Feb 15, 2010

Niagara Road Trip

We just returned from another great weekend in the Niagara area. I love going there and Valentine's day gave me the perfect reason to go, along with a few genealogy things I wanted to get done. We headed out Saturday morning and our first stop was the St. Catharine's Public Library. A few days earlier I had found the burial location of my maternal great grandfather, James Carey Walker. He is at the Fonthill Cemetery and it turns out there are 5 other family members buried there with him. The cemetery had provided me with death dates for all of them. The library in St. Catharines has microfilm of many newspapers including the St. Catharines Standard so I was able to look up the death announcements and obituaries for all of them. This was a huge find for me.

From there we checked in to our hotel with only enough time to drop off our bags before heading to Thorold to meet Cathy. Cathy was the subject of a post I had written last week titled ''Sharondipity Strikes Again'' about an amazing blog connection. She is the lady who had googled the name of an unrelated priest, found her way to my blog, found her Great Aunt and Uncle featured on my main page and then discovered that I was the 1st cousin of her childhood best-friend, Jinny. She said she would be waiting outside the place where we planned to meet holding a picture of Jinny and sure enough, there she was. I knew it was her right away. We spent almost 2 hours talking away to each other. She has lived in Thorold almost all of her life and knows everyone in my family and everyone else that I know in that area. It was so great to talk to her and I can't wait to do it again.

Next, we headed to Fonthill to visit the cemetery where James C. Walker and family are buried. It's a fairly large cemetery but we located the grave site right away and took some pictures. This plot contains my great grandfather James, his wife Isabelle, daughters Mary Alice and Helen, son-in-law William and their granddaughter, Andrea.

From there we were going to go do a little shopping in St. Catharines, but decided at the last minute to go back to Thorold and visit Holy Rosary RC Church. We had stopped there once before because I had heard that there was a stained glass window in memory of a family member but the church had been locked up. While we were visiting with Cathy she also mentioned the same thing so we thought we would try again and happily this time it was open as they were preparing for the 5 o'clock Mass. With a little help from a nice lady and Fr. Matthew we found the window. It is in memory of Margaret Manley (my 2x great grandmother from Ireland) and right next to hers was one in memory of Timothy and Margaret McKenny. Their son John was married to Margaret's daughter Mary. I can't even tell you how thrilled I was to find this and it moved me to tears. I also can't believe that I've been in that church so many times over the years and had never noticed the window. Usually when I'm there I'm looking up at the ceiling because of the beautiful paintings on it. I have to work on my ''observation'' skills.

After that amazing discovery, we did a little shopping, relaxed for a while in our hotel room and then went for another awesome dinner at Frado's, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite Italian restaurants. Coincidentally, Fr. Matthew was sitting 2 tables away from us with about 6 other priests.

On Sunday after breakfast and checking out of the hotel we headed for the international bridge at Queenston-Lewiston. My great grandfather James Walker (mentioned above) was originally from Lewiston, NY and this is where his parents and grandparents are buried. I don't know what's up with this but it took 2 hours to cross that bridge which didn't leave us a lot of time to explore Lewiston. I did find the cemetery and the gravestones that I was looking for and my brilliant husband rubbed the names with snow so they would be more visible. After stopping for a cup of Java at the Water Street Landing overlooking the Niagara River we headed back and spent another hour on the bridge. Not fun!

On the way home we made our final stop to visit Frank and his wife Lianne, a cousin that I had discovered a couple of weeks ago on Ancestry.com. This was the first time we met in person and we both talked each other's ears off for 2 hours. It was so great to meet him and I'm really looking forward to having someone in the family to share my research with. Frank's wife and my husband deserve a lot of credit for sitting patiently through 2 hours of Manley family chatter.

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