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Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather

In researching my lineage it seems I just can’t get a break. I am the way I am for a reason. I come from a bunch of colourful characters that my gynaecologist warned me about. My gynaecologist ?? Yes, when you are researching your ancestry talk to your gynaecologist. Don’t you?

My great grandfather was in charge of British Music Halls then ran away to America leaving the family. Another was a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria with loose skirts. A great grandfather was a lawyer who took on scalawags and now it seems William Penfold my 4th great grandfather was a bit of a smuggler. How is your day going?

So I blame AB positive blood……

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood?

I was told by my doctor once that 10% of the world’s population has AB Positive blood and it’s where I get my “oddness” from. Funny, I never thought I was odd! All I knew was I didn’t want to end up in the military like my Father had daily visions of. It had come to his attention many times that I was different, and I stuck out like a sore thumb in my rural hometown in Quebec. When your father is a prominent municipal fixture, and the only electrician in town, word travels around like a bush fire that your daughter is weird or a character as they called me. Honestly, there are lots of people like myself, and then there are those that pretend not to be.

My friend Wanita Bates said something once that made complete sense to me after all these years.

‘Linda, some of us have gifts to feel what is going to be in style, and you and I are one of them.” When I had my store I was way ahead of fashion trends, but when major retailers grabbed on to it and money making was involved–I was long out of it. 

So after heated arguments with my father, I left home and headed to Montreal, Quebec. I attended fashion design school on Bleury Street where I became instantly bored. Instead of great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting my teacher made me make pattern after pattern of 1950’s styles. After classes, I would venture into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the fashion.

After almost completing my course, I decided I needed to find a job. Well Twiggy, Mary Quant, and all the Carnaby Street styles were afloat and guess who was wearing them? My Dad was getting remarried and gave me $75 dollars to buy something for his wedding. Being the drama queen I purchased a black velvet Twiggy mini dress and a black floor length Dr. Zhivago style coat. It was a real floor duster with black faux fur trim, and Omar Sharif would have been proud.

So when I went for job interviews I insisted on wearing the same “ultimate”outfit I wore to the wedding. Most clothing manufactures were not into the “Carnaby look” yet and I was told time after time, “Kid, get yourself another coat”. In layman’s terms I was scaring all these fashion people with my wardrobe. Defiant, I kept wearing it.

A few weeks later I got my dream job. It was working for trendy Le Chateau on Ste. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was their first store, and their clothing styles were worn by anyone who wanted to be someone. I was right up their alley– or so I thought.

Sadly, I only got to work there for about 6 months, as I was basically hired for the Christmas rush. In those few months I got to meet the Montreal trendsetters, wore “Gabardine Mod” pants, and so began my lifetime eating disorder. But, it was a time I will never forget, and believe fashion has never been so exciting. Just being able to sneak into the Boiler Room on Crescent Street and watch fashion happen was mind blowing.

For some reason only known to God, I was just not ‘cool” enough to work as a salesperson in their store, and rent had to be paid. In the middle of the coldest winters ever I hauled my derriere all over the Island of Montreal looking for a job.

I finally found a job at The Fine Togs Clothing Co. It was a childrens manufacture run by Blossom and her husband Hy Hyman. Actually Blossom ran the company and Hy smiled a lot and played golf. They thought I was a spunky kid and if I had stayed there, I would have probably be retiring from the company about now. They were good people.

If my grandmother Mary was my foundation for my hard working ethics, then Saul Cohen was the drywall. He expected me to arrive at 7:30 every morning and I had to ask to leave around 7:45 pm at the end of the day. The man worked me to the bone, and I just chalked it up to experience. I worked in the cutting department, sewing, swept floors, did book work, and worked in the show room. There was not one stone that he did not make me turn over, and turn over again.

‘Sauly” was relentless, and when he found out that my Mother had been born to a Jewish Mother  he made sure I knew about my heritage. Anytime I asked to leave early he would turn around and say to me,

“Do you know how our people suffered?”.

Enough said.

One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at the Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to have, no, must wear, something conservative.

So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to Sears and bought “The Suit”. It was navy blue, a box jacket complete with a knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match. That was the last time I wore something so conservative. It just wasn’t me.

I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me into something that wasn’t black. Word got around the clothing market about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company run by Palestinians. Yup, I was no peace maker between the people of Israel and Palestine, but this was a time I will never ever forget.

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #2

I finally got my wish to be an assistant fashion designer, and quickly found out I was going to collect a pension before I became a designer. Lessons that were learned: when management says your designs basically stink– don’t believe them. A year after I left a certain firm, I saw my ‘unsuitable’ designs in the Eaton’s catalogue making lots of money for them.

Disillusioned, I left Montreal for love in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Again, mentors in life were: my Grandmother, Saul Cohen, and owner of Au Bon Marche–Morty Vineberg. I learned the retail trade from the bottom up from him, and to this day, if there is a spot for just 50 items, and I have 300; I can whip that into shape as fast as you can say “bargain designer clothes”.

Morty opened a discount clothing store in what he called “the dark side of Ottawa”. Today, I believe they call that Vanier, or is it part of Ottawa now? He told me how people would not cross the Cummings Bridge and shop in Vanier. Mr. and Mrs. Vineberg wanted to be the first, besides the seasonal swans, to get Ottawa consumers to cross that darn bridge. I think if there hadn’t been an “interior crime spree” going on in the store, again, I would have stayed.

Each day I had to turn my eye, and to be honest, I did tell Morty in certain terms, that all was not well in that former Bingo hall. But, it had gotten to a point that I needed to spread my wings, and so barely a year after the Vinebergs had transferred me, I quit. Ange, was working as a project manager for Olympia and York’s fabulous 240 Sparks, but he encouraged me to open my own business and a week later he too left his job.

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #1

Flash Cadilac was created and flourished through creativity. I was lucky I was able to pursue my dreams– but I had never taken the word “no” for an answer. In fact I had never listened to anyone who tried to talk me out of my views on life, fashion, and being yourself. At age 15 I marched into the Vice Principal’s office who doubled as a guidance counselor and told him I would not be returning to school the next year. I also asked for my $10 dollar school book deposit back.

I can still remember to this day where his desk was positioned in the room, and the look on his face that was partially hidden by his oversized spectacles. In a crisp but curt tone he scolded me.

“My dear Miss Knight, what golden path have you chosen for yourself?”

“I am going to be a fashion designer Sir,” I said emphatically.

He got out of chair and perched himself on the edge of my chair and asked me loudly if I was jesting.


I quickly realized had I told him I had gotten pregnant by the Keebler Elves it would have gone over better. He continued in a loud monotonous drone telling me young ladies became either nurses or teachers. 

The elderly gentleman suggested maybe I look into the world of home economics if “I enjoyed sewing”. Seeing most of us either skipped our “Home Ec” class because of the Suzy Homemaker recipes or stared at the teacher’s legs while she spoke because we knew it made her uneasy, that notion was definitely out.

With that I stood up and again I asked him to cut me a cheque for $10.00. With my Grade 9 education, a shake of his hand, and $10.00 the world was now my oyster.

William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather

When William Penfold was born in 1791 in Itchingfield, Sussex, England, his father, John, was 32 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 32. He married Hannah Humphrey on February 18, 1821, in Hartfield, Sussex, England. They had 12 children in 23 years. He died on April 13, 1872, in Hartfield, Sussex, England, having lived a long life of 81 years.

The Standard
London, Greater London, England
24 Oct 1857, Sat  •  Page 3

What is a Chandler-

a dealer or trader in supplies, provisions, etc., of a specialized type:a ship chandler.a retailer of provisions, groceries, etc.

London, Greater London, England
01 Feb 1850, Fri  •  Page 8

  1. William Penfold (1791-1872)4th great-grandfather grandfather of me…
  2. Emily Penfold Hider Friend (1823-1900)mother of …
  3. Harriet Hider Crittenden (1850-1910)mother of …
  4. Arthur Crittenden (1873-1954)father of …
  5. George Arthur Crittenden (1896-1970)father of …
  6. Bernice Ethelyn Crittenden (1927-1963)mother of …
  7. Linda Susan Seccaspina (1951-)You

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

A Letter to my Grandchildren April 14, 2020 — Linda Knight Seccaspina

We Are Family

Linda’s Countdown to the Royal Wedding–Day 2-May 13th Mother’s Day

Somehow Christmas Always Finds Me

Somehow Christmas Always Finds Me

December 24, 2020

This morning I got up and sat on the edge of the bed and read the news on my phone as I always do. Nothing much had changed as I scrolled through the various news outlets. I hit my email and found out that I had a message from someone on Ancestry.ca. If you read my blog this week I am finally putting my maternal family tree together.

I dangled my feet off the side of the bed and remembered the black smoke coming out of the family burn barrel in the Albert Street backyard during the last days of September 1963. I can still see my father through the white sheer curtains stoking the fire and tossing photograph albums and the beloved handwritten family genealogy book that cousin Iveson Miller from Island Brook, Quebec had done for my mother. Death does strange things to the mind, and it was obvious that my Father was wiping away any trace of my Mother who had just passed away at the age of 34.

As a very young child I still remember taking that family book out of the piano bench and reading all the family entries written in fountain pen ink. It was just names to me in those days, but year after year those names became more important to me. For many years I have been the last standing family member of the Knight family from Cowansville, Quebec. It’s not easy to watch family members die from cancer, always wondering when it is going to be your turn. But, through the years of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes I am still standing. In the back of my mind I feel there has got to be a reason somewhere other than irritating people with my eclectic personality.

Last week I began the maternal family tree and found out that I actually had a bonafide settler who made a name for himself on my mother’s side. James Miller and his wife Mary Henderson were prominent founders in the Eastern Townships from the bottom up: designing buildings, working on the railroad and birthing babies.

For years I have been posting online trying to find the handwritten notes of Iveson Miller to no avail. This morning I got a note that someone has them and will be sending them to me. That was the best present I could ever get besides my Pioneer Woman salt and pepper shakers Steve gave me. This will be a gift for someone in my family down the line who is interested.

After sitting on the edge of the bed smiling for a long time I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror at a face I seldom recognize these days. I looked closely, shrieked, and got the flashlight and tweezers out. I am not going to explain this line of events, but any woman will know what I am about to write. There above my lip was the longest transparent facial hair I had ever seen. It could have knit a sweater it was so long. Obviously I am getting my proper vitamins to grow something so humongous.  

It reminded me that today was Christmas Eve and my Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight would be outside the kitchen door with her axe. A prime turkey would be sitting on a stump and she would cut that sucker in half with one fell blow. Half would be for Christmas day and the other half would be jammed into a tiny freezer for Easter. After the final blow to Christmas dinner she would take out my Grandfather’s round shaving mirror and pluck her chin hairs. It was an annual tradition to the soothing sounds of Mantovani.

This morning as I plucked that sucker off I put it on the bathroom mirror to show Steve in case he was interested. As he loaded the dishwasher in his usual anal ritual of making sure cutlery was placed neatly and in order I told him the story. I reminded him once again that when I am on my deathbed all facial hairs must be removed or I will come back and haunt him for the rest of his life. He said nothing as he loaded dishes in next and nodded his head to my wishes. You have to remember after almost 23 years he finds the best way to deal with my constant stories is to just nod and move on. Probably for the best.

So to the person in the Eastern Townships that found me thank you for a wonderful Christmas present. Genealogy is like a magic mirror. Look at it, and sometimes some pretty interesting faces appear and honestly… they probably all have chin hairs.

 Merry Christmas!


Related reading

I Am Who I am Because of You

My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter

The Old Church in Island Brook That Needs a Home

What Do You Do if You Just Can’t Walk Right In?

We Are Family

The Summer of 1964

Because You Loved Me…..

A Curio of Nostalgic Words

The Personal Ad of June 9th 1966

Did They Try to Run the World?

Memories of Mary Louise Deller Knight’s Wood Stove

The Story of Trenches –Fred Knight Legion Branch #99 Cowansville

Mary Louise Deller Knight — Evelyn Beban Lewis–The Townships Sun

On the Subject of Accidents and Underwear

The Conversationalist

McEwan Fire 1949 —Chris Muller –None of Us are Alone— We are all connected!

McEwan Fire 1949 —Chris Muller –None of Us are Alone— We are all connected!


You are most welcome to publish it any way you want. Gloria has given her full permission. We both just want to share the story so that people know to never give up hope and to realize how easy it is to make such a positive impact on someone else’s life with something as simple as a laptop !! After 75 years on her own with her two daughters and two granddaughters, Gloria is now living a new family life keeping up with all her siblings and their children and grandchildren. And she could not be happierChris Muller

At long last it is my great pleasure to give you an update on the McEwen McEwan Fire 1949 article that you published.—The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina

Story below by Chris Muller

Please forgive my long delay in getting it to you, but I am hardly the wordsmith that you are. Besides, Sunday will be the one year anniversary of when this Great Adventure Started so it kinda worked out nicely. I hope in this age of COVID-19 it serves as a source of happiness and inspiration that each of us can still have so much impact on the lives of others even though we are all together but separate at the moment due to social distancing. I hope it also serves as a beacon of hope for those who have been searching for something for many years … and indeed perhaps decades … to never give up hope.

My cousin Iz, the Sage of my existence, considers any adventure in life to be a gift. You either experience something new or learn a valuable life’s lesson. Sometimes if you are lucky … very lucky … you get to do both on the same adventure at the same time. And so this adventure begins in a pool of deep pain exactly one year ago on 26 July. I was trying to recover from the loss of suicide that had happened at Easter that year and had decided to browse my DNA Matches on Ancestry.ca when a profile caught my eye. See, I have been gifted with more than my fair share of Great Adventures in life and so I tried to concentrate on that to strengthen me in my own battle with depression.

The one conclusion I came to in thinking of what all my Great Adventures had in common was that they had come about through the opening of my heart. Rather than look inward at this time of great pain I needed to find the strength to look outward. And not knowing where to go or where to look …. there is no Directory of Great Adventures !!! (🤣) … I just opened my laptop and opened my heart.

I wear a name tag at work every day that states that genealogy is my passion. And so I decided to start filling the hole in my life with something I love … studying the relationships of dead people. Come to think of it now that I typed it out loud ( 😁 ) perhaps not the best venue for spending time at when one is fighting a lethal depression … but my motto is ‘LIVE HARD’.

Ancestry has made many changes over the past couple of years that has made working in DNA much more exciting for us amateurs. I decided to spend more time in learning about how you can learn so much from shared DNA matches. I started going up and down my list looking at profiles that had a ‘proposed’ shared ancestor with me. Once I had seen most of those, I moved on to looking at profiles on my shared DNA list that had posted family trees. And that is how I first met Gloria.

The first time I saw Gloria’s profile and family tree I didn’t linger for long because there was not much there. But her small tree (much like Charlie Brown’s little Christmas Tree) burned its image into my memory in a momentary flash. I kept seeing it and passing by it … until one day in late July when I stopped and didn’t pass by. Something about that tree touched my heart: stirred my soul. There was something sad about having such a small tree that was not even completely formed. Perhaps my way out of profound sadness was to see if I could bring profound happiness to another … and so in a mix of excitement and complete arrogance and a good dose of naivety I decided to see if I could find anything using the clues from the couple of names on Gloria’s Family Tree … and I did !!

I sent her a message through Ancestry and she responded !! She confirmed for me that she did indeed know the names of her parents. Later I would learn it was from a birth certificate that was obtained when she applied for a passport for the first time. She also shared with me that that was about all she knew of her birth family. She was told nothing about her family from the people that raised her, and few if any had responded to the questions she had sent to people via Ancestry that might know something. No one was looking for her and seemingly no one from her birth family cared.

However,  I refused to accept her statement the moment it appeared on my screen. Something deep inside me told me the truth and started to lead me on one of The Greatest Adventures of my life.

There is no reasonable or ‘logical’ explanation for what happened next. The bits and pieces of Gloria’s tree started coming to me fast and furious. Two weeks to the very day I first made contact with Gloria I was able to provide her with the telephone number to someone I thought might be her sister.

Now remember, Gloria lives in North Carolina and this person lives in Manitoba!! She bravely made the call and one month to the day I first made contact, those two women flew to Ottawa to meet face to face for the first time. Why Ottawa? Because that was the address that the family last lived at as a single unit. That was the family’s address until 27 December 1949 … the night of the tragic fire that would claim the lives of the parents of those five children in the house.

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 12 Jan 1950, Thu  •  Page 3

To all who saw those first pictures that were beamed around the world as they sat in the pub, there was no mistaking that these two women were somehow related. Gloria’s sister decided to take a DNA Test herself just to have science prove what everyone was saying … and there was an abundance of joy when the results came back stating that they were indeed half-sisters. Not being one myself …. I have been told that a sister is a sister is a sister no matter what the quantitative measurement is !! And so our work was not done.

Which parent was the 1/2 connected to Gloria ? Shared DNA matches proved it to be the mother and further analysis of Gloria’s DNA Matches and my owned shared DNA matches revealed that her birth father was somehow related to my own birth father !!! It took several stabs at it but we finally have the DNA proof of who her birth father was thanks to a half-sister on that side as well. Her father was Henry Paul Dolan. 

In December, I flew to North Carolina to bring Gloria a stunning Family Christmas Tree with over 1600 decorations on it !!! That tree is mostly thanks to the ancestors that called me on another Great Adventure but it is also thanks to my adopted parents who led by example and taught me how to open my heart and it is also thanks to so many that helped us along the way. 

But one thought remained in my consciousness and haunted me every day. Why me? There are so many more people that are so much better at this that life could have chosen. Why me? December 27th. December 27th 1949 there was a terrible house fire in Ottawa. There was a family of 7 in the house that night … the parents of which would perish as a result of the burns suffered in saving the lives of their 5 children. Those parents were the two people named on Gloria’s birth certificate as her parents. 75 years after her birth and 70 years after that devastating fire …. Gloria has found her way back to her birth family–and the truth.

Just as I had to answer the call of my ancestors and travel to the East Coast to learn the truth of who my birth father was … and in the process discover that I did not really lose the man that proved not to be my birth father but that he turned out to be a spiritual ‘step-father’ for over 50 years who loved me so much that he led me to the truth of who my birth father really was … so I had to go on another Great Adventure after being called on to it by Gloria’s spiritual ‘step-father’, Cpl Enos McEwan, who loves her so much that he wanted her to learn the information she had been searching for for all of her life … who her birth family was. Cpl Enos McEwan calling me to this task I have been able to heal some of the pain from my own journey of discovery.

None of us are alone. We are all connected. This life is not the end of our spirit. Our impact on the world does not end with our death. I would never have been able to help Gloria find her family if not for answering the call of my own ancestors to follow in their footsteps and find what they have left for me … as a wise First Nations Friend once told me long long ago. I would not have been able to help Gloria if not for Iz who encouraged me to take the DNA Test. I would not have been able to help Gloria if not for my friend who committed suicide and created a void that needed to be filled. I would not have been able to help Gloria  if not for the incredible courage of Gloria herself who trusted something so sacred to her to a complete and utter stranger on the internet. And I would not have so many answers for Gloria if not for friends and family like Sharon and Melissa and Gloria’s wonderful nieces Jennifer and Lana. I certainly wouldn’t be as good as I am (whatever that is) without the love and trust of friends who allowed me to hone my skills over the years and work on their family trees for them. This is what I have learned … none of us are alone. We are all connected.

And what am I most proud of? I am most proud of the fact that so many people in the family tree are putting an end to what destroys families from the inside out. What I am most proud of is these people who are making the lives of their children better than their own. We are a family of warriors.

The families involved in this story have historically been Christian and so Gloria …. the Greatest Joy … the Greatest Gratitude … is the greatest name for a little girl born on D Day who would go on a journey through life that would take 75 years to come back to where she started and would happen 70 years after that devastating fire that would leave her siblings orphans.

Whatever one thinks of Gloria’s mother’s actions while her husband, John Max Enos McEwan, was at war … she freely gave of her life to save the lives of her children.

PS  This  picture of Gloria and myself was taken on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC this past December when I flew there to meet Gloria and her husband Robert.– Chris Muller

The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949-Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
27 Dec 1949, Tue  •  Page 1

Thanks Christopher for writing this.. the most important thing I believe in is we are not alone we are connected. Just be true to yourself. Listen to your heart. The rest will follow. Everyone has problems. You aren’t alone. This is why I encourage everyone to share their stories. Some where, somewhere else someone can relate. History and family are important and it is up to us to keep the memories alive.

God bless you!

August 2019

Hello again Linda !!

Hope you had a great time at the Carleton Place 200th parade. So sorry to have missed it. I have a question for you concerning the McEwen Family of the Ottawa Valley. Shortly after the funeral of Clarke Gourlay I became part of another real-life adventure belonging to the McEwan Family of the Ottawa Valley The story that I have become immersed in is that of Cpl Enos McEwan and his wife Olive Matheson. On Dec 27th 1949 their Christmas Tree caught fire trapping them and their 5 children in their home near Billings Bridge. The parents would shortly die as a result of their severe burns received in saving the lives of all 5 children and the children would be divided among the relatives.

In addition to bringing life back to this remarkable story of parents’ ultimate sacrifice and love for their children’ I thought it might be interesting if you could spread the story in the hopes that maybe , just maybe, there might still be a young nurse or fireman or doctor that was present at that time that might be able to add so much to that side of the story and the fires impact on the community outside of the immediate family.

Christopher Muller

The McEwen McEwan Fire 1949-Posted on August 12, 2019 by lindaseccaspina