Remembering Lorna Wright

Remembering Lorna Wright

2018 was a very long, tiring and extremely difficult year for our family.

I wouldn’t want to go into too much detail about the specifics, but I felt that I wanted to share something today. Especially today.

We lost our Mom/Grandma on December 26th, 2018.

Lorna Evelynne Rodger was born in Toronto, Ontario on the 29th of March 1945 to Robert Ramsay Rodger and Norma Evelyne Carr. She was their second child and only daughter. Something tells me that Lorna must have been a feisty and determined child. She openly admitted that she and her mother did not always see eye to eye.

She and my father-in-law were married at a young age (19 & 20 respectively). Together they had 4 children (the second eldest being my husband).

Grandma had a liver transplant back in 1999 and I believe had just passed her 20th “transplant-iversary”. If that fact alone isn’t a sign of her strong will and stubbornness I don’t know what is. For obvious reasons she was very passionate about organ donation. I think it’s appropriate to include links where, if you so choose, you can find out more information about organ donation in Canada and the USA.

Don’t take your organs to Heaven, Heaven knows we need them here.

Lorna was unlike any woman I had ever met. She was fiercely determined, which was quite helpful if you ever found yourself in need of an advocate for any reason – she would be the one I would want on my side. I wouldn’t want to argue with her mind you (this is my polite way of saying that she could be quite difficult).

Back in 1995 when we first took the drive out to Ontario to “meet the parents” as it were, my boyfriend/future-hubby told me with no uncertain terms to mentally prepare myself. He told me “She won’t like you, she hasn’t liked anyone.” Gulp. I am very happy to say that we got along quite well, even if we didn’t see eye to eye on every single thing, we found that we had a lot in common.

She adored her 6 grandchildren. Often spoiling them with gifts, oh boy did she did like to shop! Thinking about it terms of the “5 Love Languages” hers would most certainly be “Gift Giving”.

Looking back, I think that if we lived closer I would have spent quite a lot of time having tea on the terrace with my mother-in-law, perhaps while reading a magazine or a cookbook from her vast collection. In fact a lot of our family vacations over the last 25 years have been just that, trips to Toronto which always included some special homemade popcorn (secret recipe) and of course our ritual of swooning over Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing together.

She’s been on my mind a lot lately, maybe because we’re coming up on a year since she passed away (although she had been unwell for some time). Alzheimer’s/Dementia can be a very difficult thing to deal with for a family. To be honest I’m not sure we handled it in the best way possible, it was THE most difficult time, especially when your loved one refuses the help.

We knew with confidence that our hearts were in the right place – mostly wanting her to be safe, keep her dignity and to make sure that she would be receiving the proper care that she needed all the while trying to keep our sanity and our marriage, run a business and a household, have a guest in our house for 3 months, a surgery and time to grieve our mom’s illness and eventual loss. Hey, let’s throw a couple of struggling teenagers into the mix. Sure, why not. It was an emotionally trying time for all of us. Everyone in the family struggled.

When I look back, I think I’m most proud (and I think Mom would have been as well) that when we all got together at the end of December for her service there was plenty of love, there were plenty of tears, there was connection, there was laughter and there was a start to the healing process.

On the plane ride home I was reading “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown. One quote really got me. These difficult stories are part of us.

It is my opinion that things do not get better by not talking about them, but I can respect that not everyone feels the same. You need to do what’s best for yourself to heal. We don’t need to dwell. We don’t need to re-hash every conversation. But we do need to stick together as a family in these difficult times, that’s what a family is for isn’t it? The people who will love you at your very best and your very worst? Flaws and all. We all have good days and bad. The things that we say that hurt each other – well, they wouldn’t hurt so bad if we didn’t care…but in the end there is an abundance of love. There is family.

Time heals. So, I am finding that as time passes it is often the little things throughout my day that can bring the memories flooding in. As time ticks along I remember that healing is a process and that you can’t fit it into a perfect time frame. Or expect another person to deal with it the same way you would. I have spent a lot of time sifting through the memories and I make a conscious effort to focus my energy on the good stuff.

I love you Lorna.

Anytime I walk past someone who is wearing “Estee Lauder – Beautiful” perfume OR when I hear a song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack OR anytime I find myself looking through a new cookbook at Chapter’s or Costco.

Newsflash – Lorna was not a perfect person (who is? certainly NOT me) but she was/is family, one of my bonus moms and I sincerely hope that the message that comes through here on this rambling blog post is one of love. Now please excuse me while I go indulge in some Dad’s oatmeal cookies and some tea in a proper china tea cup.

David Wright 1831-1902

David Wright 1831-1902

The David Wright I am researching lately was born in Troy, New York, USA in 1831 on April 30th. He is my husband’s 3x Great-Grandfather. There are several David Wrights in his family!

At some point we know that this particular David Wright immigrated to Canada, more specifically into the Egremont, Ontario area. When I googled the township of Egremont, I came across a website called www.southgate.ca that explains the history of the area. It seems that the main migration of settlers to Egremont began in 1850.

I was able to find an interactive map on this website here.

Searchable County Atlases available on McGill’s website

When you click on the Search button you can choose between searching “Maps” or “People.” I searched for a map of the Grey County area, specifically the Egremont Township. From there I was able to search a database of the landholders.

Township of Egremont c 1880

Bingo!! There is a record of D.Wright – 100 acres

Full Record for Wright, David

I can confirm that this is the right David Wright because my dates and nativity match up. In 1880, the date of this map, he would have been 49 years old and I now have the year he settled in the area, 1845. That would make him 14 years old at the time. So, to me it only makes sense that that would be the year that his whole family came to Canada.

In the 1851 Census of Egremont, Grey County below, we can see all the Wright family members who settled in the area. On line number 18 we see David Wright – farmer – born in the United States – age 21 at the time of the Census. John and Sophia Wright (Line 15 & 16) are his parents and my husband’s 4x Great-Grandparents.

Year: 1851; Census Place: Egremont, Grey County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11723; Page: 19; Line: 19

My next questions then are how and why did they all come up to Canada?

On Newspapers.com I searched New York newspapers from the era and found the following items from the Buffalo Gazette in 1843. Have a look. I think we can find some answers here…

I can only assume that the family saw an advertisement such as this one above in a newspaper back in their day and followed the trail and promise of land up to Canada.

A few years later, in 1853 David Wright, now 22 years old, married Susanna Foster age 16 and by the end of October of that same year, their first child William Wright was born. I have a 16 year old in the house and I can’t even imagine – 16 and married with a child on the way! The Wright family had many children together over the next several years.

Source : Ancestry and Find A Grave

David Wright passed away on January 8th 1902 at the age of 70 in Egremont, Ontario. Up until yesterday, I had not been able to find the exact burial location. Then I did some more searching and found that the Wellington County Museum and Archives has a collection of Mount Forest newspapers from that time period. I searched around the date that I know David Wright passed away and found this article below.

It reads “An old and highly respected resident of Egremont, near town, passed away Wednesday morning, just after midnight, in the person of Mr. David Wright. He was in his 71st year and came to Mount Forest when this place was only a few houses in the bush. After living a while in other places in this immediate neighbourhood, he settled on the farm in the 5th concession of Egremont where he died. His death was due to asthma with which he had been a sufferer for many years. He leaves a widow and family of four sons and four daughters, all of whom reside in Muskoka excepting one son, Thos., on the homestead and two daughters Mrs. Wade of Conn. and Miss Wright at home. One brother Thomas in Bracebridge and one sister Mrs. Thos. Gardiner of Clifford also survive him. He was a kind parent and a good neighbour whose death will be mourned by all who knew him. The funeral is to take place to-morrow (Friday) at 2:30 pm from his late residence to the Mount Forest cemetery.”

So obviously Mount Forest is on the Ancestry Travel Bucket List…

Irish Roots

Irish Roots

Here’s my story about how I found “our” Irish Roots.

I had been researching my husband’s family tree for some time when I finally made an exciting break through. As far as I know, my Father-in-law did not know his grandparents. So, he didn’t have much of an idea of where they came from originally. So it was pretty thrilling when I found a direct connection to his Immigrant Ancestor from Ireland. Both my husband and his dad were surprised to hear that they are indeed Irish.

The first clue that I came across proving his Irish descent was on an 1881 Canadian Census record that I found on Ancestry.com. I was able to attach it to my husband’s 2x Great-Grandfather, William Wright. You can read more about William Wright on my previous post here.

In the screenshot below, William is listed on the census with his wife, Elizabeth Quirt and their son, David Arthur Wright.

Wright, William (age 27) Methodist. Irish. Blacksmith.

From that clue I was able to trace the line back to his father (yet another David Wright) and his father before him…John Wright, who was born December 24th in the year 1796. This would be my husband’s 4 x Great-Grandfather.

Finally I had a record of immigration from Sligo, Ireland. Here’s the kicker… I seem to have misplaced that record. I know for certain that I had it saved on Ancestry and now as it is with Ancestry sometimes… poof!! It’s gone. So frustrating!!

It just goes to show that you should always print or save copies of what you find. Record your sources. I’m not sure why that record would just disappear but I am positive that I saw it. I wouldn’t have just came up with the name Sligo.

So, my next question that I need answered is this… Is John Wright actually from Sligo? Or is that just the port that the ship departed from? How and where do I continue with this search? Out of desperation I tried Google.

I was able to find some reference to Irish Immigration to the USA on Olive Tree Genealogy. This is a great website!! I found reference to John Wright aboard the Brig Juno from Sligo and now I had a date! He arrived in the port of New York on August 16th 1816. From there I found a clipping from the Irish-American newspaper “The Shamrock” dated August 17th, 1816.

So there he is… John Wright arriving in New York City on board the sloop MacDonough from New London, CT having been transferred there from the brig Juno from Sligo, Ireland ! I know that this is our John Wright because the dates all match up… at the time he would have been 19 years old and we find him 7 years later (1823) still in New York, marrying Sophia Draper. They had several children together before immigrating to Canada.

As it is with genealogy sometimes, I now find myself with even more questions than when I began… who is Mariam Wright? Who is Jane Wright? My assumption is that they must be sisters or perhaps a mother and a sister? It sure would be helpful if they had recorded ages on the passenger lists! There was also another “Wright” on the ship, a James Wright, but he is listed as coming from Newtownstewart, Ireland which is approximately 100 km from Sligo. Could he be a relative as well? Is it just a mere coincidence that John and Sophia’s first born child was also named James Wright? Or one of their daughter’s Jane Wright??? More research is obviously needed. Does anybody have any suggestions for me??? Perhaps a trip to Ireland is in our future!!

I am also curious as to what prompted the voyage to America? Why did so many young Irish men and women make the 56 day long journey across the Atlantic?


Screenshot from http://www.datesandevents.org

I clearly have so much more to learn. For now John Wright is my “brick wall” in the Wright Family Tree. So if anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear from you!!

John and Sophia Wright are buried at Pioneer Cemetery in the Mount Forest area of Ontario, Canada. One day I hope to get there and pay our respects for their long journey that led us here to Canada.

William Wright MP

William Wright MP

This is my husband’s 2x Great Grandfather. His name is William Wright. He was born on October 29, 1853 in Egremont, Ontario (in Grey County). His parents were David Wright and Susannah Foster. From what I can see his mom was only 17 years old when she had him, his father 22. It seems to me like he was the eldest of 12 children!!?!!

One thing that was really interesting for us to note is that his father is listed as Irish. This was news to us at the time we discovered William Wright, because we had no idea the Wright family came from Ireland! If we were needing another reason to drink green beer and celebrate St.Patty’s Day…we had just found it. Yes!!

William Wright, MP

He made his living carriage making and general blacksmithing for many years. He then ran a grocery business on the northeast corner of Main and West Streets in Huntsville, Ontario.

1895 Huntsville Forester Newspaper Clipping

He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Quirt lived their in their home on Lorne Street. We had a chance to visit Huntsville a couple of years ago, so of course we went to see the house…which has a lovely plaque with his name displayed.

Heritage Huntsville

William Wright, I’ve learned was a Member of Parliament from the Muskoka region who was elected into office in 1904, he won re-election in 1908 & 1911. According to his profile on the Parliament of Canada website, he served for 4,792 days (13 years, 1 month, 14 days). He also has a Wikipedia page click here to see it.

Another clipping from the Huntsville Forester Newspaper

William and Mary had four children. David Arthur Wright born 1879 (my husband’s Great-Grandfather), Edith May Wright born 1887, Mary Elizabeth Wright born 1892 and Sara Eveline Zada Wright born 1896.

William Wright passed away January 4th 1926 and is buried with his beloved wife in Huntsville, Ontario at the Locks Cemetery.

I’m Becoming Convinced That We Are All Connected…

I’m Becoming Convinced That We Are All Connected…

There have been a couple of crazy coincidences that I have come across in my years of tracing my family’s history. In time I would love to share all of them…just because they are so random…but for now, check this out!

Random Connection Story # 1

A couple of years back I was telling one of my very good friends about my obsession with ancestry. I asked her at the time if she wanted me to search her history and see what I could find out for her. (She does, by the way, have a super cool story in her past with relatives from Portugal, Iceland and France – including a well known Fur Trader in the 1600’s named Jacques Hertel)… Anyhow, she was talking to a cousin, who then contacted me to look into her tree. What I found out sure took me by surprise!!!

Here’s what I came across. This picture…(from the early 1900’s).

William Wright, Mary and Matthew Wardell (Huntsville, Ontario)

On the left, you will see MY husband’s 2x Great Grandfather, William Wright and on the right you will see her 3rd Great Uncle,  Matthew Wardell… who both lived in Huntsville, Ontario and were very close friends… WHAT?! What are the chances?! Here I was searching the family tree of my friends’ cousin… I did not anticipate finding a picture of our relatives, together…A good 100 years back and 4,000 km away from us.

Above is a picture of Matthew Wardell’s store. As of yet, I have not been able to find a picture of William Wright’s store, I do know that it was on the northeast corner of Main and West Streets in Huntsville, Ontario. So, if anyone has one kicking around…I’d appreciate it!! Thanks.