This month in 1911: Murray Diaries
The Murray Diaries in our collection cover 1911-1925 in handwritten notes by Annabell (Henderson) Murray. She was born on July 25th, 1851 and died at 74 on January 21st, 1926. We have transcribed a few years which is quite a slow but fascinating undertaking. There is one line for each day which included the weather, the day of the week and a brief highlight or two.
As you progress through the days and weeks, you can see the flow and patterns of their lives. You may or may not know the names, but the entries give you a sense of what anyone in the community or in greater Prince Edward Island may have been up to. Here are some highlights of what was going on in April 1911 along with my notes to help fill in the background.
The first day of April was very cold with a raw wind. It was a Saturday. Charlie MacLean, Neil Darrach, Neil MacKinnon & Wall were digging a grave and the frost was three feet deep. Wall was Wallace Murray, Annabell’s son. Not sure whose grave it was as there were two deaths that week.
Mrs. Alex Darrach had died on the morning of March 28th. It was a Tuesday and rainy. Her funeral came up the ice and passed by the door of the Murray home. It was a large funeral. The roads were very bad.
Just so you can find your bearings, the Murray house is the small white house on the left after you pass the old Clyde River School (now the Riverview Community Centre) as you drive down the Clyde River Road. It was common in those days for funeral processions in the community to travel on the ice during winter and come up through the Murray property to either the Baptist or Presbyterian churches/cemeteries. A note in the paper says that Mrs. Darrach’s funeral was at her late residence which would have been down the Clyde River Road near the river, where the Brown’s live now.
Mrs. Alex Darrach was Mary (Lamont) Darrach. She was born in 1839. I see where her husband died the following year. They are both buried in the Burnside Presbyterian Church cemetery. On their headstone, it shows the name of their daughter Elizabeth who died in 1889 at 9 years old. According to the Darrach genealogy, it appears that Elizabeth is the only one of their children that made it past infancy.
In letters we have in our collection of Mary (MacDougall) Darrach from 1907-08, Mary mentions Uncle Alex, who would be Alex Darrach. She notes that Uncle Alex had taken some weak turns, and one morning they thought for sure he was dying, but they gave him some cold water and he came to. She said, “He’ll work till he drops. His money won’t do him much good when he’s gone. He’s near blind but he comes over to our place, just by guess. When we see him coming, we go to meet him.” Mary and John Darrach lived on the farm next door, now owned by Sidney Poritz.
The day before the men were digging the grave, on March 31st, Scott the miller went by the door with his horse and wagon. He was heading to town with a bag of flour on the ice. Scott’s had a mill on the Bannockburn Road for some years which was later owned by the Dixon family.
Aunt Mary McLaughlin died on the 31st. It started raining in the evening. Mary (Murray) MacLaughlin was born in 1823 and she died at 88 years. She is buried in the Clyde River Baptist Cemetery. Her husband was Donald MacLaughlin. Earlier Murray and MacLaughlin ancestors are buried in the Clyde River Pioneer Cemetery.
On April 2nd, Mary’s funeral passed the door. Wall, Ince, Bertie and Edith down. Bert Auld, Jessie and Alva (Bert’s sister) were there for dinner. On April 4th, Wall took Bertie to town. Bertram Robertson Auld was married to Jessie Ward. The Wards were from Kingston. Interesting to see Bert’s second name “Robertson”. That name was his great grandmother’s maiden name, Jane (Robertson) Beer who immigrated from Derry, Ireland in the 1830s.
On Wednesday, April 3rd, it was fine in the forenoon, Duncan MacNevin got married to Katie. Wednesday was a common day to get married in those days. Jim MacPhail, his wife and Annabell went to Riverdale, and the roads were pretty bad. It was very stormy in the afternoon and the roads were bad coming home.
On Thursday, the roads were soft but there was a spree at S. Squires. No entry on Friday, but on Saturday, it mentions that Earl Grey got into town between 3 & 4 o’clock p.m. Earl Grey was the Governor General of Canada in 1911. Here’s an interesting bio on him.
It was an anxiety-ridden day on Sunday, April 9th, as Jim McPhail’s mare got into the ice at J. McLaughlin’s shore; it was pretty bad. No news on Monday and Tuesday, but it was fine both days.
On Wednesday, April 12th, they finished sawing wood. On Thursday, Hector McDougall, Alice, Collie, Heber and Harold were there. It was a big day on Friday as Diamond foaled a dandy mare. Saturday was drizzly and the roads were bad. Bell Fraser was there on Easter Sunday.
Monday, April 17th was stormy in the forenoon but it was fine in P.M. J. McLaughlin and Wall went to Dan Howard’s sale. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Wall was splitting wood and on Thursday, he was in town and roads were bad. Annabell was up to R. MacPhail’s for a visit, and in the evening, there was a party at the Scotts.
Wall finished splitting the wood on Friday. It was a fine and cold day. No news on Saturday, but on Sunday, Jessie, Annabell’s daughter, was visiting at A.C. MacLeans. Monday and Tuesday were fine, no news.
On April, the 26th, Wednesday, Jim McPhail and Victor were there for a visit. Empress went to Pointe de Chene on her first trip of the season. Harry Holman features a story on his Sailstrait blog that highlights the Empress as one of the boats owned by the Island Steam Navigation Company which crossed to Pictou and Pointe de Chene. You can read his story here.)
On Thursday, April 27, they set a goose. Jessie was at Mrs. Fraser’s washing. R. Matheson and A. Cameron were in town, the roads were bad. Inman went to town with his gasoline boat. No ice to be seen.
Friday was fine and on Saturday, the steamer made the first trip. On Sunday, there was no preaching; Mrs. Peter Warren died. The Warren’s were from Warren Grove, just down the road from the new roundabout in North River. There is a pioneer cemetery located there that was once the property of Peter Warren. I see where Elizabeth (Webster) and Peter Warren, however, are buried in East Wilshire Baptist Cemetery here.