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Notes from the Chairperson
I just returned from a vacation in Algonquin Park where the black flies and mosquitoes are still dining on the tourists. I wanted to go to Algonquin because July 8, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the mysterious death of the beloved Canadian artist, Tom Thomson. I wanted to see the landscape that inspired him.
Where are you going this summer? There are historic sites all across this mighty land that can give us insight into our ancestorsí way of life. While at the Logging Museum in Algonquin, I learned that thousands of men left their families in the winter to log in Algonquin Ė a dangerous occupation Ė in order to support their families back in Quebec and Ontario. What occupations did your ancestors engage in? Now, find an historic site that will help you understand that occupation better and make a visit. Youíll be glad you did.
The Unmentioned Son Ė David Sproul (by Anne McIsaac)
When I started the hobby of genealogy after retirement in 2004, one of the first family lines I worked on was the Sproul family as my husband was a descendant of David Sproul of Goderich. My husband had been raised by his grandmother in the David Sproul home. His great-grandfather David had left him a bequest of $100 before he passed away in 1949, and eventually we owned the family home for a short time.
When I first researched this family I was well aware of an Andrew Sproul in Dungannon, Ontario, but did not make a solid connection of this man to the original pioneers to West Wawanosh Township, David Sproul Sr and his wife Margaret Thomson Lindsay. David Sr was not mentioned in the Sproul family genealogy that was submitted to the local history book Reflections of West Wawanosh but our Davidís father was, he being the son of John Sproul of Goderich. So I worked through the census records, births, deaths, obits, local history books, etc, everything that was available to me at the time, and left the research of this family to work on others.
Fast forward to the fall of 2016 when I received a family tree for the Black family that contained the descendants of Margaret Elizabeth Sproul and William John Black, she being the sister of our David and daughter of John Sproul. This is a very large family of 16 children so after returning from our winter vacation I was still working on it in the spring of 2017. I finished entering the information into my genealogy software and to my private Ancestry Tree.
It had been 10+ years since I started the Sproul family genealogy and the advance of records available on the Internet has been amazing, so much information available to me sitting at my desk chair. I started working at the Ancestry hints that had accumulated for the Sproul family. Several family trees were associating the Andrew Sproul I mentioned previously as a son to David Sproul Sr but also another son, the eldest, a David, was being added. The sources being cited were passenger lists from 1833. D Sproul arrived in New York out of Greenock, Scotland aboard the Camillus on 12 Feb 1833. Just the initial D -- not a smoking gun. Having researched the Sproul family using the Scotlandís People website, I knew how prolific the Sproul name was and how many David Sprouls there were! Then there was another passenger list from later in 1833, again the Camillus out of Greenock to New York -- this time, a Mrs Sproull with two sons David age 4 and Andrew age 2. Eventually I came across small index cards regarding these two children, where they were identified as travelling with Mrs David Sproul. In my ramblings through the Internet records I also came across a very thoughtful note on wikitree.com by Profile manager Rob Ton regarding Andrew Sproul as to the evidence that supported that he was possibly the son of David Sproul Sr and Margaret Thomson Lindsay. So, ten years later I was beginning to accept the premise.
Andrew Sproul was easy to document: he was a local Huron County man. Another new resource, the digitized newspaper images available at the Huron County Library website, made it possible to again research from the comfort of my desk chair. It was from this source that I found the newspaper record in The Signal of 28 Feb 1895 of the death of Margaret Thomson (Lindsay) Sproul on 22 Feb 1895. Up until now all I knew of her death was the year -- there was no death registration, no tombstone. The family listed were three sons: A. Sproul, Matthew and John, plus her daughters. Okay, Andrew was her son even though from some reason he was only referred to by his initial, but no mention of a David. Every family tree on Ancestry only showed the son David, born 1829 in Scotland, arriving in 1833 in New York. So what had happened to David?
Solving the unknown, the puzzles of genealogy, is my thing; researching is the part of this hobby I love. Knowing the general story of the family, a migration through Pennsylvania, a time spent in Toronto in the 1840s & 50s and then to West Wawanosh Twp by 1861, I took a step back to consider perhaps David Sproul was in the United States as was one his siblings, a sister Margaret. Also, I knew one of Margaret (Lindsay) Sproulís sisters was in Michigan so the U.S. was a possibility. A general search for David Sproul in the United States brought up a death record for a Jeremey Sproul from Michigan, born in 1856 in Toronto, his father a David Sproul born in New York and his mother a Hanna Ardale born in Toronto. This was a solid clue. Andrew Sproul the next brother of David often reported he too was born in New York though eventually his children would say he was born in Scotland. The passenger records would seem to prove these two eldest Sproul sons were indeed born in Scotland. Michigan Census records confirmed a David and Hannah Sproul were recorded in 1870 with children Jeremiah and Grace, not your typical Sproul given names, but then in 1880 another son is recorded, Mathew, a very typical Sproul given name.
A search for the Ardale name proved fruitless but back to Canadian records I went, to try to trace this family. Another non-specific search for David Sproul revealed a David Sproul on the census records for 1861 in Lambton County with a wife whose name was hard to read, a son Jeremiah and a daughter Grace, but also an Ishmael Iredale of close age to the wife, was recorded with the family. The Aha moment! Research into the Iredale family of England revealed that there was indeed a Hannah Iredale, the fourth child of William and Grace (Hollinrake) Iredale. Hannah had brothers named Ishmael and Jeremiah and the family had indeed been in Toronto. As a matter of fact, the 1842 Census of Canada West revealed William Iredale was recorded on the line above the record for David Sproul Sr; they were neighbours. Now I could really buy into the premise of sons David and Andrew Sproul arriving with Mrs Sproul in 1833 to New York being the sons of David Sproul Sr and Margaret Thomson Lindsay.
The search for the son David Sproul was stalled for a bit. Jeremiah Sproul was easily found in Michigan and fairly easy to research but the rest of the family seemed to disappear. There were only three more records from Michigan regarding the remainder of the family. The birth/baptism of Davidís son Mathew Sproul on 7 Mar 1868 in Hope Township, Barry County; the grave of Hannah Sproul from Find a Grave indicating she died 22 May 1874 in Hope Township; and finally the marriage of daughter Grace Elizabeth Sproul on 27 Sep 1881 to Alexander Montgomery of Hickory Corners, Barry County. Then the trail went cold.
Finally, on a new day with a fresh mind, a search on the Ancestry website for Alexander Montgomery but I added the nickname Sandy. Iíd had a boss named Alexander but he was called Sandy! Up came a couple of family trees indicating he was one and the same as a Sannie Montgomery. Sannie Montgomery was recorded, once again on Find a Grave, as having died on 24 Sep 1889 and being buried at East Hickory Corners Cemetery in Barry County and one of the several family trees indicated he died in Oklahoma. I sent a message to the owner of that tree asking how he knew the place of death was Oklahoma but received no response. I tried finding the Sproul family in Oklahoma but was unsuccessful.
Again, on a new day with a fresh mind I tried Oklahoma again. I tried to find Grace and there on the Oklahoma Territorial Census of 1890 was Grace Montgomery, a widow with a child and her father David who had been incorrectly transcribed as David Montgomery. They were found! After much research I would eventually find David Sproul in 1900, again very poorly transcribed, living with his widowed daughter-in-law Margret and three Sproul granddaughters; son Mathew Sproul had died in Oklahoma.
Days of research revealed the descendants of this David Sproul, but one final confusing piece of information came to me from the Find a Grave website. A contributor had submitted a memorial for a David Sproul, citing a specific date of death with no headstone photo, but having him buried at a cemetery in Johnson County, Kansas but linked to his daughter Grace. Was this really him or was it an incorrect link? Why was he buried in Kansas? By now I knew his daughter Grace was buried in Norman, OK and the son Mathew was buried in a nearby cemetery between Tecumseh and Shawnee OK. Often, when I view a Find a Grave memorial, I use the link to the cemetery and search for more individuals of the same surname, i.e. who else is buried at the same cemetery. Where Mathew was buried there was also a memorial for a Sproul child, from a different Find a Grave contributor, but again with a specific date of death but no headstone photo. In the end I contacted both of these contributors to ask the source of their information. Both of these contributors were absolutely amazing and helpful. The contributor of the unnamed child memorial visited the cemetery, visited the Mathew Sproul gravesite and confirmed with the office that David Sproul was indeed buried with his son and daughter-in-law and the unnamed child. The contributor of the David Sproul memorial advised she had submitted the memorial based on a newspaper article she had read in the digitized newspapers at the okhistory.org website. She agreed after I supplied her with some information that she had misinterpreted the article as to the place of burial. She also sent the newspaper clipping and others to me. What a kind, sharing response. Her memorial for David Sproul has now been corrected and she has added the newspaper clipping telling of his death for all to find.
David Sproul, born Jun 1829 in Scotland, died on 11 Feb 1903 in Norman, Cleveland County, Oklahoma. He was buried on 12 Feb 1903 in the Tecumseh Mission Cemetery, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, at the same cemetery where his son Mathew and daughter-in-law Margret Sproul are buried. A newspaper article from the Norman Transcript of 19 Feb 1903 tells of his death at the home of his daughter Grace, now Mrs C G Bible.
Gradually, the story of David, not mentioned in his motherís obituary, emerged. He seemed to have gone his own way apart from the rest of the Sproul family of Huron County, so one has to suspect there was a disruption or dispute in the family relationship. He did not follow the typical naming conventions for his oldest son and daughter; they were named for his wifeís family members. However, there was the son Mathew, named after his brother Matthew? One final interesting piece in the puzzle that was among the newspaper clippings sent to me by the Find a Grave contributor: a newspaper clipping from the Norman Transcript, 15 Mar 1895. Norman Oklahoma Postmaster T J Johnson placed the weekly advertisement in this newspaper of uncollected letters that remained in the Norman post office for the week ending 15 Mar 1895; David Sproul is on the list, he has a letter waiting for him at the Norman OK post office. Did someone write to tell him his mother had died on Feb 22, 1895?
Donít be afraid to ask others for their sources of information. At times, step back, be less specific in your searches, sometimes even without a surname when you know a lot but canít find the source information! Let the amazing search capabilities of the Internet and the genealogy services do the work for you. Follow the logic of time and place in looking for your ancestors.
Only one brick wall remains for this Sproul family. That daughter Margaret, the mysterious Mrs Meyers of Pennsylvania, who visited her family in Wawanosh Twp and then was called Mrs Evans when her mother died: she has yet to found. Somebody knew Margaret was born in 1844; that information was found in the Reflections of West Wawanosh but I have been unsuccessful in finding out who provided the family summary and photos of James Sproul Sr and Margaret Thomson Lindsay.
David SPROUL Sr (1803-abt 1870) married on 25 May 1826 to Margaret Thomson LINDSAY (1808-1895). Their children were:
1. David SPROUL (1829-1903) married about 1855 in Toronto, ON to Hannah IREDALE (1824-1874)
Children Jeremiah, Grace (Mrs Alexander Montgomery then Mrs Conrad Bible) and Mathew
2. Andrew SPROUL (1832-1905) married about 1852 in Hamilton, ON to Rebina WEST (1834-1911)
Children David, Emily (Mrs Geo Begley) and William
3. Caroline SPROUL (1839-1919) married about 1858 in Toronto, ON to James WALKER (1833-abt 1863)
Children Margaret (Mrs James Nivins) and Mary Ann (Mrs Wesley Anderson)
Then married about 1864 in W Wawanosh Twp to William McGRATTEN (1837-1917)
Children John, Mary Jane (Mrs Alexander Dunkeld), Thomas, Rachael (Mrs Robt Hoggarth), William, Caroline (Mrs James McWhinney), David and Norman
4. Matthew SPROUL (1841-1913) married on 5 Nov 1863 to Agnes Nancy REID (1841-1902)
Children David, Margaret (Mrs Thomas McIntyre), John, Andrew, Matthew, Mary P (Mrs Wm Davidson then Mrs Lewis Gillespie) and James
5. John SPROUL (1843-1926) married on 22 Nov 1867 to Elizabeth ROUATT (1849-1871)
Children David and Margaret Elizabeth (Mrs Wm J Black)
Then married on 27 Jul 1871 to Mary WILLIAMS (1848-1925)
Children Mary (Mrs Wallace J Black), William L, Sarah A (Mrs Albert Mitchell), John M, Grace E (Mrs Henry Potts then Mrs Thomas Carroll) Matthew and Martha (Mrs Wilbert E Bengough)
6. Margaret SPROUL (1844 - ???) married John MEYERS and a Mr EVANS.
7. Mary SPROUL (1846-1912) married on 7 Nov 1864 to William KILPATRICK (1840-1914)
Children Susanna (Mrs Thomas Shackleton), William, Margaret (Mrs Wm Mallough), Samuel, David, Eliza J (Mrs John W Petrie), Mary Jane (Mrs Stephen Springate),Joseph, Isaiah, Rebina (Mrs Joseph Agar) and Charles
8. Jannet Mary SPROUL (1851-1940) married on 11 Oct 1967 Robert MITCHELL (1845-1941)
Children David, Ellen (Mrs Jack Becking), William, Robert J, James, Andrew, Margaret L (Mrs Wm J Hodgkinson) and Janet (Mrs Alford Anticknap)Library Hours of Operation 2017
Due to a lack of researchers, starting on April 5, 2017 the Log Cabin library will be open only on Wednesdays, 1:30 - 4:00 pm. (and until 7:15 on meeting nights). We will be open by appointment on the other days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). We ask you to book your appointment a minimum of 7 working days in advance. We will not be open on holidays. If no library volunteer is available, you will be informed by e-mail.
To book your visit, please contact our librarian at firstname.lastname@example.org