This Blog is For My Grandmother
By Victoria Fenner, daughter of Helen Wallace Fenner, and grand daughter of Madeline Wallace.
A few months ago, I inherited the history books of my grandmother, Madeline Foster Delaurier Wallace.
Grandma spent the last forty years of her life compiling the history of the towns and the families of Essex County, the most southerly county in Canada.
In the last book that she wrote, Memories of Lake Erie Shores, which she self-published in 1984 at the age of 81, Grandma wrote:
“I am dedicating this work to the memory of the relatives and neighbours who helped in settling and establishing the farms and communities where they lived. It is only after studying the hardships which they endured, do we, the present generation, have any idea of the way they had to work with only an axe and their strong arms to clear the bush, to make it habitable for their families. .. So to these people who are un-named, I dedicate these few stories which are true, in the hope that younger people maybe realize the difficulties and trauma of living in these pioneer days”
Not every person who Grandma wrote about are un-named though. In her single-spaced typewritten binders (more than 20 in all) are family trees of the families whom she knew. Some of these are directly related to us (are are most people whose families lived in Essex County prior to 1900). Other family trees are friends and neighbours.
About half of Grandma’s binders of information are living under my coffee table, There is so much information and so many words there that it is boggling my mind trying to figure out where to begin.
In this blog, I’m starting the process by picking out bits and pieces as I figure out how to work with all this information to make it available to the greater wide world.
That’s what she wanted. When she died in 1994, there wasn’t much of an internet yet. But people found her anyway. Two months before she died, she told me “I really should turn over my books to the Leamington Library. But yesterday somebody called me from Texas to find out who their ancestors in Woodslee were. How am I supposed to answer him if my books are at the library?”
She wanted to share this information. This is the beginning of the process of putting all of her hard work on the internet. She would have wanted that.
It’s time to get started.