Luck of the Irish! AncestryDNA Results

Well, the verdict is in. I’m Irish. After waiting for 3 weeks, my AncestryDNA results arrived via a message from an AncestryDNA Relative who is definitely a 3rd cousin, on my father’s side from the Palmer/Boyles line.

But the most exciting thing was seeing the chart below and having to do a double take on the ethnicity percentages:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 3.42.55 PM

I’m not only Irish, I’m 57% Irish!  I thought that would be impossible, that my father’s side who had both Irish and English roots would dissipate my results to maybe 23% if I was lucky, but it turns out I’m IRISH Lucky – over half! And that’s an average. Some of my DNA strands or markers tested as high as 71% Irish, while others were a lower 41%.  So I’m “above average” Irish at 57% and quite happy to see my Irish roots declared in writing based on scientific evidence.

Here is a more detailed breakdown:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 4.10.28 PM

(Note: Europe West includes German/France/Netherlands and Scandinavia includes Norway, Denmark and Sweden.)

Also astonishing was that I had about 18% French/German and over 17% Scandinavian! My Norse roots may come through my mother’s Scottish line, as the Anderson/Andersen  clan may have come over with the Vikings. These are also averages, and can be lower or higher depending on the DNA strand/marker they are testing.  For example, Scandinavian tested anywhere between 1% to 33% depending on the strand/marker; the average helps us know overall just “how much” of our genetic make-up is from that region overall.

My motivation for doing all of this was to find my Irish ancestors and living cousins. I have already found many potential cousins, and I am quite amazed how AncestryDNA has managed to match them to my family tree on ancestry.com with specific matching surnames and in some cases actual common ancestors.

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship… And, this will make my Moore “plus” family reunion a whole lot bigger!

It feels good to be Irish.

Thanks AncestryDNA!

Krista

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DNA May Solve Family History Blocks

Hello everyone!

It has been almost 3 years since my last confession! Seriously, it just tells you how time flies when doing family history research. I hit a roadblock in my search for the Moore Family, and kind of put it aside.

Just this spring, I decided to have my DNA test done with ancestry.com and am now awaiting the results.

In the meantime, it is important to follow the trail. I have reached out to 3 possible cousins so far that found me via ancestry, one in Ireland, one in Australia and another here at home, only a stones throw away.

Next is a family reunion. Perhaps that will pull us all together, and reveal some threads that have long been awaiting completion.

I will let you know as soon as the results are in!

Krista

How the Past Can Heal Us

Krista in front of oldest tree in Maberly, where Morrow Hotel once stood.

Krista in front of oldest tree in Maberly, Ontario

It occurs to me that in family tree hunting we sometimes forget the most important things: story.  After all these years I have to ask myself, someone trained to live in the present, why going back so far to people who lived before me, who perhaps share some remote traces of my DNA, matters.  What is it that draws me to them, and arguably them to me?  What makes them eternal in my mind, and connects me to their story?  And why does the mystery of what we do not know tantalize us so, so that we never give up wanting to know more?

Funny enough, I am also trained through my hypnosis practice to study and explore past lives – I mean mine, not someone else’s – what some would call reincarnation.  You may not believe in such a thing, and it may go against your spiritual or religious beliefs – or perhaps you believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, and that’s it – dust to dust.  End of story.

Then why the insatiable curiosity?  Whether it be past lives through our ancestors or past lives through our own subconscious or “superconscious” (higher) mind or cellular DNA memory, what links us all together and makes the past come alive – makes US come alive with questions, with desires, with feelings?  Why do we cry when we hear about a hardship our ancestors suffered, or a good story ending in triumph or reconciliation?  It seems I am asking more questions than offering suggestions, but give me a moment.

These questions answer themselves.  The fact is, we do want to know.  Not everyone, to be sure.  Some people may rightly feel that to look back is to get lost in the past. And some may simply not want to hear what might trouble them in the present.  But those who do ask, have a burning desire to know not just for the sake of a good story, but because it tells them something about themselves.  It answers the question: Who Am I? and Why am I here?

If we can look at our lives or the lives of others in retrospect, we see patterns, shapes, stories.  We see parallels.  We see PURPOSE.  And we see PROMISE.  We understand that hardship and suffering can be followed by breakthroughs, and that even death does not stop life from continuing on – we are evidence of that.

Our past stories are collective. What a prominent psychologist, Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious”.  Everything that has ever happened to anyone, and all its apparent meanings, is held there – along with all the wisdom and “knowings” that sometimes  cannot be explained by our current, more limited thinking.  These pieces, these stories have a common source, a common thread through human history, through human consciousness.  It doesn’t matter the time or the place – we find ourselves in its reflection.

Once a year I follow the popular American TV show (now on TLC) “Who Do You Think You Are?” – featuring prominent Americans (mostly celebs) who want to discover something about their ancestry, and the origins of their family.  Notice, the show title is not, “Who Do You Think They Are?”  but rather “Who Do You Think YOU Are.”  Because their tears, their AHAs, their curiosity, and their sense of compassion and forgiveness is not only about their ancestors – it reaches across time and teaches them something about themselves – and even goes so far as to heal their own sense of self, history, story.

We all have a personal destiny, and we want to know that not only will we survive, but that our story will teach those who follow us – it will outlive us – extend us – “eternalize” us.

The truth is, we are already eternal.  But while we are sloshing around here on earth trying to make a living, learning lessons and putting up with the hardships and trials, heartbreaks and breakthroughs – it helps to know that someone will be staring back at us through time and saying, “Wow! I’m really glad so and so lived…  How brave he/she was, how honest, how strong, how compassionate… I want to be more like that.”

When we look back, we want to emulate the best we see, and forgive the worst.  Because when we can do that, we become the greater part of history, we become an extension of it, fulfilling its ultimate purpose – not only to tell a good story, but to teach how to live a good life.   And so we become the living proof of what it means to us, what it offers us, and to our kids and grandchildren.  We are its living, breathing, connections that link past present and future in one eternal loop.

And even as audience, witnessing someone else’s history, we see ourselves – beyond family blood barriers, beyond time itself.  We can identify meaning and purpose without any regard to dates and names.  Those provide the colour and fabric, the identity so to speak.  But the picture is worth more than its parts. One human family struggling to live – and learning to really LIVE – one lesson, one story, one life at a time.

Happy journeying.

 

Krista

 

 

Welcome to Maberly

Tay River, Maberly

This past weekend my husband and I ventured to Maberly, Ontario to visit my long-gone relatives: the ancestors I have been researching for nearly 20 years.  Needless to say, it was a quiet visit. But quite reflective, tangible and fulfilling.

Local kids in Maberly

Local kids in Maberly 1950s

Maberly used to be somewhat of a “Mayberry” in its time.  Once a thriving pioneer village of  sawmills, blacksmith’s shops, a general store (or two), school houses, local churches and a town hall (still in operation), and the men’s local tavern – a favourite up until 40 years ago – Today, Maberly is crying out for some reinvention.

Entering Maberly

For sale, Maberly 2011

Although, there is a very good restaurant when you come in to town, the Fall River Restaurant on the corner of Highway 7 and Maberly/Elphin Rd. which officiated our visit with happy taste buds (who would have imagined gourmet Mole chicken pizza in rural Ontario?) and a Guinness, perfect after a dreary day of traveling.

Fall River Restaurant & Gift Shop, Maberly

Our proprietor Ian was the perfect welcoming host, dousing us with a local history (the structure we were standing in used to be the general store), and fascinating me with their awards as the “Greenest Restaurant in Canada”.  In Maberly?  Yup.

Falls Inn Restaurant

“Greenest Restaurant in Canada” – Maberly

Adventures in Maberly

To be continued…

Building a Case: In Search of the Moores of Maberly, Lanark County & Ireland

For some time now I have been investigating the Moores of  Lanark County in Ontario. It is time to start putting the puzzle pieces together: naming my assumptions, making an hypothesis and synthesizing information I have received over time to begin to solve this mystery of their origin. I will not be doing this alone. There are many contributors who have joined me for this ride.  And this can not be done only by sitting by a computer. In other words…

“It’s time to get my hands dirty!”

PURPOSE

The deeper purpose of my research is to get to know my ancestors on a more intimate level, as if they were alive to me. To know how they lived, who they loved and lost, what they did, and why they came here. Ultimately I would like to discover and visit the land of my origin in Ireland. Understanding the very roots of my past, and what led my ancestors to become the progressive pioneers, farmers and politicians who  left their mark in me and in Canada.

Also, I would love to share my discoveries with my grandmother, Helen Moore, who is the one who “gave me the bug” and set me off on this quest over 17 years ago. Now, at the age of 93, she is still waiting for an answer! “So, what can you find out about the Moores and where they came from?…”  Don’t get me wrong: She is “tickled pink” at my progress. But only I know how far I still have to go (and how deep!).

QUESTIONS

  1. Where and when were my Gr-Gr-Grandfather Thomas Moore, Esq. of Lanark County Ont. (Reeve of S. Sherbrooke and Oso/Frontenac), born in Ireland (abt. 1829), along with his father William Moore (abt. 1800) and mother Winnifred Stephens, later Garrett (b. Mar 1803)?
  2. Are Thomas Moore, Esq. of S. Sherbrooke (Lanark County) and Dr. Thomas Moore of Picton, Ontario (who punched Sir John A MacDonald in the nose) related and how? (Dr. Thomas Moore’s daughter, Catherine Anne Moore held the mortgage for some of Thomas Moore’s land in 1877).
  3. How did they live in Southern Ontario, who were their neighbours and friends, and what were their contributions to society and Canadian history?
  4. How are they related to other members of the community and did they travel together from Ireland, and when? What boat did they come over on?
  5. When can I book my tickets to Ireland? 🙂

WHAT I KNOW SO FAR

I know quite a lot about Thomas Moore, Esq. of S. Sherbrooke, given his public career as a magistrate and Reeve.  Both he and Dr. Thomas Moore’s lives were well documented, and the link between them in land records.

I am currently working with several people compiling the information we all share. There is an abundance of census records, land records, township papers and council meeting minutes that tell us a fortune of information about our collective ancestors. To distill it here will be very difficult. And so I will have to synthesize quite a bit to make this profitable.

 PROBLEM/OPPORTUNITY

My farthest known ancestor from the Moore side is Willliam MOORE of Sherbrook South, Lanark County, Ontario, who died sometime before the 1851 census in Lanark County, Ontario. The only known record of him is from the 1842 census, where he was Head of Household and a “yeoman” (farmer) in S. Sherbrooke, Concession 10 Lot 14E, along with his wife and children.

In terms of origin, the 1841 census only asks how many were born “Here” or “There”. His reads “There”. meaning Ireland (based on later records of his wife and his son Thomas MOORE – Reeve of South Sherbrooke/Oso-Frontenac).  No age is given for him either and so we do not have a birth time frame. However, his wife Winnifred STEPHENS (later Moore then Garrett), based on later census data, was born “Mar 1803” in Ireland. Their son Thomas MOORE was also born in Ireland, based on census data, sometime around 1828-9. The rest of their children were born in Ontario starting in 1834, based on Wesleyan Methodist baptism records.

Because William died so young (likely in his 40s), we do not gain  more information about him later when the records were more thorough. We have to use his wife, children, neighbours and other associates to gain insight into his life and origin.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Hughes & Moores share Land in Maberly, Ont 1830-1861

After visiting Maberly (next posts) and doing further research with my fellow historians, we have discovered more about the land where the Moores and Hughes lived adjacent to each other in 1842 and 1851; and that in 1842 Joseph Hughes was a proprietor of land, whereas William Moore was not, and not even the eldest Thomas HUGHES who applied for Crown land on Conc. 10 Lot 14E in 1830.

HUGHES/MOORE/CHAMBERS related in marriage – HUGHES/CHAMBERS from Tullyish, Down

It appears these families were congenial as Thomas MOORE & Robert HUGHES both married CHAMBERS sisters Margaret and Letitia respectively; and that Willliam MOORE and Thomas HUGHES may even have travelled together from Ireland around 1828 after the birth of William’s first son Thomas.  Thomas HUGHES is from Tullyish, Down, Ireland, according to my sources, much like the CHAMBERS family who are from Warringstown, Ballydugan, within the same Tullyish parish, Down, Ireland.  This is a large clue as to the whereabouts of the Moore family in Ireland, as they very likely travelled either concurrently, or consecutively to Canada.

The  first Wesleyan Methodist “Cedar Chapel” of Maberly

Thomas MOORE, son of William MOORE, and other prominent trustees of the Wesleyan Methodist church in Maberly, petitioned to save an original chapel on Robert/Pierce HUGHES land, the original land Willliam MOORE farmed in 1842.  The chapel is now gone, and apparently there is still an old burying ground, containing neighbouring worshippers (not just family) of the time.  We walked this land and saw several openings, and plenty of rocks which could have been a previous chapel/burying ground, including an old gated laneway that is now overgrown with baby pines. More to come on the “Cedar Chapel” of Maberly…

Widower Thomas GARRETT re-marries Widow Winnifred Moore” & relocates to Lampton, Ont 1861

The latest finding proves that the widow Winnifred MOORE, after the early death of her husband William MOORE (around 1846), still farmed on Conc. 11 Lots 12/13 in 1851 (adjacent again to the HUGHES family), but disappears in 1861.  The reason is she remarried Thomas GARRETT (date TBA) and relocated to LAMPTON, Ontario where they lived with his sons and daughter on a farm.  I am not sure why Thomas GARRETT relocated to Lampton, but it appears his wife died sometime after 1851, and Thomas & “Winnifred Garrett” show up married on the 1861 census for Lampton, Ont.  He is 71 and she is 57. They are Wesleyan Methodist, living with his sons and one daughter, Caroline.

Winnifred GARRETT later returns to Maberly (likely widowed again), where she dies at the home of her son, John MOORE in 1874.  Both John MOORE and Reeve Thomas MOORE, Esq. her eldest sons, die within 4 days of each other in Dec 1886/Jan 1887, respectively. More on this story later…

FURTHER QUESTIONS

Did Thomas HUGHES travel with William MOORE from Down, Ireland, on the same boat to Canada/South Sherbrooke around 1828? Which boat was it?

Why did the widow Winnifred MOORE remarry the widower Thomas GARRETT, when she had plenty of sons to look after her in Maberly?  Was he wealthier? Was he a close family friend of her husband?

DEDUCTIONS/CONCLUSIONS

Moore to come….

If you have any information concerning this family, please contact me.

Thank you!

Krista M. Moore

September, 2011

The Women Who Made Me

This is an homage to the “Women who Made Me”, a series of portraits I plan to develop in more depth later. For now, their names, and pictures where possible.  The last 200 years or so of Krista Moore‘s grandmothers… both paternal and maternal, in no particular order, other than time. More pictures and stories to come…

Me

Krista Moore

Born in Kingston, Ontario, same hospital as Bryan Adams (and my father, Jack Moore!). Grew up in Elmira (Birdland) with maple syrup and mennonites, & then Kitchener, Ontario, where I graduated and moved to Toronto in 1999. Mother, actress, writer, and family historian.

Mother – Mary

Mother Mary

My Mother Mary (living). Born in Botwood, Newfoundland. Can play the spoons and guitar at a kitchen parties (good ole down home jig), jives wickedly, loves retro diners of the 50s, Dire Straits “Walk of Life”, and is a recently re-discovered Artist (painter). Also, most perfect mother ever.

Grandmothers

Helen B. Moore (Keech)

 Helen B. Moore (nee Keech) on my father’s side. Born 1918 in Edmonton, Alberta. Married to Earl Lawrence Moore of Kingston, Ont. They celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Died Jan 3, 2012 just shy of 94, Kingston. The one who got me hooked on the family tree. She says, “I’m so glad you caught the bug!”

Matilda Kemp Hart (Anderson)

Matilda Kemp Hart (nee Anderson) (nickname “Bunty”) on my mother’s side, born 1920 in Aviemore, Scotland. Married James Everett Hart of Newfoundland. They celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Died in 2005. “Bunty” was a great baker, I still can smell her “lassie buns”.  A very stern, jolly, strong woman who could drink my father under the table. I wrote a family history for her of Scotland, filled with her stories, and her sister’s stories called “Journey to the Homeland”, 1999.

Great-Grandmothers

Emma Bell Deacon born on the Deacon farm (still there today) in Bolingbroke, Ontario 1876. Married Lawrence E. Moore of Maberly, Ontario.  Lived to 1968 and died in Kingston. My father still remembers her singing those devilish Irish victory songs. Oh boy!  She could play the piano beautifully by ear and the mouth organ.  How I would love to be a fly on the wall of her dining room when they had their rousing jigs!

Isla Isobel Keech (Bagnall) with Helen & Harold

Isla Isobel Keech (my Nanna Keech)born 1897 in Hazel Grove, Prince Edward Island. Married Harold Leroy Keech of Tamworth, Ontario.  Ate her apples right down to the core. Died in Huntsville, Ontario, 1988?  English.

Emily Jewer (Grandma Hart) in Newfoundland

Emily Jewer (my mother’s grandmother), Newfoundland. Never met her, though my mom remembers her Grandma Hart. My Uncle Cyril of Newfoundland just sent me a picture of her, with my “Poppy” Hart, and I believe, my mother Mary.

James Anderson & Mary Dickie Davidson, Scotland

Mary Dickie Davidson (mother of Matilda Kemp Anderson), Scotland. Married to Grandpa James Anderson of Scotland, who lived to 99, and died in Aviemore,  in the Highlands (up the A9). Beautiful church overlooking Loch Alvie. Visiting in 1999. Never met either unfortunately but had a great time with their offspring!

2d Great-Grandmothers

[Picture of Margaret Chambers]

Margaret Chambers born 1833 in Ballydugan, Warringstown, Tullyish Parish, Down, Ireland (one of my many planned visits!). Mother of my great grandfather, Lawrence E. Moore (roadmaster and cheesemaker of Haileybury), wife of my great-great grandfather, Reeve Thomas Moore, Esq of Maberly who lived nearby as she was growing up in Maberly). They had many children. After the sudden death of her husband Thomas and her older son William E. Moore (local merchant), she remarried the local Miller/Hotelkeeper, John Morrow of Maberly, where she died in 1897.  Pictures to come.

Ellen Ann Palmer

Ellen Ann Palmer (mother of Emma Bell Deacon). Married Ephriam Deacon, of Bolingbroke/Maberly. This is a  tintype found in a wooden frame, salvaged from her daughter Emma Bell Deacon (Moore)’s house in Kingston, Ontario.  Likely 1860s, at the age of 15 or so.  May have been a present to Ellen & Ephriam on their wedding day. The Palmers were English, though they married Northern Irish (British).  I have older pictures of her as well, with her family.

Emma Keech (Vannest)

Emma Vannest (mother of Harold Leroy Keech, wife of Hiram Keech of Tamworth.)  My grandmother Helen still calls her “Grandma Keech”, and my father remembers her at the end of her life.  She made the  most delicious pies that my Nanna Moore can still taste. Oh! She would exclaim. She describes her as fairly prim and proper, some called her “Lady Keech”. A true Victorian lady.  Her parents are James Vannest & Elizabeth Shannon – American/Dutch & Irish.

Margaret Jane Bagnall (MacMillan)

Margaret Jane Bagnall (MacMillan)

Margaret Jane MacMillan (mother of Isla Isobel Bagnall). Edmonton, Alberta. My grandmother Helen Moore loved her Grandma Bagnall when she was growing up. I have a feeling she spoiled her!

Sophia Ellen Gill (birth mother of Nathaniel Hart), Newfoundland (English). There’s a story there!

Charles Hart & Mary Ann Waterman, Botwood Nfld

Charles Hart and Mary Ann Waterman (adoptive parents of Nathaniel Bruce Gill/Hart),  Botwood.

Ann Phelan/WHELAN &
James “Jimmie” JEWER Jr.,
Botwood Nfld (1880s)

Anne Phelan/WHELAN (wife of James “Jimmie” JEWER, mother of Emily Jewer/Hart). Possible micmac roots? Investigation in progress.

Jane Angus (mother of Mary Dickie Davidson), Scotland.

3rd Great-Grandmothers

[Picture of Winnifred Stephens]

Winnifred Stephenswas born in Ireland (unknown), and married William Moore (also of Ireland). She had her first son Thomas Moore back home, and then travelled by ship to North America around 1829, landing eventually in Ontario. She and her husband settled a farm in Maberly, South Sherbrooke, Lanark County South, Ontario, on Conc. 10 Lot 14E, and after 1842 her husband died suddenly leaving her with an abundance of children and responsibility. She continued to farm as the “Widow Moore”, until she remarried in the 1860s and moved to Lampton with Thomas Garrett.  She returned by 1870s to Maberly, without him, where she died at the home of her son John Moore in 1874.  A hard life to begin, and to end, I am indebited to her for her bravery and resilience in raising all those children and bearing so much of the weight alone.  God knows what her life was before, but her story continues, as we prepare for the 200th anniversary of South Sherbrooke in 2016, honouring the pioneers who settled it, like my oldest known Irish matriarch, Winnifred Stephens (Moore).

Sarah Ann Harrison (mother of Margaret Chambers), Maberly, Ontario and Ireland.

Mary Harper  (mother of Ephraim Deacon)

Mary Ann Castle (mother of Ellen Ann Palmer)

Caroline Ann Thurston (mother of Hiram Keech)

Elizabeth Ann Shannon

Elizabeth Ann Shannon (mother of Emma Vannest), American/Irish. From Camden, Ontario. Elizabeth died young, cared for by her only daughter, Emma Vannest.  She lost two babies, who are buried in Tamworth with her.

Christiana Anderson (mother of George W. Bagnall)

Isabella McLeod (mother of Margaret Jane MacMillan)

Rebecca Warrick (mother of Charles Hart, believed to be natural father of Nathaniel Hart), Newfoundland.

Mary Dickie (mother of Jane Angus), Newfoundland.

Ellen Unknown Gill (mother of Sophia Ellen Gill), Newfoundland.

Ann Garland (mother of James Jewer), Newfoundland.

4th Great-Grandmothers

Elizabeth “Betsy” Card

Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Card (mother of Elisha Vannest), Likely Quaker.

Mary Margaret McGregor

Mary Margaret McGregor (mother of Elizabeth Ann Shannon)

(Possibly) Mary Jane (Robinson/Henderson). Mother of William Moore. Irish.

Unknown mother of Winnifred Stephens.

Susannah Chambers (mother of Moses Chambers). Ireland.

Unknown mother of Sarah Ann Harrison. Ireland.

Unknown mother of John Deacon, Ireland.

Mary Beaton (mother of Charles Beaton Gill), Newfoundland. b. abt. 1800 Exploits Burnt Island, Newfoundland, possible Mi’Kmaq, servant in Mr. PEYTON’s house along with the last BEOTHUK Indian of Newfoundland, Shanawdhidit (Nancy April) as per the book “RIVER LORDS” by Amy Louise Peyton. More to come!

Isobell Davidson (mother of Robert Davidson), Scotland.

Agnes Muccersie (mother of James Angus), Scotland.

5th Great-Grandmothers

Mary Ellen Boyle (mother of Mary Harper)

Unknown mother of James Palmer (father of Ellen Ann Palmer), Ireland.

Unknown mother of Mary Castle (mother of Ellen Ann Palmer), Ireland.

Eunice Gillett (mother of Barton R. Keech)

more….

6th Great-Grandmothers

Esther Hunter (mother of Eunice Gillett)

Matilda Unknown Thurston (mother of Caroline Ann Thurston)

Janet Sim (mother of William Davidson), Scotland.

more…

7th Great-Grandmothers

Elizabeth Ann Cantelo (mother of Edwin Cantelo Bagnall), England.

Margaret Mutch (mother of Robert MacMillan)

Elizabeth  Whitehouse (mother of John Richard Bagnall), England.

Mary Dix Salmon (mother of Elizabeth Ann Cantelo), England.

Sarah Unknown Bagnall (mother of Samuel E. Bagnall)

Elizabeth Taylor (yes!) (mother of James Cantelo), Isle of Wight, England

Mary Byerly (mother of John Cantelo),

Betty Bartlett (mother of Elizabeth Taylor), England.

Janet Hood (mother of Robert Davidson), Scotland.

8th Great-Grandmothers

Amy Hills (mother of James Cantelo sr.), England.

To be UPDATED continually. Not to be relied upon for accuracy. This is a family history document meant to honour those listed, not to provide accurate details for genealogical purposes.

Keeper of the Flame

I am cross-pollinating today… this is my blog re-posted from “Little Book of Miracles” which continues the story…

I am back from Kingston, home of my birth, and feeling quite reflective on what I found there…  Not only did I find my grandmother in a new hospital by the lake, doing relatively well (see Let Sleeping Lions Lie);  I found myself with my mother, and countless photos and letters dug up among boxes and boxes of stuff in my grandmother’s sun-porch…

In these boxes, we found my great-great grandparents Lawrence E. Moore and Emma Belle Deacon staring out from their front porch rockers in Haileybury…

…and their seven daughters (my great aunts), girls and women in tranquil Georgian-style dresses lounging on the front swing with flowers in their hair, or leaning with snowshoes and warm-mittened hands against the family’s seemingly chicken-wired fence;  my gr-great grandmother Emma standing solidly with her youngest one wrapped around her skirt, she looking quite tired but still strong in the heat of days… and another where she smiles brightly to camera, which delighted me beyond measure.

Moore women in Cobalt

These are The Moores I had always wanted to know: to play cards with at the dining room table (which is now in my mother’s dining room); to tell stories with, to laugh with…  I see Emma playing the  mouth organ (which is now in my grandmother’s hall closet); I hear their old Irish twang and crazy war-time songs (I shall never repeat them here – we were Protestant Northern Irish, if that says enough).

I feel I know them. I am bonded to them. I am proud to be one of them. I see myself in their tall languid frames, the way they hold their hands, tilt their heads, play to camera. The Moore Women.

I am a part of a long, and timeless heritage of self-assured women. Of strength. Of beauty. And of rebuilding. Death after death has taken them. But their faces tell me another story; they are still here, in my blood and in those whom I love now.

My grandmother had protected and shielded these treasures for years and years. She didn’t have the heart to go through them, or dispose of anything. I’m glad she didn’t. I’m glad I had the opportunity with my mother to get on my hands and knees and know this family I inherited.

The details won’t matter so much. The garbage bins will go out; the trinkets will disappear. But their eyes, their hands, their laughter and their tears will never go out in me.

Me in my red boots in Nanna’s backyard

 I am blessed to be here, the Keeper of the Flame.

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Mirror Up to Nature

There is so much to contemplate lately, I hardly know where to begin!  It started, let’s say, with a visit to Picton last week. Harmless enough. I was going to a talk given by a professor, Dr. David Warrick, on one of my ancestors, Dr. Thomas Moore, who lived in Picton over 150 years ago – along with a young wannabe lawyer of 19, John A. MacDonald (before the “Sir”).

Dr. Warrick would be uncovering the history-making first trial of Sir John A. MacDonald in Picton in 1834, in this public lecture on April 20, 2011, followed by a paper he intends to publish by the University of Toronto press in 2012. The MacDonald project, of which he is the chair, intends to erect a bronze sculpture (created by the noted sculptress Ruth Abernethy) of Sir John A. MacDonald at the age of 19, in front of the very courthouse this historic event took place.

In a previous post I told you that my great grand-uncle, Dr. Thomas Moore of Picton, was accused of punching Sir John A. in the nose.  Well, the two men went to trial, and Dr. Moore, my noble ancestor, lost, at a cost of six shillings.  I thought it a charming story. No shame to me, certainly.  No shame to him, either. He continued to be a great doctor in town for 44 years, and, well, Sir John A. went on to be the first Prime Minister of Canada. No harm done.

So what does it all mean? I ask. Why do we eat it up like candy, the stories of our past? Why do we delve into history books (at least the people reading this blog who have an interest in such things, a passion, even)?  I am not a scholar of history. I studied literature.  But whether the particulars are true or untrue, isn’t there some form of resonance that catches us and stirs us to know more?  When we look beyond the facts, the fiction, do we not see ourselves?  As Shakespeare reminds in Hamlet, the job of a good story, or player is to “hold a mirror up to nature”.  And our job then, as audience or reader is to ask, who are we in this?

Why do I look at my ancestor’s past? Why do I reflect on my own past? Am I stuck? Can I not inhabit the present or future? Am I afraid?  No. I’m not afraid. Not anymore. I see more of myself in all of these things than I ever did. I see the hero and heroine, I see the scoundrel and the dummy, I see the nobleman, and the peasant trying to make a living. I see all of it in my own flesh, in my history. And yet, here I am now, breathing and living it all, remembering and dreaming of more.  Beginnings and endings, never-ending.

So, what did I learn from this? Well, I’m tantalized as always by a good story that I can relate to, personalize, live. And, I create the story by my living:  I can invent. I can forgive. I can change things around. I can create something new. I can go back and reconsider. I can ask new questions. I can pull things once lost together. I can do anything I want to!

“You can’t go back”, they say. Oh yes you can! Because time does not exist. And if you want to get your “puzzler” going, just think of Einstein. Or fractal geometry. The self-same patterns just keep going and going. Beautiful infinite and timeless, turning in on themselves and ever-expanding. Self-reflecting. Oh yes, how far can you go?!

I could go on forever considering these things. As I look backward and forward and at the very beginning of everything. I could go in leaps and bounds and never stop questioning. Never stop dreaming. Never stop launching into and including, sweeping up all the forgotten pieces into one great whole.

Oh yes, I could get quite philosophical on you. But I don’t want to scare you off.  So I’ll just say, there’s more to the story than what you see. So ask!  What does this have to do with me? How can I live more of this now? How can I make this even better than before? How can I look back as if into a mirror, and then create a great prism where everything is reflected more and more? You want to live forever? Just think about that.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  Life. Never-ending. Charming. Intelligent. Infinite. Life.


We thoroughly enjoyed the evening at Dr. Warrick’s lecture, and how generously Dr. Warrick portrayed my ancestor and Sir John A. as two very prominent and upstanding (though temperamental) citizens in the community of Picton.  I also enjoyed playing the “naughty Moore” for the evening, allowing myself to encompass a little piece of history in my genes and in my demeanor.  After being invited back to Dr. Warrick’s lovely home and having a toast to the ancestors and to those present, Dr. Warrick pointed out a special keepsake in the corner of the living room that they intended to auction off for the cause:  a simple wooden chair apparently owned and used by  Sir John A. MacDonald. Before I left, I couldn’t resist playing my part to the fullest, having the honour (and gumption) to place my saucy behind on Sir John A.’s chair.  Finally, a Moore and a MacDonald meet again! And that, as they say, is history!

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Historical Matters: Famous Moore Clash with Sir John A MacDonald

Sir John A MacDonald – 1st Prime Minister of Canada


What is the term for the expression, “famous by association”? Well, that is what has happened to me in my pursuit of my family history.  Little did I know that a prominent scholar would contact me about a relative of mine and his association with a famous Canadian, Sir John A MacDonald.  Well, I can’t tell you the details – yet – I posted some earlier, as I promised the fellow that I would keep  my trap shut.

But what I wanted to say was sometimes history does matter. And sometimes shedding light on it in the present can turn the facts into fiction, or fiction into facts.   These links to the past, sometimes glorious, sometimes downright embarrassing, can illuminate our origins and why we think, feel (or vote) the way we do. The hand-me-downs of the past include beliefs engrained in our ancestor’s lives, often political, religious; even prejudices.

The said historian was surprised that another source of his on the case was angered by his questioning of her family’s illustrious past.  She was frightened, likely, that he might shed some light on it, and shake the firmament of family legend and her own belief systems thereby.  But why not?

Often those who have not done for themselves rely on legend to tell their own stories. And I am guilty of that. Again, why not?  Are we really the sum of our family/nation/creed’s stories? Or are we searching for meaning within ourselves through connection to our rich past?

These are a lot of questions without answers, I’m afraid. But I admit to the crime of loving to hear about it. Tell me all about what so-and-so did in 1834, the court case fight, the tavern brawl, as well as the mighty things they did to build this country and put bread on the table. I love it all. I am guilty as charged for loving my family history and riding on its coat-tails all the way.  Why not tell the world how you (your family) had a hand in building one of the greatest nations in the world (Yes, I speak of Canada)? And yes, they were human too, with mistakes (and scars) to boot.  Even these are fascinating fodder for our lives.

I’m just like them. Infamous – or famous – by association. Sometimes visibly, and sometimes quietly living a life of extraordinary measure.  I have my own stories too. Undocumented at times. And Unapologetic. And I can’t wait to write my way to the finish line. Or by-line.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

– Helen Keller

Living history – or making it – is far more satisfying, but resurrecting one can be just as much fun.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Captive Audience

This past weekend I had the pleasure of sitting with my father in his ravine-side gazebo overlooking a canopy of trees, with tea in hand, and many folders full of material from our family history.  I had never sat with him before in this manner or read to him aloud.  It was “very Chekov”, a friend of mine pointed out.  I thought it was sublime.

On one of his birthdays past, I gave him a family history with all of the information in it, including a picture of his great grandfather. It did not seem to spark his interest.  Something was missing in my pursuit to inspire him, or hook him, into the past as I had been many years before. I lacked the confidence to convey to him the importance of it to me, or to engage him in a way that he could understand.

This time was different.  I had collected some new facts, and found a nugget that really interested him.  Our grandfather was a Reeve and owned his own land.  He had many properties.  My dad smiled at me as I read aloud, himself a business man with property.  He challenged me on a couple of things.  His questions peaked my interest and we sparred over whether or not such and such was true or not, or if we were related to so and so at all.  I believed we were, which fascinated him more. As he lay there on his lounger, head leaning back, eyes closed, I thought he fell asleep, only to arise with another question, “Do you think they were drinkers?”  I laughed out loud.

And…

“When are you going to find out more?”

I smiled. He was hooked.

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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