Tag Archive for Benton

A No-Name in the Nominal Census

1921 Census of Canada

In my previous entry, I noted that you are generally not going to find married women’s maiden names in the Canadian census returns. And even well into the twentieth century, you will occasionally find a census listing where a married woman was enumerated but not named at all.

Here’s an example, from the 1921 Census of Canada, where a married woman was enumerated but not named:

Alexander Moran household, 1921 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa St Georges Ward, p. 3, lines 33-36.

Alexander Moran household, 1921 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa St Georges Ward, p. 3, lines 33-36.

The above shows the household of Alexander Michael Moran and Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton, with their two sons Allan Jerome Moran and Orville Alexander Moran. And for some reason (I guess the enumerator forgot to record her name?), there is a blank where the name of Wife Anna (“Annie”) should be, though the birth places of her parents (Ireland), and her religion (R.C., for Roman Catholic), have been duly recorded.

And by the way, there is an error in the recorded birthplaces of Alexander Michael Moran’s parents, both of whom were given the birthplace of Ireland in the 1921 census. While his mother was certainly born in Ireland (County Longford), his father was just as certainly born in Canada (Huntley township, Carleton County).

The census is one of the most important sources of genealogical information for any family history researcher. It is absolutely indispensable. But always remember that the census return is only as accurate as the accuracy of the information that was supplied, and that was recorded. In the enumeration and recording of information for any given census return, there were numerous opportunities for mistakes, misunderstandings, faulty assumptions, and sometimes just plain laziness. Always check the information found in a census return against the information found in other sources (civil records, church records, city and county directories, headstones, obituaries, and so on).

Occupation: Married Woman (Canada Voters Lists, 1935-1980)

During the 1930s Alex and Annie operated a small grocery shop in their home on Armstrong St. In the depths of the depression my father, who was a railroader, got very little work and we were often short of cash. At those times our credit was good and we could always get the essentials at the Morans. There were lots of card games and visits to and fro. Uncle Alex was also a fiddle player and he and Aunt Em Delaney played for dancing and entertainment.

— Emmett Patrick Sloan, Memories of the Morans (2007)

Ancestry.ca has an extremely useful database of voters lists: “Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980.” These lists can be used as a census substitute of sorts, although of course they only include adult citizens (age 21 and over until 1970, at which point the voting age was lowered to 18). They can help to discover and/or verify addresses, and they may also provide some useful information on occupations.

But as with the Canadian census (and the US federal census, for that matter, and the UK census too), these voters lists tend to erase evidence of occupation for married women. Well, perhaps “erase” is too strong a term? it suggests an act of commission, when what we are dealing with, arguably, is an act of omission.

My great-grandparents Alex (Alexander Michael) and Annie (Anna Maria Benton) Moran had a grocery store, a small “mom-and-pop” operation at the front of their  house on Armstrong St. Here they are in the 1935 List of Electors (Victoria Ward, City of Ottawa), with my grandparents Allan Jerome Moran and Mary Catherine Lahey (here listed as Mrs Allan [W] [= Wife], married woman) listed just below:

Alexander Moran, Carleton, Ontario, 1935. Ancestry.ca: database online. Original: Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980; Reel: M-4739.

Notice how Alex and Annie’s “mom-and-pop” operation has become a “pop” operation in this document: Moran, Alexander is listed as a “grocery store proprietor,” while his wife Annie (Mrs Alexander, [W] [= Wife]) is given the occupational designation of “married woman.”

Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, Cappawhite, Tipperary

One of my brick wall ancestors is my great-great-grandfather Thomas Benton, who was born in Ireland about 1830, emigrated to Canada in the 1850s, and died at Arnrprior (Renfrew County, Ontario) in 1890.

He married Hanora (“Annie”) Ryan about 1856, but I’ve yet to find a marriage record for this couple, and I don’t know whether they were married in Ireland or in Canada. Thomas Benton and Hanora Ryan had nine known children, apparently all born in Canada, with eight surviving to adulthood. I have baptismal records for seven of these nine children, but not for the two eldest, Catherine Benton (born about 1857) and Thomas Benton Jr (born about 1859). The first real proof of Thomas and Annie [Ryan] Benton’s presence in Canada is the baptismal record for their third child, Bridget Benton (born in February 1861; baptized 1 March 1861). The family can be found in the 1861 Census of Canada (Pakenham, Lanark Co., Ontario), where the birthplace for Thomas Benton and his wife Anne is given as Ireland, and the birthplace for their children Catherine and Thomas given as Upper Canada.

Thomas Benton died 7 March 1890, of head injuries sustained in a horrible accident at a lumber mill. While I have his church burial record (St. John Chrysostom, Arnprior), I have not found an Ontario civil death registration. An obituary in the Arnprior Chronicle does not name his parents. So: with no marriage record, and with no mention of his parents in either his RC burial record or his obituary, the trail goes cold.

But there’s a family in Cappawhite, Tipperary that interests me (especially as Thomas Benton married a Ryan whose family came from Tipperary):

A Thomas Benton married a Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer in Cappawhite, Tipperary on 11 March 1809. The couple had at least five known children, all born Cappawhite, Tipperary:

  1. Hanora Benton, baptized 19 December 1818
  2. Kitty Benton, baptized 15 October 1821
  3. Winny [Winnifred] Benton, baptized 8 February 1824
  4. Thomas Benton, baptized 8 June 1826 (could this be my 2x-great-grandfather?)
  5. William Benton, baptized 9 May 1832

So I’m looking for information on the descendants of Thomas Benton and Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer, of Cappawhite, Tipperary. Any information would be much appreciated.

Death of Alexander Michael Moran

The Ottawa Journal, 1 February 1939.

The Ottawa Journal, 1 February 1939.

Newspaper obituaries often supply loads of genealogically useful information, along with interesting forename and surname spellings.

Here, for example, is the obituary for my paternal great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran (1871-1939). A fairly standard obituary, which informs readers of the death of A.M. Moran, and supplies practical information about the arrangements for his funeral and burial. But from the perspective of a genealogical researcher, this obituary offers a good deal more.

In addition to listing his birthplace (Huntley, Ontario) and his place of death (231 Armstrong St., Ottawa), it also supplies information about his former employment. (He worked for the Grand Trunk Railway, and then for the Canadian Pacific. My father always told me he was a machinist for the GTR.)

And it names 12 other people:

There is also a reference to seven grandchildren, but these grandchildren are not named. My father was one of these seven.

There is one obvious typo-type error in the list of names: “Annie N. Benton” should be “Annie M. Benton” (for Anna Maria Benton). And there is also a surname spelling variation (I hesitate to call it an error, since I’m always insisting that spelling doesn’t count in genealogy, and that you mustn’t cling to the notion of a “correct” surname spelling if you want to find your ancestors’ records) which might prove misleading, if I didn’t already know the name. The obituary names the mother of my great-grandfather as “Mary Levoy, of Pakenham.” If I didn’t already know that she was the Irish-born Mary Leavy [Levi/Levy], originally of Co. Longford, Ireland, I might go looking for a French/French-Canadian Marie Levoy.

For me, it is somewhat poignant to read that “the death of Alexander Michael Moran occurred at his residence, 231 Armstrong street, suddenly on Tuesday” (31 January 1939). Poignant because it makes me think of my now-deceased father (who died 14 March 2013), who once told me about the death of his grandfather, some of the details of which he could still recall so many years after the event.

231 Armstrong Street was also the home of my father at the time of his grandfather’s death: my dad, with his parents and his older sister Rosemary, lived upstairs at 231 Armstrong St., while his grandparents, Alec and Annie (Alexander Michael Moran and Anna Maria Benton), lived downstairs and ran a small grocery store out of the front of the house. My father recollected that he used to love to go for car rides with his grandfather, to go with him to deliver groceries from the shop or to make deliveries for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He also recalled that his grandfather played the fiddle, and that he loved to drink buttermilk. “He was a quiet man,” said my father, “and very kind.”

My father (born September 1934) was four years and four months old in January 1939, and was at home when his grandfather died. Some seventy-odd years after the death, he still had a vivid memory of seeing his beloved grandfather lying dead. Apparently my great-grandfather had been outside shovelling snow, and, feeling unwell, had gone inside, where he suffered a massive, and fatal, heart attack.

How much of my father’s memory of his grandfather’s death can be attributed to a direct recollection of a dramatic and traumatic event? and how much of it had been mediated by later retellings of the story over the years? This I do not, and cannot, know. But I’m pretty sure that my dad did remember something of the awful drama surrounding his grandfather’s death, even though my father was only about four and half years old at the time. In the world of my father’s childhood (and it really was a different world, in so many respects), adults didn’t try to hide the reality of death from even very young children, the way we now do.

Anyway, to return to the main idea of this post:

Newspaper obituaries can be extremely useful genealogical sources, but are often riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Follow up on all possible clues (and a close and careful reading of an obituary will often yield important clues), but never, ever assume that because it was printed in the papers, it must therefore be officially, and incontrovertibly, true.

  1. Two other brothers had predeceased him. John Moran, born 1854, died at Rochester, Minnesota in 1921. James Moran, born about 1858, died at Nepean Township in 1899.
  2. One other sister had predeceased him. Margaret Jane Moran, born about 1856, died at Huntley in May 1873, at about sixteen years of age.

Newsworthy

Nowadays, you pretty much have to be famous (or perhaps infamous) to have a notice of your travel or holiday plans published in the newspaper.

Not so in 1913!

The Ottawa Journal, 9 August 1913.

The Ottawa Journal, 9 August 1913.

My great-grandparents Alexander Michael Moran and Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton certainly had no claims to local, much less national, celebrity: they were neither famous nor infamous. But here is a notice of their trip to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, published in The Ottawa Journal on 9 August 1913. They presumably made this trip with their two sons Allan Jerome Moran (my grandfather) and Orville Alexander Moran. And they must have gone out west to visit my great-grandmother’s sister Margaret (“Maggie”) Anne Benton (my grandfather’s maternal aunt, who was also his godmother).

Maggie Benton had married the widowed Con Hazelton (originally of Eganville, Renfrew Co., whose first wife was a Mary McCourt) in Ottawa on 16 April 1912, and had then gone out to Swift Current, Saskatchewan with her husband, where, according to my father, Con Hazelton had a lumber store (this bit of oral history can be verified through written records, by the way).

Obituary/death notice for Margaret Anne Benton, The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952

Obituary/death notice for Margaret Anne Benton, The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952

I don’t know when exactly Margaret (Benton) Hazelton returned from Swift Current, Saskatchewan to Ottawa. On this point, her obituary/death notice (The Ottawa Journal, 9 July 1952) is not much help: apparently she had lived in Saskatchewan for “several years” before returning to Ottawa. Did she return to Ottawa with her husband Con Hazelton? or did she return to Ottawa as a widow? From her obituary, this is not made clear: we only learn that, as of July 1952, Constantine Hazelton had “died some time ago” (in Ottawa? in Swift Current? this information is not supplied). But note the genealogically useful information about Maggie (Benton) Hazelton’s stepdaughters (the children of Con Hazelton and his first wife Mary McCourt): as of July 1952, Cora (Elizabeth Cora Irene) Hazleton is now a Mrs. Cora Beauchamp of Vancouver, B.C., while Nellie (Ellen Mary) Hazelton is now a Mrs. Johnston of Cannuck, Saskatchewan. One individual’s newspaper obituary can supply so many hints and leads about siblings, children, stepchildren, and other extended family.

In any case, certainly Margaret (“Maggie”) Anne (Benton) Hazelton died in Ottawa (at an Ottawa nursing home) on 8 July 1952 at the age of 83, and is buried at Notre Dame Cemtery/Cimetière Notre Dame, Ottawa.

To return to the theme of travel:

My great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran worked as a machinist for the GTR (Grand Trunk Railway). And according to my father, as an employee of the railway, my great-grandfather was entitled to free (or perhaps vastly discounted?) rail passes that would take he and his family to points all across Canada and the US. Of which perk he seldom took advantage; though apparently my grandfather, with his parents, did take a trip by rail to North Dakota to visit some Moran relations there. This would have been about 1910 to 1915, and perhaps this trip, too, was mentioned in the newspaper? I should try and look it up.

The Perth Courier (Canada’s second-oldest weekly newspaper) is great for notices of local travel. I’ve seen notices where So-and-So of Perth is visiting a sister in Almonte for a few days, or perhaps a cousin in Renfrew. And yes, this merits column space. Newsworthy.

 

 

Death of Thomas Benton …

… And Dispersal of his Household of Five Daughters

When Thomas Benton died in Arnprior (Renfrew Co., Ontario) on 7 March 1890, he left behind one son and seven daughters.

His wife Hanora (“Annie”) Ryan had died over a decade earlier (28 January 1879), apparently of “inflammation of the bowels.”1 And three of the children of Thomas Benton and Annie Ryan had already married and set up their own households by the time of their father’s death:

That left five Benton daughters still at home when their father suffered a dreadful, and fatal, accident…

Thomas Benton Jr. was in Duluth, Minnesota with his wife Maggie Mulvihill (daughter of Michael Mulvihill and Bridget Cronin). 2
Catherine Benton, who had married John Finnerty (son of Peter Finnerty and Anne Havey) in 1875, was still in Arnprior, though she and her family would move to Cloquet, Carlton Co., Minnesota in 1892. And Bridget Benton, who had married James Finnerty (another son of Peter Finnerty and Anne Havey) in 1888, was also in Arnprior, with her husband and the eldest two of their eleven known children.

That left five Benton daughters still at home when their father suffered a dreadful, and fatal, accident.

  1. Dysentery?  appendicits? colitis? enteritis? The cause of death might have been any of these, or perhaps something else entirely.
  2. Although Thomas Benton Jr. had emigrated to Minnesota in 1883, he had at least briefly returned to Arnprior in the late 1880s, where he married Margaret (“Maggie”) Mulvihill. In the record of their marriage, St. John Chrysostom, Arnprior, 13 September 1888, he is described as “Thomas Benton of Duluth, hotel keeper.”

Where did my great-grandparents meet?

Here is my great-grandmother Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton in the Ottawa city directory of 1895-6:1

Annie Benton

Miss Annie Benton, dressmaker, lodger at 103 Cambridge St.

  1. The Ottawa city Directory, 1895-6: embracing an alphabetical list of all business firms and private citizens, a classified business directory and a miscellaneous directory, containing a large amount of valuable information : also a complete street guide, to which is added an alphabetical and street directory of Hull, Que., . (Might Directory Co. of Toronto: 1895), online at archive.org

‘I am a Poor man with a helpless family': Peter Finnerty petitions the Crown

Marriage of Peter Finnerty and Anne Havey, 11 July 1843, Notre Dame Basilica, Québec.

Peter Finnerty was born about 1810 in Co. Kerry, Ireland, the son of John Finnerty and Catherine Dunleavy. He emigrated to Canada probably in the early 1840s, initially working as a labourer (journalier) in Quebec City. Here  he married another recent Irish emigrant, Anne Havey of Co. Sligo, daughter of John Havey and Mary McGee. The couple were married on 11 July 1843, at Notre Dame Basilica, Québec (click preview, left, to see larger image). 1 A year later, they could be found in McNab township, Renfrew County, Ontario, where they raised a family of seven known children.

Two of the sons of Peter Finnerty and Anne Havey — John and James Finnerty, respectively — married two of the daughters — Catherine and Bridget Benton, respectively — of Thomas Benton and Honora Ryan, which two Finnerty-Benton unions produced an impressive number of Finnerty children (nine by John and Catherine; eleven by James and Bridget) who were double first cousins.

  1. Basilique Notre-Dame (Québec City, Québec), Register of Births, Marriages and Burials, 1843, p. 123, M. 69, Peter Finnerty-Anne Havy marriage: database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 23 March 2012), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

Translating French Records: Canadian Census Returns

Alex Moran household, 1901 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa City (district 100), St. George Ward (subdistrict E-3), p. 19, family 152.

Canadian census records might be recorded in English, in French, or in a combination of both languages.

Here’s an example of a French-English combination, from the 1901 census of Ottawa (see right; click thumbnail preview to enlarge). This is the household of Alexander Michael Moran, with his wife Anna Maria Benton; his sons Allan Jerome and Orville Alexander Moran; his sister Emma (Mary Emilia Moran) Lenahan; and his sister-in-law Margaret Anne Benton. The six members of this household were listed with a combination of English and French descriptors, some of which were as follows:

Name Relationship to
Household Head
Racial or Tribal
Origin
Mother Tongue
Alex Moran Chef [Head] Irish Anglais [English]
Anna Moran épouse [wife]
Allan Jerome Moran fils [son]
Alex Moran fils [son]
Emma Lannehan Dom [domestique/domestic] Anglais [English]
Maggie Benton Dom [domestique/domestic]