Who Are The Cole Children?

While I have written often about my direct Hadden ancestors arriving in Canada in 1923, they were not the first of the family to arrive from Scotland. In 1910, my great grandfather’s aunt Isabella Reid Simon Cameron (nee Hadden) and her husband, Alexander Cameron left Aberdeenshire in search of land and a better life.

Isabella (pictured to the right in a photo provided by my third cousin, Mary (Maver) Cope’s husband, Alan) was born on November 17, 1869 in Premnay Village in Aberdeenshire, the younger sister of my great great grandfather John Hadden. Their father, Alexander Hadden was a shopkeeper who moved the family from town to town around Aberdeenshire every couple of years – first Auchterless, then Fyvie, back to Auchterless, then off to Premnay. Finally, Alexander took his family to Insch where he seemed at long last to settle.

And it was in Insch that Isabella met and married Alexander Cameron on December 29, 1893. It appears, more from a lack of records, that Alexander and Isabella had no children in Scotland. It also appears that they journeyed to Canada separately, something that was not very unusual at the time. The husband would travel first and try to get something, however small and humble, established before being joined by his wife. Isabella and Alexander settled in the Maple Creek area of Saskatchewan, west of Swift Current and not too far north of the Montana border. Little would Isabella know that she was living not far from where her nephew Alexander Shand Hadden would bring his family just more than a dozen years later.

In 1916, the second decennial census of the Canadian prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) was conducted. Alexander and Isabella appear in the census lists living in Township 3, Range 15, Meridian W3. Living with them were two young children: Alice Cole, aged 7, born in the United States, Elmer Cole, aged 5, born in Saskatchewan, and presumably Alice’s younger brother. The relationship of the children to Alexander is listed as step-daughter and step-son.

I think on a balance of probabilities, based on the timelines of their marriage and immigration, that it is unlikely that Alice and Elmer were from a previous marriage of either Alexander or Isabella. The offspring of an extra-marital relationship? Well, maybe but far more likely, I suspect is that the parents of Alice and Elmer had died, leaving them as orphans who were taken in and ‘adopted’ by Alexander and Isabella who had no children of their own, but likely had wanted to have some.

Perhaps more research, some luck, maybe combined with some good old fashioned collaboration with some of you will shed some more light on the identity of Alice and Elmer Cole!?

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