Something Different

What if we could tell a family story through a mix of media, constructing a narrative arc with text, pictures, voice, video, and suspense; as well as one that involves family members? This is what has been accomplished in “Daddy, what did you do in the war?” A Soldier’s Story of WWI – a film (at YouTube) written and produced by Martha Rowlett about her father, a farm boy in Virginia who was drafted into the USA army during World War One.

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The author crafted the script from letters Peyton Lee Rowlett wrote to his family, employed official war records, and blended in background information about the United States and its war effort in the years 1917-1918. Two young people from the current generation are the voices for the earlier generations. Continue reading

The Emigrant Woman in the 1850s

The Female Emigrant's Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic
Cover for The Female Emigrant’s Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic

To consider pioneer living in Derby Township in the 1850s and 1860 from the point of view of Jean Stewart Fleming and her daughters, there may be no better resource than Catherine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide published in 1855. Traill wrote this guide explicitly to help women manage the difficult and unfamiliar conditions in Canada West in order to procure, harvest, and prepare foods for their families whether living deep in the bush or on a cleared farm. From her experience during her first  twenty years in Canada , Traill could advise women on everything from salting pork, storing potatoes, making  dandelion coffee, or furnishing a log cabin.

Titled Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide. Cooking with a Canadian Classic, this edition of 2017 from McGill Queen’s University Press was edited by  Nathalie Cooke and Fiona Lucas, both with academic and culinary credentials.   It includes the 1854 first edition of Traill’s guide with explanatory notes, and an equally sized supplement providing background and explanation of the “foodways of the period”.  The editors expand on Traill’s life and writings to describe the foods, availability of supplies, type of menus, measuring practices and tools, and much else to help the reader in the 21st century have a greater appreciation of the period.  Moreover, the editors help the curious prepare historical recipes adapted to current materials and cooking arrangements.

Catharine Parr Traill’s general guidance on life and housekeeping in Canada West and her carefully written instructions on food stuffs and preparation show us how extremely capable pioneer women had to be to feed their families and survive themselves.

“The pioneer’ wife’s knowledge and capabilities had to extend far beyond the home, the kitchen and the promotion of gracious and thrifty living – ideally, she must also be competent in the garden, in the fields, with the animals, as nurse and mid-wife, as manufacturer of clothing, and in emergencies, she must have hands as strong and head as clear as a man’s”. [Quoted from Clara Thomas, “Happily Ever After”.  (Pg xxvii)]

Traill provides practical advice on clearing the land – underbrush in the fall, and chop large timber in the winter, then pile appropriately to burn well. This advice she obtained from her brother Sam Strickland, and included in her book so that women, on whom so much fell, would know too. (p. 49)

Continue reading

George Donald (G.D.) Fleming (Maj)

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147th Battalion at Camp Borden, 1916. Courtesy South Grey Museum

Another Fleming to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force for World War 1 was George Donald (G.D.) Fleming, son of C.A. Fleming and Margaret Donald. When he left in 1916 as an officer in the 147th Grey Owen Sound Battalion, he was 27 years old, (born 22 October 1889), had a wife Alice Naomi Beaton, and a daughter “Peg” of 16 months.

He was a “secretary treasurer” by profession according to the attestation record – probably at the Northern Business College his father had founded in Owen Sound.

A man of medium height at 5 feet 9 inches, weighing 165 pounds, he had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. George had been in the 31st Regiment militia for seven years. Feeling a very powerful loyalty to King and Country  and having seen his militia colleagues leave, he enlisted with the  76th Battalion 13 November 1915 (date of attestation)  for training at its Niagara Camp. He transferred to the  147th Grey Overseas Battalion 1 January 1916. Official papers show that he enlisted for overseas  service with the rank of Captain (3 February 1916).   It was the practice to direct troops from training into reserve battalions  in England and from there move men into a Division as needed. Continue reading

Fleming Descendants in World War One

poppy-pixabay-2754984_960_720As we pause to remember the 1917 on Remembrance Day 2017, this blog posting recognizes seven men in the Fleming Family Tree who were soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War 1. The digitization by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) personnel service files and the War Diaries in which are recorded the daily events of the battalions give us access to a great deal of information. Four Fleming members fought in France and survived; three were very lucky and never saw action. No lives were lost. Continue reading

Rural Diaries

Good news: The Rural Diary Archive, a project at the University of Guelph to showcase rural life in Ontario 1850 to 1900 through diaries, has added two Fleming diaries to its online collection. Many thanks to the Library and Department of History at the University of Guelph.

Jennie Fleming kept a diary of her trip by train to Toronto and Bowmanville in June 1869, and jotted some notes about her return voyage from Marquette, Michigan in 1871. Her profile page is at https://ruraldiaries.lib.uoguelph.ca/jean-jennie-fleming

Roy Fleming, her nephew, when only 12 years of age, kept a short entry diary throughout 1891, the year his mother died. It’s poignant and informative about rural living from a young person’s view.  https://ruraldiaries.lib.uoguelph.ca/roy-franklin-fleming

Scans of both diaries are available, as well as transcriptions of the content accompanied by explanatory notes.   Click on the Browse tab to locate the images and transcriptions.

More diaries  can be easily discovered by reviewing the list of diarists.   Filter by county, ethnicity, religion or occupation.

For Meaford in Grey County, Mary (Williams) Trout appears. Married to James Trout, a land agent in Trout and Jay and a prominent member of the Church of  Disciples of Christ, she also figures into Fleming Family history because her sister, Elizabeth, married William Fleming. Mary kept a diary from 1867 to 1920 about her family, the church, and activities. Occasionally  Mary mentions her sister “Lib”, children Lincoln and Ottie,  and trips to Owen Sound. The Rural Diary Archive has posted the 1867 diary. The complete set  of scans and transcriptions is online at the Grey Roots Museum and Archives site: Mary Williams Trout: Diaries of a small town lady.

 

Birth, Marriages, and Deaths

Much can be learned from the announcements in newspapers for births, marriages, and deaths. For  marriages, in addition to the names of married couple, the  location, and name of the presiding minister,  the notice might mention the number of guests and names of attendants.  Birth notices were much less informative – limited in most cases to the father’s name, the date, and the gender.  Obituaries vary widely, from a sparse  statement of  name, date, place, to more effusive ones with a brief biography and names of immediate family.

For the Fleming families of Derby Township and Owen Sound we turn to the papers published in Owen Sound from 1850 onward.  Thankfully, the Bruce and Grey Branch Ontario Genealogy Society has transcribed these announcements to CD ROMs that may be purchased from the branch or may be viewed at the Toronto Public Library, the Owen Sound Public Library, and perhaps others.  [Price list: https://brucegrey.ogs.on.ca/?page_id=62 ] Continue reading

A History of Scotland

If you are interested in the history of Scotland, especially as background for the Fleming heritage, check out TV Ontario programming.  TVO is rerunning the TV series produced by BBC in 2008 and 2009.  The story begins with the Picts, and passes through several bloody centuries of conflict and turmoil to the Stuarts and further trials to the present.   Videos to date on this run may be seen at http://www.tvo.org/programs/a-history-of-scotland