folkarchivist

Madness Monday–Grandma Deac

In Deacon, My Genealogy on February 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

She looks kind enough, from stories she was a very nice woman, but she is driving me crazy….

The “facts” as I have them for this particulary circular madness:

Beatrice Annie Deacon, aka Grandma Deac (pronounced deek), working backwards (from copies of original documents):

Death Registration, 1968, lists maiden name Walsh, born England, birth 6 Oct 1882, parents born England (names unknown)

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, lists maiden name Walsh, born Dublin, Ireland

Son’s death registration, 1947, lists maiden name Walsh, born Ireland.

1941 National Registration, lists birth Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, entered Canada 1913, birth 6 Oct 1891

Son’s birth registration (husband is infomant), 1923, maiden name Deacon, born Dublin, Ireland, racial origin Irish, age 41 (ie b. 1882)

Stillborn baby’s death registration (husband informant), 1921, mother listed as Agnes Catherine, born Ireland.  Agnes Catherine, I believe, was to be the baby’s name as I’ve found Mass being said for her in other documentation.

Daughter’s birth registration (husband informant), 1918, maiden name Deacon, born England.

I have been unable to find her on any passenger list in 1913 (or surrounding years), but unfortunately not all lists survive.

There is an old postcard from Jones’ Restaurant in Plymouth, Devon dating from around 1907-1914 time period (judging from telephone number).  Family stories indicate they may have met in Plymouth.

Mr Deacon, working backwards (from copies of original documents:

Daughter’s death registration, 1956, father born Cornwall, England

Son’s death registration, 1947, father born England.

His own death registration, 1926, born England, Occupation Waiter, father Kestel Deacon born England 5 Jun 1882,  mother not known, “in Canada” 13 years (1913).  (Beatrice is informant)

Will mentions only wife by name and “my children” (not listed), 1926.

Son’s birth registration, 1923, father English, born Cornwall, England, Waiter, age 42 (ie b. Jun 1882). (He is informant)

Stillborn baby’s death registration, 1921, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Daughter’s birth registration, 1918, father born England, Waiter. (He is informant)

Passenger List, 1913, Wm Deacon, Waiter (both Occupation from which he came and intended occupation in Canada), England, married.  Oh, on the exiting Passenger List he is 26 years old (ie. b. 1887).  When he arrives in Canada 9 days later he is 32 years old (ie. b. 1881).

Possible Marriage registration, 1909, Wales, resides Plymouth, Waiter, father William Kestel Deacon, Labourer.

So those are the “facts” such as I have them.  I have been to Dublin, Ireland and searched for Beatrice Annie’ Walsh’s birth registration.  It does not exist.  There is a candidate or two in England however.

So, is Grandma Deac Irish or English, Walsh or Deacon, or something entirely different altogether?  HELP!

In the 1911 English Census is a William Henry, waiter, and his wife Beatrice Annie Deacon.  He is born in Cornwall, she in Devon.  They’ve been married 2 years.  Shortly after the census they have a son, Lawrence Deacon born at the same address to William Henry, waiter, and Beatrice Annie, nee Deacon.  I have no Lawrence in my tree, no Lawrence’s death is registered in England or in BC (I might have to check Ontario).  There are no family stories of a son that died.  There is available online, however, the story of a Lawrence Deacon who was hung for murder after WWII in Manitoba, Canada.  His mother, Beatrice Deacon (aged 35), and he (aged 8 ) came to Canada from England in 1919.  They were going to her mother in Manitoba.  I have been unable to find any other Lawrence Deacon’s born around 1911 anywhere in England.

Searching for any other Deacon Waiters brings up no other leads.  There are other William Deacons, but they are blacksmiths or in the navy and can be followed through the census’, not marrying a Beatrice or not marrying at all.  Beatrice Walsh searches lead nowhere (there are some, but not born in Ireland).  Beatrice Deacon searches lead me back to the Beatrice Deacon in Plymouth in 1911 with her son Lawrence.

I suppose the trick is to discern what is “fact” from what is “fiction” in the documents I currently have.  I have racked my brain for other documents that might exist.  Mr Deacon’s employment records with the CPR, if they still exist, are not accessible (the CPR archives adamantly insist they are not available for research).  The son’s military records reconfirm the Walsh-Dublin, Ireland information.  English WWI records were mostly destroyed in the Blitz so I’m unable to confirm or deny any military service on Mr Deacon’s part.  The postcard I have for Jones’ Restaurant on Union St in Plymouth gives me a rough date of 1907-1914 (from the telephone number), but no such restaurant is listed in online historical directories for Plymouth.

Other family tidbits:  Her daughter was named for a much-loved deceased brother.  She was in a hospital growing up, presumably for something like TB.  She had the following growing up:  a pony, an irish setter, and a nanny who smoked corn cob pipes.  Or, she was an orphan growing up.  After her husband’s death in 1926, she withdrew the children from public school and put them into a private Catholic school.  She was apparently a very devout Catholic as well as anyone can remember, and both she and her husband are buried in the Catholic portion of the cemetery.  Her husband, on the Passenger List, is listed as C of E (Church of England, Anglican).  He died in the local public hospital, St. Paul’s, run in conjuction with the Catholic Church (perhaps she converted/returned to Catholicism through this time?  The nuns felt for her, a widow with young children, and she got a job in the kitchen at St. Paul’s after her husband’s death).

So very many “ifs, ands, or buts”.  I feel fairly confident about the 1909 marriage being them, largely due to the unusual name of Kestel.  But anything else in England or Ireland is questionable.  I’ve tirelessly searched census after census in Canada, the UK and Ireland for anyone who resembles them.  I’ve searched out leads through marriage witnesses who, quite nicely, lead back to the Deacon family of Cornwall.  Grandma Deac, for whatever reason, obscured her family history, and apparently she did a very good job of it.

Perhaps, one day, someone researching a collateral branch of one of their trees will find a missing Beatrice Annie and a mystery will be solved.


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