Saturday, May 29, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSON - A story of survival.

George Albert JOHNSON
Born 1875 - Died 1964 - Aged 89 years 3 months

 George is 85 years old in this photograph.

George Albert JOHNSON was my maternal Grandfather.

"Always a source of worry and of fear, a prairie fire caused great concern among the very early homesteaders. The first such fire to cross this particular area was in the fall of 1905. As remembered from conversation by those who were here, it appeared to have started not too far west.

In the long thick grass of many years it swept forward at tremendous speed. Flames rose 20 to 25 feet in the air with thickening acrid smoke. Unfortunate was the odd settler who did not have an excellent fire guard.

One neighbor who witnessed and survived the fire was George Johnson. He had gone west over a mile from their own sod house to see about a fire guard of another settler, James McCracken, when it overtook him on the way home. There was only one salvation - to run through the fire to burned over ground. In so doing he carried scars of that episode to the end.  .  .  ."

SOURCE: LOOKING BACK - The History of the Milden Community; 1905-1965. Published by: The Milden Historical Committee, 1966. Page 14.

In 1969, this 150 page book was given to my parents by one of my father's first cousins. The Village of Milden and the surrounding farming community is where my parents grew up.

NOTE: The fall of 1905 would have been just months after George, his wife Emma (CLARK) and their first two children arrived by wagon on the barren prairies to claim their homestead. George would have been 30 years old; Emma 26 years; Gordon Clark 4 1/2 years; and Mary `Mae` Jane 3 years old. Two more children were born in the sod house. Florence Irene born 1906 and Clifford Fallis born early 1908.

In the spring/summer of 1905 they would have built their first home, the sod house. The family lived in the sod house 3 years, until 1908 when they built the wood frame/cedar house that was their house for the rest of their lives.

This must have been a frightening experience for George and his young family.

Also, over the years, I heard the story of "Grandpa and the prairie fire" as told by my Mother. Although Grandpa did have some scars, fortunately he was not disfigured. As children and young adults, he looked fine to us!


This United States Congress image is in the Public Domain.
Notice the very fancy hats that the two women standing in the center are wearing.
One with a 'bunch' of pink flowers. The other has a hat matching her purple dress.

However, I think this photo has had the colour added, that prairie grass just looks too green! article on the history of Sod Houses

UPDATED: Sunday, May 30th 2010 with images from 

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Friday, May 28, 2010

Follow Friday ~ Blogs To Visit

I'm the happy recipient of the "Ancestor Approved Award" initiated by Leslie Ann Ballou of Ancestors Live Here .

My thanks to Lisa Wallen Logsdon of Old Stones Undeciphered 
for choosing my blog as a recipient.

List of blogs I've passed the Award on to. All worth visiting:

Grave Yard Rabbit-Grey County - Janet
We Tree - Amy
Grave Yard Travels Wright - Diane W
Canada Genealogy - Jane's Your Aunt - Diane W
Gen Wish List - Tina
Delia's Genealogy Blog - Delia
Linda's Flipside - Linda
Irish Family Research - Deborah
The Family Curator - Denise

My surprises:
2003 - The very first time I found some of my Mother's family online while doing research for her 90th birthday.

The email address of a third cousin that I found at the same time.

The package of information from the same cousin. Included were a family history booklet, photos and census records.
Another package of information from a first cousin in 2003. Included photos, funeral cards, postcards, etc.

I was so pleased to be able to show this information to my Mom on her 90th birthday. Before she passed in the summer of 2004, at age 91, I was able to share many moments reminiscing with her.

My Mother told me that my paternal grandmother was the eldest of 10 siblings, two of which had died. My surprise was to find that Grandma actually had 12 siblings. Three died within 2 years of each other. Two died in 1894, ages 4 years 6 months and 2 years 9 months. One died in 1893, age 3 months.  So she was the eldest of 10 surviving siblings. Mom was partly correct!!

In 2009, I started to research again and was amazed at the wealth of information available 6 years later.

In 2010, I started a blog. Again, amazed and delighted to find so many bloggers and family researchers online.

Fascinating stories, useful research tips, creative and talented people. Thanks to all for inspiration.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ JOHNSTON Family ~ 1872 to 1942 ~ 70 Years ~ Grey County, Ontario ~ Part One

JOHNSTON Family Tombstone
1872 to 1942 ~ 70 years
Flesherton Cemetery
Artemnesia Township, Grey County, Ontario

DIED MAY 24TH 1872

Margaret SCOTT, born 1840 in Scotland, married Christopher JOHNSTON 1863 in Ontario, died 1872, aged 31 years.


Mary Jane ACHESON, born 1856 in Ontario, married Christopher JOHNSTON 1874, died 1901, aged 45 years.


Jane Ann (JOHNSTON) TAYLOR, daughter of Margaret SCOTT and Christopher JOHNSTON, born 1863, died 1899, aged 36 years.

DIED AUG 27TH 1899

Mary Eileen (JOHNSTON) TAIT, daughter of Margaret SCOTT and Christopher JOHNSTON, born 1870, died 1899, aged 29 years.


Christopher JOHNSTON, born 1841 in Ontario, died 1925, aged 83 years.
Beloved father, father-in-law, grand father, great grandfather.

Christopher JOHNSTON was my great grandfather and Mary Jane ACHESON was my great grandmother.

There are two more faces/sides naming  four more family members, for a total of nine interments at this family site.

Photographs courtesy of a great granddaughter of Jane Ann (JOHNSTON) TAYLOR, received by email October 2009.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sentimental Sunday ~ JOHNSTON Siblings

~ Johnston ~

Yesterday, Surname Saturday, I posted about my Great Grandfather Christopher JOHNSTON's children to his first wife, Margaret SCOTT. Margaret was born in 1840 in Scotland, married Christopher in 1863 in Ontario, and after the birth of six children, died in 1872 after a ten-day illness.

Today I'm posting about his second wife, Mary Jane ACHESON. Mary Jane was born in 1856 in Ontario, she and Christopher were married December 1874 in Ontario. When she married Christopher he had been a widower for two years and seven months. 

Mary Jane was just 18 years old when she married Christopher and became the step-mother to his five children between the ages of 11 and 4 years. She and Christopher had ten children born between 1875 and 1895, a span of twenty years. My maternal Grandfather, George Albert, was their first born.

Tragically, in 1901, Mary Jane contracted Typhoid Fever while nursing my Grandfather George, his wife Emma and their 8 month old son.
"This kind and affectionate sister - this devoted wife and mother has gone to her reward. Her decease was caused by Typhoid Fever contracted while nursing her son, George, and his wife [Emma], who were living in Saulte Saint Marie on August 29th, came home on September 29th, and went to Heaven, October 10th, 1901, one day before her 45th birthday." SOURCE: The ACHESON Family ~ 1850-1950; self-published.
Christopher JOHNSTON 1841 - 1925
Margaret SCOTT 1840 - 1872
     Jane Ann 1863 - 1899
     Margaret Marie 1865 - 1935
     William Henry 1867 - 1942
     Katherine Kelso 1868 - 1923
     Mary Eileen 1870 - 1899
     Infant born and died 1871

Mary Jane ACHESON 1856 - 1901
     George Albert 1875 - 1964 ~~ my Grandfather
     Alice Victoria 1877 - 1938
     Christopher 1879 - 1956
     Christina Maud 1882 - 1925
     John James 1883 - 1923
     Joseph Samuel 1886 - 1954
     Eva Mae 1889 - 1974
     Robert Edgar 1891 - 1975
     Carlotta Lillian 1895 - 1986

After the untimely death of Mary Jane, Christopher married Agnes WRIGHT in 1907. Agnes was born in 1863 and died in 1933, eight years after Christopher's passing in 1925.

SOURCES: Family records and personal knowledge of my Mother.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Surname Saturday ~ JOHNSTON Siblings

~ Johnston ~

My maternal great grandfather, Christopher JOHNSTON, had sixteen children in all. The eldest six were with his first wife, Margaret SCOTT.

Margaret was born in 1840 in Scotland. Christopher and Margaret were married February 1863 in Ontario. In 1872, after just nine years of marriage, she died at the age of 32 years. Records show that she had a succumbed to a serious illness after being sick for ten days. At the time of Margaret's death, their children were between he ages of 7 years and 2 years old.

Their children were: Jane Ann 1863-1899; Margaret Marie 1865-1935; William Henry 1867-1942; Katherine Kelso 1868-1923; Mary Eileen 1870-1899; and an infant that was born and died in 1871.

SOURCES: Family records and personal knowledge of my Mother.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Friday, May 21, 2010

Follow Friday ~ Library and Archives Canada

Isn't she lovely!

"A Girl From Canada"
"Woman costumed by H. M Murray, the Canadian Government Agent in Exeter, England, to advertise prosperity in Canada in a parade, 1907."

Published in Sometimes a Great Nation: A Photo Album of Canada 1850-1925, by Edward Cavell, 1984. Plate 145, NPC-007, p. 157 P. 343 in "Treasures of the National Archives of Canada / TrĂ©sors des Archives nationales du Canada" - ISBN 2-921114-75-5 
NOTES:  USE/REPRODUCTION: Restrictions on Use/reproductions: NIL - Copyright: Expired - Credit: T. A. Chandler/Library and Archives Canada/C-0063256  

This is an extensive site with resources such as: 

Genealogy and Family History; 
Portrait Collection; 
Aboriginal Peoples;  
Art and Photography; 
Military and Peace Keeping; 
Ethno-Cultural Groups; 
Exploration and Settlements; and 
Educational Resources

It also features Collections Canada and ArchiviaNet: On-line Research Tool.

Use, reproduction and copyright are clearly explained and noted.

Easy to spend a lot of time here! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ CDV Album ~ Young Man

Photographed by 
Main Street, Hiawatha, Kas.
Old photos copied and enlarged.
Circa 1890-1900.
Here's another CDV photograph from my Grandmother's album.

As far as I can determine my ancestors were farmers. It was common for the photographer to have clothes available for clients to wear. The jacket does look a little big. Perhaps this is the case for this handsome young man or he's in his "Sunday best."

The photo is a thin paper mounted on card stock. Measures 2 1/2" x 4" with the photographer's logo stamped on the backside.

This size became the standard and fit into the slotted pages of the little bible-sized albums.

It seems that part of the reason for this particular design of the album was related to the practice of keeping family births, marriages and deaths in the family bible. These CDV albums became a suitable pictorial companion to the family bible.

The small and simple name stamp of the photographer evolved into elegant and elaborate graphic designs for the logo. These logos became a work of art unto themselves. They were popular from the late 1880's in the  into the early 1900's, up to about 1908. Great advertising for the photographers of the day!

I've searched for D. B. RUGG, photographer, but haven't found anything yet.

A map of Kansas shows the Hiawatha and Beattie, where my father was born, are about 80 to 90 miles apart on Highway #36, which runs East and West, just a little south of the Kansas and Nebraska State line.

Also, Hiawatha is just a little South and West of Sabetha (Highway #75 runs North and South) where my Grandmother's MILLER family lived.

Records for my Grandmother's MILLER family, show that they were living in Sabetha, Kansas from 1887 until her father's death in 1930.

The style of the carte de visite photograph and the information from our family records helps to date this little photo.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ Not Graveyard Rabbits!

These sweet Easter rabbits are a water colour painted by my Mom in 1922 when she was about 9 years old in grade 4 or 5.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Lavender Cemetery, Nottawasaga Township, Simcoe County, Ontario

Lavender Cemetery ~ 1880
Nottawasaga Township, Simcoe County, Ontario

What a great photo, looks like a perfect day for a cemetery stroll, with a camera of course!

This is another small cemetery from the site. This link includes Dufferin County and surrounding Counties of Grey, Peel, Simcoe and Wellington.

I see that there are four or more JOHNSTON grave markers here. I will be going back to do further research to verify relatives and/or ancestors of my mother.

A special thank you to Dennis Kaufman and the dedicated volunteers that have made this resource available since 2004. Updated May 2010.

Visit the main page for the list of volunteers and their contact information at 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sentimental Sunday ~ MILLER Children


Rock Creek Cemetery
Sabetha, Nemaha County Kansas

Ada May MILLER 1883-1956, was my paternal grandmother. She was the eldest of thirteen children, and would have been about 11 years old when her younger sister and two brothers died.

Her siblings, Mary Catherine 1890-1894, age 4 years 6 months, seventh child; John Alvin 1892-1894, age 2 years 9 months, eighth child; and Ora William 1893-1893, age 3 months, ninth child, died in less than two years of each other.

Their parents, Sarah BEEGHLY and William Howard MILLER, had five more children between 1895 and 1906. 

The loss of three children, two in 1894, must have been a tragedy for this family.

Both the parents, William Howard MILLER and his wife Sarah BEEGHLY, are buried along with these three little children at the Rock Creek Cemetery.

W. H. 

Rock Creek Cemetery
Sabetha, Nemaha County, Kansas

These tombstone photos are by Larry Gilbert. Found at  Nemaha County, Kansas ~ Photos. There are several links - scroll down to "Tombstone Photos." There are about 20 cemeteries listed on that page, most have photographs. A great site by Roger L. Goodman, may be freely used for non-commercial purposes, appears to be updated February 2010.

2010 - copyright © Carole Gates

Cemeteries ~ Historic ~ Preservation ~ Etc.

After finding a tombstone belonging to my ancestor's family that had been rubbed with chalk to make it more legible, I decided to do some research on the care and preservation of tombstones and cemeteries.

Here are a few sites that I found useful, in no particular order. All worth a visit, lingering on some longer that others  ~ ~

Central Missouri ~ Locate/Protect/Preserve Our Pioneer Cemeteries Includes Mapping, GPS, Pioneer, Endangered, Restored, Articles, Photographs, "how-to," etc. Great site.

New Hanover County Cemeteries ~ North Carolina On the top of the right sidebar is a link to an article: "Safe solutions for hard to read tombstones"

Find A Grave ~ excellent example of using foil to read an inscription.

StonePics ~ Newfoundland Canada After the completion of their unique project to photograph and index all headstones, cemeteries and monuments in the Province of Newfoundland, is proud to be the first state/province in North America to have such a comprehensive database. The only date found on the site is 2005, partial completion.

Respect Our Dead Inspired by a neglected cemetery in Iowa.

New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape  Paperback]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Follow Friday ~ The Jeanie Johnston Ship ~ A tribute to the strength and courage of the Irish.

First, this is quite a coincidence for me, since my mother's surname is JOHNSON. However, it was know in her family that the proper surname for them was JOHNSTON. My research shows that her great grandfather, John JOHNSTON, came from Ireland between 1836 and 1838.

The Jeanie Johnston site is not only about the modern day replica of the Jeanie Johnston ship but it reaches back in history to 1847 and the Great Famine in Ireland.

This site includes the history of the Jeanie Johnston.

"A square-sterned, three masted barque, constructed of Quebec oak and pine, the 408 tonne ship was built in Quebec,Canada by noted Scottish-born shipbuilder, John Munn in 1847. A year later, the prominent Tralee, County Kerry hardware merchant, Nicholas Donovan, purchased the ship in Liverpool and originally intended to use it on the North Atlantic route as a cargo vessel."
In eight years, between 1848 and 1855 the Jeanie Johnston carried over 2500 Irish from County Kerry to Canada and the United States.
"The Jeanie Johnston accomplished a remarkable feat. Under the direction of its kind-hearted owner, Nicholas Donovan, its caring Captain, Captain James Attridge and highly experienced resident medical doctor, Dr. Richard Blennerhassett, no lives were lost on board."
 The building was completed in 2002 and she toured the eastern seaboard of the United Stated and Canada for eight months. Today the  Jeanie Johnston's home port is Dublin.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday ~ The Wedding

Sweet antique wedding photograph.

Original tintype 2 1/2" x 4" - circa 1865-1875.
In the original paper frame.

Original tintype 2" x 3 1/4" - circa 1865-1875. 
Without original paper frame.

This is the same tintype from my Grandmother's carte de visite family album.
In order to lighten and brighten it, I removed it from the paper frame that was already torn in the back. In the brighter photograph, it is easier to see the bride's lovely little dark and light pink  bouquet. She also has something that looks like pink lace at her neck. With  magnificaton, I can also see a light blush on her cheeks and ever so little on the groom's.

Of the 19 tintypes in the CDV album, this is the only one which has been highlighted with colour. Unfortunately, there were no names in this little album.

NOTE: In the bottom photo I edited it  using 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Inistioge United Church Cemetery, Inistioge, Grey County, Ontario

A few months ago while I was searching for tombstones of my ancestors, I found this excellent resource: They have a section on the "Inistioge Cemetery ~ 1851-1971."

Inistioge United Church Cemetery ~ Proton Township
Grey County, Ontario ~ 1851-1971

From what I can determine, the population dwindled in the 1960's after the last service was held at the little United Church in 1961. It was torn down shortly after.

These grave markers were gathered together at the location of the little Church in order to preserve this cemetery site. There are 47 markers, the earliest date I see is 1856 and the latest date is 1942. However, several of the markers (8) are so worn that the dates cannot be read. It appears that the oldest stones (14) are the ones lying flat in the front row, along with the two that are for children. The gray one on the left is too worn to read, but has a little lamb on the top of it. The white one on the right is for the three ACHESON children that I have posted before.

I've already posted two of the tombstones, Sentimental Sunday, May 2nd, "The Three Little Angels" and Surname Saturday May 8th, "John Rutherford." There are at least three more that are related to my ancestors in some way.

A few of the markers show Ireland as the birthplace. Inistioge, Grey County, Ontario was named after the birthplace of one of it's first residents, Inistioge, County Kilkenny, Ireland.

UPDATE ~ See comments:
May 18, 2010
Thanks to Janet Iles for her comment providing the following information:
"In my information on the Inistioge United Church, (originally Methodist) was not torn down when the church closed in 1961. The church shed, where the horses had been tied in early days, was purchased by a farmer. Willial Crockford removed the bricks from the church building and he hauled it away to become a machine shed."

Ireland ~ Just a Glimpse ~

I just wanted to share this site with you. It's a public domain site with a very large collection of beautiful images. It's owned by Jon Sullivan who wants anyone to use his images. He is very generous with his terms.

Glencar Lough, Ireland

The Pasture near Cleggan, Ireland 

Hore Abbey near Cashel, Ireland