Sentimental Saturday – Happy 4th of July

I’m posting photos from my collection of family photographs on Saturdays with a brief explanation of what I know about each picture.

Ellen and I are both proudly Canadian. Ellen was born in London, Ontario and I was born in Toronto, Ontario.

But we both have family connections to the United States.

My mother, Anne Margaret (O’Neill) Hadden was born in Detroit, Michigan. Ellen’s maternal grandmother Mattie Diona (Knox) Latimer was born in California.

Ellen’s American roots go much deeper though. Her 7X great grandfather was Edmond Faulkner, one of the founders of Andover, Massachusetts around 1645. One of Edmund’s great grandsons Col. Francis Faulkner, Ellen’s second cousin, 6 times removed, fought at the Battles of Lexington and Concord Bridge, initiating the Revolutionary War (or, War of Independence depending on perspective).

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden at the grave of her 7X Great Grandfather Edmond Faulkner

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden at the grave of her 7X Great Grandfather Edmond Faulkner

In 2013, Ellen and I took a road trip that included travelling through Massachusetts and I couldn’t resist attempting to find Edmond Faulkner’s grave. It meant a number of wrong turns along the way but eventually we were successful in locating the Old North Parish Burying Ground in what is now North Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts.

I took the photo above showing Ellen at her ancestor’s grave. The current gravestone was erected by some descendants of Edmond Faulkner just over 100 years ago, replacing what was likely an original, and no doubt very weathered, slate gravestone.

So we wish a Happy 4th of July, Independence Day, to all of our numerous American family members and friends. Enjoy your holiday and please be safe.

City of Toronto Honours Ann O’Reilly

Ann O’Reilly was a great woman.

The need to achieve greatness and strength and perseverance was thrust upon her. She did not seek it out.

Records show that Ann was a native of Ireland who immigrated to the then wilderness of Upper Canada in 1827 when she was only two or three years old.

Not much is yet known about Ann’s early and formative years growing up in Upper Canada other than knowing her father had a farm, located some distance north-east of the town of York (now Toronto).

No marriage record has yet been found but likely sometime in the early 1850’s Ann married another Irish immigrant named Patrick O’Sullivan. Around 1860, the two opened a two bedroom hotel and eatery on a piece of the farm owned by Ann’s father. The location of the hotel was the north-west corner of what is known today as the intersection of Victoria Park Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East.

The records also show that Patrick and Ann had three children: Ellen, born about 1854; Thomas, born about 1856; and, finally Michael, born in 1858.

Just one year after opening their hotel, Patrick died. Ann was faced with grieving the loss of her husband, the operation of the hotel, and three young children to raise, the eldest of whom was only about 6 years of age.

Ann demonstrated a fortitude, resolution and strength of character we would all hope is within us. She kept the business of the hotel going and she raised her children through those tough times. A single mother and business owner in the second half of the nineteenth century was not common.

Eventually, Ann would turn over the running of the hotel to her youngest son Michael, the husband of my great grandmother’s sister Ellen Fitzgerald. But not without staying on, no doubt to continue to work and provide guidance.

The hotel became of fixture in its part of York Township, eventually part of the borough, then city of North York and, finally city of Toronto. Michael opened a post office in the hotel and the area became known as O’Sullivan’s Corners, a moniker that remained at least well into the 1950’s.

On June 19, 2015, the City of Toronto recognized the pioneering contributions of Ann O’Reilly by naming a street after her.

 

Ann O'Reilly Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ann O’Reilly Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A new street named Ann O’Reilly Road was unveiled. City of Toronto Councillor Shelley Carroll was on hand to do the honours along with Ann O’Reilly’s descendants. Ann’s great-great grandchildren Margaret O’Sullivan, Dennis O’Sullivan, and Darlene Hall, my previously unknown third cousins, all helped unveil the new street sign.

Descendants of Ann O'Reilly unveil the new Ann O'Reilly Road street sign, June 19, 2015

City Councillor Shelley Carroll and Descendants of Ann O’Reilly unveil the new Ann O’Reilly Road street sign, June 19, 2015

As a footnote, I was invited to this special occasion due to the diligent work of Mary Ann Cross, a member of the North York Community Preservation Panel and champion for the naming of streets and parks in North York to honour its early settlers. Community preservation panels act as advocates for on heritage issues in their community. Members of these panels are appointed by the Toronto City Council.

Mary Ann saw my connection to the O’Sullivan family and Ann O’Reilly while reviewing my online Ancestry family tree. Without that online tree, I might never have known about the street naming, let alone have been invited to attend and participate in the street sign unveiling. Oh, and I probably might never have had the chance to meet my O’Sullivan cousins.

Another good reason to have an online family tree!

The Tragedy Of Not Beating The Train – John Eades

Life was good. Especially on that Wednesday.

John Eades was getting married on that Wednesday.

It was also not just any Wednesday for in addition to being his wedding day, that Wednesday was Christmas Eve.

John and his bride Sarah Latimer exchanged vows in the quiet, little village of Seaforth, Ontario that day. John gave his age as 25, his bride Sarah stated that she was 22 years old, although records suggest that she was likely younger. A lifetime of adventure awaited. They then spent their first Christmas together as husband and wife in 1873.

Over the years that followed that Wednesday, Sarah would give birth to at least five children while John worked first as a barber, then as a grocer and salesman to sustain the family.

They moved around a bit. They started off in London, Ontario then moved to the little village of Wingham. From there, it was off to the big city of Toronto where they lived in a small house at 138 Henderson Avenue.

They saw the arrival of the 20th century and probably sensed that renewal of excitement and hope that newness brings with it.

But that was the end for Sarah. On February 9, 1900, Sarah died of what the attending physicians called “cardiac and rural diseases.” Her age was given as just 45 years.

John carried on as best he could. His youngest son Edward John Latimer Eades was just nine years old when Sarah died so John worked in grocery sales and deliveries to keep them going.

Until that Monday when everything went wrong.

EADES John newspaper article death after hit by train 3 Mar 1913 - Copy

It was snowing lightly on that March 3rd, 1913. Adding a softness to snow-covered ground.

John was summoning his horse to pull the carriage of pork for delivery along Dovercourt Road in Toronto. Up ahead was a railway crossing. Just more than one hundred years ago, there were no flashing lights and certainly no barriers in place when the trains came through.

But there was a signalman. On that Monday, Thomas Eversfield was that signalman.

Thomas would state that he waved his flag. He yelled for the driver to stop but the horse and sleigh were going too fast. Others reported that the driver seemed to have every confidence that he could make it across the tracks before the train came through. The train engineer saw the horse and sleigh and applied the brakes but was unable to stop the westbound freight train.

And so it was on that Monday that John Eades died, as did his horse, when he collided with the train. A tragic death that put John’s name on the front page of that afternoon’s local newspaper.

 

But The Date Is Set In Stone

First, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day described by some as a time when everyone is either Irish or wants to be!

It is a day when I immediately think of my own Irish ancestry. Specifically, my maternal ancestry.

When I began researching my family history, it seemed that ethnic ancestry was easily described as my maternal ancestry was Irish and Roman Catholic whereas my paternal ancestry was Scottish and not Roman Catholic.

I discovered eventually, through many hours over many years of research, that my maternal ancestry was Irish with a good dose of Scottish blood and that my paternal ancestry was Scottish with a good dose of Irish blood. Things are not always as simple as first presented.

My mother often regaled me with stories of her maternal grandfather. A man named John Foley whom it was claimed lead a rags to riches life. John died, so my mother told me, in 1927 in Florida on a business trip. He died before my mother was born so she didn’t know him but she did love to pass on the stories she no doubt heard from her mother.

Finding John Foley’s grave in Toronto’s Mount Hope Cemetery was the easy part and as a bonus, the family had ‘set in stone’ his dates of birth and death for me. Being set in stone meant according to most dictionaries that the dates were firm, immutable, permanent and unchangeable. As seen below, John gravestone states that he was born February 16, 1864 and that he died on January 13, 1927.

FOLEY John grave stone Mount Hope Cemetery Sec 20 Lot 360

As I researched my great grandfather’s life, I discovered that he died not in Florida as I had been told but rather in Los Angeles, California. His trip in January 1927 was not for business but rather it was a vacation. The State of California, various newspaper articles, and John Foley’s estate file all confirmed his date and place of death. But what of his birth?

John was born in what is now Ontario, Canada. He was born in pre-confederation Canada, at a time when there was no civil registration requirement for births. Therefore, there was no birth registration to be found. So I turned to the census records.

John can be found first in the 1871 Census of Canada recorded as being 8 years old and living with his parents William Foley and Bridget (McTeague) Foley in Barrie, Ontario. Both William and Bridget are recorded as being born in Ireland. Also in the household were John’s three brothers and two sisters. John is recorded as being the youngest of the four boys.

Based on that 1871 census, John was born about 1863. In the next census, that of 1881, John is recorded as being 18 years old, so again a birth year of about 1863. Unfortunately, John is (at least thus far) no where to be found in the 1891 census. However, in the 1901 census, John is recorded as being a widower (his wife, my great grandmother, Mary Jane Fitzgerald had died on April 9, 1899) living with his three young children along with a housekeeper and her two children. His date of birth is recorded as April 1865. The 1911 census records John’s date of birth again as April 1865, and finally in the 1921 census, John is recorded as being 56 years of age from which can be calculated a year of birth of about 1865.

Fortunately FamilySearch has posted the Roman Catholic Church records for numerous parishes in Ontario covering the period of 1760-1923 (there is no index available but images can be browsed which can be a lengthy but in my case rewarding bit of research) and so it was that I discovered John’s baptismal register record in the records of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church in Barrie, Ontario. The baptismal register misspelled the family surname as ‘Froley’ but provided me with what I believe is the first recording of John’s February 16, 1863 date of birth.

FOLEY John baptism record 1863 - Copy

Even when the dates of your ancestors appear to be ‘set in stone’, nothing can be taken for granted until all the evidence is in.

52 Ancestors: Living The Dream – John Osborne ‘Jack’ Filkin (Part 1)

Sure, I’m retired and could say “I’m living the dream” but this isn’t about me. No, this is about Uncle Johnny, or more accurately Ellen’s uncle John Osborne Filkin.

When I was growing up, I had only one season of sports, serious sports – hockey season. It lasted twelve months each year. I played in organized leagues during the Fall, Winter, and Spring. I played ‘road hockey’ using a tennis ball in place of a puck before school, during recesses, at lunch time and, after school until the street lights came on and I was begrudgingly required to call it a day.  Sure, I played some baseball in the summer and some football in the Fall but life really revolved around hockey, hockey, and more hockey.

I knew every player in the National Hockey League (NHL), as for most of the years when I was young, there were only six teams. More than anything else, I dreamed of developing my skills and being good enough to one day play hockey professionally, especially to be in the NHL.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
Recently, I took a second, closer look at a border crossing card from 1930 for Ellen’s Uncle Johnny. The card stated that his reason for entering the United States (he crossed the border from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan) was to play hockey in Los Angeles, California. Playing hockey in California? Many, many decades ago? That, to say the least, piqued my curiosity!

It turns out there are many records, some of which are found in obscure non-genealogically oriented databases, that provide evidence of Uncle Johnny’s hockey career. And then the ‘honey hole’ was presented to me by Ellen’s cousin and Uncle Johnny’s daughter, Jule. An old family scrapbook collection, assembled by one of Uncle Johnny’s brothers, containing all the press clippings they were able to gather eighty years ago pertaining to Uncle Johnny’s hockey career.

So this is the story of John Osborne Filkin. He was known widely by the name ‘Jack’ but my wife knew him only as ‘Uncle Johnny.’

John Osborne Filkin was born April 25, 1905 in the tiny hamlet of Irondale, Ontario, Canada. Irondale is located on Salerno Lake in a rural, heavily-wooded part of Ontario, far from, well, almost everything. John’s father was William Mark Filkin, a chemical engineer who about twenty years earlier had immigrated to Canada from his native Birmingham, England. John’s mother was Alma Maud Armstrong who had been born in the small town of Minden, Ontario.

Summers during Jack’s childhood would offer, as they do today, opportunities for water sports – swimming, fishing, and canoeing. The Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons meant attending school and no doubt for Jack, a chance to skate and play hockey on the frozen ponds and rivers that were plentiful in his part of the province. Jack’s teen years meant chances to work in a local sawmill but he always found time for hockey. Jack probably played hockey whenever and wherever he could, just like I did years later. But he was different. He was truly dedicated to the game and very talented.

In 1927, Jack climbed the joined the amateur hockey ranks eventually joining team of the York Bible Class, a young men’s organization established a few years earlier by Denton Massey, a member of one of Canada’s more famous families. That year his hockey team won the championship of the city of Toronto.

In Part 2, a look at the Road to the NHL.

52 Ancestors: Andrew Kimmerly, A United Empire Loyalist

The episode of the U.S. version of the popular television show Who Do You Think You Are? broadcast this past week featured Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, along with her sister Kayleen, and highlighted the struggles of the United Empire Loyalists during and after the American Revolutionary War. 

In short, the Loyalists were those British subjects living in the ’13 colonies’ who remained loyal to the British crown and typically either fought for or supported the British side during the American Revolution. As the tide of the war turned against the British, these Loyalists were compelled to leave their homes and their land, most fleeing to the safety of what is now Canada.

Among those who had decided to remain loyal to the crown was a 15-year old Andrew Kimmerly (my wife Ellen’s 4X great grandfather) who joined the Kings Royal Regiment of New York, likely the 2nd Battalion, in May 1780. 

“Preliminary Treaty Of Paris Painting” by Print by John D. Morris & Co. after painting by German artist Carl Wilhelm Anton Seiler (1846-1921) – Extracted from PDF version of Seals and Symbols in the American Colonies poster, part of a U.S. Diplomacy Center (State Department) exhibition on the 225th anniversary of the Great Seal. Direct PDF URL [1] (21MB). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPainting.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPainting.jpg


With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Andrew headed north and into Canada where he petitioned for and, in 1792, was granted 200 acres of land in Adolphustown, Upper Canada (now Ontario), near the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario.

I have always found it interesting that just two generations later, Andrew Kimmerly’s granddaughter Eleanor Ann married Francis Dwight Faulkner (Ellen’s 2X great grandparents), whose family had been very actively involved in fighting as Revolutionaries, or as they would be termed in the United States, as ‘Patriots.’

My wife therefore is in the rather unique, or perhaps just unusual, position of qualifying for membership in both the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada  and the Daughters of the American Revolution

52 Ancestors: Rev. Louis Henry Wagner (1857-1945)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

A switch again this week to one of my wife Ellen’s direct ancestors. This week the story of her paternal great grandfather Rev. Louis Henry Wagner. 

Rev. Louis Henry Wagner (photo taken about 1918)


I have always found Louis to be an interesting man. Born in New York State, he was raised and received his early education in Berlin, Waterloo County, Ontario, apprenticed at a young age as a tanner and leather belt maker, attained post-secondary education in the State of Illinois as a land surveyor only to return to work in Ontario as an accountant and salesman before settling into life as an itinerant preacher for the Evangelical Association.

Louis Henry Wagner was born in Grove, Alleghany, New York on April 11, 1857. His father was Rev. Jacob Wagner, an Evangelical Association preacher whose ‘territory’ included not just western New York state but also parts of southern Ontario. On his trips into Ontario, and the German community in Berlin, Jacob would stay with Jacob and Margaret Hailer. Jacob Hailer was said to have been the first German to settle in Berlin and he would offer up the space of his woodworking shop to serve as a church gathering place for the Evangelical Association. It was here that Jacob Wagner met his wife, the Hailer’s eldest daughter Margaret (or Margaretha), the mother of Louis and his older sister Catherine, or ‘Katie’ as the family called her.

Before he was a year old, Louis’ family was moving to Berlin to live close to his maternal grandparents because his father Jacob Wagner had decided to change careers, moving to the business world, establishing a tannery in partnership with his friend and by then brother-in-law Louis Breithaupt. Mere months after the family move was complete, and just one week after Louis’ first birthday, Jacob Wagner died.

Fortunately for Louis, his family rallied around and supported him, his mother and sister. It appears that Jacob Wagner had died intestate, that is, he did not leave a Will naming a guardian for his children and the laws at the time did not automatically cede guardianship to the mother. So on September 3, 1859, letters of Guardianship were granted by the court to Jacob Hailer for both Louis and his sister Catherine. With his Berlin pioneer grandfather as his guardian, Louis went to live with his uncle Louis Breithaupt, after whom he had been named. Interestingly, Louis took up maintaining a diary as a teenager in December 1872 and much can be learned about 19th century Berlin, Ontario life in the pages of Louis’ diary volumes. His first diary entry, dated Sunday, December 15, 1872 begins with “We were all in church as usual ….” 

Over the years, the maturation of Louis is evident as his writings evolve from descriptions of the numerous times he was off to church, to his arguments to be allowed to apprentice in his uncle’s leather business, to his frustrations with the apprenticeship progress and his desire to find excitement in life, eventually leading to the anguish he experienced when his wife Mary Staebler died of typhoid fever in 1887, leaving him a widow with a one year old son.

Louis was educated as a land surveyor at Northwestern College in Naperville, Illinois although he does not seem to have ever practised that profession. When he returned home to Berlin, he took up employment as an accountant and salesman – again with his uncle Louis Breithaupt’s Eagle Tannery. In 1882, he made his final career change. After having been so involved in his church, Louis applied to the Canada Conference of the Evangelical Association, who that year were meeting in nearby St. Jacobs, Ontario, and on April 20, 1882, he was granted his first preacher’s license as a “Preacher on trial.” His first appointment was as assistant pastor in Sebringville, Ontario. 

On May 20, 1884. Louis married Mary Staebler in Berlin, Ontario. Their only child, Louis Jacob Gordon Wagner was born on May 10, 1886 in Hespeler, Ontario. On July 4, 1889, Louis married for a second time to Sarah Lodema Moyer with whom he had three additional children: Ida Louisa Wagner, Carl Henry Wagner, and Margaret Florence Wagner.

Louis spent the remainder of his long life continuing his work as a minister and officiating at many family events including the June 2, 1901 wedding of his cousin Albert L. Breithaupt to Lydia Anthes in which childhood friend and future longest serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King served as Best Man.

Rev. Louis Henry Wagner holding his great grandson Carl Edward ‘Ted’ Wagner


Even late in life, Louis continued to officiate at family events including baptizing his great grandson Carl Edward ‘Ted’ Wagner, Ellen’s brother. 

Louis Wagner died in his residence at 253 Weber Street in Kitchener, Ontario on January 8, 1945 at the age of 87. He rests in peace in Kitchener’s Mount Hope Cemetery with his wife Sarah.

Rev. Louis Henry Wagner and Sarah Lodema Moyer gravestone, Mount Hope Cemetery, Kitchener, Ontario (photo by Ian Hadden)

52 Ancestors: Margaret O’Neill (nee Graham) (1854-1937)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

Margaret Graham was born on 8 September 1854, according to the records that I have been able to locate about her. Just over 100 years later, I would make her a great grandmother. I know that Margaret was born in the province of Ontario but I have been unable so far to find a record that provides a more precise location, although it is likely that Margaret’s family was living south of Barrie, Ontario at the time of her birth.

By 1861, Margaret can be found in the census records living in Holland Landing with her parents. Her father was Patrick Graham, a tailor from Ireland and her mother Catherine McRae, the Canadian born daughter of Scottish immigrants who were part of the Glengarry settlement. By the time Margaret was a teenager, her father had decided to take up farming and so the family moved to Sunnidale, Ontario, just west of the town of Barrie.

There is no record that I have found nor no family story that I have heard about how my great grandparents met, but on 4 June 1894, a 39-year old Margaret Graham married 45-year old William Emmett O’Neill in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Bathurst Street in Toronto. In spite of their ages at the time, it appears that this was the first marriage for both of them and they set about quickly to have three children in the next four years: first a son, John Graham O’Neill (my grandfather) in 1895, then a daughter Kathleen Marie O’Neill (who became a nun) in 1896, and finally another daughter Avila O’Neill (who never married) in 1898.

Margaret and her husband settled into what was from all appearances a quiet life in Toronto. While her husband William worked in the insurance business, Margaret tended to raising their three children and keeping house. When their son Graham, as he was called, was engaged to marry Gertrude Foley, Gertrude’s father John Foley informed the engaged couple that he was going to give them a house on Pickering Street in Toronto’s east end as a wedding gift. Graham and Gertrude convinced John Foley to instead sell the house to Graham’s parents. Margaret and William were residing in that house in 1924 when William died according to his death registration.


The O’Neill Family gravestone, Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario (photo by Ian Hadden)



Margaret continued to live in the house for a short time until she moved into a house with her daughter Avila at 1739 Dundas Street West in Toronto. She then lived with Avila until her own death at St. Joseph’s Hospital from chronic myocarditis on 2 March 1937. On 5 March 1937, Margaret was laid to rest to rest beside her husband William in Mount Hope Cemetery following a 9:00 a.m. requiem mass at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church.

52 Ancestors: Daniel Fitzgerald (abt. 1806-abt. 1885)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

Daniel Fitzgerald was my 3X great grandfather. He was the grandfather of Mary Jane Fitzgerald whom I profiled in this space last week. There are some things that I know about Daniel and many things that I still have not determined or proved.

I know that Daniel was born in Ireland. All records concerning Daniel are consistent is stating Ireland as his place of birth. Precisely when he was born however is still a bit of a mystery.

According to the 1840 U.S. Federal Census he was born between 1800 – 1810 as that census records Daniel as the male head of his household, aged between 30 and 40 years. The 1851 Census of Canada (taken in January of 1852) records his age as 45 thus placing his year of birth about 1806. In 1861, the census states he was 54 years old, so born about 1807. But in 1871, the census records his age as 68 years so born about 1803, and finally, the 1881 Census of Canada, the last census record in which Daniel appears, states he was 72 years old, so born about 1809. 

While a precise date of birth for Daniel eludes me, at least I know approximately when he was born and that he immigrated from Ireland to the United States. According to “The History of Toronto and County of York, Volume 2,” written by Graeme Mercer Adam and Charles Pelham Mulvany and published in 1885, Daniel, of whom the authors provided a biographical sketch, moved to Cape Vincent in New York State in 1825 where he settled into a farming life with his wife Rebecca Noble. Adam and Mulvany state that Rebecca was a native of New York State although there is some evidence, especially in census records that indicates Rebecca was also born in Ireland.

The  motivation is not known but Daniel and Rebecca moved moved their family from Cape Vincent to York Township, the area just outside the then eastern border of the city of Toronto. Adam and Mulvany state that this move took place in 1843 and that Daniel acquired 100 acres of land at Lot 5 on Concession 2. Early maps of Toronto and the surrounding area show Daniel Fitzgerald living just where Adam and Mulvany said he was, that is, on Lot 5, Concession 2.

Daniel farmed his land with his sons, most notably Lewis and Joseph. When Lewis ‘came of age,’ he purchased his own lot of land down the road on Concession 2 at Lot 8. Joseph however left York Township and spent a few years in Lambton County before returning home and purchasing the family homestead.

There should be a record of Daniel’s death as Daniel was alive in 1881, evidenced by his appearance in the census of that year, and this was well after compulsory civil registration of all births, marriages, and deaths commenced in the Province of Ontario in 1869. But no record can be found. 

The family clearly knew of the civil registration requirement for when Daniel’s wife, Rebecca, died in 1879, her death was registered (the cause of death being listed as “old age sudden”, precisely the way I want to go). Roman Catholic church records have offered no clues. The likely cemetery of his burial, St. Michael’s Cemetery in Toronto, has his name on no monument designating his final resting place although the family plots of his children and grandchildren are easily evident in the cemetery. 

The only clue as to Daniel’s death is offered by authors Adam and Mulvany whose 1885 work states that Daniel was already deceased. His story is told but not yet fully. I am certain there is more to discover.

52 Ancestors: Uncle Gerald Foley (1895-1968)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

Uncle Gerald Foley was my mother’s favourite uncle, so favoured that my middle name of Gerald was given to me as a tribute to her uncle. Unfortunately, I never really knew Uncle Gerald and have no memories of time spent with him, although Uncle Gerald’s funeral was the first funeral that I attended and I do remember much of that occasion.

Uncle Gerald is also the subject of some of the most important lessons I learned about researching my family history. I began my genealogical pursuits in the ‘dark ages’ before computers, databases, and digital images had been heard of. There were no television commercials extolling me to just type in a name and open a whole world of family connections. No, I had to go to libraries and archives to search through file cards that directed me to other file cards and eventually snippets of information.

One of the first ancestors I wanted to research was Uncle Gerald because of my name connection to him. The problem – no Gerald Foley was born in Ontario, Canada when Uncle Gerald should have been born!

Gerald’s parents, my great grandparents, John Foley and his wife Mary Jane Fitzgerald were married at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church on 25 April 1894 in Toronto, Ontario. I have the family oral tradition, a copy of their civil marriage registration, a copy of their church marriage registration and a newspaper article about the wedding as evidence of that marriage. Their three children were born likely between the date of the marriage and 1899 when my grandmother, the youngest of their three children was said to have been born. Even with that narrow search window, I could find no Gerald Foley.

Eventually, computers, databases and digital images became available. I searched for Gerald Foley. Nothing. I tried his brother Clarence Foley. Nothing. Surely I would find my grandmother Gertrude Foley. Again, nothing. How could three children, born within about a five year period, in a time of compulsory civil registration not be found in the civil birth registrations for the Province of Ontario?

This is where I learned my lesson. The names the family used for them were not their first given names. Each of the three children’s births had, in fact been registered by their father John Foley, a man who was an astoundingly successful businessman but who was, according to family oral tradition, illiterate. John Foley had been taught to sign his name and he had, in fact, registered the births of his children, signing all three birth registrations.

Uncle Gerald was registered as Louis Fitzgerald Foley. I later found his baptismal registration showing that he was baptized as Lewis Fitzgerald Foley but the family called him Gerald, a name he used and answered to his whole life. Clarence Foley was registered as William Dorsey Foley but his baptismal registration entry clearly shows him to be William Clarence Foley. My grandmother, Gertrude Foley was Ellen Gertrude Foley. Assuming the names the family used were the names to be researched kept me frustrated for a very long time. It is clear that the children of John and Mary Foley were called by and throughout their lives used their middle names.


The Foley family plot gravestone, 
Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 
(photo taken by Ian Hadden)



On a very recent visit to Mount Hope Cemetery in Toronto, I stopped in at the cemetery’s administration office as obituaries for my Foley uncles informed me that they were both buried there. Uncle Gerald’s obituary was published as “Gerald Lewis Foley” and Uncle Clarence’s obituary was published as “Clarence W. Foley.” I was provided with copies of their internment records (a huge bonus as a genealogist!) and learned that they were buried along with their father John Foley and his second wife, their step-mother Annie McElroy. John Foley’s grave was very familiar to me. I have visited and paid my respects many times. The names of my uncles also buried in that Foley plot however do not appear on the gravestone nor elsewhere on the family plot. But now I know where to find and pay respect to my ‘sort-of namesake.’