Thursday, March 28, 2013

Twice Emigrated: Henry Smith (1834-1903)

Elizabeth Tucker Budd (1836-1927) and her children. This
photograph likely dates from early in 1878.
In the nineteenth century, most emigrants to Canada would leave England never to return. My great-great-grandfather, however, left, returned, and then left again.

Henry Smith was born in the Dolton, a parish once described to me as being in "deepest, darkest Devon." An exaggeration perhaps, except the B3217 (the main road through the parish) is frequently a single paved lane with tall hedgerows on either side. Henry, the son of Thomas Smith (1807-1841) and Mary Field Bulleid (1809-1894) was baptised at St Edmund's in Dolton on 18 Feb 1835, having been born the previous December. According to a letter written many years ago by my great-grandmother, Thomas "was a cooper by trade, rather too fond of a good time for his own good." Shortly after Henry's seventh birthday, Thomas died, leaving Mary to raise Henry and his one year old brother alone.

Mary remarried in 1847. William Halls (1813-1893) was a building contractor and the cousin of Henry's father. The story goes that after her husband's death, Mary took in boarders including William. When William expressed romantic interest, Mary was shocked and insisted he move out and court her properly.

William Halls's five brothers had emigrated to Canada West (Ontario) in the 1840s and had settled in Westminster Township south of London. In 1851, one of the brothers, James (1830-1901), purchased and later cleared 100 acres of land in Usborne Township, southeast of Exeter. He was later joined by two of his brothers and a nephew.

Sometime in the late 1850s, James Halls was also joined by his step-nephew, Henry. Henry had learned masonry and plasterwork from his step-father, however, opportunities for employment were apparently much better in Canada. Henry worked for his step-uncle for several years and then returned to Dolton.

Back in Dolton, Henry married Elizabeth Tucker Budd, the daughter of a yeoman farmer who had fallen on difficult times. Four children were born in England: Polly, Edith, Kate and Fanny. At some point Henry became a Bible Christian. Although he married Elizabeth at the parish church, his daughters Edith and Kate were baptised at home by Bible Christian ministers, and he is listed as Bible Christian in both the 1861 and 1881 Canadian Censuses.

On 24 April 1873, Henry, Elizabeth and their four children boarded the North American, sailing from Liverpool to Quebec City. From Quebec City they would have taken a train to London, Ontario where they lived for a year and a half. Henry then moved his family to Usborne Township, joining his step-uncles in the small community of Elimville.

Henry and Elizabeth eventually had nine children that survived to adulthood. All but one were girls.

In 1888, Henry Smith left Elimville for Brandon, Manitoba, taking with him Elizabeth, Edith and his five youngest. Polly, Fanny and Kate stayed behind in Ontario. Henry worked in Brandon for a number of years, and Edith was married there in 1892. By this time Henry had likely developed silicosis although at the time it was called "plasterer's asthma."

In 1894, Henry homesteaded a quarter (160 acres) west of Hamiota, Manitoba. Nearby were his daughter Edith and her husband William Wesley Lewis. Henry received his patent in 1898 and he lived on the quarter until his death in 1903. His widow and son continued farming until 1905 but then moved to Hamiota. A number of descendants still live in the Hamiota district but others are scattered throughout Canada.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Granddaughter's Letter

Letter from Maria Lovenia Jarvis to Samuel Peters,
Oct 2, 1802. John Macintosh Duff Collection,
University of Guelph, XR1 MS A210031

Maria Lovenia Jarvis (1788-1829) was only three years old when she accompanied her parents and siblings to Upper Canada (Ontario). Maria, the oldest daughter of William Jarvis (1756-1817) and Hannah Peters (1762-1845), was born in London, England on 31 Dec 1788. In 1791, Mary's father, a Loyalist living in London, had been appointed Provincial Secretary of Upper Canada, a post he held until his death.

For the first few years Maria and her family lived at Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), but in 1798 they moved across Lake Ontario to York (Toronto).

In 1802, Maria wrote the following letter to her grandfather, Reverend Samuel Peters (1735-1826). Samuel Peters has been born in Hebron, Connecticut, but at the start of the Revolutionary War had left for England. He was living in London at the time of this letter.

The letter forms part of the John Macintosh Duff Collection at the University of Guelph. A significant part of the collection consists of letters written to Reverend Peters by his daughter Hannah and his son-in-law William Jarvis. One of the recurring themes of the letters is the entreaties for Reverend Peters to visit his daughter's family. This is reflected in this letter from his granddaughter.

From Maria Lovenia Jarvis
York 2nd October 1802

Honoured Grand Papa
    It is a long time since I have seen you. I have no remembrance of you but your name which is so often repeated that it would be rather hard if I forgot. Our expectations of seeing you in Upper Canada has been long and as yet in vain but hope that we shall be gratified when Mr. Mosely returns. The tall pines which surround us I believe have wafted away all my ideas for fun—not think of any thing to amuse you with. The Castles in this place are so numerous were I to undertake a description it would swell my letter to a greater size than would be pleasing to you. The one I have seen appears to me that the owner had some thoughts of looking over the trees at the time of building and after all forgot the trees grew as high on the hill as in the valley Castle Frank—the rest being inhabited by bears and wolves. I have not ventured as yet to take a view of then as yet. We have a tolerable house unfinished but can I hope make you very comfortable if you will come. I am almost as tall as Mama and I have learnt to nurse. It would give me much satisfaction to have it in my power to practice in some degree with my Grand Papa with or without sickness. My sister and self have been hard at work to send you a patchwork counterpane the which we request your acceptance. Mama sends you a lap, tippet, socks and gloves and believes you will wear them for her sake and is sure you will find comfort in them on your passage out to Canada and also a Bottle of Bear's Grease. I shall be very much obliged to you for some useful and entertaining books. It is very difficult to procure any here and those very indifferent print. Mama finds it so painful to write or read that she cannot write you at this time. Without a glass she cannot read at all and very little with.
    I am honoured Grand Papa your most dutiful Grand Daughter.
Castle Frank may refer to the now buried Castle Frank Brook or to the rustic lodge built in 1796 by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. The word "castle" was used ironically by the early inhabitants of York. Maria's sister, Augusta Honoria Jarvis (1790-1848) was eleven when this letter was written.

Maria married George Hamilton (1788-1838) at York in 1812. After the War of 1812, George purchased land in Barton Township at the head of Lake Ontario. He developed a town site which grew to become the City of Hamilton. Maria's grandfather finally visited in 1818, and baptised his grandaughter, Maria Lavinia Hamilton.

Maria Lavinia Jarvis died in 1829, leaving behind her husband and eight children.