Uncle Francis Stockley

And the Story of Wife Joane testifying in court.

Tobacco Barn watercolor by Wendy Harty Sept. 2021

Uncle Francis was mentioned numerous times in my blog, “One of Mine Was at Jamestown, Virginia” Research was done by Marilyn Blanck using Genealogy and History of the Eastern Shore of Virginia which I accessed. She thinks there were three Stockley Brothers, my John, Uncle Francis and another named Woodman Stockley. Woodman lived in St. Mary’s County, Maryland and was a prominent Puritan. It is proven that this Woodman Stockley arrived in Maryland with his wife, son James and three servants in 1652. The Stockley brothers, John and Francis were in Accomack/Northampton County by 1634-36. Since the name Woodman was used by these Stockley’s is there a relationship? And this is where Woodman (my 7th great grandfather) and two brothers took the cows given to them in their father’s John Stockley’s will.

Uncle Francis Stockley has a bill of sale of land on Nov 3, 1634 in Accomack County (now Northampton). The Virginian Land Patent Book says Francis Stockley was granted 50 acres in Accomack County December 22, 1636. I love the visual location: SE by S on the old plantation creek, NW by N into the woods, westerly on Henry Williams an easterly on the creek. For transfer of one servant Francis Jarvis. He later sold this land. This patent was his first grant for transporting another person to America. In 1639, Francis acquired 200 acres, called Milford, on the seaside of the peninsula in the Dunn and Mill Creek area, on Old Plantation Creek. Here he made his home. Francis died about 1655 in Northampton Co. Virginia, his will being dated December 12, 1655 and recorded on Jan 28, 1656. Witnessed by William Gelding, William Ennis and his brother, John Stockley.

Wills are great records to glean children’s names and ownership. Francis’s reads: To wife, not named, 3 cows and 4 steares, plus all the moveables; to Daughter Ann Stockley, 2 cows and 2 steares; To son, John Stockley, 3 cows, two steares, and my gun; To daughters Frances and Ann – a bed apiece; To wife, the best bed, curtains and valance; to godson, Francis Willyams, a calf; The cow my brother, John, owes me – bequeathed to his son, William; to my wife, all my movables and things belonging to me.

Research found me Francis’s wife’s name of Joane Hall. It seems she was an indentured servant paying off her passage. She made an interesting appearance in Northampton County Court, September 20, 1642. Under oath she told that three years ago, (1639), Roger Moye, drunk at the time, had accused four people of killing a hog, and told Mrs. Burdett (now deceased), that four of her servants had killed a hog and roasted it at the creek side; at this time Ann, the wife of Roger Noye, was asleep. In the morning when Anne awoke, Joane (now Joane Stockley) told Anne that “your husband told my mistress that four of her men had killed a hog and roasted it by the Creek side,” Mistress Anne (Mrs. Moye) said she knew nothing about this and questioned her husband. He threatened that he would “run a knife through her” if she contradicted him. Two or three days later Anne and Roger Moye went into the woods and when they came home Joane asked what he had said to her. Anne Moye stated, “Didn’t you hear me cry? Roger swore that he will kill me if I saye not as hee sayth.” Statement signed by Joane with a mark. Continual abuse was not a plea in self defense. The story ends with Mrs. Moye and William Vincent in jail and referred to as ‘condemned prisoners”. In 1646 Roger Moye was murthered. The report sounds like Anne had endured as much as possible and did him in with the help of Mr. Vincent. Joane must have been working off her transportation with Mrs. Burdett. When her indenture was finished she married Uncle Francis Stockley. After Joane’s husband, Uncle Francis died she remarried William Custis, who was sheriff of Accomack County. Uncle Francis’s daughters both raised families in Accomack and received land from William Custis. Of the three children of Francis and Joane Stockley, John married and called his son John and had 370 acres called “Dune” and died in 1713, Frances married Edward Sacker, and Ann married Thomas Bagwell son of Henry Bagwell of the Jamestown Colony, whose story will become important to the next generation of Stockley siblings. Thomas and Ann Stockley Bagwell named their sons, Francis and John. The Stockley family certainly used the names of Francis and John and Woodman to name their children.

Elizabeth Woodman Stockley

Many States into One Nation Series

Corn sketch by Wendy Harty August 2021

My 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Woodman Stockley crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England. Elizabeth was living in an outpost on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay by 1621 near the fort called Jamestown. The sun had only been up a few hours and she nursed her nearly one year son, John Francis Stockley. His older brother Francis played at her feet. The whole town was on guard having been alerted by a native informant but, seven miles away in the Martin’s Hundred Plantation hundreds of Powhatan warriors attacked the English colonists in what she now called home, Virginia. On March 22, 1622, Elizabeth saw the smoke as settlements along the James River were burned in a sudden and fierce attack. Elizabeth learned of her twenty female neighbors who were abducted after witnessing the violent deaths of neighbors and loved ones.

Some of these neighbors had recently arrived, brought over by the Virginia Company of London to establish a Protestant English Colony. They hadn’t had an easy time of it. They were weakened by disease, malnutrition, poor organization and no knowledge of their new environment and the settlement was a disaster. By nightfall less than 150 remained alive.

Elizabeth married to John Stockley heard the story when she arrived how peace was obtained after the chief’s daughter Pocahontas had been abducted and married the white planter Rolfe Those who had been enemies enjoyed a cordial relationship. However, more settlers had poured in, carving up the land into tobacco plantations, driving away the animals from the hunting grounds of the natives and destroying a centuries old way of life. The natives wanted to rid their lands of the invaders. They surprised the settlers, burned houses, killed livestock, and mutilated the dead and dying before fleeing, that day in March.

The whole settlement was melancholic; the colonists that survived were dazed and despairing. Everyone was struggling to survive. Some of the other settlements were abandoned but England continued to send a new supply of people. 1/6 of the entire Virginian colony had been wiped out in a single day.

The men were divided, but colony officials felt that attacking took precedence over saving English prisoners. One year later, Elizabeth looked up and saw a bewildering sight. She gazed upon an English woman dressed in attire, with native pearl necklaces, copper medallions, dressed in furs and feathers, and dyed red deerskin. Mistress Boyce, once a captive of Opechancanough was being returned when the chief desired a truce, saying enough blood had been shed on both sides.

The Powhatans were allowed to plant corn the next spring however, the truce was never intended to be honored by the Virginians. Captain William Tucker and his force of musketeers in May, 1623 met to negotiate the release of the other captives. The natives were given poisoned wine prepared by the resident physician who would become governor, Dr. John Pott. Many died or were shot. The chief escaped and so did the hopes of the captured women. Until November, the colonists kept striking them and the abundant harvest of corn was taken by the Englishmen for their profit. The Powhatan Uprising of 1622 paid a high price, but so did the colony that had become a crude, crueler place than before. A few powerful men thoroughly dominated affairs of the colony politically, economically and militarily.

Dr. Potts ransomed Jane Dickenson and other women by trading beads for them. Jane owed the Doctor a debt of labor for her ransom and three more years of service that her deceased husband had left on his contract of servitude for his passage. She petitioned the court in March 1624 for release from what she considered her “new slavery” with Dr. Pott.

Elizabeth named her third son Woodman in 1624, her maiden name. Francis, John and Woodman grew up and while was Woodman was quiet, Francis and John had many court cases against them. The Anglican Church was the only one recognized and had strict rules. There were fines for not attending. John was called before the grand jury of Virginia in Accomack Co. for violating laws of “failing to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy”. His accuser was John Stratton whose testimony said John talked and made loud noise at the service. On December 20, 1643 John and Francis were fined for “profaning God’s name”. As the boys matured all three married. Francis and John Stockley the oldest travelled back and forth the Atlantic Ocean, transporting people to the colony. Elizabeth heard their tales of 1635; they boarded the ship “Two Brothers” which took them to Jamaica then they arrived back at Accomack. As young men in London, they found it congested, busy, loud, and rank. The babble rose from the vendors hawking their wares but in the taverns they found men willing to take on servitude to travel to the New World. The early seventeenth century had the colonies becoming more viable and the brothers were granted land for privately organizing the movements of those willing to relocate. In 1635, some whether reluctantly or enthusiastically boarded the ships for an adventure, even some prisoners were ordered overseas, to become indentured laborers. The boys talked of trepidation of the hazards of the voyage, fair winds and ballast. “The hurricane struck and they saw the rocks of death before them, the sails torn into rotten rags; and God turned the wind”, they told Elizabeth. The boys were accumulating land for their transporting.

My Uncle Francis Stockley, obtained 50 acres in the County of Accomack at old Plantation Creek, adjoining the land of Henry Williams, due for transporting of one servant, Francis Jarvis, Dec 22, 1636. Francis was a valuable asset to the colony, settled at Dunn and Mill Creek, on Old Plantation Creek and married Joan Hall and gave Elizabeth grandchildren. His will dated Dec 12, 1654 was proven Jan 28, 1655 gives to his wife (not named) 3 cows and 4 steeres, to daughter Ann Stockley 2 cow and 3 steeres, to son, John 3 cows 2 steeres and my gun, to daughters Frances and Ann a bed apiece, to wife the best bed, curtains and valance, to godson Francis Willyams, a calf, the cow my brother, John, owes me – bequeathed to his son William to my wife all my movables and things belonging to me.

8th Grandfather John Stockley married Elizabeth Watkins in 1648. He was granted acres based on transport of people and in 1672 he bought 500 acres from Colonel William Kendall. He wrote his will in Feb 3, 1670 codicil Apr 9, 1673 and probated Aug 18, 1873. His plantation at Assawoman, 2700 acres to be divided by his seven sons, if wife remains a widow the sons inherit when they become 21. Wife Elizabeth shall keep the part she resides on now, then son Thomas inherits also wife chest, featherbed, bolster, rug, blanket, curtains, valance, a pair of sheets and one mare with foals. All cattle, heifers and mares are to remain in wife’s possession until children reach age of 18 they inherit a proportionate number of the animals. He names Jane, Hanna, Elizabeth and Ann under 18. Elizabeth wife to have all movables.. In 1673 John added codicil. sons William and Woodman and John to have no share of cows because have received shares already. Also gives a neck of land to wife outright. Elizabeth Stockley, William Custis and Edward Roball executors.

These two wills are proof of Elizabeth Woodman Stockley and her husband John Stockley of Assawoman, Accomack County, Virginia grandchildren: Hannah Ann, Ann 1647-1712, Francis 1652-1698, William 1652-1686, John 1654-1675, Woodman 1654-1713, Elizabeth 1656, Joseph 1658-1737, Thomas 1659-1720, Jane 1663-1710, Charles 1660-1719: children of John and Elizabeth Watkins Stockley and Ann, Francis and John children of Francis and Joan Hall Stockley. The other son Woodman moved away to Maryland and soon their was a migration of Stockley’s away from Virginia. In my tree are 27 family given the name of Woodman, you certainly left a legacy.

To my 9th great grandmother Elizabeth Woodman, I say well done for living during the entire 17th century. She died over 320 years ago living to an old, old age. Thanks for the path you followed that allowed me a glimpse into your life.

One of Mine was at Jamestown, Virginia

Watercolor by Wendy Harty 2021, Dunes on Chesapeake Bay, Accomack County, Virginia

I started down a blog path. Soon I fell down a rabbit hole and between my imagination and researching stories, it has me carrying my DNA (Mom, Jeane Waddell’s ancestry) back to the pages of lives with words preserved and left behind in a written record.

My tenth great grandparents were Francis Stockley and Ann Stokley living at Stoke on Trent, Stafford, England. Two of their children, Francis and John, born 1575, in England, made the records at Jamestown, Virginia. I always thought Plymouth was the first colony; not so says my research; Jamestown was the genesis of democracy in America!

In 1664, John Stockley had 2600 acres of land on Accomack Co. described as west of Assawoman Creek, bounded on the east by the sea, south by Stockley’s Branch, in payment for transporting people to the Virginia Colony, named in the transport: John and Elizabeth Stockley. Accomack county was named in 1663 on the eastern edge of Virginia, between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Red dot is Assawoman, Accomack County, Virginia

In the beginning, “Out of the Many, One” was the quote. And just these few words send me off in search of this historical time. Many colonies were formed into states which emerged into a single nation. Three ships arrived in 1607, called the Susan Comfort, Godspeed and Discovery. They brought the first English settlers 104 men and boys. They left London on December 20, 1606 and arrived across the Atlantic on the shores of America on May 12, 1607. 40 miles up a river they navigated the next day and named the spot Jamestown, in honor of King James I. Here they attempted to carve a home from a forested frontier wilderness. This was the first permanent English settlement in North America. Why did they come?

Knights, gentlemen and wealthy British merchants were eager to find opportunity to invest in established companies to trade in various parts of the world. These investors were called adventurers, who then owned purchased shares of company stock. The British King granted a charter to each company and gave a monopoly to explore, settle and trade goods. Profits were shared according to how many shares (stock) each owned. 6300 Englishmen invested between 1585 and 1630.

The Virginian Co. of London in the first charter, was granted Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. The Company paid for all the costs of establishing a colony requiring all settlers to work for the company which controlled all the land and resources. My John and Ann Stockley apparently read the pamphlets, saw the plays, or heard the sermons in Church when England raised interest in the New World Investments. In groups or individually, 1700 purchased shares by men of different occupations, wealthy women, and trade guilds helped pay for ships and supplies, recruiting and outfitting laborers. 1 share cost 12 pounds, 10 shillings or about 6 months wages of the ordinary man. In exchange for 7 years labor for the company, the company provided passage, food, and protection.

With the second charter granted, another 600 colonists sailed for Virginia. The King had a risk free investment and hoped to find the route to the Orient. The colonists had a chance to improve their economic and social standing. Instead they found leadership problems, sickness, assault by the Natives, poor food and water, and class strife. The third supply ship, Sea Venture, shipwrecked off Bermuda. From the wreck, two ships were built, Deliverance and Patience. When these ships finally sailed up to Jamestown, they found only 60 of 214 who had survived, many dying and ill and not self sufficient. These were taken on board. Jamestown was being abandoned when another relief ship from England arrived and the settlers were put back on shore. The King gave a third charter from sea to sea. The colony continued to struggle with labor shortages and mortality was high. In 1619, the first slaves were brought to Virginia.

Into this background of history, drops my 9th great grandfather, John Stockley. John had married Elizabeth Woodman in England. Their first child Ann, was born in England in 1621. At this time the London Company was in trouble with unpaid dividends. Investors were wary and the company was in debt. By March 1622, the colony situation was dire to disastrous. The Native, Powhatan Confederacy rose up in protest, where before they had traded for food, some English had taken food by force. In 1609, the Company had issued instructions to settlers to kidnap children and educate them with English values and religion. (Pocahontas, story for another blog). The massacre of 1622, killed one quarter of the Virginia Colony with 350 of 1240 dying.

The tobacco economy led to constant expansion into Powhatan Indian lands, which ultimately provoked the violent reaction of 1622 and the killing on Friday, 22nd of March, 1622. The Powhatan braves came unarmed into the houses with deer, turkey, fish fruits and other provisions to sell. It was a ruse, however, and the warriors grabbed tools or weapons and killed all the English settlers they found, of all ages. Openchancanough then led the Powhatan Confederacy in a coordinated series of surprise attacks. The colonists had the excuse they needed to take even more of what they wanted from the indigenous population. They believed this unprovoked assault by Native Americans made them forfeit any legal or moral rights of ownership of the land. The English settlers took revenge with surprise attacks of their own, famine resulted from the burning of Native corn, they destroyed boats and houses, broke the fishing weirs, and pursued the Natives with horses and blood hounds.

Jamestown expanded into a town to the east of the original fort. Colonist John Rolfe who married Pocahontas introduced sweeter strains of tobacco from the Caribbean. This was the background history of Virginia where John and Elizabeth Stockley appeared and their son, John Jr. was born in Jamestown, Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1622. Woodman Stockley was born in 1624. King James I dissolved the Virginia Company and made Virginia into an official crown colony with Jamestown as its capital. The governor was appointed by the King. The King provided land ownership to the colony. John and his brother Francis said, “yes”, and their names begin to appear, sometimes in court cases!

John Stockley travelled back and forth transporting 52 people and 11 children to Virginia in 1643. A court case of 1640 was brought against John. His brother Francis testified that John was indentured to him for 3 years, therefore he could not work for another man. In 1642, John was accused of ruining a set of clothes for William Stevens. In a 1643 will in the estate of William Burdett, John was owned 260 pounds of tobacco. John was called before the grand jury of Virginia in Accomack Co. for violating laws, “failing to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy”. Testimony said he talked and made loud noise at the service and was accused by John Stratton. It was law to be fined for not attending the Anglican Church. On December 20, 1643, John and his brother Francis were fined for “profaning God’s name”. Francis, his brother paid Captain Sam Lucas 50 acres for transporting him. In 1649, Francis was given land on Phillip Watkin’s deathbed. Francis was living in 1651-53 at Northampton County. John proved his brother Francis’s will in 1655 in court. The will mentions a loving wife, not named, children Ann, Frances and John and to his brother’s child William to be given a cow that his brother John owed to Francis. The widow of Francis remarried Col. William Custis and he his found with 20 acres bounded ESE land beside Francis Stockley on December 1658.

My ninth great grandfather, John Stockley Sr. died February 3, 1669 at the age of 74. Elizabeth Woodman Stockley his wife died August 6, 1707 aged 92 at Assawoman, Accomack Co. Virginia, British Colonial America. Note her maiden name of Woodman. It will be used and inherited for generations!

What an adventurous risk taker, probably profane ancestor John Stockley was! I’m going to repeat my original find of the record. In 1664, at the age of 69, John had 2600 acres of land in Accomack County. This land bordered the Atlantic Ocean on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. There are 33 dune sites on Chesapeake Bay along Accomack’s shoreline. After the sandy beach, behind the dunes are marshland. I imagine John and Elizabeth building their home on stilts, so water from the northeaster’s can wash under it. I see John climbing the dunes looking for ships or to survey the flat terrain with it’s sandy soil growing tobacco. I imagine Elizabeth fanning herself during the temperate summer, relating the moments and milestones of her wealthy landowner husband. Did John and Elizabeth understand that they were making history of the first permanent English settlement in North America that would be the beginnings of three cultures: European, Virginia Native and African.

The King approved the Virginian Assembly in 1627 with the governor and assembly overseeing the colony until 1776. After the Revolutionary War one nation emerged but not until 1965 could most people vote. The 15 th amendment said they could but that is not what happened. Now I am fearful for the American’s right to vote again. My ending quote I’ve changed to say “From out of the two, Many!” as I intend to explore the next eight generations of ancestors.

The Canadian Shield, Narcissism and a Red Fox

Wolseley Car sketch by Wendy Harty 2021

For 80 years Britain produced one of the finest luxury motor cars. By 1914 they were being manufactured in Canada.

She moved onto Jarvis Street, Toronto. She harbored dark secrets. Why weren’t the police called? She was the name sake of her aunt Mary Elizabeth, called Mary Melissa. The mansion on Jarvis Street looked like an authentic home but its everyday life tells a different tale.

This story begins 2.4 million years ago. The earth rumbled. A vast upheaval and a molten hot flow changed the path of the trickle of water flowing through the fractured rocks. The glowing rocks slowly cooled and another ice age advanced. Glaciers rolled the ground, rounding and smoothing and polishing. Inside the glaciers were boulders and rocks gnawing away and making scars on the Canadian wilderness. Waters flowed through the porous open grained rock. The waters cooled and deposited a flake like leaf of gold here, a foot of silver in a vein there, nickel and metals dropped into the fractured ricks. The ice retreated, mosses and ferns, swamps and lakes were established. Unaware, the red fox padded along a silver sidewalk, taking the easier walking path along the hillside. Joe La Rose watched the fox emerge from the bushes. On his forge he was sharpening his steel drill. The fox paused in its trot, and with a curious eye, eyed Joe. Joe reached for a hammer and sent it hurtling towards the fox. The fox bolted and Joe went to retrieve his tool. On a beautiful summer morning, where the hammer had struck the rock was a gleaming strip of metal that was about to change the fortunes of Mary Melissa’s husband. By the spring of 1910, a full swing rush was on. Thousands of fortune seekers poured into the area. By the end of the summer 8000 claims were recorded.

Uncle Charlie and wife Elizabeth probably only wanted their 27 year old daughter to marry well. They found out Mary was planning to elope and put a stop to it, encouraging her towards James whom they thought was a better match? From humbling beginnings, James had also been raised on a farm, first in St. Mary’s, Ontario, then at Port Hope, Michigan. Mary came from a farm family, was a devout Wesleyan Methodist and was not well educated. It is surprising the family preferred that she marry James, a Roman Catholic. The couple married February 18, 1891 at Port Hope and two children were born there, Frank Wesley and Lillian May. In 1896, they gave up farming and moved to French River, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Eva was born here and James went to work as a tax collector for $300, a Canadian Civil Servant. Marguerite Elizabeth or Peg was born in 1907 at Haileyburg, Timiskaming.

Where did James find the silver or how? Your author does not know. Perhaps it was by befriending the provincial geologist W.G. Miller. He was a big shy man, black bearded who quietly scribbled a diagram, winked and nodded, tasked with unravelling the rocky enigma of the geological puzzle. The find of La Rose could be reached overnight in a Pullman car on the new railroad, the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. An ambitious premier promoted the rail line and the blacksmith made the first find. By 1909 prospectors flooded the area, travelled up the new railroad, staked a claim and returned to Haileyburg to register the stake and have their specimens assayed. One of the famous mines would be called the Dome Mine. The sun struck on a specular piece of yellow and glistened just waiting to be discovered. The Golden Stairway as it was called was a vein running down the side of the hill 150′ wide and several hundred feet long. A barber from Haileyburg and his partner Alex Gillies, with a flip of a coin divided 12 claims. It became one of the greatest gold producers in the Western hemisphere.

James emerged as a sudden made millionaire during the 1910’s discovering silver in northern Ontario. With the wealth came extravagance, a reward of success. The finer things in life became his. He bought a Wolseley automobile, in its day considered a luxury vehicle. The mansion on Jarvis Street, Toronto was purchased. There were servants and he wore tailor made suits and dressed impeccably. Perhaps James was in love with Mary once, but just as a handsome Greek youth fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, he showed narcissistic tendencies. Paul Nache in 1899 had used the term narcissism in a a study of sexual perversions and Freud, 1914 used the term. Narcissisms often leads to relationships where others are objects instead of equals. The chauffeur, would do his duty, bringing mistresses and prostitutes, delivering them in the Wolseley. James would remove himself from the family and go upstairs. Mary would take the children to the kitchen until he was done entertaining. There was one dark secret hidden away. Lillian May was mentally challenged, walked with a limp and probably had epilepsy. He kept her hidden away from strangers and was ashamed of her condition. James grandiose schemes, sense of entitlement, treatment of others spiraled toward his own demise. The threat to acquisition of social symbols were numerous. His way of life was stripped by unscrupulous stock brokers and he lost it all. The family moved back to Stoney Creek farm. James’ health began to deteriorate and he began showing symptoms of violence. Most likely he had contracted syphilis from one of his many extramarital affairs. He threatened to kill his grandchildren. Mary endured and feared for her safety and the rest of her family. His sudden rages, at first mild irritations became annoyed serious outbursts including violent attacks. James was an exhibitionist to the world, created the illusion that was acquired in adulthood by wealth and became a full blown personality disorder with erratic behavior.

An obvious question today is why the police were not involved? James was the breadwinner, and without him they would all be destitute. James’ health worsened. He would go into the fields without his pants on. Eventually James became a patient at the Ontario Hospital where he remained until his death.

Perhaps civilization has improved? Perhaps today Mary Melissa could reach out for help in her situation and be secure? I cannot imagine the decisions she made to stay!

Walking My 2nd Great Grandmother Home, Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs

Blue Heron sketch by Wendy Harty July 2021

The Great Blue Heron is a large wading bird, common in the wetlands of North America. In folklore the stories are about self-reliance and self-determination. The symbolism signifies determination because we are bound to wade through marshes and ponds through life’s journey, but we must never give up. When it builds a nest, it teams up with the female and works cooperatively with her to establish a solid foundation for their young ones. In their hunting they are very patience, a virtue of stillness before they catch a fish. Still and quiet in its ways, the great blue heron is the symbol for the Town of Barrhead, Alberta. This will be Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibb’s final resting place, and I like to think of her watching these beautiful birds for her last 27 years, a widow, until she died at the age of 90. The area is a quiet land of rolling hills well covered with poplar, birch, pine and spruce trees while willow and tamarack fill the valleys. It was between two rivers, The Athabasca and Pembina. It is a land of lakes, sand dunes, marshes, bogs and forests. In 1824 the trail from Fort Edmonton to Fort Assiniboine was widened to accommodate pack trains of horses, some over a hundred head. In 1898, the trail was used by some heading to the Klondike seeking gold. By the time Mary Elizabeth came to Barrhead it had train service, an eight bed hospital, a curling rink in 1938. She may have taken in a movie at the new theatre in 39. Besides the great blue heron, deer, moose, coyote, black bear, grizzly, mountain lion and wolves roamed. The beautiful displays of Aurora borealis Mary Elizabeth would enjoy on dark nights. Below is the Gibb’s family continuing story.

Beside the Stillwater Creek, that runs into the Stillwater River which joins the Yellowstone near Columbus, Montana Hiram Gibbs aged 67 was laid to his final rest on earth after he died June 9, 1913. Mary Elizabeth and Hiram had wed in Port Hope, Michigan. Mary was 17, Hiram was 21. They had 46 wedding anniversaries and raised eight children, two died in infancy. The couple’s fourth child was my great grandfather. George Arthur Gibbs divorced from Lydia Ruth May Wise, who came home and lived with Mary Elizabeth his widowed mother, at Broadview, Montana. His occupation listed was rancher.

George Arthur Declared his Intention to become a US citizen, farmer, ruddy complexion, 5′ 11″, 180 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. He was born June 13, 1875 at Port Hope, Michigan. He now resides at Broadview, Montana, immigrated from Flagstone, B.C. Canada on the Rexford and Fernie Branch of the Great North Railroad. My last foreign residence was Innisfree, Alberta (the homestead). He renounced King George V, of whom he was a naturalized subject, Arriving through the port of Gateway, October 25, 1909. He was not an anarchist, a believer in polygamy and in good faith he wanted to become a citizen of the USA and permanently reside therein. SO HELP ME GOD Signed George Arthur Gibbs November 30, 1912.

George Arthur pulled a five pound rainbow trout from the Yellowstone River where it entered the Stillwater. The cutthroat and the rainbows came up river to spawn. It would make a lovely supper for his new family. They were ranching in the valley where the risks were understood when the grizzly, lynx and the grey wolf competed for his cattle. The bald eagle soared overhead, waiting his turn for the spawning trout.

The town of Broadview where they received their mail had the post office in 1908 just 4 years before the Gibbs family returned to Montana from Gilpin near Viking, or Innisfee, Alberta. Broadview, Montana with a population of less than 200, wouldn’t be incorporated until 1917, when George and Rebecca, Eugene and Otis and new daughter named after her mother, Frances Lucille born at Columbus, Montana would be on the move again. But I get ahead of my story.

Rebecca Frances Snyder was twelve years younger than George. She hadn’t had much “luck” with picking men. When she saw George, she liked what she saw!

George Arthur Gibbs 1875-1963 my great grandfather. George was 35 when Lydia divorced him

Rebecca had been born in Illinois, and married at age 19, in 1906 to William F Joedeman, 15 years her senior. Her first husband, William had been a servant and sheepherder to a rich man with her brother George, in Montana. When Rebecca and William married they kept travelling always looking for greener pastures. In New Mexico a daughter Dorothy Cyrilla was born in 1907 and died by 1909. The twins William Henry and Eugene Kenneth were born Feb 27, 1910 at Lake Valley, New Mexico. Only Eugene would survive. In 1910, William and Rebecca were living at Pirtleville, Arizona, down on the Mexican border. William Joedeman must have died and Rebecca made her way back to Columbus, Montana with the small boy. Here is where her mother and father had arrived in 1910 where he was a teamster. She remarried J. Vance Jones and he died in 1913 but not before they had conceived a child. Rebecca was 26, with the little Eugene and a new baby, Otis Vance Jones born December 13, 1913. What would this young mother do? She married for the third time to my Great Grandfather.

The war to end all wars was declared on July 28, 1914. American public opinion sentiment for neutrality was particularly strong among Irish Americans, and German Americans, as well as church leaders and women. People learned of the atrocities in Belgium. Germans had to march through Belgium to get to the French army. Belgium was neutral, but the people were subjected to murder, arson, looting and women raped. Nuns were ordered to strip under the pretext that they were spies or men in disguise. It turned uglier on August 25, 1914 when the Germans deliberately burned a library, civilian homes set on fire and citizens shot where they stood, others displaced and food and equipment looted and taken to Germany. There was worldwide condemnation.

The slogan, “The Rape of Belgium” was used in the USA as a propaganda device to build popular support for American intervention in the European War.

Rebecca wed my great grandfather, George Arthur when he was 39, on November 2, 1914 at Stillwater County, Montana. He took her back to the ranch near Broadview. Her mother-in-law was very upset with news from the war. Mary Elizabeth was a professing Brethren. Her daughter, Nettie Estella and the Rev. Hughes were missionaries for the church. Obedience to Christ is the center of Brethren life. They historically practiced non-resistance. Mary Elizabeth renounced the Christian’s use of violence in combating evil.

Frances Lucille Gibbs was born to George Arthur and Rebecca on May 17, 1916 in Columbus, Montana. George had to register for the draft which he filled out in 1917, for all men ages 18-44. Unmarried men with no dependents were drafted, between the ages of 21-30. On April 6, 1917, under President Wilson the US joined its allies, Britain, France and Russia, to fight in World War I. Emotions ran high in Montana. The state enacted the harshest anti free speech laws of any state. In nearby Lewistown a mob pursued a German man demanding he kiss the American flag, threatened another with lynching when he refused to buy bonds. Mary Elizabeth would cheer on Miss Jeanette Rankin, the first female member of Congress, when she said, “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war!” There were 50 others that voted the same way on April 2, 1917.

Whether the outbreak of the war had anything to do with their decision, George and Rebecca took the children and moved to the old homestead that his father Hiram and Mary Elizabeth Gibbs had entered in 1904 and proved up in 1907. They came in 1917. The census taker came in 1921 and George was 45, Rebecca 34, Eugene 11, Otis 8, Frances 5 and a new baby born Hiram Garner Gibbs born May 10, 1921 at Viking, Alberta. It was only fitting that the boy born on the homestead should be named after his grandfather. On the census, Rebecca’s boys which were George’s step children used the name of Gibbs not Joedeman and Jones.

Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs had many Smith relatives back in Michigan and Canada who enlisted. Her oldest brother John Smith had married Hiram’s sister, Rachel Gibbs. Their son George A., Mary Elizabeth’s nephew, died November 21, 1916 during the war in the Psychopathic Hospital, cause of death mania depression psychosis and exhaustion. Mary Elizabeth’s brother Charles Wesley “Charlie” Smith, had a daughter, named Melissa who married James Gillies and moved back to Ontario. Their son Frank Wesley Gillies enlisted for 3 years 6 months in the 91st C.H. Regt. (the Queen’s Own) at Toronto. Then he joined the fighting during WWI on Feb 14, 1916. He trained with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. By trade he was a mechanic. After the war he was in the Westminster Hospital and died there September 12, 1924 from general paralysis of the insane.

Charles Wesley “Charlie” Smith with his grandson Frank Wesley Gillies wearing his Canadian World War I uniform to show his grandparents before his overseas trip.

I can only imagine Mary Elizabeth looking forward from letters from home at Port Hope, Michigan only to get this news. Two brothers died George and Lendley in 1889 after the Hiram Gibbs family had left Port Hope, Charles her brother died in 1918, heart failure and dropsy (edema) age 75. Levi another brother died from the Spanish influenza also age 75, 1919. Sister Sarah Jane died in 1920 heart disease, John Nicholas died in 1922 87 of senility and heart disease, followed by James William Jr. in 1923, named after their father James William Smith from Ireland. All her siblings had died; she was 7 of 9 and would outlive them all.

James William Smith Jr. 1837-1923

Nellie Mary, the oldest daughter and Abraham Applegate had moved to Columbus, Montana. Two of their children enlisted in WWI and were in training in New Mexico when Arthur Charles Applegate got the 1918 influenza and died on October 11, 1918 with bronchial pneumonia. A week later, Devere Richard Applegate his brother, was a private first class and departed Oct 19, 1918 on the war ship named Walmer Castle. He was with the base hospital #94. The war was soon over in 1919 and Devere came home to Columbus and married It is with this family that I have a DNA match, Nellie, Devere, Leona Applegate’s son, Kenneth Cole, 111 cM and 7 segments. When Nellie’s husband died in 1917 she took the youngest, Beryl Bliss and Cora Almeda to her family near Barrhead. After the war Harrison McKinley Applegate arrived in 1926. Once again Mary Elizabeth had four of her children and family surrounding her: Nellie, George Arthur, Lendley and Rachel Lillian.

During this war time, George Arthur’s first wife Lydia was cooking and cleaning houses in the Kalispell area of Montana. Residing in the Glacier Park at Montana she married George J. Blanchett, at Shelby, Toole County, Montana. They were married by a Methodist minister on April 22, 1915. She was 32 and he was 40. This marriage didn’t last long. Ruth and George’s oldest daughter, my grandmother, Olive Vivian would elope with Gordon Waddell working as a freighter at Glacier. They were married at Cut Bank, where she lied about her age on the marriage certificate being only 16. Lydia Ruth May Wise Gibbs Blanchett then married Raymond F. Himple her third husband at Youngstown, Alberta in 1919. His homestead was entered in 1913 at the NE Section 15-township 26-Range 9 at Big Stone, Alberta near Youngstown. Mary Manervia was living with her father, George and new wife Rebecca, with step children Eugene, Otis, and Frances on the Viking homestead from March 1918 until April 1919. She came to live with Lydia and Ray Himple where the Plaindealer, newspaper reported a fatality as a sad occurrence as Mary Minervia came to her death by self imposed gun shot wound, Sep 22, 1919. Deceased was 18. Her mother Lydia Wise Gibbs Blanchett Himple at age 39, would be treated and undergo operations for tumors at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary. She died in this hospital on Wednesday night, May 23, 1923 and is buried beside her daughter, Mary in the Youngstown Cemetery.

Lendley Gibbs the youngest son of Mary Elizabeth and Hiram married to Jessie Rice had divorced. Jessie Rice died in 1916 and she left his children, Thella and May with her widowed mother Lydia and brother Charles Rice. This was on the next homestead to where George Arthur and Rebecca first lived, 49-11-W4. near Viking when they moved from Montana. The girls were ages 14 and 11. Lendley had remarried Ethel Gillanders back in Missoula, Montana on April 29, 1914, and also moved back to Alberta. They were living on Section 17 -Township 62, Range 6 W 5th Meridian living north and west of the Athabasca River at Holmes Crossing Mary Elizabeth at age 70 lived with them. She listed her religion as Methodist. They lived in a single story wooden built house. A man by the name of Reginald Henry Wallis lived in the same section 17-62-6 homesteaded there in 1910. George Arthur would come to live near his brother Lendley and mother in a place called Camp Creek, near Barrhead. Reginald Henry Wallis would marry George Arthur’s wife Frances in 1928. George Arthur left the Viking homestead and filed on a new quarter SE 25-61 W5 on November 23, 1929, close to his brother Lendley between Ft. Assiniboine and Barrhead, Alberta, at Camp Creek. George Arthur would marry Ruth Crystal Smith in 1930. Ruth grew up on a homestead near Medicine Hat and was motherless when she was 14. George Arthur Gibbs and Ruth Smith had a son named Fred Robert on June 5, 1929 and Arthur Willis Feb 21, 1932 at Camp Creek. This baby boy was named with his father’s middle name, Arthur and Willis was Ruth’s father’s name. Ruth Crystal died March 9, 1939 at age 38 leaving George to raise Fred and Arthur, 10 and 7. The oldest stepson is listed on findagrave as Sgt. Eugene K. Joedeman would marry and live in Nevada ranching. Otis VanceJones, the step son of George Arthur Gibbs enlisted at the age of 32. Admission date April 1945 to the infantry, Discharge date Jun 1945. He was discharged from the hospital after being wounded in the thigh by a bullet, a battle casualty. He was treated with penicillin therapy. I don’t believe he married and was died December 30, 1978. Daughter Francis Lucille married Percy Wroe in 1934. Son, Hiram Garner died Oct 10, 1987 at Prince George, B.C. Son, Fred Robert died Sept 27, 1964 at High Prairie.

Arthur Willis came and spent some time with his 1/2 sister Olive Gibbs Waddell at the Coutts homestead. My father John Waddell was eleven years older than Arthur but they enjoyed each other’s company and my dad had to call him uncle.

These were war years again from 1939-1945.

George Arthur took his mother Mary through the Port at Sweetgrass, August 11th, 1928 to see her son Charles in California. Charles Hiram would die one year after his mother working for the Idaho highway department when his death certificate states he was ran over by a truck, had head injuries and died instantly. It says he was a WWI vet.

Mary Elizabeth Smith had some of her family near her for her final last years. She died living a long life of 90 years on November 24, 1940 at Fort Assiniboine. The oldest, Nellie Mary Gibbs Applegate died at Ft. Assiniboine April 1950. Rachel the baby of the family had remarried after divorcing Edward Dove, to Claude Cox in 1914 at Wyoming. She died in 1950 in Edmonton and her obituary lists George Arthur living at Coutts. Lendley was at Ft. Assiniboine, James was a rancher at Idaho and Nettie Hughes of Lincoln, Nebraska was running a girl’s rooming house. Lendley died in 1954 aged 72 and was buried at Ft. Assiniboine. Nettie Estella died in 1956, aged 77. The oldest James Abraham died at age 83 in Idaho, 1955. George Arthur my great grandfather died at aged 87 at Cardston, Alberta March 18, 1963, and was buried at Coutts. Just as his mother had, he outlived all his siblings.

I’ve been listening to a podcast by Jody Carrington. She says we are all here just to walk each other home safely! It’s been quite a journey walking Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs home to her final resting place when she died on November 24, 1940 at Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, Canada.

This my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Smith was born in Perth, Mornington County, Ontario on July 7, 1850. Her parents, James Smith and Mary Ann Wilson left there when she was four to move to Port Hope, Michigan. Here, once again the country was just opening up to settlers. Mary Elizabeth was four when they moved and saw the chimney and sawmill built. She married my 2nd great grandfather on May 8, 1867 at Port Hope. They had ten children in 19 years, two died as infants but she saw the other eight to adulthood, married and with families of their own. She was quite the matriarch. Hiram and Mary Elizabeth kept the family safe during the two disastrous fires of Michigan that wiped out the town of Port Hope, not once but twice in the years 1871 and 1881. The family moved west where a last daughter, Rachel was born in South Dakota, then on to the orchards in the Flathead Valley near Kalispell, Montana. At age 58 she moved again to Gilpin, Alberta in 1904, homesteading with Hiram, proving up on their own 160 acres. Somehow, the family survived the winter of 1906-07 when the snow killed so many cattle herds. They stayed until 1912 and another move saw her back in Montana, near Broadview. Then her husband of 46 years, died in 1913, leaving her a widow. Think of the war years, having lived through the World War and the beginnings of WWII. Mary Elizabeth went back and lived the homestead life, with her youngest son Lendley and his second wife. George, Nettie, and Rachel were close by. She was buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery, beside the Grizzly Trail, where once the gold seekers trekked to find Klondike Gold. I am sure a Blue Heron, walks the marshy shoreline, makes a nest across the Athabasca River and downriver from Fort Assiniboine at Holmes Crossing, where she lived out her remaining years. 1850-1940. What a dash!

Why Mary Minerva?

Lydia seated, Mary Minerva on her lap, Olive standing. Imagine keeping those white dresses clean, picture about 1912.

George Arthur Gibbs had married my great grandmother Lydia Ruth May Wise when she was 15, he was 22. The couple had 3 children in the next 3 years, and went homesteading at Gilpin, Alberta with the Gibbs family. Lydia was unhappy and the couple came back to the Flathead Valley, at Kalispell, Montana. The winter of 1906-07 was a tough one. It started snowing in November and blizzarded into April. Besides the deep snow there was bone chilling cold. Imagine living in a tiny shack with five people three of them small children.

A poem I penned for Lydia.

The land was painted winter White,

The lurking storming winter winds howled,

Coldness reigns and the snowfall and the darkness descends,

there is no caress from the sun, and her soul cried out,

“Go Home, or you will die here” as the Winter Madness descended draped like a mantle around her shoulders.

George Arthur took Lydia and the children home to Kalispell, Montana. But home was not as she remembered it. Her mother Angeline Penrod Wise had a marriage crisis of her own. James Alexander Wise had died at age 38, leaving Angeline a widow with four small children and a baby on the way. Lydia was 8. Angeline took in a boarder named Charles Condell “CC” Johnson to help with the farm work. Unbeknownst to Angeline, 46, Charles 71, was still married when they wed and had a daughter, Susie Ann, November 28, 1902. When Lydia came home her mother was going through a lengthy court case to get a divorce until finally her marriage was annulled. She changed Susie’s name back to Wise.

George Arthur Gibbs

George Arthur and Lydia Ruth May Gibbs must have had some fight; George walked away and Lydia filed for divorce asking for custody of the children then 11, 10 and 9. She worded her complaint with the words dissipation, profligacy and idleness while not providing the necessities of life. I must admit I had to look up the meanings of the words. Lydia more or less said he wasted expenditures of the family’s fortune, was extremely extravagant, and reckless. I can hear them fighting when she would quote the proverb to George: the devil tempts men but an idle man tempts the devil.

George Arthur couldn’t be found to serve the court papers on. Finally he was served over in Washington State. The divorce was uncontested and Lydia obtained her divorce and custody on October 28, 1910. George Arthur moved about going to B.C. finally coming back to his family at Broadview, Montana where his father Hiram Gibbs died the next year. His occupation here was listed as rancher.

George Arthur Gibbs Declared his Intention to become a US citizen, farmer, ruddy complexion, 5′ 11″, 180 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. He was born June 13, 1875 at Port Hope, Michigan. He now resides at Broadview, Montana, immigrated from Flagstone, B.C. Canada on the Rexford and Fernie Branch of the Great North Railroad. My last foreign residence was Innisfree, Alberta (the homestead). He renounced King George V, of whom he was a naturalized subject, Arriving through the port of Gateway, October 25, 1909. He was not an anarchist, a believer in polygamy and in good faith he wanted to become a citizen of the USA and permanently reside therein. SO HELP ME GOD Signed George Arthur Gibbs November 30, 1912.

George Arthur married on November 2, 1914 at Stillwater, Montana to Rebecca Frances Snyder, the mother of a child from her first marriage, Eugene Kenneth Joedemann, and a new baby, Otis Vance Jones when the second husband died in 1913, made an instant family. They would add to this family a daughter, born in Columbus, Montana on May 17, 1916, Frances Lucille Gibbs.

Lydia May Ruth Wise Gibbs married George J. Blanchett on April 22, 1915 in Shelby, Montana, at the Methodist Episcopal Church. They were both divorced. The two had been working in the Glacier Park. He was 40, she was 32. They were divorced on September 22, 1917, at Flathead, Montana. She used the name Ruth.

I was saddened to think my second great grandfather just walked away from his two girls! Then I found a picture and an obituary that shed some light on the matter. Another young freighter in the Glacier Park, by the name of Gordon Reid Waddell eloped with Ruth’s daughter, Olive Vivian Gibbs just 4 months after her mother had married. Olive was 16 and lied on her marriage certificate about her age. Gordon was 24 and had a homestead east of Coutts, Alberta.

Isn’t this lovely old picture: my grandparents Gordon and Olive, my Aunt Dorothy Waddell was born June 19, 1916 making her about 1 year old in the picture, and Mary Gibbs would be Mary Minerva Gibbs

This picture was clue #1. Mary Minerva was with her sister Olive Gibbs Waddell in 1917 at the homestead at Coutts. Their father, George and wife Rebecca moved back to the Hiram and Mary Elizabeth Gibbs homestead at Viking in 1917. I think George Arthur must have kept in touch with his children because he found them here. AND he took Mary Minerva to live with them to Viking. Ruth’s marriage to Mr. Blanchette wasn’t going well by this time.

Clue #2 is a sad one. It is Mary Minerva’s obituary. It reads: Marie Minerva Gibbs birth 1901 death 22 Sept. 1919 aged 18 at Youngstown, Hanna Census, Alberta, burial Youngstown Cemetery. On her findagrave.com site is the following obtained from Cemetery Register, and Youngstown Memories Across the Years 1909-1983.

The Plaindealer Sept 25, 1919 FATALITY IN SOUTH COUNTRY

A sad occurrence took place, Miss Marie Gibbs, daughter of Mrs. Himple came to her death by self imposed gun shot wound. Deceased was 18 years of age and had been resident of Viking, Alberta from March 1918 until April of this year, when she came to live with her mother. The funeral was held in the Cemetery at Youngstown, Sept 24, 1919. Rev J.R. Geeson conducted the service. Mother buried beside her in 1923.

There it is, clue #2, Mary Minerva had been living at Viking with her father. He hadn’t abandoned her.

Lydia May Ruth Wise, Gibbs, Blanchette was married to Raymond Fay Himple, her 3rd husband. He had homesteaded at Youngstown the NE 15-26-9 W4 in 1913 and had just proved up on it January 1917. I am really surprised she came back to homestead and wonder how they met. It’s 275 miles from Youngstown to Glacier Park. They wed in 1919 and Mary Minerva was living with them at the time of her death.

Lydia Ruth Wise Himple findagrave.com reads Birth Aug 1883 Iowa, USA Death May 23, 1923 aged 39. Calgary, Alberta

Obituary: The death occurred at Calgary on Wednesday night, May 23, of Mrs. Ray Hmple, formerly of Cando district. Mrs. Himple had been undergoing operations for tumors at the Holy Cross hospital, (stomach cancer). The remains were shipped here for interment, the funeral taking place in the Youngstown cemetery May 26, 1923. Rev Eli Good, officiating. The deceased being laid to rest beside the body of her daughter, Miss Marry Gibbs, who died some three years ago. In addition to her husband, one daughter living at Coutts mourns her loss. Obituary printed in The Plaindealer published Youngstown, Alberta June 1, 1923.

The daughter would be grandmother, Olive Vivian Gibbs Waddell. I found a border crossing at Coutts when Ray Himble and step daughter Olive crossed the border going to the Shelby State Fair. I am thinking he came to return Ruth and Mary’s personal belongings to her only remaining family.

George Arthur Gibbs, Olive’s father remained in her life. Below is a five generation picture of the him with daughter Olive, granddaughter Grace, great granddaughter Lottie, and great great grandson Michael. Picture about 1961.

This blog doesn’t leave me any answers to the title, Why Mary Manervia? Why? Her name though I can explain. Mary after her grandmother Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs who had a sister named Manervia Ann “Minerva” Smith born in 1847 in Mornington Perth, Upper Canada. Many of the names the family used were in honor of the Smith relatives. Lendley, George, James and Charles were also Mary Elizabeth’s brothers and she honored each of them naming her children after them.

An American Citizen

Moose in the Stillwater River, Columbus, Montana. Watercolor by Wendy Harty July 2021

United States of America

Declaration of Intention State of Montana County of Yellowstone

I, Hiram Gibbs, aged 64 years, occupation Farmer, do declare on oath that my personal description is: color White, complexion: Ruddy, height 5 feet 10 inches, weight 150 pounds, color of hair grey, eye blue, other distinctive marks: first and third fingers on left hand bent and stiff. I was born in Farnham, Canada on the 10th of May, 1846. I now reside at Broadview, Montana. I emigrated to the United States of America from Coutts, Alberta, Canada on the A.R.and I Co. Railroad; my last foreign residence was Viking, Alberta Canada. It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to George V King of Great Britain and Ireland, of whom I am now a subject; I arrived at the port of Sweetgrass on the 30th day of April, 1912; I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein; SO HELP ME GOD. Sworn before me this 6th day of May, 1912 Lorin T. Jones Clerk of the said court.

I’ve decided to unpack more of the history from this one official form signed by Hiram Gibbs.

Farnham takes its name from the Township of Farnham, established before 1800. It was named for the Farnham in the United Kingdom, 30 miles of London where the Bishops of Winchester resided. The monks staying at the first Cistercian abbey, Waverley Abbey, in England were recorded as living in famine and poverty. The first “Farnhamiens” were mostly Loyalists from the United States. The town was named in 1876. It borders the Saint Lawrence lowlands, and built on the shores of the Yamaska River.

Hiram’s grandfather, Isaac Gibbs, son of Abraham and Keziah Atwood Gibbs, was NOT a loyalist. Isaac and his brother Joshua joined George Washington’s troops. He was captured at “The Cedars” in blog “Pieces of the Puzzle”. They survived the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge as noted in my blog “Changing the Course of History” part 1, 2 and 3. They participated in the Battle of Monmouth the biggest and longest one day battle of the war. Isaac and Joshua were with the 1st New Hampshire Regiment led by Brigadier General Enock Poor. Isaac and Joshua were honorably discharged March 20, 1780 having fought for nearly 5 years during the Revolutionary War, a year before the war ended. The next 12 years, I don’t know what, where or why or how they lived. In 1792 Isaac is on a passenger list to Canada, where he settled along the Missisquoi Bay. He signed an Oath of Allegiance claiming to be a farmer on the Seignory of St. Armand and came into the Province of Lower Canada by water by way of Lake Champlain on the 9th day of October, 1792. I imagined he kept his mouth shut about his past amongst those loyalists! My 4th great grandparents, Isaac Gibbs and wife Lydia (last name unknown) were named on their two boys marriage certificates. Abraham my 3rd great grandfather was born in 1806 at Missisquoi, Quebec married Anna Saxe, from a loyalist family. His brother Hiram was born in 1812. Abraham and Annie Gibb’s son also named, Hiram, my 2nd great grandfather was born on May 10, 1846, at Farnham, Quebec and given the name Hiram Garner Gibbs. Brome-Missisquoi is the county municipality. By the time Hiram was born here, Upper and Lower Canada which were a British colony were united as the Province of Canada, 1841. During Abraham Gibbs tenure in Quebec, the War of 1812, was fought, a rebellion that challenged the British rule of the predominantly French population. Then the Rebellion of 1837-38 was crushed by the British Army and Loyal volunteers. Any travel was by water on the St. Lawrence River until steamboats 1815 and railways 1850’s. In 1853, Hiram Gibbs, at age 7 came to Port Hope, on Michigan’s Upper Thumb region, situated on the shore of Lake Huron. 40 acre land warrants from the US Government were set aside as pension benefits for veterans of the War of 1812. Does this mean Hiram’s father, Abraham, participated on the side of the American’s? I am thinking he did otherwise why settle at Port Hope?

On May 8, 1867, Hiram Gibbs married my second great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Smith at Huron, Michigan. The couple raised 8 out of 10 children: Nellie Mary, James Abraham, Charles Hiram, George Arthur, Marion Anna, Nettie Estella, William Henry, Lendley Edgar, Minnie and Rachel Lillian Francis. The family lived through the two Thumb fires of Huron, Michigan which devastated the area. (blogs called Port Hope and Fires at the Thumb 1871 and 1881). They moved west taking the southern route through Sac City, Iowa. They could have gone into South Dakota Territory by train, as the railroad had been built. Then would have had to cross in wagons pulled with oxen as they pushed further west to Flathead Lake, Montana settling on a fruit farm near Kalispell. (blog Let’s Go Homesteading at Gilpin, Alberta).

July 4, 1904, Hiram and Mary Elizabeth, with most of the family but Nellie Mary went homesteading at Gilpin, Alberta. Gilpin is no longer on a map but the nearest town is Viking, which Hiram listed as his residence. It was unsettled, raw prairie, a flat treeless landscape. They lived in a tent for 3 months until a log home was built 36 x 34 feet. The homestead was “proved” on July 16, 1907 which meant they owned 160 acres of land. By 1911 the family was very discouraged. The sons left looking for work back in the mines of Columbus, Stillwater, Montana beside the Yellowstone Park. Hiram and Mary Elizabeth would get on the A.R. and I. Co. Railroad at Edmonton, Alberta, escorting the son’s wives and came through the Coutts/Sweetgrass Border Crossing on April 30th, 1912. It is at Stillwater County, Yellowstone, Montana he renounced his British/Canadian allegiance, stating he wished to permanently reside and become a citizen of the USA. Stillwater is a beautiful place, today you can drive a two lane country road, where you can travel across the valley and the open plains that reach towards the bluest skies. If the family would have stayed here, I imagine me working in the Columbus Metallurgical Complex, a smelting facility and base metal refinery situated between Stillwater mine and the town of Billings. It is one of the world’s largest producers of recycled parts from spent automotive catalytic converters.

He also swore he was not a polygamist nor believed in the practice of polygamy. Why was this included in the oath of allegiance? In 1852 polygamy became a significant social and political issue. It resulted in an intense legal conflict and the LDS Church abandoned the practice on September 25, 1890. Break away Mormon fundamentalist groups living in the western US, Canada and Mexico were still practicing. Any immigrant coming to the United States to practice polygamy was inadmissible. Polygamy was a felony crime. In Canada it was also a criminal offence with a penalty of five years imprisonment. Scots-Irish settlers carried long standing multiple partner traditions from Europe. In the Supreme Court of BC in 2018 the law was upheld against polygamy.

Hiram died at Stillwater, Montana on June 9, 1913. Today, I am thinking about all the decisions he had to make as the patriarch of the family! Just imagine the logistics of moving a large family, steamboat down the St. Lawrence River across Lake Huron, wagon train pulled by oxen across from Deadwood, Dakota, the trip on the A.R. I Co. Railroad.

The Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company (A.R.I. Co.) began as the North Western Coal Company in 1882. It was formed by Sir Alexander Galt to encourage colonization. The plan was to encourage coal mining that would drive settlement to what would become the province of Alberta. Galt had a contract to purchase 20,000 tons of coal per year for 5 years at $5 per ton. In 1889 the goal of the company was to reach the US, 65 miles from Lethbridge to Coutts. Access to Montana was a state charter to build an extension across the border from Coutts to Sweetgrass. Thus when Hiram named the A.R.I. Co. he would have stepped off in the center of the lunch/dining room of a large freight station, owned by the railroad, built directly on the border, the international line running straight through the center of the station which included a post office, telegraph services and customs inspection. The year Hiram immigrated the company was taken over by the CPR, 1912.

Would Hiram remain a US citizen today? Would he be in favor of the wars the US participated in? What would he think of individual states closing down polling places, disqualifying voters, gerrymandering the districts, an aggressive attack on the right to vote. Would he be a Republican denying the existence of covid-19 as a hoax? If he could watch the attack on the capital of the United States, what would his thoughts be? My great grandfather, his son, George Arthur Gibbs, made these questions mute, as he and his mother, Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs, moved back to Alberta, Canada, where I enjoy my right to vote and am fully vaccinated. And here’s a closing thought, if the family would have stayed in Montana, I could be an extra in the movie, “Yellowstone” filmed with Kevin Costner, and the question I ask myself is, “What would Beth Dutton do?”

You all have a good day, thinking about the decisions others have made to get to where you are today!

Let’s Go Homesteading at Gilpin, Alberta

Photograph by Wendy Harty 2020, called The Old Homestead

Friday, May 8, 1903

36 years married today.

Sunday May 10, 1903

Charlie and Nettie Estella had their heads together. What were those two scheming, I, Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs wondered. As their mother, I knew them well. Charles Hiram was 29, working with his brothers, James Alexander and Lendley, and Nettie’s husband, William in the sawmills at Kalispell, Flathead Lake County, Montana. Our family had immigrated west after the Thumb Fires at Huron, Michigan. The family was gathering on this lovely May day. Nettie’s husband, the Reverend William Franklin Hughes had preached the Sunday service in the Brethren church at Kalispell. Mary Elizabeth welcomed the entire family that was gathering to hear Charlie’s announcement. Mary Elizabeth already knew that Charles was going to marry Pearl Young in July. But that wasn’t the biggest news he wanted to share!

July 10, 1904

Mary Elizabeth quietly crawled out of the tent. She stretched out kinks in her 54 year old body. Inside she could hear Hiram 59, snore and daughter Rachel 16, mutter in a dream. As the sun rose over her new home she saw a yellow breasted songbird light on saskatoon bushes. She had tasted the sweet purple fruits last night. The bird opened its’s beak and trilled, “Laziness will kill you, laziness will kill you!” Mary Elizabeth would learn her bird was a meadowlark. It was not laziness that would kill her.

July 30, 1904

Mary Elizabeth walked to the post office at Gilpin, Alberta. She’d finished a long letter to Nellie Mary, her oldest daughter married to Abram Applegate. The address was Sac City, Iowa. Of her and Hiram Gibbs eight live children, Nellie was the only one of the family that hadn’t made the decision to come west to Montana or to take up homesteading atGilpin. This had been Charles Gibbs big surprise! For $10, he was taking his young bride, Pearl, only 17 and moving away to homestead in Alberta. If he could cultivate 40 acres and build a home in three years, 160 acres of land would be his. His excitement was felt by all as he read the advertisement. Nettie and the Reverend Richard Hughes with new born daughter, Viola Chrystal and 4 year old Grace, would go to. Letters home from Charles and Nettie were read and passed from family members back and forth. James Abraham 31, young wife of 20 had died and Lendley 21, the single bachelors were now in agreement. Soon all of her married children had caught the homesteading hopes of owning their own land. George Arthur had the hardest time convincing Lydia Ruth May Wise. At 17 she’d married, the Gibb;s 4th child, George and born three children in the next three years. Olive Ruth, Howard Arthur and Mary Manervia. Marion Anna and husband David Harvey Young with children Orlen William McKinley and Ines were going. The last letter from Charles said he’d be a father in the fall. This was the final tug on Mary Elizabeth’s heartstrings. Soon Hiram had convinced Mary Elizabeth they weren’t too old to start over. Rachel at age 16 would be a great help to her mother.

A year later, Mary Elizabeth stepped off the train at Edmonton, North West Territories. Hiram was gone 11 days. He made the trek with 11 other new settlers. He found the square stake, that had the quarter and the section stamped on the top. It took some searching to find in the waving grass and brush filled hillsides. Once he found the township stake, each section was marked by a slightly smaller stake. He picked his quarter section. Hiram hurried back to Mary Elizabeth and Rachel and applied for Section 12, Township 49, Range 12 West of the 4th Meridian. The piece of paper he proudly presented to her was dated July 4, 1904. They had dreams to make it a home in the next three years. The boys all took adjoining homesteads. Marion Anna and David Young arrived at their homestead on September 17, 1904 and dug into a hillside. Their home was called a dugout. It was economical, required very little lumber as they used sod to build the front exposure. It provided them excellent protection from the coming cold, but was dark and damp. It was temporary until they built their 26 x 20 log cabin, costing $300. David had plowed 3 acres ready to planted in the spring.

September 30, 1904

Mary Elizabeth had refused to live in the dirt. Most of the new settlers, with no trees on the prairie had built sod houses. The Gibbs spent $300 and Hiram erected a log home 36 feet x 34 feet. Mary Elizabeth was glad to say farewell to the tent and have a roof over her head. It was just a shack, papered with tar paper and magazines. When the winds blew the paper crackled sounding like a thunder storm and she added more chinking. The home made bunks nailed up against the wall, but she was happy to swing her feet out every morning to great the dawn. Hiram had built her a sturdy shelf and the water-pail sat on a table that served as kitchen work space. A dusty trail was soon trodden back and forth from the creek until the well was dug. Hiram had bought 7 horses and 1 cow. Into the side of a dirt bank Hiram dug and built a sod barn for the livestock 36 x 40 feet for another $200; the seven horses were wintered in a sod stable 18 x 40 feet. The hens had their own sod hut. Sometimes the ghosts of those fleeing the Huron fires haunted her sleep or she came up empty handed reaching for an apple from the Montana orchard. Mary Elizabeth would come to love this treeless, windswept landscape. She’d carried Hiram water when he struggled with the team breaking only two acres of land that fall; it was too late to plant any crop. “Next year”, she’d said.

October 16, 1904

Charles came galloping into our yard this day, whooping and a hollering! Freda Myrle Gibbs, a girl was born. He was 30, Pearl 18. It was a hard birth, there would be no more. Soon Mary Elizabeth, would croon to this her latest grandchild, “Rabbit hot and rabbit cold, rabbit young and rabbit old, rabbit tender and rabbit tough, Thank-you sir, but I’ve had enough. Hiram took the hint and took his gun and went out hunting bringing home fresh deer meat. Nellie Mary wrote faithfully from Iowa, mostly about the children: ages 14 to 3. Cora Almeda, Devere Richard, Charles Arthur, Harrison McKinley and baby Beryl Bliss, the grandchildren she had never met. Abram, her husband, was a well driller and wanted to know how deep they had to dig to find water? Mary Elizabeth welcomed her neighbor ladies into her house. Fargon Martin was a widow lady living with her son, also just arrived in 1904. They were from Norway and with her came Laddie, 25 a Dutch Lutheran, born in Ontario the same place as Mary Elizabeth was from. Next came over a couple named Teman and Mary Bisstah, Methodists from the USA. The next was an Irish bachelor lad, Robert Massey, a Roman Catholic asking if Mary Elizabeth would cut his hair. He was encouraged to stay for supper and gladly ate a slice of her fine fresh bread, with berry jam.

October 1905

Hiram broke another 14 acres but only one produced crop. The cow had given them a fine calf, so there cowherd was now two. The Northwest Territories had become 3 provinces. Should it retain the name of the district, Alberta? or called Buffalo. Alberta it was and Alberta became part of the North West Territories in 1870 part of Canada and became on September 1, 1905 with Saskatchewan, became its 8th and 9th provinces. Our oldest son James Abraham went back to Montana and married Lanette (LaNettie) Young, his brother Charlies wife Pearl, sister., on March 29, 1905. Lendley our youngest son married a neighborhood girl, Jessie Rice.

February 13. 1906

James Abraham brought LaNettie to meet us. Today, February 13, 1906 he filed on his own homestead NW 30-49-11 W4 at Gilpin (now listed as Innisfee) James is 36, Nettie 21. He broke 8 acres of this virgin prairieland this year. The railroad came through last year and I watched them drive some spikes in. The village of Yelger is growing and has its own post office, feed mill, lumberyard and a blacksmith. We join daughter Nettie and Rev Hughes most Sundays when he preaches the Brethren sermons.

Hiram and I welcomed another granddaughter July 8, 1906. Lendley and Jessie Gibbs presented us with Mary Luella Irene named after me, her grandmother. This little one got the nickname of Tella. Each of our boys are proving up their quarters living next to us. Our baby Rachel, now 18 married Ed Dove and are farming nearby.

November 15, 1906

My heart is so sad for our family. Our 5th child, Marion Anna died today, and granddaughter Ines. David and Marion both had worked so hard proving up their homestead. David harvested 5 acres of crop after breaking another 8 acres. They had a nice little cow herd of 9 in the fenced pasture. Orlen is only ten, his Young relatives have offered to take him in, over at Innisfee.

My Hiram is tired tonight. He is 64 and tires easily. The winds have been blowing tirelessly since November last. It has filled up all the nooks and grannies with fine frozen granules of snow. Besides deep it is now slippery. While the drifts hold Hiram up, he has to dig out the barn door morning after morning to enter to reach the milk cows. Huge amounts of snow buried everything and along with it came bone chilling cold and those strong, incessant winds. It was blizzard after blizzard I wrote to Nellie and sent her newspaper clippings where it was called the “Winter of Blue Snow” or “Killing Winter”.

George Arthur and Lydia May Ruth are fighting. She wants to go back to Montana to where her mother and brothers live. It has been hard on everyone’s marriages living in the tight quarters of our little shacks, listening to the winds moan and howl. Finally had a letter from my George Arthur. On the train ride back to Kalispell they saw piles of dead cattle rotting in the spring sun after the brutal winter of 1906-07. They had drifted in front of the winds, until a fence corner stopped them. There, they had been smothered in the deep snow drifts.


Another busy spring, James Abraham worked under another 25 acres of sod and was able to seed all 33 of his acres. He used 2 oxen and is raising colts. They gamble about in the field I can see from my house. Reverend William and Nettie Hughes waited until Vivian was born, before heading out to Iowa to live beside her sister Nellie Applegate. Lendley and Jessie had a boy on October 3rd named Charles Lendley Arthur Gibbs. He died two days later on 5th of October. I can go into Yelger and shop at the hardware store and implement dealer and mail my letters, but there isn’t much cash. Hiram cleared another 18 acres and cropped 14 last year. We have 9 cows in the fenced pasture, 4 hogs are fattening in the pen and 2 work horses, which Hiram still isn’t fond of. What a happy day was celebrated! July 16, 1907, Hiram had claimed for patent and sworn,
that the homestead requirements of the “Dominion Land Act” have been completed. All the buildings and acres prepared and harvested were duly noted on the form. The homestead of 160 acres is ours! Rachel and Ed Dove have a Christmas baby LaDella Dove before the year ends.


Abraham and LaNettie cropped 53 acres and there is an elevator to deliver to at Yelger, whose name was changed to Ryley. It is now a nice little village with 2 churches and 30 businesses. They are a very happy couple having proved up their homestead after 3 years. Abram loves his little ranch and raising 10 colts. Rachel and Ed have a boy and name him after her brother Lendley born in the spring May 10, 1909. He was a sickly baby and died that November 27th.


Loren Dove was born March 31, 1910 as Rachel and Ed tried again to have a family. This young baby died on November 21, 1910. Lendley and Jessie have a daughter and named her after his brother George Arthur’s wife, Lydia May Ruth born May 16, 1910 and registered her birth at Viking, Alberta. Geneivieve L Hughes was born May 26, 1910 in Oklahoma where Nettie and the Reverend had moved to. It was about this time we received a letter from said wife, Ruth, that she was divorcing our son stating that he had left her, not providing the necessities of life and because of idleness, profligacy and dissipation. Ruth asked for custody of the three minor children Olive, Arthur Howard and Mary Minerva, 11, 10 and 9 on October 28, 1910.


George Arthur was served the divorce notice uncontested on January 11, 1911 at Stanwood, Washington, because he had been gone a year. Lydia Ruth was granted her divorce and custody on March 8, 1911 in the County of Flathead, Montana. It was not a good year for marriages. Charlie left Pearl and 7 year old Freda with us and went looking for work in Montana, which he found in the mines at Columbus, Stillwater, Montana near Yellowstone Park. They also would later divorce. James Abraham and LaNettie are giving up their homestead. It is stamped on their homestead application, “This land is subject to indebtness to the Crown, see Sec 18 0f Chap 29 of 60-61. James and Lendley followed Charlie down to Columbus, Montana. The boys wanted their families to come so once again, Hiram and I would follow and helped bring the family together. I said good bye to good neighbors Fargon and Laddie and wished them well. The census taker stopped in. He wasn’t very accurate writing down Heram and Mary Gibbo of Brethren religion, living with us was Pearl and Raddie (should be Freda) aged 7 our granddaughter. She hadn’t been to school and could not read or write. There wasn’t much to pack for the seven years we homesteaded at Gilpin, Alberta.


People were coming into the area and we were leaving. We all couldn’t get tickets on the A.R and I. Co Railroad that would take us through Sweetgrass, Montana. I took Pearl and Freda. Hiram escorted Jessie, Luella and Maimie aged 4 and 2. James came back and helped LaNettie pack up. Hiram decided he wasn’t going back. On the 6th day of May he signed and Swore before Lorin T. Jones Clerk of the court.

Declaration of Intention State of Montana County of Yellowstone:

I, Hiram Gibbs, aged 64 years, occupation farmer, do declare on oath that my personal description is: color, white, complexion, ruddy, height 5 feet 10 inches, weight 150 pounds, color of hair grey, eyes blue, other distinctive marks: first and third fingers on left hand bent and stiff. I was born in Farnharm, Quebec, Canada on the 10th of May, 1846. I now reside in Broadview, Montana. I emigrated to the United States of America from Coutts, Alberta, Canada on the A.R and I. Co. Railroad; my last foreign residence was Viking, Alberta Canada. It is my a bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty and particularly to George V King of Great Britain and Ireland, of whom I am now a subject. I arrived at the port of Sweetgrass on the 30th day of April, 1912; I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the Untied States of America and to permanently reside therein; SO HELP ME GOD. signed Hiram Gibbs.

1913, Columbus, Montana

Our oldest Nellie Mary Gibbs and husband Abraham Applegate joined us at Columbus bringing the grandchildren I hadn’t known: Cora, Devere, Charles Arthur, Harrison McKinley and Beryl Bliss. Her husband found work drilling water wells in the area, successfully. The oldest and the youngest daughters were getting acquainted again when Rachel divorced Ed Dove and came to Montana with LaDella. Nellie and Rachel were a great comfort to me, when Hiram died on June 9, 1913 at the age of 67. James and Nettie, Charlie and Pearl, Lendley and Jessie gathered around to say goodbye to their father. I write to tell Nettie Estella the news. She is expecting a baby, # 5.

Date of death June 9, 1913 cause valve trouble of heart

We finally located George Arthur and he came to the Stillwater County area and lived with me. What will I do without my Hiram, I am widowed at age 63 after being married 46 years.

This story is my version of Mary Elizabeth Smith born in St. Mary’s, Perth County, Ontario Canada, on July 7, 1850. She is my second great grandmother who married Hiram Garner Gibbs, born at Farnham, Quebec born May 10, 1846. “If” Mary Elizabeth would have had a diary I am taking liberties to write the details found on census, court and birth and death records. I like to think she approves and tells me 1850- not done yet! To be continued!

Let’s Go Homesteading at Gilpin, Alberta

Meadowlark, my favorite song bird, singing, “Laziness will kill you, Laziness will kill you!” in watercolor by Wendy Harty July 2021

These are the words my 58 year old great great grandfather Hiram Gibbs said to his 52 year old wife Mary Elizabeth (Smith). The Dominion Lands Act passed government in Canada in 1872. Canada had become a country in 1867 and expanded westward. In 1869 the government purchased Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territory from the Hudson’s Bay Company. It aimed to encourage the settlement of Canada’s prairie provinces. The Act’s purpose was to encourage settlement by European and American pioneers, as well as settlers from Eastern Canada. The land was surveyed into one-square-mile sections. For $10.00 the Act gave any male farmer who agreed to cultivate at least 40 acres and build a house on it within three years. The $10 was for administrative fees. To “prove” up the land prevented speculators from grabbing the land. The settling was slow at first because at first the land couldn’t be more than 20 miles from a railroad, as it was too expensive by wagon to get the harvest to transport. In total 480,000 square miles were given away by the government under the Canadian Homestead Act and Hiram Gibbs and families came to settle before Alberta was named a province in the year 1903-1904 with an estimated 140,000 other hearty pioneers.

In search of opportunity for their entire family the Gibbs family claimed free homestead land. They found a harsh winter climate, poor crops, meager supplies and disease to endure. They moved out of the Kalispell, Flathead Lake area of Montana to Gilpin, Alberta not even found on a map today. It is near Viking, Alberta which was settled in 1909 by many Scandinavians. Gilpin and Yelger post offices were the earliest villages northwest of Viking, Alberta in 1904. The railroad was being built by 1905 and Yelger would be renamed Ryley.

Charles Hiram Gibbs and newlywed wife Pearl Young were to the first to arrive in 1903, listed as living in section 1. He had 1 horse, 1 milk cow and 1 cow. His sister, Nettie Estella married to the Reverend William Franklin Hughes, Brethren Religion, travelled with them. They settled on the 24-49-12 with 4 horses and 2 milk cows. Charles and Nettie wrote glowing letters home encouraging all the family to immigrate. By the time the rest of the family arrived Charlie and Pearl’s daughter, Freda Merle Gibbs had been born in Edmonton. Hiram Gibbs, at age 62, my second great grandfather, choose in 1904, before Alberta was a province, Section 12, Township 49, Range 12 West of the 4th Meridian. To get there, he and several other new settlers took the 11-day trek from Edmonton. What Hiram was looking for was the township stake left by the surveyors. It was a square stake, that had the quarter and the section stamped on the top. It took some searching to find in the waving grass and brush filled hillsides. Once the township stake was found, each section was marked by a slightly smaller stake and here he found his quarter section. Now back the 85 miles to Edmonton Hiram went and arrived on July 4, 1904 when he applied for the homestead he and Mary Elizabeth his wife, and Rachel, a young girl of 16, their daughter would soon call home.

A google map of the area in 2021, the black round dot is where the homestead of Hiram Gibbs was located with the families on nearby quarters

Mary Elizabeth crawled out of the tent that was their first home in Alberta, that morning of July 9th. She eased the kink from her back, not used to sleeping on the ground. She would sleep in the tent for three months until the home was built. There was the loveliest yellow breasted bird singing his heart out to her. It sounded like, “Laziness will kill you, laziness will kill you!” She would later learn the bird was a meadowlark. Hiram had purchased 7 horses and 1 cow. She surveyed the spot they would build on. They definitely would not be lazy starting from scratch on this prairie land. In September, Mary Elizabeth and daughter Rachel, set up housekeeping in a log home 36 x 34 feet. It was worth $300. Hiram cleared two acres of the fertile land but it was too late to put into crop. In 1905 he cleared another 14 acres but only one was cropped. The cowherd of 2 had a sod barn that was partly dug into the bank of a hill, 36 x 40 feet, costing $200; the seven horses had wintered inside a sod stable 18 x 40. A well for water had been dug and the hens were housed in their own sod hut. Alberta had become a province. The next year of 06 they were prospering. Hiram cleared another 18 acres and cropped 14. The cattle grew to 9 in number, there were 4 hogs fattening in the pen and they had 2 work horses. The summer had been ideal and there were record crops. There was some grumbling that the CPR hadn’t provided enough box cars. Farmers spoke of dark conspiracies to drive down prices and create a glut. There was also a lengthy strike by the United Mine Workers in Lethbridge where coal, the staple in the prairie stove, was mined. Hiram fought his way from the house to the barn. Hiram had lived through the Thumb Fires at Port Hope, Huron, Michigan in 1871 and 1881. He was happy they had chosen this mostly treeless landscape to farm. But at the age of 64 he tired easier. The winds which had been blowing tirelessly since November, had filled up all the nooks and grannies with fine frozen granules. Besides deep it was also now slippery. While the drifts would hold Hiram up, he had to dig out the barn door morning after morning to enter to milk the cows. Once again Hiram was learning that the environment could not be tamed. There were huge amounts of snow, that buried everything and along with it came terrible cold and strong, incessant winds. There was blizzard after blizzard, from the middle of November 1906 to the end of April 1907. Newspapers were writing some horrific stories of a family found frozen in their sod shack and the father with his load of coal, pulled by oxen found in a similar dead condition. Canada did not want it’s image to be known as unsafe for immigrants. The government went into crisis control and stemmed the flow of harmful information. They had the Royal Northwest Mounted Police giving assistance and checking in on all the settlers. Government senior officers and bureaucrats gave a counter narrative of The “truth”. They needed their narrative told so as not scuttle years of work to sell Canada as a safe haven for newcomers. The long cold snowy winters were hard on the families and four of the seven Gibbs children would divorce.

Somehow, Hiram and Mary Elizabeth survived another environmentally cataclysmic event called “Winter of Blue Snow” or “Killing Winter”. There was much rejoicing on July 16, 1907. Hiram had claimed for patent and sworn “that the homestead requirements of the “Dominion Land Act” have been completed. The above buildings and acres prepared and harvested were duly noted on the form. The homestead of 160 acres was theirs!

These next three pictures are from the collection at Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta

By 1906 there was a store in Yelger and as the village grew a post office, feed mill, lumberyard and blacksmith. One of the greatest difficulties was the absence of roads and bridges. By 1907, Yelger had a stable, and hardware store and implement dealer. In 1908 the name of the school was Equity. A Lutheran church was open and the railroad station. By 1909 there was an elevator to deliver grain too, 2 more churches and 30 businesses; the name of Yelger was changed to Ryley. Hiram and Mary Elizabeth’s son Lendley age 24 married a local girl, Jessie Rice and homesteaded 30-49-12. Lendley and Jessie had a horse and milk cow. The oldest son, James Abraham Gibbs age 32 came to the homestead in 1906 with his wife LaNettie Young aged 22, and settled on in the same township NW 30-49-12. Their homestead was approved in 1909, having met the three year requirements. His first wife Cynthia had died and he married Lanette called LaNettie Young a sister to Pearl, his brother Charles wife. A daughter Marion Anna married to David Young died in the nearby village of Innisfee as a young mother of 29, in 1906. Her son, Orlen William McKinley Young was raised by the Young’s and he remained in the area and at age 19 was working on a farm at Strome. Another son, my great grandfather George Arthur Gibbs had married in Kalispell, Montana at age 23 to a very young Lydia May Ruth Wise, aged 16 on May 6, 1898 This couple had my grandmother within the year, Olive Vivian born April 23, 1899, Howard in 1900 and Marie Minerva in 1901. George and Ruth came with the two girls. They didn’t stay long. My grandmother Olive would recall seeing piles of dead cattle along the railroad tracks heading south after the brutal winter of 1906-7.

Nettie and William Hughes convinced Hiram and Mary Elizabeth to attend their church services and in 1906 listed Brethren as their religion on the census. This couple had their third daughter and named her Vivian in 1907. Then they gave up homesteading and went back to the USA; first to Oklahoma, then to Sac City, Iowa where her oldest sister, Nellie Mary Applegate was raising a large family and finally to Lincoln, Nebraska where Nettie ran a girls rooming house while her husband preached. She died in Florida but was buried beside her husband in Nebraska aged 77.

The neighbors living close by in 1911 were: the Reishus came in 1904. They were Norwegian Lutheran farmers, Fargon Martin was a widow of 64 living with her son 30 also Lutheran Norwegians came in 1904. Andersons J W 41 and Laddie 25 born in Ontario was Dutch and Lutheran farming, His brother divorced lived with them Teman Bisstah and wife Mary were from America and Methodists, Robert Massey was Irish, a single farmer Roman Catholic, quite the mixtures of settlers living close by the extended Gibb’s families.

This 1911 census taker wasn’t very accurate! He lists the names misspelled as Heram and Mary Gibbo with their daughter in law Pearl, (no Charles Gibbs) and their daughter, Raddie (should be Freda) aged 7 Hiram and Mary Elizabeth listed as Brethern religion, Freda a Baptist at 7 couldn’t read or write. Charles and brother James went back to the US looking for work.

Lendley Edgar Gibbs the youngest son married Jessie Rice in 1905. They had three children. Mary Luella Irena in 1906, Charles Lendley Arthur died within 2 days in 1907 and Lydia Mary Ruth born in 1910. Lendley left his wife and children and returned to Columbus, Montana near brother James Alexander and Charles Hiram. Lendley’s wife died in 1916 and the girls were raised by the Rice family.

It is interesting how the Gibb’s left Alberta that spring of 1912. In March Mary Elizabeth traveled with Charles wife Pearl and daughter Freda destination Billings, Montana which was near Columbus where the boys would be engaged in mining. Charles escorted his brother’s wife Lanettie on April 24, 1912 and then Hiram crossed the border on April 30, 1912. He stayed in Sweetgrass a week and applied for his American citizenship. Hiram Garner Gibbs died on June 9, 1913 at Columbus, Stillwater, Montana at the age of 67. What a life’s journey this second great grandfather of mine had. From growing up on the seignory farm at Farnham, Quebec, marrying the blacksmith’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Smith at Port Huron, Michigan, having 7 of 10 children alive, escaping from the Thumb Fires of 1871 and 1881 which burned millions of forested acres and the town of Port Huron, making the trek across the upper US states before the railroad went past South Dakota and not freezing to death on a homestead in Alberta, 1906! 67 years of living. His widow my 2nd great grandmother would out live him another 27 years till she was 90.

The oldest son, James Abraham Gibbs and LaNettie Young left also going to Columbas, Stillwater, Montana where two boys were born: Leroy Jonathan in 1918 and Raymond. They moved to Idaho where James ranched and lived out his life till he died in 1955 aged 83.

Charles Hiram worked as a miner at Columbus, Stillwater, Montana. He and Pearl were divorced. He remarried in 1931 to Ethel Gillander. At age 64 he was working for the State Highway Dept. when a fatal accident took his life instantly; his skull was crushed when he fell off a truck and it ran over his head.

Rachel Gibbs 23 had married Ed Dove 29 on 1906 at Vegreville and their daughter LaDella was born in 1907, listed as being Methodist also living with them a teacher named Mary Robenary his sister. Rachel buried her next two boys, Lendley named after her brother in 1909 and Loren 1910. They moved north to Victoria, Alberta in 1911. By the time the first World War broke out the couple were divorced. Rachel remarried Jan 28, 1914 to Claude Edward Cox, moved to Edmonton and ran a store until 1950 when she died aged 63.

The soil is claimed to be the best and finest in Alberta, at the area of Gilpin. The next village still surviving is Ryley. Just think if Hiram would have stayed we might be living the life of Ryley? Wait! I have purposely left out the story here of my great grandfather, George Arthur Gibbs. His story isn’t one of the life of Ryley but he did go back and live there when the area was called Victoria, Alberta. Stay tuned for a future blog and the remainder of his mother’s life story, Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs.

Manifest Destiny – Montana

Apple Gourd Art by Wendy Harty 2015

I don’t think I had ever heard the phrase “manifest destiny” Then twice in one week it cropped up in my news feed. Back in 1845, the USA thought that Canada would request annexation eventually. Some claimed it was the right of manifest destiny to spread and possess the whole of the continent which providence had given them for the development of the great experiment of liberty and self government. US expansion was used to justify the removal of Native groups from their homes. This rapid expansion intensified the issue of slavery as new states were added to the Union, leading to the Civil War. With high birth rates and immigration the population of the States went from 5 million to 23 by 1850, the year my second great mother Mary Elizabeth Smith was born in Canada. This is part of her story of what drove millions of Americans westward in search of new land and new opportunities.

My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Smith Gibbs was of Irish, Scottish and German backgrounds. She was the product of many who went before choosing to leave the shore, cross the Atlantic, and hope for a “city built on a hilltop”. Her birthday was July 7, 1850, born on a farm near St. Mary’s, Ontario, in the township of Mornington. Her parents were homesteaders; her father James William Smith a blacksmith by trade, immigrated from Ireland with the men in the family having been British soldiers; her mother Mary Ann Wilson a descendent of loyalists settled in Ontario after the Revolutionary War. Mary Elizabeth was born into a large family of Smith’s, 6 brothers and 2 sisters. She was 7th in a family of 9.

At the age of 4, Mary Elizabeth boarded the ship with her family, that would take her across the Great Lakes to a new developing community at Port Hope, Michigan. There were no roads or highways other than the water.

The saw mill chimney constucted in 1858, still stands today, 80 feet tall made from 20 ft of sandstone on the bottom, tapering another 60 ft with bricks. It withstood the two Great Huron Fires of 1871 and 1881.

Mary Elizabeth was 8 when the saw mills and chimney were built. All of her brothers and sisters were born at St. Mary’s, Ontario, except for George the year they moved in 1854 and Lendley, 1859, both born at Port Hope. The Smith’s were again pioneers building up the brand new community that would be a major lumber exporting port.

The red arrow is Port Hope, Gore County, Michigan

Civil War broke out when she was 11. Michiganders were critical of slavery and many were abolitionists. After President Lincoln called for volunteers, Michigan was called upon to furnish infantry, Calvary light artillery and engineers and mechanics. 90,000 men left the state or 1/4 of the men. Although the Gibbs were registered, I did not find them joining in the actual fight, possibly because they were (aliens) from Canada and it wasn’t their fight? The men on the farms helped to feed the troops and Michigan forests provided lumber for war materials. No Civil War battles happened in Michigan. When Mary Elizabeth was 17 her mother, died at the age of 48. Mary Elizabeth would marry at the age of 17 to my 2nd great grandfather, Hiram Gibbs, born at Farnham, Brome-Mississiquoi, Quebec. Hiram was 26. The wedding took place at Huron, Michigan on May 8, 1867, four months after her mother died. Three years later, Mary Elizabeth and baby Nellie moved back home to housekeep for her widowed father, James William Smith and brothers, George and Lendley. I assume Hiram Gibbs was away maybe in a logging camp? The next year the devastating Huron fire swept through the region, 1871. James Smith and Hiram Gibbs attended the Mason Lodge at Port Hope and relief efforts were distributed from there coming across the Great Lakes. By the 1880 census, the couple were farming and their family had expanded: Hiram 34, Elizabeth 29, children named: Nellie 11, James 8, Charles 6, my grandfather, George Arthur 5, Marion 3 and Nettie 1.

Hiram’s brother John Gibbs is listed on the same census in 1880, married to Sarah, Children William 11, Annie 10, John 6, Rachel 5, Herman 3 and Winnefred 1. Can you imagine the Sunday gatherings feeding all these cousins growing up together on the shores of Port Huron, Lake Huron, Michigan. The parents had already lived through the devastating fire of 1871. The Huron Daily Tribune wrote an article in the newspaper. The Smith home, built in 1866, a beautiful elegant structure stood in the path of the fire. It escaped the fire of 1871. Was this the home of William James Smith, Elizabeth’s father?

The brothers, Hiram and John Gibbs comforted each other with thoughts of, “The first good rain will put the fires out.” Alas, there was no rain. Only dry hot, hot winds! The year of 1881 another drought would hit their farming and logging community.

The wind was lurking, ready to march to the sea and burn down the town of Port Hope, again. Once again the Gibb’s scanned for smoke on Monday morning, September 5th. They had no knowledge that the greatest calamity was about to explode around them. At 2 p.m. the wind was howling and volumes of smoke were seen in the west. Suddenly a great cloud of darkness covered the entire area. All was darkness! The heat grew until it was almost impossible to breathe and the wind had a hurricane force. Then, everything burst into flames! The new brick country courthouse was built of bricks. 400 people crowded into the tall stately building. Weeping women, crying children and grim faced men were sheltered in the building. At sundown there was a lull in the wind. All the buildings in the little town had burned. Hiram and Mary Elizabeth settled the children between them on the oak floor and spent an uncomfortable night. For days after smoke and flying ashes blotted out the sun. The families would rely on the newly formed Red Cross to provide food and clothing. John and Susan Gibb’s and family would remain at Port Hope but Hiram and Mary Elizabeth decided to accept their manifest destiny.

The towering forests of Michigan, once so majestic were wiped out during the two Thumb fires that swept through after severe droughts in the region. Then winds swept the fires for miles through the area up to the shores of Lake Huron. Hiram and Mary Elizabeth Gibbs had a decision to make. They decided to go west.

Two of their children married in Iowa, so I deduce that is the way they went and stayed long enough for them to find love. West they went, leaving Michigan and Mary Elizabeth’s aging father, James William Smith 80 who would die at age 82 on December 1, 1890 in Gore, Michigan. Nearly 2000 miles through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and South Dakota the family went. Here a forced stop was made.

Mary Elizabeth bore down. She was 37 years old, about to give birth to her last child. Coming west with them were James Abraham 15, Charles Hiram 13, George Arthur 12, Marion Anna 10, Nettie Estella 8, Lendley 5. Behind at Port Hope, she left two babies, in graves, William Henry, 1881 and Minnie, 1884, both only living two weeks. Her oldest daughter, Nellie Mary at age 17 had married Abram Applegate in 1885 in Iowa.

Rachel Lillian Frances Gibbs made her appearance on September 19, 1887. The Gibbs family had just crossed into the south east corner of the Dakotas when the backache started. This paused their journey. Mary Elizabeth had looked out over the steep embarkments of the Missouri River at Pierre, Hughes County, South Dakota. It was not a state yet being Dakota Territory, but where they would register Rachel’s birth. Should they stay here and put down roots? The Dakota Territory had been open for settlement in 1858 but there were few takers. Hiram and Elizabeth were just ahead of the boom that would start the next year with abundant rain, the swarms of locusts were gone that had plagued the region and free land was offered in the Homestead Act. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills and the coming of the railroad would lead to explosive growth but the family travelled on, Pierre was the end of the rail line and riverboat.

From here they would travel on once Mary and Rachel were strong enough. They were destined to take a wagon train headed west along the 200 mile route known as the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail. It was an old buffalo trail used by the natives and fur traders. They carefully loaded up the wagons pulled by teams of draft animals, usually oxen. Deadwood was a lawless, rowdy mining camp. They kept going.

Mary Elizabeth bit into the apple she had plucked from their own orchard. She was enjoying the cool nights and long sunny days in the valley. It was certainly different from their lake home of Port Hope, Michigan. Their home close to Kalispell, in the Bitterroots was known for its higher quality apples with varieties including the McIntosh. The cherries had already been picked leaving her pink and red stained fingertips. The mild lake influenced climate, pure water and fertile soil had given them an abundant crop of the pleasantly sweet and very juicy fruit. It was a busy time with pickings from the second week of July for a month into August. Now it was time for the apples. The original inhabitants of Chief Charlo’s remnant band of Salish were forced onto their Flathead Reservation in 1891. Copper had been found and Marcus Daly, the Copper Baron, began buying land, building irrigation ditches and planting orchards. Mr. Daly was concerned with feeding his miners at Butte and Anaconda. Real estate investors came buying the land cheaply and selling the promise of an easy and profitable small farm. At first Hiram and Lendley found work being day laborers in the district. By 1903 in a local Kalispell directory, Hiram was listed as fruit grower. There had been planted 300,000 apple trees in this boom, which 100 years later can still be found as gnarled remnants or thriving amongst the new orchards. Any boom does not last. Production would dwindle as pests, including the coddling moth arrived. There was another problem; fruit growers were often swindled by middlemen who never paid after the apples were shipped east.

A family meeting was called in 1903.

The first to arrive was James Abraham Gibbs. Abram had married a girl named Cynthia Anna Trible in Iowa 1897 . They came to the Flathead Valley. Abraham came home at noon and found his wife not well. She complained of feeling very bad, that she seemed to have smothering spells. Abram asked if he should write for her mother to come. She objected but finally assented. She grew worse rapidly and at one o’clock he sent for the doctor, who was unable to ward off the chilly hand of death and she passed five minutes after he came. Abram buried his young wife Cynthia, age 20 in the Demersville Cemetery, Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana. Printed in the Jefferson (Iowa) Souvenir paper May 22, 1897.

Next came Charles Hiram, 29. He’s just became married on July 19, 1903 at Chautauqua, Flathead, Montana to Pearl Young, 15. Marion Anna at 18, had married David Harvey Young in 1894. She had given them their first grandchildren Orlen William McKinley Young in 1896, the next year 1897, Ines both born nearby in Kalispell. Nettie Estella at age 18 had married William Franklin Hughes in 1897. A granddaughter, Grace L was born the spring of 1899. Another girl Violet Chrystal was a newborn at the meeting of 1903. George Arthur, my great grandfather had at age 22 married Lydia May Ruth Wise. She was 16. Within the next three years they had three grandchildren for Mary Elizabeth and Hiram: Olive Vivian April 23, 1899, my grandmother, Arthur Howard a boy 1900 and Mary Minervia November 15, 1901. Lendley Edgar 21 and Rachel Lillian Francis 16 were still single, living at home.

And what did these families decide? Their manifest destiny would send them to the newly opened homestead site at Viking, Alberta.

At the beginning of this blog I mentioned manifest destiny. The article I was reading was referring to Alberta making threats to leave the Canadian federation. Once again Manifest Destiny, the American dream of controlling the entire continent, would be revived, at the prospect of welcoming Alberta as its 51st state. This would strengthen their energy markets and Canada would be dependent on them for their energy. I doubt Hiram and Mary Elizabeth gave this much thought; they were just looking for opportunities for their large extended family and land, not political ideology or visionary speculation.

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