Roots – 1850s to 1920s

What do you know about “your people” and those who came before you?

Well now, do you want the interesting “family tales” or the “facts”? We do have some family tales, most of which I was told by my Grandpa Mott. Grandpa was interested in genealogy, and did some explorations on that topic. He told me, for example, that some of our ancestors (I’m not sure if these would be on the Mott side or the Clemons side), were Norman lords who came across to England in 1066 with William the Conqueror. He also said that one of our forebears was a child of Henry VIII, with one of his mistresses (What? He had time for mistresses, along with those 6 wives!?! Well… don’t know if we should be proud of that “royal” blood if that tale is true!) He also told us that Mark Twain (real name, Samuel Clemens) was a great-great-(how many greats?) uncle on Grandma’s side. Now I’ve always loved that story, but am wondering if maybe it’s just a “tale” as Grandma’s last name was spelled “Clemons” though it was common back then for last names to take various spellings. Since it’s not really that many generations, I suppose it would be pretty easy to trace, but I really don’t want to find out that maybe it’s just a tale!

On the Wright side, there are also some interesting tales. One of these relates to my great-grandfather Wright, of whom it was said that he was quite wealthy (my parents visited the former family home in Yorkshire a few years ago, and it had a great many rooms, so perhaps it is true!), and that when the royal who would become Edward VIII (I think!) came through the region, my honorable forebear put on an afternoon tea which cost, apparently, the equivalent of about $250,000 dollars (or more!). Unfortunately, so the story goes, he then invested in a great deal of cattle feed from Europe, which he sold all over England. Unfortunately, the feed was contaminated, and many cattle died. Being an honorable gentleman, he simply told all the farmers to send him bills for the value of their cattle… and so they did! Trustingly, he paid them out whatever they asked, and that was the end of the family fortune!

Of course there are also a few interesting tales which are actually true, so on to those… On my mom’s side (Marjorie Mott), Byron Mott and Eveline Samantha Preston (whom I share birthdays with), became parents of John Sears Mott, their first child, in 1890. He was born in a sod hut near Glen Ewen, Saskatchewan. An interesting tidbit about this is that the family homesteaded the land before the final official surveys were done, and after the surveys were finished, it turned out that the homestead (which they assumed was in Canada) actually straddled the US/Canada border, which went right through the bedroom of the soddie. Since all 10 children were born in that room, when they reached adulthood, they were allowed to choose their citizenship. Grandpa (John) chose to be Canadian.

Meanwhile, in Portadown, County Down, Ireland, a rather unusual situation took place. Susan Pepper, the daughter of the local squire, Lord Pepper, eloped with the son of the squire’s gardener. Since such a marriage was below Susan’s station in life, she and her husband were shipped to Canada in disgrace. One of their children, Frances (Fanny), married George Clemons. And to them was born a daughter, Emily. (Years later, when Lionel was in Bible College, he had a professor whose last name was Pepper, and it turned out she is related to us! She received her Doctorate while Lionel was at College, and so became Dr. Pepper!)

John Mott grew up first in Canada, and later in the States after his parents gave up the Canadian homestead and moved into North Dakota. John attended an agricultural college in Minot, North Dakota, and became a school teacher. He was always interested in things, and even tried inventing airplanes. He did invent a model plane that flew, before the Wright brothers flew their full-size plane (so I have been told). He also built a crystal radio from scratch. (He also read widely, and was always loaning me books, fiction and non-fiction, that Grandma did not approve of young girls like me reading!) Then an evangelist from the Holiness Movement Church held revival meetings in the area, and John was converted. Soon after, he took ministerial training and was ordained as a minister in the Holiness Movement denomination, much to the consternation of his Methodist family!

Meanwhile, Emily Clemons was growing up in Ontario – first in Portland and later in Kenora. She attended a Business College in Winnipeg, and later moved with her parents to Edmonton, where she worked as a secretary in the office of the Minister of Agriculture in the Alberta Legislative Buildings. She attended a Holiness Movement Camp Conference, where she met a young minister, John Mott. For John it was love at first sight, but it took 5 years before he could convince Emily to marry him, and a year later, in 1923, they were married, ad moved to Goshen, Saskatchewan, where their first daughter, Emily, was born, and then to Magnolia, AB, at which time mom was born. (For details after that, see the story about my mom, Marjorie!)

On my dad’s side (Bill Wright), in 1849, at Antington Hall, in the Norfolk area of England, the local squire, Henry Wright, and his wife, Harriet Primrose, became the parents of John Henry Wright. Meanwhile, in 1848 Edward Meade and Frances Sisson, became the parents of Frances Edith Meade. John Henry Wright grew up to be a miller, and in 1875 married Frances Edith Meade. Their third child, John Alfred Wright, was born on April 17, 1882, in Wroxham, Norfolk.

In 1851, in the city of York, William Bearpark and Elizabeth Nicholson became the parents of Mary Jane (Jennie) Bearpark. Further north, in Inverness, Scotland, in 1866, James Clubb and Isabella Watson became the parents of Thomas Watson Clubb. Sometime after this, both families moved to Ontario, Canada. Here Thomas and Jennie met, and were married on April 6, 1892, in Woodstock, Ontario. And to them was born, on February 15, 1895, near Tilsonburg, Ontario, their only child, Isabella Elizabeth (Bessie) Clubb.

In April to May 1901, John Alfred (Jack) Wright, at the age of 19, set sail for Canada. (I have been told that he chose to move to Canada to “seek his fortune” because his parents had little money left, and he felt that what they had should go to his sisters, Frances and Winnie.) Jack first worked on a farm at Spring Hill York, New Brunswick, and then having promised his mother to return for a visit after two years, worked his way there on a cattle boat, not yet having made his fortune! Back in Canada, he homesteaded in 1907 in Dauphin, Manitoba, and also worked in a store for five years. He returned to visit his mother and sisters for a year from 1911-1912, and they came back with him as far as Niagara Falls. In 1914 Jack moved south to Winnipeg, where he worked as a sales clerk, until March 1916 when he joined the 12th Field of the Canadian Army as a stretcher-bearer, and served in Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Flanders. Back in Canada he attended Success Business College in Winnipeg, meanwhile working in Melville, SK, and back in Dauphin. In 1921 he moved to Mortlach SK to work as a bookkeeper in a store there, and met a young cashier, Isabella Elizabeth (Bessie) Clubb.

Bessie had moved from Ontario to Vancouver with her parents in the early 1900s, then to Moose Jaw SK about 1907, where her father set type for the first issue of the Moose Jaw Times newspaper. Then they homesteaded at “Ïnverness Farm” south of Mortlach. She rode her pony to school each day, and after finishing school at Bredalbine, moved to Mortlach to work, which is where she met Jack. On September 6, 1922, Jack and Bessie were married at the Mortlach Anglican Church. They honeymooned in Regina, then moved to Mazenod SK, and in 1923 to Rouleau SK, where their son Bill was born in 1923. (For details on that, see the story about my dad, Bill).

Actually, my parents kind of got the “genealogy bug” in their later years, and drew up family trees that go back several generations. If you want more details, just let me know!

Written: Dec 29, 2007

One thought on “Roots

  1. Pingback: Wright / Books & Resources – Gathering Memories

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