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The Lapham Story

This is the story of the Lapham family. It was created entirely from documents found at the Ontario Archives, the Internet, the libraries in different towns, and from newspaper accounts etc.

As my grandmother Leah (Lapham) Oxford died six days after my Dad's birth in 1893, other then Thomas and Hannah Holbrook (Nee Lapham), we had very little contact with the Lapham family. My parents did, however, speak of a Hesse and this was Charles Lapham's daughter from his second marriage. When I initiated this project I was starting, so to speak, from scratch. I have, however, been able to weave a story around the information contained in the many documents I have reviewed. The Laphams, as it turns out, were real people who lived, loved and died and I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to them. Ladies and gentlemen, the Laphams.

As with the Oxford story I have included copies of my source documents. These are keyed to the story itself through the use of codes embedded in the text as shown below: Following each significant statement I make within the text I include a code (ie B). This Code identifies the Record or other document from which I gathered that data (Code B1, for instances refers to Birth record #1). These records are stored under the "Exhibits" section.
Codes: "B" Birth Records
"C" Census Records
"D" Death Records
"M" Marriage Records
"N" Newspaper articles etc.
“P” Maps.
“S” Ships Manifests
“F” Frome data

Lets see now, while reading the Oxford story you grabbed a coke (and coke has caffeine) you better have a hot water with this reading. Enjoy eh!

William Oxford
Midland, Ont. 1999

The Story Begins:

In my home I have an old Bible with an inscription on the inside cover which reads "Leah Lapham, March 13, 1863". I initially thought that this Bible belonged to my grandmother Leah (My father's mother). On checking the archives in Toronto, however, I find that Grandmother Leah was born no earlier than 1874 or maybe 75. This meant that the Bible must have belonged to an earlier "Leah". I had to dig deeper and the following are the results of my endless investigations to date.

Located in the lovely Cotswold district of England, in the county of Somerset, there is a town called Frome. It is here, within the “Parish of Frome”, one of the many parishes within the town, that my story begins. Sometime around 1822/24, two young people fell in love. They may have met by chance or possibly known each other since childhood, as Frome would not have been a large town. They were Samuel Lapham, born in Frome 1807 (C01) and Leah Sutton, born in Frome 1809 (C01). Leah, daughter of Thomas & Sarah Sutton was baptised on the 9th of April, 1809 at St John church, Frome. (B01A). She had an older brother, Charles, 1800, and a sister, Mary Ann, 1802. Samuel and Leah married on the 23rd of May, 1825 in “Parish Frome”,.at St. John the Baptist Church (M01). This young couple, Samuel & Leah, are my Great, Great Grand parents, my father’s maternal Great grand parents.

In 1826 Samuel & Leah gave birth to their first born, a son Charles (C01,N2). There were other siblings to follow. These are:
Thomas Francis, Born 1829
Sarah, Born 1831 (B14)
“Male” Lapham, Born abt. 1832. This child was apparently stillborn or died at birth. He did not get a name.(B15)
Tirzah (Thirza, Teresa) Born 31st August 1833 (No record)
Samuel, Born 1835 (B06)
Leah, Born 1837 (B02)
William Albert Born 1850 (B16)

It appears that Samuel & Leah did not have their first two children Charles & Thomas baptized until their third child, Sarah, was born. This took place on the 2nd of April, 1831 at St John the Baptist Church (B09).

Time goes on:
The first record I have of a Lapham residence in Frome is the 1841 census (C01). Here on Blunt Street Samuel and Leah Lapham lived with their family except for a daughter Sarah. Sarah was born about 1831 and may have been with a relative.. Over the next 30 years they relocated a number of times. For the 1851 census (C03, P5) they were on High Street, Saint Peters Parish. Sarah is now with the family but Charles, now about 26, has left to be on his own. Next, in 1861 (C05), they are at #18 high Street and only their 10-year-old son William Albert is still with them. I am not sure if this is the same home as 10 years earlier but is likely. In 1871 for the census (C09) they were living at Gould Ground in the “Ecclesiastical District of Holy Trinity”. They are alone now as their family have all left the nest. Throughout this period Samuel worked in a cloth factory. On the census records he is identified as a “wool slober”, “sloober, cloth factory” and slobber NCM. Not sure what this is, must look it up eh. (Note: the different spellings for “Sloober”).

My Great, Great Grandmother Leah, Samuel’s wife, died on the twenty-first of February 1880 at the “Union Workhouse”. She was 71 years of age. According to her death certificate the cause of her death was “Imbecility and old age (D07). I checked on the Internet and found that if you were so poor that the parish had to support you, the whole family could be sent to a “workhouse”. Here men, women & Children were separated. They were absolutely dreaded. It is surprising then that Leah was in a workhouse when she had a husband and family living in the same town. It could be that she suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s. A story of the Workhouse is provided at F03. Leah is buried in the Vallis Road Cemetery in Frome. There is a photo of the cemetery at (N7).

Seven years later, on the 8th of August, 1887 Great, Great Grand father Samuel Lapham died (D06). He was living with his daughter Leah Payne at the time (see Samuel’s family details below). He was 81 years old and his death resulted from bronchitis. Samuel too is buried in the Vallia Road cemetery, Frome.

A Summary of Samuel & Leah’s Children:

Charles, their first born in 1826 (C01, N2), was later to marry Emma Shepherd and immigrate to Canada
Charles & Emma were my father’s maternal grandparents. Their daughter Leah is my Dad’s mother,
our grandmother, There is some confusion about Charles’ life and details are provided below (see “Great Grandfather Charles”).
Thomas Francis, (born 1829) married Annie (Rose) White (born about 1830) (C08) on the 13th July, 1849
(M09). A month later, on the 13th of August 1849, their first child, Francis Thomas, was born (B47). On their marriage record they were both listed as “minors” It could be that they married as minors due to the pregnancy. It appears too that as this child was conceived out of wedlock the family did not accept him. Though they were married in 1849, for the 1851 census Thomas was still living with his parents, Samuel & Leah (C03) & Ann was living with her son Francis as lodgers in the home of Mary Snelgrove. By the 1861 census, however, Thomas and Ann were living in their own home with their family, except for son Francis (C08). As the years went by Thomas and Annie had 4 other children, Agnes, Mary Lucy, Albin and Samuel Joseph (C08,B45, B46). In 1861 the family were living at “Brandy Lane” in Frome (C08). In 1881 they were living at #16 Horton St, Frome (C14) and his occupation was “cloth weaver”. Thomas is mentioned in Charles’s obituary (N2).

Where young Francis lived after the 1851 census is a mystery. but for the 1861 (C06) census he was living with his Aunt Emma & Uncle Charles Lapham in London. It appears, however, that he moved back to his family at #22 Horton Street, Frome sometime in the 60’s and here met the “girl next door”, Sophia Bennett and a romance was born. Sophia’s parents lived at #21 Horton Street (C12). In 1868 young Francis Thomas married Sophia Bennett (M40). In 1871 Francis & Sophia were living in the Civil Parish of Blandford (C37) and his occupation is “Boot and Shoe Maker”. In 1881 Francis & Sophia were living at # 9 Horton St. in Frome and Sophia’s parents, John (age 78) & Elizabeth (76) Bennett are living with them. John & Elizabeth are recorded as “Boarders” and “Paupers” (C38). Sophia is the great Aunt of Jacquei Essex in Spain. I have been in contact with her often.
Samuel, born the 19 April, 1835 (B06) and a Leah, born 08 January, 1837 (B02) were both Christened the
same day at the Primitive Methodist Church in Frome, the 29th of June, 1837 (B03 & B07). Samuel died however, as a young man of 23 on the 13th of November, 1858 (D08). His death record gives “phthisis”, a progressive wasting disease, as the cause of death. Samuel was living with his parents, Samuel & Leah on High Street at the time and was working as a “Shoemaker”. The son Samuel is not mentioned, along with his other siblings, in Charles obituary dated 1899 (N2).

Leah, born on the 8th of January, 1837 (B02), married George Fredrick Payne at the Parish Church, Frome
Selwood. on the 21st of December 1856 (M04). Both were 19 years of age and employed as “weavers”. For the 1861 (C07) census George and Leah were living at # 53 Chinnach Buildings, Frome and in 1871 at #24 Horton (C11). For the 1881 census (C13) we find the family living at High Street #18 and Leah’s father Samuel is with them, her mother having passed away in 1880. This appears to be the same home where Leah’s parents, Samuel & Leah, lived in 1861. It was while living here that Samuel died in 1887 (D06). In 1891 they were on Wallbridge St. in Frome and here also in 1901. In 1901 a grandson, Fredrick Hepers was living with them.

Leah & George had five children (see family record # 32, C7, C11, & C13). Leah & George’s daughter Tirzah was a general servant in the 1881 census (C35) and a Nurse & housemaid (Domestic) (C36) for the 1891 census. Tirzah (Thirza, Tirza) may have been named after her aunt Tirzah, Samuel’s daughter. Leah Payne is mentioned in Charles’s obituary, one of his sisters (N2).
Sarah, born about 1831, married Samuel Wheeler on the 12th September, 1852 at the Zion Chapel, Frome
(M02). On their marriage record (M02) Samuel is a “Milkman” in Frome. He was not a milkman for long, however, for by 1861 (C20) they were living in Regent Square, London Middlesex, and was a police sergeant. By 1871 he was a “Police inspector” and they were living in Kensington, London (C66). Ten years later (1881, C67) he was a “Pensioner, Police Inspector” and living back in Frome. He was just 48 years of age and may have had a disability, which forced him to retire. At age 58, for the 1891 census (C68) he is still retired but living back in London, Hammersmith and is still there in the 1901 census (C69).

Sarah & Samuel raised 7 children, Oliver (1854), Amilia (1855), Alfred (1860), Samuel (1864), Annie (1867), Harry (1870) and Sarah (1871). Charles’s obituary (N2) refers to a sister Mrs S Whee’er. The name then could be Wheeler, not Whee’er..

Thirza (Tirzah), born about 1833, married Walter (Samuel) Sheppard on the 6th March, 1856 (M03). This family immigrated to New South Wales, Australia soon after the wedding. Here they raised 5 children, Sarah
(1858), Walter W (1860), Aubert H (1862), Albert E (1865), Emily T (1867) (N09). Of all the children, only Sarah Ann married. She married John Whitehead in 1883 and had 3 children (N09).Mrs Sheppard is mentioned in Charles’s obituary (N2). Note the different spellings for Tirzah’s name on the different records (N09)

William Albert, born 1850 (B15), apparently died early and is not mentioned in Charles’s obituary. For the 1871
census, however, he is living with his Aunt Sarah & Uncle Samuel Wheeler in London (C21).

Great Grandfather Charles:

Samuel & Leah's eldest son Charles initially followed in his fathers footsteps and at 15 was living at home and working as a “wool spinner” (C01). He later, however, developed a skill for gardening. With this skill he found employment with the Duke of Beauford at his "Clerewell" castle (N1). According to his obituary (N1) this was in Somersetshire. Charles was good at his trade and later became head gardener for the Duke (N1). I have checked this out in books and on the Internet and it seems that the name of the castle could have been "Clearwell Castle". Clearwell Castle, however, was, and is, located in Gloucestershire, a little to the north of Somersetshire. The confusion is understandable as, at the time of his death, his third wife Jane, far removed from his life in England, tried to remember what Charles had said.

It appears that in 1849 Charles married Lucy Emery (M05) in Frome, Somerset. The 1851 census record (C04) has Charles & Lucy living in Frome. It must have been sometime after this census that Charles took up gardening. As an employee, Charles may have lived on the castle grounds for a number of years.

Sometime before 1859, however, Lucy must have died though I do not have a death record for her. Following her death Charles moved to London (B04, B05). His parents, his sister, Leah (Jr) and brother Thomas, continued to live in Frome (C5 C8, N2).

Emma Shepherd, daughter of Henry & Mary Shepherd (C02), was born 17 May 1835 in “St. George, in the East” Middlesex, London, England and was Christened on the 28 Oct, 1838 (B08, C02), Some time after he moved to London, Charles met the lovely Emma and they were married, Charles’ second wife. To date, however, I cannot find the marriage record. Charles and Emma spent the next decade or so in London and here they gave birth to four sons, Samuel Henry (B04), Charles (B05) , William (B11) and Albert (B10) and one daughter, Hannah (B12). Life in London, however, was one of constant relocation and a different address was given for each of the births and indeed for the 1861 census (C06).
The chart below provides their residence for each event:
Township, Parish Registration
Date Event Address or Sub District District Borough
12 Jan, 1860 Birth Samuel #83 Phillips Rd , Kingsland Rd Haggerstone West Shoreditch
1861 Census #23 Gloucester Bldgs. ` St Mary Shoreditch Tower Hamlet
08 Aug, 1861 Birth Charles #7 Dunston St , Kingsland Rd. Haggerstone West Shoreditch
Birth William
1868 Birth Albert
09 Mar, 1869 Birth Hannah #4 Alfred Place Haggerstone East Shoreditch

(Note: To better understand these different addresses, see chart at end of “Story” & P01, P02, P03 for the structure of London).

A fine family, but it did not stop there for more children were to be born in Canada. It is interesting to note that Emma was Illiterate and signed a “X” on her son Charles’s birth certificate.

Charles’ employment
Though Charles started out first as a “wool weaver” (C01) and than gardener (N02), when he moved to London he left the gardening trade for a spell and was employed as a “Journeyman Ladies Shoemaker” (B04, B05). He was working as a shoemaker when his first two sons were born but was back at gardening when Hannah was born in 1869 (B12). For the 1861 census (C06), Charles & Emma are living in “St. George in the East”, London. With them are their son Samuel, a nephew Frank (son of Thomas Lapham, Charles’ brother) and a visitor Hannah Shepherd, likely Emma’s sister.

Off To Canada:
I'm not sure just what motivates people to pull up stakes from their ancestral home and emigrate to a new country, possibly jobs, health, or maybe adventure. In his book “The Friendly Dickens”, Norrie Epstein described London of the 1860, 70s. “It was a filthy, poor, smoggy, choleric, rat- infested city full of diseases and unemployment”. Whatever the reason, Charles decided to leave England and bring his family to Canada. The 1901 census records for sons Charles Jr. (C31) & Albert (C41) and his daughter Hannah Holbrook (C50) all say that this was 1870. However, Charles’ obituary (in 1899) states that he had been in Canada 31 years making it 1868. I have found a ships manifest, however, dated July 28th, 1869 listing a Charles Lapham but with a wife “Lucy”. Listed also are the 4 sons Samuel, Charles, William & Albert but no daughter Hannah. The boys are in the same order but each are 3 years younger. So I am still not sure just when they came to Canada and I do not believe this manifest to be the same family. What a coincidence however.

1869 to 1899:

On their arrival in Canada they first set up home in or near London Ontario (N2). About two years later they moved again, this time to Lambton County, and settled on Concession #11, lot #9, Enniskillen Township, near the village of Marthaville (P2, P3). Marthaville, though it is not on a map today, still exists. It is a small collection of homes, which proudly displays the community’s name along with the 50K speed limit signs on each end of town (P2, P3). Once in Marthaville Charles returned to his trade as "gardener" (C15) and florist (D4) and built a number of greenhouses (N1). He became well known in the area for his flowers and prize vegetables (N6) and a tour of his greenhouses “was a real treat” (N1).

As time went on Charles and Emma added to their family. In December 1870 Joseph was born, likely in or near London, Ont. In January 1873, Emma Jane and finally I believe in August 1874, my Grandmother Leah was brought into this world (C15). To date I have been unable to locate birth registrations or baptism records for these three children. It could be that Charles, though a prominent member in his community was not a churchgoer and did not have the children "done". I read a long history of the Methodist Church in Marthaville, which listed many active local people, but Lapham was not one of them. Nor apparently did he register their births with the Ontario government. This was not uncommon. Francis Oxford, for instance, did not register his son William's, (my Dad) birth until 1934 (B1 of the Oxford story).

Their last child Leah (my grandmother) was then born in Canada, even though the 1881 census (C15) records her birthplace as "England” in error. The census taker could have asked where the parents were born and, assuming that all were born in England, just used ditto marks for all the family. As to the day, month and year my best guess is August 1st, 1874. I was given the date of August 1st, 1875 by Doris Owens, Joseph's daughter, on a visit to Sarnia many years ago. At that time Doris provided birth and death dates for her father, Joseph and her Aunt Emma Jane and Leah. I suspect though that Leah’s birth may have been the wrong year. (see Exhibit N8 for my analysis of Leah's dates). Emma would have been 17 months old in August 1874 and Leah's birth would be possible. This assumption would make Leah 6 years and 8 months old at the time of the 1881 census and this agrees with that record. The next date I have for Leah is her marriage in 1891. This record gives her age as 18. According to my reasoning though she would only have been 17. Is Doris Owens correct and she was born in 1875 and Leah only 16 at her marriage or is the census record correct?

Three Leah’s

There are then, three Leah’s in my story. First my great great grandmother, Leah (Sutton) Lapham, wife of Samuel, born 1809 (M01,D07) and second, Leah (Lapham) Payne, Charles’ sister (B02), christened in England 1837. Finally my grandmother, Leah, born 1874 daughter of Charles and Emma, and wife of Francis Oxford. The Bible, then, must have belonged to my Great, Great Grandmother Leah, wife of Samuel and mother of Charles Sr. If the Bible had belonged to Charles’s sister, I’m sure she would have kept it. She was still living when Charles passed away in 1899 (N2). I like to believe that the Bible was given to Charles by his mother and brought to Canada with him as a gift. Somehow the Bible ended up with Hannah (Lapham) Holbrook who gave it to my Dad and my Dad to me.

Emma Passes Away:

Alas, on 13 Sept. 1876, six years after coming to Canada, Charles's wife Emma passed away (D1) and was buried from the Methodist Church in Wyoming. When her death was registered on 14 Oct. 1876 no cause was given. My Grandmother Leah could not have been more then 2 when her mother died. Note: Emma's death registration (D1) gives her occupation as "Spinstress" Looking this up in a very old dictionary it is someone who "spins". She was 41 when she died, giving her a birth date of 1835.
The 1881 census (C15) lists Charles Sr. and all of his children down through Leah (though “Leah” looks like “Leas” in the record due to the poor quality of the document). His wife Emma, having passed away in 1876, is not listed. This record agrees with the family members given to me in a letter from my dad’s cousin Russell Holbrook's (Hannah’s son N3), with two exceptions:
1st. His mother Hanna is listed as Annie in the census record.
2nd. Samuel (Charles and Emma’s son) is not in the letter having died as a young man (D2).(Note: see "conflicting information" section).

Charles & Jane:
About five years after Emma's death Charles was married, I believe, a third time to Jane Campble), (Campbell) on the 28th of July, 1881 in Wyoming (M07). Jane was the daughter of the late Col. Robert and Jane (Leach) Campbell (N2). Charles and his family were still living in Marthaville at the time and are listed in the 1881 Enniskillen census record. This too is the address given by Charles when in July 1881 he married Jane Campbell (M07). Further evidence is the news article (N9) dated 1878 that Charles won first prize at the Enniskillen Fall Fair in 1878 and N1 describes a tour of the Lapham greenhouses near Marthaville in 1879..
Charles’s obituary in 1899, however, states that he spent five years in Warwick Township. I believe he moved there after his marriage to Jane, his third wife, who was from Warwick Township (M07). It was here too, in Warwick Township in 1883, that their only child Maud Hessie, was born (B01). In later years Maud was called Hessey (C17) or Hesse (C19). Mother and Dad spoke often of Hessie. She too is the Hessie referred to in Russell's letter (N3).

Charles Dies:
After five years, about 1886 it appears Charles and Jane moved back to Marthaville and it was here on 31 March, 1899 that Charles passed away (D4, N2). He was 72 years, 8 months old and had been ill with Pneumonia for 3 days (D4, N2). This would give Charles a birth date of September 1826. In the Lambton Branch OGS library, located north end of Wyoming town, in their "Cemetery Transcriptions book, for Sarnia, city of, Page 146 I found: "Charles Lapham, M91, Enniskillen Twp. 29, 03-31-99, 013403, 99".
The detail record for this entry gives the same data as the Ont. Archives record except for age. The library record has his age as 82 in error. A notice also appeared in the “Petrolia Advertiser & Canadian Oil Journal” on Wednesday April 31, 1899 – “Died, in Enniskillen on Friday March 31, 1899, Charles Lapham, Florist, in his 73 year”.

Jane, however, did not have a good life after Charles passed away. She herself passed away on the 19th of March, 1915 (D5). Her death registration (D5) however, lists her "place of death" as the St. Thomas hospital for the insane, and her occupation as "insane person" (D5). No, this was my "step" great grandmother not my great grandmother. You will have to look further to determine why I act as I do.

A Summary of Charles and Emma’s children:

As time went on each of Charles's and Emma's children married and had families of their own.
Samuel Henry Lapham:

Samuel was born at Shoreditch (London) England on the “Twelfth Day of January, 1860 (B04). I do not find a marriage registration for Samuel but I have a death record (D2). He died July 18th, 1883 at 22 years of age from blood poisoning. He probably was not married. You will note that the 1881 census record (C15) lists Samuel as a "W", Widow and occupation as a 'Gardner". I am sure that these two pieces of data should have been on the previous line (and previous page) as they apply to his father Charles. Samual was just 19 in 1881 and I doubt, a widower.

Charles Lapham Jr.:

Charles Jr. (Charles & Emma’s son) was born in Shoreditch (London) England, on the “Eight day of August, 1861 (B05). On the 6th of February, 1888 (M15) Charles Jr married a lovely young lady, Jane Ellen Holbrook, who just happened to be a sister to Hanna's husband Thomas (M15 & M30). In the 1901 Census (C31) three children are listed, Harry, William and Emma. Their marriage is also noted in the "Sarnia Observer". In the Observer bound index dated 1886-1899 (at the Wyoming library) section B, marriages, page 30, I found "Charles Lapham & Ellen Holbrook, Feb. 10/88, page 8 (marriage registrations Sarnia 11-26-88, 005968"). I researched the paper and found (under marriages):
"By the Rev Dr. Sanderson, on the 6th, Mr Chas Lapham to Miss Ellen Holbrook, both of Sarnia.”
This date is the same as on the government record. In the same index I found a marriage announcement for: "Lapham, Emma J. and Wm. Morton, both of Sarnia, W/De 6/09" (M17). This is Charles's and Ellen's daughter. Note the "W" means "Weekly".

I do not have a death record for Charles. Jr., or his wife Ellen, but I did find their gravesites at the Lakeview cemetery in Sarnia (D15). Next to their grave is a grave "Edward Lapham, 1894-1956, Son". This would be their son William David Edwin (Edward), Family #11 in the Lapham family tree.

Their son William, in turn, married Ida Mae Parrott from Albenarle Twp. Bruce County (M16). They had a son Harold who died at one month (D16). Note too that on the “Rootsweb” record for the marriage (M16) it also states that they were divorced.

William M Lapham:

William is a mystery. The first record I have for William is his birth about 1866 (B11). Next he is listed on the 1881 census (C15) living with his father’s family. In 1899 when his father passed away, William is living in “Shallow Lake, Ont.” (N2), and for the 1901 census we find him living with his sister Emma (Coulter) in Hepworth. (C45). I do not have a record of him being married. His age and year of birth, however, is inconsistent based on the data provided in the various documents. These are::

Document Year of Birth Age
Birth (B12) About 1866
1881 Census (C15) 1866 15 Living with father Charles
1901 Census (C45) (1861) 40 Living with sister Emma Colter
Note: (calculated year)

Albert Edward Lapham:

Albert too was born in Shoreditch, England in 1868 (B10). Albert married Mary Ann Robinson, daughter of Joseph Robinson & Phoebe Harmer, on the 26th November 1888 (M25) in Canada. The Canadian 1901
census C41) for Albert and Mary shows they were blessed with two sons, Fredrick Edward and Charles Albert. For both the 1891 (C40) and 1901 (C41) census records they are living in Sarnia.

Hanna Lapham:

Hanna was the last child of Charles and Emma’s to be born in England (B12). She was born in 1869, a short time before the family immigrated to Canada. Hanna married Thomas Holbrook on the 15th September, 1889 (M30). They had four children, Ethel May, Charles Russell, Norman Joseph and Raymond (C50). Except for Charles Russell they all died as new-borns or very young (N3).

Joseph Lapham:

Joseph was the first to be born in Canada in 1870. Joseph married Eliza Jane Payne. Eliza had been married before and brought five children to the marriage, Daisy, Ivy, Lillian, George Walter and Violet (N4). Joseph and Eliza added to this family with Doris Mae and Gwendoline. I spoke to Doris once many years ago and she provided the information on her family. In 1911, Joseph, Eliza and their family were living in “Algoma West” (C60).

Emma Jane Lapham:

Emma moved to Hepworth where she met and married David Coulter in 1891 (M20). Here two sons were born, David Harry (moved to Flint Mich), and William (moved to Bradenton Fla.). Alas, David Sr. developed cancer and died on February 7th, 1901 (D21), just before the 1901 census was taken. Emma’s brother William is listed on the census (C45) however, and he may have been there to support Emma in her time of need.

Sometime later, Emma married a second time to George McKay. Emma passed away on May 30th, 1905 of “Pernicious Anaemia” (D20).

Leah Lapham:

Leah, ah Leah! She was, after all, my Grandmother, though she was not yet 18 when she died. I am not sure when and where Leah was born. I feel though she was born at the homestead near Marthaville as the family were still living there when sadly in 1876 Leah’s mother, Emma, passed away. Leah would have been just two years old. They were still in Marthaville for the 1881 census (C15). It was here too that Leah spent her younger years. I'm sure as a child she would romp and play with brother Joseph and sister Emma in
the fields around her home and among the aisles of her father's greenhouses. A little older and she would make friends with other young people in the area and likely have trips into town with them on a Saturday afternoon. She may have had a pet dog or cat, and horses would have been part of the family too. Cars were not popular for some time to come. When her mother Emma passed away it would fall to her older sister and brothers to fill this void.
In 1881, however, her father Charles remarried and moved to Warwick Township with his new bride. I am not sure if the children, ages 10, 7 & 6, moved there with him or not. I feel they must have though due to their young ages. Adjustment to a new mother, a stranger in the home, would be difficult for young Leah too, but again her siblings would help her. Sometime after the birth of their daughter Hessie in 1883, Charles and Jane moved back to Marthaville and were there for the 1891 census (C17). Only Charles, Jane and Hessie are listed on the census record. The other children, now 20, 17 and 16 respectively would likely be outside the family working, as labourer, or home domestic. It was customary for the young people to leave their parent’s home and find employment elsewhere. But now as a young lady Leah meets her young man, Francis, and they fall in love. Leah married Francis Oxford on the 20th of November, 1891 (M08) and they set up home in Petrolia. Though their marriage record (M08) gives Petrolia as Leah’s place of residence I cannot find her there in the 1891 census file. She was not living with her father, stepmother and half sister Hessie as I do have their Census record (C17). Leah must have been working out as a domestic and was missed for the census.

Here in their home in Petrolia on the 6th of April 1893, Francis and Leah they gave birth to a son, William David Oxford, my father (B1 of the Oxford story). Leah was not well, however, she had developed complications from the pregnancy and 6 days later, on the 12th of April she died of Peritonitis (infection in the
bowel) Septicemia (spread throughout the body). (D03). Her death was registered, however, as "Laura" Oxford

Note * The “Unmarked grave” information (R1b) was found at the Wyoming library in their “Cemetery Transcriptions” ” manual in the section ”Plot Owners and unmarked graves”, page #2. The purchase of the grave document by Frank Oxford. was found at the Petrolia Town office.(R1a)in error. The death registration (D03) states that Leah had been ill for 6 weeks. It was fortunate that she was able to give birth to son William before she passed away.

Leah was buried in the Hillsdale Cemetery at Petrolia. Francis purchased a lot there (#66,North ¼, section A) for which he paid $5.00 on the 8th of May, 1893 (R1). (Note: *)The lot is located in the oldest part of the cemetery. There is no marker for the grave and no listing in the cemetery records. The clerk at the Petrolia town office, Terry Bright, 519-882-2350, said, however, that at that time wooden markers would have been used and they would have long since deteriorated. She also said that, with the sudden death of Leah, she could have been buried at the time of death and the lot paid for at a later time when money was available. Her third comment was that it is common for cemetery records from that period to be missing or incomplete. She feels certain that Leah was buried on that site.

Upon Leah's death, Leah’s sister Hannah Holbrook must have taken young William. Just how long he stayed with Hannah I'm not sure, but later in 1896, when William's father was remarried to Elizabeth (Eliza) Cook, he apparently went back to live with his own family. The 1901 census for Frank and Elizabeth in Hepworth (C3 in the Oxford Story) lists William and Leah Jane. Leah Jane was Aunt Jean Patchell to us kids and she often said that Brother Bill raised her.

There must have been a strong bond between William and the Holbrook family, however, as Mom, Dad and we kids would visit them in Sarnia when we were young. I recall the last time we saw Great Aunt Hannah. Joyce & I took Mom & Dad up there for a visit (in my 1937 Ford ) before we were married. In later years after Dad had died and Mom was living in the Huron Lodge Senior home (Windsor), Russell Holbrook, Hannah's son would send her a monthly cheque for $25 as spending money. Russell never married and held a good job at Imperial Oil in Sarnia all his life.

This was our Leah. She had a short life, barely 18 years. She did, however, leave a legacy, the Oxford family. Wish I'd known her.

Owner/SourceWilliam Oxford
Date1999 - Midland, Ont.
Linked toFamily: Lapham/Sutton (F083)

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