Thomas Latimer is the great granduncle of my wife, Ellen. Tracking his whereabouts, even his very existence at points in time has created numerous ‘brickwalls’ and has caused many hours of frustrating research. Finally, using a tried and true ‘brickwall buster’ I have been able to piece together a reasonably good timeline of his life.
Thomas (pictured to the right in a 1912 photo shared by Latimer cousin Robin) was the eldest child of Daniel Latimer and his wife, Mary (nee Beatty or Beattie) . He was born in Enniskillen, Ireland on the 20th of September 1846. When Thomas’ father died, his mother decided to move the family to Canada and in 1863, Mary and four of her six children immigrated to Seaforth, Huron County, Ontario, Canada. Thomas was trained as a carpenter, his brothers John (‘Jack’) Latimer was a tailor and youngest brother Edward Latimer (Ellen’s great grandfather) was a shoemaker. The three young men plied their trades in Seaforth to ensure a comfortable living for their family.
Sometime around 1872, Thomas married Charlotte Marriot (or Marriott). Charlotte was born in Stephen, Huron County, Upper Canada about 1848 according to the 1861 Census of Canada. I have yet to find however a marriage registration for them despite viewing all of the Huron County marriage registration images for 1872. Their marriage registration also does not seem to among any databases for Ontario marriages.
In March 1873, Thomas and Charlotte welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Mary Elizabeth. She was the first of ten children, nine of whom lived into adulthood. Their last child, Mazey Beatrice, born and sadly died around 1890.
Sometime prior to 1881, Thomas and Charlotte moved their family which consisted at the time of three children to Marquette, Manitoba where Thomas took up farming for a living. Sometime prior to May 1891, Thomas, now a widower, moved his family about 74 kilometres (or about 45 miles) east to Selkirk, Manitoba. In April 1892, it was reported in the Manitoba Daily Free Press that Thomas met with a bad accident which required that he be sent to a Winnipeg hospital for treatment. This is where the trail of Thomas Latimer runs cold despite the use of numerous of database searches using every variety of search criteria imaginable.
One of the tips I have learned in breaking through these kinds of ‘brickwalls’ is to search for someone else in the family, especially if they had an unusual name. Fortunately for me, Thomas and Charlotte named their youngest son, and ninth child, Ormand Adwell Latimer. Where that moniker came from I do not know but it was key to finding more information about Thomas’ route through life.
Further searching based on locating Ormand (or ‘Orm’ as he was known) found the family living in Louise, Lisgar, Manitoba in April 1901. As may be derived from his photo, I suspect that Thomas was a bit of character for he told the enumerator in that census year that he was born on the Atlantic Ocean! By 1906 when the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were undergoing another census to determine the number of seats they would have in the Canadian parliament, Thomas was again reporting his place of birth as Ireland.
In that 1906 census, Thomas and five of his children were living in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. His trail again runs cold after 1906 and some further ‘digging’ is needed to determine his whereabouts although according to family stories, Thomas passed away at the age of 87, in 1934 in Benson, Saskatchewan. I suspect Thomas experienced a tough, rugged but clearly long life.