Lest We Forget – The Hadden-Wagner Families Wall of Heroes

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.

The following is the list of those known brave ancestors, some from my family and some from Ellen’s, who gave so much. Each year this list is updated to include family members whom we have come to learn have served our country through their military service and sacrifice.

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

SHAUGHNESSY, William D’Arcy, Sr. (1883-1953), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 123rd Battalion, Royal Grenadiers

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

SHAUGHNESSY Wm Darcy war grave from mapleleaflegacyproject

SHAUGHNESSY, William D’Arcy, Jr. (1924-1945) Canadian Armed Forces, 6th Armoured Regiment, killed in action, The Netherlands

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

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

My Foley Cousin – A War Hero! (Part 2)

William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, Junior spent the first six months of his military career being trained, first at a base in Brampton, Ontario and then at the University of Toronto. The army let him spend Christmas 1943 at home on a week long furlough.

In January 1944, his military career accelerated a bit when he was sent to Camp Borden, near his father’s birthplace of Barrie, Ontario. At Camp Borden, D’Arcy was trained as a gunner operator. On 14 Jun 1944, D’Arcy’s were tested by Army Captain Bashaw, Captain Scott and Lieut. Davies. He passed, preparing him for the next leg of his adventure – joining the fight in Europe.

D’Arcy’s military service records tell us that he left Canada and arrived in the United Kingdom (presumably England) on 27 Jun 1944. There, he underwent further training and by mid-October 1944, he had completed his re-qualification as a Gunner Operator C meaning he was qualified as a tank operator. The winter of 1944-1945 was spent with various armoured units depending on where he needed most. Christmas 1944 was D’Arcy’s first away from his family.

In March 1945, D’Arcy was assigned to the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment and was with his unit as they began liberating Holland, part of the Allied Forces march to Berlin. D’Arcy’s war however was cut short. He would never see the end of the war. On April 14, 1945, just five weeks before Victory in Europe, D’Arcy’s tank was hit. D’Arcy was killed.

The Army routine of filling out forms immediately kicked into action. D’Arcy’s military file is filled with all and sundry of forms that were completed documenting his service and death in the military. There is the inventory of his personal effects: six pairs of socks, two packets of playing cards, a plastic crucifix, a postcard of Holland – I wonder if that was to be a souvenir or something he was going to use to write home.

The Army also began the gruesome steps involved in family notification.


It is hard to imagine the shock, pain, and grief that the Shaughnessy family would have experienced on the day the telegram arrived at their door. It is easier to understand why families dreaded the appearance of a telegram delivery person during those war years.

What is known is that William and Margaret placed a short obituary or death notice in the Toronto Star newspaper on 23 April 1945. As instructed, they did not include their son’s date of death nor the name of his unit, rather the notice simply stated that D’Arcy was the “beloved elder son of Mr. and Mrs. D’Arcy Shaughnessy, dear brother of Catherine and Louis.” A requiem mass was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 April 1945 at St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Church.

The appearance of William D’Arcy Shaughnessy’s name on his parent’s gravestone is a memorial tribute. As was the case in the First World War, the bodies of fallen soldiers were typically not repatriated but interred in the area in which they had been killed. Such was the case for young D’Arcy. One month after the war’s end, on 23 Jun 1945, the Shaughnessy family was informed that D’Arcy “was buried with religious rites” in a temporary military cemetery near Deventer, Holland, his grave temporarily marked with a wooden cross.

Just as the Army had explained would happen to the family, D’Arcy’s remains were subsequently exhumed and he was re-buried at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery near Overijssel, Holland. Now a proper gravestone marks the place where D’Arcy rests in peace.

SHAUGHNESSY Wm Darcy war grave from mapleleaflegacyproject

Gravestone of Trooper William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, Junior, Holten Canadian War Cemetery, Overijssel, The Netherlands (Photo courtesy Maple Leaf Legacy Project – http://www.mapleleaflegacy.ca)

The Canadian Government maintains Books of Remembrance in the Peace Tower, the central architectural structure of the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Canada. Each day a page of the book is turned so if you are in Ottawa on November 25th this year, page 563 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance will display the name of Trooper William D’Arcy Shaughnessy, a true Canadian hero!

SHAUGHNESSY Wm DArcy war dead commeroration book Parliament Hill Peace Tower p263

Second World War Book of Remembrance, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario

(photo courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada –  http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/books)


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.

Remembering Jutland and a Lost ‘Little’ Cousin

I have been away from my genealogy blog for a few months because, well, life happens. Events interfere and life gets unavoidably busy – even for someone like me whose current day job is to live a life of retired leisure.

Today however is special. Today, May 31st, marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest (I would be very hesitant to use the term greatest to describe it)  of the naval battles during World War I. It is also, subsequently, the 100th anniversary of my first cousin, twice removed James Little Triggs’ date of death, a casualty of that battle.

James’ grandparents were James Little and Dorothea (Dorothy) Carson of Greenock, Scotland. James and Dorothea were my 2X great grandparents.

This story starts somewhat romantically in Greenock, Scotland where a young Janet Little meets and falls in love with a sailor. John William Triggs was no doubt a strapping young man when he met Janet in Greenock, likely at a time when his ship was in the Greenock dockyard. John and Janet married at 64 Finnart Street in Greenock on December 2, 1898.

Well, almost nine months to the day later, on August 28, 1899, John and Janet welcomed twin boys into their family! The babies were Philip Triggs, named after his paternal grandfather, and James  Little Triggs, named after his maternal grandfather.

There was no time to settle for the family however and John Triggs’ work had them move to Devonport in the southwest of England where in the 1901 Census of England, James can be found living with his parents and Philip is found living, not too far away, with his paternal grandparents, the split likely an attempt to ease the burden of rearing the twins.

It wouldn’t take too long before both boys were eager to follow in their father’s footsteps. In due course, both of the twins joined the Royal Navy as Cabin Boys, at the age of sixteen.


H.M.S. Queen Mary (Photo courtesy of http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/)

And so it was that on May 31, 1916, Cabin Boy 1 James Little Triggs was performing his duties aboard the H.M.S. Queen Mary, a relatively new ship, built and launched in 1912. His twin brother Philip was performing his duties on the same day aboard the H.M.S. Iron Duke, a similarly new ship. Both brothers were also in the middle of the Battle of Jutland.

H.M.S. Queen Mary took two direct hits which caused her magazine of ammunition to explode. James Little Triggs, 16-year old Cabin Boy was lost in that explosion along with 1,265 of his shipmates. The body of James was never recovered for burial but he is memorialized at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Philip Triggs survived the Battle of Jutland and World War I. Philip later emigrated to Australia where he died in 1967.


Zion Evangelical Church Members List 1915 – Part 2

Yesterday, I posted the first four pages of the 1915 members list for Zion Evangelical Church in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario.

The mainly typed members list was compiled in July 1915 and contains more than 800 church members names, many also with home addresses listed.

Here are the remaining four pages of the eight-page list.

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p5

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 5

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p6

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 6

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p7

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 7

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p8

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 8

Zion Evangelical Church Members List 1915, Part 1

Zion Evangelical Church was established in Berlin, Upper Canada, now known as Kitchener, Ontario, during the 1830’s. The first pastor to serve the church was assigned in 1839, the church previously being served by ‘itinerant’ preachers primarily from New York state.

Unfortunately in 2015, the church closed it’s doors, no longer viable due to high operating costs and a dwindling membership. During one of my trips through the area, I had a chance to visit and tour the church while it was was being decommissioned. Graciously, I was provided with a copy of the 1915 church membership list, which stands as an excellent source of genealogical information for those with ancestors who lived in that area.

The membership list was completed in July 1915 and contains more than 800 names of church members, many with their home addresses included. The list is comprised of eight pages, most of which is typed but also including some hand-written notations and additions to the list.

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p1

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 1

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p4

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 2

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p2

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 3

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p4

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 4

The final four pages of the church members list will be published here tomorrow.

Sentimental Saturday – The Wine And White Formal

The year was 1975.

In February of that year, at least that’s my recollection, I was privileged to be the date of a very pretty 18-year old young woman named Karen when we went to her Notre Dame High School’s annual ‘Wine and White’ formal dance in Toronto, Ontario.

Four months later, I had the honour of escorting Karen to her graduation prom.

In April of 1976, on Easter Sunday, she said ‘yes’ when I asked her to marry me and in June 1977, we became husband and wife.

Today, January 23rd is Karen’s birthday. She would have turned 59-years old but for the cruelty of life that took her from us when she was only 45 years of age. Yes, cancer sucks and it affects the whole family in devastating ways.

Happy Birthday, Karen! I know that you know you are loved and remembered.

BENEDETTO Karen Ann - high school wine and white formal 1975

Karen Ann Benedetto, 1975