20 September 2011

Frasers Part 18 (Perthshire)

Little baby steps after long bleary hours of Internet searching. As per my last post, my Fraser goal was to return to the preliminary writing I'd done, revising and plugging holes as I go. But quite out of chronological order, I wanted to pursue a long delayed hunch. Plunging right into frenzied database searching brought some promising but fragile results.

Results … not for my missing-in-action John Fraser the blacksmith of St Andrews East, but maybe for two of his other kids. Per the Presbyterian church register (which gives dates of birth) John had two daughters, my great-grandmother Catherine (1833-1914) and Eliza (4 Feb 1839), two sons John (25 Jan 1835) and Duncan (10 Nov 1837). Those last three kids have also been missing in action. Quebec censuses and the Drouin Collection have not yielded anything hopeful. The hunch was—of course—that they left la belle province. Why not start with Ontario? Their sister Catherine went to Renfrew in the late 1850s.

First up was Ontario marriages on Ancestry.ca. The name Duncan is way easier to search for than Eliza/Elizabeth/Elisabeth/etc but nothing rang any bells there. One, only ONE, marriage presented itself for an Elizabeth Fraser whose parents were John and Ann. While her mother was commonly known as Nancy, it's a nickname for Ann, her baptismal name. Parents' names and the location look promising although Elizabeth's age was close, but not exact, for an 1839 year of birth. The Ancestry entry is a transcription only, not a digital image, so the original (microfilmed) register must be consulted—more details like place of marriage and religious affiliation may be forthcoming.

Elizabeth Fraser of Renfrew, born “in Canada,” age 19, daughter of John & Ann, married Alexander Gordon of Pakenham, born in Canada, age 25, son of George Gordon & Isabella Murray, on 30 October 1860 in Renfrew County;“Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928,” database, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 17 September 2011), Gordon-Fraser marriage (1860); citing Archives of Ontario microfilm MS 248 reel 14.

Meanwhile, it was time to scour census returns. In 1861 and 1871 the Gordons lived in Pakenham, Lanark County, which is on the southern border of Renfrew County. Alexander was a merchant. From 1881 to 1901 they were in the town of Pembroke, Renfrew County; Alexander was a lumber merchant. In that period, Elizabeth's place of birth was thrice given as Quebec, once as Ontario. IF she is “mine,” she was consistently knocking two years off her age. The couple more or less seemed to follow Highland naming tradition: their first daughter was Isabella, the second Ann; the first son was George. The name John (for Elizabeth's father) does not crop up until the fourth son.

Alexander Gordon was a widower in 1901, so there was no chance to see what might have been written then as Elizabeth's date of birth. Ontario deaths on Ancestry.ca brought me:

Elizabeth Gordon, wife of Alexr Gordon, died in the town of Pembroke on 1 October 1891: age 49+ 8/12; born in Quebec, Presyterian; cause of death pulmonary consumption during two years, Dr. W.W. Dickson; “Ontario, Canada Deaths 1869-1938,” digital image, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 17 September 2011), Elizabeth Gordon, no. 014427 (1891); Archives of Ontario, MS 935.

 Next, the Ontario Cemeteries Finding Aid and the exceptional Canadian Gravemarker Gallery. The latter with its on-site photographs is a wonderful and probably under-used resource. Yes; in Calvin United Church and First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Pembroke, Elizabeth is buried along with her husband and three children. The gravestone does not add to her information, but thank you Murray Pletsch and all your amazing volunteers!

Another search brought forth hundreds of cemeteries where the name Fraser occurs, in their Eastern Ontario section alone—I was looking for Duncan. Maybe I found him:
"In Memory of DUNCAN FRASER Departed this life May [7?] 18[6?]1 AE. 24 YRS."
The stone is in St Fillan's Cemetery, Beckwith Township, Lanark County. The location is not far south of Pakenham. If the year is 1861 (what do you think??), his age is spot on with my Duncan. The 1861 census shows him as a farmer with a wife Ann, no children, in a household headed by an elderly McGinnis couple. I will have to look on the microfilm for a following page (not all have survived) that would clarify the household composition. Duncan is also shown as born in Scotland (ditto marks from lines above) so I can't get too hopeful. Newspapers of nearby Carleton Place or perhaps Arnprior or Renfrew might be available for potential reference to a young man's premature death. So where is his darn marriage?!

Elizabeth Fraser Gordon's alleged age at the time of her death leads appropriately to a February birth, but still a couple of years (1842) off. Pembroke newspapers are calling me for that one. Call me fanciful, but I like to think Elizabeth Gordon named her fourth daughter Kate after her sister Catherine who was always known as Kate in the family.

Baby steps on eggshells. Dare I hope this is progress? Pembroke cousins, where are you? I'm working my way through the gravemarker lists and photos, not optimistically, for their father John who could have died any time from 1838 on.


CallieK said...

I'm a firm believer in following hunches and I think you're on to something with Eliza.

Unknown said...

Hi Brenda. I just discovered your blog recently, and I want to say first I'm very impressed with both your writing and your research. I'm especially interested in anything you turn up on Perthshire Frasers, as I'm a descendant of that group myself, though my great-grandfather emigrated in the 1860's to New Zealand, where I was born (I live in the US now). I don't believe he was related to your Perthshire John Fraser, however, unless it's somewhat farther back in time. Regardless, I am learning much by reading about your detective methods. If I do come across anything useful for you, I'll be happy to share it, but given that I've just begun my research it seems far more likely that I will learn from you rather than the other way around.

BDM said...

I'm glad to hear from you, Matt. Do keep in touch about your research progress. We are all cousins, right? :)

Judy Davidoff said...

I am doing some family research on the Mac (Mc) Gregor's of Argenteuil and have recently became aware of a connection with the Fraser family and wonder if there is a connection . It would be wonderful if I can further my quest and find her parents, etc. This whole project has been a joy for me to work on and I am always trying to get more history.

Duncan Mac (McGregor) born 1751 - Pertshire Scotland Died : April 1, 1819 Argenteuil Quebec
Married: Catherine Fraser Born : 1760 died : August 9, 1846 re: records of Presbyterian Church serving St. Andrews now called St. Andre. Est. ( Catharine Fraser, widow of the late Duncan McGregor of Argenteuil, having died on the Ninth was buried on the eleventh day of August in the year of Our Lord One thousand Eight Hundred and Forty six, aged eight six years by me, Archibald Henderson, Minister, I the presence of these witnefses.
Signed Charles Wales
Peter McMartin (my best guess this surname is scribbled)

Signed Arched Henderson Minister
MacGregor Lineage as much as I know.

Duncan Mac(Mc)Gregor Born: 1751 - Perthshire Scotland - His story is in the History of Argenteuil Quebec, Canada.
Died: April 1, 1819 (Aged 68)
Married: Catharine Fraser: Born: 1760- Scotland Died: August 9, 1846 - (age 86 years old) re records of Presbyterian Church serving St. Andrews now called St. Andre Est.

Son - Gregor Mac (Mc) Gregor : Born: 1796 (St. Andrews, Quebec)
Died: November 12, 1849 (at age 53) living at Riviere Rouge, Argenteuil (farmer) RE records of Presbyterian Church serving St. Andrews now called St. Andre Est.

MARRIED: Susannah (Susan) Robertson (Robison) Born: 1815 Died: November 22, 1859 (aged: 64 ) RE records of Congragational Church serving St. Andrews, now called St. Andre Est.

Son: Duncan Mac (Mc) Gregor - Born: July 31, 1824 Died: October 8, 1883 Age: 58
Married: Elizabeth Ritchie Young on April 13, 1858 Died

Son: James Hartley Young Mac (Mc) Gregor born : July 15 1861 ( I still can't get the dates of death for James Hartley and Mary Alice or where they are buried ???)
Married: Mary Alice Brown Born: 1866 . Married in 1886 in Ottawa

Son: Duncan MacGregor born 1899 New York died June 11, 1973 - My Father and Mother
Married: Almira Cisco. Died 1950 New York

Judy Davidoff