Although I have many female ancestors that I love researching (my mother being my all time favourite), I would have to say that the one that I have been drawn to most over the past year, is my paternal grandmother, Helen “Nellie” (Devlin) Farrell. I was 18 yrs. old when my grandmother passed away, but maybe about 13 or 14 yrs. old the last time I saw her (she lived in Balcarres, Saskatchewan and I lived in Montreal, Quebec.) After my father passed away and my mother re-married and we moved to Quebec, we didn’t get to see my grandparents that often while growing up.
Because we lived so far away, I didn’t know my grandmother very well (and of course, when I was younger, I really wasn’t into knowing “where I came from”). A couple of years ago, I started researching my father’s side of the family. I have a book about the history of Balcarres called "Furrows in Time, A History of Balcarres and District", which includes a brief write up of all the families that lived there, that was produced in 1987. My Aunt Cathy (now deceased) provided a few details, but no dates or anything. I contacted my last living Aunt on my father’s side (my father’s sister) for a bit of help. She told me a few things about my grandmother, one in particular that quite surprised me and was kept secret from all the family until a good 10 years after my grandmother’s passing – she had a couple of children out of wedlock before immigrating to Canada, leaving these children behind (you can read about this conversation here). I guess because I have a child and have never married, I felt I could somehow relate to her.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on my grandmother in this post as I want to eventually write a mini bio on her in another post. However, some of the things that I have learned so far are:
- Her correct birth date and where she was born
- Her parents names
- I learned that she had 3 illegitimate children before she immigrated to Canada (one died at 4 months old)
- When she immigrated to Canada
- The exact date of her marriage to my grandfather (Robert Farrell). I have a fair idea based on when she immigrated and when their first child was born.
- Where exactly they were married (I have been told it was in Govan, Saskatchewan but I need to find proof of this)
- Name and birth/death dates on one of the children born in Scotland
@2013, copyright Alana Farrell