Saturday, February 8, 2014

St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch - Extractions from Online Images


The St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch was a "Tory" newspaper published in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada in the mid nineteenth century. While the microfilm has been available for existing issues at the St. Thomas Public Library it now also can be read online at Google News - St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch. Online images are available from 1855 through 1863.

I'm in the process now of posting extractions of vitals and interesting news items pertaining to Elgin County, Ontario from these issues. The extractions are at the Elgin OGS web site at:

St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

The newspaper was normally a four page weekly usually published on a Thursday with a fairly standard format of British news and a short story on the first page, some local and national news on the second page (lots on the Civil War battles in the 1862-1863 issues), paid for vitals and legal notices and ads on the third page and the fourth page is usually all advertisments.

Here is a typical example of paid notices for birth, marriage, deaths. Usually the wealthier residents and WD subscribers.


So many of our local sources such as census, probate, vital registrations focus on dates and places and we are left wondering about the stories. Newspapers are often where we find some of those stories. Some of the stories are about sad or as the WD gives it "Melancholy" accidents - some fatal. There are court cases and runaway wives - abductions, elopements, desertions "- she left my bed and board - I won't pay her debts." Lots of politics which I have just touched upon in the extractions but others can pursue in more depth if they wish.

One story that was of particular interest to me was a civil court case reported in the October 23, 1862 issue of the Weekly Dispatch under Elgin Assizes. It concerned the matter of a Martha BIRDSALL who had sued a John KENCH / KINCH the younger for "breach of promise of marriage." The name Martha Birdsall was familiar to me since a great great Uncle Nicholas Carter Brown had married a Martha Birdsall as his third wife. Readers can see a piece I wrote in an earlier Blog post on the Gravestones on the Three wives of Nicholas Carter Brown at the Dunboyne Cemetery. While Nicholas had children by his first two wives his third wife although 49 years old at the time of the marriage was a spinster not a widow.

The clipping from the WD below indicates that the "parties to the suit became acquainted some years ago, and it seems that a "natural affection was the result." A quick check of the 1851 census for Bayham confirmed that Martha age 24 was indeed living next to a John KINCH, also age 24, a laborer on a neighbor's farm. John, it seems, decided to go west and seek his fortune before marrying Martha and over ten years passed with many "beautiful and loving epistles interchanged, every one breathing the pure spirit of Venus."
But alas, when the loving suitor returned home the fire had faded and he indicated a desire to have "nothing to do with the gentler sex in any case whatever." Martha had waited 10 years for her marriage and this behavior did not sit well. So, she thought it "prudent to try what effect justice and the laws of Canada would have in teaching him a due sense of right and wrong."

After reading several of the passionate love letters sent to Martha, the jury returned a "verdict of $1500 for the lady plaintiff." Thirteen years later at age 49 she finally marries Mr. Brown of Dunboyne. So now I have a little more of the "rest of the story" of Nicholas's third wife, Martha Birdsall.

Here is the clipping from the 23 Oct 1863 Weekly Dispatch as they report the suit.


For more stories about your Elgin County, Ontario, Canada ancestors check out the resources at the Elgin OGS web site at:  -  www.elginogs.ca

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