In 19th Century Canada, there were rules for reporting events such as births, marriages, and deaths. The father of a child was required to register that child’s birth within 30 days. If the father was unable to, the mother was then required. Well, that didn’t always happen…as anyone who is doing Canadian genealogy can tell you.
In the case of great-aunt KATHLEEN CALHOUN, her parents registered some of her siblings births, but not all. And they didn’t register hers at the time. For whatever reason, Kathleen must have needed a record of her birth and her mother, ELIZA ANN PARKE, filled out the necessary form. Here it is:
Well, maybe Eliza wasn’t quite telling the whole truth when she signed this document. She listed the date of her marriage as 8 February 1871. That wasn’t quite right. She was, in fact, married on 8 February 1872. Was this just a mistake? Probably not. Eliza was heavily pregnant with Kathleen’s brother, Charlie, at the time of her marriage. He was, in fact, born a mere 3 weeks later.
Here’s the record of their marriage in Dublin.
Poor Eliza was probably still worried what her children would think of her if she told the whole truth about the marriage and the move to Canada. I find this sad, but very much of the time. I just found it fascinating that Eliza was willing to lie in a government document, though what would they have done to her…really?
Social Media has been an amazing force in the world of Genealogy, especially for amateur Genealogists like me. I hadn’t thought of FaceBook and Twitter being sources of knowledge in this field, but they are. On FaceBook, I am a member of several Closed Groups including Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy, Irish Genealogy, and the Omagh (N. Ireland) Family History Society, as well as some public groups. In a Closed Group one must ask for membership to the group and then follow the group rules or risk being thrown out. On Twitter, there are many genealogical organizations tweeting, as well as individuals who have genealogy blogs or who just are Genea-fanatics like me. It’s amazing how much information is shared on these forums.
On the Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy FaceBook page, I recently read a post about Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865 – Library and Archives Canada. Now, my husband’s paternal grandmother was descended from some early pioneers, who were rumored to be United Empire Loyalists…so, of course, I thought this could be a good source for me. Following the instructions of one of the site members, I found the original petitions for land for a pair of those ancestors.
My husband’s great-grandmother was SARAH ANN VERMILYEA. Sarah’s father was SOLOMON VERMILYEA and her mother was ELIZABETH JONES. I knew that Solomon’s father was PETER VERMILYEA (who was married to MARY JEWELL) and that they had come from New York state (probably in the Catskill Mountains) and had arrived sometime after Solomon’s birth. I looked in the Land Petitions and found Peter Vermilyea’s petition, dated 11th July 1808.
Unlike many of the Land Petitions, Peter wasn’t requesting land outright, as a Loyalist. He was requesting the Lease of Land that was in the Crown Reserve. This was granted in December of that year.
What did I learn from the record? Peter Vermilyea and his family were in Upper Canada by 1808. He never said he was a Loyalist, so that may not have been the reason for his move from New York. It could have been that land was plentiful in Upper Canada and that it was good, fertile farm land. He had no other Land Petitions, so it was not likely that he was a Loyalist, given that Loyalists were rewarded with outright grants of land. Peter Ruttan was named as his guarantor in the Lease. Later, Peter Vermilyea’s son, WILLIAM VERMILYEA, would marry Peter Ruttan’s daughter RACHEL RUTTAN. From other research, I found that Peter Ruttan and Peter Vermilyea were neighbors.
All that (and more) I discovered just because someone posted the information about the Land Petition site on FaceBook. Who knows how long it would have taken to me figure out that the site existed?
Robert Charles Colhoun married Elizabeth Ann Parke in Dublin on the 8th of February 1872. This is the story of their marriage and their family.
We don’t have any pictures of Robert in his youth, but since he was a good looking man well into his older age, he must have been quite a handsome young man. Eliza was a lovely young woman with brown hair and brown eyes.
Robert was a teacher at the Church of Ireland school in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, Ireland and 7 years Eliza’s senior. According to a note written by her son, Alex, the school is where they met. Given that it was very unusual for someone 16 (the age that Eliza was when she met Robert), she may well have been a teacher’s assistant.
There was some sort of romance between the two, and Eliza found herself pregnant. It appears that Robert had left Ballinamore around this time, and was teaching in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. How frightened Eliza must have been to find herself pregnant and unmarried. According to A Social History of Ireland, 1870-1970:
Within the farming community, the plight of an unmarried girl who became pregnant was critical. With the emphasis on agreed or ‘matched’ marriages amongst those with land in post-Famine Ireland, the increased importance of female virtue was stressed, as ‘an unvirtuous daughter could be the ruination of an otherwise thrifty and farseeing man.’
Frequently girls were cast out by their families and forced to become vagrants, many resorting to the workhouse or prostitution. Women for whom a marriage partner could be found never fully redeemed the disgrace caused to themselves or their families.
We don’t know if Robert knew that Eliza was pregnant when he left Ballinamore, nor do we know when he came to find out. All we know is that at the time of her marriage, Eliza was listed as living in Dublin at 44 Lower Ormond Quay…which at the time was Glynn’s Hotel. Had her parents put her there to remove her from the eyes of the small village they lived in? Probably.
Robert was listed on his wedding documents as living on Church Avenue, Ballyshannon, County Donegal. The only thing on the tiny spur of a road that is Church Avenue is the Church of Ireland church and the accompanying C of I school.
Eliza was said to have a very sweet, accommodating personality. She was the eldest of 3 sisters. Her father, William Parke (age 55), was a prosperous farmer. Her mother, Elizabeth (also called Eliza) Taylor Parke, was about 37 when her 17-year-old daughter got pregnant and then married the schoolteacher, Robert Charles Colhoun.
No matter what he thought of the marriage, or of his daughter and Robert Colhoun, William Parke went to Dublin and witnessed their marriage. He was one of the two witnesses on their marriage document. The other was Sarah Haddock. We don’t know who she was. It is possible that she was the companion to Eliza. She needed some sort of chaperone in Dublin.
Robert was 24 and Eliza was 17 at the time of the wedding. Robert was listed as a Bachelor of ‘full age’; Eliza was listed as a Spinster and a Minor.
Did Eliza’s mother or sisters attend her wedding? We don’t know. What we do know is that Eliza never saw her family again. Either did Robert. They seem to have set sail for Canada immediately after the wedding. Their son, Charles Kingsley Calhoun, was born 16 days after their wedding, on 23 February 1872. He may have been born on the ship or he may have been born when they reached Canada. I have yet to find a record of his birth.