Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture #16 – My Creator

This edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture hosted by Small-leaved Shamrock is “Irish Portraits”. It is a twist on the old cliche “a picture says a thousand words”. I am “painting a portrait of my mother” with words so you can get a better picture of what she was really like.

My mother was born “Marian Joyce Neil”, youngest daughter of Orville and Ruby Fairbairn O’Neil. She and her twin brother were born in Windsor, her twin dying shortly after birth.

Mom lived all of her life in Essex County, raising a family of three boys and four girls. She knew my dad all of her life, and she “knew’ that she was going to marry him someday. He proposed to her in jest when she was eight years old but she made him stick to it and they were married twelve years later.

Mom was a very creative woman, always eager to learn something new. She was a great teacher too, teaching me to sew, knit and crochet along with the alphabets. I was a good student and was sewing my own clothes before I was ten. She was a seamstress, self-taught, and had a few customers that she sewed for, mostly evening-wear and costumes.

I think my mother had a touch of ADD, she would get going on something, learn how to do it, get tired of it and start looking around for a different project. She went through many “phases”. She went through a “chalk” phase, drawing portraits of us and a mural for the Church. Then there was the “paint” phase when she created a few still-life paintings in oil and acrylic. About this time she was taking correspondence courses in Art, English and Latin and got into her “poetry” phase. She went through the “macrame ” phase in the ’70’s and made a macrame bassinet for my oldest son as well as a few hanging tables and assorted hangers. Then there was the “Ojo” phase, when she bought all kinds of dowels and yarns and made “Ojo de Dios’ “(God’s Eye) of all sizes, from Christmas tree ornament size to 3′ high multi-coloured, complex geometrical shapes. Mom even went to school and taught my sister’s first grade class how to make them.

There have been numerous more phases through the years, and it seemed that she liked sharing what she learned as much as she enjoyed learning the skills. And me, being her #1 student, got involved with the majority of her adventures. I went with her to get her supplies, I was there by her side at all of the craft fairs where she would sell her creations. Whatever she didn’t sell, she would give away to her grandchildren. She never made any money from it, it was a “labour of love” she said. She just enjoyed creating.

Mom was “ahead of her time” in some areas. She had a “water feature” in her garden in the ’60’s, complete with water lilies long before it became popular. So it was just a wading pool with a fountain in it, but back then pond supplies were hard to come by. Faux finishing and stencilling were “old hat” to her by the time they became popular too. She was always experimenting with different techniques when redecorating. I remember the time that she faux painted the dining room table and chairs one day while dad was at work. Well, all H— broke loose when he got home and saw the “marbled” antique cherry wood!

I have my mother to thank for my gift of creativity, which has saved me money at times and gotten me into trouble a few times as well. I learned from my mother that I have to take risks sometimes, be unconventional and try new ideas, and think for myself, not just follow the crowd.

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines, O'Neil/Neil, ,

Tombstone Tuesday – My Queen Relations

My immigrant ancestors from Port Patrick, Wigtown, Scotland- Anthony Queen and wife, Mercy Stuart.
My 3rd Greatgrandparents

Their son, Robert Queen and wife Sarah Stevenson.
My 2nd greatgrandparents.

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, Photos, Tombstone Tuesday, ,

Treasure Thursday – My Mother’s Poetry

I have always admired my mother’s talent for creating poetry. She wrote poetry for contests, like “If You’re Canadian” and “Centennial Pride” which she wrote for a poetry contest in 1967, Canada’s centennial. She was taking a creative writing course when she had to pick an ordinary object and write a poem about it. She chose “Cups” for her subject. She wrote love poems, etc. I have a few online here.

Filed under: Daily Genealogy Blogging Themes, Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines, O'Neil/Neil, Treasure Chest Thursday, , , ,

My Grandfather, Orville Neil

My grandfather, Orvile Neil, was born on September 30, 1910 in Sandwich, Ontario and grew up in Paquette’s Corners, a village just south of Windsor, Ontario. He married Ruby Fairbairn in 1930 and they had eight children, four surviving to adulthood. He passed away on September 7, 1975 in Windsor, Ontario of a heart attack.

I didn’t know much about my grandfather, he and my grandmother divorced and she remarried before I was born. He was a slight man, about 5’6″ and balding. He always wore a suit, or at least that’s what he always wore when I saw him. He retired from Ford Motor Co. of Windsor and lived in a storefront duplex a couple of blocks from the factory. In the 1960’s, the area he lived in was a bad part of town and when my family would visit my aunt, who also lived in the back of the duplex for a time, we couldn’t go out of the house. My grandfather lived in the storefront part.

He wasn’t home much when we visited, except for in the mornings. He would have a shot of brandy before his morning coffee “to get his ticker going”. When my grandfather wasn’t home, he was at one of the bars on “the strip”. I guess he was a stereotypical Irishman, he liked his liquor. My parents would go to the bar to get him for a visit and we were instructed to lock all the doors and keep the windows up until they returned.

My grandfather always called my mom “Babe” and his favourtie flower was Baby’s Breath. My mother made sure there was a lot of the flower in his casket spray. My mom said that he was a gambler and his favourite numbers were 7 & 11. He died on Sept. 7th and his funeral was on the 11th. One thing that my grandfather and I will always share is our birthday.

Filed under: Fairbairn, Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , , ,

My Maternal German-American Roots – Sarah Stonecipher

My mother was very pro-Canadian and anti-American. When I was researching our family history she was quite dismayed when she found out that some of her ancestors were American. She had the mistaken notion that there was only Scotch and Irish blood running through her veins.

Sarah Stonecipher was born in Wayne County, Indiana in 1840, first child of Nathaniel and Mahola Humbert Stonecipher, and lived there until she came with her husband, Thomas Holden’s family to Sandwich, Essex County, Ontario after the birth of their first daughter, in 1861.

Sarah Stonecipher’s family in 1850 census, Wayne County, Indiana

Sarah & Thomas Holden census 1891 Sandwich, Essex County

Sarah and Thomas Holden’s daughter, Rosetta Holden, born in 1862 in Sandwich, Essex County, was married Mar. 22, 1881 in Sandwich to William James O’Neil.

Rosetta Holden and W.J. O’Neil Marriage

Sarah and Thomas Holden might have lived at one time in the house built by James Holden family in the early 1860s, first located in Sandwich, but recently disassembled, moved and reassembled in Heritage Village, Essex County.

Holden Homestead

Sarah Stonecipher Holden died on New Years Day in 1923 in Sandwich South, Essex County.

Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , , ,

Somber Anniversaries

Marian Neil Hines Nov. 30, 1936-Aug. 15, 2008

I have been in a somber mood the last couple of days, yesterday being my dad’s birthday, and today being one year since my mom passed away. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a whole year. I still call the spare bedroom “Mom’s room”.

There were times in the past year when I was having health problems that I needed my mother, but, she wasn’t here so I had to go through it alone. I needed to hear her say “everything’s going to be okay” and her favourite sayings “God doesn’t give you burdens that you can’t bear” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I know that hearing those words from her woudn’t have made any difference in the outcome of my condition, but I would have loved to hear them just the same.

It doesn’t matter how old or “grown-up” you think you are, when a crisis hits, the words and advise of your mother are always a comfort and that’s what I miss most. I miss her sense of humour and her optomistic outlook. She was always looking at the good that would come out of some difficulty, and I miss her embraces that were often too tight.

My mom was my best friend and I could tell her anything, I miss being able to share my successes and failures with her, or just watching TV. She couldn’t miss a single episode of Y & R, she even had to watch her show before she went to the hospital the day she died. Right after her show was over, she and my sister where leaving to get a different prescription from the ER and didn’t make it out of the driveway when she passed away. I remember walking her down the steps with my sister, and mom was joking about if she fell, she’d probably take me with her.

Mom was a strong-willed woman, who, even though she knew she was going to die soon, was always in good spirits and was grateful for every day that she had. Her only fear was that she’d die in a nursing home if I couldn’t take care of her. It was getting to the point that I wasn’t able to care for her anymore and she knew it, but, she said she didn’t want to be a burden on me either. I think that she died when she wanted to, and where she wanted to and I am glad that she went suddenly, without pain, and I was able to be with her when she did, and I’ll always remember the peaceful look on her face when she uttered her last words, “Here it comes”.

Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines, O'Neil/Neil, Special Events, , ,

COG #77 – God’s Wrath

My mother was babysitting her seven year old younger brother, Glen, on Friday, June 14th, 1946, the day before her mother’s birthday. She was nine years old at the time and was fairly responsible for her age. Suddenly, he ran out into the street and was struck by an automobile, and was killed instantly. She felt responsible for his death, but it wasn’t her fault, it was just an unfortunate accident.

On the following Monday, the day of his funeral, June 17, 1946, there was a tornado in Windsor, Ontario, that killed 17 people and injured hundreds. She was one of the injured, a brick wall fell on her and her knee was crushed. She had to have it surgically repaired and a pin remained in her knee for the rest of her life, as a reminder of what she’d done. She told the story many times over the years how God had sent the tornado as a punishment for her not keeping a closer watch on her brother.

Here is more information about the tornado that hit Windsor and Tecumseh that day:

Filed under: Carnival of Genealogy, Carnivals, Fairbairn, Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, Obituaries, , , ,

Weekly Genealogy Prompt # 22 – Be Always Sure You’re Right – THEN GO AHEAD!

Prompt: Dish the dirt on your celebrity ancestors. Don’t have a movie star in the tree? Then talk about ancestors famous for other reasons. This is your chance to be an historical gossip columnist!

Much has been written about this man and his adventures in his lifetime and ever since. He was “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” as the ballad about him says. He has been portrayed on television and song as a backwoods hero, with humble beginnings who grew to manhood with an honest and righteous nature. He has even written about himself in his autobiography “A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee”. David Crockett’s autobiography was written as a campaign tract for his congressional race, with literary assistance from Thomas Chilton.

He begins his autobiography with this poetic advice:

“I have this rule for others when I’m dead, Be always sure you’re right- THEN GO AHEAD!”

The reason for his autobiography, he states, is to correct an injustice done to him by the author of a book about him, and set the world straight about who he was and what he stood for. He also wished to satisfy the curiosity that the public had about him.

He writes:

“I know, that as obscure as I am, my name is making a considerable deal of fuss in the world. I can’t tell why it is, nor in what it is to end. Go where I will, everybody seems anxious to get a peep at me; and it would be hard to tell which would have the advantage, if I, and the “Government,” and “Black Hawk,” and a great eternal big caravan of wild varments were all to be showed at the same time in four different parts of any of the big cities in the nation. I am not so sure that I shouldn’t get the most custom of any of the crew.There must therefore be something in me, or about me, that attracts attention, which is even mysterious to myself. I can’t understand it, and I therefore put all the facts down, leaving the reader free to take his choice of them.

He starts out his book with a little history of his parents and where they came from, his father’s service in the Revolutionary war, Indians attacking and killing his grandparents, etc. He then goes on to his early family life, with a sense of humor. This is what he wrote about his birth:

“But before I get on the subject of my own troubles, and a great many funny things that have happened to me, like all other historians and biographers, I should not only inform the public that I was born, myself, as well as other folks, but that this important event took place, according to the best information I have received on the subject, on the 17th of August, in the year 1786; whether by day or night, I believe I never heard, but if I did, I have forgotten. I suppose, however, it is not very material to my present purpose, nor to the world, as the more important fact is well attested, that I was born; and, indeed, it might be inferred, from my present sie and appearance, that I was pretty well born, though I have never yet attached myself to that numerous and worthy society.”

Reading this book about the life of Davey Crockett, I get a real sense of his character and personality. He was not pretentious, he was honest and lived by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. He was a leader, not a follower. He was a true American Hero!

My Crockett Connections

Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, Weekly Prompts/09,

13th Ed. Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture – Irish Names – O’Neil

The surname of O’Neil is perhaps the earliest Patronym. It has been around since Niall Mor reigned almost 1600 years ago. He was perhaps one of the first Christians in Ireland, being converted from paganism by St. Patrick, who had been one of his hostages.

The surname Niáll means champion. The surname O’Neill is derived from two Gaelic words, Uá Niáll, which means grandson of Niáll. It is also the surname of one of the three most important Gaelic families, the other two being, O’Brien and O’Conor.

The nickname creagh, derived from the Gaelic word craobh, meaning branch, was one by which earlier O’Neills were known. This nickname was given to them because they camouflaged themselves with greenery when battling against the Norsemen near Limerick.

The O’Neill family was quite prevalent in Irish history for almost 700 years, until the end of the 17th century. By the 14th century, it is thought that Ulster O’Neills numbered 29,000.
They are descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages. After the death of King Niall Glúin Dubh (BlackKnee) in 919 AD, his grandson Domnall became the first to use and adopt the surname O’Neill.

Ulster O’Neills divided into two main branches . The senior branch was known as the Tyrone O’Neills and the newly formed branch was known as Clan Aedh Buidhe (Clan of the Yellow haired Hugh) or Clanaboy. Each branch had it’s own chieftain. “The O’Neill Mor” was head of the Tyrone Clan and the Clanaboy Clan chieftain was known as “The O’Neill Buidhe”.

Other lesser clans of O’Neills were also formed. They were the O’Neills of the Fews, the O’Neills of Feevah, the O’Neills of Mayo (who were actually descended from the Fews) , the O’Neills of Leinster, the Cor O’Neills, the Leitrum O’Neills, the Meath O’Neills and the Ivowen O’Neills.

from Electric Scotland

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , ,

The Last of a Generation

Last night my mother’s sister, Doris Jean Neil Rupert Noland passed away. She was born on September 20, 1929 in Essex County, Ontario, Canada. She was the oldest of eight children, four of whom reached adulthood. She lived in the Essex-Kent area all of her life. She was the mother of six children, four daughters and two sons.

Doris’ family
(one son is absent)

A recent picure of Doris and her daughter.

Filed under: Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, Obituaries, ,

July 2020