The Fleming Family History Is Ready

Image of the back and front of the book cover. Front shows the board and batten Springfield House.

It’s here! After many years of research by Ruth Larmour and Gwen Harris, much transcribing of original documents, countless hours building the family tree in Ancestry, much fact-checking, many interviews with descendants, many searches through land records, newspapers, directories, and other archives, much reference to written histories, the long-awaited Flemings of Derby Township: A family history has been printed.

It is available for purchase at Ginger Press in Owen Sound. Price is $85 CDN plus tax. Use the Contact Page to place an inquiry about ordering or contact me by leaving a comment to this blog post.

The project dates from the early 1900s when Roy Fleming, an artist and teacher in Ottawa,  and his cousin C.A. Fleming, a businessman and educator in Owen Sound,  had the idea to compile a family history.  As members of the generation of the firstborn in Canada, they were imbued with the family sagas of trials and triumph. From their fathers, they delved into their Scottish roots in Perthshire’s, Logeirait parish and from their uncle, William, captured the recollections of the voyage to Quebec in 1843 and pioneer life Canada West. In Vaughan Township they farmed leased land, and with their earnings, bought land in Derby Township where they settled in 1850.   Theirs is the story of determination, resolve, faith, resourcefulness, and good fortune.

This family history draws on many original letters and earlier family manuscripts supplemented and enriched by extensive research to describe the times and conditions and to gather biographical information about family members over four generations. In Canada, the period covered is roughly 1850 to 1920. The story follows the Flemings to many parts of Canada and the United States where they engaged in many different professions.

The book is richly illustrated with photographs, sketches, and maps. It is thoroughly indexed and footnoted. One might even say it is encyclopedic. This video provides a quick taste and view of what to expect.

Youtube video at https://youtu.be/bJ79v0QbTu0

Postscript: The book received this favourable review by Scott Dunn of The Owen Sound Sun TimesGinger Press carries on the tradition of celebrating local stories (December 10, 2022)

Seven Weeks at Sea

We set sail probably on the second or third of May 1843 from Greenock, the port of Glasgow”– wrote William Fleming in his recollections of crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Quebec with his parents and seven siblings. William was six years old at the time. “It was a three-masted vessel,” he remembered and, “The ship had a general cargo of merchandise, the crew and passengers numbered some fifty to sixty.”

All who read William’s emigration story wish his account had been longer. What was it like to travel in steerage, what were the conditions, what did they have in provisions? We can can get a sense from a superb reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel, The Dunbrody, that is moored in New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland. Built in Quebec in 1845 the Dunbrody was a three-masted ship with a registered tonnage of 485.  Lloyd’s Register tells us that it was made of oak, elm, and “hamkmatack” – tamarack. Lloyd’s assessed the ship as A1. (1) In 1849, when it sailed for New York, it carried 176 passengers.

The Flemings sailed on the Jeanie Deans out of Glasgow – a three-masted barque in May 1843. It was 319 tons – a bit smaller than the Dunwoody, built in 1841, also in Quebec, and was “sheathed with yellow metal.” According to Lloyd’s Register, the ship was made from black birch, oak, and tamarack and graded as A1. (1) The Jeanie Deans carried 65 passengers and 10 crew on that voyage. (2)

Typically (as we learn from Cian T. McMahon’s book, The Coffin Ship), emigrant ships had a forecastle deck at the front, the main deck in the middle, and the poop at the rear. The poop deck was reserved for officers and ”cabin” passengers. Below the poop deck there might be a hospital and the ship’s galley. Steerage travellers were allowed on the main deck at designated times to cook their meals on an open-fire grate. For most of the day they were confined below the main deck – or ‘tween deck” – in a long room accessed through hatches from the deck. When the seas were rough, the hatches were nailed shut to prevent flooding, but this also closed off air and heightened the misery below deck. Sleeping and living arrangements were cramped.

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Fleming Migration to the United States

Jean Agnew (1862–1950) and her cousin Robert Fleming (1860–1894) were the first two of the Fleming families in Kilsyth to emigrate to the United States. Over the fifty-year period 1880 to 1930, 22 of Alexander Fleming and Jean Stewart’s 70 grandchildren (33%) left Derby Township to try life across the border. All but four stayed in the USA.  The female Flemings were as adventurous as the male – a 50/50 split. Most were between the ages of 20 to 40. (1)

Image shows four Fleming women who lived in the United States on holiday in California, c 1910.
Outing to Ocean Park, CA. Bottom left, Minerva Fleming talking to Christina Fleming. Jean [Walmsley] on the far right. The woman behind Christina might be Jean Agnew. The men, Messrs Watson and Dury were friends of the Walmsleys. c. 1910 (Source: Fleming Family Photos)

The United States was a magnate for young people seeking better prospects for education, employment and income. The late 1860s to 1896 was the Gilded Age of rapid economic growth, technological invention, and industrial production. Hydroelectricity powered new factories. Cities in the East attracted new immigrants, and the West offered land and gold. Toronto, in 1891, with a population of 181,000, was small compared to the closest U.S. cities: Buffalo at 254,000, Detroit at 205,000, and Philadelphia at over one million.

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Flemings of Derby Township – Prepublication

Good news – the family history about the Flemings of Derby Township is nearly ready for the printer.  We expect to ship the book in late October 2022 (changed from early).

The book is a comprehensive account of the family of Alexander Fleming and Jean Stewart who emigrated from Perthshire to Canada West in 1843 and settled in Derby Township, Grey County, in 1850. Their stories show the spirit and resolve of the Scottish migrants to shape lives with more opportunities for their children. This narrative describes the Flemings’ Scottish roots, the perils of emigration, pioneering life in Derby Township, Grey County, and the lives of their nine children and grandchildren around the turn of the century as they undertook new travels and challenges.

Sources include Ruth (Fleming) Larmour’s extensive collection of stories and papers, contributions by other Fleming descendants, genealogical records, land records, and many other historical sources in archives and libraries. This wealth of information led to a large book that is richly illustrated, extensively sourced, and complete with name index and subject index. The table of contents will provide a view of the coverage in this book.

This is a limited edition with a pre-publication price of $70 Canadian (plus shipping if needed) payable by cheque or etransfer. Please order by August 8 (changed from July 25, 2022), if you would like a copy at this favourable price.

Why would you buy this book?

  • Alexander Fleming and Jean Stewart are in your family tree.
  • One of your ancestors came to Canada from the Scottish Highlands in the 1800s.
  • You would like to learn more about the Fleming Family of Kilsyth and Owen Sound, Grey County.
  • You are interested in pioneer life in Ontario in the 1800s.
  • Your family lived in Vaughan Township, Derby Township, or Owen Sound in the 1800s.
  • You enjoy reading family histories with illustrations and personal accounts from the times.

Contact us through the button in the menu bar or by posting a comment.

New Resource: Bruce County Historical Society Yearbooks

Kudos to the Bruce County Museum and the Bruce County Historical Society for digitizing the yearbooks of the Society for 1967 to 2010.

Each yearbook contained a variety of historical stories about the people, places and events in Bruce County history. These fascinating stories of our past are now more available to people across the globe who are interested in Bruce County’s past.

https://www.shorelinebeacon.com/news/local-news/bruce-county-historical-society-yearbooks-now-online

Go to Bruce County Historical Newspapers at https://newspapers.brucemuseum.ca/. The yearbook is the second item on the list. Browse the list by year or enter a keyword search. Of course, my search was for fleming – returned eight results of which two were related to this Fleming family. The 2006 issue referred to an article written by Roy Fleming, and the 1971 mentioned Christy Morrison as a survivor of the loss of the Asia in Georgian Bay. Results were more plentiful for the term Oliphant.