08 July 2013

Frasers Part 21: Eliza(beth) born 1839

The instincts were right ... that the missing younger siblings of my ancestor Catherine (Fraser) Dougall (1833-1914) might have followed her from Argenteuil County, Quebec to Renfrew County, Ontario is working out. It's not just instincts, of course. One develops a theory, hypothesis, when ancestors disappear from one place. It takes a combination of geography, history, and social contexts to recreate a cold trail, if there is a trail at all.
Not that easy to find a map that extends from Montreal all the way west; this one from Champlain Local Heath Information Network almost does the job.
Although Catherine married her husband Peter Dougall in the same St. Andrews East (St André Est, Quebec) Presbyterian Church where she'd been baptized, his blacksmithing occupation soon took them across the Ottawa River to Vankleek Hill, Ontario. From there, they had moved to the town of Renfrew by 1861 and were well-documented all the way to their twentieth-century retirement and deaths in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

But for years Catherine's siblings rested in limbo (where were all my potential Fraser cousins?!) The sister and brothers were John born 25 January 1835; Duncan born 10 November 1836; and Eliza(beth) born 4 February1839.[1] Their parents were John Fraser and Nancy (Ann) Fraser ... both were Frasers.

Recent developments have been the discovery of a Duncan Fraser who died in May 1861 in Beckwith Township, Lanark County.[2] His age on the gravestone was spot on. The location more or less jibes with an Ottawa River Valley migration pattern. He was in the Beckwith census in 1861 with a wife and no children;[3] his marriage record has not yet been found.

Even more interesting was an Elizabeth Fraser who married Alexander Gordon of Pakenham Township, Lanark County, 30 October 1860.[4] But wouldn't you know it: census information about the Gordons had conflicting information about Elizabeth's age and place of birth. It was questionable if the "John and Ann" parents on her marriage record were MY John and Ann/Nancy Fraser.

NOW I can feel confident that Elizabeth (Fraser) Gordon is the missing sister. After searching for her death registration and a potential newspaper notice, the best find was this:[5]
 Sister of Mrs. P. Dougall of this place. Hallelujah! ... with one small niggle that the notice is not from the newspaper in her place of residence—the town of Pembroke. Despite the fine search service of the Pembroke Public Library, the Pembroke Observer did not (oddly?) contain a death notice or obituary. But the family had previously lived in Pakenham Township for between twenty and thirty years till the move upriver to Pembroke in Renfrew County.[6]

Elizabeth's age in the newspaper and her death registration is a few years shy of her actual birth year.[7] The cemetery stone says the same thing.[8] But the February part is right ... I'm willing to give the rather common feminine mystique (age reduction) its due. Elizabeth Fraser Gordon and her husband are buried in Calvin United Church Cemetery, Pembroke. Many thanks to The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery for its awesome website and intrepid volunteers.

Identifying Elizabeth, of longtime Pakenham residence, somewhat bolsters the argument that the Duncan of nearby Beckwith was also her (and my Catherine's) brother―hard to say what level of probability this reaches. Alas, vital stats abstracts from Perth Courier, premier newspaper of Lanark County, were silent about both their deaths.[9]

The remaining sibling, brother John Fraser, is still missing in action like his father John Fraser: two needles in a haystack. Still, the pool of research prospects has not dried up yet.

[1] St Andrews East, Quebec, Presbyterian Church baptisms; correspondence from incumbent W. Harold Reid to author, 23 September 1970.
[2] St Fillan's Cemetery (Beckwith Township, Lanark County), digital photograph, The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/ : accessed 10 September 2011); Duncan Fraser stone.
[3] "1861 Census of Canada," Canada West, Lanark County, ED 24, Beckwith Township, p. 16, stamped p. 45, Duncan Fraser; digital image, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 10 September 2011), citing Library and Archives Canada (LAC) microfilm C-1042.
[4] Marriage Registers of Ontario, 1858-1869, Renfrew County, p. 26, Gordon-Fraser marriage; Archives of Ontario microfilm MS 248 reel 14.
[5] Renfrew Mercury (Town of Renfrew, Ontario), 9 October 1891.
[6] Alexander Gordon household, digital images, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed September 2012-March 2013):
"1861 Census of Canada," Canada West, Lanark County, ED 21, Pakenham Township, p.7; citing LAC microfilm C-1042.
"1871 Census of Canada," Ontario, District 80, North Lanark, subdivision 2, Pakenham, division 2, pp. 13-14; citing LAC microfilm C-10019.
"1881 Census of Canada," Ontario, District 114, North Renfrew, Town of Pembroke, p. 78; citing LAC microfilm C-13234.
"1891 Census of Canada," Ontario, District 113, Renfrew North, subdivision D, Town of Pembroke, p. 121; citing LAC microfilm T-6365.
[7] "Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 ...," digital image, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 23 March 2013), Elizabeth Gordon, registration no. 014427 (Renfrew County, 1891).
[8] Calvin United Church Cemetery (Pembroke, Renfrew County), digital photograph, The Canadian Gravemarker Gallery (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/ : accessed 19 September 2012); Alexander Gordon stone.
[9] "Newspaper Clippings, Spencer - Perth Courier Obituaries," Lanark County GenWeb (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onlanark/ : accessed 23 March 2013).

© 2013 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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