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of Haddingtonshire, Scotland
This report has been generously provided by Donald L Combe.
The name “Combe” probably comes from the Celtic word for valley and suggests that it is a surname of location of the original family. The name has several variants including Comb, Coomb, Coombe, or Coombs. The members of Robert Combe’s family have carried this spelling for a number of generations with the exception of having it miswritten from time to time in census and other documents. It is worth noting, however, that there is a French surname “La Combe”. It could also have been derived from the Celtic word, or it might have come from a different origin. The name Combe also appears as a surname and place name in southwest England.
The story of the family of Robert Combe begins in Scotland, in that county now called East Lothian. For those whose sense of the geography of Scotland is sketchy, it is worth pointing out that Edinburgh is in Midlothian. East Lothian is east of that county and used to be known as Haddingtonshire, a name that is now used only locally.
A study of the map will reveal the town of Haddington directly east of Edinburgh. North of Haddington is found Athelstanford and due north of it on the coast is the town of North Berwick. Whitekirk is south east of North Berwick. Whittinghame was a village near Stenton, both lying near the coast south of Whitekirk. Gifford lies southwest of Stenton and south of Haddington. Garvald is between Stenton and Gifford. South of East Lothian lies the county of Berwick. Along the coast are the villages of Ayton and Reston.
Berwick upon Tweed lies at the mouth of the river Tweed and is south of the border, in the county of Northumberland, England. Lying on the border between the two countries the city passed back and forth until the time of James I (James VI of Scotland). It remains a very Scottish community.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the geography of Canada, some basic information might prove helpful. The southernmost tip of the country is the Niagara Peninsula in the province of Ontario. It lies in about the same latitude as Rome. It is an important agricultural area especially in the cultivation of tender fruit and grapes. In appearance it is not dissimilar to the southeast of Scotland. Settlement began in this area following the American Revolution, with Scottish immigrants forming an early and important element in the population. The presence of fellow Scots was an attraction for others to follow.
By 1800, extensive land surveys had been completed and much of the land granted to settlers. The surveys laid out concession roads parallel to the lake or river and each of these was given a number so that farms were identified by lot and concession numbers. The territory was divided into counties and each county was divided into townships, so that a person living in a town lived also within a township and county. In the rural areas, farms were designated by the township name. County and township names changed over the course of time and now have been lost to general use.
Niagara Falls, in Stamford Township and Welland County, lies on the border with the United States about midway along the course of the Niagara River. Fort Erie, in Bertie Township, Welland County, is situated at the southern start where the river drains Lake Erie. Niagara on the Lake, in Niagara Township, Lincoln County, is situated at the north end of the river where it empties into Lake Ontario. St. Catharines, in Grantham Township, Lincoln County, forms the third point of a triangle, ten miles inland from both of these. Rockway is a small community in Louth Township, which lies west of St. Catharines in Lincoln County. Queenston lies at the highest navigable point on the Niagara River between Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls. A very early road runs along the bench of the Niagara escarpment through St. David’s and Homer to St. Catharines.
The Niagara Escarpment, sometimes referred to as “the mountain”, cuts through the territory and accounts for the climate that allows the cultivation of tender fruits. The Welland Canal cuts across the Niagara Peninsula between Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. Although its route has been altered several times, it flows 28 miles from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario allowing shipping to pass around the falls of Niagara.
These are all places that feature in the story of the Combe family.
The Historical Background
Our world is small today. We move around the globe in hours, and can be in voice contact in seconds no matter where we may be. In the early nineteenth century a trip of twenty-five miles was considered a long distance. When researching family history, one sometimes becomes puzzled why our ancestors left their place of birth for the new world, in a day when there was little expectation of seeing that place ever again or even of corresponding with their relatives. Their motivation must have been very strong. A little knowledge of British history is, therefore, helpful.
The Industrial Revolution spelled the end of cottage industries especially in the woollen and woodworking trades. The accompanying rise of steam power allowed for easier shipping of goods and produce, both within the country and across the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to that, the enclosures movement in North Britain altered the traditional tie of the farmer to his landlord’s farm. What had been a series of strip farms became large tracts of land and sheep replaced cattle raising. When at last even the common lands were fenced off for private use, the tenant farmers had nowhere to turn but to the towns and cities to seek work in the new factories.
Two periods of the nineteenth century are of greatest interest to us here. The 1840’s are often referred to as the hungry years in Britain. A series of crop failures in England coincided with the potato famine in Ireland. These years saw a significant rise in the numbers of poor flocking into the cities. Britain passed the Poor Laws making life in the workhouse, or poorhouse even more unpleasant than starving on the land. This became an impetus for young men, used to hard farm work, to seek a better life in one of the colonies where land was easy to acquire. Their experience meant that the need to fell trees was no barrier.
Things then improved economically in Britain for a score of years, but by the 1860’s the real effect of Britain’s “Corn Laws” began to be felt. This law had removed tariffs from the importing of grain. Farmers in the United States were benefiting from the use of land that had never before been tilled and, therefore, they had little need to fertilize the ground. With little investment, they were able immediately to grow grain and ship it by way of the new steamers to markets in Britain. This cheaper grain undercut the market of the local farmers. So farm labourers endured a second period of severe shortage of work that again served as an impetus to emigration. These two periods of depression in the north of Britain are significant in understanding the emigration of the Combe and Goodall families.
In 1851 the family of John Goodall and his wife, Sarah Anderson, left Scotland to go to Canada, leaving their eighteen-year-old son, Robert, behind. They chose to settle in the older part of Upper Canada taking up properties on Concession Two, near what is now Niagara on the Lake. Their son, Robert Goodall, had been born in Haddingtonshire and in 1861 he had married Mary Fergie the daughter of the next door neighbour. When the second depression struck, he chose to follow his parents to Niagara in 1877.
These Goodall families had lived in the same communities in Scotland as the Combes. It was natural that the Combes would emigrate to the same area and remain in close contact with their old neighbours. What follow is the story of the Combes.
Although this family history begins with Robert Combe and includes the names and some limited information about his children, the intent is to trace in any detail, only the family of his son and namesake, Robert Combe. In general, when the Combe surname ceases to be borne, only limited information will be given within the section, rather than providing a detailed description of each of the children in the description of the subsequent generation. After the fifth generation, only limited information about the children will be included within the description of that generation.
The First Generation
The elder Robert Combe was from Haddingtonshire, Scotland. So far as can be determined he was the son of James Combe and Isabel Grieve. According to parish records there was a christening of Robert Combe on 27 October 1793. About 1817, he married Margaret Gray who, according to the 1851 census, was born about 1799. She was the daughter of William Gray (christened 1755) and Isobel Bertram (christened 1772). They were married at Mertoun, Berwickshire on 13 May 1798. Isobel was the daughter of George Bertram and Isobel Kemp.
Robert Combe worked as a farm labourer. He died before the 1851 census. Margaret died in 1867 and is buried in Whitekirk, East Lothian. Margaret and Robert had eleven children namely, Isabella, Margaret, John, Elizabeth, Helen, Janet, William, Robert, James, Elizabeth and Helen Combe.
The dates of the christenings of the children provide some idea of the movement of the family. They lived in Whittinghame at least from 1818-1828. By 1833 they were living in Garvald, in 1836 at East Linton and in 1839 at Whitekirk. All of these moves were of significant distances for those days and probably reflect a difficult employment environment.
The Second Generation
The Children of Robert Combe
The eldest member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was Isabella. She was christened in Whittinghame on 29 March 1818. On 21 May 1842 she married James Watt. She died on 16 January 1888 and is buried in Whitekirk. They had two children Margaret (6 October 1849-13 Feb 1856) and Thomas (23 December 1854-2 March 1898) Watt.
Thomas Watt married Christina Pringle (28 May 1862-29 Dec. 1913) and their children were Margaret (26 August 1882-), James (29 March 1885-), Peter (25 June 1886-), Isabella (11 October 1887-), Beatrice (8 June 1889-), Thomas (9 April 1891-) and Helen (3 September 1892-) Watt.
The second member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was Margaret. She was christened on 20 October 1819 at Whittinghame and died later that year.
The eldest son of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was John. He was christened on 23 September 1821 at Whittinghame and died as an infant.
The fourth member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) was Elizabeth. She was christened on 11 May 1825 at Whittinghame and appears to have died in infancy.
The fifth member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was Helen. She was christened on 26 June 1827 in Whittinghame. She died before 1840.
The sixth member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was Janet. She was christened on 5 November 1828 in Whittinghame.
The seventh member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was named William. He was christened on 17 February 1833 in Garvald. He died in Edinburgh in 1895. William Combe married Margaret Swinton on 23 May 1857 and their children were Isabella (16 July 1858-), Jane (27 August 1861-), Elizabeth (1 November 1864-), Christina (8 March 1867-) and Robert (22 December 1871-) Combe.
The third son and eighth member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was born on 24 September 1835 at Snawden in the Parish of Garvald. He was christened in the parish church at Garvald on 25 October 1835. By the 1841 census he was no longer at Snawden. In the 1881 census he is recorded as living in the Ewford Labourers Cottage in Dunbar. He married Christina Watt on 24 May 1856 at Athelstanford.
Christina Watt was born on 10 July 1833 at Crawhill. She was the daughter of John Watt (1803-) and Elizabeth Bogg/Bogue (1800-) They were married on 21 June 1828 in Whitekirk. The other children of John Watt and Elizabeth Bogg were Thomas (1829-), Euphemia (1831-), John ( 28 June 1836-) and Alexander (28 June 1840-) Watt. Robert was the second member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe to marry into the Watt family. His older sister Isabella had married James Watt.
Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe had eleven children namely, Elizabeth, Robert, John, Robert, Margaret, Isabella, Thomas, William, James, Christina and Euphemia Combe.
The dates and locations of the christenings of the children provide some idea of the movement of this family perhaps reflecting the employment difficulties of the times. In 1857 they were at Cockles, Haddingtonshire, from 1858 to 1867 at Yester Mains in Gifford, from 1869-1874 at Marvingston, Bolton and in 1876 at Liberton. In 1891 Robert Combe was living in Steps of Grace, a farm between the Great North Road and the North Sea, north of Berwick upon Tweed and by 1900 he was living at 11 Silver Street in Berwick upon Tweed where he is recorded as a dairyman.
Robert died on 14 January 1902 and was buried in Berwick upon Tweed. Christina died on 13 August 1913 at the age of 80. Their graves are toward the north end, just off the path by the road in the fifth row, in the non-Anglican part of the cemetery. Their marble headstone, in contrast with others in the cemetery, suggests some affluence. It includes the names of their son James and grandchildren Robert and Sarah Ann Combe.
James, the youngest son of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was christened in 1836 in East Linton.
Elizabeth the daughter of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was christened on 17 November 1839 in Whitekirk.
Helen the youngest member of the family of Robert and Margaret (Gray) Combe was born in Whitekirk about 1840.
In April 1857 she married James McLean in Preston Kirk. At that time she was living at Loch House farm. James McLean was born in 1837 and at the time of their marriage was recorded as a farm servant at Loch House farm. Their children were Margaret (abt1858), James (abt1861), Christina (abt1861), Robert (abt1863), Isabella (abt1867), Beatrice (abt1868), Elizabeth (abt1869) and William (abt1870) McLean.
Helen died on 12 December 1912.
The Third Generation
The Children of Robert Combe
Elizabeth, the eldest child of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born on 8 March 1857 at Cockles in the Parish of Yester, Gifford in East Lothian. Before her marriage she was a maid at John Wilson’s Chapel Hill farm in Cocksburnspath. She married George Anderson who was the foreman on the farm. He was born on 31 May 1842 and died in May 1919 at Bee Edge farm at Coldingham. Elizabeth (Combe) and George Anderson had five children, Christina, Elizabeth, William, Thomas Combe and John Anderson. After her husband’s death Elizabeth lived at East Linton, Sunnyside. She went to Reston in 1940 to live with her daughter Elizabeth (Lizzie) Brown and then, when her daughter Lizzie fell ill, she went to Edinburgh to live with her other daughter, Christina (Moffett). She died of pneumonia in April 1942. Her granddaughter, Pearl Brown said she was an unassuming person and believed she died because of her dislike of living in the city.
Robert, the second member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born in Yester Mains in 1858 and died before 1861.
The third member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was John. He was born on 8 September 1859 at Yester Mains, Gifford. On 4 January 1882 he married Christina Wilson and they lived at Ewford, Dunbar. He was a farmer near Edinburgh. He moved to a house to Lower London Road in Edinburgh where he worked for a firm of contractors. Two of his brothers had already emigrated to Canada and John was to have followed after the birth of the new infant. The youngest child Thomas was in poor health and Christina died within a few weeks of the delivery leaving his sister, Isabella (Combe) Colvine to look after the family as well as her own three children. She became known as Gran Colvine.
John and Chirstina (Wilson) Combe had four children namely, Christina, Robert, John and Thomas Combe.
After his first wife’s death he married a widow, Elizabeth Amber and they had a daughter Elizabeth Amber Combe. John Combe died about 1903.
The fourth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was named Robert. He was born in Yester Mains, Gifford on 5 August 1861. Prior to 1887, he emigrated to Canada, knowing that the Goodall family, who had been neighbours in Scotland, had established themselves in the vicinity of St. Catharines, Ontario.
The first of the Goodalls to arrive in Canada, had been John Goodall, his wife, Sarah (Anderson) and their eldest son and youngest daughter. They had emigrated in 1855. The other children, including Robert Goodall had remained in Scotland. In 1861, Robert Goodall (13 April 1834-9 May 1910) had married Mary Fergie (27 March 1833-22 February 1912) in Scotland. The Robert Goodall family emigrated to Canada about 1882 to join their Goodall siblings. His daughter Jane was fourteen years of age. Robert Combe probably travelled with them to Canada. In March 1887, he married Jane Goodall, the daughter of Robert and Mary (Fergie) Goodall. Jane was born in Dunbar on 4 September 1867. Robert Combe worked as a farm labourer for a few years, but soon established himself on his own farm. The 1891 Directory of Farmers in Ontario states the he was a tenant farmer on Lot 4 in Concession 8 in Grantham Township. In the Ontario census of 1891, he is recorded as age 30 and living in Homer, Grantham Township where he was farming. At that time, Robert and Jane had two children and a labourer, John Jones (30) was living with the family.
Robert’s brother in law and good friend, Robert Goodall had bought 200 acres in Louth Township. In 1891 he sold 100 acres to Robert Combe and the Voters’ List of 1917 records Robert’s residence as Concession 7 Lot 9 in Louth Township, County of Lincoln, Ontario. About ten years later they built a new house and barn on this property on the west side of Ninth Street where according to his granddaughter, Margaret, they were “engaged in mixed farming until 1923. Their son, William Alexander Combe took over the farm when he married Evelyn Osborne in 1923 and continued mixed farming until 1945 when the farm was sold. At present (2002), this land is part of the Rockway Glen Golf Club which is on the west side of 9th Street Louth. The clubhouse is at the north end of the property and the family farmhouse is still at the south end. The section of the golf course on the east side of 9th Street Louth was farmed by Robert Goodall Combe, brother of William Alexander Combe. There was also 15-20 acres on the south side of 9th Street Louth opposite the farmhouse, which consisted of a valley and steep hillside and the 15 Mile Creek ran through one corner of the valley. This part of the property now belongs to the Rockway Conservation Area.”
In their retirement they lived on a small property on what was formerly Highway 8 between the Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks just west of St. Catharines. His obituary indicated that he had been an elder of the Presbyterian church in Rockway for many years. He died on 28 March 1940 and was buried in Rockway Presbyterian Church Cemetery near St. Catharines. Jane died on 4 October 1960 and was buried beside her husband.
Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe had five children namely, Robert, William, James, Bessie and Mabel Combe.
The fifth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was Margaret. She was born 12 July 1863 at Yester Mains, Gifford. She married Peter Craig who was born about 1858. He died on 11 November 1950 and was buried at Whitekirk. Margaret died on 18 September 1934 and was also buried at Whitekirk. They had nine children namely Mary, Christina, Elizabeth, Isabella, James, Helen, Margaret, Euphemia and Rina Craig.
Isabella, the sixth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born on 17 July 1865 in Yester Mains, Gifford. About 1895 she married Adam Colvine. He was born on 14 July 1857 at Prestopans and died on 24 October 1921. The family lived at 10 Salmon Place in Edinburgh, where he worked for the railway. Isabella was two years older than her brother Thomas, who moved to Canada. They corresponded for many years and Thomas considered her his favourite sister. Isabella and Adam had three children Christina, Isabella and James Colvine.
Thomas, the seventh member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born on 24 May 1867 in Yester Mains, Gifford. In later years a photograph hung in the kitchen of Thomas’s home in Niagara Falls that seemed to have recorded an important event in his life. It appears to have been taken in 1887 during the celebrations for Queen Victoria’s 50thanniversary and shows him beside a wagon. Everyone in the picture is dressed in holiday fashion as though ready for a parade. The sign on the wagon indicates that James Dixon of Spittal and Berwick, Manufacturers of Manure owned it.
Before leaving for Canada Thomas lived with his parents at Steps of Grace, in Northumberlandshire, overlooking the North Sea, and the diary notes he kept suggest some nostalgia as he recorded the name of this home farm. These notes also refer to working as a manager on another farm in Scotland. A post card in his collection is of a cottage and Lovers’ Walk on the estate of the Warrander family in Dunbar suggesting that this was where he was working. A large oil painting of the same cottage belonged to his brother Robert Combe indicating that both of the brothers were perhaps connected to this estate. A granddaughter of Robert Combe believed that this cottage was the Dunbar childhood home of their grandmother, Jane (Goodall) Lawson.
Thomas was already in Canada by the fall of 1891. The diary includes the directions to his brother, Robert’s place “in Homer”, a village in Grantham Township near St. Catharines and just east of the Welland Canal. His obituary stated that he had lived in St. Catharines for a time. By 1892 he had moved to Niagara Falls.
Thomas appears to have worked first at occasional jobs but on 26 December 1891 he was able to make a bank deposit of $94.31. In June of the following year he began to work for the Streetcar Company in Niagara Falls. By the 7thof September of that year he was employed on the Bush Estate. This large estate was created by Samuel Zimmermann on the escarpment overlooking the falls near Clifton Hill and was known as the Bush Estate, named for the American senator who had lived there for a considerable time. The Fallsway Motel now occupies part of this property. This location seems to have been the focus of continuous work from 1891 until his retirement about 1924. We know that in 1905 the family was living on the Bush Estate in the gatehouse that faced Clifton Hill. This building became the offices of Welland Securities, the company that held all the land holdings of Sir Harry Oakes until the 1960’s. Thomas probably lived there continuously until he retired.
On 8 February 1893, Thomas Combe married Isabella Lawson in the Presbyterian Church in St. Davids, Ontario. She was born on 3 February 1863, the daughter of William Lawson (28 February 1831-21 September 1900) and Agnes Goodall (30 June 1840-4 July 1918). The Lawson family farm was east of St. Davids at the corner of Concession Two and York Road. William Lawson had been born in Longside, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. He had chosen to settle near other Scottish families in Lincoln County and in 1858 had married Agnes, the daughter of John and Sarah (Anderson) Goodall.
On 14 July 1893, Thomas Combe was doing some work for the company of Histrop and Thomas and by the end of the month was able to rent a cottage from a Mrs. Thomas. It is interesting to note that he also paid $4 in annual dues to the “Sons of Scotland.”
On 20 Nov. 1893, he noted that his house at 78 Buckley Avenue in Niagara Falls was being built, and by 6 January 1894 that Mr. Lundy was doing the plastering. On 2 March 1894 a four-year mortgage was drawn up for $700 at 6% and Thomas and Isabella moved in on 27 March 1894. The cost for the lot was $350, insurance $8, builders risk $2.40, house $735.50, lawyer $10, coal $6, paint 75˘ for a total cost of $1,413.51. The mortgage was paid off by March 1902.
Meanwhile he received word that his father Robert Combe had died on 14 Jan. 1902 at the age of 66. Now free of debt himself, Thomas decided to make a trip to Berwickshire and seems to have spent the winter of 1905-6 there. His mother lived until the age of 80 and died on 10 August in 1913.
In May 1909 Thomas was able to put all the “conveniences” in the Buckley Street house at a cost of $175. This house appears to have served as a rental property until 16 May 1921, when he sold it for $3,000.
On 14 September 1910, he bought lots #117 and #118 on McGrail Avenue for $450. The contract price for building three houses was $4,100. Other costs included the wiring $82, change in sewer lines $13.50 and furnace pipes $75. By Oct. 1911 the three houses were totally paid for. On 19 Augist 1919 he bought a house on Lot 87, #15 (later 437) John Street in Niagara Falls for which he paid $3,300 in cash. This served as their home after his retirement in 1924.
Prior to leaving Scotland, Thomas appears to have been in somewhat of a managerial position on a large estate. This allowed him to move easily into a similar position on the Bush estate, with apparent responsibility for the grounds and stables. The fact that a house was provided as a part of the position as well as through his careful management of his finances he was able to build a number of rental properties which served to provide income for his retirement years.
The children of Thomas and Isabella (Lawson) Combe were William and Christina. Isabella died on 21 December 1941 and at that time Thomas bought six cemetery plots for $60. He died on 7 March 1944. They were both interred in Fairview Cemetery in Niagara Falls Canada.
Thomas was an excellent gardener and had prizewinning rhubarb. His secret was that he laboriously carried soapy wash water to pour over the plants. He had one idiosyncrasy. He loved to win at games and was more than a little distressed if he lost at bridge or euchre.
From the time I was five years old my grandparents bought me a suit for each birthday. We would travel to St. Catharines to the tailors, “Bissonette and Joy”, to make this major purchase. They seemed to feel it was important that little boys should be properly attired in a Sunday suit. I have no recollection of my sisters ever receiving new dresses on their birthdays. After Thomas’s death my father used some of the estate money to purchase a bicycle for my sister Joyce as she had been her grandfather’s favourite grandchild and he had wanted her to have one.
William, the eighth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born on 11 August 1869 at Marvingston, Bolton as recorded in the family Bible, although his cemetery marker states his birth date as 1871. The Scottish Census of 1881 says he was age 11 on his next birthday and born at Bolton, Haddington.
About 1895 William married Margaret Moor Birrell. She was married previously to Thomas Renilson. The children of William and Margaret (Moor Birrell) Combe were William Ralph, Robert, David, Alice, Christina and Elizabeth Isabella Combe. An older girl named Mary, whom the younger children had assumed to be their sister, was presumably Margaret’s daughter by her previous marriage.
According to his grandson Dr. William Combe, William left Newcastle on Tyne and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1907 and settled near St.Davids. The family later moved to Rockway, Louth Township. His name was listed in 1916 Voters’ List there. In 1917 he was listed as living on Concession 7 Lot 9 in that township.
According to a video made by William’s daughter Elizabeth (Combe) Corzine in 1992 the family arrived in March of 1907 on the Empress of Ireland. She was a year and a half at the time and only she and her father were not seasick on the voyage. The parents and the seven children travelled by train from Halifax to Niagara Falls and went to live briefly with his sister Christina and Alex Lawson on their farm in St.Davids. If all of Christina and Alex’s children were at home there would have been over twenty people under the same roof.
William worked on the railroad and later in the quarry in St.Davids. When they left the Lawson house the family moved to a small stone cottage at 1786 York Road near concession two. This house is still standing. Eventually they moved to Pine Bush to one of the staff houses of the Larkin farms. The children went to school in Queenston. About 1916 the family moved to a farm in Louth near the farm that belonged to William’s elder brother Robert Combe. It was a shock to his wife Margaret when she caught sight of the derelict house to which she and her children had been brought. After the death of his wife Margaret in 1939 William continued to live and work on his farm. He was an adherent of Knox Presbyterian Church. He died on 27 January 1956 and both he and Margaret were buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines.
William was one of the few people who wrote identifying information on the back of his snapshots.
James Alexander Combe
James, the ninth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born on 28 Aug ust 1871 at Marvingston, Bolton. He married Mary Renton and they had three children, namely Sarah Ann “Cissie”, Christina and James Combe.
He died at Berwick upon Tweed on 15 January 1905 and was buried in the family plot at the Berwick upon Tweed Cemetery.
Christina “Teen” Watt Combe
Christina, the tenth member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe was born 30 January 1874 at Marvingston, Bolton and died in Queenston Ontario in 1957. Her body was interred in the burial ground at St.Davids beside her second husband Alexander Lawson who died on 13 September 1929.
About 1895 Christina had married James Birrell at Berwick upon Tweed and they had two children Christina and John Birrell. James and his wife kept a shop in Berwick upon Tweed. On 11 May 1900, James Birrell died in Kelso, from “massive abdominal pain” according to his granddaughter Helen Robertson. He was buried in Berwick upon Tweed. His young son was less than a year old. Christina, always called “Teen”, continued to operate the small business to support herself and her little family. Her two brothers Robert Combe and Thomas Combe were both now well established in Canada. Thomas had married Isabella Lawson in 1893 and with their two children, William and Christina, they were living in Niagara Falls.
Teen’s brother, Thomas Combe, was married to Isabella Lawson. Isabella’s sister in law, Janet Martha Chalmers, had died on 10 July 1901 leaving Alexander Lawson to run his farm and to bring up their children; William C., Annie Alice, Clarence A., Douglas A., Flora C., Raymond B. and Allan L. Lawson. Thomas and Isabella Combe decided that the solution to the plights of both of these single parents with small children was to persuade Christina Watt(Combe) Birrell to come to Canada. She came early in 1902 and on 11 September 1902 married Alexander Lawson in the small Presbyterian Church in St. David’s. The children of this union were Mary ”May” Goodall, Isabel “Bella”, Elizabeth C., Agnes, Alexandra B. “Babe” and Margaret Lawson.
The Combe/Birrell, Chalmers/Lawson and Combe/Lawson families lived together on the farm established by Alex’s father William Lawson on Lot 42 Concession 2 in Niagara Township. The house with its distinctive “tower” was just north of the intersection of York Road and Concession 2. It was unusual for its day as it had central heating. The large barn was also unusual as it had a barrel vaulted roof.
For my father and grandparents this place developed a lot of associations and was the focus of many “Sunday drives”. One factor was that my grandparents had been responsible for this marriage between my grandfather’s sister closest in age and my grandmother’s only brother. I remember visiting there when I was a child and the house seemed large and had a kind of mystical aspect. Even though my maternal grandparents lived on a large town lot and grew fruit and vegetables and raised chickens, this farm of William Lawson’s, my great grandfather was special. The farm is long gone, but the house remains, now strangely altered.
My own recollections of Christina Watt (Combe) Lawson are hazy. Principally I remember that I simply could not understand what she was saying. Her Scottish accent remained with her to the end of her life. Her voice was gravelly and reminded me of the voice of Mae West. I also remember that she was always very busy, but seemed to be enjoying herself enormously, despite what many would have considered a hard life.
Euphemia, the eleventh member of the family of Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe, was born on 9 March 1876 at Broom Hills, Edinburgh Court, Liberton. She married David Renton and they had four children, namely John, Christina, Isabella and Robert Combe Renton.
The Fourth Generation
The Children of Elizabeth Combe
Christina Combe Anderson
Christina, the daughter of George and Elizabeth (Combe) Anderson was born in 1877. She died in Edinburgh in June 1941. She was remembered as an energetic personality. As a young woman, she worked in the bakery in Coldingham. With this contact with the customers, she knew all the local gossip. On 23 June 1906 she married Joseph Moffett, the baker. Their children were Elizabeth, Mary and John Moffett. They moved to Edinburgh and she helped in the bakery shop to begin with and then retired to run her household in Leith. Eventually they owned seven shops in Edinburgh. Her interests were chiefly her family and her church.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Davidson Anderson
Elizabeth usually called Lizzie, daughter of George and Elizabeth (Combe) Anderson was born on 22 Marchˇ 1891. As a young woman, she worked as table maid in several big houses. On 13 July 1914 she married Andrew Brown and they lived on several farms, the last being Reston Hill, a 600 acre farm half way between Ayton and Reston in Berwickshire.
Lizzie was a strong willed person of total integrity. She was hard working, organized, kind and generous with strong views about most things. In the latter part of her life she stopped going to church because the sermons were so short and it was not worth getting dressed to go to church for just an hour. She continued to support the Church of Scotland in Ayton financially, however, in spite of this complaint.
Before I went to England in London in 1953 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was given the address of cousins, Christina (Colvine) Purdom and her sister Isa Colvine in Edinburgh. I went to visit in the spring of 1953. Chris strongly urged me to go to Reston to visit another cousin, Lizzie Brown whose husband had died several months previously. I stayed for a week while Lizzie took me to visit anyone who was related in any way. She considered it her familial duty to do this. When I left, she assured me that I was family and that her home was my home and that any time I grew tired of London and needed a change or a rest, I was to come and stay as long as I wished. So began a long series of visits where I gained a perspective of family life on a farm in Scotland. I remember that they ate all their meals in the sitting room except for Sunday when they ate in the dining room, in order to heat the room and keep the furniture in good condition. I was truly a member of the family.
The household at Reston Hill was run with precision. Meals were served punctually; breakfast at eight, lunch at noon, tea at four and supper at eight. There certainly were grumbles from Lizzie if this schedule was not adhered to. On weekdays the sitting room was used for meals, except for breakfast which was served in the kitchen beside the cosy fire. Sundays were special and all activities moved to the parlour, which was the best room and saved for special occasions. There was even a certain ritual about the food and certain regularity to the diet and to the recipes used. Always the best quality ingredients and the freshest of produce were used. Always white linen cloths and napkins as well as brightly polished silver. It was obvious what the day was as there was routine, washing Mondays, ironing Tuesdays, silver polishing on Thursday mornings, baking Wednesdays etc.
In 1955, I convinced Lizzie to visit me in London. It was her first visit to the metropolis and she came with her own butter, eggs and tomatoes, being quite assured that they were superior to those one could buy in the city. Even after I returned to Canada, I continued to visit Reston Hill at least once a year. In addition, she made two visits to Canada. She had a significant influence on my life.
Lizzie had the traditional Scottish attitude towards the needless spending of money. The big old stone farmhouse was on top of a rise of land and not far from the North Sea. It was heated by fireplaces and although warm and comfortable in the living areas the corridors and bedrooms were uncomfortably chilly. At the time of my first winter visit she had purchased an elaborate heater for my bedroom so that I would be warm and comfortable.
On one occasion, however, I expressed a desire to see Mellerstain, the eighteenth century house of the Earl of Haddington, famed for its Adam interiors. We got ready to go and then Lizzie discovered it cost 2s 6p (about 35 cents) to go in. She adamantly refused to pay money to see the inside of anybody’s house. When I insisted that I would pay the admission, she refused to allow me to waste my money either. So I never saw the interior of that house.
Elizabeth (Anderson) and Andrew Brown had four children, namely Thomas, Pearl, Ella and George Brown. Lizzie died on 26 November 1977.
William, the son of George and Elizabeth (Combe) Anderson was born about 1894. In 1925 he left Scotland to live in Belleview, New Jersey, USA. He was a stone mason by trade. In 1925 he married Catharine Falconer and they had three children Catharine (1 April 1927-), George (6 July 1928-) and Robert (2 June 1931-) Anderson. William died in 1958 shortly after his sister Lizzie visited him in New Jersey.
Thomas Combe Anderson
Thomas, the son of George and Elizabeth (Combe) Anderson was born in January 1897. He worked as chauffeur until 1926 until he went to a small farm near Edrom, Berwickshire. He married Agnes Lindsay on 8 April 1921. Their children were George (1922-), Nancy (17 Feb 1923-), Elizabeth (23 June 1924-) and Sibyl (11 July 1927-) Anderson. In 1942, they moved to Press Mains and in 1967 retired to the village of Reston. According to his sister Lizzie’s daughter, Pearl Brown, he was a little man with big ideas. He died on 28 November 1977.
John Alexander Anderson
John, the son of George and Elizabeth (Combe) Anderson was born on 18 February 1902. He worked first as a farm worker and then as a baker with his uncle, John Moffett until 1943. On 24 July 1905, he married Sophie Cowe and their daughters were Dorothy and Elizabeth Anderson. In 1945, the family moved to Swansfield, near Reston, an idyllic farm high on a hill. Visually it was a very romantic setting, although wind swept and probably not terribly easy farming. In 1967 they retired to Coldingham and John died on 10 June 1983.
The Children of John Combe
Christina Wilson Combe
Christina, the daughter of John and Christina (Wilson) Combe was born on 8 May 1882 in Bellhaven Dunbar, East Lothian. She married Adam Scott on 17 October 1913. He died in 1922.
Tibbie (Scott) Shaw wrote about her mother as follows:
Leaving school at an early age she went into service and when employed in the Rutland Hotel in Edinburgh was noticed by a Lady who was visiting and she liked the appearance of my mother and on leaving gave my mother an address where she could contact her, which in time she did and was trained in hotel management from an early age all due to this lady, the wife of the Avimore Hotel owner in the north of Scotland. So in the years my mother was at Avimore she left as an undermanageress to become the manageress of the Crosskeys at Kelso and then of the Station Hotel in Selkirk where she married my father Adam Scott of the Tibbie Shields Inn.
When they married my grandfather James Scott gave a wonderful ball where many attended, among them the Duke of Buccleugh and his lovely young wife and Sir William Strange Steel and his wife and many others of the valley. When I grew up, my mother often told me of that wonderful ball, when men were handsome and the women so beautiful with wonderful hair and ball gowns. I have some photos of my mother from the age of 19. She was so attractive and had beautiful dresses, not like the half naked women of today, leaving nothing to the imagination.
My father was a handsome man, a true Scott, colouring fair and with the grey/green eyes of the lochs and the hills. These days must have been wonderful. As a young man and from boyhood he grew up at the Inn and with others enjoyed the country life and had many prizes for clay pigeon shooting, so many trophies in his short life. As a young man he saw the coming age of the motor car and the horse and trap fading away and so he borrowed from his father money to start the ”Selkirk Motor Company” with a partner and so he was the pioneer of Border Buses” as the charabanc was known. I have a photograph of that charabanc with my father in the driving seat and James and I standing by. Expanding the business he had two other garages in Innerleithen. In 1922 my father was taken to Edinburgh with that dreadful disease-cancer of the stomach. He died at the young age of thirty eight.
In those days because women were homemakers and did not drive my mother had to put the business on the market and as grandmother and grandfather Scott were then becoming rather old and wanted to give up the Inn, grandfather said to my mother as she was trained in hotel management she should take over, which she did and so began my life at the Inn and life in the valley community.
Christina assumed control of the Tibbie Shields Hotel, from her husband’s parents. This famous old inn was established in 1823 and had been visited by a number of well known writers, including James Hogg, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Christina worked there until she moved to Joppa in 1943. In 1960 she moved to Drummore, Wigtownshire to live with her daughter, Tibbie (Scott) and John Shaw.
Tibbie also wrote that “My mother was widowed young with my brother and me and never thought of remarriage, but as I remember a very fine man, a civil engineer, a widower with one son, whom we had known for years, he belonging to the Border Country who was a family friend invited my mother to go out to Vancouver as his wife taking my brother and me. Had my mother agreed I would not have been here (Scotland) today. Perhaps life would have been easier for her, but she chose to stay. The son is still in Vancouver.”
When I first met her in 1953, Christina announced to me when that she was my father’s oldest living cousin. She had two children, namely Isabella (Tibbie) and James Scott.
Robert Watt Combe
Robert, the son of John and Christina (Wilson) Combe was born on 8 May 1882. He and his wife had four children, namely John, Charles, Thomas and Robert Combe.
John “Jock” Combe
John, the son of John and Christina (Wilson) Combe married Annie Erskine. They had four children, namely John, Elizabeth, Alexander and Agnes Combe.
Thomas, the son of John and Christina (Wilson) Combe was born in 1890. He was a member of the territorial army from c1911 and mobilised for war duties in 1914 as a member of the 7th company of the Royal Scotts. He rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government and was recommended for the Victoria Cross. In 1918 he transferred to the 9th Royal Scotts and was discharged in August 1919.
Thomas married Elizabeth Robinson. They had three children, namely Agnes, Christina and Thomas Combe. He died in 1954.
Elizabeth Amber Combe
Elizabeth was the daughter of John and his second wife Elizabeth (Amber) Combe. She worked in the head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh until her retirement. She was present at the burning of the old paper currency. Elizabeth remained at her residence in Sloan Street in Leith until she could no longer care for herself. Her niece Tibbie Scott wrote “I liked her. She was a quiet fine person who sat quietly and listened to other people talk.”
The Children of Robert Combe
Robert Goodall Combe
Robert was the son of Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe. He was born at Homer, Grantham County, Ontario on 15 January 1888, moving with the family to Rockway in 1891. He attended Fairview Public School. He married Edna Margaret Whitmore (16 January 1900-3 March 1995) daughter of Curtis Wellington and Livina Alice (Oder) Whitmore on 15 June 1921. They farmed on 9th Street in Louth. It was a mixed farm with hay, grain and some grapes. He had dairy cattle and sold milk. Family remembered that they had a barn raising in the 1920’s. The men of the neighbourhood were under the supervision of a builder; the women were in charge of the food. They had six children, namely Murray, James, Jean Alice , Donald, John, and Alan Combe. Robert died on 9 February 1965 in St. Catharines. He and his wife were buried at Pleasantview Memorial Gardens near Fonthill, Ontario.
William Alexander Combe
William was the son of Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe. He was born at Homer, Grantham Township on 7 August 1890, moving with the family to Rockway in 1891. He attended Fairview Public School and the St. Catharines Business College. On 6 June 1923, he married R. Evelyn Osborne at St.George, Ontario. She was born at St.George on 2 February 1898, the daughter of Frank and Elizabeth (McCormick) Osborne. She had been a teacher at the Rockway Public School. They took over his parents’ farm on 9th Street Louth continuing in mixed farming until 1945. The farm consisted of 300 peach trees, 10 acres of grapes as well as hay and grain crops. Initially he raised beef cattle, but later had a dairy herd and sold milk. In 1945 her sold the farm and purchased the feed mill at Campden, Ontario. In their retirement they lived on 3 Victoria Street in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1945. They had two children Margaret Elizabeth and Lawrence William Combe. William joined the Rockway Presbyterian Church in 1909 and served on the Board of Managers of the church as well as treasurer for several years. Evelyn was a church school teacher. William died on 3 February 1958 and R. Evelyn on 5 October 2001. They were interred in the Rockway Presbyterian Cemetery.
James Buchanan Combe
James was the son of Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe. He was born at Rockway in Louth Township, Lincoln County, Ontario on 30 May 1899. He attended Fairview School. He owned the basket factory in Jordan Station and then he worked at General Motors in St. Catharines transferring later to factory protection as a security guard.
He married Phyllis Hardy House (6 January 1906-24 October 1988), daughter of William Henry and Grace Gertrude (Cruikshank) House on 10 March 1925. They lived first at Jordan Station, then on Gregory Road, St. Catharines and in 1947 at 30 Albert Street before moving to 79 Vale Avenue in St. Catharines. James and Phyllis had three children, namely Grace Gertrude, Betty Joan and Barbara Jane Combe. They attended Welland Avenue United Church where James belonged to the Men’s Club. He was also a member of the Y’s Men’s Club.
James died on 20 August 1983 at Bestview Retirement home and is buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines.
Bessie, the daughter of Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe died as an infant. Her niece, Margaret Combe, informed me that the tombstone indicates she was six weeks of age.
Mary Mabel Combe
Mabel, the daughter of Robert and Jane (Goodall) Combe was born on 19 May 1903 in Louth Township. She attended Fairview Public School and St. Catharines Business College. On 17 February 1926 she married Wesley Mathias Robbins (6 February1900-14 March 1972), son of William Daniel and Martha (Gracie) Robbins. They purchased a farm in Louth Township just south of old Highway Eight. The house and barns were located near the centre of the property and the buildings were moved close to the road using one horse. Mabel was an excellent housekeeper and enjoyed sewing. She was a member of Rockway Presbyterian Church and was a member of the Ladies Aid. They had two children Harold Robert and William Wesley Robbins. Wesley Robbins died in 1972. Sixth Avenue was subsequently named Robbins Avenue in his honour. Mary died on 3 November 1989 is buried in the Rockway Cemetery.
The Children of Margaret Combe
Mary was the daughter of Margaret Combe born prior to her marriage to Peter Craig. She was born on 22 December 1879 at Heddenwick, Bellhaven Parish, Haddington.
In the census of 1881 she was recorded as one year of age and living with her grandparents Robert and Christina (Watt) Combe. She married R. Friar and they lived in Toronto. Their children were Christina, Robert, Margaret and Euphemia Friar.
Christina Watt Craig
Christina was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She died on 10 February 1940 at the age of 55 at Bankhead and was buried at Whitekirk. Her husband was Edward MacDonald and their children were Edward and Margaret MacDonald.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She married J. Leslie and their children were Peter and Joseph Leslie.
Isabella was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She married D. Bain and their son was David Bain who married Helen Hardy.
James was the son of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. His wife was Zillah and they had no children.
Helen “Nellie” Craig
Helen was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig She married William Guthrie and they lived in Tynninghame, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland. They had a daughter Margaret and a son William Guthrie.
Margaret was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She married R. Whitecross and they lived at 12 Lockbridge Road, North Berwick. She was known as Daisy.
Euphemia was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She married E. Gillian and they lived at 23A Inverleith Road, Edinburgh.
Rena was the daughter of Margaret Combe and Peter Craig. She married P. Forsyth.
The Children of Isabelle Combe
Christina “Chris” Colvine
Christina was the daughter of Isabelle (Combe) and Adam Colvine. She was born on 6 August 1896 and worked as a seamstress in a shop in Edinburgh. She was a truly original person, very kind and very funny. She married Robert Purdom and they lived on Pilton Avenue in Edinburgh. She died in 1960 and was survived by her husband and a stepson, Willie Purdom of Ottawa, Canada.
When I visited the Chris and Isa I became aware of a special relationship with their cousin Tibbie Scott. Recent information from Tibbie (Scott) Low Shaw explained that her grandmother had died leaving four young children and it was Chris’s mother who had cared for these children along with her own three and who was known as Gran Colvine by Tibbie.
Isabella “Isa” Colvine
Isabella was the daughter of Isabelle (Combe) and Adam Colvine. She was born on 22 April 1898. She worked at Tibbie Shields along with her first cousin Christina (Combe) Scott for eight years. She took a cooking course and became cook for Judge Milligan prior to 1939. She then worked in an office until her retirement. She lived with her sister and brother in law, Chris and Rob Purdom. Isa died in 1964.
James was the son of Isabelle (Combe) and Adam Colvine. He was born on 22 January 1900. He married Margaret Beveridge and they had one daughter June Colvine. June was born on 1 June 1931. She married Sidney Tyler (11 May 1926-) and they had two sons Christopher (22 July 1958-) and Nicholas (24 June 1960-).
James’s second marriage was to Jean Lindsay and they had three sons namely Robert Colvine (1946-) who married Pat Baker and whose children were Robert, Alan, James and Lindsay; James Colvine who married Louise Petrie and whose children were Allison and Keith; and Sandy Colvine whose wife was Heather.
James died on 21 November 1968.
The Children of Thomas Combe
William Thomas Combe
William was the son of Thomas and Isabella (Lawson) Combe. He was born on 31 October 1895. His early education was received at Simcoe Street Public School in Niagara Falls where he received an Entrance Certificate. He proceeded to Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute. Dr. Bill Combe’s family recalled that William worked as a bellhop in the Clifton House Hotel as a summer job. His mother was thrilled with the large amount of money her son had received in tips the first summer of his employment. When the amount was significantly less at the end of the second summer, her comment was that it was because of the cheap American tourists.
A letter from the principal of the collegiate, J. D. Dickson, dated 6 December 1915, indicated that he had passed matriculation for pharmacy and continued, “ He was an excellent student, earnest, diligent and capable and was always successful in his examinations. He is a young man, honest and honourable and thoroughly reliable in every way.” In order to enter the College of Pharmacy he was required to serve an apprenticeship of three years and eight months. This he began on 1 July 1916 by way of a formal contract with Allan Cameron Thorburn of Niagara Falls. This apprenticeship was interrupted by military service, but was completed from 20 March to 5 September 1919, allowing him to register as a student at the college of Pharmacy. He graduated as a pharmaceutical chemist on 10 June 1920 and returned to practice at Thorburn’s drug store.
When he signed up for military service on 8 December 1917 his military papers included as his home address “Clifton Place, Ferry Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario.”, the home of his parents. The first entry in his pay book was dated 14 December 1917 in Kingston and was for $8.50.
He left Kingston on 14 December 1917 and embarked at St. John, New Brunswick on 17 December for Britain. He disembarked in Glasgow on 31 December. The military record states that he “arrived in England 31 December 1917 S/S Grampian.” On 6 January he was at Witley and on 10 January the pay book indicates he was in Witley. In February and March the book states he was at Milford Camp. A notation on 9 March 1918 indicates “SOS on proceeding O/seas as Rfns”, presumably indicating his movement to France.
With the cessation of hostilities on 11 November, the same record noted that from 25 November 1918 to 7 December he was listed as having influenza and was moved twice. On 31 December he was posted to Borden in England.
A notation for 31 January 1919 indicated he was “attached CCC Kinmell Park for return to Canada” and that he “ceases to be attached CCC Kinmell Park for Canada.” In spite of that, on 4 February 1919 he was posted to Witley (Hampshire), and on 7 February to Rhyl (Flintshire, Wales) and it was not until 6 March 1919 he was posted to Canada.
The following excerpts from his journal for this period are particularly interesting, although there is no indication of any action he had seen in France, nor even of the influenza he had suffered.
- Wednesday 1 Jan. 1919 Left Etaples for Le Havre. 17hrs. in boxcar. Rain came through roof.
- 2 Jan. 1919 Arrived at Le Havre, well fed and comfortable billets.
- 3 Jan. 1919 One egg for breakfast. Embarked on American ship, 4:00pm. Sailed at night 7pm.
- 4 Jan. 1919 Disembarked Southampton 7:30am. Given breakfast and dinner. Train left for Camp Borden 1pm. Arrived 4:30pm (It is of interest that there is a Borden Camp in Hampshire near Godalming and Haselmere and these are two towns I remember his talking about).
- 6 Jan. Went to movies in Deadwater with John Lawson (his first cousin) and two others.
- 7 Jan. Went to movies at English hut.
- 8 Jan. Attended one meal parade. For others had cocoa and cake for dinner and supper.
- 10 Jan. Left Camp Borden station at 6pm. Caught 10:15 out of King’s Cross as it was moving off.
- 11 Jan. Stood half night to Edinburgh. Arrived 8:30am. Had good big breakfast. Got room at hotel. Visited my aunts at 10 (The number probably refers to the address on Salmon Place in Edinburgh. His cousin, John Lawson, was there as well, but chose to stay in the home of their aunt rather than spend money on a hotel.)
- 12 Jan. Attended St. Giles 11:30. (St. Giles is the principal Presbyterian Church in Scotland.) Had walk along the Firth. (The Firth of Forth) and Golden Gates. Walked toward zoo with Annie Lawson. Attended pantomime stunts at the Empire. Was very good.
- 14 Jan. Isa (his cousin Isa Colvine) and I walked to Joppa along sea walk. Rode back on car.
- 15 Jan. Attended pantomime at King’s on Lothian Road, which was exceptionally good.
- 16 Jan. Had eggs and bacon for breakfast. Bought a box of chocolates. Went to movies on Princess (Street) with Isa.
- 17 Jan. Had bacon and sausage for breakfast. Some more chocolates. Chrissie (his cousin Christina Colvine) and I went to the movies at night.
- 18 Jan. Called at 7am got up at 8 and left for station at 9. Left Waverly (station) at 10. Met John (Lawson) at Newcastle 12:45. Arrived in London at 8pm. Left at 9:25. Arrived at camp at 11:30.
- 19 Jan. Froze all night. Got up at 10am. Had dinner and went for a walk. Supper in Deadwater Garrison theatre.
- 20 Jan. Parade 8:45. Paid at 10am £1 and pay book taken from me. Went to Garrison theatre at night.
- 21 Jan. No breakfast. John and I walked to Deadwater. Supper of toast, eggs and trifle. Went to Palace movies.
- 22 Jan. Life at Borden Camp.
- 25 Jan. Just the same routine.
- 26 Jan. Went to concert at garrison where they had all the audience thinking they were roosters.
- 27 Jan. Same as ever. Cocoa and doughnuts
- 29 Jan. Met Jos Cummings friends at Witley camp. Jos came out of hospital.
- 30 Jan. Arose at 4am. Left Borden at 8am for London, Left London at 12. Arrived at Rhyl at 8pm.
- 31 Jan. Slept in a pretty cold shack, no coal. Wrote three letters. Grub very good.
- 1 Feb. Viewed Rhuddlan Castle. (A castle in Flintshire built by Edward I in 1277) Cost 1 penny. Went to Garrison….. Billeted very good.
- 2 Feb. Walked to Dyserth, 6 miles. View scenery. Very ancient church. Attended Welch service. Had a walk with Miss Roberts. Home 10:45.
- 3 Feb. Placed on sailing draft 14. Moved to sailing area 5:30pm. Very chilly nights even in the blankets.
- 4 Feb. (Number) 14 sailing draft cancelled because of labour troubles. .Went to movies at night.
- 5 Feb. Went to lecture by Bishop of Westminster. Afternoon saw female…….art.
- 6 Feb. Route march in morning. Walked to Rhuddean afternoon. Pictures at night.
- 7 Feb. Walked to Pristatyn in afternoon. Supper in Dyserth. Went to whist drive at night. Home at 1 am.
- 8 Feb. Walked to Rhyl after dinner. Enjoyed the sea promenade. Supper at YMCA; then movies. Home at 12pm
- 9 Feb. Church at YMCA in morning. Walked all afternoon. Welch church. Home at 11.
- 10 Feb. Nothing doing. Saw Charlie (Chaplin?) at movies at night.
- 11 Feb. Walked up mountain in morning. Walked to Abergele at night.
- 12 Feb. Walked to Dyserth had supper and then took the train to Prestatyn. Changed to Rhyl. Then troop train home.
- 13 Feb. Walked over mountain in the morning. Slept afternoon. Movies at night.
- 15 Feb. Rained all day. Walked to Rhyl. Saw show. Had to use my own ponies to get back to camp.
- 16 Feb. Met Allan in morning. Allan and myself walked to St. Asaph cathedral (Britain’s smallest cathedral, 13th century. Restored by Gilbert Scott)
- 17 Feb. Rained all day. Had to do castle picket where you see the ghost at midnight. Placed on draft.
- 18 Feb. Sailing on 21 postponed one day. Finished picket at 3pm
- 19 Feb. Saw Alfie in the afternoon. Went to movies with him at night. Had big feed.
- 20 Feb. Walked to Abergele about 12pm. On board 3pm supper at 6. Very good. Moved out into river at 6pm.
- 21 Feb. Had good breakfast. Sailed at 11am. Started to get windy and rain. Saw Irish coast about 3pm.
- 22 Feb. Stayed in bed all day. Made 342 miles. Sea too rough. Nothing to eat.
- 23 Feb. In bed all day. Made 399 miles.
- 24 Feb. Up on deck a while but decided that I liked the bunk better. Made 372 miles.
- 25 Feb. 358 miles
- 26 Feb. 338 miles
- 27 Feb. 370 miles
- 28 Feb. 304 miles
- 1 March Made 177 miles into Halifax. Arrived 12.30am. Disembarked 9pm to troop trains
- 2 March on troop train in northern New Brunswick, Morrisey
He was discharged on 25 March 1919 as #349812, Rank Gunner, R.C.H.A.
After this military interlude he completed his apprenticeship and work at the Ontario College of Pharmacy. It appears that it was following his completion of his pharmacy he spent some time prospecting and hunting in northern Ontario where his brother in law’s family (Harold Tough) was associated with Harry Oakes. Harold was killed in a mining accident in 1926 and this may have been the impetus to bring William’s attention back fully to Thorburn’s.
From October 1923 until June 1925 William and Mabel carried on a regular correspondence. She had gone to visit her sister and brother in law Dorothea and Clarence Montgomery in Hydro, now Cameron Falls, Ontario on the Nipigon River. She was looking for work there and in Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, Ontario. The letters Bill wrote over the course of that winter show a young man very much in love with Mabel. By December of 1923, she had travelled by boat to the head of Lake Superior and lived in Hydro, Ontario, where a number of Niagara Falls hydroelectric power workers had been sent to work. Bill and she had apparently been courting for some time, for he refers to their seeing a strong man act in Shea’s theatre in Buffalo. He recalled the “loveliest supper I ever had, with you for company.” He goes on to mention that “always before you leaned away from me but not that night. You liked to be close to me and then the drive home with you driving and I tried to keep you warm, trying to keep that coat over your knees.”
Mabel used to work in Thorburn’s drug store where Bill was the pharmacist. She apparently was the bookkeeper or at least responsible for counting the cash and checking the invoices.
Whether it was the influence of the strong man act, or merely the desire to show off his muscles to Mabel, he began an exercise program and encouraged her to do the same. In addition, he enjoyed long walks of ten miles and more, in below zero (Fahrenheit) weather down to Chippewa or Queenston. He travelled by car in winter more than most young men of the day for he followed the local hockey team to their games in Hamilton and Dunville. In addition, he went with friends to Port Dover and Port Rowan to fish.
Bill was working in the drug store in Niagara Falls but spending some time in target practice with a 22 rifle in preparation for a three week hunting trip to Willisville north of Sudbury, Ontario. The hunt seems to have been moderately successful for while he had hoped to shoot a bear, they at least had deer meat which Harold had shot to take back home with them. In addition, Bill fell and sprained his wrist, which caused him some pain for several weeks afterwards.
After Mabel’s mother passed the store and stopped to speak with him, his comment was “I believe she likes me better than she used to.” He later confessed that perhaps her attitude was imagined by him and he discovered that he liked her. The romance was growing more and more serious and it seems that in a missing letter, Bill had proposed and then doubted the wisdom of what he had said. Certainly he had made it plain that he wanted to spend all his time with Mabel and informed her obliquely that he could support her in mentioning that Mr. Thorburn had offered to increase his salary to $40 a week, although it would also mean longer working hours.
Some of the social commentary is interesting. By the 25th of November they were ordering and planning their Christmas sales in the store. On December 23rd, Bill wrote, “Tomorrow is the big day at the store, the day before Christmas and all the fussing will be over for another year. It has not been so hard this year, as A.C. (Mr. Thorburn) bought very little, even our chocolates are pretty well all sold out. We have done very well on our toilet preparations and little pieces of ivory, but expensive pieces are not selling.” He never mentions exactly what he got Mabel for Christmas, but seemed quite ecstatic over a scarf she sent him and that everyone recognized as a gift from her. In January he had the task of taking inventory and lamented that she would not be there to help as she had in previous years.
At Mabel’s suggestion, he went to church for the first time in two years. It was his custom to go to the show every Sunday. Shows and cards were an important part of his social life. He enjoyed going for ten-mile walks with friends in below zero weather and hoped to take part in an expedition to James Bay. He had invested in Hunton shares and was about to invest a couple of thousand dollars in Canadian Kirkland at 44 cents a share.
Mabel apparently did not find permanent work in the north, although she seems to have worked briefly in a drugstore in Port Arthur. Bill inquired about the possibility of work at Thorburn’s and was assured that he and Mabel could run the store while the owner was out selling stock.
A gap in the letters seems to represent Mabel’s return to Niagara Falls to work at Thorburn’s. A letter from Willisville in the Kirkland Lake area in June begins with mention of the fact that it was three weeks since he had last seen her. He had gone north as part of a prospecting crew, although he was doing the cooking for the team. He reported a claim with “lots of gold on it”.
William married Mabel Frances Stewart at Lundy’s Lane United Church on 18 October 1927. Their children were Donald Lloyd, Norma Joyce “Morgan” and Winnifred Frances “Bea” Combe.
William Thomas Combe died on 21 July 1964 at the Owen Sound Hospital, five hours after heart failure while at his summer home at Johnson’s Harbour. The funeral service was held at Lundy’s Lane United Church. Clergy present were: Dr. S.B. Stokes, Rev. John Kitchen, Rev. McKeowen and Rev. Ken Moyer. The interment was in the family plot in Fairview Cemetery on Stanley Street in Niagara Falls.
The following are excerpts from the funeral eulogy:
We mourn today the passing of a good and kindly man. A sincere Christian, a loyal churchman, a businessman of integrity and a beloved husband and parent. Few men gave more loyal or devoted support to his church than did Bill Combe. For many years he had been the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lundy’s Lane Church and was on the building committee of their new edifice. Interested in the ministry of the church it was Bill Combe who came to his then pastor Dr. Stokes and was instrumental in establishing the student ministers’ fund to assist candidates for this highest calling of the church. Always a lover of young people Bill, who was a charter member of the local Optimist Club, worked unceasingly when that club planned for the erection of the present Boys’ Club on Carlton Avenue. He also interested himself in the Air Cadets who provided the Guard of honour for this afternoon’s service. In his business dealings he carried a confidence and a reputation for integrity to be envied by any person. One of the great characteristics of his life was his friendliness. His life was motivated by friendship of the highest order, unselfish friendship. His personality radiated confidence and helpfulness, not only to those he knew, but also to those who needed him. Ever ready to extend a helping hand, the parable of the Good Samaritan was truly exemplified in his life. When his country called him at the time of the First World War to serve in the defence of freedom and Democracy, Bill unhesitatingly responded and served Oversees in the Royal Canadian Artillery.
Agnes Christina Combe
Agnes Christina was the daughter of Thomas and Isabella (Lawson) Combe. She was born on 25 January 1898 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She married Harold Tough who died on 13 April 1926 in a mining accident in the north of Ontario. She married Avery Walker on 25 June 1933. They had two children Anna Isabel (26 March 1934-) and Lorna Fae (11 April 1936-) Walker. The family lived on College Avenue in Niagara Falls N.Y. and later just outside Lewiston, N.Y. In 1955 the family moved to Long Island N.Y. where Avery was in partnership with a brother in law in a fuel oil company. In 1965 Anne, her husband Robert Maxner and their two daughters Carol Elizabeth and Donna Fae moved with her parents to the Walker family farm at Mount Morris, N.Y. Avery died 9 October 1966 and Agnes Christina in October 1992. They were both interred in the Mount Morris Cemetery.
The Children of William Combe
Mary was the eldest member of the family of William Combe. She was born at the Old Toll House, Castlegate, Berwick upon Tweed, county of Northumberland on 18 January 1887. According to her Birth Certificate her father was Thomas Renilson and her mother was Margaret Moor Renilson formerly Birrell. She accompanied her family to Canada in 1907 and on arrival she started to work at tourist cabins located on St. Davids Road in Queenston. She soon moved to Niagara Falls N.Y. where she found employment as a housekeeper for a family on Buffalo Avenue. Here she met the gardener Walter Young whom she married in 1913. Walter born on 17 April 1875, was a widower with one son Walter Jr. They lived at 123 Fourth Street in Niagara Falls, New Yorka house formerly owned by one of their employers.They had one daughter Margaret Louise Young who was born on 9 January 1915 and who died in West Seneca New York on 23 September 1996. Her married name was Schrader and their children were Eugene, Roger, Margaret and Jack.
Walter died on 28 June 1955. Both Mary and Walter are interred in Riverside Cemetery in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
William Ralph Combe
William Ralph was the son of William and Margaret (Birrell) Combe. He was born on 23 July 1896 in Berwick upon Tweed. As a young boy he was rewarded numerous times with books for attendance and reciting the Golden Text at Causey Road Sunday School. He came to Canada with his family in 1907.
William attended public school in St. Davids until seeking employment with his father at the Larkin Farms. He moved with his family when they purchased the farm in Rockway in 1916. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in World War I and arrived in England shortly before the armistice of November 1918. On his return to Canada he continued to assist his father on the farm and also obtained employment at nearby Decew Falls Generating Station, owned by Dominion Power & Transmission Co. of Hamilton later to become part of Ontario Hydro. He rose through various positions at the station to become First Operator a position he held at the time of his death in 1958.
In 1930 he married the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, Mary Alberta Smith (1890-1980). Mary was a registered nurse. William and Mary purchased half of the family farm in 1930 and built their own home. In 1951 they purchased the remainder of the farm from William Sr.
Their son William Walter Combe was born 20 January 1935.
William Ralph served as a trustee on the Mountview School Board and the East Louth School Board in late forties & early fifties. William Ralph died at home on July 17, 1958 and was buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery St. Catharines, Ontario.
Robert was the son of William Combe & Margaret (Birrell) Combe. He was born on 3 July 1898 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. He came to Canada with his family in March 1907.
Robert served in the Canadian Army in World War I. Following discharge from the army he moved to Buffalo, N.Y. where he was employed by Consolidated Voltee Aircraft Co. Here he met and married Margaret Davidson and they had two children James William Combe born on 27 July 1930 in Buffalo, N.Y. and Eleanor Combe born on 17 September 1935.
The family moved to California where Robert was employed with General Dynamics in San Diego. From General Dynamics he made a career change and was employed as a groundskeeper with the University of Southern California in El Centro.
Following his divorce from Margaret he married Dorcas Read Westcott.
Robert retired in El Centro where he resided until his death.
David John Combe
David was the son of William Combe & Margaret (Birrell) Combe. He was born in Newcastle on Tyne England on 2 November 1899. He came to Canada with his family in 1907. David attended St. Davids Public School and worked with his family at Larkin Farms on the Niagara Parkway. He moved with his family and assisted his father in establishing the family farm at Rockway in 1916.
David moved to Niagara Falls N.Y. in the early twenties and was employed as a chauffeur by F. W. Woolworth of the Woolworth Department Stores.
In 1929 the depression hit everyone including the Woolworth Family. Chauffeurs were no longer needed & David was offered employment as a groundskeeper at the Woolworth Estate in Youngstown, N.Y.
In the late forties David was employed by the Lewiston Porter High School as a caretaker.
David married Isabel Farrel in 1926. They had one daughter Margaret Isabel born on 12 November 1928 and one son David born on 4 April 1935 and who died in 1982.
David was injured in a tractor rollover in the early sixties and died on 17 February 1966. He was buried in Youngstown N.Y.
Alice was the daughter of William Combe and Margaret (Birrell) Combe. She was born in County Durham Northern England on 12 October 1901 and came to Canada with her family in 1907. From the family farm in Louth she moved to Niagara Falls N.Y. and was employed as a homemaker by the family of the movie actor Franchot Tone on Buffalo Ave.
Alice married Clarence Hoffman and lived in North Niagara Falls, New York during the 30’s and 40’s. Alice and Clarence built a home in Saunders Settlement where she resided until her death in 1987.
Alice & Clarence had one son Herbert born in January 1925.
Christina Janet Combe
Christina was the daughter of William Combe and Margaret (Birrell) Combe. She was born on 20 December 1902 at Hedley West House, Marley Hill, County Durham England. Christina came to Canada with her family in 1907.
Christina attended St. Davids Public School & moved with her family to the farm in Louth Township. in 1916. She moved to Niagara Falls N.Y. in the 1920’s and worked as a homemaker for the Lovelace Family on Buffalo Avenue.
Christina met and married Glenn Rose and they had three sons William (5 November 1929-) Robert (3 February 1932-) Harold (12 February 1933-1995).
Christina died on 28 June 1971 and was buried in Lewiston, N.Y.
Elizabeth Isabella Combe
Elizabeth was the daughter of William and Margaret (Birrell) Combe. She was born in Hedley on the Hill near Newcastle in England on 15 September 1905 and came to Canada in 1807 when she was a year and a half old.
She attended St. Davids Public School, and moved with her family to Louth in 1916. She attended St. Catharines Business College. Following the lead of her older sisters she moved to Niagara Falls N.Y.
She married Ernest Nickerson on December 19, 1927 and their children were Arlene E. born on 21 October 1929 and Phyllis L. born on 6 September 1932, Nickerson. She subsequently married to Ernest Corzine. In an interview made in 1992 she recollected family life in St. David’s and Queenston. About 1920 she went to Niagara Falls New York to work as a domestic and later was employed by the Spirella Corset Company on North Main Street. She worked for five years for Bell Aircraft in Wheatfield during world War 11 and was a cosmetologist at Sal’s Beauty Salon for six years in the 50’s. From 1961 to 1978 she lived in San Bernadino, California where she was employed as a nurse’s aid in San Bernadino. Her husband Ernest Corzine died in 1977 and she returned to Niagara Falls.
Elizabeth died on 2 May 2002 at Mount St. Mary’s Retirement Home which now utilizes the building formerly occupied by the Spirella Corset Co.
The Children of James Alexander Combe
Sarah Ann Combe
Sarah Ann (Cissie), the daughter of James Alexander and Mary (Renton) Combe was born in 1898. I visited her many times when I was in Britain and have special memories of those visits. She had real gifts of telling the future and seeing into character. She was open and generous and had warmth that endeared her to all who met her. Her home was always filled with family members who needed taking care of. She died on 28 April 1985 and was buried in the family plot in Berwick upon Tweed. Her children were James and Jessie. Jessie’s married name was Kemp and whose children were Trevor, Allison and Janice.
Christina was the daughter of James Alexander and Mary (Renton) Combe.
James was the son of James Alexander and Mary (Renton) Combe He was a commissioned officer in the British army and served in India.
The Children of Christina Watt Combe
Christina “Chris” Birrell Lawson
Christina was the daughter of John and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell. She was born on 29 July 1897 in Scotland. She and her brother John came to Canada with their mother in 1902. She went by the surname Lawson. The siblings spent a great deal of time in the home of their uncle Thomas Combe. Their mother was fully occupied with her new family and no doubt welcomed this diversion provided for her two eldest children. She married George Robertson on 18 November 1918. Chris and George were best friends of my parents and were very close to our family. Their children were Helen, Marguerite and Isobel Lorraine Robertson. Chris died on 17 October 1979.
John Birrell Lawson
John was the son of John and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell. He was born in Glasgow on 8 September 1899. After his father’s death in 1900 the family lived in Berwick upon Tweed until they came to Canada in 1902. He used the Lawson surname. In 1914, falsifying his age John became a gunner in the Canadian Army. He believed himself to be only 14. When his actual age was discovered he became a batman and served with the Canadian Army Oversees in World War I.
On 4 September 1922 he married Geraldine Hetherington ( born on 6 December 1902). They lived on Pleasant Avenue in St. Catharines and later above their shop in Welland. They owned and operated a leather goods store in Welland, Ontario. They had twin daughters namely Geraldine and Jacqueline. John’s daughter, Jackie (Lawson) Claus wrote,
He was very proud of his twin daughters and was willing to take (them) whenever he was doing things for fun. I remember us going to an air show with Dad and Mr. Bedrosian. We were lifted onto the two men’s shoulders to see more clearly. He encouraged us to accompany him and his friends from work to the lacrosse games in the Haig Bowl in St. Catharines.
For passing a grade in public school we were treated to a meal at the Chinese restaurant near Wood Brothers, Dad’s employers. No meal was complete without a visit to the Chinese chef in the kitchen of the restaurant. He was kind to children. He helped transport the members of Alexandria Public School choir when the choir sang at concerts. He even changed the principal’s tire when he had a flat. He was fair and generous. When I dented his new car he said, “The only way to keep a car perfect is to leave it in the showroom.”
On the way to the hospital for exploratory surgery he said to Mom, “Now, now Geraldine let’s just enjoy the day.”
John Lawson’s daughter Gerry (Lawson) Maynes recalled,
Early in his marriage in 1929 he worked for Wood Brother and during this time had surgery for a brain tumour. He was a travelling salesman selling shoe repair findings, leather and sporting goods.
He was the very best of Dads. When he arrived home he was greeted by Jackie and Gerry and a bunch of friends waiting to go swimming or in winter we would be waiting to go skating.
Mr. Woods suggested that he buy Bruce’s Leather Goods in Welland. Dad changed the name to Welland Leather Goods. He sold luggage, handbags, wallets and pet supplies plus birds at Christmas and Mother’s Day. He also had a big saddlery and harness making business serving the bakeries and the dairies. He employed a full time harness maker until tractors and truck became big time.
John and Geraldine moved to Welland in 1948 to an apartment above their store and she started to work in the retail end stocking the shelves with luggage and handbags. After John’s death the store was sold in 1976 to daughter Gerry. She operated the business until 1991 and the new owners continued to operate it until 2001.
John died in Welland, Ontario in 1975 and Geraldine on 23 January 1997. They were both interred in the United Church Cemetery at St.David’s Ontario.
Mary “May” Goodall Lawson
Mary was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell Lawson. She was born on 15 July 1903. On 13 January 1923 she married Evan Parnell at St.Andrew’s in Niagara Falls. They lived on the Niagara River Parkway at Queenston. Their daughter was Virginia Parnell. May died on 29 July 1996 and was interred beside her husband at St.Davids.
Isabel “Bella” Colvine Lawson
Isabel was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe Birrell) Lawson. She was born on 6 May 1905. She married George Carr (29 July 1895-11 July 1977) and they had two children namely Walter Lawson Carr (21 July 1932-) who married Teneka Dorothea Denbak and their children were David George, Judy Dorothea and Walter Thomas Carr; Shirley Carr (26 June 1938-4 January 1980) who married James Gibson and whose children were Terry and Laurie Gibson. Isabel died on 27 February 1978.
Elizabeth Combe Lawson
Elizabeth was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell Lawson. She was born on 18 February 1906 and died on 21 May 1906.
Agnes was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell Lawson. She was born on 16 March 1910. She married Carl Richard Sheppard on 3 March 1906-5 February 1962. Agnes died on 7 February 1989.
Alexandra “Babe” Lawson
Alexandra was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell Lawson. She was born on 18 July 1911. She married Robert Bennie (1908-1990). Alexandra died on 15 November 1978.
Margaret was the daughter of Alexander and Christina Watt (Combe) Birrell Lawson. She was born on 5 May 1914. She married John Mace (27 December 1913-1 May 1978). Their children were Sandra Mace (7 July 1940-) whose married name was Hopkins and had two children Lynn and Dianne; and Reginald Arthur Wallace (9 August 1944-19 January 1996)Mace.
The Children of Euphemia Combe
John was the son of David and Euphemia (Combe) Renton. He had four sons and a daughter.
Christina was the daughter of David and Euphemia (Combe) Renton. She married John Ross and they had a daughter Agnes Ross.
Isabella “Bella” Renton
Isabella was the daughter of David and Euphemia (Combe) Renton. She married Peter Hoy. She was a quiet and unassuming person. She gave me a copper kettle and tea trivet, which had belonged to her grandmother my great grandmother, Christina (Watt) Combe. They had one daughter Euphemia Hoy.
Robert “Bobbie”Combe Renton
Robert was the son of David and Euphemia (Combe) Renton. He married Elizabeth Brown. I visited them on numerous occasions and found them to be a warm and hospitable family. They had two children namely David Renton who married Jessie Lessinger and had a daughter Jane Renton; and Evelyn Renton who married Stuart Kelly and had three sons John, Neil and Alan Kelly.
The Fifth Generation
The Children of Christina Combe Anderson
Elizabeth Anderson Moffett
Elizabeth was the daughter of Joseph and Christina Combe (Anderson) Moffett. She was the favourite niece of Lizzie Brown and the two were in constant contact. I suspect that Lizzie Brown was proud and a little envious of her niece who was well educated and who lived the life of a professional. Elizabeth was a teacher and was the head at the Leith Academy in Edinburgh. I remember her as a very intelligent and insightful lady who spoke with a soft and yet firm voice. I first met her in the early 50’s when she and other members of the family were summering at Coldingham in a house that had previously belonged to Dr. James Young Simpson, the physician who had discovered the use of chloroform. Elizabeth’s mother Christina had died some time earlier and Elizabeth cared for her aged and blind father. After the death of her father in 1974 she remained in the family home in Leith where I was entertained on several occasions. This large stone house was set far back from the street and I was amazed to discover that someone in the house could open the front gates by “remote control”. I was further charmed to learn that the housekeeper, Jessie, could be summoned to the dinning room by depressing a bell push in the rug.
Mary Moffett M.D.
Mary (Masie) was the daughter of Joseph and Christina Combe (Anderson) Moffett. She was married to Dr. James Imrie who joined the Glasgow police force in 1936. He transformed the police approach to forensic science. He became a medical detective and worked to find a vital scientific link between the victim and the killer. Masie died on 15 June 1990. Their daughter was Jocelyn Imrie who married Neil O’Shaughnessy and their children were Jill and Alan. Masie and James’s son was David M. Imrie who married Elaine Gardner and their children were Graeme and Gillian Imrie.
John W. Moffett
John was the son of Joseph and Christina Combe (Anderson) Moffett. He was born on 16 March 1916 and died on 7 November 1989. John worked with his father in the bakery business and took over the businesses following his father’s retirement. His wife was Margaret Sinclair who died in 1971. Their children were Christine, Margaret Sinclair and Ian Moffett. After his wife’s death he married Margaret Jude.
The Children of Elizabeth Davidson Anderson
Thomas was the son of Andrew and Elizabeth Davidson (Anderson) Brown. He was born on 25 July 1915. As a young man he left the life on the farm and went to Sunderland, England where he became a member of the police force. He married Margaret (Rita) Faith and they had two sons Peter Craig Brown (8 January 1939-31 July 1985) and David Anderson Brown (19 July 1943-). Thomas Brown died on 19 January 1991.
Margaret “Pearl” Craig Brown
Margaret was the daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth Davidson (Anderson) Brown. She was born on 10 February 1918. She, along with her sister Ella and brother George, stayed at home on the family farm. Following the death of their father in 1953 these three assumed more and more of the responsibility for the operation of this large land holding. My recollection is that Pearl tended the chickens and the garden as well as a portion of the duties of the household. She was a good baker and I still remember the splendid treacle scones that she produced several times a week. She rarely left the farm. Occasionally she would go to visit her aunt Joanne for a small break from her duties. She was a handsome woman whom I usually saw in her work clothes, but who dressed strikingly for special occasions. During the Second World War she enlisted with the Women’s Army Corps, but even this change of scene and the travel involved served to convince her that her life belonged on the family farm. She and her sister retired to a newly built house in Ayton, Berwickshire. She died on 27 April 2002.
Isabella “Ella” Elizabeth Brown
Isabella was the daughter of Andrew and Elizabeth Davidson (Anderson) Brown. She was born on 26 April 1924. Ella did outside work, but tended to run the operations of the inside of the farmhouse. She also did a great deal of driving to complete the errands in the village of Reston and at least once per week went to Berwick upon Tweed. Ella liked to travel and was the most outgoing of the Brown children. She had a good notion of the activities of town and members of the family and others. I got to know her well as she took me on many of her outings and also drove me to many of the places that I wanted to visit.
George was the son of Andrew and Elizabeth Davidson (Anderson) Brown. He was born on 22 October 1926. He was a tall strapping man, full of strength and energy, but also very gregarious and had a deep interest in people and events. George enjoyed the game of cricket and spent many weekends in summer playing with his team in many parts of the area. He stayed on the farm until it was sold in the 80’s. After he retired, he married Elsie Logan and they lived in the village of Ayton, Berwickshire.
The Children of John Alexander Anderson
Dorothy was the daughter of John Alexander and Sophia (Cowe) Anderson. She worked on the farm with her father and retired with her parents to their house in Coldingham, Berwickshire. She was a warm and energetic person, well liked by all who met her.
Elizabeth was the daughter of John Alexander and Sophia (Cowe) Anderson. She married Allister Lindsay and they had two daughters, Diane Morag (1975-) and Johanna Kirsty (1978-) Lindsay. They lived on a handsome farm just outside Ayton, Berwickshire.
The Children of Christina Wilson Combe
Isabella “Tibbie” Scott
Tibbie was the daughter of Adam and Christina Wilson (Combe) Scott. She was born in 1914. She married Archie Lowe on 28 March 1942. After Archie’s death she lived with her mother in Joppa, Edinburgh, and worked at Jenner’s on Princess Street in Edinburgh. She married John Shaw on 18 March 1960 and they moved to Strannraer, Wigtownshire. Tibbie had a deep interest in history and especially in the history of her family and of its community. She was an avid gardener. Tibbie maintained a lively interest in life and was involved in extensive correspondence with me in the preparation of this document.
Of her life Tibbie wrote as follows:
James and I for a time attended the wee country school. We walked 1 1/2 miles each way daily. I sat in the same desk as my father had done and carved my name beside his when I saw it there. Needless to say I had to hold out my hand and the teacher gave me 5 of the best with the leather strap. It was worth it. I loved that wee school and got a good grounding before going to higher education in Edinburgh and then to the classy cooking school of Athol Crescent in Edinburgh to train in all the fancier savouries. So then my mother, being a splendid cook, I could do the “fancies” and the wines. Then I had to learn bookkeeping at college in Edinburgh. When I came home I enjoyed the life of a historical border inn and met many famous people and had quite a few young men and admirers. Having had handsome parents I was not bad to look at. However, no one won my heart until a young tall naval officer (midshipman then until he rose so quickly in rank to 1stofficer) Archibald Buchanan Low came to visit on holiday with his aunt. During the depression many ships were out of action and Arch did short sailings, but times were bad and so he decided to join the Edinburgh city police. He rose in the plain clothes section all during the War. He was at times in hush hush jobs. He knew the German language well. We were only married seven short years when he died from TB. After the War we left the Inn, regrettably. I often think we should have carried on, but my mother felt she had had enough.
I trained as a buyer and was employed by Jenner’s in Edinburgh being there for 14 1/2 years when I met John Shaw or rather I had known him and his wife for many years. When she died in 1957 leaving one son Neil. John died here in 1993. We had much in common love of the land and nature and history. We enjoyed our time together. He was a kind and gentle man I feel lonesome at times, but try to fill my days. If one is interested one can always find something and I give my 3 hours weekly, sitting in our very wonderful Visitor Information Centre answering and trying to answer at times some awkward question.
So I seem to be the last of the line and I have enjoyed my life and do not moan about the aches and pains that come with age. I just bear them as others do and when I need to take a pain killer and thank the good Lord I am not worse. I still drive and am thankful to do so. I would be stuck without a car. It gives me independence to go where I like and do what I want to. I am still in demand even at my age. One must make the best of one’s life; it’s all too short.
As a young woman I had thought of emigrating to Canada-but time passed and I met Arch and so I followed a different road. I believe that our life is mapped out and so as I sit and look back on my life I cannot imagine any other.
Tibbie expressed her philosophy of life in the following words:
Live your life and live it well
And near its end your story tell.
Tell cousins, friends and other kin
Just what happened, where and when;
And when your final chapter’s writ,
Your destiny’s with God to sit.
Thank Him for your time on earth
And memories of love and worth.
James was the son of Adam and Christina Wilson (Combe) Scott. He was born in 1916 and married Letia Ferrell, a Yorkshire girl. They had one daughter Elaine Scott, born in 1949.
James was an engineer and resided in Leeds. He was an engineer before the war and got his job back with the same firm. He lived near Leeds where he died from a heart attack suddenly. His only daughter, Elaine (Scott) Wardell married and lived in Huntington Beach, California. She had no children.
The Children of Thomas Combe
Agnes was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Robinson) Combe. She was born on 6 September 1917. In 1942 she joined the WAAF and following training was posted to the Middle East. After the war she returned to Scotland and was demobilised at Lenchars Air Station in Fife in 1946. Her married name was Archibald. They had two daughters, Doreen and Pauline Archibald. They lived in Glasgow.
Thomas Wilson Combe
Thomas was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Robinson) Combe. He was born on 5 November 1930. He was required to served in the National Service and was in the RAF from 29 March 1949 to 29 September 1950. He was allocated to the pay division and also became a member of the station band. He retired as head accountant of Lucas Limited. He married Patricia Leslie and they lived in Sollihull, Birmingham. Their children were Neil (11 November 1958-) who had two daughters by his first marriage Nicola (8 June 1986-) and Emma (11 July 1989-) Combe and who married Jane in 1997 with whom he has a daughter Odhine Combe (3 April 2000-); Ian (11 November 1958-); and Andrew Combe whose wife was Sue who had a son Cameron Thomas Combe (6 November 2001-).
The Children of Robert Goodall Combe
Murray Robert Combe
Murray was the son of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. He was born on 28 March 1922 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. He attended Fairview Public School and farmed with his father until World War II. He was reported missing in action in France in 1944.
James Curtis Combe
James was the son of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. He was born on 24 April 1923 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. He attended Fairview Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II remaining in Canada as an instructor. He spent his working career in the insurance business in Toronto prior to moving to Delaware, Ontario.
Jean Alice Combe
Alice was the daughter of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. She was born on 15 October 1924 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. She attended Fairview Public School. She married Roy Burtch and their children were Phyllis Margaret, Murray Stephen and David Burtch. Over the years they lived in the St. Catharines, Vineland and Beamsville areas. Alice died on 4 March 1990 in Grimsby.
Donald William Combe
Donald was the son of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. He was born on 2 March 1927 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. He attended Fairview Public School. He worked on his father’s farm and later purchased a farm in the Dundalk, Ontario area where he raised pigs.
John Roy Combe
Jack was the son of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. He was born on 25 November 1928 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. He attended Fairview Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate. He went to British Columbia and worked on the construction site at Kitimat. He later moved to White Rock where he worked for the municipality. On 15 April 1961 he married Ina Bruce who had two boys and a girl. John retired at the age of 58. They bought a motor home and spent the winter months in California, Arizona and Mexico. They settled in Aldergrove, British Columbia.
Alan Frederick Combe
Alan was the son of Robert and Edna (Whitmore) Combe. He was born on 13 December 1930 in Louth Township, Lincoln County. He attended Fairview Public School and farmed with his father. On 21 November 1959 he married Muriel Gallaway (18 July 1940-) daughter of Jardine and Jean Galloway. When his father’s farm was sold they bought a farm on Tice Road in Pelham Township, Lincoln County. Later part of this farm along with the original buildings were sold and they built a new house and barn on the remaining property where they raised horses. Alan also worked as a transport driver for Zavitz Bros. and as a truck driver at the Steed and Evans gravel pit. Their four children were Deborah Jean (6 June 1960-) who married Ian Mills (2 October 1960-) on 20 May 1988; Robert Alan (2 December 1961-) who married Kathleen Mooney (10 October 1951-) on 3 August 1985 and their children were Alan Paul (19 November 1986-) and Jennifer Victoria (9 November 1987-) Combe; Stewart Jardine (1 Mar 1965-) who married Lisa Hollingshead (27 June 1966-) on 17 August 1990.; Carolyne Jane (19 November 1967-) whose son is Robert Devon Combe (23 Feb 1989-) and who married Chase Cook on 8 July 1995.
The Children of William Alexander Combe
Margaret Elizabeth Combe
Margaret was the daughter of William Alexander and Evelyn (Osborne) Combe. She was born in St. Catharines on 27 September 1927. She attended Fairview Public School and the St. Catharines Collegiate. She was a secretary and worked at a variety of places and for twenty-two years in Family and Children’s Services for Regional Niagara. She was pianist at Rockway Presbyterian church and later sang in the choir at Knox Presbyterian Church in St. Catharines for forty years. She taught church school and belonged to the Women’s Missionary Society where she served as treasurer. She enjoyed gardening, sewing, decorating and reading especially nonfiction.
Lawrence William Combe
Lawrence was the son of William Alexander and Evelyn (Osborne) Combe. He was born on 27 January 1932 in St. Catharines. He attended Fairview Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate. He graduated from the University of Toronto School of Architecture in 1955 and worked in Toronto in the firms of James Murray, Fairfield & Dubois, Bregman & Hamman and Shore & Moffatt. An article in Canadian Homes of July 1962 said he was the winner in the first Ontario Hydro competition for an all electric house to which he submitted a house plan. The plan was for a three bedroom, two bathroom dwelling with a total of 1,039 sq.ft. on the main floor with the utility rooms and recreation area at basement level. In 1964 he became a partner with a firm already established in Brantford by three of his classmates and worked at their Toronto office. The winter 1979 issue of Home Decor Canada published an article entitled “Contemporary House on a Ravine” featuring the floor plan and pictures of a house that he designed. In 1994 the Toronto office was closed and he transferred to Brantford, Ontario office of MMMC Architects. In 2002 he moved to London, Ontario. In the early years Lawrence designed schools, churches, office buildings and a few residences. He later specialised in long term residences for seniors including the Albright Manor in Beamsville, Ontario.
The Children of James Buchanan Combe
Grace Gertrude Combe
Grace was the daughter of James and Phyllis (House) Combe. She was born on 28 January 1926 in St. Catharines. She attended Woodland Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate. She worked in the office of General Motors until her marriage. On 26 May 1945 she married Joseph Francis Ciuman (25 Feb 1922-) son of Frank and Annie (Latke) Ciuman. Joseph’s career as a hockey player took them to Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Minn.,finally settling in Portland, Oregon. Their children were Judith Lynn (13 January 1946-) who married Douglas Allan Wilson (16 December 1944-) on 1 July 1966 whose children were Sonjia Marie Wilson (7 December 1970-) and Bradley Douglas Wilson (30 Mar 1973-); Karen Lee (14 Mar 1956-) who married Gilbert John Falander on 12 November 1974 whose son was Jeremy John Falander (7 September 1977-) and subsequently married Virgil Lee Dahrens (18 September 1951-) on 16 September 1988. On 14 June 1997 she married Daniel Olberding.
Betty Joan Combe
Joan was the daughter of James and Phyllis (House) Combe. She was born on 9 February 1931 in St. Catharines, Ontario. She attended Woodland Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate. She worked in several secretarial positions. On 24 June 1950 she married Fred Donald Edmonds (21 February 1926-) son of Fred Wesley and Mary Elsie (Farr) Edmonds. They lived for a time in Oshawa where Donald worked at General Motors later returning to St. Catharines, Ontario where they attend Mountainview United Church. Joan was secretary of this church for twenty-seven years. She enjoyed knitting, sewing and ceramics. Their children were Frederick Mark (20 April 1954-) who married Barbara Joan Cousins (20 Mar 1956-) on 30 June 1978 and whose children were Jilian Lisa Edmonds (27 January 1983-), James Donald Edmonds (18 May 1985-) and Jessica Katherine Edmonds (9 April 1988-) and who subsequently married Kelly Ann Doherty (2 July 1961-) on 2 December 2000; Allison Briar Edmonds (9 July 1956-) who married Normand Oscar Giroux (26 July 1950-) on 8 August 1992 and had a son Alexander Maxim Giroux (13 October 1994-).
Barbara Jane Combe
Barbara was the daughter of James and Phyllis (House) Combe. She was born on 9 February 1931. She attended Woodland Public School and St. Catharines Collegiate St. Catharines Business College. She worked in the office of the Newbone Corset Company and in the payroll department in Wentworth Lodge for the Municipality of Hamilton Wentworth. On 30 September 1950 Barbara married Allan (Red) Orla Lymburner (23 October 1926-2001) the son of Orla and Winnie (Miller) Lymburner. They lived in St. Catharines Ontario, Rivers Manitoba, Whitehorse Yukon, North Bay, Ontario and Hamilton Ontario. Their daughter was Carol Louise (30 April 1954-) who married Thomas Joseph Morrison (26 January 1948-2002) on 4 May 1968 whose daughter was Kelly Lynn Morrison (5 Aug 1968-) who married John Robert Tanny (4 July 1965-) on 24 August 1991 with a son Joshua Joseph Tanny (13 November 1992-). Barbara subsequently married Richard Fonrose on 2 December 1988 and they lived in Hamilton. She died on 13 June 2002 and is buried in the columbarium at White Chapel Cemetery in Hamilton. On 27 September 1987 Carol Louise Lymburner subsequently married Robert Norman Turner (10 January 1952-1 January 2001) and their children are Robert Allan George Turner (15 April 1982-) and Rebecca Mary Turner (2 May 1984-).
Barbara Jane (Combe) Lymburner’s son was David Allan Lymburner (4 December 1953-). On 14 February 1980 he married Nancy Patricia Harnson (2 September 1950-) and their daughter was Erin Elizabeth Lymburner (29 September 1984-). The third member of Barbara Jane’s family was Robert James Lymburner (13 January 1955-) who married Heather Barbara Harding (17 December 1953-) on 17 May 1990.
A daughter of Barbara Jane was Susan Elaine Lymburner (27 December 1956-) who married Ronald Arthur Dickinson (22 October 1945-) on 1 July 1978 and Susan’s son was Mark Christopher (7 Feb 1984-)Dickinson.
The youngest member of Barbara Jean’s family was Sharon Lynn Lymburner (30 Apr 1959-) who married Clarence McGill (5 October 1956-) on 5 August 1978 and their children were Amanda Dawn (23 September 1979-) and Jennifer Lynn (16 June 1981-) McGill.
The Children of Mary Mabel Combe
Harold Robert Robbins
Harold was the son of Wesley and Mabel (Combe) Robbins. He was born on 19 July 1927 in Loth Township. He attended Fairview Public School. On 19 April 1947 he married Edna Margaret Klein (5 Mar 1927-30 January 1976), daughter of Lawrence Klein at the vestry of St.Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. They lived in St. Catharines where he worked as a transport driver and occasionally Edna would travel with him on trips to the USA. They had one son Lorne Harold Wesley Robbins, who was born on 22 October 1948. Following Edna’s death on 30 January 1976, Harold married Cheryl Hunter May 1981. Harold died on 21 June 1983 in Texas and is buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines, Ontario.
William Wesley Robbins
Bill was the son of Wesley and Mabel (Combe) Robbins. He was born on 25 August 1930 in Louth Township and attended Fairview Public School. In 1955 he began his own trucking business mainly transporting livestock to Toronto. He also worked part time on his father’s farm until it was sold. On 28 June 1952 he married Gertrude Mae Comfort (8 Mar 1931-) daughter of Clifford Lane and Gertrude Beatrice (Book) Comfort. They built a house on the ravine side of his father’s farm. After his retirement he began restoring antique tractors and showing them at Heritage Days. He belonged to the Niagara Antique Power Association. He and Mae also demonstrated the pioneer method of soap making using animal fat and lye in a black iron pot over and open fire at fairs and heritage days throughout southern Ontario.
Bill and Mae had one son Dale William Robbins (12 April 1955-) who married Catherine Anne Dair (5 April 1956-) on 21 May 1977 and their children were Steven Dale (4 January 1981-) and Trevor William (19 October 1982-) Robbins.
The Children of William Thomas Combe
Donald Lloyd Combe
Donald was the son of William and Mabel (Stewart) Combe. He was born on 22 August 1931 at the Niagara Falls General Hospital. For the first three years of his schooling he attended Kitchener Street Public School in Niagara Falls. He continued to study at Diamond Jubilee Public School on Dorchester Road and Stamford Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Niagara Falls. At Stamford Collegiate he was involved in high school dramatic productions and it was there that his lifelong interest in drama began.
Following graduation from secondary school in 1952, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the University of London in England. During that time he visited various relatives in Scotland and some of his recollections of those visits are recorded in this account.
After his return from Britain in 1955 he taught for the Toronto Board of Education as instructor in dramatic arts until 1965. From 1957 until 1977 he was a member of the Company of Pilgrims in several hundred performances of religious drama through Ontario, Quebec and New York State. In 1965 he returned to Niagara Falls where he operated a gift shop The Traveller until 1975. In 1965 he also began teaching English as a Second Language, becoming a faculty member at Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology when this program was transferred to that institution. He continued teaching until his retirement in 1990. After 1977 he made his home on Johnson Street in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
Following his retirement from the Niagara College, Donald became interested in local and family history. As a member of the Ontario Genealogical Society he worked with Fred Habermehl in transcribing the cemetery headstones of St. Andrew’s and St. Vincent de Paul churches in Niagara on the Lake. This project had personal interest for Donald because the graves of his great, great grandparents Goodall/Anderson are located in St.Andrew’s Presbyterian cemetery. Out of that experience they co-authored Stones Saints and Sinners, a socio cultural history of Niagara on the Lake.
In researching his family history, Donald discovered that he could trace seven family lines back to United Empire Loyalists and one of these back to England’s King Edward I. In addition, he discovered that his maternal great, great grandfather, John Garner, had been baptised in 1799 by Rev. Robert Addison, the first Anglican clergyman in Niagara. This prompted the writing of the history of the family of John Garner.
In 1991 Donald became involved with a local committee to restore the historic pumping station and convert it into an art centre. He was named a member of the Board of what has become The Niagara Pumphouse Visual Art Centre and served as Programme chair, Publicity chair and Vice Chair of the board.
As a member of the parish of St.Mark’s Anglican Church, he became part of the parish Archives Committee and from that activity grew an interest in parish history and resulted in the publication of St. Mark’s: Persons of Hopeful Piety, co-authored with Fred Habermehl.
Because of his interest in local history and in cemeteries, Donald was named chair of the Cemetery Committee of St. Mark’s Church and in that capacity ensured the appropriate maintenance of the graves and grounds. In addition, a new section was opened for burials, and protocol developed for the purchase and perpetual care of the plots.
In 2001, Donald came into possession of numerous pictures and letters of the Combe family. As a result he decided to put together this account of his father’s extended family. It includes his personal recollection of people, written in the first person except for this entry.
Norma Joyce “Morgan” Combe
Norma Joyce Combe, B.Sc.Phm., B.R.E. "Morgan", daughter of William and Mabel (Stewart) Combe was born on 12 September 1933 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She attended Kitchener Street and Diamond Jubilee (Dorchester Road) Public Schools and Stamford Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Niagara Falls. She graduated from The Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto in 1958 and practiced for three years in Thorburn’s Drug Stores, Niagara Falls. In 1961 she returned to school to study theology and Christian Education at Covenant College and Emmanuel College, Victoria University, Toronto. She worked for three years as Deaconess in the United Church of Canada, first in Newfoundland, then in North Bay and later in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1966 she was hired as an instructor in the Adult Retraining Program. At first this was under the Hamilton Board of Education, but was latter transferred to Mohawk College. Early in her teaching career, she attended Ontario College of Education for two summer. She continued teaching until 1989 when she took early retirement. After that she served on the board of Five Oaks and the board of a local program for recovering alcoholics. She continued to do volunteer work for Five Oaks and many of her photographs hang in the rooms at the Five Oaks Centre.
For her, the name “Joyce” had connotations which she didn’t like. After reading The Mists of Avalon by M. Z. Bradley, she took the name Morgan. Morgaine, the heroine of the story and King Arthur’s half-sister, was an independent woman, a quality that she admired.
Morgan remembers her parents were hard working and frugal. Her father spent long hours at the drug store and her mother always had a full refrigerator and cupboard. She remembers little of her Grandmother Combe except that she wore a plum coloured dress with a flat white tatted collar and she spoke little. Grandpa Combe had a dark blue Ford which had four doors. She remembers being taken for rides in that car. There was a garden in his backyard, flowers in front, vegetables behind.
After her retirement Morgan continued to reside in Stoney Creek.
Winnifred Frances “Bea” Combe
Winnifred was the daughter of William and Mabel (Stewart) Combe. She was born on 6 March 1935 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She attended Diamond Jubilee Public School on Dorchester Road and Stamford Collegiate Vocational Institute in Niagara Falls. She studied nursing at the Hospital for Sick Children’s in Toronto. After graduation in 1959 she proceeded to the University of Toronto where she obtained a diploma in Public Health nursing in 1960. In 1971 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. She was a clinical nursing instructor at Sick Children’s Hospital for a year before leaving for Lamont, Alberta to be a clinical nursing instructor at the United church Hospital there. After two years she returned to Niagara Falls and began a thirty-seven year career with the local public health unit retiring in 2000. During those years she was a programmes manager. Her main focus was on women’s health issues. This also led her to volunteering for the local Planned Parenthood. She also served on the boards of Planned Parenthood Federation Canada and Planned Parenthood International, Western Hemisphere for several years. In 1964 she travelled with Crossroads Africa to work for several months as a nurse in Nigeria.
In an article in the St. Catharines Standard of 19 Oct. 1998, Marilyn St.John, director of clinical services in the Niagara Regional Health Unit said of Wyn Kalagian “She’s quite a visionary. She has always had tremendous ideas and the ability to put them in place. She’s got a tremendous warmth and sincerity about her as well. I could speak for hours about her. She’s a great lady.”
In April of 1999 Wyn received the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. It was given to her in recognition of Career Involvement in her community. Dr. Robin Williams, Medical Officer of Health, nominated her for this award “for her contribution in the field of human sexuality and family planning. She developed the first Human Sexuality course at Brock University and she continues to share her knowledge across the region as Programme manager, supervisor, Public Health nurse with the Regional Municipality of Niagara.” Wyn accepted this award on behalf of herself and her staff. In commenting on it she said, “I was thrilled that the YWCA had recognized the needs of Planned Parenthood in the community.”
In her retirement Wyn renewed her interest in her painting and travelled widely to further her interest in this avocation. She continued to have a great curiosity about life and devoted much of her time not only to her family, but also to her wide circle of friends.
In 1968 Bea married Michael Kalagian (3 August 1927-10 August 1995) at Lundy’s Lane United Church and they lived in St. Catharines. They had two children Vanessa Leanna Marie Kalagian (25 Aug 1969-) who married Dino Collellio (27 October 1969-) in Hamilton on 1 April 2000 and lived in Kitchener, Ontario; and Andrew William Merritt Kalagian (8 November 1971-), who married Mary Katherine Turkovich (4 August 1970) on 11 August 2001 in Welland, Ontario and lived in Wainfleet, Ontario. Both Vanessa and Merritt were educated in St. Catharines and received B.A. degrees from Brock University.
The Children of Agnes Christina Combe
Anne Isobel Walker
Anne was the daughter of Avery and Agnes Christina (Combe) Walker. She was born in the family home at 912 College Avenue, Niagara Falls, New York on 26 March 1934. She attended elementary schools in Niagara Falls, New York and graduated from Secondary School in Lewiston New York. She married Robert Maxner (9 November 1934-) on 5 November 1960 and they had two children Carol Elizabeth (1962-) and Donna Fae (1964-) Maxner. Ann was a graduate of Penn State University in Institution Administration and worked as a registered dietician in state institutions near her home at Mount Morris, New York. She and her husband Robert lived in the home that had been built by Anne’s great-great grandfather Sylvester Richmond in 1832.
Lorna Fae Walker
Lorna was the daughter of Avery and Agnes Christina (Combe) Walker. She was born on 11 April 1936 in the family home at 912 College Avenue, Niagara Falls, New York. She attended elementary schools in Niagara Falls, New York and graduated from the Secondary School in Lewiston, New York. She married Robert Stanley Albrecht (8 September 1936-30 October 1999) on 8 August 1959 and their children were Karen Ann (1960-), Gayle Ann (1962-) and Cindy (1965-) Albrecht. They made their home in Long Island, New York.
The Daughter of Mary Combe
Margaret Louise Young
Margaret was born on 9 January 1915 the daughter of Walter and Mary (Combe) Young. Margaret attended public and high school in Niagara Falls N.Y. and then attended Kelly’s Business School. As a teenager Margaret enjoyed spending her summer holidays at her grandmother’s farm in Louth. Following graduation Margaret worked at the Nabisco Shredded Wheat factory next door to her home on Fourth Street in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
She married Melvin Schrader (born 1914) on 10 May 1934. They lived in Wilson N.Y. and had four children Eugene Walter (24 December 1936-), Roger Edward (22 August 1941-), Peggy Lou (4 May 1944-), and Jack Melvin (26 April 1945-) Schraeder.
Margaret died on 23 September 1999.
Eugene had three children Gene, Gina, and Eddy Schraeder. Roger had two children Marla and Patti Schraeder. Peggy Lou married Bill Kennedy and had three children Bill, Karen and Kelly Kennedy. Jack had three sons Steven and twins Matt and Mike Schraeder.
The Son of William Ralph Combe
William Walter Combe
Bill was the son of William Ralph Mary Alberta (Smith) Combe. He was born on 20 January 1935. In 1960 he graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College and operated a Veterinary Clinic in St. Catharines. He married Kathleen Margaret Misiner (26 April 1936-) on 11 January 1958. They made their home on the farm that belonged to his grandfather on Lot 8, Concession 8, Louth, now in the Town of Lincoln, Ontario. Their children were William Ronald , Heather Lynn , Randall Blair and Brian Thomas Combe.
William Ronald was born on 8 September 1958. He married Mary Jane Fraser on 28 September 1985 in Brantford, Ontario. She was born on 29 September 1959. Their children were; James William Combe born on 3 November 1989 in St. Catharines, Ontario, Steven Michael Combe born on 21 March 1992 in St. Catharines, Ontario and Laura Michelle Combe born on 26 October 1996 in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Heather Lynn Combe was born on 3 November 1959. She married George O. Darte ( 9 January 1951-) on 27 July 2001 in St. Catharines, Ontario. Her daughter was Alicia Katherine Combe born on 26 April 1992.
Randall Blair Combe was born on 13 May 1962. He married Dawnya Combe (26 January 1971-) on 8 October 1994 in St. Catharines, Ontario. Their children were; Benjamin Ryan Combe born on 29 May 1997 at Carleton Place, Ontario and Jacob Thomas Combe born on 3 August 2000 in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Brian Thomas Combe was born on 15 April 1964. He married Cheryl Petreny (23 April 1964-) on 21 August 1993 in Guelph, Ontario. Their daughter was Emily Claire Combe born on 10 June 1996 in Guelph, Ontario.
The Children of Robert Combe
James William Combe
James was the son of Robert and Margaret (Davidson) Combe. He was born In Buffalo, New York on 27 July 1930. When he was still a child the family moved to San Diego California. He attended school in San Diego & following graduation served in the US Army in Korea. After his discharge from the army James was employed by W. K. Fuller Glass Co. He later became a partner in Central Glass in Ventura California.
He married Erdza Leona Silvers and they had a son David Bruce Combe (22 May 1953-) who married Linda Ellen Hart and whose children were Marc Robert MacDonald (20 February 1969-), Sarah Elizabeth (13 February 1979-) and Rebekah Jane (21 March 1980-). Their second son Robert was born on 5 July 1954.
After retirement James & Erdza resided in Glen Eden Beach, Oregon.
Eleanor Combe daughter of Robert & Margaret (Davidson) Combe was born on17 September 1935 in Buffalo N.Y. & moved with her family to San Diego, Ca. in 1937
Eleanor graduated from San Diego High School. Following graduation Eleanor worked for Fedco Department Stores. Eleanor retired in 2000 and continued to live in the family home in San Diego, California.
Eleanor was an enthusiastic supporter of San Diego Sports Teams
The Children of David J. Combe
Margaret Isabel Combe
Margaret was the daughter of David J. and Isabel (Farrell) Combe. She was born on12 November 1928 in Niagara Falls N.Y. Margaret graduated from Youngstown High School and was employed at a law firm in Youngstown. She married Jack Crow who served in the US Army for twenty two years. Following his retirement from the army Jack worked in the post office in Youngstown. He died in 1994.
Margaret and Jack had four children John, Douglas, Ann, and Mary Crow. Margaret had eight grandchildren and resided in Youngstown, N.Y.
David Combe Jr.
David was the son of David John Combe and Isabel Farrell. He was born on 4 April 1935 and died 1982. His children were Laurie, David James, & Michael.
The Son of Alice Combe
Herbert was the son of Alice Combe and Clarence Hoffman. He was born in January 1925 in Niagara Falls N.Y. Herbert attended High School in Niagara Falls N.Y. He helped his grandfather on the family farm in Louth during summer holidays. He served with the US Army in Italy during the Second World War and on his return to the US worked for Dupont Chemical Co. until his retirement in 1980.
Herbert married Alberta and they had three children, Herbert Jr.,(1950-), Nancy Louise (1951-), and Robin (1954-) Hoffman.
Herbert died suddenly at his home in Niagara Falls 20 November 2001.
The Sons of Christina Janet Combe
William was the son of Christina (Combe) and Glen Rose. He was born on 5 November 1929 and educated in Lewiston N.Y. Following graduation from High School and Niagara University William served in the US Navy. William operated a sporting goods store in Lewiston and subsequently worked for the town of Lewiston.
William married Joanne Vana and they had five children Geoffrey, Gregory, Bradley & twins Joanna & Christina Rose.
William lived in Middleport N.Y. and volunteered at local nursing homes.
Robert is the son of Christina Combe and Glen Rose. He was born 3 February 1932. Robert attended Public and High School in Lewiston N.Y. During summer holidays he often rode his bicycle from Lewiston to his grandfather’s farm in Louth where he assisted in the farm work.
Robert served in the US Navy and following discharge from the navy he joined the New York Telephone Co. where he was employed until his retirement.
Robert married Jill Middleton and they had three daughters, Linda (7 April 1953-), Laurie (11 May 1955-) and Bobbi (23 March 1957-) Rose. Robert and Jill have eight grandchildren
Robert was an avid hunter & fisherman and in 2002 was living on his farm in Lewiston, N.Y.
Harold was the son of Glen and Christina (Combe) Rose. He was born on 12 February 1933 in Lewiston, N.Y. where he attended Public & High School. Harold graduated from Niagara University and then served in the U.S. Navy. Following completion of his navy service Harold was employed by the New York State Social Services Department as a Probation Officer.
Harold married Patricia Muisiner on 17 November 1962 & their children were Gary (26 March 1965-), Karen (7 December 1966-) and Kathleen (13 May 1968-) Rose.
Harold was very interested in sports & coached Little League Teams in Lewiston.
Harold & Patricia lived in Lewiston N.Y. where Harold suffered a fatal heart attack on 8 November 1995. He was buried in Lewiston N.Y.
The Daughters of Elizabeth Combe
Arlene was the daughter of Ernest & Elizabeth (Combe) Nickerson. She was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y. on 21 October 1929. Arlene married Albert Reppenhagen and they had three children; Edward was born on 21 October 1949 and died on 3 November 1999, Melody Ann was born on 13 July 1951, and William was born on 18 September 1955 and died on 11 November 1955.
While raising her family Arlene operated a beauty salon from her home and assisted Albert in the recreational vehicle sales and service business. In 2002 Arlene and Albert were residing in Lewiston N.Y. and spending their winters in Florida.
Her son Edward served in the United States army and with his wife Carol had three children, Corey (23 November 1973-), Garrett (9 June 1975-) and Ronny (27 September 1983-) Reppenhagen.
Her daughter Melody Ann had two daughters Pamela Nelson (24 June 1968-) and Jennifer Nelson (10 October 1969-).
Phyllis was the second daughter of Ernest and Elizabeth (Combe) Nickerson. She was born in Niagara Falls N.Y. and attended school there. Phyllis married Emory Finley on 6 September 1968 and they had three daughters, Diana (8 September 1951-), Elizabeth (17 November 1952-) and Susie (1 February 1955-)Finley. The family resided in Niagara Falls, N.Y. and they spent many winters in Alabama and Florida.
Daughter Diane (Finely) Hill had two daughters Kelly (24 June 1969-) and Kyle (28 June 1971-) Hill.
The Daughters of John Birrell Lawson
Geraldine, the daughter of John and Geraldine (Hetherington) Birrell Lawson, was born in St. Catharines, Ontario on 21 May 1929. She taught elementary school in St. Catharines. She married Graham Claus (24 March 1929-) in St. Catharines on 24 May 1948.
Their elder daughter was Claudia Claus who was born in St. Catharines on 12 September 1955. Her married name was Sampson and their sons were Eric Michael born on 9 December 1979 and David Graham born on 16 October 1981. Following Claudia’s divorce she married Garry Bradman on 19 October 1987 and he adopted Claudia’s two sons.
Their younger daughter Julia Claus was born in St. Catharines on 25 April 1958. Her married name was Nesbitt and their two sons were Daniel Michael Claus-Nesbitt who was born on 6 September 1985 and James Vincent Claus-Nesbitt who was born on 20 June 1990.
In 1976 following the death of her father Geraldine purchased the Welland Leather Goods Store which she continued to operate until 1991.
Jacqueline Lawson was born on 21 May 1929 in St. Catharines, Ontario. She married Donald Maynes (21 January 1929-). Their son was Robert John Maynes (18 May 1956-) who married Margaret Gheres in Kitchener. Their daughter was Elizabeth Marie Maynes (10 November 1957-) who married Bruce Rhodes and they had a son David Rhodes who was born on 22 April 1997.
The Daughters of Christina Birrell-Lawson
Helen was the daughter of George and Christina (Birrell-Lawson) Robertson. She was born on 29 September 1919. She was a graduate of Niagara Falls Hospital School of Nursing. On 30 June 1951 she married Elwood Campaigne and their children were Frederick James (20 Dec. 1953-) and Bryan David (14 June 1955-) Campaigne.
Marguerite was the daughter of George and Christina (Birrell-Lawson) Robertson. She was born 21 July 1921. She graduated from the University of Toronto in Household Economics. She married Ross Clare on 15 August 1945 and their children were David George (10 January 1948-), James Ross DVM (27 February 1950-) and Susan Christine (2 January 1953-) Clare. Ross Clare died as the result of an aeroplane accident at Sept. Isles Quebec on 10 December 1957. Marguerite and the children returned to Niagara and lived in the renovated summer home of her parents in Niagara on the Lake. Subsequently she married Neville Hale (22 July 1922-). Neville’s account of the Robertson family cottage is of interest
During the 1920’s the Robertson family, George, Christina, his wife, and the three young girls, Helen, Marguerite and Isabel used to escape the summer heat of “the city”, Niagara Falls.... In 1929 they ....spotted a cottage for sale on Niagara Boulevard just west of the Niagara Golf Course and across the road from the lake. This became their focus for all the summers to come for the next quarter-century. From the cottage, they couldn’t see much of the lake because of the opulent summer residence of Mr. Whirlitzer, owner and boss of the Whirlitzer Corporation in Buffalo, world renowned maker of “the Mighty Whirlitzer organ”, ( the centre piece of all the grand movie houses of the western world). His property stretched along the shore for about one hundred yards or so and was well protected all around by stone walls and breakwaters. For swimming the children didn’t have far to go because at the west end of the Whirlitzer spread, was a lakeside lot owned by the town to provide right-of-way to the little beach, below the raised bank.
Nobody seems to remember much about the features of the cottage other than that it had verandahs across the front and around the west side. These were used extensively by the younger set for sleep-overs of many school-friends. It was a lively place. Sadly in the summer of 1951 George Robertson died. He was still in his early fifties. On their return from the funeral, Marguerite vividly remembers the overpowering and unexplainable scent of flowers that filled the cottage “almost to suffocation” The family kept the cottage and, as time passed, it started to be used by the grandchildren.
In 1957 tragedy struck. Marguerite’s husband, Ross Clare, a mining engineer, died in a plane crash, flying into a remote iron ore property in Labrador, leaving Marguerite, sons George and Jim and daughter Susan to make a new life for themselves. They moved back from Sept. Isles, Quebec, to stay with Mother and Grandmother Chris in Niagara Falls for a number of months. By summer 1958 Marguerite decided to buy the cottage from her mother and turn it into a permanent home.
Marguerite, looking around for advice on how to get renovations going, was introduced to Neville Hale who lived in a summer cottage down the road just beyond the right of way to the beach. It turned out that he was an engineer and son of an architect. He was also a bachelor. As it later transpired, all three qualifications were of some use. Together they spent long hours making sketches and plans that had to be refined many times until they were just what Marguerite wanted. Neville recalled that she was a demanding client!
Architecturally the cottage was just that, a summer cottage with no special architectural features that needed to be preserved. The plans for the house chosen simply took on the style of the late 1950’s in which form-followed-function (more or less). The verandahs went, as the usable floor space needed to increase. Modern double-glazed, well-engineered windows replaced all the leaky old originals. Good insulation, good heating, new plumbing and electrical system all came together to create a snug and comfortable all-season residence.
When the garage and breezeway were planned one major challenging decision needed to be made. The garage was designed to take two cars. But a beautiful tree stood in front of where the left-hand door should have been. The decision reached would, today, be heralded as a truly environment-friendly victory. The tree continued to stand and the garage had one, offset door to accommodate only one car, the rest was good storage space. As was said before, form followed function, more or less!
The one anecdote that was remembered was when Marguerite went looking for bricklayers to build the new fireplace. The chosen contractor comprised a team of Italian bricklayers. When they came to measure up and set a price Marguerite said emphatically, “I don’t want to spend any more than $500.00”.There was a pregnant silence as the men all exchanged glances, raised eyebrows and smiled. In 1958 this was clearly a lot of money. The deal was done. The bricklayers knew their job and worked at breakneck speed and they were out of there in a day. They whistled and sang as they worked. Everybody was happy. But it was never known how much less the price might have been had Marguerite waited for the estimate.
The epilogue to this story is that Marguerite and Neville married in 1960 and now (2002) live in Collingwood. They are in their early 80’s and still enjoying life. Occasional trips to Niagara are still in the cards where fond memories can be rekindled every time.
Oddly enough Marguerite and Neville, after getting married, elected to occupy the house on the lakeside, alongside Whirlitzer, rather than behind him. So the old cottage, now renovated, was put on the market and sold in 1960. In retrospect, this seemed to be a somewhat harsh decision since the cottage was, after all, the catalyst that brought Marguerite and Neville together for a lifetime. Less than two years later a career move had the family relocate in Mississauga, to stay 36 years and, in 1998, move on to Collingwood.
Isobel Lorraine Robertson
Isobel was the daughter of George and Christina (Birrell-Lawson) Robertson. She was born on 28 February 1924. She married Robert Booth (1926-1986) on 8 November 1948. Their children were Marsha Jean (9 December 1950-), Robert Joseph (12 April 1953-), Christine Joan (9 November 1961-) and Catharine Janet (9 November 1961-) Booth. Isobel died on 22 July 1997.
The Daughter of Mary Goodall Lawson
Virginia was the daughter of Mary Goodall (Lawson) and Evan Parnell. She was born on 20 December 1924. She married Harold Dutton (1918-1995). Their children were:
Barbara Ann Dutton (7 August 1947-22 March 1999) who married Francis John Shale on 1 April 1967 with whom she had a son, John Shale (28 August 1967-22 March 2002) who married Shannon and their son was Carbin (10 June 1990-). Barbara Ann subsequently married Ian Morriss (5 April 1942-) and they had a daughter Cara (19 July 1975-) and a son Michael (24 June 1977-) Morriss);
Harold (1 May 1949-) married Deborah Steele (5 December 1949-). Their daughter was Shannon Dutton (4 March 1972-) who married Bob Cain (4 April 1972-) whose children were Aiden (18 November 1992-), Nial (11 November 1994-) and Lauren (29 July 1998-) Cain. Their son was James Dutton (18 May 1976-) who married Malihda Kaltenecker (6 June 1976-) and whose children were Szerelem (12 July 2001-) and James Joseph (23 October 2002-) Dutton;
Evan Dutton (27 April 1951-) who married Deborah Cahill (17 February 1955-) who married Deborah;
Lois Dutton (12 October 1954-) who married Robert Priddle (9 February 1957-) and whose son was Michael Robert Priddle (23 July 1986-) who married Kailyn (12 August 1992-).
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