ELGIN COUNTY BRANCH
ONTARIO GENEALOGY SOCIETY
BOX 416, ST.THOMAS, ONTARIO, N5P 3V2
VOLUME VII ISSUE FOUR DECEMBER 1988
Greetings from the Chairman:
As the year draws to a close I wish to thank everyone for their support during the past two years while I have been Chairman. Members have worked so diligently on our projects, I have enjoyed working with everyone.
Friendships made in Genealogy are Kindred Spirits . We have had very productive years since our beginning. The last cemetery in the County was transcribed during the summer and wil be published as time permits. This goal was achieved with help of West Elgin Historical and Genealogical Society who were responsible for the transcriptions of Aldborough and Dunwich Townships .
As we begin a New Year I invite you to rejoin the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in 1989 and continue the friendships we all have made.
Norma C. Smith
THE STREETS OF ST. THOMAS, continued from page 28:
LUTON — William Franklin Luton a member or a long settled Yarmouth family, was Elgin warden in 1907. He was appointed governor of the county jail in 1912. Dr. L. Luton was an early member of the Disciples of Christ Institute. see Butler.
MANDEVILLE — David Mandeville settled the farm neighbouring Daniel Rapelje, regarded as the first resident of what today is St. Thomas.
MALAKOFF commemorates another Crimean War battle — see Alma.
MARGARET was a member of the Allworth family, long prominent in local affairs. A. J.
Alworth, an early merchant was beaten by patriot sympathizers in Detroit when they discovered he sold the rope used to hang Joshua Doan. He was a leader of the great choir dispute in the 1840s at old St. Thomas Church when dissent between two fractions in the choir loft led to departure of a number of families from the congregation.
MASSEY — Vincent Massey, another governor general — see Devonshire McCULLY — Robert McCully was mayor of St. Thomas from 1891 to 1892. McLARTY – Dr. D. M. McLarty was mayor from 1877 to 1878.
MEDA — Someone’s interest in Longfellow is again responsible for Meda Street, the word meaning medicine man. – see Hiawatha
MEEHAN — Patrick Meehan, mayor in 1899 and 1900, holds the record in St. Thomas for length of public service. He was a member of council for 46 years. He also was first freeman of the city.
MICHENER Court — Roland Michener, yet another Governor—general — see Devonshire.
MICHIGAN has been the home since 1956 of Clark Equipment of Canada Ltd., which includes Michigan brand heavy construction equipment in its production line. MILLER — The Miller family also gave its name to Millersburg, a community east of early St. Thomas which prospered with the coming of the Canada Southern Railway and later was incorporated into the city. For many years after the annexation, little love was lost between residents of the east and west sides of the city. MITCHELL – see White
MONDAMIN is Longfellow’s Hiawatha at work again. The word means Indian corn. — See Hiawatha.
MONTCALM — Louis—Joseph de Montcalm Gozon, Marquis de Montcalm was mortally wounded leading the French defense of Quebec City. Sept. 13, 1759, on the Plains of Abraham. His Adversary, James Wolfe also is honoured by a city street, strategically separated from Montcalm by a ravine.
MONTGOMERY another war hero, Viscount Montgomery of Alamain also gave his name to a street, one of a number named after men of miliary fame.
MOORE – M. T. Moore was the first mayor of the Town of St. Thomas, incorporated in 1861 during his term. Since the reeves of the village had been elected by council, his was the first popular election of the first citizen of the community.
MORRISON – Msgr. W. S. Morrison was pastor of Holy Angel’s Roman Catholic Church from 1944 until 1968, who also gave his name to W. S. Morrison separate school. Morrison Drive was Jane Street before construction of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic
Church in the late 1960’s.
NAAMA — Longfellow spelled it Nahma, but Naama it was named and Naama it remains — see Hiawatha.
NATHAN — Nathan Ryan, senior, found refuge in Elgin after he escaped slavery in the U.S. Ryan Street, also in the St. George subdivision northwest of the city in the area Mr.
Ryan settled, also bears his name.
NELSON — Lord Nelson signalled prior to the battle of Trafalgar:
“England expects that every man will do his duty.” Each did and the French forces lost. NEW was that when it was opened, extending William north of Talbot St.
OLIVER — Jimmie Oliver was an Italian fruit vendor, and a popular man, too, but the origin of Oliver Street is unknown.
OMEMEE – Longfellow at work again. Omemee means the pigeon.
OPEECHE – the robin, and
OWAISSA — the blue bird — See Hiawatha
PARK — was in an area considered for just that purpose, but development caught up and designation fell through.
PARKINS — The family were early residents of the area in which the street is found. PARKSIDE an obvious one. It neighbours Pinafore Park, named after an early boating club which in turn found inspiration in the G. and S. operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, all the rage at the time.
PARISH — David Parish was the first reeve of the Village of St. Thomas, 1852 to 1856. PATRICIA the Duke of Connaught’s daughter who visited St. Thomas in 1914 with her father, then governor general – see Devonshire.
PAUL — Eltham Paul was an early industrialist, a contemporary of Daniel Rapelje. His daughter, Susan, danced with the Prince of Wales when he visited London in 1860, after the future Edward VII was unable to find the local girl who originally had been chosen to represent St. Thomas. It is said the father of the disappointed belle, who tarried too long with a previous partner, never spoke to the other father again. But the origin of Paul Street is obscure.
PENHALE Street may be named for a point in Cornwall.
PENWARDEN – Oliver Penwarden was an early contractor.
PINAFORE Crescent — see Parkside
PLEASANT Street — It’s a nice street in which to live.
PRINCE ALBERT and
PRINCESS, formerly Railway, a name that disappeared following beautification of the street alongside the tracks, also attest to the city’s fascination with royalty.
QUEEN – see Alexandria
RAPELJE — Daniel Rapelje is considered to be the first resident of St. Thomas. Aided by Mahlon Burwell, Col. Talbot’s surveyor, Mr. Rapelje divided his Talbot Road farm frontage in what now is the city’s west end into town lots, in 1821.
RAVEN — Charles E. Raven was mayor of St. Thomas from 1922 to 1923. With A. R. MacDonald he founded Raven and MacDonald Shoe merchants, a firm which continues in business today  under Charles and Forbes Raven.
REDAN another Crimean War battle – see Alma.
REGENT also takes its cue from royalty. — see Alexandria.
ROSEBERY – Archibald Philip Primrose, fifth earl of Rosebery, was British prime minister for one year from 1894 to 1895, succeeding Gladstone, until his Liberal government fell over the question of Home Rule for Ireland. Rosebery Place originally was Eliza, a name which however, conflicted with Elizabeth.
ROSS owned land where the street which bears his name now is located.
RYAN — see Nathan
- ANNE’S Place — Annie Ermatinger, of the prominent family, gave her name to Ann
Street, later changed to St. Anne’s Place.
- CATHERINE was originally Catharine, origin unknown.
- GEORGE under the old ward system was located in a ward of the same name. But the other four of the city’s original wards, St. Andrew’s, St. David, and St. Patrick’s, have not survived. George street was eliminated with the extension of Mondamin, to avoid confusion. The origin of George Street is unknown but three men vie for the honour — George Lawrence, George Scott and George Southwick, all previously mentioned.
SIMCOE — John Graves Simcoe gave his name to Simcoe Street. — See Devonshire.
SMITH — John E. Smith again? — see John and Flora.
SOUTH EDGEWARE – the origin is a guess but see Edgeware.
SOUTHWICK – Dr. George Southwick was reeve of the village in 1869, and mayor of the town from 1862 to 1864.
STANLEY Street at one time was Port Stanley street or road. In olden days, four horse stage coaches from the port came off the London and Port Stanley Gravel Road along
Stanley and into St. Thomas, heralded by the coachman’s horn.
STATION Street remains but he Canadian National-Wabash railways station is long gone.
STIRLING — John Stirling was mayor of St. Thomas from 1957 to 1958. Stirling also was the name of an early settlement on the Kettle Creek flats predating St. Thomas. SUNSET Drive is a fancified name for the London to Port Stanley Gravel Road, now a posh residential area.
TALBOT – Col. Thomas Talbot gave his name to the road, now Highway 3, surveyed from Windsor to Fort Erie by Mahlon Burwell. The colonel, founder of the Talbot settlement, gained control over more than 700,000 acres in Southwest Ontario in the years following his settlement in 1803 in Dunwich Township. But he died a lonely man. Judge C.O. Ermatinger in his book The Talbot Regime states a niece of Capt. Joseph Brant, the Six Nations leader, is reputed to the only woman with whom Col. Talbot fell in love during his years in Canada.
TALEQUAH — the origin, a handsome indian—sounding name, is unknown.
TECUMSEH – Chief Tecumseh joined the British against the Americans in the War of
1812 and participated in the skirmishes which preceded Gen. William Hull’s surrender at Detroit. Tecumseh died in battle never seeing the dream he shared with is brother of an Indian confederacy in the U.S. and Canada to resist which encroachment realized.
TRAFALGAR commemorates the Second World War battle.
VanBUSKIRK – Dr. William E. VanBuskirk, Mayor of St. Thomas in 1881, the year of the town’s incorporation as a city, and again in 1882, a family physician with an extensive practice but a man of a modest disposition, probably suggested the original Van Buskirk Ave be renamed to honour Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington., who defeated
Napoleon at Waterloo. But VanBuskirk Drive later was named in the city’s southeast. VANIER — George Vanier, yet anothor governor—general, gave his name to Vanier Place. — see Devonshire.
VICTORIA — Queen Victoria gave her name to two streets before Victoria Ave was changed to Alexandria to avoid confusion with Victoria Street.
WABUN — an east wind; and
WAWA — the wild goose, are again work of Longfellow — see Hiawatha. WELDON — William Weldon operated a mill on the avenue bearing his name, after acquiring the operation from a man named Yarwood, owner of the farm where Pinafore Park now stand.
WELLINGTON — see VanBuskirk
WHITE — The White family, of which Magistrate W. J. White was a member, gave its name to that street. Magistrate White and a Mr. Mitchell, who together operated a mercantile firm, joined Dr. George Southwick to cash in on the Canada Southern Railway boom. But it went bust and they lost the lands from which they hoped to make a rage profit. White, Mitchell and Southwick Streets in the area recall their hopes.
WILLIAM — see Drake.
WILSON — Dr. J. H. Wilson gave his name to the street and to the bridge. He was Liberal MPP for East Elgin from 1871 to 1879, and Liberal MP for the riding from 1882 to 1891. He later was appointed a senator.
WOLFE — General James Wolfe also is among the military men famous in Canada’s history who have been honoured. Like his adversary, Montcalm, who also gave his name to a city street, he was mortally wounded on the Plains of Abraham. See
WOOD — Amasa Wood in 1891 gave St. Thomas its first public hospital, on the condition it would bear his name and it did.
WOODWORTH was the city’s first no—name product, existing without identification until the 1880’s when the name first appeared as Woodward.
YARWOOD a man named Yarwood owned the farm on which Pinafore Park now is located — see Weldon
The following publications will be in the Library when they are properly catalogued, etc.
Port Dover – Births, Marriages and Burials, 1889-1901, donated by Norfolk Historical and Genealogical Society.
The Slaght Family, donated by Ruth Robertson.
Tweedsmuir History of Walsingham, donated by Norfolk Historical and Genealogical Society.
Peterborough—Victoria Census, 1871
Ottawa-Carlton Census, 1871
Genealogical Research Director, 1988
Genealogy in Ontario-Searching the Records, Brenda Merriman
It Was Only Yesterday with Col. Douglas Stalker
THE MORMON RECORDS A GOLDMINE WHEN TRACING BACK FAMILY TREES
by Paul Anthony
If your planned trip back to the old country makes you long to know more about your family tree, there’s a good chance you’ll find something about your great — or maybe great-great-grandpa — in the massive tiles collected by the Mormon Church.
For nearly a century, Mormons — or more correctly, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — have travelled the world, painstakingly copying ancient parish and government archives.
Today, the church has vital statistics of two billion people who once walked the earth
— and they’re willing to share this information with the public.
The genealogical data, collected for religious reasons, include names, dates, places of birth and perhaps marriage records of people born in more than 100 countries before 1890. (Files are not kept on people born after that date to protect the privacy of the living.)
The information is kept in a central storehouse, the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, Utah, where up to 3,000 people from around the world visit every day to consult the thousands of microfilm documents or the 170,000 genealogical reference books
However, you don’t need to be a Mormon to use the library, nor do you even need to travel to Salt Lake City to do your research. You can also work, albeit at a slower pace, through one of the church’s 700 worldwide branch libraries, including 18 in Canada. If necessary, you can order copies of the documents filed in Utah through these branches, which exist in all major Western Canadian cities, as well as Dartmouth, N.S., Montreal, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto and London.
The reason for this staggering project — to which six million names are still added each year by church volunteers — is partly tied to the Mormon belief that family ties are eternal. Using genealogical research, a living descendant can act as a proxy to have an entire family tree baptized.
Ed Lansitie estimates that about two-thirds of the visitors to the Toronto Family History Library, where he is head librarian, are non-Mormons.
The service is free, and the doors are open to all. “Jews, Arabs, Indians — every denomination is welcome, but the records we have of some areas and religions are more complete than for others.”
Extensive files now exist for the U.S., Scandinavia, Britain, Mexico and France. Wars, fires and unco-operatwe governments, especially Communist ones, mean that files for other countries are spotty.
Thanks to the art of microfilming, 20,000 names and a few statistics about each individual can fit on a small index card.
If you want to research your family tree with the help of the branch libraries, don’t expect to do it over night. “I’ve been searching for one name from the 1700s for 25 years,” says Ernie Sykes, an experienced volunteer librarian in Toronto.
The 18 branch libraries in Canada have varying degrees of facilities. Most have volunteers to help, although Lansitie warns, “We’re only here to guide you, we don’t do
(the work) for you.”
Before approaching the library, Sykes recommends that you get as much information as you can through older relatives, provincial archives, or a family Bible.
Once equipped with this background, you can then call the church library to reserve a microfilm viewer. (Waiting lists for these machines are often three weeks or more.) At the library, you first consult the International Genealogical Index, an alphabetical compilation of millions of surnames. Beside the surname will be the number of the microfilm you next turn to for more information.
In a large centre, — Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver or Winnipeg, for example — that microfilm may be on hand. If not, you must then write to Salt Lake City to order a copy, which will be sent back to the branch
The cost is $3.50 for each microfilm. Depending how far back you want to go in your family tree, you may need four or five films, says Sykes.
If you know, for example, that you’re looking for a Robert Hamilton, born in Sussex, England, you can then look him up and find the names of his parents. As you get each new name, you can then work your way back.
Another possibility if you’re going overseas, is to find out whether there is a library in your ancestral country.
[Readers Digest Advertisement.]
COME THROUGH A 14-TON DOOR UNDER 700 FEET OF GRANITE.
There, you’ll find over a million rolls of microfilm tracing a historic roster of family names, possibly including yours. Mormon research crews on every continent add more rolls at the rate of five thousand every month. It’s probably the most active, extensive, genealogical program in history.
Some 20 miles south of Salt Lake City, two-laned Route 210 climbs east up Little Cottonwood Canyon. The canyon walls rise sheer, majestic and remote against the mountain sky. A mile or two up the canyon, an asphalt drive hairpins back to a parking area: the entrance to the Granite Mountain vaults maintained by the Genealogical Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons).
Through the 14-Ton Door
A broad entry tunnel leads straight into the stone heart of the mountain, and to a grid of six arched vaults.
Three access tunnels connect spacious work areas with the storage vaults. A mighty, 14-ton steel door seals of the central main tunnel.
Your footsteps echo sharply off the polished floor of the main tunnel. Three vaults extend to your left, three to the right. Each vault holds a thousand or more steel filing cabinets. Each cabinet holds 825 rolls of microfilm. And each roll contains names and records by the thousand – names left behind in deeds and marriage licenses, family Bibles, parish registers, probate and cemetery lists.
For the past 40 years, Mormon genealogical experts have been filming these records in settlements, villages, towns and cities on every continent. And still the rolls come in from the field crews at the rate of 60,000 a year. Some 60 microfilm specialists—most of them young Mormon women—inspect and process the incoming rolls and prepare them for storage. Transferred to print, their data would fill 4.5 million large volumes. The Church gives copies of these microfilm rolls to the owners of the original records, for their use and preservation.
Seven Million Families
More than seven million, family names in these mountain vaults! More than a billion lives of men, women and children who were born on this earth, walked this earth, then passed on. Each one a human story of joys and tears, hope and happiness. Each one a son or daughter, and most of them, in turn, parents to sons and daughters of their own. Each a link in the living chain of humanity.
Yes, this is, beyond doubt, the world’s richest genealogical resource. In these vaults, protected by a granite blanket 700 feet thick, safe from flood, fire and other natural or man-wrought disaster, are its precious negatives, its master films. Yet in Salt Lake City, in the Genealogical Society’s headquarters, are duplicates of the Granite Mountain microfilm for everyone to study and explore— Mormon and non-Mormon alike— without charge.
Not only can a visitor from Seattle or Topeka walk through the library doors, ask a few questions and locate a specific microfilm print; he can then take it to one of 400 public microfilm viewers and see its records come into focus on the lighted reading screen before his eyes. With these free, easily available resources, tracing ancestors becomes something any family can enjoy.
A Name from Peru
Today, 90,000 visitors a month use the library’s vast facilities seeking, perhaps, a name from Peru, a grandmother’s birthplace in Lancashire, a marriage license filed a hundred years ago in Litchfield, Connecticut. Not only from the microfilm. There’s much more than that: 170,000 genealogical reference books, plus bound volumes and computer files of family records by the million; accurate, far-ranging card catalogues; personal guides to help with research.
Next August, the Genealogical Society and its remarkable library will receive global recognition as it hosts the second World Conference on Records. Mormon and nonMormon experts will present a program of 275 seminars on tracing ancestors and writing family histories.
For Mormons, genealogy is a part of their total way of life, a profound aspect of their religion. “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us,” said Joseph Smith, their leader and founding prophet, “is to seek after our dead” —in order to gain eternal salvation for them, as well as for the living.
Why Mormons see Genealogy as Sacred Work.
Mormons teach that family relationships can endure beyond the grave—forever. But to them, eternity extends not only forward, but also back into infinity. This belief makes them care deeply about ancestors who lived centuries ago—even before Christianity on earth.
Mormons believe that families are forever. They believe that if they live righteously, and by the teachings of Jesus Christ, they will lovingly be reunited after death with all their family, and with God, their Heavenly Father, and Christ, His Son.Together, they will live in surpassing happiness and peace.
But when Mormons speak of “family,” they mean not just their living relatives and descendants, or those forebears they happen to know about. “Family,” to them, means all their relatives, all the way back.
“Spirits in Prison”
Mormons are certain that God’s love, like God Himself, is infinite— without end, without beginning. It extends forward into the ever shall be, and backward into the ever was. They are certain that God’s promise of eternal life must include all of mankind—not just those who happened to be born since the foundation of Christianity.
Mormons further believe that all who gain the Kingdom of Heaven must first accept Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and be baptized, in His name, for the forgiveness of sins. According to Mormon doctrine, those who die without these ordinances inhabit a special realm of life hereafter. The Apostle Peter called them
“spirits in prison.”
As Christ said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
To Mormons, whose Church is founded on family love and loyalty, the glory of their religion is that it provides the spirits of these deceased an opportunity to accept the baptism that Jesus taught in His gospel. Acceptance, they believe, will bring deliverance from the spirit prison, and make it possible for these ancestors to join the blessed family reunion in the hereafter.
How is this achieved? Through ceremonies in a Mormon Temple in which they, the living descendants, are literally baptized by immersion in water in behalf of their deceased ancestors. First, of course, they must seek out these ancestors in genealogical records, verify their names and if possible their dates, and establish their lines of kinship.
To Mormons, baptism performed for the dead is a sacred expression of their love for their families and their forebears. Those who receive this baptism by proxy after death have the freedom, in the spirit world, to accept or reject it, since “free agency” is a basic principle of Mormon belief.
But baptism, as Paul indicates, is an ordinance of this world; thus, to those who did not receive it during life on earth the Mormon Church offers it vicariously, that is, through a stand-in, or representative—a living, loving relative. Christ followed this practice when He offered Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind.
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “is death . . . Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?”
Thus, one may understand why Mormons regard Temple work for the dead among the most profound of their Church responsibilities. Indeed, a Mormon leader said recently, they are prepared to perform the necessary genealogical research so that all those now or ever in the spirit world can be vicariously baptized.
“You mean,” an astounded listener asked, “you are out to offer the gospel to every human being who ever lived on earth?”
“Yes,” the leader answered simply, “for we have been commanded to do so.”
“For the entire human family? — Why, that is impossible!”
“Perhaps,” said the leader, “but we shall try to do it anyway.”
IN MEMORY OF… 19c Gravemakers in Haldiman Count Cemetery’ by Thomas Kenyon
TYPES OF GRAVEMARKERS:
- Rectangular marble headstone, top with various shapes, inscription only.
- As in “a’ but with the addition of a motif carved in relief at top.
- Double headstone in one piece, usually for husband and wife or two children.
- Cornerstone, 4 of these mark a family plot’s boundaries.
- Small stone with initials of deceased.
- Raised top with 1 name inscription, used in family plots.
- Large rectangular stone with unusual inscriptions; erected for notable people or deaths due to disaster, one such example recording the sinking of the steamer Commerce in 1850 on Lake Erie with the loss of 25 lives. h.) Marble Celtic cross.
- Simple stone cross.
- Cast iron (unique). k&l.) Lamb motifs.
- Column with urn, many variations, usually family marker, often with cross at top rather than urn in R.C. burials.
- Obelisk, also family marker.
- Peaked top obelisk.
- Cross vault obelisk.
- Hollow metal obelisk (1 made by White Bronze Co., St. Thomas).
- Metal headstone, similar in colour and shape to marble ones.
- Sculpted tree stump of stone.
- Rectangular slab laid horizontally on Doric columns.
- Same as “t” only on concrete base.
- Iron cribs” or “cradles”, handwrought by George Nablo, Fisherville, between c.. 1890 and 1905.
- Same as “v” only for infants.
IN MEMORY OF… Major Motifs on Headstones
The dominant motifs appearing on the tops of 19th C. headstones were as follows: plain (lettering only), willow, double willow, flowers, lamb, bird, pointing finger, clasped hands, and open book. Certain motifs were more variable than others, e.g. willow, flowers, book; sometimes early, more traditional, motifs were used as “secondary” themes on stones with late-style motifs (e.g. book with willow). The graph (right) is derived from a 1971 survey of 14 cemeteries on the Lower Grand River. It shows the percentage of each motif recorded for the six decades between 1840 and 1900. Although there are strong differences between the mid and late 19th C. headstones, the change was gradual as indicated by the “battleship—shaped” curves.
THE WHITE BRONZE MONUMENT COMPANY – 1883-1900 – ST.THOMAS
by William Stewart
Cemeteries of the Victorian Era often contain curious, blue— grey, hollow metal grave markers known as White Bronze. These are usually distinctive, obelisk shaped markers with individualized decorations and inscriptions, ensuring that no two specimens are quite alike. They are not of common occurrence, often numbering only one or two examples to a fairly large cemetery.
Many people are surprised, however to learn that White Bronze monuments were once manufactured in the City of St. Thomas.
The White Bronze Monument Company was situated at 110 Talbot Street, on the southeast corner of Talbot and Church Streets in St.Thomas. The company purchased the land from the family of Edward Ermatinger in June of 1883, for the sum of $5000., comprising Lots 15, 16 and the west part of Lot 17, according to the plan of the Village of St.Thomas by Provincial Land Surveyor, David Harvey. The west portion of the property is now (in 1988) occupied by the parking lot of the Mansion Towers.
The factory commenced casting operations on the afternoon of September 17, 1883, concurrent with an exhibition of examples of White Bronze monuments and other art work, for which they were awarded First Prize at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
The President, Manager and Secretary of the firm was Mr. H.B.Pollock; Vice— President, The Honourable Mr. C.O. Ermatinger, and the Directors were George E.
Casey, M.P., G.W. Moore of Detroit. H. Lindop, W. Van Buskirk, M.D., W. Scarlett, J.H. Eakins, H.B. Pollock and C.H. Hepinstall. The Financial Manager was Mr. J. Baird. The assets of the company in 1885 were listed as $50,000. of which $20,000. was reported to represent the value of patterns on hand. The three story building measured 90 feet by 110 feet and provided employment for approximately 20 skilled workers. Power was supplied by a 35 H.P. steam engine which operated the machinery used for operations by the various departments.
The White Bronze Company of St.Thomas had obtained the sole Canadian franchise for the products of the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, which began operations as early as 1874. After the Canadian franchise was awarded, other North American subsidiaries were established and by 1887 these included The
American White Bronze Company of Chicago, Illinois; The Western White Bronze
Company of Des Moines, Iowa; The New Orleans White Bronze Works, New Orleans,
Louisiana and later, Detroit Bronze, of Detroit, Michigan and the Philadelphia White
Bronze Monument Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Several other firms such as the Zinc Roofing and Ornamenting Company of Chicago and the W.H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio made zinc ornaments and statuary for architectural and municipal use, but apparently did not make grave markers.
The White Bronze Company of St. Thomas also made statuary and the week following their opening in 1883 the company was negotiating for a contract to build the Cartier Monument in the Province of Quebec and a fountain in White Bronze for the
“Royal City” of Guelph. Two years later, after the death of Jumbo on September 15, 1885, in St. Thomas, the manager of the parent firm, the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Conn. arranged an interview with Mr. P.T. Barnum at which he proposed the erection of a monument in White Bronze to the memory of Jumbo in St. Thomas, but the project was not supported by Barnum. But despite this major disappointment, on December 3, 1885, the company was making arrangements to forward exhibits of their products to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, held in London, England in 1886. The term White Bronze was chosen to distinguish the blue-grey metal from the copper metal known as antique bronze and the company probably wished to retain the association of the latter metal with sculpture, refinement and longevity. The name is actually a misnomer, since White Bronze is commercially pure zinc. To confirm this, a sample from a damaged marker was analyzed at The Department of Material Science, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Western Ontario as 99 percent plus, or commercially pure zinc. Promotional literature for the company advertised their products as practically indestructible, free from corrosion and change of color, non—magnetic, would not support moss or lichen growth and since they did not absorb moisture, were not affected by frost. One hundred years of time has proven these claims to be true, particularly in regard to acid rain, which has worn down most of the calcareous markers of the same period and in comparison to which, White Bronze markers look like new. White Bronze grave markers were designed to imitate contemporary markers made of stone. The most popular shape was a simple obelisk, usually with a statue, urn or cross—form on the top. Zinc is easily moulded and the markers were cast in sections with individual designs and inscriptions, the four sides being reportedly fused together at 1700 degrees F. (zinc melts at 788 degrees F.) which was said to make the joints the strongest part. Although the obelisk is the shape most often encountered, other variations include single panel upright designs for headstones and for children and low markers of box type section with either a flat or rounded top. Seemingly irrespective of price, all types were richly ornamented and well finished. An unusual variation in the St. Thomas Cemetery on West Avenue is a ground—level planter type marker with the data inscribed on a scroll at one end.
At the factory, White Bronze designs were first modelled in clay and then reproduced in plaster of Paris. A wax cast was then taken to produce a smooth pattern from which the sections were moulded and cast in the ordinary way. Each of the four sides was cast separately, with an opening to receive a plate carrying the burial data, which was attached after assembly with ornamented screws. The subsequent removal of these plates provided access to the hollow interior, giving rise to the many stories of White Bronze grave markers being used by bootleggers to store quantities of liquor during the time of prohibition.
The more elaborate of the upright markers were decorated with a statue or finial urn above the cap, some of the urns being composed of as many as five separate pieces held together vertically with a draw bolt. The completed units were then sandblasted to produce a stone—like texture and the handsome blue—grey colour was achieved by the application of a chemical oxidizing agent. The bases of early markers were ornamented with vertical striations, but this design was later altered to simulate cut stone. This change of design may indicate an increase in competition with natural stone markers or an effort to gain acceptance in competition with natural materials.
The erection of White Bronze markers was critical and required a solid bedding under the upright portion, which was usually either concrete or cut stone. Those which were not set up in this manner, or were subsequently moved have often suffered damage which was no fault of the original design.
The price range of White Bronze monuments in relation to comparable designs in cut stone is not known at this time, but in December 1885, W. Scarlett, a Director and agent for the White Bronze Company located at 194 Talbot Street West in St.Thomas offered monuments priced from $4.00 up.
By the year 1887, five hundred White Bronze monuments had been sold across Canada. In Southern Ontario, these are rather evenly but sparsely distributed and may be found in similar numbers as far east as Nova Scotia. Dates usually range in the 1880’s and 1890’s but occasionally a specimen outside this time frame can be found. Most had the year of erection cast in bold, rope—like numerals, usually on one side of the upper base. Markers dated earlier than 1883 would have been imported from the United States and one must be careful not to confuse back—dated burials with the date of erection of the marker. Conversely, data plates are sometimes encountered dated later than 1900, which may have been supplied on special order by another company. Occasionally, a specimen will be encountered bearing the inscription, “White Bronze Co. St. Thomas, Ont.” cast in raised lettering on one corner of the upper surface of the base. Several markers bearing the company name may be found in the St.Thomas Cemetery on West Avenue and one in the cemetery at Fingal. The fact that so few markers are so inscribed may be due to an option offered to the customer at the time the order was placed. Other options such as overall configuration, panel design, choice of decoration, poems, inscriptions and finials were so diverse that two specimens are seldom found alike. This great diversity must have necessitated an immense inventory of interchangeable pattern designs and may have caused problems with production inventories but errors in transcribing statistical data from customers and agents would have been more serious, necessitating that whole sections be recast. This problem was no doubt foreseen by the company, hence the data plates, which were separate from the monument proper.
Although White bronze monuments were undoubtedly works of art, they did not enjoy acceptance as a grave marker material as did natural stone. Their popularity may have been inhibited by the fact that they were made of hollow zinc metal and were unproven as a lasting monument for cemetery use. Whatever the cause of their decline, on June 3, 1891, company liabilities and declining sales convinced the shareholders to liquidate all company assets and the White Bronze Monument Company was sold to a consortium of 5 St. Thomas businessmen, G.K. Crocker, R.H. Blackmore, Henry Brown,
John C. Lindop and Henry Lindop. Robert H. Blackmore assumed the presidency in 1891, but on Nov. 19, 1896 he released his claim to all company assets and was succeeded as president of the company by George K. Crocker. By 1896 the assets of the White Bronze Company of St. Thomas had dwindled to between $20,000. and
$40,000., a figure scarcely more than the value of the patterns, but their credit rating was still listed as ‘good’. The company continued to function under the presidency of Mr. George A. Crocker but serious problems still plagued the company and on October 1, 1899 the land, premises, machinery, tools, and fixtures were sold to other interests for the sum of $2,000.
On January 30, 1901, a new engine and boiler was ordered from E. Leonard and Company of London, Ontario, and by February 2, 1901 the plant had been acquired by the Erie Iron Works of St. Thomas, a producer of hardware specialties and agricultural implements. Although the new owners no doubt retained some of the casting facilities, the final disposition of the patterns is presently unknown and all production of White Bronze products appears to have ceased. The parent firm, The Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut also suffered reduced sales and tried to diversify during the 1920’s by offering “castings in all non—ferrous metals”. By 1929 they were not advertising their products and services and in 1939 the company was dissolved. Back in St.Thomas, the original Vice—President of the White Bronze Company, the
Honourable C.O. Ermatinger M.P.P. died on December 16, 1921. He is buried in the St. Thomas Anglican Church Cemetery on’ Walnut Street in St. Thomas, where the family plot is marked with a larger than average obelisk type White Bronze monument, perhaps signifying that they remained loyal to the company to (and perhaps beyond) the end.
CLOES- ROBBINS – Seek Desc of Charles and Sarah (ROBBlNS) CLOES family, who removed from New Sarum in 1866 to E. Trumbull, Ohio, with eight of their nine children, leaving Lorenzo Glenn Cloes, ae 21, in Ontario. He married (who?) had at least 2 girls, a dau Melissa Cloes m Walter KUNZ (c 1900) they had 2 ch. Douglas & Leota, lived in Kingsville in early 1900’s . All info to Patricia B. Steve.
CLOES – CULVER – Seek date of m of O’Neal CLOES and Eunice CULVER, dau of Jabez Culver Jr. (c 1821). Also wish the death dates and burial place of same. Patricia B. Steve.
O’KEEFE – Need info on Joseph O’KEEFE and his family. Joseph d 14 Oct 1845 at Jamestown, Yarmouth Township of typhus. He left a widow and 5 children. Was from County Cork. Info to Joan Abele Griffin.
MANN-DANCEY – William Henry MANN b 1849 in Ontario, occup- founder, m Mary Dancey ca 1870, lived in Aylmer, had 3 ch. Mary b 1874, Beecher b 1883, Almina b 1885? Who were William Henry MANN’s parents? Brothers, sisters? Was he related to Joseph MANN, one of the founders of St.Thomas. Info to Kathy Rollheiser.
DANCEY – Mary, b 1850 in Ontario, Irish background, m William Henry MANN ca 1870, died in her 30’s probably in Aylmer. Who were her parents? Was she related to a Daniel Dancey, same age, from Elgin Co. as well? Info to above.
CALCUT (CALCUTT) – John b 1810, England, d 1897. Lived in Ekfrid Twp. Sold farm moved to Strathroy, married Rhoda TAYLOR in 1840 at St. Mary’s Church, Napier. Wish any info re their seven ch.- George b 28 Oct 1854 who was living in Montana in 1913- also a sister Mary Ann b 25 Dec. 1845, do not have married name but was living in Marlette, MI. Please contact Mrs. Barbara Ferguson.
TAYLOR – Daniel and Elizabeth (BROOKS ?) came from Devonshire, England 1832 settling Katesvile, near Strathroy, Dau Rhoda m John CALCUT, dau Dorinda Anne m Peter Emerick & later moved to the U.S. From Ekfrid – Metcalf area dau Caroline married? Do not know if there were sons . All info to Mrs . Barbara Ferguson.
BALE-SHIPLEY- MORRlS – GEROW – Wanted!!!!!to be in touch with descs of Ethel BALE (b 1864) and her sister Mary Elizabeth b 1868. Also to be in touch with desc of Edward E. SHIPLEY, and wife Julia BALE. Also need descs of Erroll GEROW, b 1889? The above families were cousins (and cousins of my grandmother’s.) I am most anxious to get in touch with descendants of the above mentioned people as I am preparing a very large Family History which should include them. All info to Mrs Mary E. Young.