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.
I love learning family members’ middle names. Sometimes they are unusual or passed down in the family. But sometimes they are the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden names. So if a relative has a middle name that sounds an awful lot like a surname, you may have hit on a female relative’s maiden name.
My grandfather and two of his siblings have the maiden names of their mother and both grandmothers as middle names:
Charles Thompson Wilson, born May 1907 – Thompson was his mother Mary’s maiden name
William Gibson Wilson, born September 1908 – Gibson was his paternal grandmother Mary Ann’s maiden name
Theresa Dunning Wilson, born December 1909 – Dunning was her maternal grandmother Elizabeth’s maiden name
The family of my great-great grandfather who came to Canada from Sweden has always been a mystery. He came from Sweden in the 1850s and met and and married an Irish girl. His name, as far as we knew, was John Alford Wilson. However, the family story was he came from Sweden as a stowaway and was given the ship captain’s last name. So I thought that was the end of that. I was unfamiliar with Swedish genealogy and I didn’t even have a name to go by. Some family members mentioned the name Rhustadt or Rustad. His tombstone said he was born on April 9, 1833 in Stockholm.
Fast forward a few years, after I had my mother take an Ancestry DNA test, I was contacted by a distant cousin who was also a few times great-granddaughter of John. She shared with me some fantastic documents she had found for a Johan Axel Rustad, born April 9, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden.
He was baptized on April 11, 1833 in Adolf Fredriks Församling, Stockholm, Sweden. Församling means parish or congregation, so I assume that is the church where he was baptized.
Johan Axel’s parents married on September 22, 1833 in Adolf Fredriks Församling. Their names were Berger Halvorsen Rustad and Helena Andersdotter. Berger was born on August 9, 1806 in Elverum, Norway (this explains why Mom has 21% Norwegian DNA and no Swedish!) and came to Adolf Fredrik on Sept. 2, 1833 from Solna (near Stockholm). Helena was born on June 11, 1802 in Räm’s parish, Värmland. She came to Adolf Fredrik on Nov. 4, 1831 from Klara (in Stockholm). They had 2 children born during their betrothal: 1) Bernhard, b. June 29, 1828; and 2) Johan Axel, b. April 9, 1833.
Berger Halvorsen Rustad died on March 4, 1837 in Katarina Parish, Stockholm of typhoid fever. It must have been sometime after this that the family was split up. I’m not sure if Helena died around this time as well. Johan was sent to a foster family in Othem parish, Gotland, Sweden (an island in the Baltic) in 1842 and is last listed there on 9 Apr 1852.
Johan’s older brother Bernhard emigrated to the United States in 1854. They also had two younger brothers, Gustav Arvid Rustad (April 10, 1835 – April 27, 1835) and Oscar Arvid Rustad (March 11, 1836 – September 13, 1876). Oscar married Hilda Falk in 1859 and had at least one son who died in 1872.
Johan emigrated to Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada sometime before 1859, when he and his wife, Mary Ann Gibson, had a daughter Rose Mary on May 13, 1859. He was a farmer and a mariner according to the 1871 and 1881 censuses. He died on Howe Island, Ontario on January 6, 1889 as the age of 55.
Birth registration for Johan Axel – Adolf Fredrik CIb:3 (1827-1857) Image 1040 / page 133 (AID: v81707.b1040.s133, NAD: SE/SSA/0001)
Baptism Record for Johan Axel – Sweden, Select Baptisms, 1611-1920 from Ancestry.com
Records for Johan Axel on Gotland – Othem AI:4 (1842-1853) Image 2090 / page 193 (AID: v61925.b2090.s193, NAD: SE/ViLA/23066)
Marriage record for Berger Halvorsen Rustad – Adolf Fredrik EI:2 (1813-1841) Image 343 / page 673 (AID: v81715.b343.s673, NAD: SE/SSA/0001)
Death record for Berger Halvorsen Rustad – Katarina FI:9 (1835-1844) Image 63 / page 117 (AID: v87044.b63.s117, NAD: SE/SSA/0009)
John Andrew Wilson is #12 on my ahnentafel table (a numbered ancestor chart). He is my mother’s paternal grandfather.
John was born February 26, 1874 on Amherst Island, Lennox & Addington, Ontario, Canada to John A. Wilson, a mariner from Sweden, and Mary Ann Gibson from Ireland.
In the 1881 Canadian census the Wilson family was living on Howe Island in Frontenac, Ontario. At the time, John was 7 years old, living with his parents, his sisters Annie (17), Eliza (15), and brother Hugh (9). A married sister, Rose Mary Beaubien, was living on Amherst Island with her husband and baby. By 1891, all the sisters were married and their father had died in 1889. Hugh was now a farmer and the head of household at aged 20. His mother, brother John (17), and a servant John Breene (21) were also living there.
On November 1, 1898, John married Mary Agnes Thompson (1872-1940) in Deseronto, Hastings, Ontario. At the time, John was living on Howe Island and was a farmer, while Mary lived in Deseronto.
In the 1901 census, John, Mary, and their 1-year-old daughter Annie Maud were living with John’s mother on Howe Island. There was also a farm laborer named Matthew Farrell living with them. On March 9, 1902, John and Mary’s son Hugh was born on Howe Island. In 1902/1903, John bought a farm property on Highway 2 in Pittsburg Township, east of Kingston and across the river from Howe Island. There, son Cecil was born on March 19, 1903. Over the next five years, five more children were born including John (1905), Marjorie (1906), Charles (1907), William (1908), and Theresa (1909). In the 1911 census, the family was still farming in Pittsburg Township and John’s mother was living with them. However, their daughter Annie Maud had died in 1904.
John and Mary had two more sons: Clarence Stuart (1914) and Earle Sanford (1916). In the 1921 census, John’s mother was still living with the family in Pittsburg Twp. and the Hugh had moved out work across the river in Syracuse, New York. Throughout the 1920s, many of the Wilson sons would go to either New York or Detroit, Michigan for work. John’s mother Mary Ann died in September 1923 after a broken hip and pneumonia.
John died of carcinoma of the stomach on November 25, 1930 at home. He had had cancer for 7 months and on May 13, 1930 he had an operation to prevent a stomach obstruction. He was buried November 27th in Willowbank Cemetery in Gananoque. His wife Mary died April 29, 1940. Their son John was living in Detroit with his pregnant wife at the time. His son, also named John, was born in Detroit on May 16, 1940. After this they returned to Pittsburg Township to run the farm.
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!]
Marjorie Agnes Wilson was my grandfather’s sister. She was born March 24, 1906 in Pittsburgh Township, Ontario. She married a widower, William Weir, on October 14, 1935 in Kingston, Ontario. My grandmother Helen Oakes Wilson was a witness. Margey died March 21, 1944 at Kingston General Hospital of “acute exfoliative dermatitis following arsenical therapy for Vincent’s angina.” According to the Merck Manual, Vincent’s Angina is also known as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or trench mouth. Apparently arsenic was used as a treatment, either topically or intravenously. Margey also had a terminal illness listed on her death certificate that I can’t quite make out. Sadly, it sounds like her treatment ended up killing her.