Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Halifax Explosion: A Tomlin and Moreland Update

On the morning of December 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour that injured 9,000 people and killed 2,000.

This blog post is an update to previous posts about the impact of this explosion on our ancestors:
  1. My grandmother Dorothy Moreland was only seven years old and was living with her sister Florence at a foster home because her father John Miller Moreland was overseas fighting in WWI. The foster home at 500 Gottingen was destroyed.
  2. My 2nd great-uncle Francis Clifford Tomlin was a tinsmith at the Hillis & Sons Foundry and searched day and night through the ruins of north end Halifax and the next day's blizzard looking for the bodies of his daughter, mother-in-law, 4 sisters-in-law and their families; 3 brothers-in-law; all those who worked with him at the Foundry. He died of meningitis on March 21, 1918 and when the Halifax Relief commission refused to give his widow, Maggie a survivor's pension, she was angry and made a point of carving into her husband's headstone that he was a victim, putting the date of the explosion before the date of death. This post is the story about his family that survived.
Dorothy Moreland's Gottingen Home Destroyed

The address of my grandmother Dorothy's foster home was written on her father John Moreland's Attestation Papers : 500 Gottingen St., Halifax, Nova Scotia

Source: The MacLaughlan Images
The story passed down was that the foster family was out of town that day visiting with family elsewhere. If this hadn't been the case, there is a good chance that my grandmother Dorothy, her sister Flo and the foster family would have been killed.

Gottingen St. felt the full force of the explosion (as shown in the map below) and the first photographs of the city the "fire department at work extinguishing the many fires that broke out on Gottingen Street, half a mile west, after the explosion"

Source:  Calgary Herald Calgary, Alberta, Canada Fri, Dec 14, 1917 · Page 1
Source: The Ottawa Citizen Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Sat, Dec 08, 1917 · Page 1
Source: The Windsor Star Windsor, Ontario, Canada 07 Dec 1917, Fri  •  Page 1
When I reported on the Gottingen house previously to family, a cousin commented how peculiar it was to consider that had our grandmother been home that day, and died, that none of us would be here today!

The Tomlin Family Carries On

In 2009, Carolyn Tomlin, (the grand daughter of Frank C. Tomlin (1882-1918)) shared a lot of information about our Tomlin-Nickerson Nova Scotian roots and I was able to tell the incredible story of Francis Clifford Tomlin and his wife Maggie here:

Neither one of us had seen the two obituaries that I received in the mail in November, 2019 from Information and Readers' Services at the Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Road Halifax, NS)

Source: Halifax Herald - 23 March 1918 p. 2;
Source: Halifax Herald - 29 April 1918
On November 18, 2019, as part of my OTD (on this day) practice, I was looking at Dorothy Frances Tomlin born today November 18th (1916-1984) and her sister  Winnifred Marion Tomlin  (1913-2000) and I noticed that they both never married and that they lived together on Brunswick St and worked at Moirs in Halifax (the chocolate factory?)

I contacted my cousin Carolyn Tomlin for help to fill in some of the details and, as expected, she was a gold mine of information! Carolyn wrote back: 
"Yes, my aunties never married, and they did work at Moir’s chocolate factory. They met a woman named Ida Pike there, working on the humbug line. They set her up with their brother Frank, and here I am!"
 Moirs Limited of Halifax: Source: National Post Toronto, Ontario, Canada Thu, Nov 28, 1929 · Page 43
 "Winnifred was known as "Vic", having been born on Victoria Day. Dorothy was diagnosed as Type 1 Diabetic at a young age, and when she died she still had all her organ function and her limbs. And believe me, she loved the chocolate line!"

1955 Moirs Chocolates original vintage advertisement
 " Another Aunt, Margaret died in 1960 of ovarian cancer. The three of them lived with my grandmother ("Nan"), Margaret (Maggie) Theresa (Guess Tomlin) Crozsman. Nan had severe arthritis which put her in a wheelchair when she was 40. Her daughters faithfully cared for her till she died in the 1960’s. Another Aunt, Emily Tomlin Clarke lived with her family in the house. I think her husband Walter owned it."
Carolyn sent this incredible photo of ALL of the Tomlins sitting on the porch of their Brunswick St. home:
The toddler is Wayne Clark, being supported by his mother Emily "Em" (Tomlin) Clark. The young girl is Shirley.
"Vic" (aka Winnifred) and Margaret are seated to Em's left, Nan (Margaret (Guess) Tomlin) is seated in her chair behind everyone and my Mom (Ida) and Dad (Francis) far right

Top left, Vic & Margaret
Right, Nan, Margaret Guess Tomlin Crozsman
Bottom left, no idea. Twins?
Centre left, Winnifred (aka "Vic"), family friend Marge Higgins, Margaret, Dorothy
Carolyn's father Francis William Tomlin (1916-1984) in WWII

I was delighted to receive these photos of the Tomlin family and getting to see the faces of those who survived the Halifax Explosion after having lost their father and sister Veronica

On 3 Oct 1921, widow Margaret (Guess) Tomlin married George Owen Crozsman in Halifax and they are buried together at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Maggie had severe arthritis which put her in a wheelchair when she was 40.

Margaret Tomlin (1910-1960)
Winnifred M. ("Vic") and her sister Dorothy F Tomlin buried together
Francis William and Ida (Pike) Tomlin
Emily ("Em" Tomlin) and Walter Clark
Halifax Explosion Lessons

Knowing the stories of our ancestors who lived in Halifax at the time of the Halifax Explosion has taught me a lot:
  1. That the fact that any of us exist is a miracle given all of the challenges, dangers and life-changing events in our ancestors times.
  2. That families can survive terrible things and find the strength to carry on and the Tomlins are an example of that steadfast resolve.
  3. That the best genealogical records are the ones that live in the memories and hearts of people like my cousin Carolyn who has brought this family to life again.
Rest In Peace Francis Clifford Tomlin 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sr Chrysostom Honora Moynahan (1862-1941)

Sr Chrysostom Honora Moynahan
AEF chief nurse buried with military honors. | American Women in World War I

Clipped from
News-Democrat and Leader
Russellville, Kentucky
24 Jul 2001, Tue  •  Page 23
The Daughters of Charity nurses of Base Hospital No. 102. Sister Chrysostom Moynahan is in the front row, center. El Paso Herald 24 Aug. 1918

Clipped from
The Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama
30 May 1938, Mon  •  Page 1
Clipped from
The Montgomery Advertiser
Montgomery, Alabama
29 Oct 1982, Fri  •  Page 24

  • Birth 15 Aug 1862 Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland 
  • Death 15 Feb 1941 (aged 78) Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA 
  • Burial Catholic Cemetery Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA Plot Section: 1 row 1, Lot: DC, Space: 10 Memorial ID 96128112 · View Source

Mrs. Mary Moynahan's Horseback Mishap

This blog post is about Mary Moynahan and a serious injury she sustained after being thrown from a horse while taking a beginners' class on November 14, 1933.
Source: Lansing State Journal; Oct 7, 1936
Mary Moynahan said that the horse "Diamond' that she was assigned to ride was "high-spirited, difficult to  manage, vicious and unruly." She sought $20,000 in damages from the Polo Club of the 119th Field Artillery.

Source: Lansing State Journal  Lansing, Michigan06 Oct 1936, Tue  •  Page 2
The Polo Club of the 119th Field Artillery said that Mary had dropped her reins and that Mary's horse "trotted slowly towards the picket line and that the horse was standing still when Mrs Moynahan rolled off into a thick coating of sawdust" and that the horse was "well-trained and gentle".

Mary did not get $20,000 but the court did award her $1,000 and when the Polo Club appealed the decision, the circuit court denied the motion.
Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
01 Dec 1936, Tue  •  Page 13

Mrs Moynahan Managed the Cigar stands 
in Olds Tower and the Hollister Buildings

Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
02 Mar 1929, Sat  •  Page 23
 It would have been exceptional for a woman in the 1920s to purchase a business from a bank!

Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
06 Apr 1931, Mon  •  Page 29

Some Clippings About the 
Polo Club of the 119th Field Artillery

Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
17 Sep 1931, Thu  •  Page 18
Source: Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) · 29 Jun 1935, Sat · Page 2
Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
01 Jan 1932, Fri  •  Page 39
Clipped from
Lansing State Journal
Lansing, Michigan
12 Sep 1931, Sat  •  Page 19

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Mary (Moynahan) Weyburn (1829-1851)

This blog post is about Mary Moynahan of Sandwich, Ontario who married Dr William Weyburn of Detroit, Michigan in 1849 .

Like Denis Moynahan (1823-1865) of  Sandwich township Mary's life was also cut short (she died two years after her marriage at the age of 22)which means that I know so very little about her.

1849 Detroit Marriage

This is the only record of the marriage between Miss Mary Moynahan and Dr. William Weyburn.

1850 Detroit Census

Mary is on the 1850 Detroit census with her husband Dr William Weyburn and two others (Martha Dunn and William Howe both of New York)

The census indicates that both Marys were born in Ireland and her husband William Weyburn was born in New York.

United States Census, 1850," FamilySearch ( , Michigan > Wayne > Detroit > image 48 of 502; citing NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
1850 A Daughter Is Born

In 1850 a daughter was born but died shortly after and the cause of death ws recorded as "unknown".

 1851 Mary (Moynahan) Weyburn Dies

Mary died on June 10, 1851 in Detroit and the funeral was held at the 
Weyburn family residence on Jefferson Ave.
Source: Detroit Free Press; 11 Jun 1851

1861: Dr Weyburn Performing Abortions

Dr Weyburn appears in the press in two more occasions when two women died from abortions: 
Mary Mosher in 1861 and Mrs. Harriet Laffargue of Kalamazoo in 1863.
Detroit Free Press 1861

On further research on Dr William Weyburn, I learned that the  Weyburn-Wyborn Genealogy is recorded in detail at North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000.

Sadly, there is no mention of William Weyburn's first wife Mary (Moynahan) Weyburn (1829-1851) or their daughter Mary R. Weyburn (1850-1850) in the Weyburn-Wyborn Genealogy

Until now ...

Monday, November 25, 2019

Grandmother Rhea (Coughlin) Moynahan's Photographs

 I always loved this photo of my grandmother Rhea (Coughlin) Moynahan (1902-1992)

In the late 1980s, I took a family photo album to the Windsor nursing home (where Grandmother spent her final days) and I remember her reaction to this photo! My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t help me identify the photos, but on this one, she made me stop, and she put her finger on the flower, drew circles with her finger on the flower and smiled.

In October, I discovered the photograph in the Windsor Star archives and discovered the story of why it was taken .... and perhaps why it made her smile .....

Source: Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)
· 1 Feb 1929, Fri ·
Page 29
The Sodality Dance was a huge success and my cousin Gail Kinsel noted that, 
"Three sisters and future husband in attendance. True family support!"

Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) · 9 Feb 1929, Sat · Page 9

Rhea married my grandfather Ernest Joseph Moynahan 7 months after the Valentine dance  

In 2015, I wrote about the "Art of Colorizing Photographs" using another favourite photograph of my grandmother Rhea

According to the Directory of Early Michigan Photographers by David V. Tinder, Northland Studios was located in Detroit as early as 1913-1915. 
I believe this photograph of Rhea to have been taken some time before 1920.

These family photo "discoveries" are such a delight, especially when there is a story behind the places and times they were taken.