Military Records

‘Here to fight les Germans’: Pre-Remembrance Day Post

My second-favourite BBC Horrible Histories video ever has to do with the contribution of the colonies to the British war effort during World War I. ‘Where can I find the British regiment?’ ‘Zat way, my chum.’ And: ‘Alley [Allez] in, Collect your bumf [toilet paper], your fleabag [sleeping bag], and your daisies [boots] from the devil dodger [army chaplain]…’ So excellent.

My absolute favourite BBC Horrible Histories video ever has to do with the causes of World War I. ‘Why war? Because an Austrian has been killed by a Serb in Bosnia, and that means war.’ ‘So: where is Bosnia, again?’ So, so excellent.

Playground at St. John’s (Perth, Ontario) dedicated to three local WWII soldiers

From Let Them Be Kids — St. John Catholic Elementary School, an account of the dedication of a new playground to “two local fallen Canadian Forces heroes and one local Veteran.” All three came from Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario); all three served in World War II. The two fallen soldiers are Flying Officer William Kyle and Corporal James Michael McGlade. The veteran (who happily returned from the war to marry a woman named Rose, with whom he raised a family of seven children) is Corporal Francis E. DiCola.

James Michael McGlade was the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth Cahill.

Denis Killeen at Québec, 1819 (RG 8, C Series, LAC)

One of my favourite genealogy blogs is John Reid’s Anglo-Celtic Connections. I don’t know how he does it, but he always has the latest scoop on the LAC (everything from hirings and firings to new collections to updates of existing collections, and so on). Yesterday at Anglo-Celtic Connections, I read the following notice from the LAC:

Ottawa, July 14, 2011 – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the addition of 484 digitized microfilm reels representing 1,125,141 new images regarding British military and naval records (RG 8, “C” Series) to its website. These records include a wide range of documents related to the British army in Canada, Loyalist regiments, the War of 1812, the Canadian militia, and more. Both microfilm reels for the nominal card index and the archival documents have been digitized and are now accessible online. Through the research tool “microform digitization,” you can browse the microfilm reels page by page.

Since I’m currently looking for military records pertaining to my 3x great-grandfather Denis Killeen, this sounded promising. So I followed the hyperlink provided by John Reid.

Here’s how I found a record of Denis Killeen’s recent arrival at Québec:

Description of Denis Killeen (1786-1850)

Denis Killeen was born about 1786 in the parish of Meelick in East Galway. On 10 December 1804 (presumably at the age of eighteen), he enlisted in the 97th Regiment of Foot (at “Clonaney” [Clonony?], King’s County [County Offaly]).
From the record of his discharge (10 December 1818), a physical (and occupational) description:
To prevent any improper use being made of this Discharge, by its falling into other Hands, the following is a Description of the said Denis Killeen. He is about thirty two Years of Age, is five Feet ten Inches in height, fair Hair, Grey Eyes, Swarthy Complexion; and by Trade or Occupation a Carpenter.1
Note the imprecision of “about ____ Years of Age,” in an official service record for a private in His Majesty’s 97th Regt of Foot.
Nowadays, an official military record (or an official record of any sort) will give a precise age, with an exact date of birth. For that matter, nowadays even most unofficial records will supply exact birth dates, based on the stringent demands for accuracy that define contemporary record-keeping: try sending your kid to sleepaway camp without providing the exact day/month/year of the child’s birth on the registration form! But two hundred years ago, people (the common folk, that is, but that was most people…) were a quite a bit looser about birth dates (which is one reason why, when searching 19th-century census returns, you should generally treat recorded birth years as rough estimates, perhaps accurate to within plus or minus five years or so of the given date).
Denis Killeen was discharged due to the disbandment of his regiment, after having served 14 years and 1 day. He received a pension from the Crown on 26 August 1819 (at which point he was in Upper Canada). On 26 May 1828 he received a patent from the Crown for one hundred acres, at the south half of Lot 11, Third Concession, in the township of March (Carleton Co., Ontario).

1 The National Archives of the UK (TNA), WO 119/70, Kilmainham Ref: [None] (Index No = 16), folio 43.

In Remembrance: James Michael McGlade (1905-1944)

James Michael McGlade was born at Perth, Co. Lanark, Ontario on 17 September 1905, the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Cahill. He died in the Second World War, at the age of 39.

One of my mother’s older sisters remembers cousin Michael (James Michael) coming over to their house to say good-bye before heading out overseas.

James Michael McGlade was a Corporal in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, R.C.I.C. (Royal Canadian Infantry Corps). He died in action in Belgium on 3 October 1944, and is buried at the Schoonselfhof Cemetery in Antwerp, Belgium. There is also a grave marker at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cemetery in Perth, Ontario, Canada. He is commemorated on page 386 of Veterans Affairs Canada’s Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Occupation: Inmate

Search tip: If someone’sU.S. World War I Draft Registration card lists his occupation as “Twine worker” and his address as the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater, Minn., the guy’s an inmate at the prison.

Here’s a photograph (Minnesota Historical Society, Photograph Collection 1925) of the twine factory at the Stillwater Prison. More photographs and background information (.PDF file): James Taylor Dunn, “The Minnesota State Prison during the Stillwater Era, 1853-1914,” Minnesota History, December 1960 (Minnesota Historical Society).

Albert Austin Massey: Home Child

Albert Austin Massey was born in London, England about 1884,* the son of Thomas Massey and Mary Armitage (his parents’ names come from his RC parish marriage record, and also from the Ontario civil marriage record which was based on that parish register). He emigrated to Canada around 1895 (at about 10 or 11 years of age), where he ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario.

On 4 July 1900, at the Church of St Anne, Sebastopol, Renfrew Co. (record found in the parish register for Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell), Albert Massey made his Confirmation, at which point he was described as “adopted by Frank Kilby,” age 13. He is found in the household of Francis Kilby in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Renfrew South/Sud, Sebastopol, household number 39, pages 5-6), where he is listed as Massey, Albert, Male, Domestic, Single, born 2 Aug 1886, age 14, country of birth England, year of immigration 1895, racial or tribal origin English (the other members of this household are Irish in origin), nationality Canadian, religion R. Cath. [Roman Catholic], occupation Servant. Next door to the Kilby household, or next field over, perhaps, or very close by, at any rate, at household number 40, was the family of William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong.
Albert Massey married the above Lucy Armstrong on 6 May 1909 (Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell).

Upper Canada Militia Rolls, 1828-1829

Nowadays, people tend to think of militiamen and citizen’s militias and the like as a peculiarly American phenomenon, but that’s not really historically accurate. The whole apparatus of the citizen’s muster rolls was imported from England, actually, and can be found in Upper Canada from a relatively early phase.

Did your Ontario ancestor enroll as a militiaman? Well, some of my ancestors did. If you know or suspect that a (male) ancestor was in the province by 1828, it’s worth checking the militia rolls to find out.

Irish Origins through Canadian Sources: Introduction

On my father’s side, all of my ancestors came from Ireland, some arriving in Canada as early as 1820 or so, some arriving during the Famine. On my mother’s side, a little over half of my ancestors came from Ireland, with all but one branch emigrating during the Famine (the other almost half of my maternal ancestors are French Canadian).

So that’s a lot of Irish ancestors, and they came from the north and the west and the south and the southwest of Ireland (though not, so far as I have yet to discover, from the east). Once in Canada, they tended to marry as one Irish Catholic joining up with another, which probably tended toward the construction of a new, colonial Irish identity (back in Ireland, they never would have met one another, let alone married, since one came from Armagh, and another from Cork, and so on and so forth: but in Canada, they were all the same people who all came from the same place). When I was a kid, come to think of it, “The Wild Colonial Boy” was a song that I and my sisters used to sing for the company, it was something of a party piece for us, which we had learned from a couple of uncles. That song has to do with Irish emigration to Australia not Canada, of course, but I think the colonial theme resonated with us, or at least with our uncles.