photographs


August 4th 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of Canada’s entry into the First World War. Organizations and communities around the world are marking this occasion by examining the effect the war had on their local area. We’ll be doing this in Deseronto, too.

In the Archives we started by researching the 34 names of the First World War casualties named on the town’s war memorial. In the process we found out some interesting facts about the monument itself.

 

War memorial in Deseronto, April 2014

The memorial, which stands on the South side of Main Street, opposite Rathbun Park, was unveiled in a ceremony on Labour Day (September 3rd) 1923. The event was attended by many of the townspeople, as the photograph below (one of several taken on the day) shows. A piece of land forty feet square was purchased by the Town of Deseronto from the Rathbun Company for the monument’s site, at a cost of $100.

Unveiling ceremony for the Deseronto war memorial

The memorial itself was donated to the town by a former Deseronto resident named Thomas Carson Brown. Thomas was born on 21 April 1870, the son of Thomas Brown and Emily Varty and one of 10 children. His mother died in childbirth in Lennox and Addington County (where the family had a farm) when Thomas was seven years old and by 1881 the family had moved to Mill Point (Deseronto). In the 1891 census, when he was 21, Thomas’s trade is given as bricklayer. His father died just six weeks after the census was taken.

It was through the bricklaying trade that Thomas C. Brown would go on to earn his fortune in New York State, where his firm constructed a number of public buildings, including the Plattsburgh Normal School, pictured here, and a large section of the Clinton Correctional Facility at Dannemora. Deseronto’s newspaper, The Tribune, reported Brown’s marriage in August 1899 to Hattie B. Humphrey, noting that “the groom is well and favourably known in Deseronto, where he passed his boyhood days. He is now engaged in the contracting business in Little Falls. He is a brother of Mrs. Jas. Sexsmith.” Thomas’s sister, Jane Brown, married James Sexsmith in Deseronto in January 1884. She died of pneumonia in 1910.

Plattsburgh Normal School

Brown went on to serve as a Senator in the New York Senate between 1925 and 1930, where he took a keen interest in prison reform issues. He clearly never forgot his home town of Deseronto, as the generous gift of a war memorial demonstrates. It is not just a war memorial, however, as Thomas C. Brown ensured that his parents and five of his sisters (Jane, Ida, Etta, Emma and Annie) were also commemorated on the structure, as you can see in this detail.

Detail of war memorial

Thomas himself died on May 24th, 1952 at his home at 1174 Lowell Road, Schenectady, New York: you can read his obituary in the Schenectady Gazette (PDF made available through the Fulton History site).

Over the next four years we will be marking the 100th anniversaries of local people’s involvement in the First World War here on the blog. There are a lot of stories to be told and we are always keen to hear new ones, so if you have any local World War One information which you would like to share with the world, please let us know!

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It’s surprising just how often people discover items of historical interest in the walls of their properties. Today’s accession arrived in the Archives as a result of renovation work going on in a house in Mill Street in Deseronto. Grateful thanks to Shelley Dupont for bringing them in!

Three items were found inside a wall of the house. The first is a photograph of an unidentified family. The picture has suffered some damage from being inside the wall for perhaps 100 years, but the image is still fairly clear. There is nothing on the back of the photograph to identify the group.

Unidentified family portrait

The second photograph has more information – these three children are identified as  Hazel Annie Cole, aged 3 years and 5 months; Murney Nelson Cole, aged 1 year, 9 months and Edna Kathleen Cole, aged 6 months. Hazel was born July 27 1910 in Milford, Prince Edward County – dating the picture to late 1913/early 1914. Their parents were Jesse Abbot Cole  and Alta Theresa Viale.

Cole children

The third item also has a Prince Edward County connection. It is a wooden rectangle, covered with black felt, and with a tin plaque, bearing the name of Eliza Dodge. This is a coffin plate. Eliza died in South Marysburgh on March 1st, 1890.

Memorial for Eliza Dodge

A little digging through the census and vital statistics records shows us that Eliza was married to Frederick Dodge and her maiden name was Thompson. In the census taken in 1891, the year after Eliza’s death, Frederick is working as a telephone and telegraph operator and living with his two daughters, Rosa Bell Dodge, aged seven, and Sarah Ann Cole, aged 19. Yes, Cole again. A bit more digging yields up information on a connection between Sarah Ann and the three children in the photograph: Sarah Ann, Eliza Dodge’s daughter (known as Annie),  married Claude Wilmot Aylsworth Cole on December 11th, 1890. Claude was the older brother of Jesse Abbot Cole, the father of the three children

Annie Cole is the link between the last two items: she’s Eliza’s daughter and aunt to the three Cole children. Perhaps the first photograph has a Cole family connection, too? Claude and Jesse came from a family of four sons and one daughter, which just happens to be the configuration of the family in the first photograph. We’re entering into the realms of wild supposition here, but it’s just possible that this photograph represents Simon Aylsworth Cole (1844-1922), his wife Sarah Letitia Boulter (1848-1922) and their five children: Claude (1870-1938), Edna (1873-1929), George (b.1876), Arthur (1877-1941) and Jesse (1879-1937). If so, it would have been taken in around 1885.

Or they could be other people entirely!

UPDATE (Feb 15th, 2014): Thanks to Claudia (Cole) Grendon for adding some more details to this story in the comments. She tells us that Annie Cole was her grandmother and that Annie moved to Mill Street in around 1939 with her son, Wilmot Havelock Cole and his family. She died in around 1946 and (additional information from Tammy Cole Peterson) was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Picton, where her husband, Claude, had also been laid to rest.

The Archives has recently received a small collection of materials which once belonged to Cecil Elmer Argue (1888-1974), who was elected Mayor of Deseronto in 1929. Cecil and his wife Elizabeth moved to Belleville, taking a few mementoes of their time in Deseronto with them. This items have now found their way back to the town and we have scanned them and made them available online, along with some supplementary materials from the Archives which also date from 1929.

One of the 1929 objects from the Argues was this pennant:

This was from a major event commemorating the 145th anniversary of the United Empire Loyalists‘ arrival in Canada. The celebration lasted four days, as the pennant shows. One of the additional items we have digitzed is the printed souvenir and programme of the day. This document details the many events held in June of 1929, several of which would have been presided over by Cecil E. Argue in his role as Mayor. The Town called in representatives of higher levels of government to take part in the celebrations: the Premier of Ontario, G. Howard Ferguson, gave a speech, as did the Minister for Labour, Peter Heenan, and the Superintendent-General for Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott.

One of the highlights of the event was a grand Pageant with a cast of over 250 people. The members of the Pageant were recorded for posterity by the Marrison Studio of Kingston. They took a panoramic picture of the Pageant participants:

Loyalist Pageant members, Deseronto, 1929

1929 Loyalist Pageant

[Archivist’s note: it can be challenging to reproduce such large photographs, but modern technology can help. In this case, we scanned the photograph in four sections and then used a free program from Microsoft Research called Image Composite Editor to automatically ‘stitch’ it back together again. You can’t see the joins!]

By 1929, Deseronto was past its industrial peak and the mills and factories of the Rathbun Company era had closed. The last page of the Loyalist Celebrations programme gives a rather beseeching plea to the reader:

Deseronto invites you to take notice of the valuable Manufacturing Sites available and extending along the water front

We are left with the impression that the Loyalist Celebration event was seen as an opportunity by Mayor Cecil Argue and his fellow town officials to regenerate the declining fortunes of Deseronto. But with the Wall Street Crash of October in that year and the Great Depression which followed it, it seems that no-one was in a position to “Come to Deseronto” and take advantage of its “valuable Manufacturing Sites”. Cecil Argue himself did not stay in Deseronto to complete his term as Mayor: in the same year that he oversaw the Loyalist Celebration, he left the town and moved to Belleville, where he lived for the rest of his days.

A recent enquiry by a researcher who is studying the region’s lighthouses has revealed some interesting facts about Deseronto’s own lighthouse. Some of its history can be traced through federal government publications, beginning with the report of the Department of Marine and Fisheries for 1884 (published in the Sessional Papers for the Dominion of Canada, Volume 6,1885), where the Ontario Lighthouse Division reported that:

Agreement to build a lighthouse in Deseronto

Unsurprisingly, it was the Rathbun Company who were contracted to build the lighthouse, for the reassuringly precise estimate of $437.49. Construction of the light had been completed by the time of the Department’s report.

We next hear of the lighthouse in the Departmental report for 1885 (Sessional Papers for the Dominion of Canada, Volume 9,1886).

Deseronto light - 1886 report

Here we learn that the Rathbun Company supplied the gas to the light and that the light was constructed on the roof of the freight shed of the Bay of Quinte Railway at the Rathbun Company’s wharf. It’s interesting to see that the Rathbun Company went a little over their budget, spending a total of $455.55.

A search on our Flickr images reveals several photographs which show the light in place on that building.

Steam wharf at Deseronto

A notice in the Canada Gazette of September 19th, 1885 announced the light to the maritime community:

Gazette notice about Deseronto light

This detail of photograph RATHCO-06-48.4 shows how the light would have appeared to the ships approaching it from the Bay:

Deseronto wharf from the Bay of Quinte

In the background on the left, you can see the brick head office building of the Rathbun Company, from where its owners could keep a close eye on the activities of the wharf. None of these buildings survive today.

It’s not every day that a small municipal archives is featured alongside a national institution, but today is one of those days. We are delighted to be able to share the news that Deseronto Archives is now part of the Flickr Commons, a place for institutions to share their photographic collections and a place where people can add tags and comments to the photographs to help describe and interpret them.

Flickr Commons participating instutions

Some of the institutions participating in Flickr Commons

We’re already seeing new comments and tags being added to the Flickr photographs, such as this one of Lieutenant Ned E. Ballough, ‘the wing-walker’ performing a daring stunt during the First World War:

Man standing behind the cockpit of a Curtiss JN-4 training aircraft

Ned Ballough, ‘wing-walking’ 2012.10(05)

And the usage statistics on the account have also taken a dizzying skyward trajectory in the 16 hours since we officially joined the Commons!

Usage statistics from Flickr

A month ago, we received a new accession of photographs  from Dave Stapley, whose family once owned a farm on the Boundary Road, at the eastern side of Deseronto. The farm was close to the World War One pilot training site, Camp Rathbun, and many of the 33 photos depict men, buildings, and aircraft of the camp.

As usual, there are pictures of crashes on the ground (look closely at the trees on this one in relation to the aircraft):

Crashed aircraft

Crashes into hangar buildings at the camp:

Aircraft crashed into hangar door

And into water (you can see the Foresters’ Island Orphanage in the background of this shot):

There are also several photographs of (mainly) unidentified individuals, including this lovely shot of a man crossing the finishing line of a race:

Man crossing finishing line

The skull-and-crossbones motif seen on the aircraft and on the tops of the runners here is a symbol used by the men of 90 C.T.S. (Canadian Training Squadron), which was based at Camp Rathbun. We know nothing about the creator of these photographs, but we can  surmise that he was a member of 90 C.T.S. who left his photographs behind him after he left the area.

A recent transfer to the Archives from the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives includes a series of photographs of a collapsed bridge, without any information as to the location of it. I’m sharing it here to see if anyone can help us pinpoint it. The other photographs in the album mainly show scenes from Royal Flying Corps training camps in Ontario (Camps Borden and Mohawk) and Texas (Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth) and were taken during the First World War in 1917 and 1918. The bridge could be somewhere near one of these camps, or perhaps somewhere else entirely!

This photograph shows an overview of the bridge site. There are no buildings on the side of the bridge nearest the camera, but there are several houses on the other side of the river:

Site of mystery bridge

This one shows a Coast to Coast bus in the water at the side of the bridge:

‘Coast to Coast’ bus next to the bridge

And this one is a close-up view of the bridge itself:

Collapsed bridge

Collapsed bridge

Please leave a comment if you can help.

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