Madeline’s Research – An Inventory

In this space, I’ll begin to make a list of the main categories of articles she wrote and collected.   It is general right now — as I start to make lists of what her books contain, I will be able to be more specific about what her archives contain.

Tweedsmuir Histories – Ontario Women’s Institutes. Madeline won provincial awards for her histories of Essex County which she began to write in the 1950s.

Memories ofLake Erie Shores – 1984 – Stories of Leamington Ontario from the early 1900s; stories by Earl Robson, a writer and Lake Erie sailor, whose stories were published by Madeline at the request of Earl’s sister Lena Robson Smith.

A History of Rochester Township – 1978 – written with the help of Frank Trepanier upon the 125th anniversary of the township’s founding.

Numerous family trees of Essex County founding families, especially from the Ruscomb/Woodslee area.

Scrapbooks and clippings about the towns and villages of Essex County from newspapers over the years.

  1. HI i would like to purchase a copy of the Memories of Lake Erie Shores
    My Family was some of the first settlers in the Essex/Kent area

    Enjoy your blog keep up the good work !

    • Hi Cam — thanks for the compliment … this blog is actually a lot of fun to do. And I am reminded that I need to do another Leamington article — the next one I’m planning is the first Leamington Bus.

      If you send me your postal address at — I’ll mail you a copy of Memories of Lake Erie Shores .. not sure how many more copies my aunt has, but I have an extra one I can send you. Instead of sending me money for it, send a donation to the Leamington and Mersea Historical Association at P.O. Box 59 Blytheswood, Ontario, Canada. No postal code on the website. Here’s their website:

      appreciate it if you would also send them a note telling them what the donation is for, and telling them about my website. My grandmother collected all this information because she wanted people to know about the people who built our county. So any help spreading the word is appreciated.

      Best wishes

  2. i would like to get a copy of the history of rochester twp. my mother grew up on concession 2 frances mullins. please advise. thanks bill

    • Hi Bill — they are out of print but I’ve transcribed it into a Word Document. So if you send me your email address, I’ll send you a copy. my address is Email me there.

      • Hi Victoria,

        I am also interested in obtaining a copy of this. Is it properly referenced with page numbers, etc. that can be used for referencing in a paper or bibliography?

        Thank you,


  3. shelley mcaneeley

    Is it possible to find the original owner of the brick home- owned by knister in old Ruscom station. It has a horse statue out front now. I lived there once when Barb and John Ayerst owned the house. I was told it was Knister’s house and thought they meant Dr. C.E Knister but wonder if it was his brothers house. Also the house plans were in the house, on leather and stated the architect New York that had designed the fine house.

    Shelley McAneeley M. ARchitecture.

    • Hi Shelley … such a grand house. I always wanted to live there. But it was empty for a long time and was scary too. So I had mixed feelings about living there.

      The original owner was a Knister, likely either Henry or John. When I was a little girl (in the early 60s before the Ayersts owned it), it was known as The Pembleton House. Ethel Pembleton, who was a Knister, used to live there before she was put in a home. She was John’s daughter, which is what makes me think John was the original owner. The house sat empty for a few years, I think it was rented out a few times and then bought by John and Barb.

      According to community legend, three Knister brothers all built similar houses and tried to outdo each other. The brother who built the tower house trumped all others. My dad says the third house is around Stoney Point, but I haven’t been able to find it. So maybe there were only two.

      My aunt is a friend of Barb Ayerst .. she was planning to give her a call anyway so she told me she’d ask Barb what she remembers about the house. What year(s) did you live there? I’d like to read any information you have .. it’s a grand house and the Knisters were a really interesting family.

      • Oh my goodness just say this information. I lived there from 1972 to 1974. Barb was a friend of the family. When she and John moved in our family helped clean up the house,which was clearly abandoned for a time. The basement was full of twigs and the house was in mild disrepair. The house had been closed off except for the kitchen and back area. Not sure where the sleeping happened for Ethel. Her old age checques were unwashed and shoved under the door to the dinning room and sitting room outdated of course. I was given the attic to tidy up. Clothes hung there and many items were up there. I just tidied, everything was kept there. The house was mostly furnished, over run by mice, but fine otherwise. Whe John and Barb moved out, I moved in for 2years. It was a demanding house with lots of work needing to be done even after John and Barb restored the house. Barb had a relative that was a restoration person who elegantly recreated what was there and neede to be repaired. The house was elegant to live in.

        It was scary in way and always felt consuming and somehow still occupied. Storm watching from the tower was magnificent. The tower was shuttered, but we opened them for the occasion. The grounds were lovely too with a long line of tree, and an orchard. The fields were worked by a neighbour.

        Barb had a dog, a Bouvier that was terrified of the house, he jumped from the back bedroom window and never entered the house upstairs again. We had our own experience of similar ilk. I ran a small ceramic. Us invests fro there for a year, which I moved into the city to gain more business.

        My daughter much later published a book of poems loosely based on John who was a writer/poet himself. I cam provide you with information on that if you like.

      • Thank you so much for your note. It gave me chills. And also shed some more light on a place that has fascinated me for years. And I have your daughter’s book of poems .. “Full Depth”, right? I did a piece for the CBC program Living Out Loud about Raymond Knister. His story haunts me to this day. I’d love to talk to you more about your memories of this remarkable house. The time I was in it as a little girl, I also sensed that there were still lingering spirits there.

  4. Would like to get a copy of the history of Rochester Twp. My Father grew up on Lot 19 Conc 2, Stan Mullins. Also any family tree info from Woodslee greatly appreciated!
    Thanks Chuck

  5. Hello,
    I was just reading through this website and found it very interesting. You mention that Renaud was mentioned in several of Madeline’s books. Which were they mentioned in? I am sure that one is the History of Rochester, from my research about my family.
    Thank you for your time

    • Hi Diane — thanks for reading, and thanks for the compliment. Grandma has a few books from the area … a history of St. Joachim, Ruscomb as well as some family trees. I’ll take another look and see where I found it ..

  6. Do you know if Madeleine did a Wilson family tree? The Wilsons farmed in Rochester starting in I think 1846 and were still in the area, including some in Chatham, in the early 1900s. I’m looking for information about William F. Wilson and his wife Mariem and their eight sons (especially Thomas and Augustus). Augustus was supposed to have been born in Ruscomb, Rochester.

    I would also be interested to read the history of Rochester County. I’d especially like to find old maps that show the locations of the farms.

    Thanks for you help, and it’s a nice blog.

    • Hi Gail .. I’m happy you found my blog, and I’m glad it’s useful. I’ll take a look to see what I can find. I”m pretty sure my aunt’s husband, Craig Brown, is a Wilson. His dad’s name was Wilson Brown, and his Aunt Elma Kennedy (great aunt, I believe) was a Wilson too. So based on that, his grandmother was probably a Wilson before marrying Mr. Brown. I’ll ask him about it. I remember seeing the Wilson farm on the census pretty close to the Fenner family farm, and if it’s the one I’m thinking of, my uncle’s brother lives on that farm. So I’m pretty sure the Wilsons of which you write are their branch of the family. If that’s the case, I’m sure they’ll be able to tell me a whole lot of stuff I can pass on.

      I’ll send you my transcription of Grandma’s History of Rochester township. I’ve wanted to do a map showing who owned all the farms in Ruscom … some of the farms are still in the same families. There is a historical atlas from 1880 … it only names the farms where people paid to be in the Atlas, so it’s not complete. But it gives enough information that between that, the census records and the families who are still in the area, it’s still possible to put that together.

      And if this helps, here are all the Wilsons who are buried in the Ruscom Cemetery:

      Wilson – Annie Augusta d. Oct 4, 1882 d/o ?llm & ?a

      Wilson – Alfred D. Feb 26, 1832 – Mar 13, 1918
      – Mary Dwyer Apr 27, 1837 – Aug 16, 1916 his wife
      – Frances W. Nov 27, 1862 – Apr 16, 1928
      – Elizabeth M. Leak Jan 5, 1865 – Dec 6, 1928 his wife
      – William F. Oct 1801 – Sept 1872
      – Miriam Feb 1804 – Feb 1886 his wife
      – Dr. G. A. Wilson D.D.S May 1869 – Dec 1907
      – Elma C. 1886 – 1971
      Kennedy- Robert 1881 – 1936 husband of Elma C.

      • And another clue .. I knew it was in there somewhere:

        Elizabeth Leak married Francis Wilson of Ruscom. Their two girls were Elma (married Robert Kennedy – no kids) and Winnie married Delbert Brown. That’s my uncle’s grandparents. They had two boys — Wilson (my uncle’s dad) and George (who was my grandparents’ next door neighbour – their grand daughter is also a friend of mine). Their daughter, Beulah, married Bruce Tuck.

        So, the rest of the Wilson family tree can be easily had … I just need to talk to my uncle (Wilson’s son) or my friend Linda (George’s grand daughter). Ruscomb’s still a very small place …

  7. Victoria – I am so glad to have found your blog today! It’s wonderful!!
    your probable cousin
    Mary Barrow

  8. Mary Lou Schaff

    I am a Hedrick descendant and my gg-grandparents Henry & Barbara Hedrick arrived in Rochester in 1835/36 from Germany. Their children married into the Zumstein, Knister, Dorntons, Bruner families. I have been researching the family tree for a number of years and just want to say how much i enjoy reading your newsletters as it gives me a good insight of the way of life they lived in those early years. I have also uncovered some interesting newspaper articles and if you can believe it, an advertisement on Doan’s kidney pills amazing cure as noted by Henry Hedrick Jr. I gained a lot of info from the “Commemorative biographical record of the county of Essex, Ontario : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families” published in 1905 by J H Beers.

    • Hi Mary Lou … I’m so glad you’ve found interesting bits of info here. It is tremendously rewarding to put together as much of a picture of our little village as I can find. Do you, perchance, have any idea what part of Germany the Hedricks came from? My theory is that all the German families who settled Ruscomb knew each other before emigrating. If I knew where some of the families came from, I might be able to test out that theory. And also find out where my great grandpa (Opa) Fenner came from. So far, the research shows that the Knisters were from Hesse Kassel. And since all the Ruscomb Germans were Protestant, it seems likely they were all from the North. Any hints appreciated. Thanks for reading!


    Hi Victoria: Below is an article found in the Essex County Library titled: Commemorative biographical record of the county of Essex, Ontario : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and many of the early settled families. Publication information Toronto, Ontario: J.H. Beers, 1905
    Pgs 321, 322, 323, 640, 641

    Footnote: I understand that by 3rd g-grandparents knew Henry Zumstein’s parents back in Germany (known as Prussen) and the story passed down was that they travelled with Scratch, (2) Wigle, Bruner, (2) Knister, Bottom, Miner, Black, (2) Brush, Simon families.

    “HEDRICK: Among the early settlers who cleared up the forests of Rochester Township, County of Essex, and converted them into (sp?) farms and comfortable homesteads, were many of German nationality, and no other country sent colonists who took higher rank as substantial citizens. The HEDRICK family was among the earliest to come to that section from the Fatherland, and they have ever been entitled to rank among the foremost in point of public spirit and enterprise.
    Henry HEDRICK, a native of Hessen-Cassel, Germany grew to manhood in the locality of his birth, and there learned the blacksmith trade, at which he was occupied while in the Fatherland. There he married Barbara BOST. Like many of his countrymen, Mr. HEDRICK concluded to try his fortune in the western world, and accordingly, in 1835 he set out from Germany with his wife and only child. After a nine weeks’ passage on a sailing vessel they reached New York and thence proceeded by canal to Buffalo, where they took a lake vessel for Detroit. From that port they came into the County of Essex, Ontario, making a location in Rochester Township, on a tract of 100 acres located on what is now the Middle Road. The region was then a wilderness, but by hard work Mr. HEDRICK succeeded in clearing his land and making a good farm out of unpromising material.
    He had a source of revenue in his trade, and he also engaged in repairing wagons, etc. and in the early period of the settlement of the township he often found work in Detroit, leaving his wife and family to look after the crops. Thus by thrift and good management he was enabled to make extensive improvements to his place, and he also bought a second tract of 100 acres, which he divided among his children. He was a man of ability and resource in many ways, being able to turn his hand to almost anything in the line of mechanics, for which he had positive genius, and his versatility in this respect helped him to surmount many of the difficulties to be overcome in the clearing and cultivating of a new farm. His character was honourable, and he was a good many, much respected for his temperate habits. In spite of hard work he lived to the advanced age of seventy four years, and his remains lie in the Rochester Cemetery. (Ruscom Cemetery). Mr. Hedrick’s religious connection was with the Methodist church, and in politics he was a Liberal. Mrs. Hedrick dies at the age of seventy-five. She shared the high esteem in which her husband was held wherever known, and was deservedly honored as a worthy Christian women. She is also buried in the Rochester cemetery.
    Six children blessed the union of Henry and Barbara (Bost) Hedrick, (i) Elizabeth, who is now the widow of John KNISTER; (ii) Catherine, who married Henry ZUMSTEIN; (iii) Conrad, deceased; (iv) John, who died at the age of thirty-three years; (v) *Rachel French, died unexpectantly on 07 Feb 1870, at the age of 16 years.

    • That’s fascinating. What is really great about the Biographical Record is that they filled in some details about what people did, and how they lived. What it shows is what people did for a living and the position they held in the community (I would assume that being included at all indicates some level of social standing. Interesting that some of my family lineages made it in the book and others didn’t .. the Fenners did not, except in the Irwin family tree where it is recorded that Agnes Irwin married Adam Fenner Jr. .. my great grandparents. That’s maybe because the Fenners are a small family compared to the others and so had a smaller impact.)

      If you do have any other information about any of the Ruscomb families, I really would love to know. Especially if I can get some more clues about where in Hesse Cassel those six families came from.

  10. thanks for creating a great site. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but its good to know people are sharing memories and research. my husbands family is deehan, buhler, and Donovan from Maidstone. his grandfather owned a carnival briefly in the late forties early fifties. the family is from Maidstone and I thought I might find any information about a carnival in the area. this is a brick wall for me. unfortunately I don’t even know the name of the carnival.

    • that would be a fun story to track down … I wonder what the carnival would have been like. There’s another story I found that referred to a band of gypsies that came into North Woodslee and camped on the banks of the Belle River … I”d like to know more about that too …

  11. interesting, my mother in law told me that there were gypsies that travelled with the carnival. Maybe they were the same people. Do you have this story in print. I have been trying to track down a 1949 or 1950 business directory for Windsor for information, but cant find this info online.

    • I only have a brief mention of the gypsies .. I’ll see if I can dig it out. I wonder if they were real gypsies or whether the local people were using the term loosely for a roving band of people who were not roma … I’m guessing it was probably the latter ….

  12. yes, I also would assume the latter to be true, but you never know. I would love to read even a brief mention if you can find it. I have been trying without much luck to gather any information I can. Some families are so hard to track, but I would love to provide my son with more than just mere numbers about his heritage.

  13. Hey Victoria…. I think that it would be great fun to meet a band of Gypsies, and especially those that have roots on the home farm! (I would like to meet one like Johnny Depp in Chocolat! ) Seriously now, to all of the wonderful Wallace Women, and especially our grandmother…….I am forever grateful for the passion, wisdom and strong genetics that we have inherited from our mother’s side of the family. Some of us have inherited some other interesting qualities as well!!!! Of course, there is much inherited from our father’s side of the family as well…..

  14. Great site. So many wonderful stories. I hope this site will continue.

  15. hello ,I came upon this website by a roudabout way.And was so delighted to see it.I was fortunate enough to meet Madeline Wallace in her home while doing Allison research.Hazel Robinson took my sister and I to meet Mrs.Wallace.She never hesitated one moment went right to a pile of note books and found an article she had copied down.I was amazed as she had quite a pile of notebooks.It was a wonderful visit.My grandfather Allison’s sister rmarried a Vetor.Through one of their sons I heard stories that Mary Simon told of family history.My mother didn’t seem to remember Mary Simon until one day looking through old photos I found a picture of her with my twin great Aunts.I was checking up om the Woodslee Women’s Institute when I found this . I’ll be checking in often.Thank you so much for keeping mrs.Wallace’s work alive.

    • And thank you for caring enough to send me this note, Joanne. As I read it, tears started welling up as I picture her in her chair with all her books around her. (I have a lot of those books now, and my aunt Dorothy has the rest of them. Such a wealth of information). She always said she did her research so that people who worked hard all their lives won’t be forgotten …

      And I’m wondering who Mary Simon was … three Simon brothers settled in Ruscomb. Between the three of them, they had a large family. Kimberley, one of the Simon great great great grand daughters was my first best friend and we are friends to this day. Do you know from which of the branches of the family Mary might have come from?

      If you have any articles you’d like to contribute to my blog, please do. It’s always been my hope that this will be a community effort. I miss our little villages … if we write about them, we’ll keep them alive.

      And thanks again for remembering my Grandma. She’d like that.

      • I have a Mary Simon in my tree. Adam Simon’s third child was Mary who married George Henry Allison. I assume this is probably the Mary Simon that Joanne is talking about since she would have been an Allison.
        I believe that Kimberley’s family is descended from Conrad, Adam’s second child, and my family comes from Christian, the fourth child.

  16. Hi Victoria, love your stories. I grew up in South Woodslee as well as my parents and my grandparents came from Belgium and settled there. There last name was Laroye. I do metal detecting and love finding old relics from days gone by. There is one place I would like to hunt on that is mentioned in your book and that is the area where George Sylvester on the Ruscom River had the 2 day picnic to raise money for the church. I have been researching but can not find where it is. I would like to get permission from some people who live on old homesteads in the area. We have to get the history alive and keep passing it along. Thank-you for doing that.

    Connie Laroye Vermeulen

  17. Hello – I’m coming to this webpage a little bit later than other correspondents but am very interested in the history of Essex County, Belle River, St. Joachim’s, St. Alphonse, Ruscomb etc. I am putting together a book for my 90 year-old brother-in-law who does not know anything about his French relatives from the area. The main name is LeFave but I’ve found it under Lafave, Lefevbre, Lefobur etc. I hope to get to the area some time this spring and wondered where I should start looking (library? archives? ) to access some of the family and community histories. Thanks for all your work on this!
    Pat Sanagan

  18. A great free site is for archive newspapers. I typed in LaFave and articles came up..

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