“We're all ghosts. We all carry, inside us,
people who came before us."
-Liam Callanan, The Cloud Atlas
In Part 1 (my last post), which was primarily about our Sherritt ancestors, I mentioned that George Sherritt married Sarah Jane Baird in 1873.
Side Note: In case, like me, you're wondering why so many first names are repeated, not only from one generation to the next but within each generation.
Since the same names seem to have been passed down from one generation to the next, it can be very confusing. For example, many cousins might have had the same names.
No idea how accurate this is, but in both sides of my dad's ancestors, there are a lot of men and women with the same names.
- The 1st son was usually named after the father's father.
- The 2nd son was usually named after the mother's father.
- The 3rd son was usually named after the father.
- The 4th son was usually named after the father's oldest brother.
- The 5th son was usually named after the father's second oldest brother or mother's oldest brother.
- The 1st daughter was usually named after the mother's mother.
- The 2nd daughter was usually named after the father's mother.
- The 3rd daughter was usually named after the mother.
- The 4th daughter was usually named after the mother's oldest sister.
- The 5th daughter was usually named after the mother's second oldest sister or the father's oldest sister.
The Baird Family
I wasn’t able to find much about Sarah Jane Baird’s lineage. It doesn't help that her last name could have originally been Baird, Beird, Beard, Byrd, etc., etc.
It's likely that her ancestors originally came from Scotland, and quite possibly from Normandy before that. More about the Baird family history
Her paternal great grandfather might have been an Andrew Baird who was born in Ireland around 1750. His family had likely come to Ireland from Scotland during the Plantation of Ulster (see the previous post).
They were likely tenant farmers or farm labourers.
Andrew had a son, David, who was born around 1766 in Allagesh, Tydavnet (or Tedavnet) Parish, County Monaghan, Ireland.
In the late 1790s, David married Jane Killett, who was at least eight years younger. They appear to have had seven children, although there might have been others who didn't survive: Joseph (1799), John (1802), Charles (1803), Humphrey (1805), Robert (1809), Anne Jane (1810), and Archibald (1813).
I found a David Baird (farmer) who came from Londonderry (in Northern Ireland) to Saint John, New Brunswick on April 19, 1833. This might well have been "our" David. I also found a Humphrey Baird on the same ship. He was listed as being 27, which would make him the right age to be David's son, Humphrey. It's probable that the rest of the family came on the same ship.
I thought I'd share one of the rabbit trails I ended up on.
A Sergeant David Baird, from County Monaghan, Ireland, born in 1766, is mentioned in the UK Royal Pensioner Soldier Service records. At that point he had been with the 4th Veteran Battalion Regiment for 3 years, but prior to that it seems he was with the 49th Foot Regiment for 8 years.
According to his discharge papers, while serving in the Monaghan, Ireland, militia, Sgt. Baird was wounded in the right hip in 1798 while pursuing deserters. The injury to his hip joint was severe, along with a rib injury. There was a second injury to his hip in 1812 as well. The form also indicates he was then in Montreal, and he wanted to relocate to Canada.
According to Wikipedia, the 4th Royal Veteran Battalion was created in Ireland and served there and in Gibraltar.
The Historical Narratives of Early Canada website says that, "In 1802 the 49th Regiment of Foot was ordered to Quebec where it arrived on 23rd of August. Travelling by bateaux the troops reached York the following July and in 1804 they took up garrison duties at Fort George."
The Regiment was heavily involved in various actions during the next eight years.
On the eve of the outbreak of war in 1812, Brock said of the 49th, "Although the regiment has been ten years in this country drinking rum without bounds, it is still respectable and apparently ardent for an opportunity to acquire distinction." The regiment later fought under Sir Isaac Brock at Queenston Heights. It didn't return to Ireland until May 25th, 1815.
Several of the places I found indicated that about 5% of the soldiers deserted while in Canada and went to the United States. A number of those who returned to Ireland emigrated to Canada later.
The David injured in Montreal while trying apprehend deserters was then made a part of the 4th Royal Veterans Battalion until it was disbanded in 2017. What he did after that, I can't say. Could this have been "our" David? Doubtful given that his wife was having a baby every few years. Unless he was in the militia in Ireland until about 1810 and then came to Canada, got wounded in 1812, went back to Ireland, and then returned to Canada in 1833. Doubtful. But you never know.
In any case, "our" David Baird and his family settled in Manvers County, South Durham, Ontario. This led me on another search, which ended at the area now called Kawartha Lakes. Despite living in Ontario for 33 years, and having driven through the area quite a few times, I had no idea that part of Ontario was called the City of Kawartha Lakes. It's "a municipality legally structured as a single-tier city; however, Kawartha Lakes is the size of a typical Ontario county and is mostly rural." (Wikipedia)
David Baird died and was buried in Manvers County in 1837.
In 1840, David and Jane's middle son, Humphrey Baird, married Jane Follis (Fallis?) from nearby Cavan Township, Upper Canada (also in Kawartha Lakes, near Peterborough.)
They stayed in Manvers County (A on map below) until at least 1857, when their youngest child was born.
But by 1861, they had travelled roughly 300 km, and were farming in Stephen Township, Huron County South, Ontario (south of Bayfield) (B on map).
One discrepancy I found was in the date of birth for both Humphrey and Jane. The names are right, and the ages for the children seem to be the same in each of the 1851, 61, 71, and 81 Censuses, but Humphrey's date of birth varies from 1804 to 1811 and Jane's from 1817 to 1821. This isn't uncommon. They may not have had any records or certificates to show the actual dates. But it can create some confusion and doubt.
The 1871 Census shows that Humphrey and Jane had 11 children: David (20), Susan (18), William (16), James (14), Ann Jane (12), Sarah (10), Elizabeth (8). Fanny (6), John (4), and Margaret (2). Basically, one child every two years.
The Census seems to indicate that only three of the children (Ann Jane, Sarah, and Elizabeth) were attending school at that point.
Humphrey is listed as either a farmer or a labourer in the Censuses.
Both the 1851 and 1861 Censuses (in Manvers) indicate that the Baird family, along with their neighbours, were living in one-storey log cabins. Unfortunately, they didn't have a residence question on the later Censuses, but I would assume that didn't change when they later homesteaded in Huron County.
The 1881 Census shows both Humphrey and Jane Baird living with their youngest son, John, who was then 25.
Humphrey Baird died in Grand Bend, in Huron County, on January 24, 1890. His grave lists his birth year as 1808. That would make him roughly 82 years old. Jane Baird died in Grand Bend in 1902, at roughly the same age. She had been living with her son John, his wife Elizabeth, and their three children.
It's also interesting that three of Humphrey and Jane's children moved to Tuscola County, Michigan, near Saginaw (C on above map), and north of Sarnia. Apparently it was cheaper to come to Canada than the US, so quite a few people eventually went south from Canada. But it worked both ways. My husband's ancestors came through New York to Wisconsin and Minnesota, and up to Saskatchewan.
On September 3, 1873, Sarah Jane Baird married George Sherritt in Cheboygan, Michigan, USA (D on above map). George was 23 and Sarah either 23 or 25.
Why Cheboygan, Michigan? I have no idea, but that appears to have been the case. Cheboygan is at the top of Lake Huron, across from Sault Ste. Marie, so it would have been accessible by steamer from Huron County where they lived, or by land if they went via Tuscola County, where Sarah Jane would have had relatives.
The following year, however, their eldest daughter, Mary Jane (Jennie) (my paternal grandmother), was born in Huron County in 1874, and a second daughter, Ida Victoria, was also born there in 1876.
Their other eight children, however, were born in Manitoba.
Travel from Ontario to Manitoba in the 1870s/80s.
Since this isn't meant to be a history lesson, but rather a non-practising psychologist's exercise to help her understand the people who birthed her family, I'm not going to delve into transportation too much. But it is interesting to consider how they travelled in those days. Especially with young children.
Family history says that George and Sarah Jane's family travelled from Ontario to Manitoba by covered wagon, starting not long after Ida's birth in 1876. The reality is probably a little different.
This is pure supposition and I'll update later when I know more. But it's likely they began their journey by boat. Apparently river steamers were quite common in those days, and lake steamers as well. See a fascinating pdf on the history of steamboats.
They might have sailed from Goderich, which was a near-by port (close to B on the map above). Or more likely from Collingwood, to the east, which was a centre of shipping in those days, with boats going as far as Fort William (now Thunder Bay), Duluth, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois. There was a railway from Duluth to Fargo, North Dakota.
From Fargo, a steamboat travelled on the Red River to Fort Garry (Winnipeg).
The Selkirk, built by Hill, Griggs and Company of St. Paul winter of 1870-1, had two decks, a flat bottom, and was built of wood from the Frazee River, floated down the Otter Tail and Red Rivers. It operated as a passenger and freight boat on the Red River. It could haul three barges, one on each side and one ahead. Its usual run was between Fargo and Fort Garry. It transported immigrants to Winnipeg.
It was wrecked at Grand Forks in the spring of 1884. Broke from her moorings and struck a pier of railroad bridge. The pilot-house was recovered and used as play house for Captain Griggs’ children. From a Manitoba Government website.
From Fort Garry, they had two choices; to travel on the Assiniboine River for a while, and then go by ox cart the rest of the way. Or, more likely since they ended up at Gladstone, which is quite a bit north of the Assiniboine, travel by ox cart from Fort Garry, stopping along the way.
Any clothes, tools, food, or other possessions would travel in the cart, and maybe the youngest children, but the rest of the family would walk alongside. There were some larger carts, and some had two oxen.
Thanks to Mennonite historian Ernest N. Braun for taking time to give me a few pointers.
He's a wealth of information. Any errors are totally mine.
A third child, George Thomas, was born in Gladstone Manitoba in 1878, and James Humphrey (1880) and John C. (1882) joined the family in Rapid City. Unfortunately, George Thomas died there at age four.
My guess is that George worked as a labourer as they moved along. There were likely a number of opportunities as the land was opened up for farming, and towns were built.
By 1883, they had finally arrived at their homestead near Silver Creek, about 150 km west of Rapid City, northwest of Shoal Lake.
Margaret and William arrived the following years, and then Thomas Walter, George Pimlott, and Stella Maud.
Since the 1891 census for Silver Creek and area also shows families headed by a John and William Sherritt, both the right ages to be George's older brothers, I'm going to guess they travelled together. There may have been other family members, too. It's also possible that one or two of the men might have gone first and then the families followed.
I found the following tribute on a list of Memorable Manitobans
Born in Wagner Corner, Ontario on 22 August 1852, one of ten children of Thomas Sherritt and Jane Fee, he was educated at local schools of Bayfield, Ontario, quitting at the age of 16 to work on the family farm.
Afterwards, he farmed for himself, then moved to Manitoba in 1878, taking up a homestead claim near Rapid City. In 1881 he bought 480 acres in Township 17, Range 24 where he raised livestock and grew grain.
On 3 September 1872 (73?), he married Sarah Baird (1850-?) at Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (My note - actually, Cheboygan, Michigan.)
They had ten children: John G. Sherritt, George Thomas Sherritt, Mary J. Sherritt (wife of George B. Shaw), Ida Victoria Sherritt (wife of George M. Bolton), James Humphrey Sherritt (b 1880), William Edward Sherritt (b 1884), Margaret E. Sherritt (b 1885, wife of Thomas Keating), Thomas Walter Sherritt (b 1886), George P. Sherritt (b 1888), and Stella Maud Sherritt (b 1891).
He was a member of the Manitoba Grain Growers Association and the Loyal Orange Lodge, and served as superintendent of the local Sunday School.
Sarah Jane died in 1934 in Kelloe, Manitoba (near Shoal Lake, east of Silver Creek), and George died there in 1939.
Of my dad's uncles and aunts, the ones I actually remember were Ida, James, and Walter. Of course, they were all quite elderly when I was old enough to pay attention. Actually, it’s mostly Walter's wife, Annie, who I really remember. I'll mention her again later, but visits with her always reminded me of Alice going through the looking glass.
Anyway, the culmination of all this and the last two posts is that on Nov. 12, 1890, George and Sarah Jane Sherritt's eldest child, Mary Jane (Jennie), age 16, married George Brown Shaw, age 33, in Silver Creek, Manitoba.
Their story will be next.
Can You Relate?
We've moved from Regina, Saskatchewan to Toronto, Ontario, from Toronto to Calgary, Alberta, and from Calgary back to Toronto, but I can't even imagine what it would have been like for these people. We flew (except one trip where we took a train for part of the way and sent all our possessions in a truck).
But leaving Ireland for Canada on a flimsy sailboat, crossing much of Canada by boat and by foot, taking barely anything with you. Wow!
Does your family have similar stories of leaving everything and everyone they knew to start a new life?
. . .
LoveChild: Life Lessons from an Ugly Duckling is the story of my struggle to adjust to the life I was given, and my eventual discovery that, not only had I become a swan but, contrary to my perceptions, I had always been one. Though I didn't realize it until many years later, my life was part of a much bigger plan that all made perfect sense.
I'll be blogging my story once a week.
Find links to all these blogs at: