Amy Johnson Crow, on her blog No Story Too Small, has challenged her fellow bloggers to post 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This is week two.
My great-grandmother, Gertrude Ethel Thomas was born on May 25, 1875 in East Gwillimbury, Ontario. She was the first child of Harrison Thomas and Jane Summerville. Her sister, Maud Evelyn, was born on April 10, 1878 but passed away when not quite a year old on March 30, 1879.
Gertrude knew a lot of loss in her early life. In addition to her sister, she had previously lost her father to consumption on December 5, 1878. Following her father’s death, her Aunt Mary came to stay with her and her mother. And, then, when her aunt Artimitia Summerville died in 1879, she and her mother went to live with Jane’s brother John and John’s son, Herbert.
Jane passed away on June 9, 1884, leaving the nine-year old Gertrude an orphan. Family legend has it that her Aunt Mary packed her clothes in the ‘little trunk that had come from County Fermanagh’ when the Summervilles emigrated from Ireland. The trunk had carried the clothing belonging to Jane’s older sister, and namesake, who died on the voyage over.
Gertrude went to live with Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Bascom who lived in Uxbridge, Ontario. Jane had previously formed a friendship with Mrs. Bascom, whose cousin Tom Workman of Ottawa had married a cousin of Harrison’s. Gertrude called them Auntie and Uncle and went with them when they moved to Toronto in 1892.
The 1901 census shows Joseph and Annie Bascom living in Toronto with their son Frank and Gertrude who was, by then, a teacher.
On June 22, 1905, Gertrude married Arthur Newton St. John. Newton was a Methodist minister and their growing family frequently moved around Ontario. A son was born in 1906, followed by daughters in 1909 and 1914.
Gertrude and her younger daughter took a trip to England in 1938, where they connected with Thomas relations in Cornwall. I was able to reconnect with some of those same relations over the recent Christmas holidays.
In 1945, Gertrude was widowed when Newton passed away on June 18. For much of the rest of her life, she lived with one or both of her unmarried daughters.
On January 2, 1971, at the age of 95, Gertrude passed away in Toronto, Ontario.