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.

1 comment:

  1. I never knew that William started courting his future wife while living with her. How scandalous.