’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: July

Elijah Vincent: “A terror to all those who opposed the crown”

United Empire Loyalist

From my genealogical researching, I’ve discovered many of my ancestors were farmers.   They seemed to live uneventful lives, at least when you only have census records and family lists as data to go by. Farmer John married Jane Farmer’s Daughter and they had 8 children. Those eight children married farmers and farmers’ daughters and they had 8 children and so on.

Every once in a while, you hit something solid in your proverbial digging.  Through another of my Dad’s lines, I uncovered Elijah Vincent, a United Empire Loyalist, who came from the United States after the American Revolution.  Elijah, himself, was a 6th generation American when he was born in Eastchester, New York on Christmas Eve 1759.  He was the oldest of 6 children born to Lewis Vincent and Abigail Fowler.  His 4 X great-grandfather, Adrian Vincent, came from Belgium to America in 1633 but it was Elijah who brought this line to Canada.

That isn’t the interesting part.  In July 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Elijah’s brother, Gilbert, a blacksmith, refused to shoe a French officer’s horse because it was a Sunday.  A conflict ensued and the officer killed Gilbert.  When Elijah heard of his brother’s death, he sought vengeance.  As an ensign for James DeLancey’s Westchester Refugees, he laid hiding in some bushes and when a French group of hussars passed, he fatally shot their captain.  According to Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester, Elijah “throughout this whole region became a terror to all those who opposed the crown”.

Isn’t this the stuff that Revolutionary War movies are made of?  In fact, wasn’t it already a movie?  Oh no, I’m thinking of “The Patriot” and clearly that wasn’t about a “Loyalist”.  It was an intriguing research project to say the least.  There do seem to be some details that show up differently in sources.  For example, some sources indicate the officer in need of the blacksmith was French and others say American.  Some stories say that Gilbert Vincent was shot and killed and others say he was sliced apart by a sword and lived.  The heart of the story remains consistent, Gilbert Vincent, a Blacksmith, was killed or critically injured and Elijah sought vengeance and killed a captain opposed to the Loyalists.

He married Abigail Bayeux in 1791 and brought his family officially to Canada in 1796.  He settled in Willoughby Township which is now a part of the Region of Niagara Falls.  Of his four children, his oldest daughter, Abigail, my 5 x great-grandmother, married John Amerman and settled in Bayham Township close to modern-day Straffordville, ON.  Many of her descendants remain close to Bayham Township to this day, myself included.  It’s an area rich with my family history. What else might I unearth in this Vincent line?

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds









1.  Wilkerson, Lyn. Historical Cities-New York City. (USA: Caddo, 2010) Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.

2.   “America Meets France Outside New York City,” accessed July 9, 2015,

3.   Coffey, Rev. William Samuel.  Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester.  (New York: Perris and Browne, 1866)  Google Books, accessed July 9, 2010.

4.  Scharf, John Thomas.  History of Westchester County: New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms: Volume 1.  (Philedelphia: L. E. Preston & Co., 1886)  Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.

5.  “Elijah Vincent,” accessed July 9, 2015,



Advertisement’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: June

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

I’m very intrigued and excited about’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds Challenge.  During my family research journey, I’ve discovered lots of great stories and uncovered interesting personas that I want to share with other genealogy enthusiasts.  The problem is that I don’t always get my stories together in a timely fashion due to a full-time workload, mommy to 2 busy boys and being an active community member.  This just might be the right challenge to motivate me to get these tales posted.

Norfolk County “Cowan’s”

For my first month challenge, I dug into my paternal grandmother’s lineage to discover The Cowans were amongst the first settlers to Norfolk County in Ontario.  I hadn’t spent much time on my father’s side of the genealogy tree because he had cousins who had done quite a bit of research.  Why reinvent the wheel and redo something that had already been done?  When I finally joined and had my eyes opened to the wealth of information available, I soon realized that my dad’s cousins had only revealed the tip of the ancestral ice berg.  In fact, I only had detailed information about my dad’s father’s line and nothing about my dad’s mother.  She was Marjory Cowan.  I grew up with several Cowan’s around where I am from.  Some of them related, some of them not, but not really knowing the Cowan connection.

Cowan Ancestry
Marjory (Cowan) Noels

Through my membership, I was able to go back through my father’s mother, Marjory (Cowan) Noels (1926 – 1993) her father, William Burton Cowan (1900 – 1962), to his father, William Henry Cowan (1873 – 1948) to his father, David Cowan (1843 – 1923) to his father John Cowan (1813 – 1894) and it ended there.  I was content with that for a time and jumped over to other branches for a while.  I came back to John Cowan and explored deeper.  Where was he from besides Norfolk County, Ontario?  The census records indicated he was “born in Scotland”.  I wanted to know where in Scotland.  I spent months searching Cowan records trying to find the right connection but nothing added up.  I was able to find a cemetery through the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid that had a David Cowan buried in it.  There were John Cowan’s listed also, but they didn’t meet the criteria I needed for “my John”.  So, I loaded the van up one Sunday afternoon with my parents and my sons (who were 5 and 9 – not too enthused to be “cemetery-hopping” – ice cream helped) and sought to find the cemetery of this “David Cowan” that was buried there.  I was  hopeful of finding clues to other Cowan’s that might make the connection over the sea.  I did, in fact, find David’s grave and it was indeed my 3X great-grandfather.  Buried beside him was his wife Anna Eliza Garnet.  The stone was barely legible but he was buried in the North Middleton Baptist / Acacia Cemetery.  Their daughter, Mary Catherine Cowan, was buried with them also.  She died at 42 years of age of Typhoid fever according to her death certificate (  Although the trip made for an adventurous afternoon, I did not learn anything new about David Cowan or his lineage.

Colquhoun, Cowan
Colquhoun Tartan – Cowan is a sept of

Back to the research I went.  I searched the internet again and again.  I found reference to a John C. Cowan on “The Long Point Settlers” site.  His life dates, however, 1747 – 1826, didn’t match the dates of my John Cowan.  The short description, however, on this site did indicate that he had 4 sons, James, John,William and Alexander.  This could possibly mean that the John listed here was who I was searching to connect but I couldn’t prove it without further cross referencing.  I did finally find a missing piece to this whole puzzle.  John, the son of John was not the John I was looking for.  There was a piece in between.  A 1841 document found on indicated a James Cowan from Scotland (John C. Cowan’s son) settled in Charlotteville Township in Norfolk County.   This James came from Scotland with a family.  His wife, Elizabeth and 3 children, Elizabeth, James and John.  Other children followed upon arrival to Canada, but this information was enough for me to see my John’s place in this family line.  James Cowan came to Canada in 1817 with his father, John C. Cowan (of the “The Long Point Settlers“),and family from Scotland, England.  His son, John, my John, was 4 years old, born in 1813.  This was the piece I needed.  Further exploration allowed me to cross-reference this information with that of John’s wives, Catherine Pettit and Charlotte Gibbons.  My mystery was solved.  My John Cowan, according to research, came from Glasgow, Scotland.

Another Scottish branch on my family tree.  Cowan’s belonged to the Colquhoun clan.  And a new search begins…

What’s in a Family Name?

(Revised March 16, 2015 – see notes after post)

N-O-E-L-S. I automatically start spelling my last name before anyone starts to spell it because 99.5 % of the time, people will spell it incorrectly. Most people want to spell it like Beyoncé, K-N-O-W-L-E-S. The story passed down to me as to why our spelling was different from the one most commonly used, was that our original name was Noel and my great-grandmother felt it was easier to say “Noels” with an “s” than the original Noel without the “s”. When you are young you don’t question things much so that was the story that I went with.

Stephen, Amanda and Beecher Noel

Upon exploring my family ancestry, I soon found that the chance of that story being true was highly unlikely.  My late cousin, Hazel Noels, a genealogy enthusiast like myself, put together a Family Tree compilation titled “Noels Pressey Connections” and noted three different spellings of our family name: “Noel”, “Noels” and “Noles”.  According to Hazel, my great grandparents, Beecher and Ella May Noels, each had their own preference for registering their offspring.  Beecher’s parents, Stephen and Amanda, were registered as “Noel” upon their marriage in 1871.  Therefore, Ella May registered new arrivals as “Noel”.  Beecher, on the other hand, always registered his new children as “Noels”.  Hence, with 11 births in all, some of the family are registered one way and some another.  Later, when various members needed to apply for birth certificates, some were returned with the spelling of “Noles”.

Beecher and Ella May Noels

Exploring further into Beecher’s father, Stephen’s records, “Noel” was not the only spelling that he is registered with.   On the first census that he shows up in, 1851 at 2 years of age, he is Stephen “Knowls”.  In the 1871 census he is Stephen “Knowles”, 1881: “Noles”, 1891, “Noel” and finally “Noels” on his death certificate in 1921.  Stephen’s father, James, has much the same history with his last name only he has an added “Noal” which shows up on the 1881 census.  This dilemma has made it difficult to go back further into the history of my name.  Based on several census records, I know that James Noels originated from England as it is indicated as his place of birth.  What I can’t find, is when he married Mary Ann Tomlin, when he arrived in Canada and did he arrive already married with children?  Because there are so many different spellings, who did he come over as?  James Noels, James Noel, James Noal, James Noles, James Knowls or perhaps he came over as James Knowles?  In which case, perhaps my name’s origins are, in fact, that K-N-O-W-L-E-S that I have spent my life correcting people from spelling.

The exploration continues…



March 16, 2015

A Facebook conversation started with a couple members of my “Noels”-bearing family.  It went as follows:

Heather Noel: … I have no idea how Dennis and I became Noel and the 3 in the middle Noels when dad (Wilf) didn’t know he was a Noel until he got his birth certificate in the 70’s.

Vicki Noels Cornish: Hi Heather, I have Hazel’s research and I also have William listed as James’ father but I can”t find any documents to verify it. That’s why I’m trying to find out when James arrived and whether he was married or not. Then, hopefully, I can start linking everything. And as of right now, I am not a 100% certain we are truly “Noels” as opposed to “Knowles”. It’s looking like perhaps James wasn’t able to spell and therefore left the spelling up to whoever was in charge of the paperwork at any given point. Six different spellings for one person in federal records over a lifetime makes it difficult to verify which is the true one.

Christine Noels: For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s any one true spelling. It’s only recently that people care if surnames are consistent. Back in Tudor times for example, even literate people would spell their own names in a variety of ways – and the further back you go the more you can see that names continue to evolve. I don’t think there’s a right way to spell it – although I’d pull a lot less hair out if there was!

Vicki Noels Cornish: Hear! Hear! Chris. It would just help me in figuring out which damn James is ours. I’ve gone back into the 1500’s with several family lines but I can only go back as far as 1816 with Noels. I want to know exactly what part of England we come from.  I enjoy the pursuit though. I will get it eventually.

Christine Noels: Me too and no matter which way I spell it I find too many men with the same name and a wife with the same name. I found one or two that could have come from England via the States too.

Cornish Comes to Canada

Having some time off over the holidays has allowed me to some family history research. I’ve been delving into my husband’s family because there are long and heritage-rich ties to Cornwall, England. With a name like “Cornish”, there was no doubt that there would be lots of history to explore.

Thomas James Cornish on his farm
Thomas James Cornish on his farm

The “Cornish” history as far as my husband’s family is concerned, began in Ontario sometime around 1843.  It  was then that 18-year-old Thomas James Cornish, a native of Poundstock, Cornwall, England, came to Canada.  He was born September 8, 1925 in Pounstock, the only son of Saul Cornish and Eleanor Suiter.  According to Cornish Genealogy, written by Cora (Cornish) Leaman in 1967, he had learned the tailor’s trade at which he spent seven years apprenticing for as a boy.  He had one sister, Mary Ann, who also came to Canada and settled in North Dorchester with her husband, Andrew Venning.  Thomas and Mary Ann’s parents are buried in Trewan, Cornwall, England.  According to online records, Saul was a resident of Piper’s Pool, a small hamlet in North Cornwall.

Thomas and Mary Ann Cornish
Thomas and Mary Ann Cornish

In 1847, it was recorded that Thomas married Mary Ann Varnum, in Whitby, Ontario.  By 1848, he had moved his bride and their first son, Albert to a farm located on the 4th concession of North Dorchester, one mile west of Crampton, Ontario.  Ultimately, Thomas and Mary Ann raised a family of 7 sons and 5 daughters in North Dorchester.  Ten of their children remained in the area of the now called, Middlesex County in Ontario but 2 children moved to the United States.  Saul, to Iowa and then to South Dakota in 1879 and Ellen to Iowa and later to Kansas City.  Many of Saul’s and Ellen’s descendants have remained in Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas City.

Standing: Eunice, Ellen Seated Middle: Mrs. Cornish, Mary Ann, Nancy Seated Front: Janie
Standing: Eunice, Ellen
Seated Middle: Mrs. Cornish, Mary Ann, Nancy
Seated Front: Janie
Back: Wesley, Martin, Tom, Arthur Front: Albert, Thomas James Sr., Saul, Porter
Back: Wesley, Martin, Tom, Arthur
Front: Albert, Thomas James Sr., Saul, Porter

Thomas and Mary Ann remained in North Dorchester.  It was here that Thomas died at 81 and Mary Ann at 91.  They are buried in the Dorchester Union Cemetery, a cemetery where many of their descendants are still buried to this day.

Original Cornish Headstone in Dorchester Union Cemetery
Original Cornish Headstone in Dorchester Union Cemetery

Remembrance: James Allen Mason

Lest We Forget
Lest We Forget

I made a significant find a couple of weeks ago. In my pursuit to find more about my Mason ancestry, I noticed a gap. My second great grand-uncle, Charles Mason, had 3 sons, John, David, Walter and James. I had extensively searched the older brothers but never pursued James up to that point. To anyone new to ancestry research, one does not simply uncover an ancestor’s story in a couple of clicks on the computer (although sometimes, one might get lucky and that does end up being the case). It’s like solving a logic puzzle, you go over the clues you have and read, reread and reread them as your brain searches frantically for a lead. It’s the ultimate in detective investigation. When you get that lead, you go to your resources, search and cross-examine your search until you can verify your lead as fact. Then, you add it to your tree. This is at least, how I have tackled my ancestry. When you uncover something, it’s like unearthing treasure. I find it exhilarating.

It took me a while to find anything on the James Mason I was looking for until one day, a record showed up on  It was his Attestation Papers for joining the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force for the First World War.  He enrolled in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada on July 13th 1915.  His actual signature shows up on the scanned copy of the document.  There is something I can’t describe, that I feel when I look at the actual physical signature of James Allen Mason, the then, 17-year-old youth.  It’s a force that almost makes the hairs on my arm stand up knowing that his young hand would have made that signature in the flesh almost 100 years ago.

A part of the 45th Canadian Battalion, he set sail across the Atlantic in March 1916 to arrive in Liverpool on March 25.  On July 7, 1916, the Battalion was absorbed into the 11th Reserve Battalion which reinforced the 52nd Canadian Battalion serving in France.  Sadly, serving with the 52nd Battalion brought James to serve the ultimate sacrifice.  It was during the Battle of the Somme that he lost his life.  Only 19 years old.  I was hopeful that James would have returned to Manitoba to live a new adventure, one that I would continue to trace, but alas, it ended abruptly in the trenches of France.

Vimy Canadian Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, France
Vimy Canadian Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, France

Exploring further, however, I learned that James has left the most honourable legacy.  He is buried amongst his fellow soldiers, who also gave their lives for our treasured freedom, at the magnificent Vimy Memorial in  Pas-de-Calais, France.  I’ve heard about the Vimy Memorial and felt proud to be a part of a nation that provided such support to both World Wars but now, I have so much more to identify with.  I have a first cousin, 3 times removed, who gave his life so that his family, his nation and his descendents could live free. Thank you to James and all the others that gave so much.  #IRemember!





“45th Battalion (Manitoba), CEF”.  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Last modified July 8, 2014.,_CEF.

“52nd Battalion War Diary”.  Library and Archives Canada.  October 6 – 13, 1916.

“Canadian National Vimy Memorial”.  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Last modified November 2, 2014.

“Historic Sites of Manitoba”.  The Manitoba Historical Society.  Accessed November 9, 2014.

“In Memory of Private James Allen Mason”.  Veterans Affairs Canada.  Accessed November 9, 2014.

Laughton, Richard.  “11th Reserve Battalion”.  Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group: “The Matrix Project”. 2006-2013.

“Mason, James Allen”.  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Accessed November 9, 2014.,%20JAMES%20ALLEN.

“Private James Allen Mason”.  Canadian Great War Project.  Accessed November 9, 2014. .

“Red Poppy Clip Art”.  flickr.  Accessed November 10, 2014.

“Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial nr Vimy France”.  National Education Network Gallery.  Accessed November 10, 2014.



A special thank you to Christian Cassidy for providing some valuable resources for discovering more about Private James Mason and Cardale, Manitoba where he was born and raised.  You can learn more about Manitoba and its history on Christian’s Blog: West End Dumplings.



Outlander Obsession

When the series, Outlander, which aired on Showcase earlier this fall, ended for the “mid-season” a couple of weeks ago, I was sad.  Each week, I would escape through my own “Craigh Na Dun” (the stairway down to my television) into 1743 and became a part of the world Diana Gabaldon created for Clair.  I felt such a connection to the story.  As an avid genealogical enthusiast who just uncovered a significant Scottish branch on my family tree, I became instantly involved in the story.  I chuckled to myself when Clair revealed Frank’s interest in his own family history for I could completely relate.  Clair, Frank, Dougal and (of course) Jamie, became a part of my life for an hour and a half each week.  As their adventure unfolded, I was with them, questioning, exploring, experiencing and trying to make sense of it all.  It was a grand escape to the Highlands; one that I soon came to anticipate with great longing each week until … IT ENDED!  Placed on hiatus for 6 MONTHS!

Outl Outlander

What was I going to do?  I couldn’t leave the thought of Clair’s demise alone.  Panic set in.  Separation anxiety.  And then it came to me, so clear.  A sign.  In bold red letters in the bookstore I was browsing through.  “Any two books from the Outlander Series – Limited Time – $15”.  Of course – that was the answer.  Read the books.  I wouldn’t have to wait.  In fact, I could become completely immersed in detail that I wouldn’t have seen on the small screen.  I could read as much as I wanted, when I wanted for as long as I wanted.   It was the perfect solution.  I purchased the first 2 books, went to Starbucks for my favourite bistro box, grande blonde roast coffee and put the first crease in my very own Outlander.  It felt so good to go back.



Is Charles Mason a Genealogical Connection?

John Mason and Mary Hislop's Headstone in Donegal Cemetery
John Mason and Mary Hislop’s Headstone in Donegal Cemetery

It was a gorgeous fall day here in Southwestern Ontario. I was spending time with my parents and we thought it would be a perfect day to roam the countryside visiting cemeteries for genealogical pleasure. We had always talked about going to Donegal to visit the graves of the Mason’s that brought my mother’s family from Scotland to Canada.  Today we were going to do it.

John Mason is a dead-end for me.  I know he was born in Scotland but I have no record or mention of parents or siblings.  I know he had 4 children but have only ties to the line that is mine directly.  Where are the other Masons’?  For a long time, I couldn’t find Charles, John’s oldest son.  There was a Charles Mason buried in Donegal, ON but dates didn’t match up.  I did eventually find Charles in Manitoba.  He had started his own adventure, a story for another time.

At Donegal today, I got to see John’s and his wife, Mary’s, grave stone.  I could read it.  The original picture I have of the stone is taken too far away for me to make out the inscription.  Standing in front of it in person though, I could see that it read “John Mason – a Native of Co of Haddington, Scotland”.  I knew that already from the records I had gathered.  Stepping back to the next row, I could read the stone for Charles Mason.  This would be the Charles Mason that I had already ruled out as a connection because the dates didn’t match.  Interesting though, he was also listed as a native to Haddington County, Scotland.  This got me thinking.  Could he still be a connection?  He was the only other Mason in close proximity to John and Mary in the cemetery and his stone was with their’s.  The dates would suggest perhaps John and Charles were brothers.  I pondered this because in the extensive search that I had done for John Mason in Haddington (or East Lothian), Scotland only yielded a few results for any Mason in that area at that time so for there to be a Charles “Mason” coming from the same county in the same time period was striking.

Charles Mason's Headstone in Donegal Cemetery
Charles Mason’s Headstone in Donegal Cemetery

Not wanting to let this go and not sure where to go for answers at the current time (my normal work life leaves little time for extracurricular research in the fall), I thought I would plug this new connection into to see if it might generate hints that could confirm the connection.  Being so I am only inferring my own hypothesis on how Charles Mason may fit into the picture, I included the following disclaimer to anyone who may find it in my online family tree:

“The relation indicated for this Charles Mason is not 100% confirmed.  There are not any documents that I have found to show a definitive sibling relationship between Charles and John Mason.  The relationship is inferred based on the fact that they both come from Haddington in Scotland, they show up separately in Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland at the same time and Charles is listed with John’s family in the 1861 Canadian census.  I am suggesting that perhaps they are brothers but because they are 10 years apart, they do not show up together in the same establishment but did live in proximity to each other.  Both boys show up as farm labourers at 15 years of age.  I’ve imputed Charles into my family tree to see if there might be hints generated that might shed more light onto either Mason that might connect them definitively”.

I shall report any updates should I unveil more.  Stay tuned…

Mayflower Descendent – Me?


Researching my family history has become a supreme passion of mine.  It has opened my mind to exploring history to which I never fostered an interest in growing up, and it has shed light onto my being and identity.

Recently, I discovered my 11 X great-grandparents were John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley.  So what? Unless you know a bit about American History, these are probably just another set of names.  They were to me … at first.

As a subscriber to, I’ve created a family tree by inputting individuals and information. From those entries, connections get made by linking my data to records that has in its database.  As new records are added to the database, “hints” are issued for individuals that I have posted in my family tree who are connected to those records .  Because my tree is quite large (from several hours of inputting and exploring) I get many “hints” a day on various ancestors.  When I got a hint for Desire Gorham, a 9 X great-grandmother, I reviewed it and added her to my tree without much thought.  When one goes that far back in a line, records become rare and many hints are just other genealogy enthusiasts who have your ancestor on their trees also.  So, when all of a sudden there were about 16 “hints” for Desire Gorham, I thought I’d better do some investigating because individuals born in 1644 didn’t generate that kind of record data because of the lack good record keeping that far back.

When I went back to have a closer look at Desire Gorham, I noticed her place of birth was listed as Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Although American History is not my forte, I do remember learning about the Mayflower coming from England to Plymouth with some of the first colonists to come to the “New World”.  I thought it was worth investigating because if I knew if I were to travel there for ancestry research there would be lots to see and do because of the history of the place.

Reviewing more of the hints for Desire, there were connections to her parents who were listed as Desire Howland and Captain John Gorham.  With them, pictures were given as “hints”.  As a visual learner, I was quick to open them.  Low and behold it was a picture of a headstone listing the children of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, Pilgrims of the Mayflower.  Desire (Howland) Gorham was one of them.  WHAAAA…????

I couldn’t believe it.  There in front of me was evidence that I was a descendant of the Pilgrims that came on the Mayflower.  Of course, I have started to delve into who John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley were and what their significance was to this prominent point in history.  Apparently, John fell overboard during the voyage and was rescued.  There is a painting that depicts the dramatic rescue of John Howland.  His name is also on the “Mayflower Compact” which served as the first governing document of the pilgrims.  It is so exciting to learn that I am a descendant of those who left such a legacy.  What would these ancestors say if they could see the world that they helped start?  Fascinating.

This now opens up questions for how did a Mayflower descendant end up way over here in Southwestern Ontario when the original landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts?  More research to do!  More stories to explore!  More to come…



“Mayflower.”  Wikimedia Commons.  Last modified August 20, 2011. . (photo: “Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor” by William Halsall, 1882)

“Mayflower.”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Last modified October 6, 2014. .

“Noels-Cornish Family Tree.” Last modified October 11, 2014. .

Scottish Heritage

Scottish Heritage
Scottish Heritage

I’ve known from an early age that I had strong English roots on my mother’s side. Her mother’s father was from Kent, England and her mother’s grandmother was an orphan that came from England as a British Home Child. And up until 2 years ago, I assumed that Mason, my mother’s father’s name, was English too. I’ve always identified with my English heritage. I chose to go on a study-semester to London, England during my 3rd year in university to immerse myself in the world my ancestors walked. Although it was incredible and I could feel the energy of my forefathers amongst me, it was a weekend trip to Scotland that caught my attention. I felt connected to the people, the landscapes, the atmosphere.  I was drawn to Scotland.

Turns out, the Mason’s that my family’s ancestry comes from, is from Scotland.  I was a bit surprised but pleased.  Perhaps this could explain the strong connection I felt when visiting there.  From what I have uncovered through, my 3 X great-grandfather, John Mason, came from Dunbar, Scotland.  There were several John Mason’s as one can imagine so I hope that I have the correct one.  The one that I have been following is listed in the 1841 Scottish census as having an address of Little Pinkerton, Dunbar, Scotland.  I’ve looked it up and it seems to be a small settlement close to the East Coast of Scotland and East of Edinburgh.  Records show that he married Mary Hislop in 1846 in Ancrum, Scotland and they had 4 children beginning in 1847 when John was 22.  Their first son was Charles, second Walter, a girl Christina and the youngest, William born in February, 1856.  It looks as though they began their trek to Canada only weeks after William was born.  The family shows up on the passenger list for the ship, Ontario, that departed from Liverpool and arrived in New York on May 21, 1856.  Sadly, William is indicated as having died during the journey.

John and his family settled in Perth County, Ontario in the Township of Elma.  He was a farmer.  Many of my ancestors were farmers.  He is buried in Donegal cemetery in Perth county having lived a short life of 40 years.  I wonder why his life was cut short?  I have travelled through Donegal in the past completely oblivious to the fact that I am a direct descendant of someone who used to breathe the air there.  I have got to get there to do some research and just be present.  I’d also like to be able to get further back into the lifeline of John Mason from Dunbar, Scotland because the Mason name has some rich history and I have a feeling there is more to learn.


Alice Stone – A Mystery

John and Elizabeth Dowding (nee Stone) with Richard and Mary
John and Elizabeth Dowding (nee Stone) with Richard and Mary

As you may have noticed from my tagline, I love genealogy.  It has morphed from a simple hobby to an all-out obsession.  Years of research, making connections, emailing, travelling and documenting has led to the creation of one magnificent family tree.  One where each branch has its own characters and stories that would entertain even the most unenthused individual.

Currently, I am stuck on one particular branch; my maternal grandmother’s.  My mother’s mother’s mother’s mother or, for a better understanding, my 2X great grandmother, came over from England in 1871 as an orphan. She was, what we now call, a British Home Child.  I’ve had many of chats over tea with my mother about how she remembers her grandmother talking about the tormenting life her mother had had.  When she came to Canada, she travelled with her sister.  They only had each other and when they arrived, they were separated.  My gg grandmother was sent to live with a family as a servant and her sister went somewhere else.  My gg grandmother never saw her sister again.  The stories tell of a life of beatings and hard work for my gg grandmother and she longed for the companionship of her sister.  When she was 18 and no longer had to endure the life she had come to hate, she left the family she was with and married.

I have been able to track my gg grandmother back to her arrival upon the ship Prussian from Liverpool to Quebec in 1871.  There she is on the passenger list, named as Elizabeth Stone and just above is a listing for Alice Stone.  Both indicated as 8 years old.  Twins perhaps?  I’ve made some connections to find Alice but nothing has been successful thus far.  So, I find myself exploring a great mystery; one that has survived in my family for over 140 years.  What happened to Alice Stone?  I welcome any leads should someone read this and have clues that might lead to solving this mystery.