The photographer is Hammond of Carleton Place, Ont., etched in the board. Possibly – Flintoft, Willows, Caswell, Code or ?
Anyone who could help, please notify: Ivy Mohrhardt – email@example.com
From Our Caswell Relatives–Shirley Isabelle Mayse out of print.
HARRIET (MRS. H. ROBERTS) (1847-1936 or 1940)
Harriet Caswell was the third daughter of Andrew Caswell and Martha Burrows, of Drummond Township, Lanark County, Ontario. She was born on December 4, 1847.
On June 21, 1872, at Carleton Place, she married Henry (Hank) Roberts, whose sister Annie two years later married Harriet’s brother John Goodson Caswell.
I am not sure whether Harriet (Caswell) Roberts died in 1936 or 1940. I have been told variously that she died in her 89th and her 93rd year. Her death was the result of, but occurred quite a time after, a slight automobile accident. The following obituary was printed in a Strathclair, Manitoba, newspaper:
“In the death of Mrs. Harriet Roberts, Strathclair lost one of its earliest pioneers. Mrs. Roberts died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in Winnipeg. She was the wife of the late Henry Rob erts, pioneer farmer and businessman of Strathclair, who died in 1934. Mrs. Roberts was born in Carleton Place, Ontario, and came West with her husband in 1879 to homestead in the Strathclair district. Later they operated a lumber mill for three years at the Bend, north of the town of Strathclair, later moving to town to open the first hotel there and also a gen- eral store. They retired in 1915, and during recent years Mrs. Roberts has made her home with her daugh ter in Winnipeg. Mrs. Roberts was buried in the family plot in the Strathclair cemetery.”
Harriet Caswell’s husband, Henry Roberts, was the fifth child of John Roberts and Elizabeth Earle. For information about them see pages 286-295. The 1861 Beckwith Township Census lists Henry Roberts as born in Canada and sixteen years old. That would make his birth date about 1845. After a strenuous and successful life he retired from business in 1915. In 1934, in his ninetieth year, he quite literally lay down and died, without having suffered from any preliminary illness.
Harriet (Caswell) and Henry Roberts left Ontario for the West in 1879. For a time Henry lumbered in Minnesota. Then he decided to homestead on the Canadian prairies. With his wife and two children he went from Minneapolis to Winnipeg by train. Covering the bottom of a carpet bag which they carried with them was their hoard of gold coins. From Winnipeg they went by barge on the Assinaboine River to Brandon. The final lap of the journey they made with a waggon train, riding in a squeaking Red River cart drawn by oxen.
Henry Roberts settled at a bend of the Saskatchewan River near Elphinstone. He built a sawmill there. At first the only neighbours were a family named Sinclair. The site of the Roberts mill was called the Bend. It was some nine miles north of what was to be the village of Strathclair.
Here I shall digress to say something about Strathclair because at different times it has been the home of quite a few of our relatives. Strathclair is in Manitoba, about forty miles northwest of Brandon. The village came into existence with the arrival of the Manitoba and Northwestern Railway in 1885. In 1886 a station was opened in the village. The early settlers were nearly all Anglo-Saxon, but as time went on immigrants of various nationalities enriched the life of the community. In 1886 when the Strathclair Presbyterian Church was being built bricks and lumber were brought by oxen from Minnedosa about thirty miles to the southeast. The round trip took three days. The telephone did not come to Strathclair until 1910. Electric power reached Strathclair village in 1938. For sometime before this, however, the village was served by the Henderson Power Plant. The rural areas in the Strathclair region were not supplied with electric power until 1949.
Before the site of Strathclair village was surveyed Henry Roberts and his family moved in. They were said to be the first settlers. Henry Roberts opened the first hotel there in 1885 and was himself the architect of the building. As the temperature was about 40 ” F. below zero when the building was under construction all the nails had to be warmed to prevent their breaking. Henry Roberts also opened a general store in Strathclair. He had a store in Elphinstone as well. In both Elphinstone and Strathclair he had a cheese factory. The Elphinstone factory was burned down about 1896. In both his factories Henry Roberts made very good cheese, winning gold medals at exhibitions in Toronto and Regina.
Here is how the Canadian Weekly’s, Carleton Place column described an 1898 visit to their old home region by Harriet and Henry Roberts:
“July 7, 1898. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Roberts, of Strathclare (sic) N.W. Territories, are here to spend a few weeks after an absence of many years. They formerly resided at Black’s Corners. Mrs. Roberts is a sister of Principal Caswell. They are greatly enjoying their visit, especially the process of removing the fungus growth that has developed on the old port-wine memories, and drinking afresh the sweets of their early friendships.”
“August 11, 1898. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts left for their home in Strathclaire (sic) on Monday, having spent one of the choicest months of their lives here and hereabouts.”
Much of my information about Henry Roberts has come from a history of Strathclair published by the municipality and entitled “Our History to 1970.” The next four paragraphs are all quoted from that book:
“Hank Roberts was an enterprising businessman. At one time he owned the land from Minnedosa Street west along Saskatchewan Avenue to the Market Square, including the Dew Drop Inn Hotel. When his daughter was married he moved half of the building west to its present site, the Delmer Jack home, and lived in it while leaving the other half on the corner of Minnedosa and Saskatchewan as a home for his daughter Lily and son-in-law Billy Reed. Among Hank’s other ventures were a store where the Drug Store is now (this burned in 1913) and a store where the Coop Grocery Store is situated. When Hank opened this store the upstairs was used as a hall. M.S. Chapman bought this store in the early 1900’s and later added to it. it was a landmark on Main Street and is still known as the Chapman store, in spite of having had several different business occupants in the meantime, until it was torn down in the early 60’s.
Hank also built a Pool Room and Barber Shop on the site of the McCloy Hotel, where the barber shop is now, and sold it to George Haxby. It was owned and operated by various barbers until finally bought by John Dymtar, who in 1957 tore down the old building and rebuilt on the same site.
The second building in Strathclair was Henry Roberts’s hotel, built in 1885. The village was not surveyed or planned at this time. The Manitoba and Northwestern Railway went only as far as Solsgirth. The Hank Roberts hotel was bought by James Grassie in 1893, and named the Manitoba and Northwestern Hotel. Later he moved this building in two pieces from Main; one part to the N.E. corner of Arnit and Saskatchewan, where it served as the Malcolm McLean boarding-house for many years and was torn down after World War II. The other part was moved a bit further west and is now the home of Mrs. Henry Choy.
On September 3, 1913, a fire destroyed the cornerstore owned by Hank Roberts, and a number of other buildings. A new brick building was built on the corner of Main and Minnedosa to replace the Hank Roberts corner-store. This in turn has been torn down. In 1966 a large modern drug store was built on the same site.”
Before going on to the children of Henry and Harriet (Caswell) Roberts I shall set down a few reminiscences about Henry and Harriet from people who knew them personally. My own recollections are very faint. Some time between 1916 and 1918 when we were visiting Aunt Ruby and Uncle Frank Williamson on their Strathclair farm, Mother took my brother and me to call on our Great-Aunt Harriet and Great-Uncle Henry. I remember, as does my cousin Orm Williamson, that our aunt gave us cookies. Orm, who saw the couple often because his family farmed near by, says that they were a grand old couple. He refers to Uncle Henry’s sense of humour, though the instance he gives does not seem to have been either clever or kindly. He relates that Uncle Henry said to Aunt Harriet,who was quite sharp-featured, “There’s going to be a terrible collision one of these days.” on her asking him when, he replied, “When your nose and chin meet.” The only details that I remember about Uncle Henry–entirely unrelated to each other–are that he had had a cancer caused by pipe-smoking removed from his lip, and that he was a great horseman.
Henry Roberts’s grandson Charlie Roberts, of Winnipeg, as a boy lived for some years with his Roberts grandparents. He wrote:
“One thing that I do know is that Grandpa Roberts was a hard task-master but one of the kindest men I have ever known. No one ever went hungry from his door. Grandma Roberts, while quite sedate, was also a lovable person. I spent many of my younger years with them and although I tried–as well as did several of my other cousins–we could never get much information of their past–romantic or otherwise.”
About his grandmother, Harriet (Caswell) Roberts, Charlie sent me this amusing little item:
“Grandma declared that she was Welsh. This was during World War One when the Irish were allowing German submarines to refuel at some of their ports. Grandma, being a great Patriot, decided that the Robertses did not come from Ireland but rather Wales instead. This was a standing joke in our family for years. I wonder what she would think of Ireland today.”
Harriet was, of course, a Roberts only by marriage. I don’t know whether she also claimed Welsh origin for the Irish Caswells. If she did so, there is a chance that she may–if we could go back far enough–have been right after all.
Henry Roberts’s grandchildren Cliff Reed and ‘Violet (Reed) Mizen, of Vancouver, when describing his appearance to me mentioned his full head of white hair. He had no need of spectacles they said. About five o’clock he dearly loved to have a nip of rye. In his later years he suffered somewhat from lumbago. He was very fond of playing euchre and bridge. The writer of an article about him in the Strathclair paper had written:
“Challenge him to a game of euchre or even bridge, and he will forget his lumbago and give you an up-todate battle rivalling Lenz or Culbertson.”
Another writeup, this time about a poultry exhibit of over eighty entries, sponsored by the Strathclair Agricultural Society, had this to say about Henry Roberts:
“I well remember that day as Hank Roberts had several coops of fowl, and in one coop he had a Plymouth Rock cockerel and two hens, and some good poultry men told Hank that those two feathers should not be sticking out of the rooster’s tail. ‘Cripes!’ said Hank [I have been told that this was his invariable expletive.] ‘We can soon fix that,’ so he stuck his hand in the coop and yanked out of the rooster’s tail the two offending feathers, and when judging was over Hank had the prize.”
Coming Next–Henry and Harriet (Caswell) Roberts had two children:
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 andScreamin’ Mamas (US