The Wallaces

Grandma loved being a Wallace. I don’t think she herself had a drop of Scottish blood, but she enthusiastically became Scottish when she married Grandpa.

To this day, members of my family wear the Wallace tartan. Especially Aunt Dorothy, who is spending most of her retirement going to highland games and Clan Wallace gatherings as an Advisory Director of the Clan Wallace Society.

There are probably millions of Wallaces worldwide. Here’s what we know about ours:

Grandma’s books say that our branch emigrated from Scotland to Ireland somewhere around 1568. She didn’t say what the reasons were, but no doubt it had to do with the political turmoil between Scotland and England at the time (if this is indeed the accurate date, the reasons might be that there were constant invasions from England. At the same time, the English were trying to populate Ireland so they could outnumber the Irish, so the Crown (Elizabeth 1st at this time), were encouraging the Scots to move too. Neither me nor Aunt Dorothy have been able to track down the very early Scots-Irish Wallaces. That may take a trip to Tipperary, where the Wallaces lived just prior to coming to Canada.)

William Wallace, my great great (great?) grandfather was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1839. He was the son of James and Hannah Wallace. My grandmother writes “the family was forced to flee. They were Protestants. They had to leave Ireland for Canada due to a quarrel with the Catholics and shootings”.

What she told me many times over the years was that the Wallace grandparents (James and Hannah? Her history is not clear on this), had smallpox. The story, according to Grandma, was that they were being quarantined in a building behind the main family house. One night, the neighbours (likely not happy about the Protestants in their midst and certainly not happy about the smallpox) shot both the grandmother and the grandfather (James and Hannah?). According to Grandma, after shooting the grandparents, the neighbours propped them up against the door. And when the appointed family member took breakfast out to the shed the next morning, s/he opened the door and the grandparents fell at her/his feet.

I certainly will not vouch for the accuracy of that story. But I can say one thing that I know for sure – Grandma knew how to string a good yarn.

Back to the family lineage — James and Hannah’s children were:

1. (don’t know his name) enlisted in the Crimean War and was killed.
2. Eliza eloped with a Catholic named Shanahan and came to Canada, settling in Tuckersmith Township, Huron County.
3. Jane married a Mr. Shouldice and also settled in Tuckersmith Township.
4. William (my great great grandfather) came to Perth County in 1857 at the age of 18, after a year with the Shouldices (his sister’s) in Tuckersmith Township. He then went to work for a Mr. McGooch for eight years. He married Jessie Jane McCartney, born in Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland in 1865. A year after William and Jessie were married, they settled on a rented farm in Hibbert Township where they lived as tenants for 21 years. Seven of William and Jessie’s children were born on this farm.

Then, in 1887, they pulled up stakes and moved to Tilbury West township on the Middle Road (now County Road 46) , halfway between Comber and Tilbury.

Jessie did not survive the trip … she died in childbirth soon thereafter, along with their tenth children Richard, who survived for 8 weeks. GG Grandpa William lived until 1909, passing away at the age of 69. Both William and Jessie (and presumably their infant son Richard) are buried in St. George’s Cemetery just down the road from where their farm had been.

The children of William and Jessie were:

1. Robert, born in 1865, died in 1891 and is buried in the Egmondville Cemetery. (up near Seaforth Ontario)
2. Hannah was born in 1866 and died of diptheria when she was a small child. She is also buried in Egmondville.
3. James was born in 1867 (the year of Confederation, and was therefore the first true Canadian Wallace child). He died in 1936 and is also buried in Seaforth.
4. John Wallace (my great grandfather) was born in 1869, and died in 1940. He is buried with his two wives, Nellie Dodson, and Mary Victoria Parsons, at McDowell Cemetery just east of Comber. John and Nellie bought a farm on the 4th Concession of Rochester Township halfway between Ruscomb and Woodslee. My Grandma and Grandpa Wallace took over the farm after John and Mary decided to move to town (Woodslee). This farm is the family farm of my childhood … Grandma lived there until the 1970s, when Aunt Cathy and Uncle Craig bought it and Grandma Wallace moved to Ruscomb.
5. William was born in 1871 and died in 1939. He is buried in St. George’s, Comber, along with his parents.
6. Mina (called Minnie) was born in 1872, died 1934, also buried in St. George’s, Comber
7. Alex, born 1878, died 1942, is buried in Egmondville.
8. Jennie, born in 1879, died in 1947 (?) buried at St. George’s (?) (Grandma wasn’t sure about this)
9. Adam was born in 1883 and died in the 1960s (he’s the only one of that generation who I remember meeting. He lived in Windsor)
10. Richard was born in 1885 and died at 8 weeks old.

My great grandfather, John Wallace, married Nellie Gertrude Dodson of Comber on December 29, 1897. Her mother was Eliza Jane Morris — the Morrises were among the earliest settlers in Comber. More about them in my posting about the Dodsons. A few years after Nellie’s tragic death of typhoid October 13, 1910), John married Mary Victoria Parsons (who grandma said was his housekeeper), formerly of Harlock Ontario. They married on July 17, 1912. John lived until November 3, 1940. Mary died on September 20, 1947.

John and Nellie had three children:

1. William Melville (my grandfather), who married Madeline Delaurier, the subject of this blog. He was born in 1899 and died in 1960. She was born in 1903 and passed away on November 24, 1994. As noted elsewhere on this blog, their children were Marion (Sheridan); Dorothy (Knight); Helen (Fenner); Shirley (Blackwell); and Catherine (Brown). The five girls produced 22 grandchildren, of which I am one.
2. Rosamond (married George Hill of Sundridge Ontario. They had one daughter, Pat (who married Don Borrowman and had two children, Lynn and Wayne)
3. Amy – married Claude Dafoe and had two daughters, Beverley and Karen. Beverley married Norval Rock and had four children — Rosemary, Tim, Sharon and Karen (twins). Karen married Dave Lennox and had three daughters. She married for a second time to Bob Schivas. (apologies to this branch of the family that I don’t have all your names and dates — if anybody can supply them, I’ll update this post)

I’ll be posting info on other branches of the Wallace family as I get around to them. Grandma has full trees for all of the branches of our Wallaces in Canada.

And by the way, check out Aunt Dorothy’s Clan Wallace Ontario pages … and she would be very happy if other members of our branch of the family were to join the Worldwide Clan Wallace. I just did …

And here’s a picture of Aunt Dorothy with her cousin Bev Rock (great aunt Amy Wallace Dafoe’s daughter) at the Fergus Highland Games.


Posted on November 20, 2011, in Essex County Families, Wallace Family and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Did you ever come across any McGee’s from Ireland that settled around Seaforth, Listowel or Blyth area ?

    • No, sorry .. I didn’t. There is a bit of a mention of the Wallaces of Seaforth but Grandma’s research mostly focussed on the Wallaces who came to Comber/Woodslee. She didn’t do much about the Wallaces that stayed in Tuckersmith Township. I’ll have another look to see it any of the Wallaces in Seaforth married McGees, but I don’t recall seeing the name.

  2. Heather Colautti

    Would like to let you know about an exhibit currently in the research stage at Windsor’s Community Museum. It is Windsor’s Community Museum is working on about the heritage and contributions of the Scottish community in Windsor and Essex County. Scheduled to open in October of 2013, topics covered in the exhibition would include the following; Immigration, early settlers stories, businesses, community groups, military involvement, religion, and family histories. Other areas may also be incorporated.
    I will also be including those families that despite having come to Windsor/Essex via Ireland, were in Scotland “originally” and who still feel connected to their Scottish heritage, such as your Wallace family.
    If you wish to hear more about the project or would like to be included please feel free to email.
    Thanks Heather

    • Thanks for letting me know, Heather. I am indeed very interested in the Scottish history of my family. I haven’t been able to track down the Wallaces before Ireland. My great great great Grandmother Jessie Jane McCartney, was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, but she met my great great great grandfather over here. So her birth is no clue to the Scottish side of the family that lived in Tipperary. (I would love to find out if there is a grain of truth to the story that they were banished to Canada because of an unfortunately incident involving contagious diseases and guns — my grandmother especially loved telling the “our family were renegades” type of stories. In her heart, I think she imagined that she was one herself!

      How long does the exhibit run? I don’t live in Windsor but am planning a visit. Another suggestion for a research project (if you haven’t done it already) — I would love to know more about early German immigration in Essex County. The Fenner side of the family lived in The German Settlement (now known as Ruscomb). There were also German UELs that came up from the States — we, like the other 6 families, came directly from Germany sometime around 1840. Part of my family story is trying to figure out what part of Germany we came from, and why. If you have any insights, I’d appreciate hearing!

      Thanks and you’re welcome

      • Heather Colautti

        The exhibit will run from the end of October 2013 through til August of 2014.
        Would it be possible to get a digital copy of the image of your mother and her sisters in their kilts for inclusion with your family story in the exhibit. Also if there is another image that you think would be a great addition to the story please feel free to send that along as well.
        I have passed along the idea of a German cultural exhibit to our curator. We plan several years in advance for our exhibits.
        Thanks for getting back to me.

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