Sunday, December 14, 2008

Elgin County Funeral Home Record Indexes Online

The Elgin OGS has now posted indexes online for several of the Elgin County Funeral Homes.
Elgin OGS has records from various funeral homes and undertakers throughout Elgin County in their holdings.
We can provide an extraction of genealogical information from these records, which will not include the cause of death or any financial details.
The extent and type of information varies with each funeral home. The usual information expected would be date of death, date of burial, age, date of birth, place of birth and death, place of burial and sometimes parents’ names and names of survivors.

The funeral homes / undertakers records from which we can provide lookups are:
Atkinson, Hughson & Kebbel, Aylmer -
Evenden Funeral Home, St. Thomas (c1873-1880 -
Moedinger Funeral Home, Sparta (c1899-1911) -
For information on how to order extracts of data from these sources please see the lookup policy at :

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Civil War Veterans of Elgin County - William Whitesell

It may surprise some researchers how many Ontario residents went south to fight in the American Civil War. Bob Moore and Bruce Johnson have identified over 50 Civil War Veterans who were at one time residents of Elgin County. Check out their research online at:

One Veteran, William Whitesell, born at Malahide Township, Elgin County enlisted as a private on the 26th of September 1861 at St. Charles, Illinois in the 52nd Regiment, Illinois Volunteers Company “G” to serve 3 years. He was mustered in at Geneva, Kane County Illinois in October 1861 by Capt. F H Bowman of 52nd Illinois Regiment Company”G”,. He began service 19 November 1861 at Geneva, Illinois. Whitesell was described as a native of Elgin County, Canada West, age 26 years old, 5 feet, 8 ½ inches tall, darkish complexion, brown eyes, black hair and by occupation a farmer,

He died of typhoid fever at Camp Montgomery near Corinth, Mississippi. On the muster Roll of Company “G” for the months of July and August 1862, it is reported "Died in Hospital at Camp Montgomery, near Corinth, Miss. July 7, 1862." He was buried at the Corinth Mississippi National cemetery

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The special gravestones for Nicholas C. Brown's three wives - Dunboyne Cemetery

If you are ever researching or just visiting the Dunboyne Cemetery south of Aylmer, Ontario you might want to take the time to take a close look at the gravestones of Nicholas Carter Brown and his three wives, all lined up in a row in the center of the cemetery.

Nicholas Carter Brown with grandaughter Margaret Chase - circa 1915
Nicholas C. Brown was my great-great-Grandmother's older brother who lived to age 94 and kept a diary of the weather and his major daily events for most of his life. He married three times. Four of his eight children survived to adulthood but he selected and placed the gravestones for all of his 3 wives. His children were successful and accomplished in medicine, law and military service. Education and religious faith were always very important for him and his family (although he wasn't particularly proficient at spelling).

What is particularly interesting about the gravestones of his wives are the carefully crafted sculpted images on the monuments. When I first looked at the stones many years ago I thought "how nice" - a carving of a mother and her children on the gravestones.

Nicholas' first wife Mina Maria Backhouse, died 30 March 1867. In his diary Nicholas gives.

March 1867 23 S[at.] Wife very ill give her clothing and keepSakes to [Trier?]
28 T[hur.] Wife Deceas at 10 oclock ev was last words to me ["] I am geting cold and if I never get warm I shall be glad and you nead not be sory for the Lord will take care of me ["]
29 F[ri.] Arange for Funeral
30 S[at.] Funeral gathering large conducted well 2 oclock ?? of j. Walker coffin and thence and Teams to carry her corps to meeting House [she was a Quaker]
Miss Catherin Kusling Niece agrees to Keep house for us this season for one dollar per week.

23 November 1867, Sat.; "Go to receive Tombstone wrongly inscribed rejected."

6 December 1867, Received Wifes Tombstone a little short - $85.00.

29 April 1868, Wednesday; "Fix Tomb Stones plant Roses by grave
The gravestone for his first wife, Mina, that Nicholas was so particular about was apparently carefully designed with specific criteria. It depicts a a Mother seated reading a book to two standing boys, one who could be 11 years old and one who appears younger, maybe about 8.

Father and us miss you dear Mother - Mima Maria / Wife of / Nicholas C. Brown / Died / Mar. 28, 1867 / Æ 35 ys. 1 ms. / & 6 ds. / And so the actions of the just / When memory has sustained them / Breath upward from decay and dust / And leave sweet scent behind them / Teale & Wilkens / London.

After Mina died Nicholas married second, Margaret Williams, a sister of his cousin's wife. He had 4 more children by her but one died before wife Margaret died on 22 March 1877.At the time of her death he laments in his diary:

"S[un.] 18 March 1877 Good Sleighing Wife very ill Children better

M[on.] 19 Draw saw logs, Send for Dr. j Williams Wiffes Brother got here 10 oclock

T[ue.]Doctors McClay and Williams here. Wife sinking

W[ed.]Wife still sinking at Six oclock this morning she called for her Family and Friends one after another and talked with them and bid them goodby asking them to meet her in Heaven.

T[hur.] 22 Wife Margaret Died this morning at half past one oclock her end was peasce She sayed all was well

F[ri.] 23 Wifes Funeral they laid her away at half past two oclock P.M. large gathering day very warm Snow turns to slush and slop

M[erritt] & L[eopold] got home from Montryall (sic-Montreal) time for Funeral Return from Funeral with my two large and three small Motherless Children their prospects dreary no apparent way for me to keep or care for my Family my way appears entirely hedged up."
The inscription on her tombstone, at the Dunboyne Cemetery, a white marble rectangular stone on cement base, with sculpted mother and three children reads as follows.

Mother's Love and Farewell / Margaret / Wife of / Nicholas C. Brown / Died / March 22, 1877 / Aged / 35 y'rs. 11 m's & 20 d's. / Pa! take good care of the children./ I want you all to be kind to your / Father / Hutchinson Aylmer.

I never really thought that there was any special significance to the sculptures on the stones until recently when I was studying the ages of the children. I then realized that when Mina died she left behind 2 boys, Merritt age 11 and Leopold age 8. Two other of her children had died before her.
When second wife, Margaret died she left 3 children, Cora, age 8, Walter age 4 and an infant baby, Franklin about 9 months old.

Lately I came to realize just how these stones were meant to comfort the mourning children. The words on the stones were meant to be the mother speaking to her family when they visited her gravesite and the children on the stone represented her children and how she was to be remembered by them. They would see themselves with their mother and be reminded of her love and affection for them. What a thoughtful and deliberate father Nicholas must have been.

Nicholas married third (another "M") Martha Ruth Birdsall in 1878. She Died in 1909 and her gravestone is inline with the first two wives. She is represented like the first two wives on her gravestone, apparently seated and possibly at some task (maybe carrying a basket). There are no children in the sculpture since no issue occurred with this marriage.

Entered Into Rest/Martha R./wife of Nicholas C. BROWN/died/March 8, 1909/Aged 80 y'rs. 6 mo's & 8 d's

Nicholas had very neatly represented his family who survived to adulthood in his purchases of the 3 gravestones for his 3 wives. When Nicholas died in 1920 his surviving four children erected a gravestone next to his three wives (their two mothers and stepmother). On his monument is an open book, inscribed "Holy Bible." For a man of strong Christian faith who attended his own nearby Methodist Church regularly and supported generously all the area churches including his father's Quaker meetings the sculpted Bible was the obvious choice.

Nicholas Carter/BROWN/Died/Feb 19, 1920/Aged 94 years/Son of/Walter & Jemima/

The transcriptions for the gravestones for Nicholas's 4 children who preceded him and who are buried at Dunboyne can be found at :

Bruce Johnson
Elgin OGS

Thursday, September 25, 2008

David Porter's Book on the Pearce Letters

Here is what Dr. Colin Read, Prof. of History, Huron University College, London, Ontario has to say about David Porter's new book From Almondsbury to Aylmer: The Pearce Letters.

History is about the great, the good, and the not-so-good: kings and queens, prime ministers, prelates, merchant princes, and the like. David Porter's From Almondsbury to Aylmer: The Pearce Letters provides yet another powerful antidote to this tired and tiresome argument and hence should be read widely, especially by the historical illiterate, too many of whom occupy positions of power. Those who would argue, for example, that Sir John A. "built" the Canadian Pacific Railway, even though he worked not at all on it, not even swinging the sledge hammer that drove the last spike, would benefit mightily from immersing themselves in this well-produced, well-written, well-illustrated, well-mapped volume about "ordinary folk" on either side of the Atlantic who, like unrecorded multitudes, led lives of consequence. The ordinary is ever significant.

The principals of Porter's piece are, in the first instance, William and Emma Pearce who left the southwest of England in 1852, settling, first, in Malahide in Elgin County, where they joined, according to the 1851-2 census, 176 others from England and Wales then in that township. Chain migration had played its part in their coming, as friends had preceded them and made them aware of the possibilities inherent in the new land. Pushed by the prospect of landlessness in Almondsbury and attracted by the pull of real property, William and Emma struck deep roots in Elgin, eventually acquiring a farm in the west part of Yarmouth, not far from Aylmer. With deft strokes, author/editor Porter sets the scene, establishes needed context, tells the tale, and provides genealogical data. The key part of his book, however, consists of the twenty-five letters discovered in the 1960s between the Pearces and their English relatives, especially William Pearce senior. Though nibbled by mice, these letters provide a rich banquet for those interested in real people who populated a world that is receding in time and memory yet connected still to the present.

On the latter score, does any of this sound familiar?: the call of greener pastures with its promise of land and prosperity, the heartbreak involved in family members leaving for distant places, the fragility of life, the search for solace in the face of death through the promise of life eternal in heaven in company with the newly-departed. All this and more, as the author/editor points out, is to be found in these letters. Particularly poignant is the family falling-out that developed over a small bequest left to William by his departed father, despite the elder William's having done all he could to assure that his three sons would be treated fairly. The journey to this particular family hell was clearly paved with good intentions.

From Almonsbury to Aylmer provides the stuff of lives lived, far more than do many accounts that have those deemed "historically important" swaggering upon the world's stage.

For an index of names in the book see the Elgin OGS web site page on the book.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1924 Cummins Rural Directory Maps - Featured Map South Dorchester Township

1924 Map for South Dorchester Township (double click image to enlarge for reading lot owners)

The 1924 Cummins Rural Directory is a source that may be helpful to Elgin County Researchers

Here is a sample of the maps given in the Directory. This map is for the historical township of South Dorchester. Note that Concession numbers are given in both margins as Roman numerals. Lots start on the left margin with Lots A and B then number 1 through 24 right to left.

The 1924 Cummins Maps are available on ILL from the Public Archives of Canada
Our thanks to Elgin OGS member Fred Prong for directing us to this source.

See the entire Dorchester map at:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Elgin County Gravestone images posted to Elgin OGS Flickr account

The new Elgin OGS Flickr account is at
Photos that are posted to this Flickr account are being linked to various Elgin OGS cemetery transcription pages.
For an example see the Dunboyne Cemetery page at:

The Elgin OGS Flickr account also manages the Elgin County Gravestones pool at:

If you would like to contribute photos of Elgin County gravestones to this pool simply asked to join and an invitation will be sent.

The Elgin OGS Flickr account allows the branch to link thousands of gravestone images at a small cost off the branch server to the transcription pages. Give it a try!