Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lieut. James Kay (1888 – 1917) - Update

As mentioned in my previous post, my sister had given me some medals and a dog tag belonging to my step-great uncle James Kay. With these I embarked on a search of his military records.

My first step was to check the Canadian Soldiers of World War I on Ancestry. I didn’t have much to go on except his name and that he lived in Montreal. I found a record for a James Kay with a relative of Elizabeth Muirhead Kay. On selecting that one, I found an Attestation Paper indicating Elizabeth Muirhead Kay as next of kin, who lived at 38 Overdale Ave., Apt. 4, Montreal. Overdale Ave. rang a bell, so I double checked some papers that I had and found an old Income Tax receipt for a Helen Kay dated 1923 (she owed a whopping $.72) that said that she lived on Overdale Ave; however, the street number was 36 Overdale. I knew that my step-grandfather had a sister named Helen. I printed off the Attestation Paper just in case this was my James. I then decided to go a different route and typed in my step-grandfather’s name, Adam Sinclair Kay. First record that showed up had a relative of Elizabeth Muirhead Kay. It was Adam’s Attestation Paper listing Elizabeth Muirhead Kay as next kin (mother) living at 38 Overdale Ave.! I have a postcard that James wrote to his mother in January 1916 and it was addressed to E. M. Kay. This was the clincher that confirmed that I had found the right James Kay. I couldn’t believe my luck that within a ½ hour I had found both James’ and Adam’s Attestation Papers. The papers had their date of births, location of birth, their occupation and their service number. It also listed previous military service. James had served seven years with the Royal Highlanders of Canada. One of James’ medals that I have is from the Royal Highlanders!

The Attestation paper was for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. I had never heard of this so I decided to google it. The first link that showed up had a complete explanation of this special force. Apparently during World War I, Canada didn’t have a fighting militia so Canadians signed up to fight with England. This force was later disbanded in 1919. The article I found had links to other sites and one of them was Veteran’s Affairs Canada. Veteran’s Affairs Canada has a Canadian Virtual War Memorial. The introductory paragraph says “This site contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served and gave their lives for their country. Included on this site are the memorials of more than 1500 soldiers who died in service to Canada since the Korean War, including peacekeeping and other operations.”

I plugged in James’ name (you can also enter date of death if you have it, which I didn’t). Two entries showed up. The first was for a James Kay, Regimental Sergeant Major (WO.I) who was part of the Canadian Infantry, Manitoba Regiment (which also showed his service number) who died in 1919 – not my James. I selected the second record and hit pay dirt! Lieutenant JAMES KAY who died on July 28, 1917. Force: Army; Unit: Canadian Garrison Artillery; Division: 5th Siege Bty. The dog tag that I have says Lieut. J. Kay, 5th Can. Siege Battery. I now had a date of death and a location in France where he is buried. The memorial lists the cemetery and even a location within the cemetery where his grave is.

(To Be Continued…..)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lieut. James Kay

As mentioned in previous posts, my mother remarried when I was 2 years old, after my father passed away. Although I knew that my step-father and his sister were born in Lachine, Quebec and that my step-grandmother was born in England, I didn’t really know too much about the Kay family, other than the fact that my step-father’s sister, Helen was married to my father’s brother, Forbes Farrell, making my blood cousins my step-cousins! (I’ll post more on that in a future post).

Last weekend my sister Judy brought out a box of medals that belonged to my step-great uncle, James Kay that I hadn’t seen in years. She wanted me to take them as she knows that I am working on the family history and thought I would be interested in them.

James Kay was a name that we had heard about but whom we knew virtually nothing. All we knew was that he was my step-grandfather’s brother and that he was killed during WWI. I don’t even remember ever seeing a picture of him. My step-father didn’t know anything about him and my step-grandfather died when I was little so we couldn’t ask him. James Kay was just a name from the past.

While looking through the box of medals, we found a picture of him. Now we had a face to a name and James became a real person! This picture was the front of a post card that James sent to his mother dated January 1916.

We also found two tiny pictures, one of which was of his grave and temporary cross, with a hand drawn map on the back showing the cemetery where he is buried, but no name of the cemetery (although I could tell from the map that it was in France).

With the medals we also found his dog tag, which mentioned his Unit name. I told my sister that with this little bit of information, I would try to see if I could find James’ military information. The next couple of days were spent researching (after which my elbow gave me grief) and did I hit a gold mine! Not only did I find James's military information, I also found some information on my step-grandfather that I knew nothing about.

Stay tuned to see what I found.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Marshall Clan

The word prompt for the 11th Edition of Smile For The Camera is brothers & sisters? Were they battling brothers, shy little sisters, or was it brother & sister against the world? Our ancestors often had only their siblings for company. Were they best friends or not? Show us that picture that you found with your family photographs or in your collection that shows your rendition of brothers & sisters. Bring them to the carnival and share. Admission is free with every photograph!

The brothers and sisters that I have chosen for this edition of Smile For The Camera are my mother and her siblings. My mother had six siblings and they were all very close, especially the 3 youngest (they did everything together – especially getting into trouble). My grandparents passed away when my mom was very young - my grandfather when she was 2 years old and my grandmother when my mom was 11 years old. The oldest of the siblings, my Aunt Nell then became guardian of the 3 youngest kids. She was married but her husband, a Canadian soldier, was off fighting. The next 3 oldest, my Uncles Dave and Robert and my Aunt Rachel were also married and in the service. When the war ended, my Aunt Nell was to immigrate to Canada as a War Bride and was going to bring the 3 youngest, my Uncle Norrie (17 yrs), my Auntie Vina (15 yrs.) and my mom (13 yrs.), with her. Up until about 2 weeks before departure, all but my Aunt Nell received their papers. While waiting for her to received her papers, my Uncle Norrie turned 18 and was called up for his mandatory 2 years of service, causing him to remain behind in Scotland.

The first picture is of all the brothers and sisters (minus my Aunt Rachel) taken just shortly before my mom and her two sisters left for Canada in April 1946. Left to right – back row: Dave Marshall, Muriel (Robert’s wife), Robert Marshall and Norrie Marshall. Left to right – front row: Lizzie (Dave’s wife), Nell (Marshall) Crossman, Vina Marshall and Rhona Marshall (my mom).

The second picture is of the brothers and sisters taken in October 1970 when my mom returned home for the first time in 24 years. It was a great reunion for her seeing her brothers and sisters again (my Aunts Nell and Vina were absent from this gathering). Back row: Norrie and Dave. Front row: Rhona (my mom), Robert, and Rachel.

The last picture is of the four sisters. This was taken in the mid 1980’s and was the only time that all four sisters have been together since before the war ended. Left to right: Vina, Rhona and Rachel. Nell is the one sitting.

Unfortunately, only two of the seven siblings are still alive, my Aunts Rachel and Vina.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm Still Alive!!

Just a quick note (against doctor's orders) for those who follow this blog. I did not fall off the face of the earth - I'm still here. I have been suffering from Tennis Elbow and have been in excruciating pain for the last month and a half. I finally caved in and went to the doctor 3 weeks ago when I couldn't take the pain anymore. I've been on meds for two weeks and have been taking physio therapy twice a week for 3 weeks now. It is slowly getting better. Strict instructions from the doctor to try to stay off the computer as much as possible and to rest the arm, which of course is really hard since I'm a secretary and am on the computer all day. Needless to say, I've stayed off it at night (I think I'm having withdrawal symptoms!)

I used to snicker at people when then said they had Tennis Elbow thinking this was just an excuse not to do things (a few people at work use excuses like this not to work), but snicker no more. It really hurts!! It not only affects the elbow, but the swelling and pain affects the whole arm, and even makes the fingers numb. It doesn't help either that it's my right arm and I'm right handed!

I caved on the weekend and did some research on the Scottish Census on Ancestry (of which I found loads of information), but paid for it the next day. I will be posting what I have found, but it may take a few more days rest before that happens, so just be patient with me. I do hope, however, to get my post done for the Brothers & Sisters carnival that is due on Tuesday.

That's it for tonight, folks.