The Memoirs of Mrs.Emma Gertrude Casselman Brisbois
(May 1,1884 - December 29, 1973)
Forward by Dr. G.A. (Ken) Paterson
"I don't profess to be a genealogist, but I do feel that the memoirs of Gertrude Emma Casselman Brisbois as presented to me by her granddaughter Gertrude Baldwin of Mississauga will prove as interesting to your readers as they did to us on first reading," says Dr. G.A. (Ken) Paterson of Toronto in a letter to CG prefacing this account.
Capt. Suffrenus UE, KRRNY (1) 1737-1819
'Ezra's father and Martin were first cousins, and Ezra and Martin would be first cousins, once removed.'
"The age differential in combination with a parental attitude and family closeness would make it easy to address Martin S. Casselman as 'Uncle Tyne. "It might be of interest to know that the memorial headstone for Martin S. Casselman has been removed from the neglected Protestant cemetery on the north side of the river and relocated on the main street of Casselman, Ontario in front of the Roman Catholic Church manse."
"Family donated the land for the church and cemetery to the parish. Another point of interest is that the Ezra Michael frame home is still occupied and standing guard at the town limit on the road to Ste. Isadore. The orchard, probably the first in the area, would be from the Macintosh 'sport' developed in Dundela, Matilda Twp in the year that Alice was born. She was born in a cabin on land leased by Ezra and Emma from Mr. Macintosh."
"Under the direction of Dr. John M. Casselman of Aurora it is the intention of the family to publish The Casselman Story using the archival material that has been collected by Clarence Cross of Chesterville, Ontario, Dundas County Archivist, and Lynne O'Brien of Morrisburg, Ontario, the Casselman genealogist."
"I am attempting to catalogue and duplicate all 19th-century photographic records of the family and if your readers know of any such material, I would greatly appreciate them letting me know. It would also be helpful if they can identify one or all of the individuals in their family portraits - full name, date of birth, marriage details, parentage, etc. This data will be invaluable to researchers 200 years from now. " Dr. Ken Paterson and Clarence Cross
Originally published in the Canadian Genealogist , vol.7, no.3, September 1985.
Paul Hubert, Aurèle, Alex Casselman, Stanley and Hector
Pa and ma had a great deal of sorrow in their family but bore it bravely. My brother Clayton left home. He didn't mean to go so far away but he ended up that way. He was a blacksmith by trade and got as far as Grand Forks, British Columbia. He started up a shop there and worked for a number of years. He became tired of the hard work and started working in the Salmon Canning Company. Now, the workers had an Indian guide take them over the Skeena River which flows into the Pacific Ocean. Well, everything went well for a few years but one morning, there was a big storm brewing and the lndian was told not to run the boat across the river but my brother insisted that he wanted to go. He persuaded the guide to row the boat across, but, when almost there, the wind blew the waves mountains high capsizing the boat. They were both drowned. My brother Clayton was washed out to sea and was never found. The Indian's body was found on the shore. This was a big sorrow for my parents for Clayton was but 36 years of age. He was a wonderful son and was nick-named "Bull" Casselman by many of his friends. They named him "Bull" because of his strength. He and the boys would gather certain nights over Lucie's Barber Shop and play at Boxing and twisting wrists. My brother would always win. Out of all the brothers, only one helped on the farm and that was Walter. Pa had to hire other help.
In time, my brother Walt bought a farm in the swale not far from Casselman, so my two sisters, Sara and Josephine, took turns keeping house for him. During the vacation time, sister Josephine would take my other sister Caroline with her for company for one month, then Sarah would take me for a month. We both looked forward to this. One day, we were all set to leave for the farm in the swale. The horses were hitched to the wagon in the yard and I was very happy and dancing around near the wagon, waiting for the folks to come out. Then, I started to climb into the wagon and when I got one leg in, the horses became frightened and started off. I fell on the steel hub bruising my hip very badly. I yelled and out came the folks. Maw said, "My dear child, you cannot go", but I made such a fuss and cried "I want to go!" Walter and Sarah said they would take good care of me and that night I couldn't sleep for the pain. Walter took me home the next day but I kept getting worse and finally couldn't walk. Pa got the loan of a pair of crutches which I used for a long time. Later, when I didn't improve, Pa sent a wire from the station to Dr. Munroe in Maxwell, Ontario and he came by train, examined my leg, shook he head and said that it would have be to lanced. It sure was an awful ordeal. The doctor remarked that if it had been delayed any longer that I would have lost my leg. Well, I'll never forget that experience and the pain associated with it. The marks are still visible yet. There was a great deal of discharge from that leg. Ma had to put many linseed poultices on it but in time, I recovered. I must have been a very healthy girl. I related all this later to my husband and added, "Would you have married me if I had lost a leg?" He replied, "Leg or no leg, I'd have made you my wife". (ha! ha!).
I must tell you about what happened at family worship one morning. We children were all kneeling near the big cookstove which had two oven doors, My brother Willie was next to me. He was full of the old nick. Our Collie dog named Rover was lying near the oven and thumping his tail. He was asleep so Willie got the bright idea. He reached out his hand. I knew what he had in mind and said in a whisper, "Don't do that", but he disregarded my warning. While Pa was making his usual long prayer, Willie gave the dog's tail a heck of a yank and you should have heard the ungodly howls of Rover. Of course, Pa said "Amen" in a hurry and exclaimed, "Good Lord! what has happened?" He soon found out to the sorrow of Willie who got a licking yelling, "Pa! I'll never do it again!"
I will now relate about the disastrous fire that swept though Casselman. I was 10 years of age or 11 at the time. It was in 1894 or 1895, I'm not certain but it was terrible. The people thought the end of the world had come. The villge at that time was prosperous, most everyone were doing well. The schoolmaster took the pupils to the river and we all splashed water on ourselves. There were a number of people from the village at the river and we noticed one man who was an atheist standing on a rock and praying to God to save him. He had his request granted to him so he really believed in God from then on. There also were three men who denied the existence of God. I don't know what happened to them but hope they were saved. The bush surrounding the village was on fire, also homes and buildings were falling. The farmers came with wagons to help the people get away. Some of them had buggies and horses. Many farm houses were filled. Mother and father, my sister Sarah and a number of our family were taken to Mr. Tom Racine's home. The house was filled, improvised beds on the floor and all over. My father was being comforted by sister Sarah while mother was being taken care of by the good women. Paw had previously met with an accident and was groaning in pain. Sarah kept applying cold cloths to his forehead. Well folks, guess what happened when the fire had burned its way through Casselman. One house was standing and that was my parent's home, the barn, grainery, big wood pile, even the posts that held the clothesline, also the apple orchard and the fences weren't burned. It was almost unbelievable to see my home standing. It looked wonderful painted white with green gables. Some time later, the people came to view the terrible sight. Two Grey Nuns who had been teaching in the convent before the fire, were overheard to say while u looking at our home, "The good God has blessed Mr. Casselman's home". It sure it was a miracle. Uncle Tyne's house is still standing but it was high up on the north bank of the Nation River. Time passed on and the sound of hammars (sic) and saws were heard all day. Most of the people were determined to rebuild their homes again. While this was going on, the village had dozens of tents. It looked like an Indian settlement. Now, the churches are built of brick and many others also. I guess they weren't taking any chances of another fire.
Not far from the village was a sad scene. A mother and five children were found burned to death. She, the poor soul, took refuge in the bush, the worst thing she could have done. So Dad had to investigate, he being a constable. There are many things that I could relate but it would take too long. The people found 15 hogs that were burned to death at Mr. Coupel's Flour Mill near the railroad bridge. The hogs were heading for the river but got caught in the wire fence near the water. It didn't require a stove for that roast pork. Maybe, some poor hobo got a free snack out of that calamity. But all jokes aside, it was awful. Many people responded from all over the country to the call for aid. Ottawa sent food, money and helped in many other ways with bibles and hymn books, etc. Also, Uncle Tyne's children who lived in Riverside, California, sent boxes of clothing and crates of oranges. His grandchildren sent aid also. I never met them. By the way, Uncle Tyne and Aunt Maria were my godparents and Reverend Cameron christened me at home in the parlour, same room where I was born.
When the family were all married, my parents sold the homestead and went to live in Williamsburg, Ontario just about six miles from Morrisburg, Ontario where they were born. They resided there until their death and are buried in the village cemetery. My brother Walter also bought a small farm and passed away in the same place. It is an old saying that every second house has a Casselman living in it (that is, Morrisburg, Ontario).
I have many relatives scattered throughout the world. I received a letter in April, 1970 informing me that a Casselman reunion would be held in August 8th and 9th of the same year in Boundry Falls, B.C. on my Uncle Asaph's Ranch. He is father's youngest brother but has been dead for many years. My brother John's daughter, Caroline Love, who is married to a Pentacostal minister sent me the invitation and to extend it to my family. She lives in Penticton, B.C. They expect two or three hundred to come and are barbequeing a whole steer. The grandchildren are painting and getting the old house prepared for the big event.
My brother John lived in Boundry Falls for a number of years, then he moved to Greenwood, B.C. He had a large family, three by his first wife. Then five years later, he married again and had ten more. As far as I know, they are all living. It would be wonderful for me if I could make it, but I'm too old now. What a pity!
There are quite a few things that happened at home. We had cattle about a block from the house in the field. I seemed to be Johnny on the spot when something unusual happened. I was skipping and feeling happy at the time, out in the yard when my brother Russell took the horses out to the well. It was late in October. There was "Pink" the mare who was so tame. Well, Russell was on her back and galloping. He was going over a patch of ice when Pink slipped throwing my brother on the ground. He started to yell "Help!" I ran into the house and yelled "Come quick, Russell is dead!" That brought the folks out in a hurry. They picked him up and discovered his leg was broken. So Dad took him to the doctor where it was set. Russell went on crutches for such time that he could walk normal again. Now, I must tell you about the yearly bee making sourkraut at home every fall. The neighbours would gather with tubs to help mother wash the cabbage and quarter it. The brother Walter operated the plain cutting it. The shreds would fall into a large barrel. Dad knew just the right amount of salt to add. Then, they should stomp it with large wooden stompers. We children were allowed to stay up awhile and were reluctant when told to go to bed. Boy! that sourkraut was delicious. My brother Willie and I would sneak down the cellar and scoop handfuls of it in our hands and eat it. I sure wish I could have some now.
In the fall, mother would have a party for the young people of the church. She would serve maple syrup, taffy and apples and home cooking. I will mention here that father had 200 acres of land on the north side of the river and a very large sugar bush with a log cabin where the sap was boiled down. It was a wonderful farm. Mother would pack a delicious lunch and take we children to the farm to pick raspberries. They were so plentiful. We kept together by using whistles to let Ma know where we were. We could have easily gotten lost if it weren't for those signals. I remember Maw telling us her experience that she had when living in the log cabin. She had five children at that time. She was out hoeing potatoes when hearing screams she rushed in the cabin. The children were up in their twin poster beds and yelling "Snake!" Ma wasn't long locating it. She grabbed an iron poker and soon made mincemeat out of that snake which measured over a yard and a half. Mother was a very courageous woman. She sure knew how to protect her children.
I remember mother telling us about my sister Sarah falling out of her highchair when she was a little child about two years of age. After the fall, she couldn't walk. It was sad to see the dear child in that state suffering pain. Aunt Mariah, Uncle Tyne's wife came to see mother and suggested a cure she had heard years ago. Well, this was it. Take the child wrapped up in a woolen blanket to the river every morning, dip her in the water just when the sun was rising. Paw and Maw did just that for nine mornings and the child was cured. It is only natural how this happened. When the water contacted the child, she stretched out all her limbs and straightened the spine -a good thing to know? She never had any touble with her back after that.
I will mention about the guns that were hanging on six inch nails over the kitchen table. There were five of them. My brother Clayton's was a .22 rifle. One day, Pa was busy at his desk when heard a knock at the door. It was a stranger, evil looking one at that. My sister was quite young at the time but smart as a cricket. She overheard a dispute and suspected that Dad was having trouble so, she took the .22 rifle off the wall and went up the back stairs and came down the front stairs that was under the desk and Paw started to struggle with him. My brave sister, Alice, pointed the gun at him and Paw put hand-cuffs on him and took him to the jail which was in the basement of the townhall. Well, what do you think they found on that outfit? Matches, rings, necklaces and all sorts of things he had hidden in patches sewn on his pants and also in the cuffs.
Pa had many ordeals, I remember he had to go to the next village called Lemieux and brought home a prisoner who was handcuffed. It was noon I remember and Ma served soup first course. Pa unlocked the handcuffs and the man started to eat but Pa didn't take any chances and he had his revolver near his plate. This man was charged with stealing cords of wood from his neighbours. I was scared stiff at the time. Ma was nervous also. I could go on and on about things that hapened but, if I did, my story would never be finished.
Christmas was a joyful time for all the family. The table was a very long one consisting of two wide planks or maybe three and required two table cloths. Mother would set the table the night before Christmas and put cards on all our plates with our names on, so Santa wouldn't overlook anyone. Then we would open our gifts. We always received a couple of useful ones as well as a variety of goodies. In the evening, we would gather in the dining room where a big Christmas tree was all lit up with candles and stars and ornaments with more presents around the tree. Sister Alice would play the piano, Christmas carols and many songs were sang. We also had games such as dominos, checkers and throwing sandbags through an opening in a wooden frame. We weren't allowed to play cards for Pa taught us that old Nick was in the cards and that they were the cause of many murders committed. He would never allow them in our home.
When I was quite young, my sister Caroline shared the same bedroom as I and on a Christmas night, we could hardly wait for morning. On one occasion, I awoke just when dawn was breaking and noticed something sticking out of my stocking which was at the foot of the bed. Being nosy, I got up to inspect it. Well, of all the fuss I made over the big beautiful doll and a lot of other goodies. I guess I awakened up most of the family with my shouts of joy. Those were the best days of my life, young, healthy and happy. Sister Caroline was awakened with all the noise I made, so didn't make such a fuss but was happy with her gifts. She said to me "Let us be quiet so the rest of the family can rest." She was three years older than me. I was the baby girl, the eleventh child; brother Willie was next to me and then Stewart the last of our big family. He was the thirteenth child.
Now I will relate about the slaying of hogs in the fall. As you know, farmers always provide pork for the winter. There was a stone fireplace in the yard with a big iron pot almost two yards wide. It was round and set in the middle of the stone structure. A board table was near it and brother Walter, with the aid of my other brother, would lead the hog to be slaughtered close by. When that ordeal was over, they would haul the hog up on the table and duck it in boiling water, then out again on the table. then they would start scraping the hide. This went on a few times until the skin was very white and clean. Then all the inner parts were removed and mother would make headcheese, also sausages that were delicious. I forgot to mention that we children were forbidden to watch this pork slaying ordeal but as the old saying is (curiosity killed the cat), we would hide in the apple orchard behind the fence and took in everything. They would quarter the pork and salt it down in barrels.
Those were very hard days for the housewife. Everything was home cooked and my dear mother worked very hard. We didn't have electricity or any of the conveniences they have today. We had oil lamps and it was my sister and myself's job to trim the wicks and clean the glass flues. Mother baked a big batch of bread twice a week and we children could smell it before we entered the kitchen when returning from school. We really did things we shouldn't have done. For instance, Bill would say, "Let's rest our bread on a pan of cream" that would adhere to the bread and I would do just that, then put sugar on it. Boy! did it ever taste good. When were were caught doing it, Ma would give us a licking with a strap she had and we would yell, "I'll never do it again Ma!" You see, it was pans of milk with the cream in it that Ma would skim off and put in a large jar to make butter.
Now when I attended school, it was on the north side of the river. I had many girl friends and when the river was low, we would take our shoes off and stuff our stockings in them, tie the laces, put them over our necks and wade across the river. It was lots of fun. One day, my girl friend, Hilda Owens, suggested we go out in deeper water that would take us near the vehicle bridge which was very deep. We ventured out until the water reached almost to our hips, then all of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain in my right foot. I leaned on Hilda and pulled out a big hunk of glass underneath my big toe. The glass was part of a whiskey bottle some drunk had tossed into the water. I put my stocking on and away we scrambled up the bank to Mrs. Merkley's home near the bridge. She ran the post office and a little variety store. She was so kind to us and bathed my foot and put a cake of Recketts blue on it, that we used for blueing the white wash in those days.
Well, I am 86 years old now and must say I never heard of putting blueing on a cut, but she did just that and bound it up with white cotton. Then, her son, Sandy hitched the horse to the buggy and away we left for home. When we turned in the lane Pa was out on the veranda. He looked surprised and examined the foot and said "Man alive! What's this?". He had Sandy carry me from the buggy into the house. Dear mother was troubled and said, "Now, what has happened?" It seems I was always getting into something and causing my mother worry. Guess some children are born like that. Lots of other things happened in my life but it would take too long to write about all those things.
Now, I must relate about the sad happening in 1901. I was married and living in Chesterville, Ontario and my first baby was two months old. I named her after my sister Caroline, who was always called "Carrie" for short. She was the only daughter left after I got married and she was engaged to Clayton Seymor but that marriage never happened because my brother was making cheese in St. Albert, Ontario and his home was nearby. My brother was married to a Scotch girl named Christine MacLeod. They had two boys, one three years old and the other child, not walking yet, little over a year old. His wife was expecting another child but she was dying with consumption contracted from years of suffering with catarrh. She took all kinds of medicine but to no avail. Time passed on, then she was confined to bed. In the meantime, my brother had hired a girl but it was a French settlement and he couldn't get an English speaking one, so they couldn't get along.
One night, after the cheese factory closed, my brother went to Casselman to see mother. He asked her if she could spare Caroline just for a few days until he could obtain an English speaking girl. So, Mother agreed to that. Little did our family know that our dear sister was going to her doom. She was only nineteen years old. John had a doctor come in from Chesterville to treat his wife and Dr. Drown took my brother to one side and said, "What is that girl doing here? Do you realize that dust is contagious?" My brother felt awful about that, so he took Carrie home and it wasn't long before she started to get sick. Pa had several doctors but they all said she would last only three months. She had contacted galloping T.B. Maw would write me, but didn't tell just how bad things were. I guess she didn't want me to worry too much for she knew we were dearly attached to each other. They always referred to us as the "Casselman twins." She did tell me later on, how she and Paw would at mealtime coax Carrie to eat but she only just tasted the food. This went on for a long time and it was heart rendering to watch their loving daughter fade away. Time passed by and she was confined to her bed which was in the first room at the head of the stairs. Ma was almost wom out going up and down so Paw put a single bed in the parlour which was more convenient for mother.
My sister was resigned to her fate and never complained. Her bible which was presented to her by Pa at a Sunday School Picnic when she won a race was her constant companion. incidently, I have her bible and there are hundreds of places underlined that she enjoyed reading. She was wasting away very quickly and the day came when I received a message to come home if I wanted to dear sister alive. She kept asking for me saying "Has Gertie come yet?" Well, I got prepared and my Aunt Ada Casselman came for me. Her daughter Della was with her and also a young boy aged 16 years by the name of John Benton. This was in December 1901. -They landed in Chesterville, Ontario in a Berlin Cutter and, of course' the horse had bells on the harness. After we had something to eat and the folks got rested up, we started on our 75 mile trip to Casselman. I had my baby wrapped up in a big grandmother's shawl, so away we went.
The snow was very deep and we met with misfortune just as we were nearing the village of Crysler, Ontario. The horse got in difficulty going over a big bank of snow and the cutter turned over. When I realized what was happening, I tossed my precious bundle out in the snow, then, I fell out. I was glad that I had the presence of mind to do that, otherwise, the baby's life might have been snuffed out and that would have been tragic had I fallen on her. We stopped at a hotel and got warmed up, had lunch and then continued on. We finally reached our destination. The house was all lit up and we were greeted with much love from mother and father, also sisters and brothers and husbands took little baby Carrie and sat near the stove with the oven door open. She was warming her darling grandchild and calling her all the love names. The minister, Rev. David Craig was standing nearby. He smiled at me and exclaimed "It's almost unbelievable that you're the mother of a child." He always remembered me as a little girl for he had been boarding at our home for many years. When my sister was told that I was home, she was impatient to see me and the baby. It took all of my will power to keep from breaking down when I went to her bedside. My heart sank within me as I kissed her on the forehead. She gave me a beautiful smile, so happy to see me and when she saw the dear little baby named "Carrie" after her, she said, "Oh, what a sweet baby" and called her all the nice love names and made a big fuss over her. I will never forget it. You know its so sad to have someone leave you forever on this earth (but we all have to go when our time comes). But she was so young to die. She gave her life helping others. She also had a wonderful future had she lived. That's what we all thought anyway. I forgot to mention that it was Thursday night when we arrived home. Apart from the family, there were a few close friends keeping my parents and family company.
A couple of days before she passed away, she called for Pa to come to her bedside and asked him to bring a writing pad and make note of what she wanted done. Her request was that when the pallbearers were about to take the casket out of the house, she wanted the hymn, "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" sung. Then, while in the church, she chose the following hymns, "I'm resting so sweetly in Jesus now, or I've Anchored my Soul in the Haven of Rest", also "Nearer my God to Thee". Then, she wanted the minister to choose for his text, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son", also' "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want". That was a sad ordeal for my dear Dad. This was on Thursday morning and the same night that I arrived at my parent's home. Friday night about midnight the end was near. She called for all of the family, each one separate. Ma first, and bid her goodbye and asked her to meet her in heaven. Ma said "Yes" and came out crying. Then, we all took turns to make the same promise and kissed her goodbye. When my turn came, I could hardly make it. My heart was broken, but some of the family said, "You must go in to your sister". I finally made it and kissed her goodbye with the promise to meet her in heaven. I have tried to keep my word, but there were times I fell short of it when sin and trouble and temptations assailed me, but my conscience would remind me of my promise. What a wonderful gift the Lord bestowed on we human beings and if everyone heeded their conscience, this earth would be a better place to live in.
Picture if you will, the sad scene in the death chamber. Rev. David Craig was standing at the head of the bed and Ma next to him. She had her arm around me and brother Stewart was near me. On the other side of the bed was Pa kneeling with Carrie's hand in his. The rest of the room was filled with all our loved ones. Then Carrie spoke and said, "Hark!, listen to the beautiful music". She was looking up at the ceiling of course. We didn't hear anything. Then a few moments passed and she said, "Climbing up the stairs, I'll soon be there". She also mentioned about all the angels on the steps. She repeated everything three times. Her face was lit up with happiness. Then suddenly, her face darkened and she called out in a loud voice "Filth! No, never, never, never!!" Then Pa spoke up and remarked, "See, the devil is fighting for her soul!" But she heard the heavenly music again and repeated, "Climbing up the steps, I'll soon be there!" The, she said, "The gate, the gate!!" Then, the last words she uttered was "Jesus". That's how my beloved sister passed away. I forgot to mention that she made Pa promise if they ever moved away from Casselman to transfer her remains to wherever they would be buried and that promise was kept. She is buried by Ma and Pa in Williamsburg, Ontario. A little over one year after she died, (Pa sold the farm in the year 1902).
I will now change the sad story of my dear sister's death and will relate bout my brother Alex. He made cheese for years in Casselman. He was running another factory there. Then he decided to run a factory in Crysler, Ontario making caseine out of skim milk. He would ship this product to a Company who made handles for knives, forks and spoons which resembled pearl. They were very nice. Time went on and the business got too heavy for him although his wife kept the books for him. She was very clever. Then, he had a nervous breakdown. When he recovered, he quit the two factories. It was, as you know, horse and buggy days which took considerable time to get to the one in Crysler, Ontario. Then, he left Casselman, moved to Orleans, Ontario, bought a cheese factory and made good. He then changed to butter making for a number of years. His home was on the hill and his factory was in the valley.
One morning on Sunday, he remarked to his wife that he was going hunting wild ducks. Well, it wasn't the season for that, but he disregarded the fact and dressed in his hunting habit and left. When he didn't return at the end of the day, his wife phoned the O.P. police and they, in turn, got his son Hector to go with them. They hunted until near morning when they came to a creek, a green grassy mound. They found my brother lying about ten feet from the water. He had his gun on his right side and his hunting cap off his forehead, his shirt was open due to striving for air. Well, guess what? Lo and behold, when they opened his windbreaker, they found a wild duck. So, of course, Hector his son, identified his father. Telegrams were sent to members of our family to relate the sad news. I took the C.N.R. train from the Union Station, Toronto to Ottawa, then the bus to Orleans a distance of 19 miles.
As I previously stated, the last request my dear sister Carrie wished Father to do was, if he ever moved away from Casselman, to have her remains removed to where he and mother intended to be buried. So, father kept his word in that respect. About one year or more after, he sold the homestead and moved to Williamsburg, Ontario just a few miles from Morrisburg, Ontario where he and mother were born. When the gruesome task took place, father had the help of his two son-in-laws, Jim Riddell and Ernest Chevrier. They took spades and went to the cemetery and dug up the coffin. Ernest, being curious raised the lid. He found the clothing intact and her hair seemed to have grown very long but she was just a skeleton. So, Ernest disjointed one of her index fingers and carried it in his pocket until he died. He showed it to most of the family. Now Carrie is buried beside Ma and Pa in the town of Williamsburg cemetery. They erected a nice grey tombstone over her grave. I have visited the cemetery quite often. This has been a sad story for me to write but nevertheless, every word is true. I have broken down and shed tears giving this account, but I have great faith in the "Man above" in that he has given me the ability to continue my story.
Well folks, there are a few more happenings to relate, so here goes! As I previously stated, my brother Walter was the only one who helped on the farm so Pa had to hire help, He had one fellow named "Lefebvre" who would accompany him on hunting trips. Some of the people had seen bears near their homes and were afraid. So, Pa and his helper cruised in a rowboat near the river bank. They had bullseye lanterns strapped to their foreheads and kept very silent. Suddenly, Pa noticed two shining objects in the bush. He rose very silently and took aim between the two lights. Well, he hit the bear "Ker-smack!" between the two eyes. There was plently of excitement among the folks when they heard the news. They skinned the big bear and tacked the hide on side of the wood shed and tanned it with coarse salt or maybe some other method, I do not know. They had a process of their own in those days. That bear rug made a nice soft mat in our parlour for many years.
My sister Alice was married to Jim Riddell who was a tinsmith. He put a 200 gallon tank in the back bedroom upstairs that supplied us with soft water when it rained. We had to be mindful to watch when it was full to turn the spout which was outside. One time there was quite a storm and my brother John climbed out of the bedroom window on the roof to turn the spout off and a bolt of lightning flashed. He received a shock and rolled down the roof and fell into the soft water barrel. Some of the folks hauled him out. He was badly shakened up and had a broken arm. Almost the same experience happened to my Dad. He had to turn the spout and climbed through the French window leading from the hall and he received a shock and fell off the roof of the veranda, a ten foot drop. He was badly bruised and was fortunate not to have any bones broken. It sure was hard going in those days, but we had the pleasure of soft water.
My Dad was very set in his ways. We never saw our father come to the table at mealtime in his shirt sleeves. He always wore a coat, duster in summer and cardigan in winter. Ma always looked so nice. Her hair was black and she had blue eyes and always wore a clean white apron at meal times. My sister, Alice had five children. Her son, Arthur was a doctor and Mabel and Ethel were school teachers. One girl married a storekeeper. The other passed away. Her husband kept a tinsmith shop for many years in Casselman and Alice was organist in the church for twenty five years.
My sister, Sarah married a tailor, Ernest Chevrier, who had his shop until he died in Casselman, Ontario. They had a family of twelve children. Pa gave them a lot in the village and they built a bungelow and tailor shop. Well, a very sad thing happened to them. Their first child was a beautiful little girl named Alberta. She was four years old at the time. My sister Sarah was doing the washing that day. The door leading to the woodshed was near the stove, so my sister took the lids off and went into the shed for some wood. She put the boiler on the floor for just a moment and dear little happy Alberta was running back and fourth when she suddenly ran near the boiler and fell into it. Well, my sister lost no time grabbing the child and removing her clothing, treating her with first aid and sent for the doctor. Her skin was cooked and came off with her clothing, exposing her back bone. The doctor came and said there was no hope for the child. So Sarah sent for Pa and Ma and quite a few of our family came and spent most of the night with her. I'll never forget that, for it was in 1900. I wasn't married very long and had been visiting my husband's people in the next town of Lemieux. I had come up with the mail-man, Gaston L'Heureux who delivered the mail by horse and buggy. it was in the morniing when I arrived at my sister's house and little Alberta saw me from the window. She was so happy that I was coming to visit and yelled "Mommy! Mommy! Here's Aunt Gertie!" She was a beautiful child and had golden hair and blue eyes. Before she died, she wanted a boiled egg so her mother put cushions around her and shelled the hard boiled egg. She ate most of it and along near morning, she wanted water so Sarah gave her a glass of cold water. She put her little fingers in it and passed away. Pa remarked how soldiers, when dying, used to do the same thing. After the funeral, I stayed with my sister to comfort her but she cried most of the night. She and Ernest grieved over that sad occurrence for a long time.
Regarding my sister Josephine, she was a dressmaker and married Perry Beckstead who was a cheese maker. After a number of years, he gave that up and bought a farm. Sister Josephine was mother's helper and every weekend, she would do the baking, making pies and cakes. She was always ready to help someone. She was a little reserved at times but was a beautiful character. They had two children, a girl named Isabelle and son named Garfield. My brother Russell was a butter maker. He had a very large creamery in Eriksdale, Manitoba and turned out one thousand and twenty pounds of butter a day. He had a beautiful home with a summer and winter kitchen and also an office. He employed quite a few men.
My brother Willie ran a service station in Spencerville, Ontario. He married a nurse and they had two children, a boy and a girl. The girl lived a few years and passed away. The unfortunate part of it is that their little son died also. It almost broke their hearts for they were very fond of children. We mortals cannot understand why these things happen but we believe it to be "God's will" and we accept it.
Now, in regards to my brother Stewart, he also was a cheesemaker but gave that up and worked for the American Locomotive Company for many years. He is retired now. He married an American Girl named "Leaphie" and they settled in Auburn, New York. They sold their home in Auburn some few years ago and bought a home in Florida where they lived for some years. Then they decided to move back to Auburn and are living there at the present time. He is not very well must now. He is 81 years of age and is very fond of music and art. He plays the violin and piano and also has painted some very good pictures. He has three sons, all married and doing well. The come to visit me most every summer.
In regards to myself, I do not travel anymore and am resigned to my home but the relatives still invite me to pay them a visit but I'm getting too old for that now. Just recently, I took very ill with the 'flu and was confined to bed for the month of November. My son, Charles, who is a railroader was off work for a month looking after me. He is a good son and a good cook also. I'm not back to normal health yet. Its the horrible cough that got me, thought sure it was the end for me, but God has spared me for some purpose. That 'flu is very hard on old folks and takes a long time to recover from it.
Well, those of you who read this true story I trust will overlook mistakes for after all, I had but a public school education, just passing my Entrance. I'd like to emphasize the fact that everything I have written was from memory and also, that I'll be 87 years of age this May 2nd, 1971. There are many happenings I could relate, but I'm tired and if I prolong this autobiography, it would take a long time to finish it. Hoping those who read this account will get a little enjoyment out of it.