Turning an absence into a presence

Tracing Alice Neal’s family

No old photos on today’s item. In fact a photo absence is where it starts. Alice Neal was the only one of the 11 children of Robert Smith Neal and Ellen Elizabeth Watts not to appear in the 1902 family photograph featuring elsewhere on Cutlock and Co. But the very helpful caption, added later by gran (Emily Neal), says “No 3 Alice in Canada”. (Alice was the third child, Emily 9th.) Alice had so far proved elusive to pin down, so this was useful.

I had my fingers crossed when I started out to find Alice in the Canadian records – not for long as the typing gets a bit tricky. And not for long either as after guessing that she quite possibly went to the same neck of the woods as her brother Robert and uncle Henry, Manitoba, Alice emerged quickly into a clearing.  Manitoba’s births (over a hundred years ago), marriages (over 80) and deaths (over 70) are available online on their Vital Statistics database. This showed she married Alexander Reid on 9th May 1902 in Winnipeg – a Scottish man almost 20 years older than her. Alice born 1875 Norwich, Alexander 1856 somewhere in Scotland.

Next step – where are they in 1906/1911 Canadian census returns? Both can be searched in various ways on Automated Genealogy, along with 1901 and 1851/52. Worryingly Alice appeared in 1906 as a Scottish Allace, but maybe this was down to a broad accent from the head of household. 1911 declares her English, and  the extra info on this census of month and year of birth tallies, thank goodness.

Whether Alice’s death would be more than 70 years ago wasn’t certain, but worth checking. She just ‘made it’, sadly for her but fortunate for us, having died 10th September 1939 – recorded as in St Boniface district of Winnipeg. She was 64, and another pleasing confirmation that I’d got the right person, as the date of birth given here matched that provided by gran’s birthday book. Alexander’s death hasn’t been found, yet.

Back to the ‘young’ family: At 1911 they are living in Winnipeg City, Alexander is a stone mason working on his own account and there are four children listed. This is where I had left things until yesterday, when I put the children’s names into Vital Statistics to see if I could find fuller names and perhaps marriages. Results:

  • George Alexander Reid, born 18 Feb 1903 Winnipeg. A possible marriage to Gladys Kelly Nov 1925.
  • John Henry Reid, born 21 Nov 1904 Winnipeg. Married Nellie Fletcher Brand 26 Sept 1925 Winnipeg. She was born in Tynemouth, Northumberland 1905, arriving in Canada with her mother and siblings in 1908, her father having arrived in 1907. (The latter has the wonderful name of William Twaddle Brand, the middle name being the surname of his mother, as is Nellie’s.) This couple seem to have gone to the States as, according to a couple of family trees on Ancestry.co.uk, they died in California (John 1985) and Washington (Nellie 1996).*
  • Jessie Margaret Reid, born 13 Feb 1907 Winnipeg. Possible marriage to Hardwick Norman Dodds April 1929.
  • Louisa Helen Reid, born 17 Jun 1909 Winnipeg.

It looks like I’ll have to take a trip to the library to access the Worldwide records on Ancestry to research further (I have a UK/Ireland sub at home at present). Unless anyone reading can tell me more!

* Update on John Reid/Nellie Brand: at 1945 living in Calgary, Alberta, with John a sales manager (from Border Crossing transit card), at 1963 in California, as Social Security numbers issued there. Place and dates of their death confirmed.

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