May 31, 2010

My Canadian U.S. Veteran

In recognition of Memorial Day in the United States I would like to introduce you to my United States Veteran. My Dad, who served in the US Army from 1951 to 1954 even though he was a Canadian citizen living in Canada.

I don't know very much about this time in his life because it was before I was born but I know that he enlisted with his best friend and they both served their full 3 year tour of duty. A couple of years ago, I contacted his friend after many years to ask a few questions. We arranged to meet for dinner and while at the table, his friend pulled this news clipping from his wallet and gave it to me. He had been carrying it for over 50 years.

The clipping was originally from the St. Catharines Standard and says...

"Pvt. John Manley of Merritton, who recently graduated among the top five from the Dept. of the Army, finance school at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Pvt. Manley now returns to his permanent station, Fort Campbell, Kentucky"

I contacted National Archives and Record Administration for his service records and got a very disappointing letter in return, which said in part:

"The record needed to answer your inquiry is not in our files. If the record were here on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed. The fire destroyed the major portion of records of Army military personnel for the period 1912 through 1959..."

I don't know why, but I sent another request today just to see if there is a possibility of finding something, somewhere. I'm not holding out high hopes but you never know.

May 21, 2010

Mrs. Hiscott ~ Mystery Woman

Mrs. Hiscott
This digital photo is a scan of the original held in the collection of the Niagara Historical Society Museum and is identified only as ''Mrs. Hiscott''. The question is which Mrs. Hiscott is she?

  • Mary Simpson (1790-1852), 1st wife of Richard
  • Martha Reed (1803-1860's), 2nd wife of Richard
  • Elizabeth Ann Coleman (1804-1878), 3rd wife of Richard
  • Hannah Maria Read (1828-1912), wife of James
  • Elizabeth Clement (1830-1897), wife of Thomas
  • Catherine Ann Depotie (1838-1928), wife of Edward
I can try researching the style of dress and bonnet that she is wearing and try to date this however these are all 19th century women so narrowing it down to one may be impossible. Unless of course someone recognizes her and can let me know who she is.

May 19, 2010

Weekend in Niagara ~ Sunday

Sunday morning, we headed to Niagara on the Lake. The short drive there from St. Catharines was spectacular. We took Lakeshore Road which has a lot of orchards along it and the trees were in full bloom. It was a sea of beautiful colors and flowers...(duh, I didn't take any pictures).

Niagara on the Lake


This photo taken from Queen's Royal Park in Niagara on the Lake, looking across the Niagara River at Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York. This is the point where the Niagara River and Lake Ontario meet. Imagine in 1812, the Americans and British lobbing shots at each other across this river.

HISCOTT House


This is the former home of Richard HISCOTT, Sergeant in the 76th Regiment of Foot of the British Army. Richard is my 4th great-grandfather and headed one of the founding families of the town of Niagara. The house is a designated heritage property, circa 1817 and is located at 78 Prideaux Street, Niagara on the Lake. I'll go back and take another picture when the street construction is finished and the bright orange fences are gone.

St. Mark's Anglican Church and Cemetery


St. Mark's Anglican church, founded in 1792 is the oldest Anglican church in Ontario. It was the church of my HISCOTT family and the churchyard cemetery contains the graves of many of my relatives and ancestors. The church was used extensively by both the British and the Americans during the war of 1812. According to the St. Mark's website, the Americans occupied the building in 1813, dug rifle pits in the cemetery surrounding it and gutted the interior before leaving.

While walking around the cemetery in the churchyard, we spotted some prying eyes on us. This foxy little guy would take a few steps, stop and stare at us, take a few more steps, stop and stare and on and on until he finally decided to run off. I don't think I've ever seen a fox running wild before and really didn't expect to see one in the middle of a town.


Fort George National Historic Site of Canada


We decided to go on a walking tour of Fort George, a National Historic Site of Canada. The fort was built by the British between 1796 and 1799 to guard the strategic river mouth from an American invasion. This fort played a pivotal role in the War of 1812. After heavy fighting between Fort George and Fort Niagara on the American side of the river, the Americans took over and occupied the fort during the summer and fall of 1813. They eventually abandoned the fort and returned to Fort Niagara.

The fort has since been completely re-constructed to re-create it's pre-1813 appearance. The only original structure that survived the War of 1812 is the Powder Magazine. It would take several hours to tour the entire fort. It is very large and contains many buildings to go through, battlements and great views of the Niagara River. You can do it on your own or take advantage of a guided tour by staff in period costume.

Niagara Historical Society Museum


It was getting late in the day but we stoppped at the museum because there were a few items I wanted to see and take photos of. I started chatting with the curator and discovered that the items I wanted to see were in their inventory but not actually on display.

After more chatting and a pile of questions from me, he did a search on their database using my HISCOTT surname and found that they have about 80 items tied to that name, some of which were photographs. Photographs that I didn't have. I do now though *grin*. The museum has a research room so I'm going to set aside some time in the future to go there and check out these 80 items they have.

After leaving the museum, we got the phone call about Mom so we quickly headed home to get ready to go to Winnipeg.

Weekend in Niagara ~ Saturday

A few weeks ago we went back to the Niagara area for another Genealogy weekend. It was while we were there that we got the call about my mother in law being ill so things have been on hold for a while. Just wanted to share some of the things we did and saw while we were there...

Louth United Church and Maple Lawn Cemetery


Our first stop was at the Louth United Church and Maple Lawn Cemetery. This was my first visit to this church and cemetery. It is located on Third Louth Ave in St. Catharines, ON and is the final resting place of many of my maternal ancestors, particularly the HAYNES family. These are descendants of Adam HAYNES, UE and his wife, Elizabeth FROELICK who I wrote about here. Both my 3rd and 4th great-grandfather's are buried here.

The church was built in 1878 and has been in continuous operation until very recently. Apparently it has been closed due to lack of membership. Many family weddings, baptisms and funerals took place here over the past 100 years. The small graveyard behind the church is called Maple Lawn cemetery. I took a ton of photos here because there were just that many relatives. It seemed like almost everyone had a name that's in my tree.

After visiting this church, I realized that I have a collector's plate with a picture of the church on it. It belonged to my mother and it's been put away in a drawer for about 25 years because I had no idea what the significance of it was or why she had a plate with a church on it. When I returned home I got it out, dusted it off and hung it on the wall in the dining room. So now I know...

One thing I wasn't expecting to find was the gravestone of a boy who was a childhood friend. Our backyards backed on to each other and our families were good friends. I was stunned to see this so later in the day, I looked up his parents and gave them a call. I had a really nice long conversation with his Mom who I hadn't talked to since I was about 12 yrs old.

Christ Church McNab Church and Cemetery


Christ Church McNab is an Anglican church located on McNab Road at Lakeshore Rd in Niagara on the Lake. It is the burial spot of many of my HISCOTT ancestors. It is a beautiful country church surrounded by it's own cemetery. The church was built in 1853 and is still in full operation. Again, many photos were taken here and I spotted a couple of surnames posted by fellow Indiana Genea-blogger and newly discovered cousin, Tina from Gen Wish List so I shot a few for her as well.

Warner's Cemetery


Warner's Cemetery is located on Warner Road along side the Queen Elizabeth Way (a major highway) in Niagara Falls. It took us three tries to find it but we were rewarded in the end. This cemetery contains the plot of the VAN EVERY family including the grave of it's founder in Canada, McGregory VAN EVERY, UE. It is thought that McGregory's gravestone is the oldest in Ontario.

My interest in going here was twofold. First, I knew that fellow St. Louis Genea-blogger, John of TranylvanianDutch  is a direct descendant of McGregory VAN EVERY and thought he would like some more photos. Secondly, McGregory's great-grandaughter, Eliza Jane VAN EVERY married my 1st cousin 5x removed, Rev. Frederick HAYNES. The old headstones were built into the interior of this 2 foot brick wall to preserve and protect them from further damage due to the proximity of the cemetery to the highway. I think the VAN EVERY plot with it's brick wall and built in headstones is the coolest plot I've seen yet.

St. Paul Street United Church (The Silver Spire)


We stopped by the St. Paul Street United Church in downtown St. Catharines after taking a coffee break. I wanted to take a look because I have come across this church many times in my maternal research and then I realized this was the same church where my own mother was baptized. I will be doing much more research on this church in the future but for now I just wanted to get a close up look and take a few pictures.

May 8, 2010

Justina ''Jennie'' Thiessen (1925-2010)

This past week heaven got another angel. My mother-in-law Justina ''Jennie'' Thiessen passed away peacefully in the hospital in Winnipeg.

Jennie was born in Altona, Manitoba on June 28th, 1925 to Heinrich Wiebe and Elizabeth Driedger. Her parents were part of the migration of Mennonite immigrants who came from the steppes of Southern Russia, sponsored by the Canadian government to settle the southern part of Manitoba along the Red River between the US border and Winnipeg. Jennie was one of 8 children (7 girls, 1 boy) and grew up on the Wiebe farm just outside of Altona. She had a typical Mennonite education and worked on the farm with her family and took odd jobs until she was married. She was fluent in both English and the low German dialect of her ancestors. She loved to ride the horses and enjoyed the tractor so much, her Dad bought her one of her own.

While working as a waitress in Altona in 1944, Jennie met David Thiessen of nearby Rosenfeld, Manitoba, a young farm boy who had recently enlisted with the Canadian Army in the war effort. They were married on the 27th of October, 1944 just prior to David being sent off and stationed at Camp Shilo. Jennie remained at the family farm and in October of 1945 she gave birth to her first son (my husband). In 1946 David returned to civilian life and the young family moved to a house in the town of Altona where two more sons were born. Around 1950 the family headed north to the city of Winnipeg where two daughters and another son were born. They were now a family of 8.

They were a hard working family and did what they could to raise 6 children. My husband recalls that the kids would meet other kids in the city who sometimes needed some help or a place to stay and Jennie always took them in and cared for them. She loved to play the guitar and sing and dance. She had a very entrepreneurial spirit and found various ways to earn extra money for the family. She loved to buy and sell things and her outgoing personality made this easy for her. She was a natural sales woman.

Her husband David passed away on the 22nd of February, 2004. At that time Jennie sold the family home and moved into a Senior's residence where she lived until the time of her death. Jennie passed away on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at the age of 84. She is survived by 6 children, 17 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, 2 sisters and many loving nieces and nephews. My husband and I will miss her greatly. She was loving, giving, funny, feisty, and smart. I could not have asked for a better mother-in-law.

When her husband passed away 6 years ago, my husband started a tradition of calling his Mom every Sunday after dinner. We live about 1300 miles away so this was his way of giving her something consistent to look forward to and he made that call faithfully every week. It was a joy listening to these calls and hearing them laugh together. This Sunday will be the first one since she passed that he can't make that call and it just happens to fall on Mother's Day. It's going to be a tough day. Happy Mother's Day Mom, we love you. May you rest in peace ♥