Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Who is Hannah Meade?

If I could go back in time, one place I would go is Barriefield, near Kingston, Ontario in the year 1870.

My 2x great-grandparents John and Elizabeth Seale had 7 sons, 1 daughter... 
and a mystery lodger.

I would ask John Seale how it came about that he came to Canada with his first wife Sarah, and when she died what became of his son Theophilus and daughter Eliza that were born in Ireland? I would also love to see some of his carpentry work, a passion that he handed down through the generations to my father and my daughter.

But the more burning question I have is.... Who is Hannah Meade?

Hannah first turns up living with my Seale family on the 1871 Canada census of Ontario. There is John and Elizabeth, their daughter Anne, 3 of their sons, Mary Hunter (sister of Elizabeth) and Meade, Hannah age 9 (so born about 1862).  

According to the Seale's 1881 census Hannah is now 19 years old. No occupation.

In 1883 one of the Seale boys, William, married Louisa Alexander.  The marriage record lists the witnesses as A.H Seale (his brother Alexander) and Hannah M. Seale... ?

According to the 1891 census she is now listed as Hannah Seale, daughter age 25 (29).

Then Hannah drops from the face of the earth.  I found no marriage record, death record, or other censuses. From the previous censuses I learned that Hannah was born in Ontario (no birth record found), her father was English and her mother Irish. So I embark on a quest to find the answer.... who is Hannah Mead?

I decide the first step is to look at the 1861 Census to see if perhaps there was a Mead family in the area. There are some Mead families, one lives in Prescott, ON, over 100K away and others are more than 300K distant. But looking promising is one Mead family in the census living at Fort Frederick (& Hospital), just 2 miles down the road from the Seale property in Barriefield:
     M. Mead b1818, wife Jane b1829, children Charles b1856, Eliza b1857, and Mary b1860.

So next, looking up these children I find Charles - he married in 1884 and died in 1887. They had a daughter Jennie born 1887, the year her father died. The marriage record states his father is Matthew Mead and his mother is Jane Macauley. This fits with the 1861 census I found.
I find no records for Eliza or Mary.

Turning to the parents I find a Matthew Mead on the 1871 area census, a widow boarding at the place of James Gough, tavern keeper. He is also on the 1881 census living with his son Charles, a seaman. No more records for Jane. So Jane died between 1862 and 1871.

With some googling around I found a transcription of an 1854 Toronto marriage record for Matthew Mead, Pvt of the Royal Canadian Rifle and Jane Macauley.  I also found the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid which lists a few Meads at Cataraqui in Kingston, including Matthew, Charles, Jane and Mary (wife of Rev Godfrey Shore)... aha!! Mary got married!
And Hannah Mead.

My next step is to contact the Cataraqui cemetery to see if they have dates of death. They are very helpful there, as are the people at most places I contact for information.
So I wait to hear from them.

Sure enough, my contact tells me that Jane Macauley Mead died in January 1865, when Hannah was just 2 or 3 years old.  At that time the Seale children were 15 - 26 and Elizabeth would have been delighted to take in a baby girl, after raising 6 boys and only 1 girl who was now 24.
The cemetery admin is still looking for Hannah Mead.

So I am convinced that this is Hannah Mead's biological family. It is not a stretch that John Seale, a military man, would have known Matthew Mead and his family, and they probably attended the same church .

There is no Eliza Mead at the cemetery with the other Meads which leads me to believe she has married. It will be difficult (although my contact at the cemetery says not impossible!) to find her.

Mary Mead Shore and her husband lived on the same street as John Seale Jr for a time.  Mary died in 1914, and her husband the good Reverend died in 1901. I have found no evidence of children and Mary never remarried.

I just got another email with a bonus from the wonderful administrator at the Cemetery - Hannah Mead is buried with her husband, George VanHorn and his family! (George's father Alex lived next door to and married Nancy McAdoo and Nancy's niece married into the Seale family).

Hannah and George were married in 1901, lived on George's family farm in Barriefield close to the Seale family, and had 4 children. But Hannah, like her mother, did not live to see her children marry or give her grandchildren, as she died young in 1907. She is surrounded by her family in death - her husband George, her stillborn baby girl and her son George Rodney.

I can now close the book on the mysterious Hannah Mead.

I hope Hannah has family that remembers her and passes on stories about her, so she is never lost or forgotten.

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