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Thursday, January 30, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 John Bennet Winters

My 3rd-great-grandfather John Bennet Winters was born on 19 December 1831 in Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. He was the first child of Hugh Winters and Mary Bennet, who were both born in Ireland. On 8 January 1832, he was baptized at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh. Leith did not have a Catholic church at that time. He was baptized by John McPherson, and the sponsors were Owen Winters (probably Hugh Winters' brother) and Bridget McMahon. The Winters family lived in the parish of South Leith until 1849, when they immigrated to the United States. John, his father, and most of his siblings sailed from Glasgow to New York City on the Pursuit; they arrived on 12 June 1849. John's mother and his sister Margaret (the youngest child born in Scotland) did not sail with them, but were with the family in 1850, so apparently they traveled separately. The Winters family settled in Brooklyn, New York. At the time of the 1850 United States Census, John was not employed. By 1859 he had left home and was living in Tonawanda, Erie County, New York, where he married Anna "Ann" Walker on 10 October 1859. The couple was enumerated in Tonawanda in the 1860 United States Census. The record indicates that they had married within the year, which is consistent with the marriage date given in the Winters family Bible. John's occupation was "drudger." He was probably working on the first enlargement of the Erie Canal. John and Ann's first child, daughter Catherine Elizabeth (their only child to survive to adulthood) was born in Tonawanda on 12 November 1861. The family had moved to Chicago, Illinois, by 1866. John ran a grocery store at 247 S. Jefferson, in the Conley's Patch neighborhood. Within two years, three of his children passed away. In 1866, his daughter Alice died at the age of two weeks, and his son Hugh died at age 3 years, 8 months. His son David died in 1867 at the age of three weeks. All three children were buried in a single grave at Graceland Cemetery. In 1871, John petitioned for a free peddler's license. His grocery business had failed, and his only chance of making a living was by peddling tea and coffee. His petition was granted by the mayor and Common Council of Chicago in June 1871. A few months later, after the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871, the Winters family probably had to move. They had lived at the edge of the burnt district, and John was not listed in the 1871 Edwards' Chicago Directory, Fire Edition, which was compiled after the fire. On 19 September 1872, John's wife Ann died. By 1878, John had moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he married Elizabeth Buise on 18 May 1878 at St. Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church. In the 1878 and 1879 Montreal city directories, John was listed as a watchman. He lived at 24 Bronsdon Lane. John died of pneumonia at Montreal General Hospital on 25 December 1879. He was buried in a common grave in Mount Royal Cemetery on 27 December 1879. Robert Campbell of St. Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church was the minister officiating at his burial. W. S. Wright and R. A. Morrison were witnesses. His burial record stated that his occupation was fireman, which had also been his father's occupation when the family lived in Leith.

John B. Winters death notice, Montreal Daily Witness, 27 December 1879

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 James Graham

I have decided to take the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small. I am a bit behind, but I will try to catch up before the year is over. I will probably also include collateral relatives as well as ancestors, because they are part of my family history too.

I will start with my biggest brick wall, my great-great-grandfather James Graham. He was born about 1854, somewhere in the United States. He married Catherine Elizabeth Winters and they had two children, Kathleen (probably born Catherine) and Garfield.

He is listed in the 1881 Census of Canada, living in Hochelaga (now part of Montreal), Quebec, Canada with his wife and daughter (my great-grandmother). He was working as an accountant. I found him in the 1881, 1882, and 1883 Montreal city directories; he was a bookkeeper and lived at 110 Ontario. On 20 November 1885, his wife Elizabeth married James Mapplebeck; her marriage record stated that she was the widow of the late James Graham of Chicago. However, the family story is that James Graham had been a Catholic priest before his marriage, and eventually left his family to return to the priesthood. I am still trying to determine how much, if any, of the family story is true. But it does make me suspect that James Graham may not have been dead in 1885. Many "widows" were really separated or divorced, and people sometimes remarried without divorce.

Before coming to Montreal, his wife Catherine Elizabeth Winters (who was known by her middle name) had lived in Chicago. James and Elizabeth may have been in Canada at the time of the 1880 United States census; I could not find the family. Elizabeth's father John Bennet Winters was in Montreal by 1878 and died there in 1879. Although I do not know if James Graham was in Chicago in 1870, I thought it was a possibility, so I searched the census records for a likely candidate. There were many men named James Graham, but I at least had an approximate age. I found one that struck me as a good possibility in the household of William Graham. The family was in Chicago Ward 9 (the same ward as the Winters family), the mother was born in Canada, and James was born in New York. According to the 1910 United States Census, Garfield Graham's father was born in New York, and according to the 1920 United States Census, Kathleen (Graham) Boe's father was born in New York. Their mother was born in New York, and in at least some censuses the information about their father seems to refer to their stepfather James Mapplebeck, who raised them (he was born in Ontario, Canada). However, it is possible that they may have had some information about their father's place of birth.

I found the Graham household in the 1860 United States Census. They were living in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio. According to this census record, the mother was born in England. I have not been able to find any earlier records of this family. I also have not found them after 1870. I suspect that this is the family of my James Graham, but I do not feel that I have sufficient evidence yet.