Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Many families in Clyde River have an ancestral connection to Colonsay, Scotland. Immigrants to Prince Edward Island in the early 1800s sailed on the Polly 1803, Dykes 1803, Oughton 1803, Spencer 1806 and settled in Belfast, Clyde River and surrounding areas, becoming part of the Selkirk Settlers. Common family names are Darrach, MacLean, MacNeil, Bell, Currie, MacPhee, MacEachern, to name a few. Here is drone footage of Colonsay. Enjoy. If you have visited here, share your experience in the comments.

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Millar’s Life Review was provided to us by Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner which was written by Norma Thomson (Millar’s niece, Norman’s daughter) in 1986 for a course she had taken on the Dynamics of Communication with the Elderly and their Families. Millar MacFadyen taught at Clyde River, Cornwall, Kingston and East Wiltshire Schools during his career. Millar would have been 87 at the time of this interview.

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar was born at Kingston on June 13, 1898. He was the second oldest of a family of seven children. He traces his ancestry to the Argyles (Argyll) of Scotland. Millar’s mother descended from the Campbell’s of Mull and family history suggests he was a descendant of the 5th Duke of Argyle (or Argyll).

Millar and his oldest brother started to school the same year. He was only five years old and his brother was six. He told me back in those days, you could do that. He went to a one-room schoolhouse with approximately 40 pupils all taught by the same teacher from grades 1 to 10. The older pupils helped the teacher out with the younger pupils. He attended school for 14 years.

Norman MacFadyen, Millar's older brother

Norman MacFadyen, Millar’s older brother

By then, the First World War had broken out and his older brother had gone overseas. Millar stayed at home for two years and helped his father on the farm. During this time, he decided he wanted to become a teacher, so he wrote and passed the matriculation examination into Prince of Wales College where he obtained a teacher’s license.

From 1918-1922, he taught school at Cornwall. While there, he met and married Marion Lewis and they were married on December 20th, 1922.


Millar’s parents: Sarah Jane (Campbell) & John Archibald

He remembers the Christmas of 1918 as a very sad time for the family, as on December 17th, his mother passed away suddenly. She was only 48 years old. The youngest of her children were twin girls, only eight years old. The first world war was just over and they were waiting for the return of the oldest boy from the war. He wasn’t able to get home until July 1920. In 1921, Eric, a brother two years younger than Millar died of T.B. He was just 21.

After his marriage, Millar moved in with his father on the home farm in Kingston. He taught school from 1922-24. He had 51 pupils in grades 1-10. In 1924, he taught at East Wiltshire for two years and then taught at Clyde River until 1932 when he returned to Kingston School and taught until 1935. He farmed and taught school for 16 years. He would get up at 3:00 a.m. and cultivate four acres before he went to school and four more acres in the evening during the busy season.

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

In 1941, he obtained the position of principal at Parkdale School and was there for there for 14 years. He taught grades 7 to 10. In 1955, he received a position with the Department of Education as Director of Correspondence Study and Truant Officer of Prince Edward Island. He retired in 1972 at the age of 74 years after working 17 years at the Department of Education.

When he first started teaching, his salary was $305 a year, and, in the final year at the Department of Education, $19,000 a year. When he retired, he received a pension of $3400.

Concerts were the highlight of the school year. At these concerts, they would raise money for needed school equipment. One year, they purchased a teacher’s desk and chair. Another year, it was a bookcase, and, another year, they purchased a school organ for $75. During the depression years, there was not enough money to buy paint for the school, so they held a concert to raise money to buy paint.

In those early years, grades were not mentioned, as a child started with the first primer, second primer, book I, book II, book III, and book IV. Another highlight was the Red Cross organization. He wrote a script for radio and had several people take part. This program was well received by the radio fans, In Parkdale, he organized a program where four pupils would answer questions by one of the other pupils. They had a program every Friday. Questions were asked regarding the home, marriage, boyfriends, religion, etc. The first program lasted five minutes. The final one in June was timed and it had to be discontinued after one and a half hours.

Millar said, “The students enjoyed the program and learned a great deal about Canada, people and how to conduct themselves. It was a great asset towards discipline, and it taught each one how to express themselves without fear, because they became conversant with many topics. A great need is to show that we care for other people. It also showed children that we were interested in their welfare. This is teaching democracy and that we must have as leaders people of high moral character and integrity. We must give our children the right kind of training.”

Millar emphasized that in the old days, teachers taught and did not emphasize their salary. He said, “Today, we need good leadership and the guidance. Our forefathers have left us a good heritage. We must make changes as time passes on but let us preserve the best things of the past and make changes for improvement. Remember, without a good past, we cannot have a great future. Let us remember that the little schoolhouse has produced great leaders in the past.”

Millar attended the Presbyterian Church all his life. He became an elder in 1950 of Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. He was Clerk of Session for ten years and taught bible class for 15 years. When a charge did not have a minister, he took his turn in the pulpit. He was secretary of the Men’s Association for nine years and of Presbytery for three years.

He retired in 1972 at 74 years of age, and since that time, he has written three books of poetry and several single poems. He was a member of the Gideon Society for several years and during those years preached several sermons. He was a delegate from the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation twice, once in Winnipeg and once in Toronto. Millar’s first train ride was in 1941 when he travelled from Charlottetown to Winnipeg to attend the meeting.

He remembers his first car ride and that was in 1916. A friend of his was driving around and picked him up to take him for a ride. He was much older when he had his first plane trip, when he travelled from Charlottetown to Toronto for a funeral. He said, “It was necessary for me to get to my destination in a hurry, so it was my only choice to go on the plane.”

I asked Millar what his favourite word was. He said “Sui Generis” which means unique, unequalled or unparalleled.

I asked Millar if he had his life to live over again, what would he do differently. He answered, “Nothing different, I have thoroughly enjoyed my life.”

Editor and family notes:

  • Millar lived 99 years, 1 month. He died July 14th, 1997.
  • Clipping about Clyde River School examinations include a thank you letter from students, click here.
  • Millar was principal of Parkdale School during his career. When some of his former pupils had a reunion at the new Parkdale School on Confederation Street, they planted a tree and placed a plaque in the front yard for Millar. It was a very special time for him. He was very proud and overwhelmed.
  • There is a book of Millar MacFadyen’s poetry in the museum collection at the Riverview Community Centre.
  • Millar was also a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer. Their first daughter Mary Anne (Beer) married Archibald MacFadyen. Their son John Archibald married Sarah Jane (Campbell), and their son was Archibald Millar. Refer to lineage on http://www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • Both Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner and Jane Dyment who are members of our History Committee are descendants of Mary Anne (Beer) and Archibald MacFadyen. Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner is a descendant of Millar’s older brother Norman, making Millar her great-uncle.
  • Millar was Roger Younker’s grandfather. Roger was the News Anchor for CBC Charlottetown’s Compass program for many years.
Millar's childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

Millar’s childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

  • Millar’s home place was on property now owned by the Dixon family on the Bannockburn Road, just a 1/4 mile past the Kingston/Clyde River border on the right-hand side. The house is no longer there.
  • Millar’s mother’s obituary stated she “was taken suddenly ill with heart trouble.” Her children were Norman, Millar, Donald (Eric) (died of T.B. at 21 years old), Margaret (Florence), Jeannette and Alexandrena. Another of her daughters predeceased her, Rebecca Louise at 7 months, 13 days. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Donald E. Campbell of Darlington. She is buried in the Clyde River Presbyterian Cemetery. More details on obituary and genealogy at www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • When Millar’s grandparents (Campbell’s) moved to Charlottetown, they lived in a house at the corner of Kirkwood and University Avenue which is now the location of Shopper’s Drug Mart. The home was referred to as Argyle Cottage.

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Doris & Donald MacDonald (2016 Selkirk Award Recipients), The Honourable H. Frank Lewis & Mrs. Dorothy Lewis

It was an honour to attend the Belfast Historical Society Fundraising Dinner last evening at St. Andrew’s United Church in Vernon Bridge. They mentioned that the Belfast area at one time included what is now Vernon Bridge all the way down to Wood Islands. Belfast Historical Society Member Audrey Shillabeer offered an introduction to the Society’s work over the past 40 years before presenting this year’s Selkirk Award.

The delicious dinner was prepared by Steven & Jennifer Taran and Kim Doherty-Smith & Ken Smith along with their team of volunteers. Following the dinner, they raised some extra money with a cake auction. The auctioneer was entertaining and had a knack for loosening the purse strings of a room full of Scots. The final cake, a fruit cake prepared by Donald MacDonald went for $201! Apparently, it was made with brandy which helped to launch the bidding.

Audrey’s 2016 Selkirk Award presentation follows:

The mandate of the Belfast Historical Society (BHS) is to preserve, protect, and promote the history, heritage, and culture of the larger Belfast area. Our Society came into existence in 1976, and is 40 years old this year. Happy birthday to us!

At a 1978 BHS general meeting, then President Mary Ross first suggested the Society establish special awards to recognize adults who contributed to our Belfast community.

This award, the Selkirk Award, named for Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk, would be given for a wide range of projects. It was determined that the Award would be given annually to individuals or groups in recognition of excellence for projects undertaken about the history of the Belfast district, or for outstanding contribution to preserving the heritage of the Belfast area.

Lord Selkirk brought 800 Scots from the Hebrides to our area over 200 years ago beginning in 1803. His settlement was conceived as a “model village” designed to address the real and serious issues of the day.

For his designed community, he recruited emigrants with wherewithal and with some means— “a very fine class of immigrants,” they’ve since been called. Belfast was the first and only truly successful Selkirk settlement — the others coming within a decade in Ontario and then Manitoba.

Selkirk is said to have set “the enduring Scottish culture on Prince Edward Island” and many in this room likely trace their ancestry back to these early Scots. The Scottish-Canadian culture here in Belfast is as deep as your DNA. Matrilineal and patrilineal threads first spun in the old country are dyed deep in this unique community fabric.

Many in this room work tirelessly for the memory of their ancestors and assure that the stories move along into the future, including tonight’s Selkirk Award Winners.

In our 40th birthday year, the 2016 Selkirk Award is given tonight to two of our historical society’s own — Donald and Doris MacDonald.

Over the last ten years that I have known them, I have come to think of Donald and Doris as the “Keepers” of our historical society and, more importantly, of perpetuating our stories.

Keepers are people who manage or look after something valuable, and in some cases, something fragile were there not people to attend to it. Keepers are trusted to ensure the continuity of something.

Celebrating keeps us together. Events such as Scottish dinners, Polly Days, Tartan Days, Christmas fairs and such gatherings happen here in large part because Donald and Doris know them to be important.

Music keeps community culture alive, and Donald and Doris are the best at conceiving, planning and executing the events that bring —and keep — us together:  ceilidhs and concerts in the Gaelic tradition.

If food keeps us together, the MacDonalds have baked enough cookies, biscuits, blueberry cakes, Christmas cakes; made enough soups, chowders, and stews;  scooped enough ice cream and strawberries to assure our memories are tied to sated appetites and good company.

And, much of what the MacDonalds do is not glamorous, yet they keep on doing  what can only be seen as hard work. They have served as directors and officers in the Belfast Historical Society;  kept up with our mandate to present educative guest speakers by first finding and then engaging them — not always an easy task!  They’ve kept inventory straight, they’ve kept books and records, reported to associations, and to government agencies. They have completed grant applications, written letters, hired staff and supported them, attended partnering meetings throughout the province and so forth.

Often with sleeves rolled up, they have even kept up the maintenance of the Croft House and its grounds.

All of this is done with love, pride, dedication, charm, and sometimes — as the need arises— resurrected humour,  the latter— on occasion — needing to be fortified by a smoothing toddy.

Donald and Doris keep the vision, keep the faith, and keep our future bright!

Please help me welcome Donald and Doris MacDonald to the microphone to receive their award.

For your outstanding contribution to preserving our history, heritage and culture, I — with gratitude and joy — present to you the 2016 Selkirk Award.  Congratulations, my friends.

Editor’s Note: By 1807, Lord Selkirk had sold or granted for services 16,222 acres of his holdings to over 150 individuals on Lots 31 (which included Clyde River), 57, 58, 60, 62 and 53 — over half of that total on Lots 57 and 58. To learn more about Lord Selkirk and his Settlement, please link to this interesting article written by J.M. Bumsted for Island Magazine.

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Hilda Beer

Hilda Beer attending Landscape of Memories book launch at Riverview Community Centre

In writing memorials for our community website, one knows it is only a matter of time before you must write one for a dear family member. Emily Bryant had kindly prepared the lovely tribute to my mother back in 2012. The other challenge for me now is to write a piece on someone who would not want me to be too showy in my praise.

When I reflect back on a woman I have known my entire life, who I grew up next to and who was my second mother, it is difficult to narrow down the many wonderful memories and qualities that I cherish. She represents a generation that is all but gone from our lives. The Murray Diaries written by Hilda’s grandmother offer insight into what built this generation of strong and steady folks, not easily knocked down by events or influenced by trends. They knew where they came from and their values, they knew their relations from near and far and they abided by their faith at all times. They were born at the end of The Great War and lived through The Depression and World War II. They were there for each other during times of celebration and times of sorrow. They saw unprecedented growth in technology and medical advances but never lost sight of the difference between a need and a want. They considered life to be a precious gift.

Aunt Hilda’s mother Katherine lived until she was 100 years old, having descended from strong MacDonald genes, the same as my mother and their long-living cousins. Hilda’s father, Wallace Murray, died when she was nine years old. I had the honour of transcribing 5 of the 15 years of Murray diaries (1911-1926) that recounted her father’s daily life which she joyfully read. I still recall the time she came over to scan and enlarge a small family photo when she had a chance to see the face of her father and she kept it framed in her bedroom from then on.

Aunt Hilda was my mother’s first cousin, their mothers, Katie and Janie, were sisters. The two families were very close. They lived directly across from each other, one on the Clyde River side and the other on the Meadowbank side of the river, and as kids, they would run down to the bottom of the fields to talk across the water. As young women, they married brothers Arnold and John Beer, so we children, Blois, Doreen and I, were double relations and neighbours to their children Donna and Fred. Cousins and sisters-in-law Hilda and Hazel enjoyed working and raising their families on a farm, were members of Burnside Presbyterian Church, participated in the Missionary Society and were life members of the Clyde River Women’s Institute.

The W.I. ladies remember Hilda as a dedicated, graceful and humble worker – beautiful inside and out. She was true to the Mary Stewart Collect. She preferred to be in the background, but her quiet strength was a great source of wisdom. She was a wonderful baker and took pride in the presentation of food and arranging things to look nice. Audrey MacPhee recalls Hilda then in her 90s arriving at the Centre with her basket over her arm which held goodies for the Strawberry Social, even though it wasn’t expected, and her saying “Oh, it’s not much”. Also, in her 90s, she came both days to the Apple Pie Festival and “crimped to perfection” dozens and dozens of pies, all the while enjoying the camaraderie of other community volunteers and instructing young helpers.

Hilda believed in living a healthy lifestyle. She ate organic vegetables from her own garden before it was popular to do so and walked every day that she could. She and Uncle Arnold only retired from farming in their early 70s but continued a regimen of daily walks to the back fields of their property. They graciously hosted many visiting Beer, Darrach, and Murray relatives; church guests; and family gatherings at their home. After Uncle Arnold’s passing in 2001, she spent winters in Charlottetown but enjoyed summer retreats back at her country homestead. We enjoyed visiting her there and she always had delicious cookies. She was blessed with great health up until a year ago when she developed Fibrosis which compromised her breathing. Her mind and memory were intact. She was a valuable resource on Clyde River history projects and attended many of the historical lectures and events along with her daughter Donna.

Hilda was proud of her family – Donna (Glydon) and Fred (Jeannie), her grandchildren Joelle (José), Jason and Jeff (Mariska), and she was especially blessed to live long enough to see her great-grandchildren Jonas, Jorgia, Henry and Matilda. Each one of her family has a knitted afghan that she lovingly made for them over long Island winters.

Aunt Hilda was part of a generation of solid folks that offer great examples of how to live life well.

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While Walter Shaw was Premier, The Guardian interviewed him about the Old St. Catherine’s Cemetery, also referred to as Shaw’s Cemetery. I found that clipping and it is rich with details. Here are some interesting excerpts from the article:

The cemetery opened in 1808-10, shortly after the first pioneers arrived from the Western Scottish Highlands and Isles. It was a non-sectarian burying ground where people came from miles around to bury their beloved dead.

The land was set aside by Walter’s grandfather Malcolm Shaw who emigrated from Mull in 1806. The old homestead was located about 300 yards above the cemetery overlooking the river. At the time of the interview, he said the depression in the ground was still visible.

The first burial from the new arrivals was a man named MacArthur, from the Riverdale and Churchill branches of the family, in 1810. There is an old story that three MacArthurs occupy the one grave – the original pioneer, his son and grandson. Walter says this could have easily happened as grave markers were usually a small sandstone which could have become displaced, or a small stick that would quickly decay. The graves of many early pioneers have no marks of any kind to locate their exact positions, although most have well-placed headstones.

Shaw said that people from Rocky Point to Bonshaw, Nine Mile Creek to Canoe Cove, Clyde River to Churchill and from the borders of Emyvale are buried here. There is even people from Wood Islands buried here including a relative of the Hon. Cyrus MacMillan.

Because of the lack of roads and the difficulty of travel through the thick forests, homesteads were located near the river to take advantage of river travel facilities, Walter said. The cemetery was located near the river bank for the same reasons. Funerals came by boat in summer and by ice in the winter. The old road that the funeral processions took could still be seen in Walter’s time, and a portion of the new road follows the old trail.

Previous to 1915, Walter said his father Alex would organize an annual cleanup of the cemetery and he knew the exact location of all the graves and plots and could even identify them in winter without a chart when an interment was necessary. After his death, the cemetery was neglected until there was organized effort made by his family and the community in the 1930s to maintain this community treasure.

His closing words describes this old cemetery as “a lasting and beautiful memorial to those who founded it and who sleep in its embrace.”

Editor’s note:  The MacMillan was likely Margaret MacMillan who was married to Duncan Darrach. The MacMillan’s settled in Wood Islands. We featured a story on the MacMillan clan earlier here.

List of those buried in St. Catherine’s Cemetery – link here.

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Argyle - 1It’s summer in Prince Edward Island, a time when aside from all the tourism activity, Islanders travel anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes to stay at their cottages. It’s not that we don’t like our neighbours but it’s just that we have already heard all their stories over the winter and we are in desperate need of some new ones and we are drawn to the shore. We don’t want to move too far away from home because we want to make sure we actually know the characters in the stories.

I am in Argyle Shore. It’s where my parents took us to the shore as children and where my grandparents took my mother and her siblings in summers. My mother’s family went to MacDougall’s shore as they were relations. Our parents took us to Argyle Shore Provincial Park. You could park handy to the water. The Park had picnic tables, play equipment and washrooms close by. There was even a natural spring to keep soft drinks cold. We were fortunate if we didn’t have to stop at the cemetery on the way. My mother liked to walk through, linger and remember Argyle Shore people that she knew as a child.

The Selkirk Settlers’ migration extends to Argyle Shore. It’s MacPhail country for the most part. Historical ties run through communities from here to Wood Islands. In the Murray Diaries (1911-25), there is mention of family from DeSable down for a visit to Clyde River. The DeSable relatives took the Murrays for a drive in their new car in 1922. In Mary Ann MacDougall Darrach’s letters (1904-07), she wrote that she had travelled from Clyde River down to Eldon. I recall her writing how “good it was to see my people”. Grace Seller Inman-Morrison from Argyle Shore was asked what was the greatest thing that happened in her lifetime and she said it was the telephone. When she married and moved to another community, it offered her an opportunity to stay connected to her people.

I am staying on Harvey Inman’s shore, Grace’s son, right beside Argyle Shore Provincial Park. In fact, he manages the Park. On the field below his home place, he has created a small community of cottage dwellers. Many began renting a cottage from Harvey years ago and went on to purchase their own little piece of heaven. It’s a quiet place offering ample time for rest and reflection. As you travel along Route 19, you will see many similar cottage communities in DeSable, Canoe Cove, Rice Point, Nine Mile Creek, Cumberland, Fairview, New Dominion and Meadowbank where friends and relatives reconnect after long winters. There are Islanders, those married to Islanders, long-term summer residents from other parts of Canada and New Englanders for the most part.

There is little in the way of commerce here. The Blue Goose Restaurant and Bakery is in DeSable. Harvey’s store in Crapaud has the largest variety of offerings unless you want to make the trip to Cornwall. Anna’s Country Kitchen even has a drive through. Victoria offers fresh fish, theatre and artisan shops. But there is no need for much. The view of the Northumberland Strait sustains you. I recall when I stayed here years ago for the first time. Harvey told me it was so quiet you could hear the moon come up. Last night’s buck moon, the name for July’s full moon, performed a silver symphony reflected across the strait.

I enjoyed a visit with Harvey and Evelyn last evening and we talked about the Clyde River history lectures we hosted last winter. As a first cousin of Ron MacKinley, he also knows how to tell a tale and he recounted a few stories about playing hockey at North River Rink and the strict loyalties divided by the West River. He had viewed the photos on the Clyde River site and smiled when he saw the men sitting around having a good chat. He said in earlier days, they would have been fierce opponents on the ice.

That’s it for now from across the river on the shores of Argyle. I hear someone playing fiddle music in the distance. Harvey says there’s a wedding on Cranberry Lane.

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Here is a story submitted by Rowena Hickox Stinson, great granddaughter of Robert and Mary Jane Hickox (Spurgeon, grandfather; Lester, father).

John and Sara Hickox emigrated from Portsea, England (present day Portsmouth) in the early 1800’s – sometime between 1804, the last date for baptism of any of their children, and 1812, when there was a rental agreement for 100 acres of land on the Covehead Road.

John and Sara had 11 children. William, their 9th child, married Elizabeth Stead whose family had immigrated about the same time as the Hickox family had and who were probably neighbours in the Little York area.

William and Elizabeth made their home in Bungay, near Hunter River. Their son Robert married Mary Jane Andrews, in January of 1875. Mary Jane’s family had come from Suffolk in the 1840’s and settled in the Wheatley River area.

On May 28, 1878, Robert purchased an acre of land for $80 in Clyde River on the west side of the bridge from Archibald Henderson. There is no mention of a dwelling in the deed, but I suspect that the house already existed, as $80 would have been quite a bit of money for such a small piece of land at that time. Robert and Mary Jane were living at their home in Clyde River in 1879, and are mentioned on the Cornwall Church Circuit and also as a family for visitation in 1880.

They raised a family of nine children:

  1. Jane  – born Jan 20, 1876 (died Feb.)
  2. Elizabeth Jane – born Dec 30, 1877
  3. Robert Spurgeon – born May 16, 1880
  4. Sophia – born Mar 17, 1882
  5. Mary Ann Beatrice – born Mar 18, 1884
  6. Susan Leah – born Mar 12, 1886
  7. Ada Keziah – born Jan 17, 1888
  8. William Benjamin – born Mar 18, 1890
  9. Beecher – born Dec 28, 1891
  10. Sarah Mabel – born Aug 24, 1894
  11. Jessie Myrtle – born Oct 27, 1896

Robert was a butcher by trade and gives that as his occupation in his will. He was also a shoe maker. His grandson, Lester Hickox recalled seeing shoe lasts that belonged to his grandfather.

Unfortunately, Robert died at the age of forty eight, on May 13, 1897, of Bright’s Disease, a kidney disorder that today is completely curable. His daughter Ada recalled sticking needles in her father’s swollen legs to try to drain the fluid from them. She remembered her father as a very nice, gentle man and claimed that her good opinion of men came from her father.

When Robert died, he left Mary Jane all his worldly possessions – live stock, farm implements, wagons, sleighs, furniture, etc. to use as she saw fit. He also willed to her a 3/4 acre lot of land on the east side of the Clyde River with the stipulation that if at any future time his son Spurgeon wanted to build on it, he would have the privilege of doing so.

Although she inherited his estate, life for Mary Jane as a widow must have been very hard with four young children to care for, including 7-month old Myrtle. Although all the children are listed with her in the 1901 Census, by this time, at least two of the children were out of the nest. Fifteen-year-old Leah was working as a housekeeper for Hector and Bertie Murchison and their four young children (their baby was named Leah), and thirteen-year-old Ada was listed as “domestic” with the Drake family (John and Suzannah) in Pownal.

I recall Ada (Hickox) Matheson telling me that she was expected to do “hard work” even though she was really a child herself. Her first attempt at making biscuits was not successful, and she threw them into the woods so no one would know.

In October of 1905, Mary Jane married John Arthur of Mayfield. The marriage took place in her home in Clyde River, but they went to live in Mayfield. Two of the girls, Sophia and Myrtle, were living with them when the census was taken in 1911.

Mary Jane sold the Clyde River property to her son Spurgeon for $100. Two years later, he mortgaged it to Robert MacPhail. Interest was paid yearly and also an annual rent of $12. The mortgage was discharged in full, in April 1910.

John Arthur, who was 20 years older than Mary Jane, died in June of 1913 and left to his wife all his worldly possessions and monetary assets. She would have been better off than after the death of her first husband. I’m not sure exactly when, but Mary Jane moved back to Clyde River to live in the little house with her daughter Sophia who never married.

The women were active in the community and church. A report in The Guardian of December 1936 tells of a Cornwall Missionary Society meeting held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Archie MacEachern to celebrate the 51st anniversary of the Society which honoured two of their oldest living members. One of those members was Miss Elizabeth Crosby who received a letter of appreciation and a book and the other was Mrs. John Arthur who received a Life Membership Certificate.

Mary Jane and Sophia are also mentioned in an article describing good works done by the ladies of Clyde River in collecting goods and money for the Women’s Patriotic Association during the early days of World War I, when Sophia donated $1.00 and a blanket to the effort. Her mother, Mary Jane, donated two pairs of socks, for which the soldiers in the trenches would likely have been very grateful.

Sophia was a teetotaller, and the story has been told that she would not eat rum and butter toffee because there was rum in it! When Sophia passed away in 1936, after a lengthy illness borne “with true Christian fortitude” which “beautified her soul through suffering”, her obituary also stated that she was a woman of strong Christian character, and the Clyde River Baptist Church had lost one of its’ most faithful and devoted members.

Mary Jane eventually went to live with her daughter Leah who had married Elmer MacNeill, and lived in Charlottetown on what is now Nassau Street. She passed away in 1945 at the age of eighty eight.

Robert, Mary Jane, Sophia, and Elizabeth are buried in the Cornwall United Church Cemetery. As an interesting sidebar to this, in the 1990’s when their grandson Lester Hickox wanted to buy plots in the cemetery, there were four empty graves beside the family, and so one hundred years later, he was buried right beside his grandparents.

Their son Spurgeon lived in the house for a time after his mother’s marriage to John Arthur. He had married Kate Ramsay, a Home Child from Edinburgh, Scotland. Kate had been adopted by Allan and Eliza MacLean who lived on the Meadow Bank Road. In the 1901 Census, she is listed as their adopted daughter, and the date given for her immigration is 1889, which fits with the family oral tradition that she came to Canada from Scotland when she was seven years old.

I recall her telling me when I was little about travelling with Mr. MacLean in a horse and wagon (or buggy) and being teased about her accent when she commented on the “wee block lammies” on the hillside.

The MacLeans were good to her. Mrs. MacLean recognized her musical abilities and paid for music lessons – paid by the “quarter”. These lessons stood her in good stead, and she served for many years as church organist in Bonshaw for both the Baptist and United Churches (although she was Baptist to the core!).

There is a lovely family story about Spurgeon and Kate. Spurgeon’s mother Mary Jane had been a midwife who attended the birth of one of the MacLean children – probably Catherine who was born in April of 1905.  It seems that Mary Jane left her shawl at the MacLean’s, and Kate was sent down the hill to return it. Spurgeon walked her home, and the rest as they say… but before they were married, Kate spent some time in the US and lived for a time in the unlikely place of North Dakota. It seems that she turned down the marriage proposal from a Baptist Minister and came home to Spurgeon. They married on July 1, 1908. This story of the shawl was corroborated by one of the MacLean family descendents recently.

Spurgeon and Kate must have lived in the Clyde River house for a while after their marriage, as their son (my father) Lester was born in the house in June 1909. We would say that our Dad was born in the kitchen, because there had been renovations in the house and a former bedroom became the kitchen.

Eventually, Spurgeon and Kate moved to Bonshaw, where Spurgeon operated a lumber mill on the West River. He also had a ferry service from Bonshaw to Charlottetown during the 1930s which transported passengers and freight on market days. It seems that when the Liberals were in power, Spurgeon had the contract. When the Conservatives were in power, Toff Beaton ran the ferry! Spurgeon built a lovely Arts and Crafts style house on a property near the river, off the St Catherine’s Road beside the mill, but unfortunately the house was abandoned somewhere around the 1960s and fell into disrepair – and eventually the basement.

Kate and Spurgeon were active in the Bonshaw community for many years. She organized concerts and fund raisers for the Women’s Institute and was also church organist. Spurgeon was noted as a craftsman and furniture builder, and, in later years, a builder of hand sleighs. They retired to a home in Parkdale in the 1940s where he had a workshop where he built hand sleighs and many Island children received a sled for Christmas built by Spurgeon. He never did build a house in Clyde River that his father had set aside for him.

As for the other members of the family of Robert and Mary Jane Hickox:

  • Elizabeth Jane (Libby) married her cousin George Hickox. They had twin daughters who died at birth, but they adopted two daughters later on.  Libby was living in Clyde River at the time of her marriage in 1902. She is buried in Cornwall United Church Cemetery.
  • Mary Ann Beatrice (Beatie) married Edmund Waller whose family had imigrated from Australia in 1873. They lived in Charlottetown where Edmund was employed by the Dominion Express Company and later the Canadian Express Company. (These were Bill Waller’s parents.)
  • Susan “Leah” married Elmer MacNeill from Fairview. They lived in Charlottetown on Nassau Street and raised a family of six. Elmer was a carpenter and was one of the workers who constructed the United Church in Cornwall. Leah made the best sugar cookies known to a child. (Leah’s daughter Kathleen was married to Ivan MacNevin.)
  • Ada Keziah was listed as a domestic in the 1901 Census. She had gone to live with her aunt, Margaret Heartz (sister of her father) when she was nine and lived with her for two years. She returned home for a short time and then went to live and work for her cousin, a son of Margaret Heartz, who had just gotten married. She was paid $3.00 per month, much of which went to help her mother. I recall her telling me she had to do “hard farm work”. Ada married Jack Matheson, a farmer, on June 18, 1908 and they had a large family of about fourteen children.
  • William “Benjamin” and his brother Beecher left PEI sometime after 1910 and went to the west on a Harvest Excursion. They purchased quarter sections of land there and farmed for a time near Gravelburg, Saskatchewan. Ben eventually gave up farming and became the custodian of a school in Briarcrest, about 25 miles SE of Moose Jaw. He never returned to PEI, but several years ago, his grandson Ron and his wife Bernadette came from Prince Albert to seek out some of the places his grandfather would have known.
  • Beecher went west with his brother but return to PEI and lived in Montague, where his wife Ina Halliday was a school teacher. Beecher worked as a cook on ships with the Coast Guard. He died in 1966 and is buried in Montague Community Cemetery.
  • Jessie Myrtle and her sister Sarah Mabel (Sadie) were both baptised in 1899, two years after the death of their father. She married George MacNeil and had four children. Her daughter Irene was raised by her sister Sadie, as Jessie died in 1925 of tuberculosis. (Jessie Myrtle’s daughter was Norma MacNeill Campbell, married to Heber Campbell.)
  • Sarah Mabel (Sadie) married Clint Goodall and lived in Cherryfield, NB, just outside Moncton. They had a farm and market garden, and during the Second War, Clint would take the truck into Moncton and round up service men who were there on leave and bring them back to the farm, where Sadie would have a hearty home cooked meal prepared. They were very welcoming people, and a visit to their home always began with big hugs. They had no children of their own but raised Irene MacNeil who was Sadie’s niece.

I’m not sure just when Mary Jane (Andrews Hickox) Arthur left Clyde River to retire to the home of her daughter Leah MacNeill, but I imagine it would have been some time in the early 1940s, taking away the last presence of the Hickox family in Clyde River. The family was there for perhaps close to seventy years, from the mid 1870’s to the late 1930s or early ‘40s, and from there their descendants have gone far and wide, carrying the influence of that little house with them.

The house was lived in until perhaps the mid 1970s, when it was pulled down or fell down and replaced by the bungalow that still stands on the property.

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