I stumbled upon this website, Rural Diary Archive, because I was researching my Wilson/Thompson/Gibson line on Amherst Island, Ontario. The founder of the project, Dr. Catharine Anne Wilson (maybe a relative, maybe not!), wrote a book called A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada, which explores landlord-tenant relationships on Amherst Island especially tenant families that migrated from the Ards Peninsula in County Down to Amherst Island between 1820 and 1860.
Anyway, the Rural Diary Archive “showcases over 150 Ontario diarists from 1800 to 1960.” The diaries come from museums and archives across Ontario. You can search transcribed diaries, as well as browse by county, occupation, ethnicity/nationality, and religion. I did find one diary from Amherst Island, written in 1872-1879 by George Wright. That is part of the time period the Wilson’s and Thompson’s lived on the island, but I haven’t a chance to read it yet. Hopefully, it will give me some insight on daily life.
The Archive also has a Twitter account (@RuralDiaries) that tweets diary entries in an “On this Day” format.
My great-aunt Grace, the wife of my grandpa’s brother Hugh, was always described as a nice woman. I didn’t know her well; I only remember meeting her once or twice.
Grace Wood was born August 19, 1901 in Frontenac County, Ontario to William Edlow Wood and Mary Ellen ‘Nellie’ Barr. In 1911, the family, with the addition of a son William Earl, was living in Kingston, Ontario. William was a contractor and the family’s religion was the Holiness Movement.
In 1921, Grace was a boarder with the Robert Ranous family in Pittsburgh Township, Ontario (the same township Hugh was from and where his family was living in 1921). She was a schoolteacher and a 7th Day Adventist. I don’t know anything about how Grace and Hugh met, but they were married in Ottawa on March 26, 1940 when both Grace and Hugh were 38 years old.
Hugh was elected reeve of Pittsburgh Township for 1967-1968. According to Wikipedia, “in some small townships in Ontario, the title reeve was historically used instead of mayor.”
In 1976, Aunt Grace got to meet her pen pal of 62 years Muriel Stafford from Sydney Australia. They began writing in about 1914 when Grace was 13 and Muriel was 11. According to the article, “The Victoria League in Australia and the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire in Kingston sent names of potential pen pals into schools.” Grace said she chose Australia because she “was more interested in Australia than any other part of the British Empire.”
This sweet lady died in 1995. Hugh had died February 2, 1979. They are buried in Glenwood Cemetery on Amherst Island, Ontario next to Hugh’s grandparents.
Week 51 (December 17-23): Nice [still trying to finish up 2018!]
In looking through my photos on my Ancestry tree, I noticed I don’t have very many photographs of bearded ancestors. Most are clean-shaven or have mustaches. However, I have this great image of my great-great grandfather Archibald Thompson.
Archibald Thompson was born in either 1838 or 1841 in either Ireland or Scotland. He arrived in Canada in about 1857 and lived on Amherst Island, Ontario. He married Elizabeth Dunning in about 1860. He was a sailor, then a farmer. Archie and Elizabeth had 11 children, including my great-grandmother Mary. In the mid-1890s, the family moved to Deseronto, Hastings, Ontario. Elizabeth died in 1912 and Archibald died on 24 Feb 1931 at the age of 93 (if the DOB on his death certificate is accurate).
“Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNSZ-YHC : 8 March 2018), Archibald Thompson, 24 Feb 1931; citing Frontenac, Pittsburg, Ontario, 108, Registrar General. Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 2,296,529.
This small tablecloth, with the initials, M.T. and the year 1892, was embroidered by my great-grandmother Mary Agnes (Thompson) Wilson when she was about 20 years old. She was born on March 10, 1872 on Amherst Island, Ontario. On the Canadian census of April 1891, she was living on Amherst Island with her parents Archibald and Elizabeth and her siblings Charles, William, Hugh, Agnes, and Cecil. Mary married my great-grandfather John A. Wilson on November 1, 1898 in Deseronto, Ontario. They had 10 children between 1900 and 1916, including my grandfather, Charles Thompson Wilson.
Yikes, I’m really behind on my 52 ancestors. Now to play catch-up.
Robert Gibson, my 3rd Great-Grandfather, was born about 1805 in Ireland. His family was from the Ards Peninsula (shown on map above) in County Down, Northern Ireland. They likely moved to Ireland from Scotland. According to Catharine Anne Wilson, Scotch-Irish families “emigrated from 1820 to 1860 from the United Parish of St. Andrews in Northern Ireland to Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada.” (Wilson, C. A. (1997). The Scotch-Irish and Immigrant Culture on Amherst Island, Ontario. In H. T. Blethen & C. Wood (Eds.), Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish (134-145). Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press.) St. Andrews was six miles north of Portaferry, from which many ships departed.
Robert married Mary McCormick in Ireland in the 1830s. They had at least five children between 1837 and 1850, including my great-great grandmother Mary Ann. According to her 1911 Canada Census entry, Mary Ann arrived on Amherst Island in 1857, which is when, I assume, the rest of the family came. This also fits the emigration time frame put forth by Wilson. She was married with a daughter by 1859 on the island. In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, Robert and Mary were living on Amherst Island. He was listed as Presbyterian and she was listed as Roman Catholic. In April 1881, they were living with their son Hugh (1848-1881) and his wife Elizabeth and their two children, William and Mary Ellen. Hugh died in June 1881 and a son, also named Hugh, was born in February 1882.
Robert died on May 5, 1882 of dyspepsia. He might be buried in St. Bartholomew’s Cemetery on Amherst Island. His wife Mary died on January 13, 1886 of dropsy of the heart.
John A. Wilson, my great-great grandfather, was born 9 Apr 1833 in Sweden. Family legend says he stowed away on a ship when he was 16 and was “adopted” by the captain who gave the boy his [the captain’s] name. But we all have stowaway stories, right?
Anyway, by 1859 John lived on Amherst Island, Ontario and married Mary Ann Gibson and had a child name Rose.
In the 1871 Canadian Census, the Wilsons’ have several more children and John’s occupation is listed as mariner. According to my great aunt, John was a “lake captain.” Furthermore, Captain Wilson loaded grain on Amherst Island. In 1881, John is listed as a farmer and I have no further information at this time about this mariner in the family.
This small table covering was embroidered by Mary Thompson, my great-grandmother. In the center are the cursive initials M.T. and below them is the year 1892. Below is a picture of Mary from 1898, the year she married John Wilson of Amherst Island, Ontario.
Annie Maude Wilson was the first child of John Wilson and Mary Thompson who had married on 1 November 1898. She was born on 8 March 1900 on Howe Island, Ontario. Annie died 26 July 1904 in Pittsburg Township, Ontario. According to her death certificate, Annie died of infantile convulsions. (Annie was my grandfather Charles Wilson’s oldest sibling. He was born in 1907).
Mary Ann Gibson of Portaferry, County Down, Ireland was born to Robert Gibson (birthplace: Scotland) and Mary McCormick (birthplace: Ireland) on April 11, 1837. In A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants, and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada by Catharine Ann Wilson, my relatives – my relatives! – are mentioned on page 231. Mary Gibson married John Wilson sometime in the 1850s on Amherst Island, presumably. They had 4 daughters and 3 sons. One son, a twin named Robert, died in December 1871 at the age of 4 months and 10 days (see picture at right; the stone was broken off at the base when we found it. I swear!). He is buried in Pentland Cemetery on Amherst Island. Mary Ann died September 7, 1923 and is buried on Amherst Island in Glenwood Cemetery.
Next time: John Andrew Wilson, my great-grandfather.
Now that I think I’ve figured out how to add pictures on here, I’m going to try to make some posts pertaining to the Wells’, Wilson’s, Belknap’s, Oakes’, Moore’s, and anyone else I can “dig up.” Speaking of digging up, here is the tombstone for our lone Swedish ancestor: John Alford Wilson. Born April 9, 1833. Died January 6, 1889. He emigrated to Canada, maybe in the early 1850s and lived on Amherst Island and Howe Island, Ontario. I visited there in 2004 and took this picture. On the base of the stone, it says “Meet Me in Heaven.” This grave is located in Glenwood cemetery on Amherst Island. It is next to my Uncle Hugh and Aunt Grace. Uncle Hugh died in February 1979 and they had to wait until the Spring thaw to bury him because the lake was frozen over.