Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Transcription Tuesday's- James Bates

Good morning! Last week for Transcription Tuesday we found out a little bit about George Matheson. This week in the blacksmith’s ledger we will be looking at a page that was assigned to Mr. James Bates. According to Armstrong’s county of Elgin Directory for 1872, recording who would have resided in Tyrconnell at the time states that Bates was a farmer.

We could not find a great amount of information about James Bates other than that he was a local farmer. So we would like to ask that if you have any further information about him or the family, to please feel free to contact us. It would be much appreciated, as the local history of Tyrconnell is an important part of where we live today. The first entry on the James Bate page is November 12th, 1867 and the last being September 22nd, 1868.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Memory Mondays: Captain Leslie Patterson

By Sandra Sales

Lieutenant-Colonel Leslie Patterson

In 1800, three siblings, Leslie Patterson, Mary Storey and Fanny Patterson moved from County Fermanagh, Ireland, to Harbour Creek, Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie. While there, Leslie Patterson married Lydia Backus from Vermont, and his sister Fanny married John Pearce from Rhode Island. The third sibling, Mary Storey, was a widow who arrived in the United States with four children, Robert, Walter, Anne and Sarah. Her oldest son, Robert stayed in the US while the rest of the family came to Upper Canada. About this time, word was spreading that tracts of land in Upper Canada were opening for settlement. Patterson and his brother-in-law, John Pearce, scouted out this opportunity in 1808. They were drawn to a fledgling settlement on the north shore of Lake Erie that was under the control of Thomas Talbot. Talbot was offering settlers fifty free acres of good land and the possibility to buy more at $3 per acre. In addition, Talbot had provided his settlement with a grist mill, sawmill, cooper shop and blacksmith shop. The Patterson family group were the type of settlers that Thomas Talbot was looking for. They were industrious, loyal, well-equipped and of Irish origin, like himself. Lots were chosen and on July 14, 1809, Patterson and Pearce brought their families and belongings, legend has it, in an open flat-bottom boat along the shore of Lake Erie, 9 adults and 5 children in all. A hired hand and cattle travelled by land. A year later they were followed by Lydia’s brother, Stephen Backus. The Pattersons were flax growers in Ireland and they arrived with their flax wheels and looms. They settled in a cluster on lots 10, 11, 12 and 13 in Concession 10 of Dunwich Township. Together they developed a tight-knit and prosperous family community along the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie.

In 1810 Leslie Patterson wrote to his father-in-law, Joseph Backus, back in Pennsylvania, telling of their first year in the Talbot Settlement.

Our crops all look remarkably well. We had a good crop of flax, between three and four acres of excellent corn and I expect to have fifteen or twenty bushels of peas. Our wheat came off lighter this season than it commonly does in this county on account of drought in the beginning of the season, but it is very good and we have got it very well saved, besides a large crop of beans and potatoes and as much as four hundred heads of excellent cabbages.

I have got promising young stock. We have another very good cow and for the colt I sold when Stephen was with me I got a very likely pair of two-year-old steers and a pair of year-old bulls. We have got a good stock of hogs. I expect to be able to fat eight hundredweight of pork this fall and we have scarce ever been out of venison as good as ever was cut since we have been here.

But, war was looming. Thomas Talbot was commissioned Colonel of the 1st Regiment Middlesex Militia in 1812. Leslie Patterson was commissioned one of the 5 captains for the militia. His two brothers-in-law, John Pearce and Stephen Backus, and two nephews, Benjamin Willson and Walter Story, were also in the militia. There are few records available about Captain Patterson’s role, but it would appear he was often in charge at Port Talbot, which was Colonel Talbot’s home and centre of control, when Talbot was elsewhere. By 1814 the British had a very limited presence in the Western District. They had been forced back from Lake Erie and the Thames River valley. The local militia units were stretched to the limit defending the area and caring for their farms. Marauders roamed freely, hoping to capture local officers to disorganize the resistance of the militia. Colonel Talbot was a particular target. Consequently, in that year Port Talbot experienced at least 6 attacks: Nov 11, 1813 Captain Westbrook; May 20, 1814 Captain Westbrook; Aug 16 Captain Walker; Sept 8 Captain McCormick; Oct 15 Lieutenant Serviss; and Nov 17 General McArthur. Attacks became more severe as the summer progressed.

Captain Leslie Patterson is mentioned in the following two incidents:

On May 20 Port Talbot was attacked by thirty riflemen under the command of Andrew Westbrook. Fortunately, Colonel Talbot was at Long Point at the time. The settlement got a half hour warning and the settlers fled for a neighbouring township. Two groups of militia were called out but before they could be coordinated the enemy had entered the settlement and taken prisoner those who were left on guard. Patterson was captured at the blacksmith shop. He was paroled. The use of parole was common, particularly for militiamen who were captured whereby they would sign a document which pledged they would not take further part in the war.

August 16 – On this date, American militia and natives…arrive at Port Talbot with the intent of taking Colonel Talbot to Detroit… They also plan to ravage the settlement. This time Talbot is in residence and narrowly escapes. Talbot notices a large group of natives approaching and assumes that they are British supporters. Fortunately he sees that they are accompanied by Americans. Captain Leslie Patterson…encourages him to escape out the back door. Talbot has a reputation for dressing like his settlers. Attired in his farm clothes, he…walks slowly towards the ravine at the side of his house, descending the hill and crossing the creek. One of the Indians sees him and takes aim. Patterson seizes the rifle barrel and ingeniously tells him that his target is the Colonel’s old shepherd and that calling him is futile as he is deaf. The Indian believes him and Talbot remains a free man.
The War of 1812 in St. Thomas and Elgin County
Donna Hanson, St. Thomas Public Library

In 1826 the Patterson family replaced their initial log house with a large frame house “Sunnyside”. The Pattersons were Church of England adherents and welcomed travelling missionaries. Services as well as baptisms and the first confirmation in Elgin County were celebrated in this house. Over the ensuing years Leslie held a number of positions in the community. He was postmaster, magistrate, commissioner of roads, deputy to the land registrar, Mahlon Burwell, at times, and chairman of a gathering of landowners in 1817 to answer an agricultural survey. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Regiment Middlesex Militia in 1837.

Shortly after being commissioned as a magistrate in 1821, Patterson became embroiled in a court case over statutory labour for road maintenance. A disgruntled settler, Singleton Gardiner had refused to do his statutory labour and was refusing to pay the fine incurred. When two magistrates, Patterson being one, compounded Gardiner’s horse and wagon, Gardiner took them to court for trespassing. They were acquitted, but the case went on for a number of years and the community was divided in its loyalties between the “establishment”, represented here by Patterson, and those who were agitating for reform, represented by Gardiner.

Patterson also was in a land dispute in Kent County. He was granted a lot which was discovered to have been settled for some time. When the original settler couldn’t produce documentation he was ousted from the land and it was awarded to Patterson. This was perceived by some as an injustice in favour of a member of the establishment.

Leslie and Lydia Patterson had 9 children. Joseph 1807-1884; Walter 1808-1890; Mary 1810-1890; Hannah 1813-1913; Catherine Anne 1815-1896; Olivia 1818-1864; Leslie 1820-1825; Frances 1822-1881; Lydia 1825-1914

Colonel Leslie Patterson died on Apr. 26, 1852 at 78 years and Lydia (Backus) Patterson died on Aug. 16, 1870 at 86 years. They and many of the extended family are buried in St. Peter’s Anglican Church on adjoining land that was set aside for that purpose by Mary Storey, Patterson’s sister.*

Dates of birth and death for the extended Patterson family:

Leslie Patterson d. Apr. 26, 1852 at 78 years
Lydia (Backus) Patterson d. Aug 16, 1870 at 86 years
Fanny (Patterson) Pearce 1774 – Nov. 4, 1850
John Pearce 1777 - July 23, 1850
Mary (Patterson) Storey 1758 - July 22, 1842,
Robert Storey b. 1778
Walter Story/Storey b. 1783
Anne (Storey) Backus b. 1791
Stephen Backus b. Dec 25, 1786, d. Nov 4, 1865
Sarah (Storey) Willson b. 20th Oct 1792

*For information on the building of the church see Veteran number 372, Walter Storey.

Thank you to Sandra Sales for her research and work in honouring our War of 1812 veterans.  

Through the War of 1812 Graveside Project, Captain Leslie Patterson and others will be remembered with a ceremony in St. Peter's Anglican Church Cemetery on Sunday, July 12 at 1pm during Backus-Page House Museum's Living History Weekend July 11-12, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Behind The Scenes of Beds, Baths, and Beyond #8

·         Some settlers got their water from a nearby spring, but most dug a well as near to the house as they could because hauling water was backbreaking work, usually done by the women and children. 
·         People did not bathe or wash their clothes very often and when people did wash themselves or clothing, the dirty water was often thrown right outside the house so seeped into the nearby well, sometimes making it dirty or causing illness.
·         Water was boiled in pots over the fire and poured into a bathtub for those that could afford one. Bath water was shared. The head of household would be first and he would get the fresh warm water, and then the next person according to station.

Most people, except very rich people, didn’t use soap until about the second half of the 19th century.
Soap, made from tallow, was specifically for washing of clothes. Only the wealthy had access to the imported, specially wrapped, and expensive perfumed toilet soaps.
Soap could be bought at the general store, but most people preferred to make their own.  Basic soap was made from lye and grease.  Other ingredients, such as borax, ammonia, resin, wild ginger leaves and tallow of bayberry were sometimes added. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Damask Rose

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today, we learn about a special kind of rose. 
Robert de Brie, a Crusader, is sometimes said to have brought the Damask rose from Syria to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to a major city in Syria called Damascus. This plant became popular in the European gardens of noblemen and wealthy merchants, and for centuries, this rose has also been considered a symbol of beauty and love.

Roses are often thought of as having a nice scent as well.  Rose petals were used for their fragrance to make an expensive essential oil called altar of roses which was used in perfume.  It would take one and a half tons of fresh petals to make one pound of the oil!  They were also used to make rose water, in which the process for extracting rose water from rose petals in the early 11th century was invented by a Persian scientist, Avicenna.  These roses are also ideal for making potpourri, because they hold their fragrance so well when they are dried.

Not only were roses used for making perfume for Victorians, perhaps bought and worn by the settlers here in Elgin County, but they also loved the scent of violets.  Not only would they carry the scent of the violet on their skin, but they also ate violets, candied in cakes and pastries, and women would pin them to their dresses while men tucked them in their hat brims or wore them on their lapels.  Queen Victoria herself however, was ‘not amused’ by plenty of things, including the over-lavish use of fragrance.  Interesting how her people were not phased by their ruler’s distaste.
Have a great week ahead,
Catie Welch

Friday, June 26, 2015

Family History Friday: And Yet More Photographs

A photo album has just been donated to the museum collection and none of them are labelled.  The only writing we can find refers to Johnny Sloan, 1887.  If you have any idea who these people are or what family they may belong to (most likely Sloan, McArthur, Allen and others), please contact us.  The photo album is full so we will be posting more photographs over the next few weeks for Family History Fridays.  
Angela Bobier 519-762-3072  info@backuspagehouse.ca 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Events to attend @ the Backus-Page House Museum

July is just around the corner, which means a variety of new exciting events to look forward to! 

History day camp begins July 2 and runs every Thursday in July and every Wednesday in August. Themes include; Neutral Indians, Talbot and the Early Settlers, Confederation, The Railroad, WW1, Roaring 20's, Dirty 30's, WW2, We Love the 50's and 60's, the Fur Trade and the 70's and 80's! Pre-register today!

Victorian tea parties are also beginning on July 5th. Enjoy a tour, tea and baked goods for only $10 per person. Teas are hosted in the parlour of the museum and served by costumed interpreters. Teas run every Sunday from 1-4pm. 

Every Tuesday and Friday in July and August St. Peter's Church will be open for tours! The Church will be open 10:00am- 4:30pm. Tours will cost $2.00 per person. 

You won't want to miss out on these incredible events! For more information please call 519-762-3072 or email info@backuspagehouse.ca. Also visit our website www.backuspagehouse.ca

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

World War Wednesdays Brain Log: Faces of History

     World War Wednesdays has definitely followed my historical career over the past year in a lot of ways, and I'm really excited to be able to look back on it in the future to see how far I've come. I figured it's been a while since I checked in and did a post for where I'm at right now, so here's a bit of a brain log for this week!

     If you didn't already know, I'm working for the summer at Elgin County Archives and it's already been almost a month! In this short time, I've already learned a lot and it's made me think a lot about my perspective on life and ideas about history. Most significantly, I've been thinking a lot about what is left to remember a person long after they are gone.

     Since my job involves newspaper digitization, I deal with materials that sometimes cover the better part of a person's life. Newspapers in the past covered so much more of the events in people's lives, and I've come across so many unbelievable, interesting, and tragic stories about the fine folks of Elgin County. I've also learned a lot just by flipping over some of these articles. I've encountered articles about historical events involving some of the more notable Canadians that I read about more often, and some that are comically indicative of how much things have changed (like why people should think about buying a smoke alarm and how women should react to their husband's cheating). Reading these newspapers and the people's stories has really added a personal element to the history, and that's one of my favorite parts.

     This brings us to the topic that literally makes me feel sick and want to curl up in a ball of tears. The fact that more and more, the little pieces of the past that we have in print are becoming the only thing we have of that time as the people themselves disappear. There are fewer and fewer people everyday who can tell us what life was like when Diefenbaker was Prime Minister or when ladies followed etiquette books.

     I guess what I'm trying to say is that we should all take advantage of the faces of history that are near to us before they are just a photograph in a newspaper. Go call your grandma and ask her something out of left field about her life in, say, the 1960s and I guarantee she'll love answering. It's something that people love talking about but rarely get the chance, and I promise you'll appreciate the new perspective.

    I've had the privilege of meeting several Holocaust survivors and veterans, and those are some of the most memorable experiences of my life. As time marches on, such experiences have become increasingly rare, but I hold them very dearly when they do happen. I've also come to realize and appreciate the histories of the people a bit closer to me, and I think that we could all benefit from tuning in to what our older relatives can tell us about life. And if you've missed an opportunity or wish you knew more, you'd be surprised at the kinds of things you can find at Elgin County Archives.

Here's a link if you'd like to start exploring:

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Transcription Tuesday- George Matheson

Good Morning! Today we’re beginning to look into some of the entries in the Blacksmith Ledger. The names in this ledger will give us insight into who lived in the area at the time and what some of their lives may have been like. As we look into the ledger if you recognize any names, or have any further knowledge about these people please feel free to contact us and let us know.

The First entry is dated November 12th, 1867, and is addressed to George Matheson. According to the book the Early History of Dunwich Township, Matheson would have been a teacher on the George Gun farm around 1831-1842. Following this period, an 1842 Heads of Household and Occupations Census concludes that Matheson was a shoe maker. This would support the entries in the blacksmith ledger. 

This is all we know about Mr. Matheson, if you have any further information about this entry please feel free to stop in or give us a call! Have great week everybody, and we will see you all next Tuesday! 

Mon :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Memory Mondays: Private Walter Storey

Private Walter Storey
By Sandra Sales

Very little is available about Walter Storey. He was 29 at beginning of war of 1812. He was born in Ireland about 1783, moved to Pennsylvania in 1800 and then to Upper Canada in 1809 with his extended family, settling in the Talbot Settlement on Lake Erie. He farmed and remained single. He died 12 February 1831, and was buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Dunwich Township.

During the War of 1812 he served under:  Captain Leslie Patterson (Walter’s uncle) 1812, 1813, 1814; Captain David Secord 1812; and Captain Gilman Willson 1814. He was entitled to Land Claim Certificate Unit – Flank Company 1st Regiment Middlesex Militia, Vol 24, File 81, pages 381-382.
It is documented that Walter saw action as a member of the militia when it was called out to repel a raid on 20th May, 1814.  Because the Talbot Settlement was raided 6 times between November 1813 and November 1814, Walter was probably called out numerous times.

It is also documented that he and his mother, Mary (Patterson) Storey, were victims of the Indians and American Raid on Port Talbot on August 16, 1814. He was recorded as living at the northwest end and southwest half of lot 11, concession 10 Dunwich Township. His mother was a “widow” and “elderly”, living on part of lot 11, concession 10 Dunwich. After this August raid, led by Captain Walker, Walter and his mother claimed the loss of an ox, bed clothing, men’s clothing, shirts, new linen, women’s clothing, and household furniture.

The lot on which Walter and his mother lived was granted to Mary Storey in 1808. Sometime after the War of 1812 she donated 10 acres of her land for a church and burial ground. In the autumn of 1827 the Port Talbot community came together to frame, shingle, and furnish St. Peter’s Anglican Church. Col. Patterson, her brother, went by boat to Buffalo to purchase the glass for the windows as well as the lead and oil for the paint and the putty. The extended Patterson family (the Pearces, Storeys and Backuses) each pledged 70 pounds to the project. The church contains a window representing Christ knocking at the door, with the inscription: “In Memory of Mary Storey, grandparent, donor of St Peter’s glebe lands, and Stephen and Ann Backus, father and mother, who with two or three other families erected St Peter’s Church in 1827.” Many members of the extended family are buried there.

Thank you to Sandra Sales for her research and work in honouring our War of 1812 veterans.

Through the War of 1812 Graveside Project, Private Walter Storey and others will be remembered with a ceremony in St. Peter's Anglican Church Cemetery on Sunday, July 12 at 1pm during Backus-Page House Museum's Living History Weekend July 11-12, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Beds, Baths & Beyond #7

Skin Care and Cosmetics Part 4

Rouge, Liquid: Take carmine, 2 parts, pearlash, 1 part, and water, 9 parts; mix.

Pearlash; (potassium carbonate. pearl ash) the primary component in potash, a white salt that softens hard water, used in soap and as a mild drying agent.

Pearl Powders, for the Complexion:
1. Take pearl or bismuth white, and French chalk, equal parts. Reduce them to a fine powder, and sift through lawn.

2. Take 1 pound white bismuth, 1 ounce starch powder, and 1 ounce orris powder; mix and sift them through lawn. Add a drop of attar of roses or neroli.

Pearl White: Take nitrate of bismuth in solution, and add it to a dilute solution of chloride of sodium until the whole of the bismuth is precipitated; collect, wash, and dry the powder with great care.

Bismuth; a white, crystalline, brittle metal (element) with a pinkish tinge as it oxidises.
Lawn; a plain weave linen.
Orris; a root from Iris flowers, used as a fixative with other substances to ensure stability.
Nitrate of bismuth; bismuth and concentrated nitric acid.

Chloride of sodium; (sodium chloride) salt.

**We do not recommend you try these recipes at home.  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Johnny-jump-up

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today, I bring you information on those cute little three-coloured flowers we call Johnny-jump-ups. 

These pretty little flowers that we see popping up in the Spring, and again in the Fall are an heirloom plant from the Elizabethan times.  Back then they were referred to as heart’s-ease or wild pansy however.  This species of plant made its way to America in the 1600s, where it was named the Johnny-jump-up, as its seeds scatter widely and new plants spring up in places you would not expect. 

This plant also has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. It has been recommended for conditions such as, epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and eczema. In folk medicine, it is said to help respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and cold symptoms. The flowers have also been used to make yellow, green and blue-green dyes. 

This flower was associated with thought in the "language of flowers", as it was known as a pansy for an amount of time, and pansy comes from the French word “pensee,” which means “thought.”  For my fellow Shakespeare fans, Ophelia's often quoted line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There's pansies, that's for thoughts,” was not referring to a modern garden pansy, but the three-coloured Johnny-jump-ups we find all around.  Last fun fact about this flower is that it can be pressed for floral art or can be candied for use as a cake decoration! 

Take care everyone,

Catie Welch

Friday, June 19, 2015

Family History Friday: More from the Photo Album

A photo album has just been donated to the museum collection and none of them are labelled.  The only writing we can find refers to Johnny Sloan, 1887.  If you have any idea who these people are or what family they may belong to (most likely Sloan, McArthur, Allen and others), please contact us.  The photo album is full so we will be posting more photographs over the next few weeks for Family History Fridays.  
Angela Bobier 519-762-3072  info@backuspagehouse.ca 



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Events to attend @ the Backus-Page House Museum

The tradition of celebrating fathers day moved to Canada from the US. Some people celebrate their fathers by wearing a rose, to show their gratitude for their father. There are many beliefs of how this tradition actually started, however, there is no real proof or evidence as to exactly when fathers day came to be. One of the beliefs is the celebration of fathers first started thanks to the hard work of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Washington. She believed since there was already a day set aside specifically for the celebration of mothers that there should also be a day specifically dedicated to the celebration of fathers. A second belief is a little boy, by the name of Elmesu, carved his father a note out of clay about 4000 years ago, wishing him good health and a long life. Many countries built off of Elmesu's note to his father and soon after dedicated a day to the celebration of fathers.
Regardless of how the tradition of fathers day started, it is important to show appreciation to fathers everywhere.
Show appreciation to your father by bringing him to the Backus-Page House Museum. Experience the history of 1850 together while getting a tour of the 1850's house. The welcoming atmosphere and scenic views at the museum is the perfect environment to celebrate your father. The Backus-Page House Museum is open on fathers day 12-4:30!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Profile of a Hero

Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith
      I stumbled upon this crazy story recently and thought I'd use it to make yet another new feature for the blog to spotlight some of the most legendary wartime characters. This week's post is dedicated to Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith, who without a doubt is among the biggest hell-raisers to have ever lived.

     Like most of our heroes, Ernest Smith came from humble beginnings. He was born in 1914 in New Westminster, British Columbia, which meant that he had the misfortune of coming of age during the Great Depression. It is said that he earned the nickname "Smokey" for his blazing footspeed as a member of his high school track team. At age 25, he joined the Canadian Army and became part of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. He first entered combat in 1943 and remained active in the Sicily and Italian Campaign until 1945. He had a remarkable knack for annoying his superiors, and promoted to Corporal and demoted back to Private nine times!

     However, during this time, Smokey established himself as an unbelievable hero over the course of the events of a single night. Here's what went down, courtesy of the London Gazette, December 20, 1944:
"In Italy on the night of 21st–22nd October 1944, a Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Savio River. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were selected as the spearhead of the attack, and in weather most unfavourable to the operation they crossed the river and captured their objective in spite of strong opposition from the enemy.
Torrential rain had caused the Savio River to rise six feet in five hours, and as the soft vertical banks made it impossible to bridge the river no tanks or anti-tank guns could be taken across the raging stream to the support of the rifle companies.
As the right forward company was consolidating its objective it was suddenly counter-attacked by a troop of three Mark V Panther tanks supported by two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry and the situation appeared hopeless.
Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his P.I.A.T. Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the P.I.A.T. could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a Private James Tennant and obtained another P.I.A.T. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine-guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith's comrade, Private Tennant was wounded. At a range thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the P.I.A.T. and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Schmeissers and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out on the road and with his Tommy gun at point-blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith's position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch, he steadfastly held his position, protecting Private Tennant and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.
One tank and both self-propelled guns had been destroyed by this time, but yet another tank swept the area with fire from a longer range. Private Smith, still showing utter contempt for enemy fire, helped his wounded friend to cover and obtained medical aid for him behind a nearby building. He then returned to his position beside the road to await the possibility of a further enemy attack.
No further immediate attack developed, and as a result the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River.
Thus, by the dogged determination, outstanding devotion to duty and superb gallantry of this private soldier, his comrades were so inspired that the bridgehead was held firm against all enemy attacks, pending the arrival of tanks and anti-tank guns some hours later."
     This incredible act was recognized with the highest of honours. King George VI bestowed the Victoria Cross on Smith personally at Buckingham Palace. Allegedly, Smith was placed in a jail cell in Rome the night before he was to be commended for his actions at Savio, in order to "keep him out of trouble"; for years, Smith would neither confirm nor deny that such a measure was enacted. After receiving the VC, Smokey Smith was made a "poster boy" for the Canadian War Bonds drive.

     Smith left the service after World War II, but returned in 1950 when he re-enlisted during the Korean War. Because of his iconic status, he was not put into combat. He retired from service again in 1964, having served for some time in Vancouver as a recruiting sergeant. As a result of his extended service, he received the Canadian Forces Decoration for 12 years of service.

     Smokey Smith died at his home in Vancouver on August 3, 2005 at the age of 91. His body was placed in the foyer of the House of Commons to lie in state on August 9, 2005, making him only the ninth person to be accorded this honour; government flags flew at half-mast on that day. He lay in repose at Vancouver's Seaforth Armoury on August 12, with a full military funeral in Vancouver on August 13. His ashes were scattered at sea in the Gulf of Georgia.
     This incredible story of an incredible man has caught my attention and gained my utmost respect, and I hope that it does the same for you. If you'd like to read more about this hero and don't mind some strong language, here's another story: http://www.badassoftheweek.com/ernestsmith.html
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Transcription Tuesdays- "A Good Tonic"

The Blacksmiths Ledger
The Backus-Page House Museum
Tyrconnell Heritage Society

Good morning! As mentioned last week in our first ever Transcription Tuesday, we will be exploring the scripture on the inside cover of the Blacksmith Ledger. Here is a closer look to what was revealed when we first open the Ledger of our local blacksmith of Tyrconnell back in 1867.

This recipe titled “A Good Tonic” by T.A. Benson was difficult to research. No information was found under the name T.A. Benson however we thought to take this opportunity to focus on the text in this small part of the ledger in hopes to reveal the purpose and history of Tonics, and what our blacksmith may have used it for.
According to the C19: The Nineteenth Century Index, the word “Tonic” comes from the Greek word tonos, which means to tone or tension and is applied to many remedies that physicians administer to patients that appear to be in a state of bodily weakness and who require improvement in his/her tone to increase strength. Doctors in the 19th Century and earlier formally thought that tonics acted directly on the nerve and contractile tissues. Thus home remedies such as the one in the Blacksmith Ledger title “A Good Tonic” would have most likely been used as a Nerve Tonic, to suppress nerves and such behavior (1915).  
According the Museum of Royal Pharmaceutical Society, generals proprietary tonics were thought to “purify” the blood. Many believed that by “cleansing” their blood and keeping bowels empty, they would be able to rid themselves of illnesses. However published in 1909 were investigations conducted by the British Medical Association a year earlier, found that many of these homemade remedies were ‘quack’ and some ingredients had little to no medicinal value. Other substances used in various recipes were found to be highly addictive and dangerous. Medicine during this time was not yet developed and demonstrates that this recipe was most likely used prior to the release of the British Medical Associations publication of its investigation on many home remedies being used (2011).
Ingredients in the Blacksmith’s Ledgers “A Good Tonic”:

·         Ginger would have been used to combat digestion, lack of energy, vitality, infections, nausea and vomiting.
2.       Gentian
·         Gentian is a plant for the disease of the stomach and the digestive system. It was thought to and now is proven to treat a loss of appetite, excess gas caused by poor indigestion, liver failure problems and intestinal worms. In general powdered Gentian was used to invigorate the body, purify the blood and help prevent or overcome infection.
3.       Nux Vomica  
Nux Vomica
·         The plant Nux Vomica was introduced in 1830 and was used as a central nervous stimulant. However it had many side effects (some of which would have been silenced by other products in the recipe) such as a loss of appetite, hypersensitivity, depression, anxiety, rigidness, stiffness in the arms and legs, convulsions and possible death.
If you’re feeling curious read up on the medical history in Upper Canada, the beginning of Medical Education and how our Colonel Talbot influenced both education in the medical field and politics by clicking on the following http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/history-of-medicine/ link!

* Tune into next Week’s Transcription Tuesdays as we finally get into the first entries of the Peter Cameron Blacksmiths Ledger! Have a good week and don’t forget to bring dad out to the Backus-Page House Museum for Father’s Day!