Tag Archives: 52 ancestors in 52 weeks.

A Black Sheep

These pictures have written on the back (left to right) Ira Titchworth, Nancy Mulholland, and William Titchworth. I’m not sure the names are correct.

We have a true scoundrel or black sheep in the family, Ira Titchworth. Ira, the son of William Titchworth and Nancy Mulholland, was born about 1840 most likely in or around Paris, Brant, Ontario, Canada. In 1861 he is working as a clerk in Beverly, Wentworth, Ontario. However, he changes careers and in 1864 he obtains a Second Class Certificate as a Common School Teacher and is able to teach for 1 year. He redoes the certification in 1866 and once again receives a Second Class Certificate.

When his mother dies, 2 of his younger sisters move to Norfolk County to live with relatives. It’s here that Ira meets his wife, Marilla Woodward. Marilla and Ira are married by a Free Baptist minister in Walsingham, Norfolk, Ontario on 27 June 1865. His sister, Pheobe Titchworth is the witness. Ira and Marilla are in the 1871 Canada Census, living in Townsend, North Norfolk with a 5 year old daughter, Mathilda.

Everything appears to be perfectly normal so far. He has a good job, he’s married and has a child. Now let’s get to the juicy bits. The next document I find for Ira he is a marriage to Ida Howard in Mariposa, California. He is 37 and she is 18 years old. It get’s better. Marilla is still alive. Marilla dies in 1922. On her gravestone it says “Marilla, wife of Ira Titchworth”.  They were never divorced. Ira is a bigamist! I know this is the correct Ira Titchworth because his father’s will states, “I will  my oldest son Ira Cyrus Titchworth (100$) one hundred dollars Maraposy California.”

My grandmother always said that her great grandfather married a student but I haven’t found proof of this. The age difference between Reuben Taylor and Leah Jane Titchworth isn’t that great and I searched the superintendent records listing teachers and Reuben didn’t teach where Leah lived. I think that it is Ira who married his student.

Ira marries Ida Howard on November 2, 1878 but by 1881 he is working as a teacher in Port Townsend, Washington State. His his married but is not with his wife. Did he leave his 2nd wife too?

So here’s where things start to get elusive. I’m not able to find any records of Ira after the 1881 census. Family stories say that Ira died in 1930. I have two letters, one written in 1923 from Silas Titchworth (Ira’s brother) to Pheobe Field (his sister). In this letter Silas says he is going to write Ira and hopes he hasn’t moved. This proves Ira was alive in 1923.

The other letter fascinates me because it suggests so much. This letter, from San Francisco is written to Pheobe Field, dated April 2 but no year is given. It’s written in pencil. I believe that the letter is written by Casper Titchworth’s wife. Whoever it is, Ira has obviously has her on his side. She makes excuses for his smoking,

“I think you are rather hard on Ira.  Remember we are not all constituted alike.  Ira did not commence to use tobacco because he liked it…. he studied so hard he could not sleep – and a doctor told him he should have to smoke.  I did talk to him and so did  [Casper] and he only smoked 3 times a day instead of 14 when we went away and he said he felt better for it.”

She also makes excuses for him leaving his wife and child (I assume it is his first wife),

“it seems a sin when one is blessed with such a child to leave them to struggle along as [he did] although he  was without his friends or [anyone ] to help him when he married so young if he had a hard time alone a wife and baby I would not he a half surely that is the way I look at it.”

Then she goes on to complain about how “uncle” (William Titchworth) left Ira so little in his will,

“I cannot see what ever possessed uncle to have cut him off in the manner he did.  I think it was dreadful and the other heirs should make it equal and do it willingly …to uncle knew just how he was situated I would never have tried to study medicine with the means he had or at his time of life.”

There’s more along that vein. Basically, she’s writing Phoebe to ask for money for Ira.
The line that convinces me that Ira has hoodwinked her is “I never met a man so good and pure as he”. I think that Ira had a way with women.

Now I have an unproved theory about where Ira disappears to. In the 1920 Census a man by the name of James C Titchworth appears. He was born about 1841 in Canada the same as Ira. His father was born in New York – Ira’s father was born in New York; his mother was born in Canada – Ira’s mother was born in Canada AND he’s a physician. The letter from the unknown woman to Phoebe states Ira is studying medicine. A directory of deceased physicians gives us the information that James was licensed as a physician in 1898 and that he died in 1926 of lung cancer. As I said this theory is completely without proof but maybe Ira changed his name and became a physician.

I do believe that Ira truly was a black sheep. Black sheep make family history research stimulating and sometimes have our brains running in circles trying to figure them out. I’m sure that Ira’s wives didn’t appreciate it though.

I’m hoping someone out there has more concrete evidence on Ira Titchworth and where he ended up. Please contact me if you do.


Ira Titchworth

1851 Canada Census; William Titchworth Household; Paris, Brant, Canada West; District 2; page 33, line 42; Microfilm C-11714; accessed 20 December 2015; http://www.ancestry.com ; [database online]; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario

1861 Canada Census; William Titchworth Household; Paris, Brant, Canada West; page 25; Microfilm C1109; accessed 20 December 2015; http://www.ancestry.com ; [database online]; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario

1861 Canada Census; Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1086

Ontario County Marriage Registers, 1857 – 1924; Norfolk County, page 129; Microfilm Reel 1030061; Family History Library; Salt Lake City, Utah; original source; Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Canada

Sessional Papers, second session of the eighth session of Parliament of the Province of Canada, session 1864; from Early Canadiana Online; original source, Library and Archives Canada.

Sessional Papers, second session of the eighth session of Parliament of the Province of Canada, session 1866; from Early Canadiana Online; original source, Library and Archives Canada.

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 July 2018), memorial page for Marilla Titchworth (1848–1922), Find A Grave Memorial no. 129816581, citing Johnson Cemetery, Saint-Williams, Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada ; Maintained by 4ever Nanny (contributor 47345810) .

William Titchworth Will; Kay Corbett Collection, Esquimault, BC.

Ancestry.com. Washington State and Territorial Censuses, 1857-1892 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.; Original data: Olympia, Washington: Washington State Archives. M1, 20 rolls.

James C Titchworth

United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9R6S-LP7?cc=1488411&wc=QZJG-NPD%3A1036469601%2C1038729301%2C1038803701%2C1589334637 : 15 December 2015), California > San Francisco > San Francisco Assembly District 30 > ED 222 > image 13 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929 [database on-line].Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc

Same name #52 ancestors

Margaret Jerry with class she taught

Margaret Electa Cranston is the teacher, in white at the back.

My great grandmother’s name is Margaret Electa Jerry (nee Cranston) and she has an aunt called Jane Electa Barclay (nee Taylor). I always wondered if this odd name was passed down from a long ago ancestor.

For some reason I thought the name Electa came from the Mulholland side of my tree. I did some research and found a 3 year old Electa Mulholland in the 1861 Census in Beverley Township, Wentworth County, Ontario, Canada. Her parents were George and Jennet Mulholland. She was a twin and her sister was called Celesta. Electa Mulholland  married John Morris Peregine on May 19, 1883. She died in 1899.

Further research uncovered an Electa Mulholland born in New York about 1826
She was living in Pennsylvania in the 1880 Federal United States Census. Turns out maiden name was Whitman. Then I found the tombstone Electa Mulholland born about 1800. Her maiden name was Trowbridge. Obviously, it wasn’t just the Mulholland family calling their daughters Electa.

That’s when I decided to google the name Electa. There is a lot of conflicting information surrounding this name. It either comes from Latin and means “selected” or “chosen one” or it is  a Greek term meaning “ceaseless” or “amber”. I tried using Google Translate but it wasn’t recognized in Greek and the Latin translation came up as “picks”

It turns the name “Electa” was quite  popular in the early years of the New England States which explains why I found it in my loyalist families. I’m quite glad it’s use has been discontinued. It’s a name I don’t like. Thankfully, my ancestors chose it as a middle name.



1861 Census
Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1086; Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

Ontario Marriage Registrations; Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-1936 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Book Title: George Wightman of Quidnessett, R I , 1632-1721/2, and descendants : Waitman, Weightman, Whiteman; Ancestry.com. North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi.

Another language – don’t be afraid to ask!

My genealogy research so far is all in English but one side of my husband’s ancestry is Polish. One day we received a package in the mail from his uncle. We’d asked a few times for any information he had but hadn’t received anything so it was a surprise to get it. Enclosed were his grandparents Polish passports, a copy of his baptismal record and another record written in Cyrillic Russian. We didn’t know what it Cyrillic Russian is entirely foreign to us.

His grandfather’s passport is a great source of information. We were able to figure out where he came from and his birth date.  Passports always have a picture so we knew what he looked like when he was young.

Alexander Shymanski Passport

Passport photo of Alexander Szymanski

The baptism record is in Latin so it is fairly easy to figure out. The great thing about it is  it gives the names of his parents grandparents. What a genealogical find.

There is also a certificate excusing him from military service in Poland; written in Polish but once again my husband could figure it out with help from a Polish to English dictionary (google translate didn’t exist then).

So all we had to do now was decipher the Russian document. I believe we are blessed with what we need when we need it and sure enough when the documents arrived I was working with 2 Russian born people. Both of them looked at the document, frowned and said “I don’t read Cyrillic but let me try”. Each came back and said she couldn’t read it entirely but it looked like a a criminal record check. That made perfect sense. He was immigrating to Canada and needed proof he hadn’t committed any crimes.

The problem was solved because I wasn’t afraid to ask for help.  For years I sat in my office and hoarded my information. Now I share my information and ask for help when it’s needed. You can ask your local genealogy society, someone who might have knowledge of the area you are researching or you can even post your question on one of the many specialized Facebook groups. Let me know how it goes.


Cemeteries – 52 Weeks

It may be strange but I love wandering through old cemeteries. I wonder what illness went through the community when tombstones have death dates around the same time, and grieve when there is a mother and child with the same death date…possibly because of a bad pregnancy. You can learn so much about a community from the graveyard.

My sisters, however, don’t share the same love of cemeteries. One sister still complains about the time I dragged her around my hometown cemetery when she was young. Another one refuses to go to Ireland with me because she doesn’t want to spend her time going through graveyards. (I only wanted to see 2 of them).

My hometown of Fort Frances, Ontario has a big, old cemetery that fascinates me. Just knowing my ancestors are buried there draws me to it. It’s right beside the river and has lots of trees. Due to erosion, 2 family members, Harriet and Robert Jerry had to be moved to the newer cemetery.

But my favourite place is the Devlin/Lavallee Cemetery or the Devlin Cemetery or Lavallee Cemetery. It’s name depends on which village you lived it. It has the remains of my father’s granddad, Henry Miller and his wife Margaret McCall, some of their children, and Margaret’s siblings. It also has the ashes of my mother. Most people wouldn’t understand but it feels like home there, especially since I knew many of these people.

It’s in the country on a small hillock. It is here that I would like to be buried.

Storms in Life – 52 weeks

When I think about storms in my life the roughest period was when I was trying to conceive. Month to month was an emotional roller coaster. I always related to Mary Munro. She couldn’t have children either. At least that was what I had been told.

Imagine my surprise when I found Mary Jane and her husband Neil Munro listed with a child, Mary C. on the 1901 census. Mary C Munro was born November 22, 1887. She hadn’t appeared in the 1891 census so I was cautious and checked the 1911 census. She was in that census too but this one listed her as “adopted daughter”.

Mary and  Neil had adopted a little girl. My experience with adopted or foster children suggested she was somehow related. I knew from research that the relationship wasn’t on the Miller side so I started researching the siblings of Neil Munro. Since I knew Neil’s parents names from his marriage registration. I went to the Ontario Marriage Registrations on Ancestry and typed only the parents names in the search. Sure enough, the marriage of one sister, Rose Monroe and Arthur Robson showed up. A year later, on November 22, 1887, Mary Christina Robson was born to this couple.

I did more research and discovered that Rosina Robson died of consumption (tuberculosis) on June 16, 1891. Her father would not have been able to care for a 4 year old so the logical thing to do was give her to Mary and Neil to raise since they had no children of their own. This is a very humane way to deal with children.

Mary Christina lived with Mary and Neil until 1914 when she married Howard Stevens and in 1921 she had 3 children of her own.

Although Mary Jane Munro lived through the “storm” of not having children, at the age of 35 she was blessed with a little 4 year old girl to love and raise for 23 years. It’s not the same as giving birth but raising child whether biologically yours or not is a tremendous responsibility and joy, I’m sure.

5c_Tombstone_Mary Christina Robson

1901 Canada Census; Neil Munroe Household; Westminster Township; Middlesex South, Ontario; District 89, Subdistrict D2; page 1, family 3; accessed 24 August 2015; www.ancestry.ca; [database online]; Provo, Utah; Microfilm T-6482; ; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

1911 Canada Census; Neil Munroe Household; Westminster Township; East Middlesex, Ontario; District 95, Subdistrict 22; page 18, family 214; accessed 24 August 2015; www.ancestry.ca; [database online]; Provo, Utah; Microfilm T20384; ; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

Rose Robson

Ontario Marriage Registrations; Munro, Rose; Robson, Arthur; 1886; Lucknow, Bruce;  #1704; Microfilm Reel 1869960; accessed April 2006; Family History Library; Salt Lake City, Utah; citing Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Canada.

Ontario Birth Registrations; Robson, Mary Christina; Colbourne Township, Huron; #13447; Microfilm MS 929 Reel 82; Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

Ontario Death Registrations; Robson, Rosina; 1891; Westminster, Middlesex; #10025; accessed 24 August, 2015; www.ancestry.ca; [database online]; Provo, Utah; Microfilm MS 935 Reel 61; citing Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

Ontario Marriage Registrations, 1869-1928; Westminster, Middlesex, Ontario; Ancestry.com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010; citing Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Canada

Howard Stevens Household: 1921 Canada Census; RG 31; Folder Number: 71; Census Place: Westminster (Township), Middlesex East, Ontario; Page Number: 9; Ancestry.com. [database on-line]; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Tombstone; Howard and Mary C Stevens (Robson); Pond Mills Cemetery, Middlesex Co, Ontario; Photos courtesy of Alison Mitchell-Reid [2008], Additions from Dot Sale [2015], Indexed by Alison Mitchell-Reid at CanadaGenWeb’s Cemetery Project. http://geneofun.on.ca/names/photo/1049650



Maiden Aunt – 52 Weeks

Out of 7 children born to Reuben Clarence Taylor and Leah Jane Titchworth (married December 3 1863 in Paris, Brant County, Ontario), only 3 married. Nancy Emily married Hamilton Cranston; Jane Electa married James Barclay; and William John Brown married Ida Johnson. Their other son, Thomas, was born with an “unsound mind”.

That left 3 daughters, Olivia Huberta (Bertie), Margaret Amelia, and Josephine who were maiden aunts (great-great-great aunts to be precise). According to family members, all three had a trade. Bertie was a milliner in Detroit, Michigan, Margaret worked in well-to-do homes and painted china, and Josephine ran a grocery store in Bethune, Saskatchewan.

Josephine Taylor_Bethune Sask

Josephine Taylor in Bethune, Saskatchewan

How did Josephine end up running a store. Well, sometime between 1906 and 1911 Reuben, Leah, and Josephine along with William and his wife Ida moved to Saskatchewan. They ended up in Bethune, where William purchased a store and Josephine was supposed to run it and look after her aging parents. Something went wrong and by 1911 Reuben and Leah were living with William and his family. Reuben died in 1912 and at some point Leah moved back to Comber. But Josephine and William remained in Saskatchewan. Josephine continued to run the store until 1938 when she had to close it down.

I always wondered why she stayed in Saskatchewan even after everyone else left. From letters she wrote to her Aunt Phoebe and cousins in BC it sounds like she had a social life and many friends in Bethune. She went to dances, helped sew quilts for “the boys overseas, and sewed. Apparently she didn’t like curling though.

Of her mother’s funeral she says,

“The masons looked after everything for me. The minister, the funeral director, and pall bearers were all masons.There was lots of lovely flowers sent in…” (Her mother died in Detroit while visiting Bertie but was buried in Bethune beside her husband)

A year later she wrote about helping a friend whose mother just died.

Josephine, started out as a seamstress in Ontario, but as an unmarried woman, she learned many new skills in Saskatchewan.

“I am quite a carpenter. I can repair locks on doors, make egg crates and anything like that. I was out Saturday and this morning changing the hen yard. I have six hens…”

She still missed her siblings; many of her letters talk about family (a great find for a family historian) and how she feels ignored by them. My favourite complaint was how she thought Will would stay and visit after the funeral but he stayed only for the funeral, catching the train as soon as it was over.

She had no desire to go “back east” but eventually had no choice. With a poor economy and little money she was forced to return sometime after 1941. Josephine died in Chatham, Ontario in 1961.

Tombstone_Josephine Taylor 1874 - 1961

Tombstone of 4 unmarried children of Reuben and Leah Taylor at McDowell Cemetery near Comber, Essex, Ontario

Ontario County Marriage Registers; Paris, Brantford, Ontario; p 127; LDS Microfilm 1,030, 055; citing Archives of Ontario

1911 Canada Census; Village of Bethune, Regina, Saskatchewan; Page: 12; Family No: 139, http://www.ancestry.com (database online); citing Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Kay Corbett Collection; Letters from Josephine Taylor to Pheobe Field (nee Titchworth)






Homestead – 52 Ancestors

I’ve never thought of any piece of land as the “old homestead” but members of our family did homestead. William Titchworth traveled to Kansas to homestead in 1863; the James Cranston homestead has been in the Cranston family since 1846; members of the Miller and Jerry families homestead in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Jerry, Herbert with gun and brothers Ed, Bert, Bill and parents

Robert and Sarah sitting, Herb holding gun, Ed, Bert, and Bill on the homestead in Crozier

The Jerry family also homesteaded in Crozier, Rainy River, Ontario. Dad says their property was the land across from  the current golf course in Crozier. The land documents say that Robert Jerry received land from the Rainy River Free Grant and Homestead Act. This act gave land to settlers as long as they made improvements. Robert and Sarah Harriet Jerry homesteaded on 162 acres on the North East of Section 29. He was given title to the land in October 1907. I found an older map of Crozier . For easy finding I drew a box around the land Robert, Edward, and James Herbert (granddad Jerry) owned.

By 1902, Robert and Harriet and 4 sons, William, Herbert, Edward, and Albert were living in Crozier. They built a log cabin and eventually the sons received homesteads in the area. In August 1917, Robert Jerry died leaving a widow and 5 heirs at law. There was no will but 2 witnesses stated that before passing away, Robert had said  Albert was to receive the homestead. Albert and his wife, Clara, lived with, tended the farm, and cared for Robert and Harriet as they aged. None of the siblings contest the verbal will. Albert had the farm until he sold it in 1943 to John George Bragg and Lucy Bragg. An interesting side note is that Norbert Bragg the man who drove most of us to school also owned this piece of land for a while.

Our Great-grandfather, James Herbert Jerry homesteaded the SE1/2 of Section 29. The family moved there permanently in 1929 after a stint in Saskatchewan and Southern Ontario. According to our Great-Aunt Jo, his daughter,

James Herbert Jerry home in CrozierThe homestead had a two room building with a garage on one side and a bachelor’s room on the other.  Dad had logged the land to build a bigger house but when he came back from the south the logs were gone.  He figured the neighbour had sold them.  So we lived in the little building with Dad turning the garage into a kitchen.

Descendants of the Jerry family still live in the Rainy River District.


Ontario Land Registry Access; Historical Documents; Rainy River, Crozier, Parcel 18 – 3849, image 160-162; https://www.onland.ca/ui/48/books/search

1901 Canada Census; Robert Jerry Household; Alberton, Algoma, Ontario; District 44; Subdistrict H-1; Household 30; Page 3; Microfilm T6458; Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

Land Patent Maps; Archives of Ontario; Crozier; http://ao.minisisinc.com/scripts/mwimain.dll/1522386813/1/0?SEARCH&ERRMSG=[IMG_WEB]includes\errors\img_simNo.htm

“Stories from Aunt Jo”; written memories from Josephine Beaton.