Saturday, 17 January 2015

Henry Alexander Miller and Margaret Ann McCall

Harry and Maggie Miller and their Children

Country dances were a social event in rural Canada. People would gather at someone's home, in a barn, or in later years at a hall to socialize, dance and drink, even bringing their children. One person I talked to told the story of how a couple of men who liked to play practical jokes switched the blankets covering all the infants. When it was time to go home the mothers grabbed the baby with the right blanket only to discover later it wasn't her child. I gather it took a while to sort it all out.

Music was provided by anyone in the community who could play, a fiddler or two, possibly a piano or harmonica. Dances included the schottische, waltzes, polkas and of course square dancing.  When I asked Dad if he ever attended a country dance he enthusiastically responded, "Did I?". By the 1950's dances were held regularly but they still had live music. And of course 
 drinking and with that came fighting. I recall one of my relatives saying that it wasn't a good dance without a fight. 

There is an excellent description of these dances in “The River of Time: a history of Emo”

Maggie McCall ca 1904

The story goes that Harry Miller was at a country dance, spotted Maggie McCall and declared he was going to marry that girl. And he did. Henry Alexander Miller and Margaret Ann McCall were married March 1, 1906 in Emo. The witnesses were Maggies's brother, William McCall, and Jennie Perdue. 

This picture of Maggie MCall was most likely taken in Huron County, Ontario before she moved with her family to the LaVallee area. Dad says she didn't like the remote area and always wanted to move back east.

Harry Miller and Maggie McCall on their wedding day

I have often looked at this wedding picture and thought Maggie looked unwell; attributing it to wedding day nerves but since she was about 3 months pregnant it could have been  from morning sickness.

Harry and Maggie Miller had 6 children, 5 boys, Robert (Uncle Robbie), Henry, Clifford (Granddad Miller), William (Uncle Bill), Holmes (Uncle Holmes), and James  and one daughter, Lydia. 

In the early days in Canada women gave birth at home attended by female relatives with a midwife in attendance. A male doctor was called in if there were problems. When their first child was born, Dr. Robert Moore was in attendance. Dr. Moore came to the area in 1897 and settled here. Not only was he a doctor but was also considered an expert horticulturalist. It's interesting that many of us went to the school named after the man who delivered our great-uncle. 

The LaVerendrye hospital wasn't built until 1941 so their other children were delivered by a midwife. Some of the children of my grandma, Bethel Miller, were born in different communities. When I asked her why she said the midwife moved. So by the 1930's women giving birth were going to the midwife's home instead of the midwife coming to them. 

All but one of their children lived long lives. Their second son, Henry, died at the age of 10 at the St. Boniface hospital in  Winnipeg of menningitis. He died just months before their last child was born. 
Harry and Maggie with their children (except Henry) ca early 1930's

Henry Alexander Miller died April 14, 1948; Margaret Ann McCall Miller lived another 28 years dying May 13, 1976. I remember visiting her at Rainy Crest Home for the Aged with my mom once. She had a doll that she called "baby" and was very distraught when she couldn't find it.

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Shymanski Genealogy Research
Please contact me if you'd like to hire me to research your family's history. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Henry Alexander Miller 1876-1948

Henry Miller

Henry Alexander Miller is my father's grandfather. His obituary calls him Harry but since every other record refers to him as Henry that’s what I’ll call him. He was born to Thomas and Catherine Miller (nee Young) on April 9, 1876 in Kinloss, Bruce County, Ontario. Henry was the 10th of 12 children. One wonders if his mother had much energy left to raise him after having so many children. In fact Thomas and Catherine were so busy with their farm and kids that they sent a neighbour to register Henry’s birth. He registered the name incorrectly, telling the registrar the baby’s name was Alexander instead of Henry Alexander. He got the parents' names right so I was able to identify him.

By the time Henry was born Bruce County, Ontario was settled and had many amenities like a grist mill and store to make life easier. As a child Henry would have had many farm chores to do so working hard was instilled in him at an early age.

 When he was ready to move out he chose to come the Rainy River District where, through the "Rainy River Free Grants and Homesteads Act", he was given 160 acres of land as long as he developed it. In an attempt to settle the area, the Ontario Government offered homesteads and hired an American preacher, Rufus A. Burris (does the last name seem familiar), to encourage Americans to come to "New Ontario". Mr. Burris based himself in Thunder Bay and traveled through the American mid-west to promote settlement in the district. At the same time the New Ontario Colonization Association was distributing pamphlets to encourage settlement in the area. It’s possible that Henry heard of the Rainy River District because of these promotions or perhaps people he knew were already there and sent back positive reports. We do know that his aunt, Prudence Perdue (his mother’s sister), came to the area with her husband John sometime between 1901 and 1909 suggesting that friends and neighbours did settle there.

He would have taken the train to Dryden and then a steamship to LaVallee or as one history states he walked overland. Henry Miller was working as a railway labourer in McIrvine in 1901. A railway was being built from Winnipeg through the Rainy River District to take grain and iron ore to Thunder Bay. It wasn't unusual for men to work on the railway as they built up their farms.

One record states Henry 
"worked hard clearing and building his farm as did most pioneers. He soon started a small logging operation. One of the biggest jobs was to help clear the right of way of virgin timber from LaVallee towards Fort Frances. Henry cleared other pioneers' homesteads in exchange for the timber. To get more wood for his business, her purchased (2 more sections of land) in the Devlin Township. The wood was transported on horse drawn sleighs to the Murdoch Saunders Mill in LaVallee where it was sawn into lumber."
Harry Miller is the 4th from the left

As well as railway work and logging, Harry eventually set up a dairy farm. He was so successful that his wife bragged he "was the model farmer" and their "home was one of the show places of LaVallee."

Harry Miller died April 14, 1948 at the age of 72. He and his wife are buried in the Devlin/LaVallee Cemetery.

I'll tell you about his wife and family in my next post.

Henry Miller in his later years

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Shymanski Genealogy Research
Please contact me if you'd like to hire me to research your family's history. I'll send you a quote for the work you want done.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Robert Jerry and Sarah Harriet Smith

For some reason I always thought that people in the “olden days” didn’t move much. Well, Robert Jerry and Sarah “Harriet” Smith moved around a lot. This, of course is coming from someone who lived in the same spot for the first 19 years of her life then moved 7 times in the next 20 years, but travel is so much easier now. Perhaps Robert and Harriet were restless or just looking for something better. Bethel Miller writes that at one point after they moved to Crozier, Rainy River, Ontario Robert
“wanted to sell everything …and trek back east but grandma [Harriet] said he could go if he wanted but she had enough of moving and was going to stay here.”

They stayed the rest of their lives in Crozier and were buried in the St. Mary’s cemetery until erosion made it necessary for their remains to be moved to the Riverview cemetery. (still moving)

Robert was born in Pickering, Ontario in about 1843. Somewhere between 1861 and 1871 his parents, William and Hannah, moved to St Vincent Township in Grey County, Ontario. Hannah died  in St. Vincent Township in 1878 and their youngest daughter, 4 year old Amelia, died about 2 months later. Within 3 years William moved back to Pickering to live with his oldest daughter, Elizabeth.

It was most likely in St. Vincent Township that Robert met Harriet. Her family had moved to St. Vincent prior to 1851. I haven’t been able to find a record of their marriage but they would have married about 1866 or 1867.

Here is where they lived (all in Ontario, Canada):
1879 - St. Vincent Township, Grey County - Robert and Harriet had a son, Robert, there that year.
1881 - Gosfield Township, Essex County - Robert's older brothers William and James lived here. They are in Essex on the 1881 census. Their son, Justin, died in Gosfield in 1881 and a Grandad Jerry (Herbert was born there in 1882.)
1884 - Scarboro, Ontario -  their son, Edward, died here.  Robert’s father died in February of 1883 so they may have been in Scarboro because of that. Or they may have been with relatives there. Robert had a sister, Elizabeth, living in Pickering and I think that some of his mother’s (Hannah Jerry nee Clark) relatives lived in the area.
1894 - St. Vincent Township - the census shows them living here again.
1900 - Crozier, Rainy River Distict -  Harriet`s sister, Ellen Mulherne, was already there when they came.  Grandma says ``They came to Rat Portage (Dryden) by train and down the Lake to the Woods and Rainy River to Roddick.`` Some of their descendants still live in this area.

Please contact me if you think we're related, if you have more information, or if you'd like to find out where I found this information.

Tara Shymanski Genealogy Research
"digging up your family tree"

Monday, 3 March 2014

I mentioned in my last post that Granddad Jerry (James Herbert Jerry) had one sister. He also had four older brothers and two younger ones. One brother, Justin was four years old when he died in 1881 in Essex County of mortification (gangrene or necrosis). This was before Granddad Jerry was born. Edward, who had meningitis when he was ten, died in Scarborough Township in 1884 when Granddad was two years old.
“There was only one girl in the family so all the boys learned to knit. Grandma [Sarah Harriet] would start the stocking and the boys knit to the heel. Grandma always rounded off the heels and toes. One time the boys knit a two foot long leg for a joke and she had to rip it back before she could turn the heel. The boys whittled her a rolling pin out of wood so she could make them apple pie.”
Robert Jerry, father, Albert, Sarah Harriet, mother,  back row Edward and possibly William

William or Bill Jerry ca 1904 at the homestead

William Barnet Jerry The oldest son of Robert and Harriet Smith was William Barnet Jerry, born on June 9, 1870 in Keppel Township, Grey County, Ontario. He spent most of his life with his father farming in Grey County then moved to Crozier in the early 1900's with the family. By 1921 he was back Grey County working as a hired hand on his Aunt Pheobe Belshaw's farm (his mother's sister). On July 12, 1923 at the age of 53 he married the 24 year old Isabella Currie and fathered two sons, Edward William (1924) and Archie (1926). He  moved to Collingwood in Simcoe County sometime between 1924 and 1926. There is also a death for a Donald Jerry in 1931 born to William Jerry and Bella Currie. That would mean William fathered a child at the age of 61 or not. I'll check the original on Wednesday and let you know. William died of tuberculosis on September 14, 1935 at age 65 at the Muskoka Hospital for Consumptives. His death certificate states he was born in 1864, aging him by 6 years. We know from his government birth registration he was born in 1870. Perhaps he looked older than he was. I was unable to find more information on Isabella, whether she remarried or when she died.

 Robert Jerry Robert was born August 24, 1879 in St. Vincent, Grey County, Ontario. When he was a baby his family moved to Essex County and as a toddler he was probably in Scarborough, Ontario where his brother Edward died. By 1891 his family moved back to Grey County where it looks like he lived the rest of his life. He married Grace Deleor (or Deleree) on March 23 1904 in Walters Falls, Grey County, Ontario. There were four children listed in the 1921 census; Pansy Lenora born February 14, 1909; Grace Helene born August 8, 1917; Robert Ivan born June 11, 1919; and Lulu Audrey born May 14, 1921. There is a large gap between the first and second child so there may have been children who died prior to 1921. All of the kids were born in Grey County. Robert died in 1954 and Grace died in 1970. Someone put a family tree on where it says Pansy married Benjamin White. She died in 1983 in Owen Sound, Ontario. According his parents tombstone Robert Ivan (Ivan) died in 2006. I was unable to find any other information on their children.

Tombstone of Robert Jerry , Grace Deleree, and Ivan Jerry at the Markdale Cemetery, Grey Highlands; Grey, Ontario.

Albert Jerry, Herb Jerry, and Edward Jerry ca 1904
Abel Edward Jerry Just over a year after Edward died, Abel Edward was born, May 1, 1885, in Grey County, Ontario. In the 1891 census he is called Abel but by the 1901 census they started to call him Edward. In 1911 he was living with his parents in Crozier, Ontario. He married Verna Stewart on August 18, 1919. They had one daughter, Mary Harriet Glenna, born September 23, 1922 in Fort Frances, Ontario. Glenna married Herbert Rowland. She died in 2010 in Fort Frances. Gramma Miller was a contemporary of Glenna and often spoke of her. The Military Service Act of 1917 required that men register for military service so Edward registered but was probably not called up. According to his obituary he served as a councilor in Alberton municipality. Edward died November 9, 1951 at his home in Crozier. Verna, his wife, died 13 years later on August 6, 1964. They are buried in Riverview Cemetery, Fort Frances, Ontario.

 Albert Jerry Albert was born in Wiarton, Bruce County, Ontario, on July 4, 1889. I’m not convinced he was born in Wiarton. His birth wasn’t registered when it occurred so Albert gave the information himself in 1955 and it may not be absolutely correct. However, Wiarton is very close to Keppel where the family was living in 1885 so the information may be correct. Albert was a farmer like the rest of his brothers. His family moved to Crozier, Ontario when he was about 2 years old and he lived there the rest of his life. Although he married Clara Moore in Alice, Renfrew, Ontario on January 27, 1915 so he must have left home for some reason. Albert and Clara were unable to have children but they adopted Harley Benjamin Jamieson. and fostered Dave Craven.

I'd be happy to hear from you if you have more information, stories or photos of any of the Jerry boys, or if you'd like to know where I got my information. Just click on the contact me button at the top right.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Sarah Ann "Annie" Jerry 1869-1948

Sarah Ann Jerry is the oldest and only sister to Grandad Jerry (James Herbert Jerry). She's about 15 years older than him. It's unlikely he knew her well. Most of his life he lived away from her and she moved out before he was very old.

Sarah Ann Jerry called “Annie” was born February 18, 1867 to Robert Jerry and Sarah Harriet Smith. There isn’t a lot of information on Annie. She was most likely born in St. Vincent Township in Grey County. Her parents lived there in 1871 but they moved around so she may have been born in Scarborough Township, Pickering Township or Essex County (these were some of the areas her parents were associated with). 

She is the oldest child of Robert and Harriet. In the 1871 census she has an infant brother William. As she was growing up she knew many of her relatives. In 1871 grandparents on her mother’s and father’s side lived in St. Vincent Township along with aunts and uncles on both sides. She most likely played with her Aunt Adelaide Smith who was just 3 years older. 

By 1881 the family moved, with her Uncle David Jerry. to Essex County, Ontario. Her Uncle James Jerry lived here and it appears that her Uncle William Jerry lived in Essex County also. He died in Essex County in 1884. James died in 1888 so it’s possible the family moved back to Grey County after that. 

By 1891 Annie is married to Daniel Ballard. I have been unable to find the marriage record but in 1881 Daniel is living with his parents in Sydenham, Grey County so it is probable they married in Grey County.

Daniel was a carpenter. He and Annie were married for close to 20 years. They had no children.  Daniel died August 3, 1921 in Meaford, Grey County. There is a lovely stone erected in the Lakeview Cemetery, Grey County for Daniel Ballard and Sarah Ann Jerry. I’m not sure who erected it. It’s telling that Annie’s maiden name is used because she did remarry. 

Sometime after 1929 she married William Wesley Benedict. William, who was born about 1866, had been living on Manitoulin Island but when his wife died in 1929 he moved back to Grey County and it was here he met and married Annie Ballard. Annie was married to William until his death which judging by the information his family put on the internet wasn’t much before she died. She died at the age of 81 on April 25, 1948 and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Meaford, Ontario.

The only pictures I have are for her death. 
It’s hard to figure out what kind of life she had. Her parents were farmers, moving around looking for better land and a better life. By the time she and Daniel settled in Grey County it was fairly accessible. Having no children must have been hard on them. But other than that she probably lived the a life of a middle class woman in that era. She would have suffered through World War I and II and all the hardships and deprivation that may have brought.


_1871 Canada Census; Robert Jerry Household; St. Vincent, Grey North, Ontario; District 37; Subdistrict H-1; Family 299; page 87; Microfilm C9954; accessed October 5, 2013 at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
_1881 Canada Census; Robert Jerry Household; Gosfield, Essex, Ontario; District 181; Subdistrict F-2; Family 219; page 45; Microfilm C-13280; accessed October 5, 2013 at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
_1891 Canada Census; Daniel Ballard Household;  Sydenham, North Grey, Ontario; District 68; Subdistrict 1; page 33; Microfilm T6339; viewed at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah, USA; accessed October 7, 2013; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
_1901 Canada Census; Daniel Ballard Household;  Meaford, Grey East, Ontario; District 64; Subdistrict D-8; page 2; Microfilm T-6468; viewed at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah, USA; accessed October 7, 2013 Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
_1911 Canada Census; Daniel Ballard Household; Meaford, Grey North, Ontario; District 83; Subdistrict 2;  page 2; Item #5630174; viewed at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah, USA; accessed October 7, 2013; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
_1921 Canada Census; Daniel Ballard Household; Meaford, Grey North, Ontario; District 73; Subdistrict 2;  page 9; viewed at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah, USA; accessed Jan 19, 2014; from Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.
_Ontario Death Registrations; 1921; Daniel Ballard; Meaford, Grey; #14467; Microfilm MS935 Reel 277; viewed at; [database on-line]; Provo, Utah, USA; accessed October 7, 2013; Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Canada.
_Sarah Ballard Death; Meaford, Grey, Ontario; Lakeview Cemetery Headstone; accessed 16 October 2013;
_ Sarah Benedict Death; Transcription of Obituary; viewed October 8, 2013; created by DonaldElliott - 21 Sep 2006
_Bethel Miller Collection; miscellaneous genealogy documents, photos, and written memories; Sarah Ann Jerry Death; photocopy of funeral card; privately held by Tara Shymanski; Calgary Alberta.

Daniel Ballard prior to marriage
1881 Canada Census; Peter Ballard Household; Sydenham, Grey North; District 156; page 46; family 204; Microfilm Reel ; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Pictures of Bethel Miller (nee Jerry) and a never before seen one of Joan Miller (nee Dunn)

Hey everyone,
I've been focussed on researching and haven't bothered to post anything. Which is my downfall in family history, I like to research but hate to write about it.  I thought today I'd post some pictures of grandma and mom..sorry no writing but once I get the Jerry's organized I'll write again.

Here are some pictures of Grandma

Sitting on the bridge over Lavallee River

I'm not sure where this one was taken.

This is a picture I love. It didn't scan very well. It's the one Beth Caldwell took of her for the
newspaper article. Gram is 88 in this picture.

 Here is the picture of Mom. The back of the picture says Betty, Jack, and Joan children of Buster and Gwen Harrison at Clelland House in Brower with Opal Clelland. I'm sure we have a picture of Kippy where he looks exactly like Jack.