Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Number 21

This week's Saturday Night fun over at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver is asking who is your Number 21 on your Ahnentafel list. Unfortunately, my Number 21 is still undiscovered so I went with the next closest that I have, which is my Number 24, Robert Marshall.

Robert Marshall is my maternal great, great grandfather. He was born in 1819 in Alyth, Perthshire, Scotland and died around 1891 in Dundee, Scotland. He was married to Ann Kynock of Dallas, Morrayshire, Scotland. Ann was also born in 1819 and died in 1895 in Dundee. They were married on September 26, 1841 and had 9 children. I still have to find out their exact dates of birth and deaths. These are some of the many things on my To Do List.

Robert and Ann were married in the new parish church, which is still standing today. The parish record states simply “Robert Marshall, teacher, Alyth, and Ann Kynoch of the parish of Dallas, were 3 times preached on September 26, 1841”. This is, of course, the Scottish custom of reading the “banns” to the congregation to announce the marriage.

Robert was a school teacher in the village school of Glenprosen. With it went the school house. It was a Society school set up by the church (The Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge).

Robert and Ann’s children were:

Anne Marshall – born around 1844
David Fenton Marshall – born April 13, 1847 (David is my great grandfather)
Robert Marshall – born July 16, 1849
John Kynoch Marshall – born June 18, 1851
William Ramsay Marshall – born September 15, 1853
James Grant Marshall – born November 24, 1855
George Smith Marshall – born August 30, 1858
Francis Ferguson Marshall – born November 28, 1860
Helen Leighton Marshall – born 1865 (Helen is my great, great aunt as well as my great grandmother).

You will notice that I mentioned that Helen Leighton Marshall is both my great, great aunt as well as my great grandmother. David Fenton’s son, Robert (my grand father) and Helen Leighton’s daughter, Eliza (my grandmother) married. Which means that my grandparents were first cousins! I somehow think that is illegal and could explain why my family is as strange as it is!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. She was born on Feb. 21, 1933 in Dundee, Scotland and passed away on Sept. 8, 2003. When I was Worthy Grand Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, I did a talk about Mothers that I wrote and I thought I would post it here in tribute to my mother.

During the years that passed from when I was born until my sisters and I moved away from home, my mother didn’t have a job. If she had been asked to fill out a questionnaire about her personal data, she would have left the question “Employment” empty. She believed that her job was to be our mother – full time. That was the way she had chosen it to be.

Here is an old photograph of my mother. In the photo I think she looks very beautiful. She was about 16 years old then. When I look at the photo, I see a woman who could have had an unlimited number of opportunities in life. Although she didn’t always look it, Mom was a tough bird.

Like a lot of people her age, she had a rough childhood. She grew up in Scotland during the worst of the Second World War. Many a time she could be found hiding under her bed, because of the bombings near by. That is, when she wasn’t busy getting into trouble. Mom had six sisters and brothers. Three were off serving their country and the oldest was always working, so that left the three youngest kids plenty of time to get into trouble! In 1946, at the age of 13, she immigrated to Canada with two of her sisters, the oldest being a War Bride. They arrived in Halifax and then rode the train to Balcarres, Saskatchewan to live on a farm, and with a new family she had never met. Coming from the modern city of Dundee to a farm, she always said she never knew what was worse, the war or not having indoor plumbing! Although mom quit school at 16 years old she never let that stop her. She was never one to sit around. She would always be out working – be it on the farm, at the local hospital or at a seafood canning plant in Toronto where they once spent the winter. I know that if she had put her mind to getting a career, the whole world would have been at her feet. Yet she always contemplated herself as housewife and mother.

Mom got married at 20 years old to Robert (Allan) Farrell, a boy from the next farm. Allan, my father, was a diabetic since the age of 13. Due to complications, he passed away at the age of 35 leaving my mother a widow with 3 kids at the tender age of 28 (by this time we had moved to the “Big City” of Moose Jaw). Two years later mom re-married a family friend who lived in St. Lambert, Quebec (his sister, Helen Kay, was married to my dad’s brother! That’s a whole other story!). As soon as we moved to St. Lambert, Mom got involved in the Women’s Church Guild. She became a constant worker at the church bazaars and rummage sales and later, as we grew up, with the Girl Guides. She was an avid crocheter and made a lot of afghans. Everyone in the neighbourhood we grew up in admired her for the great effort she put into charity work, but if someone asked her what she did for a living or who she was, she answered that she was Douglas Kay’s wife, and Judy, Heather and Alana’s mother.

The thing I remember best from my childhood is how it felt to come home from school. She was always there and when we swarmed through the door, she was getting supper ready to put on the table. Today there are probably many women who will see what she did as a waste of her good abilities. Why would a determined woman be content with making soup and sandwiches? I don’t know the answer myself. But it must have been good for something when I, many years later, still remember how it felt to rush through the kitchen door – and there was mum, waiting for us. I just wish I could have given that to my daughter.

I belong to a generation who by and large grew up in families with mothers who were home all day. And there is no way I could have had a better childhood. If my mother suffered privations from being a housewife not working away from home, she did not transfer any of them to us, her children. And whatever we may have of good qualities, we have because we had a mother who considered it her job to be our mother.

In the middle of all of life’s confusion, it is actually very reassuring to know that you always have a simple rule of thumb: how would I act if my mother could see me right now? In a way I think that we in our generation have fooled ourselves into believing that we can reinvent the whole world and alter the fundamental rules of life overnight. But deep inside we all know that we are actually the same people we were at the time our mothers could look into our eyes and see what we had done without needing to exchange one word. And believe me, in my case that happened a lot! I remember that as a little girl I believed that there were monsters living in my closet. Before I could fall asleep, I had to have mum chase them out of my room. Only then could I sleep.

I’m shrinking a little as I write this. But only if I tell it exactly the way it was can I explain what I mean: most of the time in our lives we have to chase out the monsters from our closets ourselves. But during a few short years in the beginning of our lives, our mother takes care of them for us.

Today I think that many women would be afraid of a life like the one my mother had. So many things have changed that if an intelligent woman would have to do today as my mother did then – devote herself to a husband and children – she would not only feel that her options were limited, but she would also feel outright threatened. I hope that my mother felt that she did the right thing.

We all go through our adult life with the conception that we have never been anything but fully developed grownups. But we have; we have all been small children once, who hurried home from school completely assured that someone was waiting for us at home. It meant something then and it means something today. And I am eternally grateful that the woman in the photograph was waiting for me.

Who’d have thought I’m a KreativBlogger?

What a nice surprise to receive a message from Amanda at A Tale of Two Ancestors telling me that she has awarded me the KreativBlogger Award. As a new genea-blogger I certainly didn’t expect this. Thank’s so much Amanda.

The in rules for the Kreativ Blogger Award are:
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those sites on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

There are so many to choose from that I compromised on 6.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Unknown

I don't have too many pictures of tombstones as yet, but I had to post this one. This is a picture of my daughter when she was 2 years old. It was taken at the Abbey in Kelso, Scotland when we were over there for my sister's wedding. I have always had a fascination for old cemeteries, especially those attached to a church. The grave in this picture had sunk into the ground and my daughter decided to jump right in. I don't think she knew what she was "getting into"!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You’re going where without me?

It’s been a busy week so I haven’t had much time to post anything. This is the other story I have been told about when I was a baby (actually I was two years old). My mother always liked to tell the story about when she re-married when I was 2 years old. We were all sitting in the front row watching. I was sitting (I’m sure very quietly) next to my uncle Harry. When it was time for Mom and my new Step-dad to go to the side room to sign the register, I decided that I should go along too. My uncle, who had just had a cast removed, reached over and grabbed me with his very tender arm. Apparently, with his face quite red and beads of sweat popping out, it was the one time that he nearly cursed in church! Everyone seemed to think it was quite funny!

My mom re-married and old family friend, Douglas Kay on December 21, 1963 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. They met through his sister, Helen, who was married to my Uncle Forbes Farrell. My mom was a young widow, aged 30 yrs. old, with three little girls. It was a small wedding with the reception held in the church hall. It’s nice to know, that even though she was re-marrying and would be moving away, her former in-laws and the rest of the Farrell family attended the wedding. My mom’s sister, my Aunt Vina as well as my cousin Bob stood as witnesses. This is a newpaper clipping of the wedding announcement. Unfortunately, it’s not very clear.

The top picture is one of the few pictures that I have of my paternal grandparents, Robert and Ellen (Nellie) Farrell. That’s me sitting in my grandmother’s lap.

The picture on the bottom is just some of my cousins who attended the wedding.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The High School Years

My first meme! Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings has Saturday Night Fun – Your High School Years. Thought this would be a great one for my first time. I know its Tuesday, but better late than never, right?

1. What was your school's full name, where was it, and what year did you graduate?

Chambly County High School, St. Lambert, Quebec – 1979. It’s now called Chambly Academy.

2. What was the school team nickname, and what are/were your school's colors?

I don’t think we had a school team but our colours were red and white.

3. What was the name of your school song, and can you still sing it?

We didn’t have one.

4. Did you have a car? How did you get to and from school?

No car. Wasn’t old enough to drive until after I graduated. I walked to school.

5. Did you date someone from your high school? Or marry someone from your high school? Were you considered a flirt?

No, no and defiantly NO.

6. What social group were you in?

I didn’t belong to any “groups”, but two of my best friends did!

7. Who was/were your favorite teachers?

Mr. West, my old English teacher. He was the one that really got me into reading. I always remember him wearing an old tweed jacket with the patches on the elbows and his glasses perched on the end of his nose. When not in class he always wore a scarf around his neck and an old fedora type hat. He was great.

8. What did you do on Friday nights?

Usually stayed home and watched TV. That’s because I didn’t belong to any social groups!

9. Did you go to and have fun at the Senior Prom?

Didn’t go.

10. Have you been to reunions, and are you planning on going to the next reunion?

I went to my 25 year reunion 5 years ago. It was really good seeing everyone again. I believe they are planning a 30 yr. reunion this year, but not sure if I will go. There is also a reunion for the whole school, all years, coming up next year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where to Begin?

In the words of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, “To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born.”

I was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (and I’ve heard ALL the jokes!). My mom and dad had moved there from Balcarres only 5 years before. I have two older sisters, Judy and Heather (in below picture). Judy was born in Balcarres and Heather was also born in Moose Jaw. My Aunt Nell (my mom’s oldest sister seen in the picture with me on my christining) and Uncle Harry also lived there. My mom’s other sister, my Auntie Vina, and her family lived in Marquis, Sask. I don’t remember too much of my life in Moose Jaw as my father passed away when I was 9 months old and my mother remarried a family friend (who was actually my aunt’s brother! I’ll explain that one in another post), and we moved to Montreal. I have, however, heard a few stories from when I was a baby.

One story was about the time I was tossed on the bed and forgotten about! Judy and Heather were outside riding their bikes across the street in the Safeway parking lot. When it was time to come home, Judy told Heather to stay put while Judy took the bikes across the street and would come back for Heather. Well, Heather, being the stubborn 5 yr. that she was, didn’t listen and decided to cross the street on her own. There was a car that was going to cross the intersection at the same time – he was only going about 5 mph. They both hesitated – they both started and stopped and then both started again at the same time. Crash! Heather gets hit and manages to break both headlights (we still haven’t figured out how she managed that!). Heather was screaming, Judy was hysterical and the poor man driving the car was beside himself. Fortunately there was a police officer right there and saw the whole thing. Mom tossed me on the bed (o.k. she laid me down gently) and her and my aunt came running out of the house to see what the ruckus was all about. The police officer didn’t want to wait for the ambulance so he, Heather, my mom and my aunt drove off to the hospital. Judy went inside to tell my dad what happened. It was only after about 2 hrs that my mom remembered about me! She called home and my dad checked and there I was, sleeping peacefully like there was not a care in the world.

The other story I remember being told was when my Uncle Harry nearly cursed in church, but I’ll leave that for tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How my journey began

Way back in high school (I think it was either Grade 8 or Grade 9), my history teacher, Mr. Holmes, made us students write a mini family history, going back at least to our Grand parents. I went looking through some old photo albums to find pictures of myself (which was a requirement for the assignment) and started writing a bit about myself. I then asked my mom about her life and that of my father. She told me stories of when she was a little girl living in war torn Scotland and her journey to Canada in 1946. As far as my grandparent’s information, she told me to write to my Aunt Nell who lives in Saskatchewan, which I did. Aunt Nell provided me with the names of my grandparents (both on her father’s side and mother’s side), their birth dates and marriage dates, all her siblings along with their birth dates and she even had the names of my Great Grandparents. As for my father’s side of the family, it was a little sketchy. My mom, of course knew my father’s information, along with his siblings and the names of my grandparents and that my grandfather came from Ireland, but that was all. I wasn’t able to ask my father himself as he died when I was only 9 months old and my mother re-married (that’s when we moved to Montreal). I put all this information together (even made my own charts) and handed it in at school, after which everything got put into a box to be forgotten! As like most teenagers in the mid ‘70’s, family history was not my top priority!

In 1987, when my daughter was 5 years, I took a long overdue trip to Saskatchewan to visit the family. While we were at my aunt Nell’s sister-in-laws house in Abernethy, I was shown a book called “Furrows In Time – The History of Balcarres”. As this was where my mom and dad lived and where my oldest sister was born, I found it quiet interesting. Along with the history of the district, there was also a history of all the local families. I looked up the Farrell Family and found a bunch of information about my father and his family that I never knew. As I was reading, I got the biggest surprise to see mine and my sister’s names in the book! Well, of course I had to buy this book (which now has an honoured place on my bookshelf). When I got home, I added all this new information to the stuff in the box, and then put it all away to be forgotten about again. Having a young child, working and going to school at night didn’t leave much time for family history.

In 2003 my mother passed away at the age of 70. It was then that I decided that it was time to do something with all this information that I had (it wasn’t a lot, but it was a start). My mom was the youngest of eight kids and I realized that sooner or later all those in my family, who were much older, that would have information or stories would soon be gone. Unfortunately, life once again got in the way. I belong to the Order of the Eastern Star and was elected, in 2003, to the highest position you can achieve in the province. This is a four-year commitment and very busy so needless to say the family history got put on hold once again.

In 2005 I made a trip back to Saskatchewan after an absence of 18 years. My Aunt Nell had just turned 90 and I thought (correctly too) that this might be the last time that I saw her. When I was there, she showed me a family book that my cousin had prepared for her. It was the story of our family in Scotland right back to 1795. What a treasure trove of information. I was able to make a copy to bring home and add to my collection, along with some old pictures that my aunt had. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time that visit to discuss much as I was only there for 10 days. It was Christmas and all my cousins were home for the holidays so I spent most of the time getting re-acquainted with them. As I assumed, that was the last time that I saw my aunt as she passed away the following year. I’m kicking myself now for not pinning her down and not quizzing her on everything. She had a memory like a sponge and I could have gotten so much from her. Fortunately, there is still one aunt left in Canada and one left in Scotland (both of them my mom’s older sisters) and you can bet that I will be contacting them real soon!!

Now that my life has slowed down a little I find that I finally have the time to devote to our family history. I have entered a lot of the information that I have in genealogy software. Although my cousin in Scotland had a lot of names and dates, I have found that some of the dates don’t jive. As I don’t have copies of any of his documents, I have a lot of work ahead of me to prove what he has found. I have an even bigger road ahead on my father’s side since I don’t even know what ship he came to Canada on. I’m hoping my dad’s sister can help with that side of the family.

I will be posting on how things are progressing as well as posting pictures and stories that I do know. I am looking forward to the journey ahead (or should I say behind me!).