William John Wyatt of Bedford Mills, Ontario


by David A. Wyatt
Copyright ©2004-2011 David Wyatt

The Earliest Records

On Sunday, the first day of June, 1845, in remote North Crosby township of Leeds County in eastern Ontario, in the presence of witnesses Thomas McKay and William Johnston, Weslyan Methodist minister Daniel Benney married William Wyant and Jane Whitmarsh. This is the oldest record yet found for our Wyatt family.

Jane was the 20 year old daughter and likely eldest child of North Crosby residents John and Elizabeth Whitmarsh. John was probably born in New York state between 1786 and 1789, but by Jane's birth about 1825 he was married to Scotland-born Elizabeth and living in what is now Ontario. According to assessment rolls, the Whitmarshes settled in North Crosby in 1843.

William's origins, on the other hand, are nearly a complete mystery. At the time of his marriage to Jane he was about 21 years old, and by most accounts he was born somewhere in Ontario. A few shadows of his early life have been found. In his later years it was published that he was a veteran of the loyalist (government) side in the Upper Canada rebellion of 1837-38, when he must have been not more than 14 years old. In 1891 censustakers asked people where their parents were born and for William the answer was “Ontario” for both. He and Jane are not identifiable in North Crosby census or assessment rolls until 1847, suggesting they lived elsewhere for the first couple of years of their married life.

William John Wyatt and Jane Whitmarsh (1845-1854)

In the early years William sometimes worked as a lumberjack for North Crosby's principal business, the Tett family's sawmills. One form this often took was called “shanty” work. Men set out after freeze-up to a wooded location somewhere along the extensive lakes and waterways in the district to fell trees and trim them into logs. After weeks or months of outdoor work in the dead of winter, living in temporary shanty cabins (hence the name for the occupation), spring thaw came and it was time to float the winter's work down to the sawmill. Some shantymen worked alone in the bush. Others took their whole families with them. The censustaker in North Crosby in the winter of 1851-52 complained to his superiors that accurate information was difficult to get, with so many of the district's residents away for the winter. The Wyatt and Whitmarsh families were close, and William engaged in this work with partner John Whitmarsh (more likely his 18 year old brother-in-law than his 59-64 year old father-in-law). On July 31st of 1848 the two men brought 58 white pine logs totalling 2,452 feet (747 m) into the Tett mill at Bedford Mills, earning them £18, 7 shillings and 9 pence ($73.55). William and John were close. William witnessed his brother-in-law's marriage to Rachael Waffle at Perth in September of 1852.

At other times William worked in the sawmill, farmed, and did carpentry. A list of Tett employees from 1853 lists a “W. Wyatt” as a mill worker, and an “E. Wyatt” as a “shanty”. It isn't known who “E. Wyatt” was, and no such person appears in the census in 1851-52 or in 1861. Perhaps William had a brother. In later years William's occupation was almost always described as a farmer or a carpenter, and it's almost certain he did both simultaneously. The family farm, such as it was, most often amounted to less than 50 acres, not all of it cultivated. On at least one occasion William was described as a “joiner,” a carpenter who crafted wood into furniture or other finished products.

Jane too made a contribution to the family income. She bought industrious quantities of cloth and thread from the Tett's general store at Newboro. While there is no record of exactly what she did with all that cloth, it seems a logical conclusion that at least a few of the district's men and women must have worn Wyatt brand shirts or dresses.

The Tett merchant records paint an interesting picture of what a young family in the wilds of eastern Ontario had to buy in the 1840s. It was typical of the time for most families to be largely self-sufficient, raising livestock and growing food to feed themselves, but there were always a few products which could only be bought. Most frequently they bought tea, tobacco, saleratus (a leavening agent for baking), and several kinds of cloth (including silk on one occasion) but other, less frequent purchases included a wide range of goods: chalklines, gloves, spools, buttons, nails, thimbles, cups and saucers, plates, raisins, pepper, shoes, sugar, marrow fat peas, soap, pipes, beans, flour, rope, paper pins, a pail, scissors, wood combs, tacks, and tar. A black teapot was bought for a shilling and six pence (30 cents) on March 17th, 1848.

The general stores at Newboro and Bedford Mills were owned by the sawmill Tetts and credit accounts functioned like the community bank. Earnings at the sawmill could be credited against the account, purchases debitted against it, and even payments to third parties made through it. On March 9th, 1848, William's running tab at Tett's general store was used to pay Dr. Bresee fifteen shillings ($3.00).

During the time of William and Jane's marriage, the Wyatts lived beside the Whitmarshes on lot six in the tenth concession of North Crosby Township, a couple of miles north of the tiny community of Bedford Mills. When William was born about 1824 neither Newboro nor Bedford Mills existed, and the population of all of North Crosby Township was but a few dozen. This makes it quite unlikely William was born there.

Settlement came to North Crosby in 1826 when construction began on the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa. Newboro marks the highest point of land on the waterway, and the location of the locks and canal connecting the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario watersheds. Newboro was the township's principal town for many years, until eclipsed by Westport at the end of the 19th Century.

Bedford Mills, Ontario, before 1900
Bedford Mills before 1900. Of all the buildings in this photo, only the grist mill (on the right at the water's edge) still stands. (Westport Museum)

Bedford Mills began about 1830 when Benjamin Tett, drawn to North Crosby by the construction of the Rideau Canal at Newboro, saw opportunity in the region's seemingly unlimited forests, the waterpower of Buttermilk Falls, and the access to markets afforded by the new canal. He and his partners the Chaffey brothers built a sawmill at the base of the falls on the shore of Newboro (Loon) Lake. This location was in Bedford Township, Frontenac County, a few hundred yards west of the North Crosby boundary, and acquired the name Bedford Mills when a post office was built in 1835. The community that grew up around the sawmill, grist mill, boarding house, and general store (all Tett businesses) was never very large. At its peak perhaps a couple dozen people lived in the village itself, with others like the Wyatts settled nearby in the rocky, wooded countryside. The community went into decline shortly after 1900 and today only the grist mill, now a private home, and St. Stephen's Anglican church, built in 1907, remain in town. The surrounding district is popular cottage country, and the woods and lake shores are dotted with weekend homes. It's quite likely that on a summer Saturday night more people “live” at Bedford Mills today than ever did when it was a thriving village.

William and Jane produced a family of three daughters, Mary Elizabeth (sometimes “May” sometimes “Libby”) was born about 1846, Sarah Demira “Dee” in 1848, and Adeline about 1851, before Jane's untimely death sometime between 1852 and 1854. The 1848 census also records a death in the family in the preceeding twelve months, perhaps the loss of a fourth child. No direct record of Jane's death has yet been discovered, but William's daughter Clarinda, born in 1856, was the daughter of his second wife Ann.

William John Wyatt and Ann Taylor (1855-1895)

Ann Taylor was born in Ireland and probably immigrated to Canada as a child. Her age is hard to pin down exactly, but the evidence suggests she was born about 1837, making her twelve or thirteen years William's junior and about 18 when they were married. (He was about 31). As Ann grew older, her birthdate seemed to retreat. The 1901 census says she was born in 1832, and by the time of her death in 1905 she was reportedly born about 1820. Her parents, and the part of Ireland she came from, are not known, but there is a clue. For a time in the 1870s the Wyatt household included an unmarried woman named Jane Taylor. When Jane married in 1887 she reported she was born in 1855, from County Sligo, Ireland, and her parents were Samuel Taylor and Mary Crawford. By the 1901 census Jane's birthdate had become 1845 and her immigration from Ireland was reported as 1857. If Ann indeed did come to Canada as a small child then it's unlikely Jane is Ann's sister. Perhaps she is a niece or cousin. Or perhaps they were sisters, and it was Jane who was a baby when they immigrated, making a “sisters” relationship more plausable.

Ann assumed the role of step-mother to William's three daughters, and gave him eight more children, four daughters and four sons. Clarinda was born in 1856, Alexander Russell in 1858, Eliza Jane in 1860, George Samuel in 1865, James Robert in 1867, Lily Isabel in 1870, William Isaac in 1872, and Laura Augusta in 1874.

Marrying Ann converted William from Methodist to Anglican. This would stick until the last few years of his life when William converted again, this time to the Presbyterian church. Regardless of his denomination, William was a loyal Orangeman. When the Loyal Orange Lodge opened at Newboro in 1856, William became an early and life-long member. Several of the Whitmarshes also appear among the lodge's membership rolls. In later years his son James and son-in-law James Moulton also belonged. For a time William served on the disciplinary committee and although he could not read or write, letters bearing his “X” still exist among the lodge papers.

By 1861 William and his new wife had moved a short distance away from the Whitmarshes, to fifty acres on lot eight in the ninth concession, but the families must have remained close, through their Orange Lodge connections, and in the relationships between the three older girls and their Whitmarsh relatives. In 1861 twelve-year-old Sarah Wyatt was living with the Whitmarshes, perhaps helping to keep house for her uncle John and aunt Rachael.

The entire Wyatt family never lived under the same roof at the same time. The first two children to move out of the home, Mary Elizabeth and Sarah Demira were both married in 1867, before the last three children were born. Twenty-eight years separated the eldest from the youngest, and the eldest children of eldest two daughters were older than some of their aunts and uncles.

Old Home, Ontario. This may be a photograph of the Wyatt farm at Bedford Mills, Ontario. The photograph comes from the collection of Jenny Edna Wyatt. It is known that Jenny lived with her grandparents at the time of the 1891 census. She may also have lived with her mother and step-father at Perth Road in Frontenac County, and with James and Jessie Wyatt before (as well as after) they came west.
By 1871 the Wyatts had settled into what would be their final home in North Crosby, a 48 acre farm on lot three of the ninth concession. This property was closer to Bedford Mills and Newboro than either of their previous homes. From here roads led southwest to Bedford Mills, north to Westport and east to Newboro. In 1885 the Newboro Orange Lodge relocated to this spot, renaming itself the Hamilton's Corners Loyal Orange Lodge. The lodge moved back to Newboro a few years later, and the name “Hamilton's Corners” has disappeared from the map of Ontario.

The Tett family operated a boarding house and restaurant at Bedford Mills and their lunch records for a few months in 1887 and 1889 have been preserved. Willie and Jim Wyatt are among the diners names, indicating they probably earned credit working for the Tett enterprises which they spent at lunch.

William John Wyatt
William John Wyatt (c1824 - 1895),
date unknown
Jane Taylor was married to the widower Edward Dier in 1887. William Sr., and Lillia McComish were the witnesses. The following year Jane registered the sale of her interest in the Wyatt property to Edward Adams. For reasons not quite clear, William Sr.'s interest in the property was transferred to William Jr. in 1893, only to be transferred again in William Sr.'s will in 1895. William Jr. would sell it once and for all in 1901, when he went west to Manitoba.

William Wyatt died on Monday, January 28th, 1895. His will, written the day he died, left all of his estate (except one dollar) to his unmarried son William, Jr., on the condition that he look after his widowed mother Ann. Why the other unmarried child, twenty-nine year old son George, was left one dollar and the married children were not mentioned, is not known. The will was witnessed by John C. Roushorn, William's son-in-law.

The Orange Lodge met two days later, on Wednesday January 30th, and in a rare departure from form the minutes include an obituary of sorts.

the Desest William Wiants remains has been plasd in the voalt by the Brothern of this Lodge.
William was buried in what is now the United Church Cemetery in Westport. His widow Ann accompanied her son William, Jr., to Manitoba, and died at West Hall in 1905, a decade after her husband. Burial record for William's first wife Jane has not been found.

The Name Wyatt

Today people spell their names in a specific way, and when recording someone else's name, we ask how it's spelled it if we're not sure. In the 19th Century names were written the way they sounded. William Wyatt could not read or write so we have no record of how he would have written his name. It was recorded by many others though. Census takers, ministers, merchants, registrars, newspapers, and Orange Lodge secreteries all wrote their own renditions of “Wyatt”. A review of more than fifty records about William Wyatt and his children between 1845 and 1910 yields a list of twenty-five different spellings: Waggett, Wiget, Wagant, Wageant, Weagant, Weagent, Wegant, Wigante, Wygent, Wiat, Wiatt, Wiet, Wyat, Wyatt, Wyet, Wyett, Wayant, Wiant, Wiante, Wient, Winett, Wint, Wyant, Wyante, and Wyent.

There also appears to be no pattern of change, gradual or otherwise, to the spellings. Weagant, which looks like an older, antique and perhaps more German spelling, ranges only from 1880 to 1910. Wyant is the name used in the earliest known record, in 1845, and as late as 1901. Wyatt, the spelling used today, appears as early as 1852. Waggett comes from an 1849 list, and Wageant from baptisms in 1868 and 1871. Several months apart in 1867 two of William's daughters were married, by the same minister. One was recorded as Sarah Wyat, the other as Eliz. Wygent.

Ethnicity of the Wyatt Family

“The Wyatts were Irish” is the most often repeated answer to the “Where are we from?” question. Certainly James Robert Wyatt's descendants believed it, as did Jennie Edna Wyatt and Billy Wyatt. It's also the single most often recorded answer in 19th Century census records, but the records are not unanimous.

In 1901 Clarinda was specifically recorded as German among her Irish husband and children, and in 1871 the whole family was listed as “Dutch”. “Dutch” again appears in the 1901 Census, carefully noted as the ethnicity of Eliza Jane while her husband and daughters are English. The word “Dutch” comes from “Deutsch”, meaning German. There are also the variants of the family surname that make Irish ancestry less likely. “Weagant” and versions like it are very similar to the German surname Weygandt. Even “Wyatt” is not typically an Irish name.

William Wyatt's Children

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), Alexander Russell (b. 1858) and perhaps Adeline (b. 1851) 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 and her husband were still living at Newboro in 1911. 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.

Sarah Demira “Dee” Wyatt, Mrs. George Simmons

Sarah Demira Wyatt was born in 1848, perhaps in late February or early March if the bill from Dr. Bresee is an indication. In 1861 Sarah, then twelve, 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 ninteen, Sarah married George Lister Simmons, a twenty-two 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.

Adeline Wyatt

Adeline is the Wyatt child about which almost nothing is known. She was born just before the 1851-52 census, not living with the family in 1861, and a nineteen year old unmarried girl in 1871.
Interestingly, on May 18th, 1875 in Saginaw, Michigan, an Adeline Jane Wyatt (born 1852 Canada) married Albert J. Hasty (born 1848 Maine). The couple went on to have a family of at least three children, all born at Watertown, Michigan. It has not been established that this Adeline Jane is the daughter of William Wyatt and Jane Whitmarsh but the Saginaw location of the marriage (where Mary Elizabeth was already settled and Alexander Russell would soon join her), the birthplace and birth year, and the use of middle name “Jane” (our Adeline's mother's name) lend credibility to the possibility.

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 fourteen 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), Perl (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 United States. He returned to North Crosby only in retirement, and 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, about 1883 and together they raised a family of three sons. all born at Saginaw: Fred (1884-1958), Arthur (1890-?), 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.

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 Deane 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). Eliza Jane's nephew Bryce Wyatt recalled once meeting her. 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. Alice was institutionalized at a Brockville hospital (1911 census).

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. If this is our George then his story might yet emerge. [1916 Census Alberta Dist. 37, Subdist. 24, p. 4]

James Robert Wyatt

James Robert Wyatt, circa 1910
James Robert Wyatt (1867 - 1949),
circa 1910
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 two (perhaps 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 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 family changed her name to Jean, and a few years later moved back to Ontario.

Blended family 1916 style (1916 Census).
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, BC. Her second husband was E. Bystrom and she was living in Nanaimo BC 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, Quebec, 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 an O. 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. 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 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” (c1904-1983), 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, nine, Grace, seven, and Belle, five, were sent to live with their uncle William “Billy” Wyatt in Manitoba.


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This page last modified: Wednesday, 26-Jun-2013 13:44:56 CDT