget McTague - born about 1830 in Ireland. Her date of death is unknown. William and Bridget married 24 Aug 1852 in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.

30. Lewis Fitzgerald - born 9 Jul 1837 in New York State, USA and died 7 Jan 1910 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

31. Ellen Daley - born about 1841 in Ireland and died 21 Jun 1894 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lewis and Ellen married 11 Sep 1856 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

And, here is my "Heritage Pie" chart:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Berkely, California Squires

Thomas Elliott Knox and Amy Jane Squires arrived in the Oakland, Alameda, California vicinity around the same time. Thomas arrived from Seaforth, Ontario, Canada and Amy (pictured on the right) from Sheffield, England around 1875. Thomas, a young plasterer, arrived on his own, perhaps the death of his father and namesake motivating him to leave home in Ontario. Amy arrived with her parents, John and Mary (nee James) Squires and her three sisters and four brothers. While Thomas settled in Oakland, the Squires settled in nearby Berkely.

They were there to see the first telephone service be installed in the area around 1882 and likely worked on the development and construction of housing tracts and business districts that encroached on the surrounding farmland.

According to an October 1932 article in the Oakland Tribune newspaper highlighting the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, Thomas, or 'Tom' as he was often called, met Amy through a business deal with her father. I susepect that Thomas, the plasterer, and John, a brickmason, met each other while working on the same construction site. No matter how they met, Thomas and Amy, my wife Ellen's great grandparents, were married in 1882 and moved to Livermore where Thomas rose to civic prominence, first as a pioneer vineyard owner and later as town postmaster, and Mayor. In all, Thomas spent 16 years as a member of the board of trustees, 13 years as postmaster, and three years as a member of the county board of supervisors.

Amy's father, John Squires also involved himself in civic duties becoming one of the first Berkely town treasurers and tax collectors prior to his death in 1914. John's son, Harry followed in his father's footsteps holding the post of city assessor for many years. Amy Squires' sisters also married men of some public prominence. Her sister Emma married John M. Foy who was the Secretary for the State Board of Harbor Commissioners and her sister Olive married Frank L. Naylor, the son of Addison Naylor, President of the First National Bank of Berkely. Frank would work his way up through the banking business to succeed his father as bank president by 1920.

All in all, they formed an impressive group of men and women who contributed to the early growth and prosperity of the Oakland, California area.

As for Amy, when interviewed about the secret to a long and happy marriage, she answered, "Men like comfort. And I've never been too busy to see that things were just right for Tom."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Could The Foley Family Story Be True?

Like most, perhaps all families, the oral history of the Foley family's history in Canada sounds fantastic complete with a rags to riches hero. In my last post, I wrote about my great grandfather, John Foley and the new connection I have made with another of his great grandchildren, my second cousin, Margaret. Because Margaret doesn't have any more information about our great grandfather than I do, it was time to take another swing by the records, hoping to find another 'needle in the haystack.'

The family's oral history starts out with, "There were these three brothers ...."

Knowing that endless family oral histories start out with three brothers had me sceptical from the start. But the Foley family story has John being born in Barrie, Simcoe County, Ontario in 1864. This was five years before civil registration began so no birth registration or certificate is available. As devout Roman Catholics, John would certainly have been baptized in their local church so perhaps a trip to the Toronto Roman Catholic Archdiocese archives might result in locating a baptismal record. John's parents, William Foley and Bridget McTague immigrated from their native Ireland in 1849, suggesting they were likely poor and escaping the ravages of the Irish potato famine. Like many Irish immigrants at the time, they landed at New York City and made their way to Canada. A marriage record exists that shows they were wed on August 24, 1852 at the Roman Catholic mission located at Newmarket, Ontario.

The family story, as told to me by my mother's older brother, claims that William and Bridget died suddenly when John was about 12 years of age. John, now an orphan, was left to fend for himself. Alleged he took to the back woods to carve out a meagre existence eventually surfacing to make his way to the 'big city' of Toronto where he became a teamster. When he suffered business setbacks, as apparently occurred from time to time, he took off back to the 'bush' to 're-group' before trying again. Eventually, John's business began to prosper and grow. He became a prosperous sand and gravel contractor, employing a number of men including his older brother, Thomas. When John passed away suddenly in 1927, he left behind an estate valued in modern terms of more than $1 million.

But what of the 'three brothers' Foley family story might be true?

In 1871, the Foley family consisting of father William and mother Bridget can be found in census records living in Barrie, Simcoe County, Ontario with their six children: Mary Anne (aged 15), William (aged 14), Thomas (aged 12), James (aged 9), John (aged 8), and Catherine (aged 6). In 1876, Mary Anne married married Patrick O'Connor in Flos Township, Simcoe County, Ontario and the following year William married Georgina Ducheneau in Barrie, Simcoe County, Ontario.

In 1881, the next census year, Thomas, James, John and Catherine, the remaining unwed Foley children can be found living in Vespra, Simcoe County, not far from Barrie. Although enumerators were required to be literate, the enumerator for their district was struggling a bit as the family name was listed as "Folly" and Thomas' occupation was listed as "labrer." It appears likely that William and Bridget had died sometime between 1871 and 1881 leaving their children orphaned
and note, there were three brothers, as claimed in the oral tradition. There do not appear to be any records of their death but then would the 'kids' have known or cared about civil registration requirements or indeed would they have had the funds the pay the registration fees of that time?

In 1891, John cannot be found in the census records but his brother Thomas was located working as a horse trainer in Hallowell, near Belleville, Ontario. Working with horses would later become the family's prime means of a living and eventual wealth.

Records show that John was in Toronto, Ontario in 1894 when he married Mary Jane Fitzgerald, in 1901 with the three children of his marriage when the census was taken, in 1903 when he married Annie Teresa McElroy, and in 1911 when the last published census of Canada was taken. According to a newspaper article, dated January 14, 1927, reporting on his sudden death, John had lived in Toronto for forty years which would mean he arrived in the city around 1887. Where then was he in 1891 when the census was taken? Perhaps he had returned briefly to the back woods just as family tradition claims!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Connecting With Family Through Ancestry

I am often asked if it's true that simply searching for a name of Ancestry (.com; .ca,;;.au,etc.) can produce a shaking leaf providing you with a full family tree or an instant connection with a distant, previously unknown relative who sends family photos that you have never seen before as is suggested in some television advertising. My answer is usually along the lines that if it were that simple, I'd be really disappointed in myself for spending so much time over the past thirty years when only a few keystrokes and a mouse click were needed.

Ancestry is certainly a great Internet site to search for historical records and documents. I have maintained a world deluxe subscription for many years (and by way of disclaimer, I pay for this entirely myself, with my own funds). It has been a tremendous source of documentation and collaboration. I have previously posted that there is benefit to exploring the 'public' member family trees in spite of any criticism that the family trees may frequently contain erroneous information.

A recent additional benefit for me has been making new connections with cousins I didn't know about who either sent a message to me asking for some additional information based on details found in my posted tree or who I sent a message to with a similar request.

I have three (!) examples to offer from the past three months.

Donius contacted me offering a correction to a date associated to her mother who appeared in my posted family tree. It turns out that Donius is my wife Ellen's 4th cousin. They share Andrew Kimmerly, a United Empire Loyalist, and his wife Susannah Sagar as common ancestors.

Another Andrew Kimmerly and Susannah Sagar common ancestor connection was made when Pat contacted me with some questions about my family tree file. Pat, as it turns out is married to my wife Ellen's 5th cousin.

I have been able to share information, tips, sources, and photos with both Pat and Donius. A truly great connection experience.

My favourite recent connection was one that I instigated. Recognizing that new trees get added and older trees updated frequently on Ancestry, I found one of my second cousins of whom I had no previous knowledge, had posted a family tree. More important to me is that this cousin and I share a great grandfather, John Foley, in common. My maternal grandmother, Gertrude Ellen Foley, was John's only daughter. My cousin Margaret's grandfather was John Joseph Foley, my grandmother's half-brother (pictured above), and John's third son but only child from his second marriage (to Annie McElroy).

John Foley without a doubt has been my greatest genealogical challenge. I have posted previously a number of stories about John who was, in modern terms, a self-made millionaire, despite his inability to read or write. I am a namesake of John's oldest son who was my mother's favourite uncle and whose funeral I can vividly remember attending when I was ten or twelve years of age. Various records provide various dates and locations of John's birth. John appears and then ten years later disappears in census records. The only thing certain seems to be that John married my great grandmother, Mary Jane Fitzgerald in 1894 in Toronto, Ontario, that they had three children before Mary Jane's sudden death at age 33 in 1899, and that John married Annie McElroy in 1903 in Toronto, Ontario. John died suddenly in 1927 while on a business related trip to Los Angeles, California in 1927.

I have never seen a photograph of my great grandfather John Foley although I feel certain that one must exist somewhere. Fortunately, through the Ancestry connection I may be getting a step closer to breaking through this stubborn brickwall.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Prosperity Did Not Always Bring Happiness

I have written a number of posts about my wife Ellen's cousins in the Breithaupt family. Phillip Ludwig 'Louis' Breithaupt had immigrated to Buffalo, New York as a teenager with his father Liborius in 1844 where the elder Breithaupt established a tannery business. Phillip Ludwig learned the tanning business from his father and would often make trips through Upper Canada (now Ontario, Canada) and the U.S. mid-west to purchase hides for leather manufacturing.

One of Phillip Ludwig's close friends in Buffalo was an Evangelical Association minister named Jacob Wagner, Ellen's second great grandfather, who was married to Margaret Hailer. In 1851, when Liborius died, it was Rev. Wagner who officiated at his funeral. Eventually, Jacob would introduce Louis Breithaupt (he had dropped the Phillip and anglicized the Ludwig apparently to carry on the family business of L. Breithaupt) to the Hailer family in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario. In 1853, Louis married Catherine Hailer, thus making he and his friend Jacob brothers-in-law. In late 1861, Louis left his Buffalo, New York business and established Breithaupt Leather Goods in Berlin.

Although Louis was successful in building his Berlin tannery into a thriving business, twice the tannery burned to the ground, once in 1867 and again in 1870. The adversity slowed Louis down but he carried on and re-built.

Louis and Catherine had ten children, the first three born in the U.S. and the remaining seven born in Berlin, Ontario. Their seventh child and fifth son was Daniel Edward Breithaupt (pictured above), born in 1868. By all accounts, Daniel was a normal, healthy three year-old. On July 9th, 1871 Daniel attended a Sunday School outing in a small area near the Breithaupt tannery that was in the process of being re-built. When it began to rain, the group of children took shelter on the main floor of the tannery building. Unfortunately, the floor collapsed beneath them, plunging the group into the vats below. Although there were very few injuries, little Daniel drowned. Following his son's death, Louis wrote in the family bible, "Gott schenke mir und uns allen die Gnade ihm Himmel einst wieder zu sehen," loosely translated as 'God grant me the grace and all of us to see him again in heaven.'

Their sixth child, and fourth son, Esra Carl Breithaupt was born in 1866 and although never physically considered to be robust, Carl, as he preferred to be called, was a capable student who graduated with a science degree from North-Western College in Naperville, Illinois in 1887. In 1892, Carl graduated as an Electrical Engineer from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Returning home, Carl (pictured above) transformed the horse powered Berlin and Waterloo railway to an electric railway. He also purchased a substantial stake in the railway company, becoming president and manager of the company. Carl was also a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, where he joined the likes of Thomas A. Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in an association formed in 1884 "to promote the Arts and Sciences connected with the production and utilization of electricity and the welfare of those employed in these Industries: by means of social intercourse, the reading and discussion of professional papers and the circulation by means of publication among members and associates of information thus obtained." Carl also held the position of Vice-President of the Canadian Electrical Association, formed in 1891.

During the evening of January 26, 1897, Carl was at the electric works when an explosion occurred. Early in the morning of the following day, Carl succumbed to his injuries.

A prosperous family was left to grieve.