I Never Knew What Real Tragedy Meant Until ….

I Never Knew What Real Tragedy Meant Until ….



Bathurst Courier, Jan. 19, 1847

“It becomes our painful duty to inform our readers of the most distressing calamity that has ever been our lot to record—namely of the destruction of a whole family by fire.  It appears that on the morning of Friday last about 3:00 the home of Patrick Connor, in the Township of Lanark, was discovered to be on fire by some travellers who had put up at the house for the night and were aroused by the screams from the family”.

Read the rest here: Connor Family Lanark Fire- National Media

This morning I got this note from Cheryl Moss about the Connor family that lost their lives in 1847 and I began to cry after I read it:

Hi Linda,

I read your posting about the Connor Family Fire.  Here is the church burial record from 1847.  They were buried in the Ole Burying Ground AKA Craig Street Cemetery AKA Pioneer Cemetery in Perth, Ontario.   Unfortunately the stone has not survived.  Sad that, to think they are almost forgotten after what they endured to begin their life here.

Thank you for the remembrance,

Cheryl Moss




Why should this matter to me? Why should I care about the Connor family, Cecil Cummings from Carleton Place, or smile at the stories of Bridget McGee from Perth?  I spend hours a day writing and researching, and I am so very grateful to those that send me photos and family notations, as none of us cannot do this alone.

Insane maybe?

How can we understand our present or glimpse into our future if we don’t relive our past? History is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel, and when I got this note from Cheryl I felt so overwhelmed for the Connor family and I needed to write why her note was so important to me. Her documents also led us to the location of the family which had only been noted  as “Lanark”. We now know they lived in the Perth area thanks to her.

Obsessed maybe?

Loveless voices tell us that history as we know it is an irrelevance, with its obsession with the dead and we should just forget them all. Well, I never knew what real tragedy meant until I began obsessing about local history three years ago. I was a fashion designer for 31 years– and only wrote the occasional story about my life from time to time. What happened to me? Sure I became a blogger 19 years ago and wrote celebrity gossip on a national level- but why this? Why do I care so much about the past?

Sometimes I feel like I have inherited these stories, and it is a tremendous, yet wonderful responsibility I have chosen to undertake. Our ancestors were born out of blood and suffering and they risked their lives for things that we now take for granted. History is not the story of strangers; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier, and turbulent times taught them lessons, and now we can learn from those lessons too.

Never forget we are here only because of our families, and sometimes I wonder if some may be “waiting on the other side” for the documenting to be done.  Each time I walk through an old cemetery I become overwhelmed by the stories of the dead.

Cheryl Moss sent me these death notices about the Connor family that no longer had a grave marker and were mostly forgotten. Now they are documented, and thanks to all of you that research your family lineage and send in photos and stories– you are doing a service by leaving a legacy, no matter how small or large. Together we are recording names that were once real, live people and now, because of you, they have become more than just a birth and a death date.

Please send in your stories and photos (sav_77@yahoo.com)– as eventually we will all become just faces in old photographs.


We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time’s forever frozen still


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Related reading:

Why Am I Obsessed with History?

When Museums Lose out to a Pig……

The Very Sad Tale of Cecil Cummings of Carleton Place

The Notorious Bridget McGee of Perth





About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

3 responses »

  1. I think when you are empathetic, you feel your feels. We are writers and have the ability to visualize as well. Such a brutal tragedy. You are doing such a great service for your community!

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