Tag Archives: mothers

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

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This summer I went to see Classic Theatre’s  interactive play “The Maid and the Merchant “ in Perth. One of the story lines was about a single mother and I guess it struck a nerve. I had never really thought about it, and for months now I kept bypassing the story of Hessie Churchill and one other young woman in Appleton. Yesterday, it kept popping up in my ‘bookmarks’ and like the story of Margaret Violet King, today is the day the story of Hessie must be documented.

 

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On July 16, 1906, Police Magistrate J.S. L. McNeely committed Hessie Churchill for trial on a charge of unlawfully abandoning a female child under two years of age therefore endangering the life of said child. Staff Capt. Ellery, matron, of the Salvation Army Rescue Home,  in Ottawa identified the accused and the child. She had placed them both on the C. P.R. train leaving Ottawa at eleven o’clock on the night of July 10.

Ellery said the accused, while in the home at Ottawa, had given her infant the best of care, nursing it and treating it affectionately. The brakeman Wm. Cope and Conductor M. O’Connell could not identify her as a passenger on the night in question. Thomas Lodge, C.P.R yard foreman at the Carleton Place junction testified that it was he who had found the child. It was clothed comfortably, although its head was uncovered. The case was to be tried quickly that very afternoon.

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In a method to sell papers the Almonte Gazette really expanded the situation in their the report. Only in the Almonte Gazette was it mentioned the child “had been thrown out of the train window”.

The Gazette reported:

Hessie Churchill, the unfortunate girl who threw her month old child from the car window of a moving train as already reported was brought before His Honor Judge Senkler at Perth on Wednesday and pleaded guilty. Her counsel pleaded her previous good character, the fact that the child was uninjured, the mental torture the prisoner had suffered, and put the case so strongly that His Honor looked diligently on the erring girl and let her of on a suspended sentence.

The last report I found was in the Ottawa Journal 19 July 1906:

Hessie Churchill, the girl that was formerly employed in a Smith’s Falls hotel and was charged with abandoning her infant last week came before Judge Senkler for trial yesterday. She was liberated upon a suspended sentence. The child will be placed under the guardianship of a family in Lanark County. Quite a number have asked to give the pretty little innocent a good home. The child now lacks but two days of being a month old. Judge Senkler reprimanded the prisoner severely on finding her guilty, however as her previous conduct had been good and as she had a good reputation, he allowed her to go on a suspended sentence.

After being unable to let go of the story I found out that Hessie had married a local boy from Drummond Township in 1897. She was barely 18 years-old at the time of marriage. If I would make a guess, I would say the marriage became abusive and she left and worked in the hotel in Smith’s Falls. After having the baby the Salvation Army put her on a train back to Carleton Place, intending on sending her back to her husband. Hessie probably feared for her child, and in a lost moment she left her baby knowing someone else would give it a better home.

After that date I cannot find any mention of her and her husband. What happened to the child of Hessie Churchill, and where are her descendants now? I wonder if the child ever found out the sacrifice her Mother made for her so she would grow up and have a happier life than poor Hessie Churchill did.

Thanks to Carlene Bryant we have a photo of Judge Senkler who used to make the rounds as judge in Lanark County.

The Sad Lives of Young Mothers and Children in Early Carleton Place

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Photo by Robert McDonald- St. James Cemetery Walk

Of  any grave in the St. James cemetery these two tombstones I feel the closest too.  These are markers for four young children that died within a few years. If you were on my cemetery walk you know their last name– but I just want them to rest in peace, so  the name is staying with me.

Was it a fire? What was it? Who put the little recent ceramic memorial dogs that lie at the foot of their tombstones?  I found out that it is an old Jewish woman that is fond of this Carleton Place cemetery and became enamoured of these two grave markers like I have. She comes once in awhile and scatters graham crackers all around and gets annoyed if the  birds eat the crumbs. So why is she scattering them? I found out that she is  performing this ritual around the gravestones so the animals will come out at night and protect the children.

So how did these children die? I found out from a family genealogist in Saskatchewan that there was an issue in this particular family that the female bodies were not mature enough to bear children. Lifespan was also shorter, so you pretty much had to have babies very early in life. Having children in quick succession was therefore paramount.

So because the genes were inferior and if a young child was sick they became weak quickly. One local family lost five children in weeks to scarlet fever. Babies and young children were extremely susceptible to illness. In the worst and poorest districts, two out of ten babies died in the first year. One fourth of them would die by age five.

When the fever wasn’t fatal, it nearly always weakened the child who often died months or even years later from complications. Young children were at risk of dying from a lot of diseases that we’ve eradicated or can control in the 21st century, like smallpox, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and dysentery (to name just a few). Death was a common visitor and no one was immune.

The mother of this particular family had 4 children die very early in childhood:

Emma Dora was 2 years 11 months-1871

Andrew-1 year-1871

Mary-18 days- 1874

Ellen- 11 years 1 month 1887

Birth injuries, genetic defects, malnutrition, infections and other health problems are  likely causes of death.

The mother died a few years later and the father of the late children remarried another local girl.  His new wife had been charged with prostitution while living in Carleton Place, and had two illegitimate children, but he didn’t care. You see, he just wanted to make sure any woman he took in marriage was able to bear living healthy children. They had two other children and on record it showed they survived to an old age.

Are you a Screamin’ Mama?

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Today I got my copy of Screamin’ Mamas Magazine in from Florida. I look forward to it each time I get it. It’s not only the fact I am a contributing writer for their magazine- it’s because this magazine means friendship to me. I met the editor Darlene Pistocchi – Founder, Editor, Writer, Designer and Publisher online years ago. Even though I have not met her in real life we bonded like glue to paper. She is also still rocking and rolling– playing in the Florida rock band MOXIE.

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I always told her we were meant to meet.  Darlene has gone out of her way to feature stories about Carleton Place, Ontario and local photographers like Autumn Blue from Blue Horizons Photography. She even did a feature on my first Grandchild Sophia. Of course let’s not forget the efforts of Denise Weatherby and Deanna Wolverton.

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Each time I look at my stories in glossy print I smile. I know the work these women put in to keep this magazine going. Feats of strength are definitely needed- and they are nothing short of powerful working- every day Moms.

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Each issue of ScreaminMamasTM is designed to celebrate, promote & encourage everyday moms by sharing and publishing their stories, photographs, poetry, ideas, tips, rants, kids and more. Each issue is 100% designed & created by & for everyday moms and features 28 pages of heartwarming tales of motherhood, enterprising journeys, poems, creative tips and resources and humorous anecdotes about the kids, the pets, the family and more.  As one of our valued subscribers says, “There is a very supportive, gentle spirit that comes through as they grow and learn with us all.”  Grow with us & let us share YOUR Voice: screaminmamas@gmail.com

Give these women a hand. You can never tie these Mothers down!

For you Darlene!

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Kitchen-Table Mothers

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Picture taken in 1990–Agnes and me

Originally written 4 years ago but completely re-done for today.

Picture taken in 1990–Agnes and me

 

It is not fun to be motherless any day of the year, but sometimes you have no choice in the matter. Is one ever ready to lose a mother? Mine died of cancer when I was barely 12. Some days I feel I missed out on so much, but because of a kind neighbour named Agnes Rychard in Cowansville, Quebec–a little of my mother was returned to me.

We all have issues to deal with. I think this is part of life’s journey back to our true pure selves, but without a real feeling of love early on, it’s challenging. How do motherless children get through Mother’s Day? I personally would like to think that some of us have had people like Agnes in our lives. Adoptive mothers, or those that chose to be by our side, were born with the ability to change someone’s life. They gave us places to feel safe, loved, and shed a few tears.

Agnes has remembered each and every birthday with a greeting card, and we still sometimes swap photos, stories and treasured mementos through the mail. She has allowed me to know my mother in a new way. Thanks to her, when I look at these mementos I discover new pieces of my mother all the time.

 

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The late Bernice Crittenden Knight who died at the age of 34 with my late sister Robin who died at age 40. I can’t remember how much time I spent with my mother– that is how little I saw her through no fault of her own. I hate cancer

 

This woman took the time to rescue snippets of my mother’s plants while a construction crew tore my childhood home down. With my horticultural talents, I successfully ended up killing every plant she gave me, but I still got to enjoy them for a short time. I always knew in my heart she had a dream, but there was never an ounce of anger shown when my late sister and I chose others over her sons for partners.

To all these women who took the time to befriend a young girl or boy in their time of need I am sending you my heart. If your doors had not been open we would have never become part of your “kitchen table family”. Mine was a table that was filled with comfort food, conversation, accompanied by the songs of Hank Snow and Jim Reeves playing in the background.

I used to hate Mother’s Day, but thanks to Agnes, my mother still lives somewhere within me in a very real way. Each of those moments and days she spent with me worked to create a world in which my sons will carry me within themselves as they move forward in their lives, no matter what lies ahead. These women were always busy with their own families and their hands were always full, but so were their hearts.


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Me and Agnes Rychard in Cowansville 2016

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Agnes Rhycard 2016

 

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

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.

Tea and Fuzzy Socks — Facebook Chat with Sarah Cavanagh

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Sarah, can you write me a bio so I can write about you?

Begin Facebook chat……………..

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Since I hate writing in reference to myself (most especially in the 3rd person) I am going to jot this down in the 1st person. I am a 36 year old mother of 3 (Jackson-4yrs, Alexander-2yrs and Lyla 6mnths) living in Carleton Place. I am married (going on 2 years now) and life is pretty, well ordinary. I am the owner of Ariza Consulting (started in 2007) and my company provides a number of support services to businesses. I am a jill of all trades – I write, edit, organize, train, advise and plan. Having had 20+ jobs in the last 19 years I am have acquired many different skills and as such I am able to offer clients “the corporate boardroom on a small business budget”. I am happy to have worked with some wonderfully talented local people and businesses as well and connect businesses to each other when their needs are outside my wheelhouse (or if I’m too busy to take on more work solo).

These days I haven’t had much time for hobbies. Before I had small children in the house I wrote and read a lot, I’m a history buff and love a good chat about philosophy or politics. Once upon a time I painted quite a lot and I still do I suppose if you count crafts with my kids. I could say that community events are a hobby of sorts. I love taking an idea and making it a reality and bringing something unique to our area at the same time. I live by the philosophy that where you live is more than just an address so in keeping with that I try in any way I am able to improve where I live, to support my community and neighbours and to try to fill gaps where I can.

I love that my children are growing up in a town where they are involved and invested in what happens, where store owners know them by name and where they feel safe among their neighbours. When I started volunteering on the Facebook group/page, the Carleton Place Social Scene (oh gosh like 4yrs ago now), I wanted very much to create a space that encouraged neighbours to get to know each other and to be active in the community, a place to ask questions, get information and promote all the things I loved about living here. I think the reason it’s been successful is that Lisa started the group with that same vision and once the two of us came together in this shared goal there was nothing stopping us! I am so proud of the work we’ve done with the group. That people in our community share ideas and stories together and in doing so make changes and spark new traditions. The Carleton Place Winter Carnival was born on that group wall (as were a number of other community events and initiatives), I am truly honored to be a part of it.

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I grew up on a farm in Franktown (just outside of Carleton Place), we raised pigs and chickens and sheep, grew a variety of crops and lived a pretty simple country life. I have 2 younger brothers (1 my Irish twin, sharing my birthday on January 1st). I attended high school in Perth (St John’s Catholic High School) and was always a bit of a nerd. I loved unique things and hunted through my grandparents attic and thrift stores for clothes instead of the trendy malls of my peers, I cast off the music of my generation and worshiped at the alter of The Doors, Janice Joplin and the Beatles. I was an odd duck but a studious one and school was always something that I enjoyed. To this day I still love learning something new, studying or taking on a new project.

I started school young so graduated at 17 and went to University at Trent in Peterborough where I studied Anthropology and English Literature for 2 years before returning to the area following my parent’s divorce. I moved to Carleton Place actually, rented an apartment above where Natural Pet Foods is today and my youngest brother moved in with me to finish High School at Notre Dame. After that I bounced for a number of years, living with family and then in Brockville and Kingston. When in Kingston I attempted to resume my studies at Queens (Sociology) and attended for 1 year before moving to Calgary with my roommate for a whole new adventure (If you do the math that’s 3 years of study and alas no degree – I think, to date, it’s my only regret).

We decided on a whim to go west and without jobs or friends or anything more than a couple of cats and a couple of suitcase we hopped a plane. I worked for a cell phone software company and as a video store clerk, I tasted sushi for the first time (I love it!), acquired a love of country music and the rodeo and saw the Rockies. My job involved managing teams of translators and at times I had a team of 300+ people. I enjoyed getting to know them from afar and would send weekly team newsletters and celebrate each of their unique languages and cultures. I had team members on every continent and learned so much about each of their country’s history, language and culture. I loved my work and rose quickly in the ranks, I even started a social committee (of course and arranged with a local pub to offer happy hour drink/app specials on Friday afternoons to our company. I wrote a newsletter, encouraged team building events and training and made my home away from home, a little more familiar.

After a year I came back to Ontario, living in Rideau Ferry on the water with my brother for another year or so and worked for a real estate company but finally a fantastic job offer lead me back to Calgary for another nearly 2 years before my roommate and I (and our cats) landed in the Glebe in downtown Ottawa. More adventures followed as 2-single 20 something gals explored the big city. We were blessed to have moved into a building with a handful of apartments, the majority of which were occupied by young women similar to us. It was a sorority type experience and we made fast friendships. It’s in the Glebe where I got that first taste of community-based living. It was like its own little self-contained world of fine dining, art, trendy shops and community events. We had parties on the front lawn that all the neighbours came to and watched the world go by from our front porch and at times it felt like we were in our own little bubble. In those years between University and the Glebe I also travelled (something I never thought I’d be able to do growing up). I went to Mexico, Dominican, Ireland and Scotland. I fell in love with Europe and still hope to go back one day. At 27 I decided I wanted to buy a house and take my life in a new direction. I shopped around and found an affordable little wartime home in Smiths Falls…suddenly I was a home owner (still had the 2 cats).

I met and started to date my now husband, went to Vegas for my 30th birthday, Steve and I then travelled together to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and a friend’s wedding and then came home and moved in together (into a little house in Carleton Place, same 2 cats) and the rest, as they say is history.

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I’m a pretty ordinary girl, a mama who loves her kids and exploring the world with them, a wife who truly believes her husband is the absolute best decision she ever made, a friend (a good one I hope) and a pretty decent neighbor.

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 In the end I kept the chat as it as I could have not written this any better because— in my mind Sarah is no ordinary girl!

Mother’s Day Tales Seen Through A Chicken McNugget Peephole – Zoomers

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“I had a blog already done for today with lots of pictures and sad words. I looked at it and after all the hours of work I put into it I deleted it.  Linda had literally once again talked herself into believing that her mother’s absence was the cause for her past unhappy life.”

Mother’s Day Tales Seen Through A Chicken McNugget Peephole – Zoomers.

Whispering in My Mother’s Ear – Zoomers

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Whispering in My Mother’s Ear – Zoomers.

 

The TV blares as I sit at my desk blindly behind a bookcase and hear the words: hitchhikers“,” Iran” and ‘Mothers.”  For the first time in nine months the captive Americans hitchhikers are allowed to see their families and in my mind Iran is simply putting on a show much like Walt Disney would. Seeing sole female captive Sarah Shourd adjust her mother’s head scarf mixed with tears on television is enough to make any mother cry.