William Wyatt’s Children – Part 3

William Wyatt’s Children – Part 3

Editor’s Note: Last month we told the tale of William John Wyatt’s marriage to Ann Taylor. This month we start to see what became of his children.

By David A. Wyatt

As the tiny milltown of Bedford Mills withered and died, the Wyatt children scattered across the continent in search of better opportunities and better lives for their children. They fall generally into three groups.

The older ones, Mary Elizabeth (b. 1846), Sarah Demera (b. 1848), Adeline (b. 1851), and Alexander Russell (b. 1858) went to Michigan.

The younger ones, James Robert (b. 1867), Lilly Isabel (b. 1870), William Isaac (b. 1872) and Laura Augusta (b. 1874) went west in Canada.

In the middle were a few, Clarinda (b. 1856), Eliza Jane (b. 1860) and George Samuel (b. 1864), who stayed closer to home, remaining in eastern Ontario. George has been traced only through to 1901. Eliza Jane lived at Newboro until her death in 1930. Clarinda remained at Bedford Mills until her death at age 90 in 1946. The divide by age group is strong testament to when and where the people of eastern Ontario saw better opportunity. In the 1860s through 1880s it was to Michigan. Beginning in the 1890s it was western Canada. For those who came of age in between, staying closer to home seemed the best choice.

Mary Elizabeth “May” “Libby” Wyatt,
Mrs. James Hartwick

Mary Elizabeth Wyatt is believed to be William Wyatt’s eldest child. She was born about 1846 in Portland Township, Frontenac County [according to her marriage registration], perhaps the clearest indication of where William and Jane lived the first couple of years of their marriage. Mary Elizabeth, who may have been known as “May” when she was a girl, and “Libby” as an adult, married James Hartwick in 1867. They joined a wave of immigration from eastern Ontario to central Michigan, settling at Saginaw about 1872 or ’73, where James was a teamster. James and “Libby” raised a family of at least six children: Benjamin was born in Canada about 1871, Laura (c1874), Delbert (1876), and Maud (1879) were born at Saginaw, and Blanche (c1881) and Homer (1885) were born at Cass City, Michigan. Elizabeth died 1916 in Almer Twp, Tuscola County, Michigan.

Sarah Demira “Dee” Wyatt,
Mrs. George Simmons

Sarah Demira Wyatt was born in 1848, perhaps in late February or early March if the payment to Dr. Bresee is an indication. In 1861 Sarah, then 12, lived with her aunt and uncle, John and Rachael Whitmarsh. It was a common practice then for young girls to help with housekeeping or baby care in the homes of relatives or other families in the community. Education ended early, especially for girls, and they often became domestic help in their adolescent years before marriage. In 1867 at 19, Sarah married George Lister Simmons, a 22-year-old from nearby Chaffey’s Locks.

Sarah, also known as “Dee”, and George remained in eastern Ontario until about 1879 when they relocated to Detroit, Michigan. Children Thomas George (b. 1868), John L. “Jack” (b. c1872), Charles, Edith (b. c1874), and William James (b. c1877), were born in Canada. A son Albert Ezra was born in Detroit in 1890. Jack and Thomas Simmons, like their father George, became sailors on the Great Lakes. Demira died at Detroit in 1914.

Adeline Jane Wyatt,
Mrs. Albert Hasty, Mrs. William Richardson

Adeline was born just before the 1851-52 census, not living with the family in 1861, and a 19-year-old unmarried girl in 1871. On May 18th, 1875 at Saginaw, Michigan, Adeline Jane Wyatt married Albert J. Hasty (born 1848 Maine). The couple went on to have a family of at three children, Emery, Alice and Guy, all born at Watertown, Michigan. Albert died in 1883 and Adeline married again in 1887. Her second husband was William Richardson and they had a family of three sons, Walter, Harry and George. Adeline died in 1930 at Highland Park, Michigan.

Clarinda Wyatt,
Mrs. James Moulton

Clarinda is the Wyatt who stayed home. She was born at Bedford Mills in 1856, lived there all her life, and died at the age of 90 in 1946. She is buried in the cemetery at Westport. Clarinda married James Moulton in 1874 and gave him 14 children. Clara’s life was often trying. Six of her children died before their fifth birthdays, three of them in one terrible week during a diptheria epidemic in 1884.

James Moulton (c1853-1934) rose to some prominence in the small and dwindling community of Bedford Mills. In 1891 he was head (“Worshipful Master”) of the Orange Lodge. For several years he was manager of the Tett’s sawmill. William Jr. sold him the Wyatt family farm in 1901. In 1932 the Westport newspaper described him as one of the last old-timers left at Bedford Mills.

Of Clarinda and James’ eight surviving children, six, William (1876-1925), Edmond (1885-1968), Pearl (1890-1958), Harford (1893-1968), Margret (1894-1947), and Myrtle (1902-1991), remained all their lives in eastern Ontario. Only Alexander (1878-1949), who settled at Sudbury, and Frederick (1888-1977), who lived much of his life in the United States, left the region altogether. Frederick and Edmond enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force to fight in World War I. Frederick’s experience could not have been a happy one, and his desertion likely prompted his life in exile in the U.S. He returned to North Crosby only in retirement. He is buried in a Westport cemetery.

Alexander Russell Wyatt

Alexander Russell was born in 1858 and eventually followed his elder sister Mary Elizabeth to Michigan. In 1880 he was a bachelor sawmill worker living at Saginaw with his sister and her family. Alexander married Elizabeth Etta Wrightman, known as Etta, at Saginaw in 1882 and together they raised a family of three sons, all born at Saginaw: Fred (1884-1958), Arthur (1890-1957), and Carl (1895-1959). The family relocated from Saginaw to Detroit about 1911 but continued to maintain ties with the smaller city. Etta was buried at Saginaw in 1930. Alexander died in 1942 at Detroit and was laid to rest beside Etta in Saginaw.

Eliza Jane Wyatt,
Mrs. William Dean Trask

In 1882 at the age of 22 Eliza Jane married a 27-year-old recent English immigrant, William Dean Trask. This occurred several months after the death of Eliza Jane’s three-year-old child David. Eliza Jane and Dean, as he was known, settled nearby in the adjacent townships of South Burgess and Bastard, and raised a family. Two girls names can be found in either the 1891 and 1901 censuses, Alice Jane (born 1885), and Hazel (born 1892). Dean died in Newboro in 1922. Hazel married William Wesley Dainard at Kingston in 1912 and raised a family of at least two sons and two daughters. Hazel died in 1964. Alice was institutionalized at a Brockville hospital (1911 census) and died in 1936. Eliza Jane died at Smiths Falls in 1930.

George Samuel Wyatt

George was born in 1865, and baptized in 1868 at the Newboro Anglican church alongside his brothers Alexander and James. There are two reasons to believe George might have been the black sheep of the family. One is his father’s will, which divides the estate between the two unmarried sons. George received one dollar and everything else went to William, Jr. The other is the Brockville Reporter for Friday, January 25th, 1895, which reads: “George Wyant did not stay in jail long. ‘Cause Why? He has got a vote you know.” The suggestion seems to be that a local politician-magistrate let George out of jail early for one more vote. What ultimately happened to George has yet to be traced. As of the 1901 census he was a 35-year-old bachelor farm-hand working for 35-year-old North Crosby bachelor farmer John McComish. (Just to complete a circle, John’s mother Lillia and William Wyatt, Sr. were witnesses for the marriage of Jane Taylor and Edward Dier in 1887).

Tracing George after 1901 has been difficult. There is a George Wyatt of appropriate age, religion, birth province, and ethnicity, still a bachelor at age 51, working as a grocer at Jasper National Park, Alberta, in 1916. A possible match in the 1921 census is a resident and handyman, still single at 56, at Brockville Hospital. If either of these are our George then his story might yet emerge.

Next month we will continue with the conclusion of our four-part series on the Wyatt family. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *