Sunday, August 10, 2008

John "Jack" Dawson: Obituary and Tombstone in Ontario, Canada

Posted Sunday, 10 Aug 2008, 5:00 am
The only time you're really in a hurry and don't have time to wait forever, the computer and Internet go crazy. I can't load any images. Failed three times now. In the meantime, I wonder how long my traveling companion can hold out; he's ready to GO. And by the way, we're traveling in HIS car. It's a long walk from Ontario to North Carolina. Let's try to upload just the simple text of the obituary.

Revised Monday, 11 Aug 2008, 10:00

Yesterday morning, before leaving Kitchener, Canada, I was able to successfully upload the text of John "Jack" Dawson's obituary to my blog, but I couldn't upload any images until now. So, let me finish and include a few images, starting with a picture of the Kitchener (Ontario, Canada) Public Library, at 85 Queen Street. On the second floor is the Grace Schmidt Room which houses the collections of the Waterloo-Wellington Regional Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. From a book of Tombstone Inscriptions of Mount View Cemetery, Galt, Ontario, by Norma Huber, Jan 1995, I found the inscriptions for John R. Dawson, but not for his sister, Mrs. Emma Watson, or her husband, Thomas Watson. However, only the birth and death dates, 1886-1950, were given.

Unfortunately, the library does not have any indexes for obituaries, but they do have microfilms or actual copies of newspapers for the area. Unless you want to go through every newspaper's obit columns for a whole year, you will have to have a specific death date. I cell-phoned (a nice modern convenience for genealogists) the Galt (Cambridge) Cemetery office, as Mount View is owned and maintained by the city council. Doris at the office, 519-623-1340, ext 4655, told me that John Dawson died 30 June 1950, at age 63 years [born ~1887]. She also gave me the phone number of Little and Son Funeral Home at 319-623-1290.

Next, I found John's obituary in the library's archived newspaper collection, the text of which follows; [words in brackets are mine]:

OBIT: Galt Evening Reporter, Monday, 3 Jul 1950, page 9: "John Russell Dawson"
"Funeral Service was conducted today from the T. Little and Son Funeral Home for the late Jack Dawson who passed away June 30 [1950] at Galt Hospital. Mr. Dawson came to Canada from Durham, England, 39 years ago and has been employed at the Goldi North Works since that time. He served in the First World War with the 111th Battalion and was three and a half years over seas. Surviving are his wife, Jessie Trusler, and two sons, Jack and Roy, and two grandchildren, Jeanette and Brenda Dawson. One brother lives in England [Thomas] and a brother [James] and sister [Sarah Rebecca Pooler-Sipes] in the U.S. Also, several nieces and nephews. He was an adherent of Wesley United Church and the service this afternoon was conducted by the Reverend M.C. Parr. Pall bearers were Wilfred Watson, Robert Caves, Andrew Kidd, William Kinsman, Frank Morris, and James Weepers. Interment was in Mount View Cemetery."

Notes on obituary: Thus, John, called Jack, had two sons and two grandchildren in 1950. Where are they now? I found Jack's wife, Jessie, in the book of tombstone inscriptions but her year of death was not given. She must have died after this 1950 obituary was printed. A survivor who was NOT mentioned is Jack's sister, Mrs. Alma Emma (Dawson) Watson, who supposedly moved to Galt with Jack in 1912. Wilfred Watson, mentioned here as a pallbearer, was probably a relative. I was ready to deduce that Alma Emma had died before 1950, but the 1955 obituary of another brother in America, James Dawson, stated that his sister Mrs. Emma Watson was surviving and residing in Hamilton, Ontario. Did brother Jack and sister Emma have a falling out since she was not mentioned in his obituary?

Incidentally, I wish I had re-read James Dawson's obiturary (do not confuse with John or Jack). It is no wonder I could not find sister Emma's Tombstone in a Galt cemetery, because she evidently moved to Hamiton, Ontario, by 1955. We drove right through Hamilton to reach Kitchner, but we didn't have time to stop there anyway.

Before leaving the library, I perused the Galt City directories which begin in 1965, fifteen years after Jack Dawson died. There were no matches. Also, I briefly skimmed a few history books, such as "Kitchener, An Illustrated History", by John England and K. McCaughlin. Kitchener was settled by German Mennonites from Pennsylvania and Germany and later became the destination of many German immigrants. The new Berlin as it was first named was known as Canada's "German Capital". Berlin changed its name to Kitchener about 1916 because of anti-German sentiment during WW I. I saw a vintage picture of a sculptured bust of Kaiser Wilhelm being retrieved from the city's Victoria Lake named after the British crown. The city was in obvious turmoil because of the mixed feelings of its former immigrants.

On Sunday morning, my friend drove me to Mount View cemetery and helped me find the tombstone of what I should call at this point- my investigation. I stayed behind as I wanted to take more pictures and tour Galt/Cambridge, while Ben drove off to do more of his personal business. This meant I would have to eventually take the bus back to Kitchener.

The cemetery was beautifully landscaped; a marker indicated that the trees were donated by the Galt Horticulture Society in 1973.

Below is the tombstone for John "Jack" Russell Dawson, 1886-1950, and his wife, Jessie G. Trusler, 1898-(blank). The Council Office for the Cemetery has no information on a death date for Jessie- only that she purchased the lot back in 1950. I need to query the local funeral home. The OGS, Waterloo Branch, book of tombstone inscriptions mentioned that Dawson was the recipient of the Veterans Cross, but I could not find any evidence of this award at the grave site. A plant of annual, yellow Marigolds graced the tombstone, so apparently there is family in attendance.

One of the pall bearers at Jack Dawson's funeral was Wilfred Watson. His tombstone is also at Mount View: Wilfred, "father", 1914-1976.

There were several grand-looking churches in the former city of Galt. The churches with their tall steeples straddle the Grand River which runs through the center of the city. The city was merged with the political districts of Preston and Hespeler about 1975 to form the city of Cambridge. Though you will not find the city of "Galt" on a modern map of Ontario, you will see several references to Galt around the city. Below is the Trinity Methodist Anglican Church in Cambridge, formerly Galt. Jack Dawson was an "adherent of the Wesley United Church" according to his obituary. Perhaps a reader will inform me how the church pictured here fits into the Methodist community of Cambrige.

Image: Trinity Anglican Methodist Church, Galt (Cambridge), Ontario Canada

I realize that this entry is agonizingly detailed for the casual reader. However, when someday I casually hand someone a book of my genealogy, I want them to have some idea of just what goes into the research behind the many names and dates of persons memorialized in the text. It's not just numbers.


Church Histories of Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada, before 1900 . Though not much help for the Dawson family who came to the area sometime after 1905, at least one of the churches listed at this web site was mentioned in this blog entry (Trinity Anglican).


Anonymous said...

519 621-4334 contact Ken Watson
You have a picture of my Dads grave stone are we related?
I would love to hear from you.

Ken Watson

Anonymous said...

I am Ken Watson brother and very much like any info you have on these lines as ours was lost.

Anonymous said...

any ifo on Wilfred Watson or Dawson (Alma or Emma) welcomed contact Raymond Watson please

Bob Kramp said...

Yes, I am related to John "Jack" Dawson. He is the son of Sarah Rebecca Russell and Thomas Dawson. Sarah was the younger sister of my great grandfather, Thomas Russell, of Holytown, Scotland, and Durham county, England. Thomas Russell and several of his brothers immigrated to Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, around 1881. Thomas Dawson, lost his first wife, Sarah Rebecca Russell, to an early death, but then remarried. He also came to Pennsylvania about 1905. However, two children by his first wife went to Canada. They were John "Jack" Dawson and Alma Emma Dawson- who married Thomas Watson. The latter couple must have had a son, Wilfred Dawson, whose tombstone I discovered last summmer when I took a trip to Kitchener, Ontario. From Thomas Dawson's obituary, I believe some of this Dawson family also lived in Hamilton, Ontario.
The Dawson family is very large. Thomas Dawson had 5 or 6 children from his first wife. His second wife had 3 daughters from a previous marriage. And then Thomas and his second wife had 4 of their own. It's no wonder that two children from Thomas' first marriage took off on their own for Ontario in early 20th century.

Passing Fancies said...

I suspect that the United Church was formerly a Methodist Church. I'm a bit foggy on the details but during the early part of the 1900's groups of Presbyterians and Methodists joined to form the United Church. You can often see in the architecture of the Church where its origins are.
Just for fun, and I'm a year late, Galt was predominantly Britsh Isles as was Hespler, while Preston was German.

Anonymous said...

the big house on the property of the church who lived there?

Bob Kramp said...

Hello Anonymous of 3 Nov 2010. As one looks at the front of the church, there seemed to be a large house on the left built of the same architecture and stone as the church. I assumed it was the Rector's house, but I did not enquire.

Anonymous said...

I will check this site periodically but I am the granddaughter of Jessie C. Trusler and the reason her death does not show on the DAWSON John R. tombstone is that she remarried (Alfred Dowdell, London, Ontario) and is buried with him. If anyone needs dates I can provide them.

Bob Kramp said...

In response to Anonymous who commented on 20 Dec 2011: Yes, I would like to have information on Jessie C. (Trusler) and her second husband. Recently, I met one of your cousins named Adelaide, nee. Reese (great granddaughter of Thomas Dawson and Sarah R. Russell) whose ancestors remained in England when the rest of the family emigrated to America in 1905. Sarah's oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was married to E. Willimas. Email me "bobbykramp(at)

Anonymous said...

I have attended the church on this web site and it is called Trinity Anglican church, NOT Trinity Anglican Methodist Church. I attended this church from 1971 till 2004 when my family moved to Windsor ON. I still have family that attends to this day. Everyone in my family was baptised, confirmed and married in this church. My grandfather even bought a pew and we sat in it until his death in early 2004.