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.

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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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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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Playing What If…

What if that one event we thought so pivotal to our life never happened?…

After watching Shrek Forever After today, I had to wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t taken with my husband or moved close to the city.  I would not have become an actor when I did, I would not have joined a band (certainly not), I would not have had my daughter; nor would I live in this house, care one bit about gardening and keeping up with the weeds, or what schools to go to.

Then I look at the events in my family history, each ancestor’s life merely a time-line to me.  And I wonder, what don’t I know?  Why did this person do such and such?  Why did they marry this person and not that person?  What if they hadn’t?  And here I am, in the present, a live vestige of their every decision, now making my own decisions that will affect the lives of everyone around me.  What if I weren’t here?

Everybody wonders that at some point.  But this has come alive for me in the context of sorting my family history, and my life, all at once.  In the papers of old, I have asked myself where do I fit in, do I matter in this infinite time-line of events?  What difference do I make?

Maybe I am being hard on myself.  But I didn’t punch Sir John A. MacDonald in the nose, or build a railroad (my great grand-uncle did).  I didn’t leave my native Ireland and start all over again (my forefathers did).  Or did I?  In some small way, did I not leave my own native country – my childhood, the little city I called home, my family of origin?  I left all of that behind to go to university, earn a living in the big city, incite a passion long wanted, and eventually have a family of my own.  We all make choices and take leaps in our own way.  We all have our stories.

But what if we hadn’t?  This is not a question for regret, but for appreciation.  No matter how ugly it gets, there is benefit.  There is something or someone who wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for you.  You may not know it yet, but 50 or even 100 years from now, when someone is fishing through your papers or photo album, or remembering something you had said, they will be happy you were here.  They will be grateful that you did what you did, even if it was to give them something to write about!

One more thing:  And this is sentimental.  Since doing a time-line of my family of yesteryear, I decided to do one for myself.  Looking at the events of my life, I see not much at all.  Yet knowing myself and my life as I do, and how rich it really is, I have to realize that my approach to my family’s history (and the perspective of my life) has been very, very thin.  Amidst all of those dates – births, marriages and deaths – and great escapes – was a life, many lives, intertwined.  And what were they intertwined for?  Love, hatred, war, forgiveness, personal battles, contentment, building a home, building a country, building a Life.  In between all of the things I thought were important, the signposts and milestones we may consider noteworthy, a real live person breathed.  A real live person kissed their husband for the first time.  A real live person lost their innocent child and grieved.

There is so much more to family history than names and dates.  And, so much more to my life than meeting deadlines or phantom expectations.  If only I realized now what I have already done is build an incredible life – not only noteworthy, but rich with possibility and creativity, with people I have loved and lost along the way, yet all in the very same boat with me.  And a generation to come, or two, may not know or care, but I do.  I will never know all of the people I affected along the way, or what ripples I made – all I know is, like Shrek, I am very glad it did.

Published in: on May 23, 2010 at 1:40 am  Comments (1)  
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Why Research My Family History?

Sometimes I wonder if I escape to the past to discover my ancestors when I am feeling the most lost in my own life.  Is that such a bad thing?  In the absence of elders, in the absence of a community that we once felt vital to our existence, tribal even, we create our own connections across the cosmos – sometimes virtual, sometimes spiritual, and sometimes ancestral.  These connections are vital, though the people may be dead.  It is my belief that they do live on in us, and that they fashion our existence out of their own.  Their dreams and wishes become our own, remodeled for the 21st century.  There really is no difference between us – only flesh and mortar.  The building blocks change.  The desire to change does not.

Why research my family tree right now, in the middle of everything else a  “suburban” wife, mother and creator needs to do:  Make lunches, pack bags, walk the dog, kiss the kids goodnight, connect with my spouse…  Not to mention the other things:  goals and passions, work-related material, new business ventures, mistakes, travels, wonder, newness.  Why invite the old into something so vitally new and different and now?  Why invite question into what is already so questionable?

Perhaps we invite our families in, past and present, because those questions invite real answers.  Though everything else, the present and the future, remain quite uncertain, the past invites reflection, comfort and meaning, and gives us a sense that we are not alone – that we are well connected to our roots, and that we can yet blossom to fully aware and alive human beings.  This tree is good.  This tree is where we are standing, and everything that came before us stems out beyond us in every direction.  No wonder we feel overwhelmed!  But, what a blessing.

I have been tracing my family tree with my grandmother for about 20 years now.  It has been a great blessing to connect with her and see her as a little girl, a mother, a wife and even a confused human being, just like me.  With all her aches and pains she doesn’t complain much. She is just happy to share her story, and share in the adventure of learning where we come from and who our ancestors were.  She is one of mine, though we may not think of it that way, because I know she will not be here forever.  She is 92. I may be able to call her next week, now, but it will not always be the case.

I have spent most of my time with my grandmother recording her, transcribing, writing furiously, shuffling through photos, videotaping and asking questions.  Just in case.  That may seem morbid, but this is the way stories are passed down – oral histories are rare, and so it is my job to capture them in any way possible.  Modern technology is a genius.  Once the role only of  mothers and grandmothers, now we are all collective storytellers, creators and communicators – “Skyping” and “tweeting” across the globe our own life history. Why not include those who traveled before us and make it a family history?

Even in the movie Avatar, the ancestral tree was the most sacred.  Though the villagers were seen by modern audiences as more advanced in some ways – in their understanding of their interconnectedness to all things – they would still visit the dangling limbs of the ancestral tree, lit with the intelligence and whisperings of their ancestors.  This was their home. Their adventure. Their playing ground.  They were not going “back”, they were going forward.   Perhaps that is what I am doing too.

Ancestors, whisper to me, and take me home.

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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