Mrs. James Prentice Hatmaker Milliner of Lanark

Standard
Mrs. James Prentice Hatmaker Milliner of Lanark
Photo-Kathleen Anne Palmer-O’Neil

Marion Umpherson Prentice, 1850-1918

With Files from– Kathleen Anne Palmer-O’Neil

My great-grandfather James Prentice, son of immigrant parents James Prentice and Mary Ann Fraser Prentice, was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1850.

In 1874 James married Marion Umpherson, who was born at Umphersons Mills, Poland, Lanark County, in 1850. She was the daughter of James Umpherson and Agnes Waddell. Marion was working as a weaver at the time of her marriage. (Early spelling was “Umpherston“).

Upon the sudden death of her husband, Marion Umpherson Prentice found herself with a year-old son, James “Lorne” Prentice, and a 6-year-old daughter, Agnes Kathleen Prentice, to raise. She had received no money from her mother-in-law’s large estate: since her husband had died, his share of his mother’s estate went into trust for his children (James Lorne and Agnes Prentice) until they were 21 — despite the fact she was left with $1,736.72 worth of unpaid promissory notes along with many other unpaid bad debts from her husband’s business.

Obviously a stalwart woman ahead of her time, she did not immediately remarry to have the help of a husband to raise her children. No doubt with the help of her family raising the children and working at her old weaving job, she persevered for about 10 years until about 1890 when she purchased a millinery shop on the main street of Lanark Village. An early female entrepeneur, she and the assistants she hired kept up-to-date with millinery trends by attending regular fashion shows in the cities. In the big window of her shop she displayed her collection of hand-made hats — further back in the shop one could find “ladies delicate things” — intricately hand-sewn.

While business boomed, she raised her children, ran a successful business and, when her son James Lorne’s young wife Katie Jane Molyneaux (1882-1915) died leaving three young children, she raised them as well for four years until Lorne remarried. When daughter Agnes “Minnie” married James McLean, a tailor, she moved them into the house beside her own home/shop where Agnes obviously was still available to assist her — and her husband. Agnes had become a formidable seamstress in her own right, (her wedding photo shows some of her beautiful handwork); both she and her mother Marion passed their considerable sewing and hand-work knowledge down to Lorne’s young daughter, Jessie Marion Prentice, my mother, and to the nieces of James’ brothers, several of whom became “town seamstresses” both in Lanark County and in the wilds of the new Red River Settlement of Manitoba where some of James’ brothers settled in their middle years.

When she died in 1918 Marion left a considerable estate including several unpaid promissary notes showing she had continued her and her husband’s earlier practice of lending money over the years to family members. She never “retired” from her business and she never remarried. Her official cause of death in 1918 was “exhaustion”. She is buried beside her husband in Lanark Village Cemetery.

Marion Umpherson Prentice in front of her shop.

Lanark Era, 9 Oct 1895: “Mrs. James Prentice has returned home from a prolonged trip throughout Western Ontario.”

Perth Courier, 10 Apr 1896: “Mrs. James Prentice, having purchased the millinery business of the late Mrs. Dougherty, and engaged the services of Miss Pepper as Milliner, will have her “Millinery Opening” on Friday and Saturday, 10th and 11th of April.”

Lanark Era, 23 Nov 1897: “At Mrs. Prentice’s you will find the latest and most fashionable styles in Millinery and the lowest prices. . . . etc.” (Advertisment).

Lanark Era, 16 Mar 1898: “Mrs. James Prentice and her milliner, Miss Rice, are in Ottawa this week attending the spring openings.”

Lanark Era, 1 Apr 1898: “Clydesville – Mrs. Prentice displays beautiful millinery.”

Lanark Era, 29 June 1904: “Ladore – Mrs. J. Prentice and Mrs. J.G. McLean (Agnes Prentice McLean, dau), were the guests of Mrs. Wm. Umpherson on thursday last.”

Lanark Era, 27 June 1906: “Miss Laura Manion, who has been employd as milliner with Mrs. Prentice, left for her home in Arnprior on Sat. last.”

Lanark Era, 6 Mar 1907: Local news: “Mrs. James Prentice and her milliner are attending the Millinery opening in Toronto.”

Perth Courier, 16 Oct 1903: Lanark Links: “Miss McCargar and Mrs. Prentice had their millinery openings on Wed. of this week. Their show rooms are filled with the latest creations in the line of millinery. Miss McCargar has had her rooms changed from the rear of the second flat of the McDonald block to the front part.”

Almonte Gazette, 8 Aug 1904: Lanark Links: “The Lanark Millinery houses were in full feather last Friday, the spring opening day. The displays at Miss McCargan’s, Mrs. Prentice’s and Mrs. Cohen’s excelled those of former years, and were viewed by a large number of the town’s fairer sex.”

Lanark Era, Jan 23, 1918: Obituary, “Death of Mrs. James Prentice“: There passed away to her eternal reward on Tuesday evening the 22nd inst. Mrs. James Prentice, relict of the late James Prentice, at the age of 67 years and 7 months. Mrs. Prentice was born at Umpherston’s Mills, Lavant Twp. She was the daughter of the late James Umpherston of this village and has lived here for more than 50 years. 45 years ago she married the late James Prentice who was a harnessmaker in Lanark Village, and who died in 1880. About 25 years ago she started a millinery business and fancy store and conducted the same until her death. She has been in failing health for about 2 years, but only took to her bed at New Year’s, and her death was due to a paralytic stroke. One brother, Mr. William Umpherston of Poland, surviving her. She leaves one son, Mr. Lorne Prentice, and a daughter, Mrs. Jas. G. McLean of this village to mourn the loss of a kind and dutiful mother. It is a unique coincidence that her death occurred on the same day of the same month as that of her father. In the village and community she was known as a kind and inoffensive neighbour and her traits of character had endeared her to all who knew her. The funeral takes place Thursday, the 24th inst, from Zion Church to Lanark Village cemetery, Revs. Messrs. Dustin and MacLeod officiating.

With Files from– Kathleen Anne Palmer-O’Neil


Name:Marion Prentice
Gender:Female
Marital Status:Widowed
Age:39
Birth Year:abt 1852
Birth Place:Ontario
Residence Date:1891
Residence Place:Lanark Village, Lanark North, Ontario, Canada
Relation to Head:Head
Religion:Congregationalist
Occupation:Seammaster
Can Read:Yes
Can Write:Yes
French Canadian:No
Father’s Birth Place:Scotland
Mother’s Birth Place:Ontario
Neighbours:View others on page
Household MembersAgeRelationshipMarion Prentice39HeadAgnes Prentice16DaughterJames Prentice11Son
Enumeration District:83

Related reading

Nelson R Baker- Fashionable Tailor of Lanark

McLean the Tailor from Lanark and Other News

Community Comments– Lanark Village Postcard

  1. relatedreading
    More Tidbits About Lanark Village
    1. It Raineth Every Day in Lanark County–Social Notes–July 30, 1897
    2. Please take the Devil Out of Me? Rev. James Wilson of Lanark
    3. Does Anyone Remember Cohen’s in Lanark Village?
    4. Till Death Do Us Part in Lanark County?
    5. Lanark Village 1868
    6. Lanark Village Old Boys Reunion 1913 Names Names Names
    7. Lanark Village Social Notes– Hot Weather and Names Names Names 

100 Hands Thrown Out of Work –Lanark Village

A Walk through Lanark Village in 1871

Lanark Village News 1887–The $5 Wager and Other Things

Life in Lanark Village 1820 — Bad Roads Distilleries and Discontent!

So What Did We Find Out About this Photo from Lanark Village?

Revolutions of Death at Caldwell & Son’s

Remembering a Shoemaker in Lanark Village–Thomas Wilson

Lanark Village 1913 — Clippings Old Boys Week

So What Did We Find Out About this Photo from Lanark Village?

Sandy Caldwell King of the River Boys

More Clippings– Lanark Fire 1959

The Aftermath of the Lanark Fire June 1959

The Lanark Fire of 1895

Lanark Fire 1959– Hour by Hour

The Lanark Fire June 15th 1959

UFO Sightings in Lanark County 1982 — Lanark Village

John Strang Lanark Village

Lanark Village Social Notes– Hot Weather and Names Names Names 1900

More Tidbits About Lanark Village

Lanark Village 1952

Hi Linda
Your article about the Orange lodge reminded me of a pic of my grandfather (James Lorne Prentice who you have featured a few times).  Only because some one suggested the pin on his lapel in this photo might be that of the orange lodge or something.  

Stay safe

– LeeAnne

Newmarket, Ontario

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s