Airport Fun

I am sitting in the Edmonton airport waiting for the start of what in my mind is my ‘trip of a lifetime’. Although not purely a research trip, more of an exploratory journey, I will be doing some genealogy research. I plan to stay close or in the communities that I know my family has resided,  and I look forward to talking locals, exploring churches, cemeteries and breathing the Irish air. To pass the time I made a list of my Irish immigrant ancestors and where they were from. 

Out of 12 people I have a known location in Ireland for 5, I only know the Counties for 2, which leaves me with 5 that have the empty designation of unknown.

Ancestors name | Date of Immigration | Immigrated From | Location in Canada | Connection to me

1. Mary Potter – [ca.1820] unknown location -> Goulbourn, Carleton Co., Ontario – 3x great grandmother

2. Cornelius McMahon – 1850 Co. Clare -> Sherbrooke, Quebec -. Normanby Twp, Grey Co., Ontario – 2x great grandfather

3. Sarah McCue – unknown date, unknown place -> Normanby Twp, Grey CO., Ontario – 2 x great grandmother
4. Margaret Pendergast with parents Thomas Pendergast & Margaret Walsh – ca. 1830s – Mooncoin, Kilkenny -> Quebec City – 3x great grandmother

5. Thomas Hodgins – [ca.1812] – Dromineer, Tipperary -> Huntley, Carleton CO., Ontario – 4x great grandfather

6. Thomas Reddy – [ca.1840] – unknown place (possibly Kilkenny) -> Quebec City – 3x great grandfather 

7. Samuel Jordan – [before 1852] unknown place -> Quebec City – 3x great grandfather

8. Mary Quigley – wife of Samuel Jordan [before 1852 ] -> Quebec City – 3x great grandmother

9. Mary Loftus – [unknown date] – unknown place –  arrived with husband Felix McGowan to New York -> West Flamboro, Wentworth Co., Ontario – 2x great grandmother

10. Bridget Melody – 1879 – New Inn, Galway -> Montreal, Quebec

11. James Diver with wife Sarah Cheatley – 1862 – Milford, Donegal -> Picton, Prince Edward Co., Ontario – 2x great grandparents

12. Sarah Cheatley – 1862 – Milford, Donegal -> same as her husband James Diver (Sarah was from Dromore, Donegal)

Summary

List of Irish Counties – Clare, Galway, Sligo, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Donegal, 6 unknown

Earliest arrival was Thomas Hodgins ca. 1812

Latest arrival was Bridget Melody in 1879

Possible Famine immigration – McMahon, McCue, Reddy, Jordan, Quigley

The Other Brother

I remember listening to a genealogy speaker who said there are always three brothers…I have found three such brothers – Cornelius, Edward and Michael McMahon. But I found an unknown fourth brother and I have discovered why none of us knew about #4.

Researching my McMahon family has been amazing, I have connected with family members who have shared pictures, family stories, and information. The McMahon’s knew there were three brothers that immigrated to Canada until I came along and found out more. 

Brother number four, John McMahon,  appears in the 1861 census living with his oldest Cornelius, his wife and children. This census does not include family relationships which meant it took a little more research to figure out the family connections. John next shows up living with brother Edward’s family in the three subsequent census’s for Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario. And if you scroll all the way over on the 1871 census for Canada you will find a heading, Deaf & Dumb, and a tick mark on the box for John. And no, that is not the reason the family forgot about John. What we have learned is that John was born in 1846 in Ireland and the McMahon family left a few years later. John’s mother died on the journey over, or once the family arrived in Canada according to accounts passed down through the family.

Life must not have been easy to be a deaf mute in that time. John was considered quite intelligent and used sign to communicate. It was probably a big help to his brother Edward having another grown man and an extra set of hands to help out on the farm. 

Records from the Archives of Ontario have uncovered more about John’s story. A search on their website for “John McMahon” did not bring in any answers but when I did a search for “McMahon, John” I was led to a page that had a record for a John McMahon being charged with wounding with intent in Grey Co.

In 1894 things turned ugly in the McMahon house. A later account tells of how things had been escalating the last few years. John had started attacking his brother Edward and some of Edward’s children for no apparent reason. It all came to a head when John grabbed a block of wood from the wood pile and hit his brother Edward over the head when his back was turned. Edward’s wife Bridget intervened when she heard Edward call out. Edward survived the attack but had had enough with the erratic behavior and was concerned for the well-being for his family and called the local police. John was placed under arrest and was assessed by a doctor. He was declared not insane. I know John was sent to jail but I was unsure what happened to him.

More information on John was discovered through Michael Stephenson’s Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy and History site. Michael has created numerous indexes to not-so-common Ontario resources. If you find a name in the index, Michael will look up the record and mail it to you for a fee.

When I searched through the  Hamilton Asylum index, a John McMahon appeared. I emailed Michael a request for the full record and I sent off the cheque to cover his look up fee, yesterday the record arrived in the mail. 

The record included a history of John’s behavior, a Doctors assessment, a second Doctors assessment, an entry from his date of admission, and entries explaining his behavior for the years 1895-1902, 1904 & 1907. Honestly, this is more information than I have on other family members during this time. The history explained the change in John’s behavior, it started in 1889 when he was struck on the head by a limb falling from a tree. This injury prompted a shift in his behavior, he started to become violent and easily agitated. He made threats and even attacked members of the family.

He is found on the 1901, 1911 and 1921 censuses as a patient in this institution. He spent 31 years living out his life at the Asylum, where the fairly detailed records indicate he helped out in the bakery. It is also noted that he was tidy, healthy, quiet, cheerful, and a good worker. 

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entry in John McMahon’s records made by Dr. Manley, unknown date

I found a photograph of the Asylum on the McMaster’s University website along with a wonderful explanation about the facility.

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Hamilton Psychiatric Asylum via the McMaster’s University web page

John was involved in one incident that was noted in the records, in 1899 he wandered off (escaped?) but this was the month of December and he made it as far as Clappison’s Corner where he was found by a farmer and returned to the Asylum. He suffered severe frostbite and had to have his toe amputated and had facial paralysis for a time due to exposure.

John died in the Asylum in 1925 at the age of 80, and likely none of the McMahon family knew of his passing. He is buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Flamborough, Wentworth Co., Ontario.

So this time there were four brothers.

If you think you have a relative that may have stayed at one of the institutions in Ontario the Ontario Archives gives a good description of the records they have on their website.

52 Ancestors – #5 James Raymond Stewart

James or Ray as he was known was born 1900 in Manannah Twp., Meeker Co., Minnesota. His father David first settled in the area as a young man and travelled north to Canada to marry Bridget McMahon who lived in the same community he had before leaving Ontario.

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James had quite a journey in store. He was the 7th child born to David and Mary and a few short months after his birth he travelled with his family to their new home in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. This journey today is 662 miles and takes about 10 hours, travel in 1900 would have taken quite a bit longer. Ray’s dad David was a farmer and his boys grew up knowing farm life.

At the Stewart farm in Yorkton, SK.

At the Stewart farm in Yorkton, SK.

Ray lost his mother when he was 12 which left his older sisters to care for him. Ray knew that having two older brothers he would have to make his own way, he adventured off to the Peace Country in Alberta and liked what he saw. This prompted him to file for a homestead, then travel back to Saskatchewan to gather up his meagre supplies. His goods arrived by train in 1927 and Beaverlodge was now home.

James Stewart  abt. 1920

James Stewart
abt. 1920

Same photo with some photo editing.

Same photo with editing.

Ray spent the rest of his life in the Beaverlodge area, where he raised a family and worked hard to provide for them. It wasn’t always easy, they lost their home to a fire and finances were always  struggle. He had a positive attitude and a generous heart. James died in 1990 surrounded by his family.

My children standing on the location of Ray Stewart's homestead.

My children standing on the location of Ray Stewart’s homestead.