The 2017 Merner Family Reunion

Not only are we celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation this year, but the descendants of Jacob Emanuel Merner and his wife Susanna Schluchter are holding the 65th annual Merner Family Reunion.

19592-muernerjacobe                         ee9c0-mernermuenersusannaschluchter

Jacob and Susanna are my wife Ellen’s 3X great grandparents. We have attended the reunion and it is great fun especially meeting so many of Ellen’s cousins that we had not had a chance to meet before.

This year’s reunion event is being held on Saturday, July 8th, and like last year, the reunion will be held at Larry and Louise Merner’s farm in Zurich, Ontario. The festivities begin with registration at 2:00 p.m. followed by games, activities, swimming and a potluck dinner.

All those wishing to attend are asked to bring your own lawn chairs, potluck dishes and refreshments (drinks). Celebratory cake and ice cream is being provided. Free cake and ice cream is hard to turn down!

The 2016 Merner Family Reunion

All descendants of Jacob Emanuel Merner and his wife Susannah Schluchter are invited to the 64th annual family reunion being held on Saturday, July 9th. The reunion is being held at Merhaven Farms, home of cousins Larry and Louise Merner, located at 38315 Rodgerville Road in Zurich, Ontario.

The festivities begin at 1:30 p.m. and will include games for the kids (young cousins) and this year promises to include some special surprise activities for all.

Jacob and Susannah Merner were natives of Switzerland who immigrated to Upper Canada (now Ontario) in the early 1800’s with 10 of their 12 known children. The family settled in New Hamburg, Ontario and from there the family has spread, primarily west throughout all of southwestern Ontario and throughout the U.S. mid-west, especially Illinois and Iowa.

Jacob and Susannah Merner are Ellen’s 3X great grandparents so Ellen and I have attended the reunion in past and I can guarantee that you will have a great time hanging out with the Merner clan. Meeting and connecting with cousins is always a good time.

This year’s reunion will feature a good, old fashioned pot-luck dinner so bring your favourite food, some lawn chairs and personal beverages. It’s time to re-connect with cousins and have a lot of fun.

Introducing: Edna Staebler

She first appeared as somewhat of a footnote.

At the bottom of page 274 of Ruth Merner Connell’s genealogy of the Merner family published in 1976, there is a listing of the two wives of Frederick Keith Staebler.

Frederick Keith Staebler, who went by his middle name of Keith, was listed in the genealogy as he was a great grandson of Jacob Staebler and his wife Anna Merner, who are in turn 2X great grandparents to my wife Ellen.

The entry on page 274 of the Merner genealogy states “Married #1: Edna ??”

It was one of those ‘I’ll get back to figuring out who you are someday’ moments in genealogy. Keith Staebler was my wife’s second cousin, once removed and, with other research underway, I was not quick in getting back to finding the identity of Keith’s first wife ‘Edna Unknown’.

That was until a few days ago when Ellen asked if I had read her Uncle Gordon Wagner’s book From My Window (published in 1987 by The Flying -W- Publishing Co.).

I had read the book but quite a number of years ago. Gordon had completed many years of genealogy research on Ellen’s Wagner family, building a ‘database’ of about 1,500 related individuals. Much of Gordon’s work had helped in my researching Ellen’s genealogy through the Wagner, Hailer, Breithaupt, Merner, Staebler, and associated families prominent in Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada.

I decided to have another look at Gordon’s book, which is a compilation of short stories and poems. As I first skimmed the pages, it jumped out at me.

There she was on page 30, ‘Edna Unknown’ was really Edna Staebler. Of course she was, I told myself, she had married Keith Staebler. More importantly though, the five or six page short story written by Uncle Gordon about thirty years ago contained numerous clues that helped in hunting down Edna’s story.

Gordon Wagner had wanted to learn more about the family’s Staebler ancestors so he visited the Kitchener, Ontario area that his ancestors had come to as pioneers. There, without the aid of the still decades away Internet, Gordon looked through the local telephone directory, eventually calling “E. Staebler.” Edna answered and invited Gordon to meet with her.

“She’s famous, and I’m not used to famous people,” Gordon tells of their meeting.

Edna as it turns out, was a famous author, probably best known for her cookbook Food That Really Schmecks, featuring recipes that she learned living in the Mennonite community around the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo in Ontario. As a writer, Edna’s articles were featured in Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Saturday Night, and Reader’s Digest amongst others. She was the author of more than twenty books. Edna counted great Canadian writers like Pierre Berton and Margaret Laurence amongst her friends. Most importantly, I learned from Gordon’s short story of his visit with Edna, she was simply a friendly and down-to-earth person who happened to be a great writer.

STAEBLER Edna at Sun Fish Lake

Edna Staebler at her Sunfish Lake (Waterloo County, Ontario) home, as photographed by Gordon Wagner, for his book ‘From My Window’

Edna was born January 15, 1906. In the town of Berlin, Ontario. On February 13, 1906, about four weeks later, her father John G. Cress attended the local registrar’s office and registered her birth under the name Cora Margaret Cress. At the bottom of the birth registration is a notation, obviously added much later that reads “Edna Louisa new name see letter 1910.”

The 1910 letter referred to is not included with the birth registration and I have often wondered at the humour it might contain. Can you imagine what John Cress’ wife Louisa might have written had she been the letter’s author? Perhaps something like ‘Dear Registrar, I have learned that my husband John G. Cress really screwed up when he registered the birth of our daughter. I have no idea as to where he came up with the name Cora Margaret. Please excuse my husband’s error and correct my baby girl’s registered name to be Edna Louisa.’

Ah, the possibilities of that letter.

For her contributions to Canadian literature, Edna Staebler was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995.

Edna Louisa Cress married Frederick Keith Staebler in 1933 but sadly, they divorced in 1962. Edna passed away on September 12, 2006 at the age of 100 leaving a legacy of great Canadian writing and an endowment awarded annually in her name through Wilfred Laurier University.

It is great to know who ‘Edna Unknown’ is and we are honoured to count her among our family.

 

Lest We Forget – The Hadden – Wagner Families Wall Of Honour

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we pause to reflect and remember those who went before us, bravely sacrificing their youth and in too many cases their lives, for our freedom.

Poppy
The following is the list of those known brave ancestors, some from my family and some from Ellen’s, who gave so much. Today especially, we remember them. They shall not be forgotten.

World War I

GAMMIE, James (1895-1918), Private, Canadian Expeditionary Force, killed in action

GAMMIE, Peter (1893-1984), Private, Canadian Expeditionary Force (enlisted, not sent overseas)

GORDON, Alexander Garrow Duncan (1891-1917), Private, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, killed in action

MERNER, Albert Edward ‘Herbert’ (1897-1917), Canadian Expeditionary Force, killed in action

TRIGGS, James Little (1899-1916), Cabin Boy, Royal Navy, killed in action

TRIGGS, Phillip (1899-1967), Cabin Boy, Royal Navy

FINDLATER, William (1880-1918), British Army, died at home from wounds

FILKIN, Carl William (1897-1976), Canadian Expeditionary Force, lost left arm to shrapnel gun shot wound in France

World War II

SENATO, Nicola F. (1913-1945), U.S. Army, killed in action, Japan

NUSBICKEL, Thomas Raymond (1923-2002), U.S. Army

GAULL, George Leonard ‘Lenny’ (1920-2013), Canadian Armed Forces

MORGAN, Bruce Evan, M.D. (1924-2007), Navigator, Canadian Air Force

WAGNER, Carl Francis (1917-1993), Canadian Armed Forces

WAGNER, Gordon Gilbert Henry (1914-1994), Canadian Armed Forces

Calling All Merner Descendants – The Family Reunion Is On Saturday!

Cousin Marg has sent out the reminder!

The descendants of Jacob Emanuel and Susannah (Schluchter) Merner are gathering for the 63rd annual reunion. (Yes, you read that right – the family has been gathering annually now for 63 years!)

This year the reunion will be held at Merhaven Farms, the home of descendants Larry and Louise Merner in Zurich, Ontario on Saturday, July 11th where there will be games for all ages, swimming, a buffet potluck dinner capped off with an evening campfire. The reunion festivities kick-off at 1:00 p.m.

This family reunion draws together some of the many descendants of Jacob and Susannah who left their native Switzerland around 1837 and headed to British North America. The Merners settled on a farm in New Hamburg, Ontario, just west of present day Kitchener.

Over the years, subsequent generations moved further west, populating Oxford and Huron Counties in Ontario, eventually moving into the United States and Cedar Falls, Iowa, in particular.

Ellen and I attended the 2013 reunion and had a great time mingling and meeting new cousins. Ellen is a 3X great granddaughter of Jacob and Susannah so she had a wonderful time connecting with her  previously unknown cousins. I was simply introduced as ‘The Genealogist.’

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden at the 2013 Merner Family Reunion with two of her cousins - Liz on the left and Marg on the right

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden (centre) at the 2013 Merner Family Reunion with two of her cousins – Liz on the left and Marg on the right

My genealogy database currently holds information about almost three thousand four hundred Merner descendants. I hope that there are a good number of them that have a chance to get together on Saturday!

Please feel free to email me at ian.hadden@rogers.com for reunion contact information.

The 2015 Merner Family Reunion Announced

‘Cousin Marg’ has notified me by email that the 2015 Merner Family Reunion is set to be held on Saturday, July 11th. 

In addition to not being held as it has been typically on a Sunday, there is also a change of venue. In past years, the reunion has been held at the Seaforth (Ontario) Golf Club but this year the family gathering will take place at the farm of Larry and Louise Merner.

The Merner Family Reunion is a gathering of the descendants of Jacob Emanuel Merner (1789-1869) and his wife Susanna Schluchter (1787-1875). Jacob and Susanna were both natives of Switzerland who immigrated to what is now southern Ontario, Canada with eleven of their twelve known children. They are the 3X great grandparents of my wife through their daughter, Anna and her husband Jacob Staebler.



An incredibly accurate, though incomplete, genealogy of the Merner family was published in 1976 by the late Ruth Merner Connell. This Merner genealogy is available on Ancestry.com.

‘Cousin Marg’ promises more information and details on the 2015 Merner Family Reunion later but for now, those interested can hold the date. 

Calling All Merners – The 62nd Annual Merner Family Reunion Is Set

The date is set for the 62nd Annual Merner Family Reunion! The reunion is being held again this year at the Seaforth (Ontario) Golf and Country Club on Sunday, July  13th beginning at 1:00 p.m. and includes nine holes of golf for those interested or family games at a nearby park for the non-golfers. The reunion is capped off by a social hour with a cash bar and a family barbecue. Cost for the dinner is $15 (Cdn) per adult and $7.50 per child 5 and under.

The reunion is organized by Ellen’s cousins Marg Nicholson and Liz Bartliff, whom like Ellen are descended from Jacob Emanuel Merner and his wife Susannah Schluchter. Ellen and I attended the reunion last year and had a great time. Of course, it was also great to meet so many previously unknown cousins.

Cousins Liz Bartliff, Ellen (Wagner) Hadden, and Marg Nicholson at the 61st Annual Merner Family Reunion in 2013


If you are connected to the Merner family, not too busy, and want to enjoy a great afternoon with great people, whether you golf or not, I encourage you to make the trip into southwestern Ontario for this family reunion. You can contact me at ian.hadden@rogers.com for more information on how to reserve a spot at the reunion.