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My ancestral connections to Canada are as follows:
- My father was born in Edmonton, Alberta while his father and uncle were stationed there with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II (back in the day when being born in a U.S. military hospital on foreign soil did not automatically qualify you for American citizenship). Dad became a U.S. citizen when he was 16. When I was a kid, I used to tease him that he could never become the President of the United States. I don't think that was ever a disappointment for him...! Dad also had many Canadian ancestors.
- On his father's side, Richard John WILKINSON, b. c. 1815 in Yorkshire, England, immigrated to Canada and lived in what is now Whitchurch, York Co., Ontario. His wife, Mary TERRY, a.k.a. Mary LAMOREAUX, may have been French-Canadian...or she may have been born in New Brunswick...or she may have been born to a Loyalist family from New Jersey. It's one of those vague family stories that I would love to focus on and get documented and clarified!
- Richard and Mary's son John WILKINSON married Mahala SAYERS, who was the daughter of Scots-Irish immigrants, John Henry SAYERS and Mary CAHOON. John SAYER's family came to Athol Township, Prince Edward Co. (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island), Ontario from Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland in the mid-1830s, in several trips. Mary CAHOON's father was Preston CAHOON, and our line dead-ends there. John and Mahala (SAYERS) WILKINSON immigrated around 1880 - 1881 to Musekgon County, Michigan along with many of her siblings, thereby missing both the 1880 U.S. Federal Census and the 1881 Canadian Census (they were sneaky like that!). Mahala was alive when her great-grandson Robert Lewis ROBBINS (my paternal grandfather) was born, and he had a few memories of her to share with me.
- On dad's mother's side, her paternal YORK and SWEERS ancestors took advantage of offers of homesteading land that were provided by the Canadian goverment during the early 19th century. We know that the SWEERS family emigrated to Chippewa Creek, Welland County, Ontario from Worcester, Washington County, Vermont in May 1809, and that the YORKs from Bath, Stueben County, New York were there around the same time. This became a problem for these American citizens when the War of 1812 broke out. Ancestor Daniel SWEARS, III, escaped across the Niagara River to join up with a New York regiment. Ancestor Jeremiah F. YORK (Daniel's future son-in-law) and his brother Stephen VanRensselaer YORK were pressed into the 3rd Regiment of the Lincoln Militia of the British army, but also managed to escape to Canadaigua, Cattaraugus County, New York to join Captain Justus P. Spencer's militia there. The SWEERS and YORK families eventually settled in the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, and later Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan.
- Grandma's paternal great-grandfather, Daniel J. MacARTHUR was born in Glengarry County, Ontario in 1827, a grandson of immigrants from Kenmore, Perthsire, Scotland. He emigrated to Montcalm County, Michigan in the mid-1840s. During the Civil War, he enlisted in Company I of Berdan's Regiment, U.S. Sharpshooters (Michigan), rising to the rank of sergeant. Taking ill within weeks of the close of the war, he returned home on leave, and apparently never reported back for duty, disqualifying him for a veteran's pension years later, although he made several applications.
- Grandma's maternal grandfather, Orlando BARBER, was born in Ontario in 1868, and the household is found in Amabel, Bruce County in the 1871 Canadian Census. The family emigrated to Lapeer County, Michigan around 1876. Orlando's father, James, was born "in England" in 1839. His death record gives no clues as to his parentage. Orlando's mother, Elizabeth A. "Betsey" COLE, was born in South Dorchester, Elgin County, Ontario to parents James COLE and Lavina WILLIS who were a first-generation Canadian (James' parents were from Vermont) and a direct immigrant from New York, respectively. It is likely they came to Canada for the same reasons the YORKs and SWEERs did.
- His great-great-grandmother, Rachel HUBBY, was born somewhere in Ontario in 1832 to John HUBBY from Scotland and Hannah JONES from New York.
- Henry LYTON was born as George TURK in Ottawa around 1841. He, like 10,000 other Canadian men, immigrated to the U.S. during the Civil War expressly to join the Union forces. He served from Iowa.