Search This Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Library Field Trip

This week I treated myself to a little field trip to the Baldwin Room of historical Canadiana in the Toronto Reference Library.   They specialize in primary materials relating to Toronto, and we have a few ancestors who were prominent in Toronto city life, so I was hoping to find some relevant documents.  Imagine my excitement when the librarian told me they had a whole collection of William Elliot papers!  Imagine my delight when she brought out four big old dusty boxes and I opened them to see stacks of original diaries!  But alas, it was another William Elliot.  This one was a judge, not an industrialist.  Rats. 

However, the trip was not in vain.  Although I didn't find anything in the Baldwin Room collection, it turns out that the Toronto Reference Library for many years kept scrapbooks of obituaries and biographies of prominent Torontonians, which have now been microfilmed.  I found a very detailed obituary for John Galloway Scott, son of Thomas Chalmers Scott, in Volume 7 page 427 of the scrapbook, which was on Film # T686.3.  It was clipped from the Toronto Mail newspaper, June 23, 1928.

The headline was dramatic:

J.G. Scott, K.C., Dies of Injuries
Was Struck Down by Auto While Returning From Board Meeting
Called to Bar in 1862
Chosen in 1885 to Inaugurate Land Titles System of Ontario

"Struck down by a motor car driven by George Kindness, Browning Avenue, at Bay and King Streets, on June 19 last.  John G. Scott, K.C., aged 92, of 29 Dunvegan Road, former Master of Titles at the Registry Office, died in the General Hospital yesterday.  Coroner McConnell is investigating the mishap.  Kindness, who was driving without a permit, was arrested on a charge of reckless driving.

The late Mr. Scott, who was active for his great age, was crossing the road at King and Bay Streets, and was struck down by Kindness' auto as the latter attempted to make a left-hand turn to go along King Street.  Removed to the hospital, it was found that Mr. Scott had suffered a fractured skull and other injuries.

John Galloway Scott was born in Dundee, Scotland, December 5, 1836, and came to Toronto with his parents in 1844.  He was educated at Toronto Academy and Bethany College, Virginia, and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1862.

He successfully practiced his profession in Toronto in partnership, first with the late R.G. Dalton, Q.C., and subsequently with Kenneth Mackenzie, Q.C.  In 1870 he was appointed, by the Hon. John Sandfield MacDonald, Clerk of the Executive Council and First Assistant to the Attorney-General's Department, positions which he continued to hold under the Blake and Mowat administrations.  During his work with the Attorney-General's Department he drafted two most important acts:  The Consolidated Municipal Act, 1873, and the Creditor's Relief Act, 1880.  In 1876, while he was deputy Attorney-General he was appointed a Queen's Council.

In 1885 he was chosen to inaugurate the Land Titles system of Ontario, and was appointed Master of Titles at Osgoode Hall, which position he held until his retirement in 1920, after serving the government of Ontario for more than fifty years.  It is universally admitted that the success of the Land Titles Act in the portions of Ontario in which it is in force, was due to his careful administration.

Mr. Scott was a Royal Commissioner for the revision of the Statutes of Ontario in 1885, and again in 1896.  He took part in the launching of the Toronto General Trusts Corporation, of which he was the oldest Director, in 1882, under its original name of The Toronto General Trust Company.  In 1859 he married Mary Elliot, a daughter of the late William Elliot.  Until recently he was a member of the congregation of Jarvis Street Baptist Church, which, when he joined in 1863, met on Bond Street, in the building since transformed into St. Michael's hospital.  He was a deacon of the church from 1885 to 1921, when he transformed his membership to Walmer Road Baptist Church. 

After his retirement, November 30, 1920, he lived at his home, 29 Dunvegan Road, and spent much of his time gardening, which was his favorite hobby.

He is survived by his widow, a daughter, Mrs. R.K. George of Toronto, and a son, Arthur H. Scott of Montreal.  The funeral is to be held on Monday at 2 p.m. to the Necropolis."

I find it interesting that John Galloway Scott attended Bethany College.  As I mentioned in a previous post about the Oliphants, this was a Disciples of Christ College (in fact, it still is today) founded by Alexander Campbell.  I suppose it's not surprising that T.C. Scott would send his son to be educated there. David Oliphant Jr. had attended Bethany College as well, but earlier than Scott.

It's also interesting that this obituary gives a date for Scott joining the Baptist Church (1863).  He would have been 27 years old at the time, and his father would certainly have still been active in the Disciples Church.   This would have been four years after his marriage.  We know that William Elliot also joined the Jarvis Street Baptist Church, and in fact he and John Galloway helped pay for the building on Jarvis Street.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stumbling Onto a Family Tragedy

I work at a public library, where part of my job consists of presenting library programs to local students.  Last year our library system began to present a program called "Lest We Forget", which was developed by Library and Archives Canada (LAC for short) as a way to introduce high school students to primary research around Canada's involvement in the two World Wars.  It was designed by a high school teacher who actually took his classes to the National Archives on overnight field trips and had them research the fates of soldiers from their own school. Having a real person to research and connect with increased the interest of his students, and he and the LAC created an amazing website with a number of actual war records on it so that students could do cenotaph  research from outside Ottawa.

LAC asked local libraries to teach high school students how to use this website and how to interpret military records, and for demonstration purposes a presentation was created using the lives of two soldiers and friends as research examples.

Here's what I found when I looked it over:

You can't read the fine print, but the young man on the left, whose nickname is "Ford",  is actually  named William Rutherford Dunlop.  Wait a minute--that name sounds suspiciously familiar!  He is the son of Helen Paton Rutherford and William MacEwan Dunlop, and the grandson of William Rutherford Sr.  Here are some of the records of his life and death in World War I, or "The Great War", as they unfolded before me during my review of the presentation.  Now of the 619,636 soldiers who fought for Canada during that war, what are the chances that a cousin would just show up out of the blue like that?

I learned that William registered with his friend Eric May (shown at the right), who attended high school as well as Queen's University with William (their army enrollment numbers are consecutive). April 3, 1917 was the day they enrolled.

William and Eric enrolled as gunners in the 72 Queen's Battery  but were transferred to the 48th Howitzer Battery while in France.

William died at the Battle of the Canal du Nord, September 27, 1918.  Eric died three weeks before William, and William may even have been there when his friend was wounded (Eric died of those wounds later in hospital).

But the story, unexpectedly as it found me,  doesn't end here--a quick internet search revealed that William's family and friends set up a scholarship to Queen's University in his memory, which is available to this day (it is called the William Rutherford Dunlop Entrance Scholarship and is awarded yearly to a student from Ottawa).  The Queen's archives has some correspondence related to the foundation of this scholarship.

So Helen's husband passed away as she was mourning the death of her child.  What a grief-stricken time that must have been for her.   

The Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church has this commemoration on their website:

GUNNER WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (FORD) DUNLOP, Canadian Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade, was "an active worker in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church", and the only son of William and Helen Dunlop, 15 Patterson Ave., Ottawa. While at Lisgar Collegiate, Ford excelled at studies, sports and debates. At Queens University, he was in the Officers Training Corps, on the debating team and the executive of the Arts Society, and headed towards a law degree. At the end of his freshman year in 1917, he enlisted in the 72nd Queens Battery. In France he transferred to the 48th Howitzer Battery. Aged 20, Gunner Dunlop was killed in action at Cambrai on Sept. 27, 1918. In his memory, the William Rutherford Dunlop Entrance Scholarship is awarded annually for general proficiency by Queens to a student from an Ottawa Secondary School. Gunner Dunlop is remembered on St. Andrew's Sunday School plaque; he is buried at Saint Les Marquion British Cemetery, about 12 km. northwest of Cambrai, France.

And William's name is listed in the Book of Remembrance in the Peace Tower at Parliament Hill:

Rest in peace, William.

Unsubstantiated Gossip

Every family historian secretly wants it--that tie to a famous person, preferably royalty, but anyone high-profile will do in a pinch.  There is a certain glamour in being able to claim that you are descended from Charlemagne or Michaelangelo (by the way, there are many serious genealogists who believe that almost everyone of European origin alive today is a descendant of Charlemagne).  And on a more practical note, it's much easier to research prominent people than it is to find out about, say, a farmer in Poland three hundred years ago.

So you can imagine how chuffed I was when I read this letter on my recent trip to the local archives.  It was written by Edith Kilgour Bain to Mary E. Oliphant (these ladies were cousins, both grandchildren of David Oliphant Sr. and Sophia Watt).  Edith seems to know a little about her grandparents' (particularly Sophia's) early life in Scotland.

"His wife, Sophia Watt, was born in 1783 in London, but both were brought up in St. Andrews, Scotland.  She was of better family than the Oliphants and incurred the great displeasure of her family, first by joining the Haldane movement and then by marrying David Oliphant, whom she met at the chapel.  There is a persistent tradition in the family that she was a near relative of James Watt, of steam engine fame, but just what I don't know.  But the family seems to have been very well-to-do and well connected in St. Andrews".  

Edith also goes on to mention that she thought the Watt family had a possible connection with the West Indies, and that one of Sophia Watt's other relatives was a Librarian of St. Andrew's University.  (Rueben Butchart fonds, Victoria College Archives, University of Toronto, F52, Box 4, File 1.)

Could the Rutherfords have a connection to James Watt through the Oliphant/Watt line?  Well, if we do, it's not a direct connection--James Watt's children are documented and Sophia isn't one of them.

Sophia Watt, Undated, Wellington County Museums and Archives
Could Sophia be a niece or cousin of the famous inventor?  It may be possible, but annoyingly, I don't know the names of her parents.  Her marriage record just shows her own name (now if she'd been married in Poland, the record would have her name, her parents names and probably her grandparent's names as well!).  It's not really much help.

 (12th of August 1809 were contracted David Oliphant, shoemaker, and Sophia Watt, b. mem. this parish--proclaimed and married 20th [August].)

The other gossipy bits of this letter are equally interesting, I think (and somewhat easier to believe).  Sophia and David must have been deeply in love for her to marry him despite her family's "great displeasure", and I'll bet there's a dramatic story around her becoming a Baptist in spite of family protest.  To go from a daughter of a well-to-do family in a University town in Scotland to basically becoming a pioneer wife in rural Ontario sounds very Susannah Moodie-ish.  This little snippet just makes me want to know more about her!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Identifying the Rutherfords from the McCord Museum Collection

The McCord Museum of Montreal has a truly magnificent archival collection of photographs and images, and even better, they are searchable online!  If you search on the name "Rutherford" you will find a number of images, some of them donated by a Mr. Andy Rutherford, and some of them purchased by the archives.  The problem is, it's sometimes hard to identify which Rutherfords are "ours", especially when it comes to the women (who are usually unhelpfully identified as "Mrs. Rutherford" or "Miss Rutherford").  I'm going to try to identify the relatives I can, and hope someone else out there can identify the others.

Please note, the images below are all copyright images.  If you would like to copy them, please see the McCord's copyright page.  Reproductions can also be purchased through the McCord Museum.

First of all, let's remind ourselves of the Rutherfords in our immediate family line.  William Rutherford Sr., born circa 1831, came to Montreal in 1852, married Elizabeth Jackson there in 1856, and had 12 children.

Thomas Jackson Rutherford, born 1858
Helen Paton Rutherford, born 1860 (married William MacEwan Dunlop of New York, 1893)
Margaret Brown (Maggie) Rutherford, born 1862 (married Thomas McIntosh of Toronto, 1892)
William Rutherford Jr., born 1864
Andrew Rutherford, born 1865
Arthur James and Edward (Land or Lamb?) Rutherford, twins, born 1868 (Arthur d. 1869 age 11 months)
Forest Rutherford, born 1871
Elizabeth Jackson (Bessie) Rutherford, born 1872, died 1895, age 23, unmarried
Anne Paton (Annie) Rutherford, born 1874
Stewart Rutherford, born circa 1876
Gordon Rutherford, born circa 1876 (twins) 

William Rutherford Jr., the son we descend from, married Ida Bulmer in 1893 and had five children.

William Jackson Rutherford,
John Bulmer Rutherford, born 1897
Jean Rutherford
Andrew Scott Rutherford (probably donor of photographs)
Marjorie Rutherford

Image 1:

This photograph is entitled William Rutherford, about 1850.  It is a daguerreotype measuring 8 x 7 cm. and was a gift of Mr. Andy Rutherford, whom my mother-in-law believes would be her Uncle Andy (my brother-in-law Andrew is named after him).  Our William Rutherford Senior, however, didn't arrive in Montreal until 1852.  This image could have been taken in Scotland, or it could be dated slightly later than the McCord is estimating.

Image 2:

The McCord calls this Rutherford Group, About 1900.  It is also a gift of Mr. Andy Rutherford.  Handily, someone has annotated the faces in this collection. 

The man on the far left, T.J. Rutherford, would be William Sr.'s oldest son Thomas Jackson Rutherford, born 1858, which would make him around 42 in 1900.  To the right of him, on top is Forest Rutherford, the youngest son, born in 1871 (so around 30 years old at this time).  The gentleman underneath him, S. F. Rutherford, is Stewart Rutherford, around 24 years old, and his twin Gordon is on the same level, to the right of William Sr.  They look like identical twins to me, from what I can see here.  

In the centre of the collection is the family patriarch, William Sr., who would be about 69 years old in 1900.  I think I can see some resemblance with the 1850 image...or am I just imagining things?  

To the right of William Sr. are Andrew Rutherford (on top), the family's second son, born 1865. Then, at the very left hand side, we have William Rutherford Jr., born 1864 (age 36), through which our family line descends. 

Do you notice that there are no women in this picture?  This grouping includes all the Rutherford men except for Arthur and Edward.  We know Arthur died young, and I suspect Edward did too, as he does not show up on any census records.  These are all very formal, posed shots.  In fact, Forest, Gordon and S. F. look like they may be wearing commencement gowns.  All in all, this is a handsome group of confident-looking men.    

Image 3:

Image 3 is also a gift of Mr. Andy Rutherford.  It is entitled James Rutherford, about 1855.  If the dating is right, this was taken about 3 years after William immigrated to Canada.  From the setting, it's hard to place this photograph in terms of country of origin.  James is the name of William Rutherford's oldest brother, born in 1829, who as far as I know stayed in Scotland.  If this is the same James, he would be around 26 years old in the photo (that looks about right to me).  This might have been brought with William when he left home, or sent to him later from Scotland.

What I notice about this photograph is that was not taken in a photographer's studio, as most of these other pictures were.  James seems to have been posing against a residential building, possibly his own home.  The lone plant looks a little forlorn!  I considered the possibility that the photograph may have been taken on a visit to William in Canada, but I think in that case they would have posed together, don't you?  

Image 4:  

This portrait, also part of the Andy Rutherford donation, is entitled Mrs. William Rutherford, about 1900.  This would be Elizabeth (Jackson) Rutherford, and she would have been around 64 years old in 1900.  I like how clearly you can see her face and expression.  Although this is a formal portrait, I think a lot of her personality comes through.  

Image 5:  

Now this image is interesting.  The final portrait in the Andy Rutherford donation, it is entitled Rutherford Family, About 1900.  It is the largest portrait in the collection, measuring 25 by 32 centimetres.  The fun is going to be in identifying everyone!  Clearly the matriarch in the centre with the baby on her lap is Elizabeth (Jackson) Rutherford, wife of William Sr.  Could this be a portrait of her with her grandchildren?  Some of them seem to be young adults (especially the young lady directly behind Mrs. Rutherford).  Although this is certainly a formal studio portrait, I like how Mrs. Rutherford is not only holding the youngest child on her lap but also holding the hand of the young boy next to her.  I wonder if this was a gesture of affection, or a ploy to keep him from fidgeting?  You'll notice that his brother (or cousin) beside him seems to have an arm around him, and his sister (or cousin) behind him has a hand on his shoulder.  My suspicion is that this young man is being gently corralled.  

Now we get to images which are more difficult to identify as being part of our line of Rutherfords.  These photographs were all purchased by the McCord museum, so their provenance offers no clue as to family ties.  They were taken by William Notman, a prominent Montreal portrait photographer who took pictures of a great many Montrealers during the course of his career.  I'm thinking that these photographs may be proofs or duplicate copies, and that the originals may be in the hands of descendents. 

Image 6:  

This portrait is entitled Mr. Rutherford, Montreal, QC., 1882.  It was taken February 11, 1882 by Notman  and Sandham, and measures 10 x 15 centimetres.  I don't think it could be William Sr., who would have been around 51 years old at this time.  William Jr. would have been 18 years old, which doesn't seem right either.  Could this have been one of William Sr.'s older sons?  I'm looking at the Image 2 composite photograph and I can't decide. 

Image 7:

This one is called W.H. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1886.  (Didn't Oscar Wilde write a story called "The Portrait of Mr. W.H."?)  

Image 8:

Image 8 is another pose of the young Mr. W.H.Rutherford in 1886.  

Image 9:  

Image 9 is G.E. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1868. 

Image 10:  

Again, G.E. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1868.  This looks like the same sitting. 

Image 11:

Image 11 is called J.K. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1880. 

Image 12:

This one is called Robert Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1866.

Image 13:

George Rutherford,Montreal, QC, 1868.  I have to say that George Rutherford looks a little gone to seed. Maybe it's the greasy hair and the eyebrows.  

Image 14:

Image 14 is entitled Mrs. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1863.  

Image 15:

And image 15 is Mrs. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1865.  I'm pretty sure this is the same person.  But which Mrs. Rutherford is she?  Elizabeth (Jackson) Rutherford would have been 29 years old in 1865, which  fits the age of the portrait sitter, I think.  But is she the same woman as in images 4 and 5 (which are much later dates?), or is she an unconnected Mrs. Rutherford?  

Image 16: 

This is James Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1867.  I don't have a clue who he could be.  

Image 17:

Miss Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1868.  Image 18 is of Miss Rutherford at the same sitting. 

Image 18:

Image 19:  

Master I. and Missie M. Rutherford, Montreal, QC, 1865.  These two are real sweethearts--I hope they're some of "our" Rutherfords!

Image 20:

Image 20 might be impossible to identify, unless someone recognizes the horses or sleigh! It's entitled Mrs. Rutherford Horses and Sleigh, University Street, Montreal, QC, 1896.  The title does not mention the man standing up at the back of the sleigh with the whip and the big fur coat, so perhaps he's a servant.  

Image 21:

Image 21 is Mrs. Rutherford's Baby on a Horse, Montreal, QC, 1896.  This shot is interesting.  It's not taken in the studio but probably on family property.  Who are the two men?  The one holding the horse looks very butler-ish.  The one holding the baby is dressed more casually.  Are they both servants?  Or is the man holding the baby the baby's father?  It's funny that of all the elements (building, two men, horse, trees) the one hardest to see is the child who is the subject of the photo.  Even though this is not a studio portrait, it and image 20 are still attributed to Notman.  

There are several other images at the McCord archives relating to the Rutherford family, mostly landscapes from Scotland, which I will post separately.  For now, I'd be happy to figure out more about these portraits. Do any Rutherford cousins/aunts/uncles have any similar portraits in their possession which would help in identifying these?

What the Disciples Can Tell Us About the Oliphants

It's been a good few generations since the name Oliphant has appeared on the Rutherford family tree. This is how the descent goes:  David Oliphant Sr. and his wife Sophia Watt were the first generation to travel to Canada.  They had a daughter,  Mary Oliphant, who married William Elliot (of Dundas and later Toronto),  and in turn their daughter, Mary (Minnie) Elliot, married John Galloway Scott (see previous post).  This makes David Sr. my husband's great-great-great-great grandfather.  The Oliphants seems to have slipped out of family memory (various other names, such as Rutherford, Scott, Elliot, Bulmer and Norton have served as middle names for various Fyfes I've known or heard about, but there aren't any modern-day Fyfes or Rutherfords with the middle name Oliphant still kicking around).  However,  the Oliphant family was quite an interesting one.

I'm getting a lot of my information from the book How the Disciples Came Together in Early Ontario by Edwin Broadus (Gospel Herald Foundation, Beamsville Ontario, 2009).  He writes a whole chapter on David Oliphant Senior, whom he calls "among the most influential of the Baptists of Scottish background in the development of the Disciples in Ontario" (28).  The Oliphant family was from St. Andrews, Scotland, and they came to Canada for the sake of David Sr.'s health (he had asthma).  According to Reuben Butchart (The Disciples of Christ in Canada since 1830, 1949, p. 58-59) in Scotland David Sr. was a "pastor at a Baptist church in St. Andrews", although in Canada he appears to have taken up shoemaking to support himself.  George Barclay, a contemporary of Oliphant's, is quoted by a Disciple periodical as saying "I was once a member of a  Baptist church in Largo, Scotland, with D. Oliphant's [i.e. David Oliphant Jr's.] father and mother, before they were married."  (The Christian Banner, June 1885, 167).   (According to Broadus, Largo is very close to St. Andrews, and "a Scotch Baptist church was formed in Lower Largo on the Firth of Forth in 1790" (29)).   

Broadus tells us that David traveled to Canada in 1821 with his oldest son Alexander (11 years old) while his wife Sophia Watt stayed in Scotland with their four younger children.  David Sr. and Alexander moved first to Esquesing Township, northwest of York, where they joined a small congregation of Disciples in the Norval church.  Shortly afterwards the father and son moved to Dundas, Ontario, where David began preaching regularly.  In 1823 David's wife Sophia and the rest of their children finally joined them.  At this point some of the Lesslie family were also living and worshipping in Dundas, as was William Elliot.  William Lyon MacKenzie was also living in Dundas during this time and I am certain the Oliphants knew him, as in 1837  David and Sophia (now living in Eramosa township) hid MacKenzie's co-conspirators Samuel Lount and Edward Kennedy overnight as they were running away after the battle of Montgomery's Tavern. (The Lesslie family was also very intimate with William Lyon MacKenzie, who had traveled to Canada with 18-year-old John Lesslie.  MacKenzie and Lesslie were in partnership together briefly in York and in Dundas in the "Lesslie and Sons" stores that John Lesslie founded in these places.)  It was towards the end of the Oliphant's stay in Dundas that Mary Oliphant and William Elliot were married.

In 1826 David Sr. and Edward Lesslie, Sr. were both on a committee to build a meeting hall for all the local Christian denominations in Dundas.  The Chapel, which they called the Free Church, was completed in 1830 and David Sr. preached the first sermon (Broadus, 31).  In 1829, David Sr. and some fellow Christians of varied background formed a group to create a combined Sunday School, which they called the Dundas Union Sabbath School.  David Sr. was the Vice President of the school committee, and his son Alexander was the school librarian.  I find it interesting that David Sr. was involved in these co-operative ventures with other local Christian congregations.  He seems to have been community-minded and not just narrowly interested in the welfare of his own denomination.   His son David Jr. recalled many years later that "his father was very liberal, compared to other  Baptists from Scotland."  (Broadus, 32).  It was sometime during his stay in Dundas that David Sr. began seriously reading the work of Alexander Campbell of the Stone-Campbell movement in the United States, particularly Campbell's two journals, the Christian Baptist and the Millenial Harbinger.

In 1832 David and Sophia and their family moved to Eramosa township on land that "included the future site of the village of Everton." but from what I can gather was pretty much wilderness at that time.  A Disciple family headed by James and Lois Black lived a mile and a half from the Oliphants and had built a log meeting-house on their property, where the Oliphants went to worship.  David Oliphant Sr. had a profound influence on James Black's religious views, introducing him to Campbell's writings over a period of some time, and the two of them became the Everton church's intellectual leaders. David Oliphant Jr. describes their relationship and Black's initial reaction to Oliphant's religious ideas in somewhat flowery prose:

"These two students of the sacred scripture became sufficiently acquainted to co-work in the government of Our Lord;  and although very different men, they were in certain respects the complement of each other.  Elder Black, his firmly compacted body and full brain, with comparative youth on his side [Oliphant was twenty years older than Black], was an unremitting and effective laborer. Father Oliphant, with his ripe experience and love of reformation, although far from robust, possessing strength to labor in public very limitedly, was a degree or two in advance of his contemporaries in distinguishing where the line ran between the city of Jerusalem and the city of Babylon.  A reformatory publication [the Millennial Harbinger] highly prized by Father Oliphant, having been placed in the hands of Elder Black for perusal, escaped very narrowly a martyr's fate, for at that date the zealous elder was so earnestly attached to certain portions of the Geneva theology that he not only disrelished, but strongly opposed, what did not fit with the teachings he had received by tradition from the theological fathers.  Nobly, though not speedily, he allowed his mind and heart to acknowledge reformatory truth, and took the lead in more than a few movements in the direction of reformation."  

Lucien Moote, who grew up in the Disciple faith, recalls that "Personally I can remember all the preachers except:  Sheppard:  Oliphant:  Black:  Anderson:  Benedict:  these being among the very earliest:  I heard my parents talk about them so much it seems as though I saw them." (unpublished letter from Lucien Moote to Reuben Butchart, April 4, 1933, Reuben Butchart fonds, Victoria College Archives, University of Toronto, F52, Box 2, File 1).

In a 1937 piece entitled "Article Upon the Subject of the Disciples for an Inquirer", Reuben Butchart speaks of the importance of rural churches in the early years of the Disciples of Christ history, and in the scope of evangelistic activity within the church.

"The Disciples of Christ in Ontario began as a rural religious people (sic) and for many years their principle strength was in the country...The churches named--Eramosa, Norval, and Lobo tp--became great centres of church life in this province.  It was from its doors that certain evangelists were sent, such as James Black, Alex. Anderson, James Kilgour, David Oliphant, and others in the early days who did great things in the way of evangelism and organizing churches of Christ...their preaching and influence was felt greatly in their surrounding territory--Erin tp for example--but extending as far as the Georgian Bay region, the Niagara Peninsula, and to Eastern Ontario, and particularly in Prince Edward County...".

Butchart also describes what it was like to be an itinerant evangelist at this time:

"...every year the Everton church sent forth two of the men named [i.e. Black, Anderson, Kilgour, Oliphant, and "others"] who made trips on horseback over the difficult roads of the province, with their baggage sling [sic] across their horses' back and finding a welcome in the homes of the brethren wherever they were sent.  They stayed perhaps for weeks in a new community, found converts and started a church;  afterwards it was their duty to visit it and endeavor to keep it within the truth and strengthen the brethren, all of this being but a scriptural form of evangelism...all these men are held in sainted memory by many, actually they have held the loving thoughts of thousands of Disciples...since their work has become known as the foundation stones of our cause in Ontario."   

Disciple churches in Selkirk and Winger are among those who remember Oliphant and his fellows "planting" them.  An incident recalled by J.W. Bradt of Selkirk illustrates how the founding evangelists might be called upon to keep the church "within the truth", making at times some unpopular decisions:

"Brother J.J. Warner was a match maker and elder of the church, and one of the chief speakers.  He was a good speaker, but held some Advent opinions which he put forward.  This caused a good deal of feeling, and Brother Oliphant was called to adjust the differences.  After considerable trouble and heart burnings, Brother Oliphant settled the matter by withdrawing followship [sic] to Brother Warner.  This action was characterized by some as popery and split the church, causing a division from which it never entirely recovered.  Brother Warner preached when invited, but never came back as a member."  ("Church History:  Church of Christ Selkirk, Aylmer, Sweets Corners, Windmill Point, Winger" by J.W. Bradt, Selkirk, Ontario, 1930, self-published booklet in Reuben Butchart archival material).

Of course David Oliphant Sr.'s influence on the Disciple movement in Ontario has to include the dedication which he must have fanned in the heart of his sons, particularly David Jr., who went on to become a prolific writer and editor for the movement, in many ways its local spokesperson and one of the connecting strands between Disciples in Canada and America.  David Sr.'s other sons were also demonstrably dedicated to their faith.  Again, I am frustrated by the silence of historic materials on women in the movement.  I wonder how Mary Oliphant, with such an upbringing and with a brother as active as David, can have left the Disciples after her marriage.  Or did she remain while her husband left?  It's difficult to find out.

David Oliphant Jr. 

Unfortunately, the whole Oliphant family appears to have been rather sickly, and many of them, with the exception of Mary (Oliphant) Elliot, died young.  David Sr. died in 1855 at age 63.  In an unpublished letter written by Edith Kilgour Bain to Mary E. Oliphant, both grandchildren of David Sr., she tells us that "Of the four children of David and Sophia Oliphant, Alexander, the oldest and a very brilliant young man, died in Everton in 1834 at the age of 24,  Mary married William Elliot at the age of 20 and died in 1890, age 78,  William (my grandfather) was born in 1814 and died in 1856, cutting short a very promising life;  David, your father, was the youngest...".  David Jr. died at age sixty-three near London, Ontario, and was buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in London.  His daughter Mary E. Oliphant wrote to Reuben Butchart on Sept. 2, 1943, that "As my father died at the age of 63 it can hardly be said that his activities were curtailed because of age but rather because of impaired health."  Both letters can be found at the Reuben Butchart archives at Victoria College, University of Toronto (fonds 52, box 4, file 1).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Disciples of Christ and the Rutherford Line

Q: What do Thomas Chalmers Scott, William Elliot, and David Oliphant Sr. have in common?

A:  They are all direct ancestors of my husband on the Rutherford side of his family, and they and their families were all highly active in a new (at the time) religious movement called The Disciples of Christ (which is currently known as The Church of Christ (Disciples)).  Thomas Chalmers Scott in particular is still remembered by Church historians as a strong and passionate leader within the early movement, but fascinatingly, the family now only seems to remember the secular side of his life (he was employed for most of his time in Canada as the Surveyor of Customs for the port of Toronto). Who exactly were the Disciples, what did they believe, and what do they remember about our ancestors?

The Disciples of Christ was a North American church, coming into being in the mid-eighteen-thirties in Ontario, slightly earlier in the United States.  There were two main streams of influence on its development in Canada, the first being the Scottish Baptist church and the second being the writings and preachings of Barton W. Stone in Kentucky and Thomas and Alexander Campbell in Western Pennsylvania (the influence of these men in the United States became known as the Stone-Campbell movement or the Restoration movement).  The Disciples of Christ was very much a back-to-basics group, rejecting the idea that congregations needed pastors or ministers to interpret the Bible for them, and believing that Christian philosophy, creeds and customs developed by church hierarchies since the time of Jesus were irrelevant and divisive. They aspired to unite Christians under a simple and rational reading of the New Testament, stripping away as much as possible any potential source of disagreement.  They  believed in full-immersion baptism (which was later to have disasterous effects for Scott), church groups led by elders, and,  in the early years at least, the silence of women in the Church (as advocated by St. Paul).  They were highly evangelistic, and in consequence, many of the church leaders traveled frequently and developed ties to neighbouring communities where they had helped "plant" congregations.  Unfortunately for me as an amateur historian, early primary  records are sometimes sketchy (at first the Disciple congregations tended to consist of a small group of people meeting in someone's house, with no systemic record keeping).  Fortunately, there is a lot of recorded oral history around the early years, and beginning in 1846 David Oliphant Jr.(Oliphant Senior's son and the brother of Mary Oliphant, through which the family line descends) began publishing a series of monthly journals, which he would continue for the next forty years.

Probably the most dynamic and interesting of my husband's Disciple ancestors is Thomas Chalmers Scott,  the father of John Galloway Scott.  Scottish records show us that Thomas C. Scott was born March 28, 1806 in Auchtermuchty, Fife, Scotland to David Scott and Katharine Greig, and that on December 12, 1833 he married Ann Galloway in nearby Dundee, Scotland.

According to his obituary (the Toronto Daily Globe, December 15, 1876) "during the emigration excitement of 1842 in Great Britain, he made up his mind to come to America, intending to settle in some part of the Western States.  Upon his arrival in New York, however, he met with Mr. James Lesslie, of his city, who persuaded him to come to Toronto, and took him into his employment...Though of Presbyterian parentage he attached himself early in life to the Scottish Baptists, the tenets of which denomination are somewhat similar to those of the body known as "The Disciples" in Canada and the United States."  He would have been in his early 40s at the time of his immigration. He appears to have lived in Detroit, Michigan for at least a short period before his move to Toronto, for he is listed as one of the early members of the Disciples congregation in Detroit, begun by Joseph Hawley sometime before1842.  The Disciple connection was perhaps how he met James Lesslie, whose family were also Disciples, although Scott's obituary in the Bible Index (2nd series, I, 1, Jan. 1877, 18-22) claims that he and the Lesslies had "mutual friends in Dundee".  This obituary also tells us more about Scott's conversion away from the church of his parents:  "As a young man, he studied with a small group of his peers, with the result that he left the Presbyterian Church, joined the Independents, then determined to be baptized.  He along with a dozen others formed a church."  

When Scott and his family arrived in Toronto in 1842,  they joined a group of about 33 Disciples meeting in "a brick building on Shuter Street" which had been started by James Beaty.  It seems that Scott and Beaty did not see eye to eye, for in 1846 there was a rupture and Scott led a group away from the Shuter Street congregation, starting and supporting a congregation on Richmond Street (which later moved to Pembroke Street, where Scott built a meeting house for the congregation).  The Lesslie family sided with Scott and followed  him to Richmond Street.  The church histories I have read don't say exactly what precipitated the quarrel, but according to historian Geoffrey Ellis, "The impression is left that there was not room for two strong-minded men in the Shuter Street church and that the Richmond Street group was the more 'progressive' of the two." ("The Restoration Churches in Toronto", pg. 6). Beaty was a strong business leader in the city, had just been elected Alderman of the St. Lawrence ward in Toronto,  and eventually became a representative in Canada's first parliament, so he was obviously no shrinking violet.  It speaks to Scott's own independent mind and strength of conviction, I think, that he would go up against such a well-connected and formidable figure. 

Scott took a leading role in the church from then on.  As well as regularly preaching in Toronto, he frequently  travelled to other communities within Ontario to speak and convert.  Joseph Ash, whose memories of the early church were recorded in some of David Oliphant's journals, paints a vivid portrait of a visit Scott paid to Bowmanville in 1846.

"It became known that John Simpson, a wealthy, active and intelligent miller and merchant, was much exercised over his spiritual state.  He was not a member of any church, but an attendant and very liberal supporter of a congregational church.  We in Oshawa had just concluded a big meeting at which...T.C. Scott was one of our preachers.  As Bro. Scott was quite a favorite of Simpson's, we were induced to go to Bowmanville that Bro. Scott might have some conversation on the subject of religion.  We (I think four of us) called at Simpson's store, and found him in his office.  Scott and him were in the office alone for a short time, but soon the 'Minister' Climie came and went into the office, having some hint of what was going on...The 'Minister' came out and walked the floor in quite an excited state and went back into the office, and tried to induce Simpson all he could not to be baptized, thus interrupting them, and repeated the interruption several times.  Some 12 or 15 of us spectators were in feverish anxiety about the result.  At length the door opened, and our hearts beat high with joy and exultation at the announcement made by Scott, 'I am happy to tell you' (addressing us from Oshawa) 'that Mr. Simpson is to be baptized immediately, and we are going to the lake past Elder Burk's, and you, Bro. Ash, are to go at once, call on Elder Burk, notify them and find the best place for the baptism.'  O, the excitement there was in the village.  Men were on the run along nearly every street giving notice of the coming event...Mr. Climie...was the go to the lake...[followed] by a long train of carriages...We called at Elder Burk's, made the news known to their great joy...The 'minister'...did his utmost to persuade Mr. Simpson to abandon his baptism... Making no impression on Simpson he commenced an argument against immersion with Elder Burk, who resigned the argument to Bro. Scott...[who] bowed Mr. Climie away and led Mr. Simpson into the water..."  

Simpson was an important and wealthy man who would later become a Senator.  I feel sorry for poor Minister can really feel his anguish over losing a prominent member of his congregation in such a public manner!  As my husband pointed out, Scott's job in the customs house was likely quite seasonal, with a lighter workload during the winter months as the port would be iced over,  which would leave him with a lot of travel time during some parts of the year.  However, it seems that sometimes his own congregation felt that he spent too much time on the road and not enough with them.  

An exciting event for the Disciples took place in 1855;  Alexander Campbell, the highly influential American partially behind the Stone-Campbell movement, paid his only visit to Canada, accompanied by his wife.  During their time in Toronto they were guests in Scott's home, which I'm sure was both a great honour and an exciting intellectual opportunity for Scott.  

Alexander Campbell

The visit was headline news throughout Ontario and Campbell spoke twice in Toronto to large crowds, which included some clergymen of other faiths (among them Dr. James Lillie and Dr. Pyper, Baptists, and Dr. Ormiston of the Presbyterian Free Church). Campbell later wrote up this visit in his publication The Millennial Harbinger, and although he spoke graciously about Scott himself, it seems to me that there is a veiled rebuke regarding the Scott-Beaty split in his musings:

"We immediately set sail for Toronto on board a first rate Lake Ontario Steamer.  Soon we arrived at the landing.  We found Bro. Thomas C. Scott and Bro. Elliot [referring to William Elliot] with a carriage to conduct us to Bro. Scott's, whose Christian hospitality we enjoyed during our sojourn in that city.  Bro. Scott is now presiding elder of the church of our brethren in the city and occasionally proclaims the gospel in the surrounding country."

Here comes the scolding:

"Our brethren [in Toronto] are not as prosperous and as co-operative as they might be, or as they should be, and, as we yet hope, they will be.  They have talents, learning, and the means of being eminently useful, provided only, that mere order, or mere discipline, or church etiquette, should not usurp the place or province of faith, hope, and love.  'These three' as Paul calls them are paramount to everything in the Christian profession.  Paul would have contracted with any church in his day, never to eat flesh or drink wine while the world stood, rather than to wound or cause to stumble a weak brother.  The vital principle of church order is brotherly love.  Let that abound and all is peace, health and prosperity."

It is possible that the Scott family stood host to several American visitors over the years.  The "Ecclesiastical Observer", October 1, 1874, contains a description of a visit to Canada by prominent Disciple Benjamin Franklin (no, not that Ben Franklin!), where he says:

"We met our venerable Bro. Scott of Toronto, visited him at his own house, and found him to be what we have heard him reported to be--a man of fine intelligence, amiable and agreeable in his bearing. He has been known as a preacher of much ability for many years."

Scott's son John Galloway Scott is mentioned occasionally as also travelling to preach for the Disciples, but some time between 1861, where his family is listed on the Canadian census as Disciples of Christ, and 1871, where they are listed as Baptists, he seems to have left his father's church.  He and his father-in-law, William Elliot, joined the Jarvis Street Baptist Church and in fact both, along with another former Disciple, William McMaster,  donated a great deal of money towards the construction of its present building.  I'd love to know  why John Galloway switched and what the consequences were for his relationship with his father, who was obviously so passionate about his beliefs.  To me, the fact that they are buried together suggests that there was no lasting rift.  

Ann Galloway Scott, Thomas's wife, died on September 2, 1854.  She is buried, along with Thomas C. Scott, John Galloway Scott and Minnie (Elliot) Scott, at the Necropolis cemetery in Toronto.  She had borne him three children.  I assume that she shared her husband's faith but I have no direct evidence of this.  In 1856 Scott remarried, to Miss Sarah Hawley of Detroit.  She was the daughter of Richard Hawley, leader of the Detroit congregation Scott had briefly belonged to and which Sarah had belonged to as well.  It is possible that they had kept in touch over the years, or that the families had.  The new Mrs. Scott seems to have been a bit more directly involved in Disciple affairs, at one point writing a letter published in one of Oliphant's journals on the importance of supporting Missionary work, which seems to have been an interest of hers.  This was a late marriage, and the two had no children together.  

On December 13, 1877,  Scott passed away.  The cause of his death is listed on the death record as "Typhoid Pneumonia".  Disciple history (Ellis's article on Toronto Restoration Churches) describes the cause of death in a bit more detail:

"  On December 3rd in 1876, four went forward at Pembroke for baptism, and Scott did the baptizing. On the 6th of December, he said, 'I fear I have taken a cold.'  He died on the 13th succumbing to typhoid pneumonia and was buried on the 16th.  Butchart comments:  'The death of T.C. Scott...was a great blow, from which it [the Pembroke St. Church] never fully recovered.  Scott...owned the building, but in his estate the church lost it."  

I can only imagine how freezing the waters of Lake Ontario must have been in early December.  Knowing Scott,  I'll bet he never even flinched.  

After his death his wife, the former Miss Hawley, moved back to Detroit.  She died ten years later, on February 22, 1887, at age 79.  She is buried in Detroit.   In her will she left her estate to the Disciples church,  in particular to assist with Missionary work.  The Memorial Christian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is named in honour of her bequest.  

I find Thomas Chalmers Scott an intriguing figure.  I picture him as a man of charisma, spiritual dedication and independent  thought.  I would dearly love to read any of his sermons or writings, but so far I've had no success in finding extant copies of anything coming from his own pen.

As I mentioned earlier, both William Elliot and David Oliphant Sr. were also disciples.  Although the Elliot and Scott families appear to have been very close,  Disciple history does not say a great deal about William Elliot other than the occasional mention of him as a preacher.  The Oliphant family, however, were key players in the development of the Disciples faith in rural Ontario.  My next posting will be about them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I love stories, and that includes family stories.  They're slippery things, though.  They can change over time, or be told from different points of view.  They can be forgotten or confused. .    They can have multiple interpretations. They can leave a lot of things out, and they can assume that we know things that we don't.  As someone who also gets a kick out of research, I enjoy finding out more about the history of my family, both my birth family and the family I married into.  This blog is to fill in the gaps of some family stories I've heard, to collect and share what I've been learning about my husband's family, the Fyfes, the Rutherfords and all of their associated lines.  I'm hoping that if you're reading this and you're a relative, you'll have stories or memories to share with me as well. 

One of my favourite books about researching family history is The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming, based on her movie of the same name.  Near the end, she says:  "Distances and differences kept us apart, and we forgot to remind each other of our own stories."  I hope that some of my discoveries will make our family history richer and more worth remembering.