Update and Travel

It has been a very busy few weeks at my job and so I haven’t had much time to devote to my blog recently.

In order to let off some steam I decided to take a trip up north to Mowat to stay at the family farm.

My primary goal during this trip is an attempt to find my grand uncle’s grave and get a photograph of his headstone.

Anton Masiowski was born to my great-grandparents John Masiowski and Anastasia Kotlarchuk on Oct 10, 1906. He was their second born child in Canada. Anton was described as a sickly child and died on Oct 11, 1925 at the tender age of 19. I have it in my mind that he drowned in the river however I might be mixing up the cause of death with someone else.

I dug up somewhere, my memory alludes me exactly where from, that Anton was buried north of North Lake School No. 1431 (NW-11-29-18-W1), at SW-14-29-18-W1. I always thought he was buried by his lonesome, however recent research would indicate that his grave is likely in the Fork River Roman Catholic Cemetery. In all honestly I’m not sure why they named it after ‘Fork River’ as the cemetery’s location is actually closer to Oak Brae but I suppose Oak Brae might have already established a Roman Catholic cemetery.

Previously, I was under the belief that the Fork River Roman Catholic Cemetery was located across the river of the Fork River Cemetery, just before Fork River on Route 20, as this is where a number of my family members are buried who were Roman Catholics. I stand corrected. I suppose this is simply the burial spot for Roman Catholics within the Fork River Cemetery at SW-25-29-19-W1.

Now that I’ve hopefully located the correct coordinates of the Fork River Roman Catholic Cemetery I will be able to take photographs of not just Anton’s grave but of other family members who were buried there as well.

My only concern is whether vandals or time might have destroyed the graves at this cemetery such as what occurred at the Fork River Cemetery. I have better hopes as it’s on a quieter roadway and is away from the river where it’s less likely to flood or be damaged by ice.

52 Ancestors – Week 15 – Robert Carl Moxam

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I am going to write about my maternal 2nd cousin 3x removed, Robert Carl Moxam (1890-1921).

Robert Carl Moxam was born 30 Apr 1890 in the town of Forrester Falls, in the county Renfrew North, Ontario, Canada. His parents were Emmanuel Moxam (1854–1943) and Ann Johnston (1852–1918) and he had eight other siblings. He later moved to the city of Winnipeg with the majority of his family and can be found in the 1911 census at 534 Newman Street. He worked as a monotype operator before WWI.

Robert was part of the active militia, 79th Camerons, when he signed his attestation papers on 22 Sept 1915. His regimental number is: 153838. He became the Company Quarter Master Sergeant of the re-designated the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada). It is interesting to note that this regiment produced one of the three Victoria Cross (VC) winners for which Valour Road in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was named: Lieutenant Robert Shankland. I’m curious as to whether Robert Carl knew Robert Shankland and whether they were friends.

On 30 Oct 1919 Robert married an English lady named Emma Boulton Cain in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Their marriage, however happy it might have been, was brief because Robert died on 28 May, 1921, from the ‘deceased action of his heart’. The Canadian War Graves Registers indicates that his death was a result from his time served with the military. I wonder what sort of injuries he received in the war that would have plagued him for years after the war ended.

Robert is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery. His wife Emma is recorded as living with her father-in-law in Jun of the 1921 Census. It must have been a frightening time for Emma, being so far from the land she once called home, with the husband she followed to Canada having died only a few short years.

52 Ancestors – Week 9 – Unknown Ladies

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I would like to present an interesting photo in my possession.

c. 1880s

c. 1880s-1890s

This small photo was found in the very front of an old photo album that my great-aunt Ruth owned. Along side this photo was a set of two others of nearly the same size that said ‘Pa Johnston’ and ‘Pa with girlfriends’.

c. 1900s

c. 1890s-1900s

My best guess is that the young ladies from the first photo are somehow related to Pa Johnston, what my great-aunt called her step-father, my great grandfather, James Washington Johnston (1876-1967). The first photo appears to be possibly older than the second if we compare by way of the fashion.

The first photo must have been taken sometime during the winter as the ladies seem to be wearing heavy winter coats. I especially like the details on the second lady’s coat, they seem to be some sort of flowery piping right along the front opening. The hats / bonnets worn by the ladies in the first photo are also very interesting. I’d hazard a guess that the lady on the left is younger than the lady on the right because of her youthful face, her hair seems to be worn down, and her bonnet seems more youthful.

The second photo is easier to date, based on my limited knowledge of historical fashion, because the ladies seem to be sporting the Gibson Girl fashion popular in the 1890s and early 1900s. James Washington would have been in his early twenties.

52 Ancestors – Week 8 – William George Washington Johnston (a 71-year-old mystery)

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I would like to present a 71-year-old family mystery that has yet to be solved.

Throughout my genealogical research one of the topics that I’ve enjoy the most is learning about family members who have served in war. This is especially true for two of my direct Johnston relatives, consequently, both named William.

William Henderson Johnston was the brother of my great-grandfather, James Washington Johnston. He was born 18 May 1890, in Black River, Michigan and died ‘in action’ just outside of Arras, France on 29 Mar 1917. While not mentioned by name, based on the 31st Alberta Battalion war diary for that day, I’ve concluded that he might have been killed by artillery fire.

Two other ranks are unaccounted for, but I think that it is established that they were struck by a shell when crossing “NO MAN’S LAND” escorting three prisoners. Major Seaton states that he saw a shell strike in the middle of a party that he took to be three prisoners and two of our men, and two others bear witness to having seen such a party. (31st (Alberta) Battalion Order No.138. – 29-3-17.)

I digress, William Henderson is not the subject of this post, that honour belongs to his nephew, my grandfather’s brother, William G.W. Johnston. I wanted to give some brief history of William’s uncle for a note further below.

William George Washington Johnston was born 10 Jun 1917, to parents James Washington Johnston (1876-1967) and Sophia Harriett Basham (1890-1959). A brother to my grandfather, James Henderson Johnston (1913-1981), he was my great uncle, and like many of my relatives he was one that I will never get to meet in this lifetime.

c. 1929 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

c. 1927 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

Like his siblings, he attended, Mowat School where he completed seven and a half years of classes and can be found in the school records from 1924 to 1931. In the image below, the 1929 Mowat December Attendance Record, you can see that Bill is 12 years old and in Grade 6 while his older brothers are in Grade 7 and Grade 9.

c. Dec 1929 (Mowat School Attendance)

c. Dec 1929 (Mowat School Attendance)

My great aunt wrote a bit about her step-brother, “Brother Bill was a born farmer. But World War II was just around the corner and life changed for all of us.” The two photos below are some of my favourites; I love the poses and the clothing they’re wearing. I wish I had a better copy of the tractor photo.

c. 1939 (Bill, Jim, Ern)

c. 1939 (Bill, Jim, Ern)

c. 1939 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

c. 1939 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

On 15 June, 1942, Bill was called up to the Canadian Military in Winnipeg, MB. On the occupational history form he listed his occupation as a farm labourer and he wished to return to this type of work when the war was over. He completed 60 days of basic training as well as 60 days of advanced training with the Winnipeg Light Infantry.

On 11 January, 1943, he was interviewed in W.L.I. Vernon, B.C. The interviewer noted a few interesting things about Bill, “Doesn’t smoke and drinks very little. He would like to be in the heavy artillery because he thinks he’d like it. Dull type, average physique, and not particularly interested in anything. Limited learning ability and no particular liking for Carrier Pl. Unlikely to improve greatly.” He was recommended as either an infantry rifleman or a carrier pl. (Bren Gunner).

Bill was admitted to the Vernon Military Hospital on 11 July, 1942, and was discharged on the 31st. He was then granted sick furlough from 1st of August to the 22nd. His sick leave was extended to 5 September and he returned on the 4th of September.

On 1 March, 1943, a transport warrant #A362, 085 d/17 Feb 43 was issued.
S.O.S. W.L.I. on t’fer to 3rd ??? BN Regina Rifles on 23 July, 1943.
S.O.S. for A-P 3 rd Regina Riles on 17 August, 1943.
T.O.S. for A-P 2nd Airfield Defence Bn. (Regina Rifles) on 18 August, 1943.
Attached for a/p ex pay to #12 Dist Depot (Farm Duty) on 31 August, 1943.
Ceases to be att’d f.a.p. on retuning to Unit 17 October, 1945.
S.O.S. F.A.P. on transfer to 31st (Alberta) Recce Regiment on 5 November, 1943.
T.O.S. 31st (Alberta) Recce. Regiment on transfer from 2nd Airfield Defence Bn. (R.R.) on 6 November, 1943. Rank is now a trooper.
Granted leave and furlough with R.A. to 3 December, 1943. TWA547586
Att. for rations and qtrs. to KORC(CA) Victoria to 7 December, 1943.

Bill never made it to any battlefields. The record of military service indicates that he was listed as being A.W.L. at 2200 hours of 27 February, 1944. He was never seen alive again.

Sadly, with special grief to Jim and our mother, Bill had died while in the army…Bill of the blue, blue eyes and the kind and honest heart.

On 10 February, 1945, Bill’s body was found in brush outside of Chiliwack, B.C. The causality notification form indicated that the presumed date of death was the day he went missing on 27 February, 1944. A letter was sent from G.S. Perrin, Brigadier, of the Department of National Defence Army, to my great grandmother, Sophia Johnston, that indicated the body of her son had no evidence of bone fractures and because of the advanced state of decomposition the coroner was unable to record the actual cause of the death.

Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press (13 Feb 1945)

Bill’s body was discovered wholly by accident when an 18-year-old boy, Gerald Walsynuk, found it in a remote spot of Oscar Hotchkiss’ Farm near Lickman Road. The body was found lying behind a log, under some cedar trees, near a stream of water. The body was fully dressed in battle dress including black coveralls and a black tam on the head.

The British Colombia Police report sent along with military records from LAC is able to fill in a few questions. Lieut. Chet Woods, who was attached to the 41st. Alberta reconnaissance Regiment, Vedder Crossing, B.C., while talking to a Miss A. Flynn, informed her that a private of that unit had gone insane and wandered away from the camp and that they had searched for the man but without success. If the above is true then it is possible that William G.W. Johnston is the man in question. Capt. Mooney was there that night and might be able to shed some light on the matter.

This is where the report ends abruptly. I do not know whether the police were able to get a hold of Capt. Mooney or whether they were able to conclude the report. I contacted the Chilliwack RCMP office but to no avail as their records only go as far back as 1971 and anyone who might have known if there were earlier records have either died or retired. The Chilliwack Archives were able to provide me with a few newspaper articles but they also do not provide a conclusive answer. My next step is to contact Canada National Defence to determine whether they have an archives department that might hold something. I also want to contact the Canadian Military Education Centre Museum to see if they have any ideas on where I should turn next, however, their hours of operation are limited and I have not had the time to contact them.

I have no idea what happened to my grandfather’s brother and I don’t know if I ever will. Was the pressure of his post too much for him? Did he loose his mind and commit suicide or was he a victim of homicide? I wonder if a more conclusive answer would have been made if his body was found sooner. It seems like such a bizarre set of circumstances I really don’t know what to make of it. Based on my current knowledge of Johnston family we have no obvious history of mental illness. The closest instance I can think of is that Jane Atchison (1854-1893), William’s grandmother, died of asphyxiation during an epithetic fit.

Chilliwack Newspaper (7 Mar 1945)

Chilliwack Newspaper (7 Mar 1945)

Bill was buried on 5 March, 1945, with full Military Honours in the Canadian Legion Cemetery in Chilliwack, B.C. Row C, plot 57. He is one of 9 individuals buried there. After the death of William George Washington there was some superstitious feelings on naming any further Johnston babies William in case further tragedy might befall the family again. Consequently I have no uncles, cousins, or nephews named William.

52 Ancestors – Week 7 – Elizabeth Atchison

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I am going to write about my 2nd great grand aunt, Elizabeth Atchison (1857-).

Elizabeth was the sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Jane Atchison (1854-1893), who was married to my 2nd great grandfather Noah Holt Johnston (1851-1940). She was born to Irish immigrants George Atchison (1818-) and Margaret Clark (1825-) and had five other siblings (two brothers and three sisters). They lived in Renfrew county Ontario, more specifically the township of Alice and Fraser.

Elizabeth, as well as her parents and siblings, can be found in the 1861, 1871, and 1881 Canadian census records. What is interesting to note is that in the 1881 census another young girl is living with the family by the name of Margaret Clarke Atchison (1874-). Who is this young girl, another sister perhaps?

In reality she is the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Atchison! At only seventeen Elizabeth born a young daughter- the father is not listed in the birth record. I wonder who he could have been, a young boy her own age or someone older, perhaps a married man? Elizabeth was so young and in 1874 I can only imagine that her reputation would have been ruined within the township considering the views of illegitimate children and their mothers in the Victorian era in both England and America.

1874. Ontario Births

1874. Ontario Births

I am unable to find George and Margaret, nor their daughters Jennie, Elizabeth, or Nancy in the 1891 Canadian census. I know that Noah and Jane had moved across the US border to Michigan where Noah worked on the railway. My grand uncle William Henderson Johnston (1890-1917) was born in Black River, based on attestation record, and it is in Alcona where Jane died in 1893, from a fit, today I have had the luck in finding a record of her death! (She is recorded as Mrs. Noah Johnson) I have just come across a website for Alcona genealogy that I will now spend time looking over for the Atchisons.

Back to the Atchisons- I am inclined to believe that George and Margaret also moved south along with their daughters: Jennie, Jane, Elizabeth, and Nancy. Nancy Atchison can be found in the 1880 US census as living in Alcona county which is where Black River is also located. I imagine that young Margaret Clarke would have been said to be the daughter of her grandmother giving Elizabeth a better chance at marrying some gentleman without the worry of her tarnished background.

Today, I have found what appears to be a marriage record for Elizabeth Atchison to Alexander Sloan, an Irish immigrant, in the town of Black River in 1892. While the record does not indicate the bride’s parents it does indicate that the bride was born in Canada during the right birth year (1857) to make this a likely match.

52 Ancestors – Week 3 – Ruth Sarah Goodson (the girl who married a dustman)

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I am going to write about my paternal 2nd great-great grandmother, Ruth Sarah Goodson (1848-1925). She was born in London to parents Joseph Goodson (1796-1865) and Ruth Blanchard (1812) in Apr 1848 and was later baptized at St. John at Hackney Church.

An interesting piece of writing that I have is a copy of a letter sent to Ruth Goodson, by her teacher, Emma Johnson. Ruth would have gone to a school in the Hackney area but I have yet to determine what school she would have attended. While I wouldn’t be surprised that Ruth and her sister would have had a governess in the home I’m not completely sure whether this would have been feasible but I will continue this thought further below.

2 Tyssen Terrace
London, England
December 27, 1863

Dear Ruth,
I was sorry I was not at home when you brought me that very beautiful present.
I shall always think of your kind heart when I use the Bible, but indeed you should not have allowed yourself to purchase such an expensive present.
It makes me feel quite grieved when I look at it, and were it not that I know you feel such pleasure in giving it, I should hardly like you accept so very handsome a book.
I thank you very much indeed from the very kind and grateful feeling which prompted the gift.
Such feelings are all very delightful to a teacher, coming from those whom she has loved and tried to train in the path of duty.
With kind regards to your excellent mother, and with best wishes that your care towards her may bring stronger health, and with best homes of a Happy New Year for you, death Ruth, believe me.

Your affectionate friend,
EMMA JOHNSON

I wonder what kind of relationship Ruth had with her teacher to give such a nice present. Ruth would have been fifteen in 1863 and it would be my guess that she would have been learning proper Victorian etiquette and how to run a home. It would have been nice to have the original letter but I don’t have it and don’t know where it would have been kept. I’m not sure where my great aunt Ruth’s personal papers were taken after her death; whether they were destroyed or if someone took them. It would be nice to find out where many of her original papers were taken.

Ruth married John Basham on 7 Feb 1869. My great aunt Ruth wrote of her grandmother in her essay entitled “The Bashams of Mowat.”

John had been born on a farm in Essex, England, later coming to London, with some of his brothers, to set up a small business as garbage men. It was while making his rounds, that he often met, at the back gate, the genteel and educated Ruth Goodson. In spite of her father’s warnings and threats, Ruth was captivated by the charms of the handsome John, and later they married and became the parents of eight children, all of whom came to Canada, at different times, except Jessie, who became Mrs. Owen Gower, and Amy, who married a London bus driver, named Joe Charles.

What kind of ‘threats’ did Ruth and John suffer at the hands of her father? Was she cut off from the rest of her family or did she lose any dowry or inheritance? Based on where they lived in the Hackney area, which was destroyed in the blitz of WWII, and what Ruth’s father did as an occupation I do not know that they were so well off as described. Joseph Goodson was born in Bethnal Green and worked as a ‘dust collector’ and ‘labourer’ and so I don’t know why he would have looked down on John Basham so harshly. Joseph, himself, would have come from an impoverished background and might understand the struggles of finding a wife. It’s possible he hoped his daughter would have made a better prospect for someone of higher class.

Ruth had three sons and five daughters:

John Fredrick (Did not marry)
Ruth Edith Married Fredrick Alfred Storrar
Jessica Grace Married Owen Levenson Gower (Stayed in England)
Amy Florence Married Joseph Charles (Stayed in England)
George Edward (Did not marry)
Sophia Harriett Married Thomas White
Married James Johnston
Ernest Henry Married Jane Murray-Ross Taylor
Ada Louisa Married Alexander Munro

Ruth immigrated to Canada along with her husband, John, in 1903 and settled in the Mossey River area. They left Liverpool in Jun 1903 and traveled on the S.S. Tunisian with their son George Edward and their daughter Ada Louisa. A large two-story log house was built on the south side of the Fishing River, a half-mile from where the Mowat School was built. Mr. and Mrs. Basham lived there the remainder of their lives, their home a welcome stopping-place for travelers and for preachers who came in the summertime to hold church services at the school. John passed away in 1915 and Ruth passed away on 9 Jun 1925 of a massive heart attack, both are buried in the Fork River Cemetery along with their eldest son John Fredrick.

(Jul. 2012)

52 Ancestors – Week 1 & 2

To help me in regulating my blogging activity, outside of the Dauphin Herald, I’ve decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge:  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Each week I will be writing about an ancestor of my choosing and will describe a little about their life or the challenges I’ve come across while researching them.

This week I will be writing about two ancestors for the 1st and 2nd week of the challenge, they are a husband and wife pair who came to Canada in the early 1900s.

Thomas White (1880-1909) was the first husband to Sophia Harriett Basham (1880-1959), my paternal great grandmother. He was born abt 1880 in Hackney, London, and resided in the Hackney area for the majority of his youth where he worked as a cabinet worker. Before 2012 I had very little information on Thomas other than what was written about him by his only child, my great-aunt Ruth, who I have written about in a previous post. I had no information on his parents or if he had any siblings and so it was a mystery for some time but I will continue on this thought a little further below.

Sophia Harriett Basham was born on 1 Jun 1880 in Homerton, Hackney, London, to parents John Basham (1837-1915) and Ruth Sarah Goodson (1848-1925). She was baptized at St. Barnabas Church in Aug 1880 along wit her brother George Edward and sister Amy Florence; she resided with her parents and siblings in the Hackney area for much of her youth. They can be found in the England Census in 1881, 1891, and 1901.

Thomas can be found in the 1901 England Census residing, as a border, at 23 Ballance Road with Joseph Charles and his wife Amy Basham. Based on this information I concluded that this is how Thomas might have become acquainted with Amy’s sister, Sophia, who would later become his wife. He married Sophia Basham in Apr 1904 in West Ham, Essex; I believe they married at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Walthamstow and that their marriage record is located at the Waltham Forest Archives. This information is based on the fact that Sophia’s sister, Jessica Grace Basham, married her husband Owen Leveson Gower at St Michael & All Angels Church on 2 Sep 1900 and lived in the same area; it wouldn’t be far fetched to think that Tom and Sophie could have married at this church as I’ve been unable to locate a record at any Hackney churches. When I was passing through London in August 2012 I was unable to make it to the Waltham Archives and can’t confirm whether their record is there.

The young couple traveled to Canada on the S.S. Canada in May of 1904 and arrived at the port of Montréal, Québec, on 15 May 1904. They moved to the Mossey River Municipality of Manitoba possibly for the fact that Sophia’s older brothers John Fredrick and George Edward immigrated in 1896 and 1903 to the area as well as her parents in 1903. A CPR land sale record indicates that Thomas bought 160 arces of land on the NE-1-29-19-W1. There he erected a small farmhouse on the north bank of the Fishing River and the couple can be found on in the 1906 Canadian Census. On 23 Jan 1908, a daughter, Ruth Elizabeth White, was born.

On 22 Oct 1909, Thomas died of typhoid fever. He is buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Dauphin, Manitoba. While visiting the cemetery I was able to locate the approximate location of his burial plot but I was unable to locate his gravestone. All markers in this area of the cemetery have been damaged or destroyed and so it’s not possible to identify whose stone belongs to whom with any real certainty. Based on his date of death I was able to order his death certificate from Manitoba Vital Statistics in the summer of 2012 and low and behold there was information that indicated that Thomas had a brother who lived in Dauphin, named George William White, at the time of his death. From this information I was able to locate George White and his family in the Canadian Census records of 1911 and 1916 as well as their records in Canadian passenger lists and furthermore in the English Census records where I was able to make an educated guess as to their parents and siblings.

On 26 Mar 1912 Sophia married James Washington Johnston (1876-1967) and would have three sons: James Henderson Johnston (1913-1981), Ernest John Johnston (1915-2001), and William George Washington Johnston (1917-1944). Ruth wrote of her mother’s hardships in her 1983 essay entitled “The James Washington Johnston Place.”

Sophie remained ambitious for the welfare of Riverside Farm as she and James worked hard throughout the pioneer years. She has no running water or electrical power to help her. She often needed medical attention which she could not readily get. Much of her brave spirit faded through the years, but her sense of humour never wavered. Her hearty laugh is something Ruth tenderly remembers. As Ruth grew older, she realized that some of her mother had truly gone with her father, when he was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery, Dauphin, Manitoba. But Sophie was always loyal to James, and appreciated his outstanding good qualities of good nature and kindness, and his very clever hands, which could build almost anything and “fix” everything.

After the second world war, Riverside Farm was passed down to the eldest Johnston son, James Henderson, while Sophia and her husband, James Washington, retired to Dauphin. Sophia passed away on 21 Apr 1959 while her husband James passed away eight years later in 1967.