In my pleasure reading I’ve recently picked up a number of books** that explore the idea that one decision or act can change the course of a life or lives and as a genealogist it sparks my imagination… what choices and decisions lead to my existence? I’ll never know most of them but every time I can find a little more information it’s a little victory.

Martha Ward Garbutt had some hand in raising my 2nd Great Grandmother Flora Jane Massy. I would dearly love to know how Flora ended up in Canada. As I’ve mentioned before, the gap in my research on her life spans from the 1870 Census when she lived in Detroit, Michigan with her mother, Augusta (Cory) Massy, and 1881 when she was enumerated as the youngest Garbutt child. Whatever the story, the Garbutt family made a home for Flora. And it’s through this connection that she met and married into the Packer family—Martha’s 5th child, Mary, married Cornelius’s older brother, Thomas, in 1875. And there’s more than enough photographic evidence that the families all remained in touch long after my 2nd Great Grandparents came to Grand Rapids in 1891.

Martha Ward Garbutt, c. late 1912So, on this 195th anniversary of the birth of Martha (Ward) Garbutt, I’d like to say thank you for whatever role she had in my existence. Martha was born in England to John and Jane (Spenceley) Ward in 1818 and married William Garbutt on 30 Nov 1839. They started their family in Pickering, in North Yorkshire (per the 1851 England Census) but the family immigrated to Woodstock, Ontario, Canada prior to 1855 when Mary was born. They were the parents of eight children. Martha outlived her husband by about 18 years and lived out her last years with Mary and Thomas Packer. She died at home, just over a month shy of her 95th birthday, on 12 Mar 1913.

This photo-postcard was sent to my 2nd Great Grandparents at Christmas in 1911 or 1912. One of my cousins shared it with me and it was one of those great finds that makes the rest of the pieces fall into place. It’s inscribed to “Curly and Flo” (Cornelius and Flora Packer) from Mary with the note, “don’t you think Grandma looks real nice for one nearly 94 years.”

Happy hunting,

Jess

** Ex. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Strange Attractors by Charles Soule

Last week was the anniversary of my 2nd Great Aunt Ethel Augusta Packer who died just short of her 23th birthday in September of 1900. She carried the name of her Grandmother Augusta (Cory) Massy and in turn is the person my Grandmother was named after. This picture might be her. Of the Packer kids she was the second child with Pearl coming next. Evelyn, the eldest died at 9 months. My Great Grand other Cora wasn’t born until 1892—the year they moved to the United States and this was taken in Woodstock, Ontario. So, I suspect that this is either Ethel or Pearl. Though, to confuse matters Photographers of Ontario notes that Alfred Spinks, the photographer, bought his brother out of the Woodstock Studio in 1894 after the family moved to the US. I may never know which Packer girl this is.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This week’s photo is one for from our Ontario roadtrip. This is a memorial for William and Martha (Ward) Garbutt. While I haven’t figured out the details of how or when, my 2nd Great Grandmother Flora Massey lived with the Garbutt family for a number of years before she married. She was a witness at the wedding of their 5th child Sarah Garbutt to William Buckburrough. She was enumerated with them in the 1881 Canadian Census as Flora Garbutt. And in 1885 she married Mary (Garbutt) Packer’s brother-in-law, Cornelius.

There is a lovely photo postcard that many of my cousins have posted to their Ancestry.com trees of “Grandma Garbutt” at the age of 94, addressed to “Curly and Flo”—my Cornelius and Flora.

The monument is located in section F, Row C, number 4 at Hillview Cemetery on 5th Street, on the southeast side of Woodstock, Ontario. The other two sides have inscriptions for John Garbutt, their son, and their son-in-law Robert Porter.

Happy hunting,

Jess

   

So it took years before I realized that the Salvation Army was a religious denomination… and I’d been driving by a church for years in Lansing, Michigan. The above photograph is from a photo postcard taken by William H. Spinks and currently held by my Great Aunt. It’s the Salvation Army Brass Band of Woodstock, Oxford County, Ontario, Canada. My Great Great Grandfather Cornelius Packer is in the front row, third man in from the left with, what I believe is, a euphonium. The photo was taken sometime between 1881—when the Packers previously identified as Primitive Methodists and 1892 when my Great Grandmother was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just based on his age in this picture and another family shot by the same photographer, I suspect this is mid to late 1880s.

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