The Sad Tale of the Foley Family–Foley, Harper, Sly, Bowes & Elliott

The Sad Tale of the Foley Family–Foley, Harper, Sly, Bowes & Elliott

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The Foley Family stone house, located at Fallbrook, Ontario, built ca. 1834 by Michael Foley. Photos from Dolores Anderson

AN IRISH FAMILY’S STORY by  Dolores Anderson

Please note that if pictures are not up it is because Rootsweb is still down.

In the year 1834, Thomas Foley (1817-1894) sailed from Ireland with his parents, Michael and Margaret, and his siblings, Matthew (1810), Mary (1815), Catherine (1825-1913), Ann (1825), and Peter (1831). A brother, Patrick, had arrived before them in 1832. A sister, Margaret, was born in Upper Canada, Bathurst Township in 1836.

His father, Michael, was born in County Carlowe about 1783 and his mother, Margaret
(Cherfer/Cheverus) was born in County Wexford in 1789. Although in their forties, his parents faced the unknown of this wild country and were looking forward to something better than what they had left in Ireland.

The family settled on Lot 22, Concession 9 of Bathurst Township near Fallbrook, Lanark and, after a number of years, built an impressive stone house which stands to this day, high up on the hill.

Close by the Foley home, on Lot 21, Concession 6, in the Village of Harper, lived Joseph Harper, a weaver. Joseph had come to Canada from Ireland with his wife, Mary Boyle, and their four daughters, Mary, Jane, Ellen and Mary Ann, on the vessel “Prince Augusta” on June 2, 1818. Their only son, John, had died during the voyage and was buried at sea.

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John Harper Foley, Aug 26, 1849 – June 3, 1930. (died Innisfail, Alberta)-Photos from Dolores Anderson

Two brothers of Joseph, James and Ephraim Harper, came at the same time. At the time of their arrival, Mary Boyle was pregnant and gave birth to their first son, Ephraim, in
January, 1819. Their last child, Elizabeth, was born in Perth on November 5, 1820.

At the age of thirty, Thomas married Elizabeth Harper on May 25, 1847 in St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Perth in the presence of his brother Patrick and sister Catherine. Although Elizabeth was a Methodist of the Church of England and Thomas was Roman Catholic, the difference in religion was not considered to be a significant factor until much later in life.
Aaron Foley, May 8, 1860 – Nov 1, 1900. (died Perth, Ontario)-Photos from Dolores Anderson

Thomas and Elizabeth lived in a log house on Lot 21, Concession 9 next to his father, Michael. They had six sons and four daughters, John (1850-1930), Thomas (1851-1887), Michael (1853-1894), James (1855-1891), Matthew (1856-1936) and Aaron (1860-1900), Ellen (1848-1900), Mary Ann (1858-?), Eliza Jane (1863-1884) and Caroline (1865-1905). Ellen, Thomas, Michael, Aaron and Caroline never married.

Ida (Warren) Bowes, May 27, 1877 – Mar 8, 1936, 1st wife of Alfred Anson Bowes, married Dec 21, 1904, in Harper, Ontario.-Photos from Dolores Anderson

At the time of Thomas Foley’s death on July 25, 1894, there was religious bickering with his sister,Catherine (Foley) Smith, insisting he be buried in the Catholic cemetery of St. John the Baptist at Perth. Only his wife, Elizabeth, sons Aaron and John, and spinster daughters Ellen and Caroline were mentioned in his will dated June 8, 1893. His sons Thomas, James and Michael, and daughter Eliza Jane had predeceased him. They were buried in the Protestant Elmwood Cemetery, Perth.


His son, Matthew Levi, had left his wife, Jean Orpha (McMartin) and baby Hilda in Perth to make his way out to Western Canada, taking part in the Klondike Gold Rush a few years later. He died March 13, 1936 and is buried in Ocean View Cemetery, Burnaby, B.C. Mary Ann, who married George McLellan, was living in Perth at the time of the birth of her son, Laurence, in 1899 but later moved to Vancouver, B.C.


It was on December 29,1899 that Elizabeth (Harper) Foley died after a few days illness from pneumonia. She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Perth, beside her children Thomas, Michael, James and Eliza Jane. Her son, Aaron, was buried in the same plot at the time of his death from tuberculosis in 1900, as was her daughter, Caroline, who also died from tuberculosis in 1905. Their graves are marked by three tall tombstones, engraved with their names.

Sadly, the family were separated from their father by religion, both in life and death.


Harriet Ann Bowes, wife of Rev. Dawson D. Elliott, married at Harper, Ontario June 20, 1910.-Photos from Dolores Anderson

Elmwood Cemetery

Town of Perth

Burials – 1873 to 2001– Click here for some headstones

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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