Rolling West with Canada

Rolling West with Canada

Editor’s Note: Last month we began telling you what became of William John Wyatt’s children. Here are the remaining offspring and where life ended up taking them.

By David A. Wyatt

James Robert Wyatt was born on January 16th, 1867, and baptized Anglican at Newboro on November 23, 1868, at the same time as his brothers Alexander and George. As the eighth of William senior’s eleven children he was more than twenty years younger than his eldest half-sister, and seven and a half years older than the youngest. James settling in western Canada nearly didn’t happen. By the time he was eighteen he had an older brother and three older sisters living in Michigan. The lure of better opportunity tempted him and he did live with his brother Alexander in Saginaw, Michigan, for a year or two around 1887.

James returned to North Crosby around 1889. He moved back into the family home and joined the Orange Lodge where his father was already a member. March 25th, 1891, in nearby Battersea he married Jessie Clark, daughter of farmers William Clark and Nancy Abernethy. The wedding was a double ceremony. James’ sister Laura married Jessie’s brother Robert at the same time. The marriages were performed by Rev. William Ebersole of the Messiah denomination. The Clarks were generally Methodists, and the Wyatts, since Ann Taylor married William senior, had been Anglicans. Who or what the Messiah church was is unknown. Ebersole, himself the son of another Messiah preacher, appears as a Baptist in the 1901 census.

James and Jessie remained in North Crosby, beginning their family with a daughter Adeline Mary (named perhaps after two of James’ older sisters) born in March of 1892. Adeline is believed to have died at about two years old. Two sons followed, Ross in 1895 and William in 1897, before James and Jessie left North Crosby to settle near Deleau in western Manitoba. Two more children were born in Manitoba, Lillian in 1899 and Winnifred in 1902.

By 1901 the Wyatts were sharing their Manitoba farm with Jessie’s sister Ellen and her husband Manfred McGuffin. James’ brother William, and their mother Ann also arrived from North Crosby in 1901. The western Canada branch of the Wyatts of North Crosby was firmly established.

James and Jessie moved on to Saskatchewan in about 1903 when they homesteaded a quarter section just outside Elstow. One more son, Bryce, was born there in 1907. In late 1909 Jessie fell ill. It was only a few months after her brother Robert had died, and not quite two years after James’ sister Laura’s death. Jessie was sent to hospital in Brandon, Manitoba. On Monday, February 21st, 1910, after three months illness, Jessie died of pyemia. Three of the four people married in the double wedding at Battersea in 1891 were dead. Jessie was returned to Elstow for burial.

James, with a household of children, remarried. His second wife was Kate Green, an eighteen-year-old Irish immigrant. James and Kate had two daughters, Helen Gertrude (called Nellie) in 1912 and Ann Elizabeth in 1913. About this time James moved his family to the Louvain district just north of Biggar, Saskatchewan. Kate died on July 4th, 1914, and is buried next to Jessie in Elstow cemetery. Unable to look after two infant girls, Nellie and Ann were fostered by families in the area. For Nellie this would be permanent. Her new Scott family changed her name to Jean, and a few years later moved back to Oshawa, Ontario.

James met his third wife, recently widowed Alice Maud Scott (née Avis) and they were married at Biggar May 19th, 1915. The newly expanded family included both Wyatt and Scott children. The 1916 census lists their children as Ross, Winnie, Bryce and Stanley Wyatt [Stanley should be a Scott], Edwin Scott, William Wyatt, and William, Robert and Eva Scott. Even with the two 20-year-olds (Edwin S. and William W.) away at Saskatoon serving in the military and neither Annie nor Nellie/Jean at home, the remaining nine of them on the farm must have been more than a full house.

Jim and Alice remained in the Louvain/Gagenville area for the rest of their marriage. Alice was a midwife at the birth of countless local children. Jim developed a reputation as an outstanding fiddler and step-dancer. Alice was secretary (and organist, when required) for Gagenville School for many years, and Jim helped local farmers with their veterinary needs. Alice died in 1941 and is buried at Biggar. Jim, elderly and nearly blind, went to live with his son Bryce at Perdue. He died in 1949 and is buried at Perdue.

Lillian Isabel Wyatt,
Mrs. John C. Roushorn

Lillian was born at Bedford Mills in 1870 and baptised Anglican at Newboro in 1871. Her official birth registration says she was born in 1872, four months after her baptism. In 1888, at the age of 18 and still unmarried, Lilly delivered a daughter, Jennie Edna Wyatt. When Lilly married widower John C. Roushorn in 1894 Jennie remained living with her grandparents in Bedford Mills while her mother relocated to Perth Road in Frontenac County with her husband. Three daughters were born while Lilly and John lived at Perth Road, Inez May in 1896, Ada Blanche in 1899, and Clara in 1899. The family then relocated to Fort William, Ontario (today’s Thunder Bay) where younger children Bessie Pearl (1903), Howard (1906) and Beatrice (1908) were born.

Jennie was fostered by her uncle and aunt James and Jessie Wyatt, then by another uncle and aunt, William and Bertha Wyatt. It is interesting to note that she named daughters after both of her foster mothers, but not after Lilly. Jennie is not mentioned in her mother’s nor in any of her half-siblings’ obituaries.

John and Lilly Roushorn remained at Fort William. John died in 1929 and Lilly in 1934.

John and Lilly’s children married and spread out across the continent. Inez married Charles Stewart Parnell “Patty” Whalen and was living in Ottawa when she died in 1958. Blanche married George Lewis Wannan in 1922, but by 1950 was married to Clifford Cushing and living in Wyandotte, Michigan, where she died in 1960. Clara’s first husband was Robert James Armstrong and they lived in Grand Forks, B.C. Her second husband was Emil Per Bystrom and she was living in Nanaimo, B.C. when she died in 1988. Bessie married William Marchbank in 1924 but by 1950 her husband was W. Saunders. Howard, by then living at Baie-Comeau, Que., was one of four men who disappeared when a sudden storm overcame their fishing trip on the St. Lawrence River at Godbout in 1952. Beatrice settled with husband Matthew James Williams in Corner Brook, Nfld., but eventually resettled without her first family in British Columbia. She married a second time, to Oskar Alvin Persson.

William Isaac Wyatt

William Isaac Wyatt, with the proceeds of his father’s estate and his mother in tow, followed his brother James to Manitoba about 1900. June 10th, 1901, at Oak Lake, Manitoba, Billy married a butcher’s daughter from North Crosby named Bertha Crozier. They stayed in southwestern Manitoba, first in the Dand district, then at West Hall near Deloraine, before finally moving to Hartney in 1928 where Billy operated one of the district’s first automobile service stations. While Billy and Bert had none of their own, their lives were filled with children. In total five girls grew up in their home, four nieces and one grand-niece. First to live with them was Lily’s daughter Jennie Edna Wyatt. Next came three girls orphaned by the deaths of Robert Clark and his wife Laura Wyatt: Grace, Belle, and Dora. Tragically Dora’s death in childbirth in 1921 brought Billy and Bert’s last ward into their home, a newborn daughter whom they named Dora in her mother’s memory.

Billy and Bert lived out their lives in Hartney, Manitoba, until Bert’s death in 1964 at the age of 81. Billy then moved into Winnipeg to live with Dora and her family until his death in 1969 at the age of 96, the last of his generation. He is buried next to Bertha in Riverside Cemetery at Hartney.

Laura Augusta Wyatt,
Mrs. Robert Clark

Laura was the youngest child of the Wyatts of North Crosby. In 1891 at the young age of 16 years and seven months she joined her brother James in marrying into the Clark family. Robert Clark was five years older than Laura, and the eldest brother of the other bride that day, Jessie Clark. While James and Jessie had gone west by 1898, Robert and Laura remained at Latimer, Ontario, until about 1905. By most accounts they moved west directly to Saskatoon, where Robert was employed as a drayman.

Their family grew to include a son Ernest William (1892-1927) and four daughters, Dora Alfreda (1900-1921), Grace Goram (1902-1975), Arabella “Belle” (1904-1983), and Adeline May “Addie” (1906-1936), all but the youngest born in Ontario. Three other daughters, Annie (b. 1895), Jennie (b. 1899), and Jane (b. 1905) appear in other records but do not seem to have survived their parents. Laura’s life was cut short by illness in January of 1908. Robert died a year and a half later leaving five orphaned children.

The fate of the Clark orphans must have been a difficult one for the extended family. The children were separated. Seventeen-year-old Ernie went to live with his uncle William Clark at Waskatenau, Alberta. Three-year-old Addie stayed at Saskatoon with her father’s first cousin, George E. Clark. The three other girls, Dora, 9, Grace, 7, and Belle, 5, were sent to live with their uncle William “Billy” Wyatt in Manitoba. 

Thank you to David A. Wyatt for sharing the tale of his family and its Bedford Mills roots. Thanks as well to Trevor Connell Photography for sharing such beautiful images of the tiny historic community and the surrounding area. Next month Our Lakes will begin a multi-instalment look at the historic Rideau System. If you’ve written on your own genealogy and would like to share it, email editor@ourlakes.ca.

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