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

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Moore & MacDonald Reunite

Recent Update to last week’s post Let Sleeping Lions Lie:  My grandmother Moore, who started this whole family history fascination with me was in the hospital in Kingston last week. At the age of 93 I thought that was it. But no, she has chosen to rehabilitate, and has just been moved to a beautiful facility on Lake Ontario, where she is enjoying her new view – overlooking…. the house of….  Sir John A MacDonald!

Sir John A

Moore & MacDonald come to blows!

        For those who missed the first post on how the Moores are connected with Sir John A, read this.

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!

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.