Mary Ann Wholesworth

Mary Ann Wholesworth was my second Great Grandmother. She’s been pretty tricky to track down. It took me forever to figure out Mary Ann’s maiden name, which is erroneously recorded in a few different locations. There were obvious literacy issues with my ancestors and the name was recorded as Wholesworth, Wholesmith, Allsworth, Ellsworth, Holesworth, and Aylesworth. I think Wholesworth is the “right” one – or at least the one that probably stuck around. I’m still not 100% sure, but I think my clues all point in one direction, so I’m going with that for now.

Mary Ann was born in 1837 in Nova Scotia, maybe in Wallace, Cumberland, which is where the person I assume was her younger brother was born some 10 years later. Besides her brother John W, she had at least 2 sisters, who I think were called Elizabeth and Ann Susan. Her parents were likely John Wholesworth Sr. and Sarah Rogers. A lot of this is based on information I learned about her brother John, who immigrated to the US, where record keeping was better. I’m still not entirely sure that he was her brother, but I think all evidence points to this – the timing, family names, birth locations, etc. Below is what Wallace looks like today (a bustling metropolis):

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It’s possible Mary Ann’s family were loyalists that came to Wallace (then called Remsheg, which meant “the place between” in Mi’kmaq) around 1783, as this is the case with her husband’s side of the family. But.. I haven’t been able to find the surname (or its million variants) on the maps from the time and I’ve seen family members claim Scottish descent on 2 censuses (but English on others). It’s quite likely they instead came from Scotland a bit later with settlers who renamed the place Wallace (after William, of course). Below is a picture of the Scottish arriving in Canada, playing bagpipes and waving a flag, immortalized in a commemorative stamp. 8-arrival-of-scottish-settlers-pictou-ns-1973_1189_08577208dba58e5L

At some point between 1847 and 1857 Mary Ann’s family relocated to PEI, where she married James Crossman Dec. 17, 1857. He was the son of a fisherman and was a lumber dealer himself. She was about 20 and he was 33. They had a daughter, Fanny, in 1860, but I think she died as she never showed up in any other records or the census. After that they had Margaret (1864), Benjamin (1866), John Edward (1869), Sarah Lena (1871), and my great grandfather James (around 1875). All but James were born on Lot 16.  They may have even been living at this house (current stalkery streetview below) in the same place Alexander Crossman (oldest surviving Crossman brother) inherited his parents’ land around 1890.

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Mary Ann was widowed in 1875 – the same year James was born. The story is below: copy

I’m thinking that after her husband’s death the pregnant Mary Ann relocated to Summerside, where James was born. In 1881 oldest daughter Margaret was 17 and living with a family working as a servant on lot 13. Benjamin was 14 a farm servant at living on lot 3. I have not found the younger siblings John, Sarah, James (or Mary Ann) in the 1881 census, but I assume they were all living together in stealth.

In 1882 Mary Ann remarried a man called Solomon Vessey and they lived in Summerside. He was a labourer at the time but was later the cemetery gardener (dream job). In the 1891 census they are living with James, my great grandfather, who was a printer. In the 1911 census they were living in the house stalked below  (thanks google!) on Cambridge St.

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Her children Margaret, Sarah and John all ended up in MA by the 1890s – it took me a while to find them there, as I had no idea to look in the US. Sarah and John both married Lennoxes (who were father and daughter, wtf), from Nova Scotia. Sarah married a widow Fred Lennox, who was 20 years her senior. John married Fred’s daughter (are you keeping track?) Lillian and the age difference was a bit more respectable. I think they may have gone to MA because their uncle John W. Wholesworth was living there. John Edward and Margaret stayed in on MA, both making their residences in Somerville. On their American wedding certificates their mother’s maiden name was listed as Wholesworth and Wholesmith (boom! that’s how I found it and connected them with their uncle). Benjamin stayed in PEI and married in his mid 30s, after working in various households as a servant. The youngest son, James, also stuck around Summerside, PEI and worked as a printer for the newspaper. He and his wife (pictured below with his wife, Minerva Palmer).

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Mary Ann died in 1915, at the age of 78 (or 80 according to the obituary), still married to Mr. Vessey. Her obituary mentioned she’d been predeceased by her first husband some 40 years prior, had two remaining sisters, and that she had “enjoyed exceptionally good health and the use of her faculties up until Sunday afternoon last.” Of course her obituary doesn’t mention her maiden name or the names of her siblings, but hopefully I’ll confirm for certain one day! (Actually, I think her sister mighta been my great grandmother’s mom, Elizabeth Allsworth, who had an old widow Sarah Nicolson – same last name as her brother’s wife -boarding with her… but that would make my great grandparents cousins, so maybe we’ll pursue that lead without too much fervour).