28 November 2015

The Day Sweet Daughter Won the Course

George Singleton, a pub owner in Liverpool in the mid to late 1800's, was a sporting man and he bred greyhounds and entered them in the Courses in the 1870's.

George Singleton was a member of the National Coursing Club. Once he got into the sport he had 6 or more greyhounds competing in a season, often 2 or 3 in the same Course. There was an entry fee that varied depending on the Course - about £3 - £6 each dog and the winner could take home anywhere between £25 and £60 in prizes, plus whatever he makes in side bets. Once they made their way through Course Meetings and Stakes to the Waterloo Cup the entry fee was more like £25 each and the winner took home £500.

Brindle and white female greyhound

Part of the Coursing Calendar for 1878 is The Little Crosby Meeting taking place February 6th, on the property of Colonel Blundell at Little Crosby Village outside Liverpool. The day is clear with a light breeze, reaching about 34°F and there is a huge attendance. George Singleton is one of the Stewards this day. George has entered the Crosby Hall Cup with his Sweet Daughter, bd w b (brindle and white bitch) greyhound, offspring of Sterling Boy (one of his sires) and Tormentor's Daughter. The entrance fee for each dog is £5 10s.  George's Sweet Daughter beat Mr Jones' Just in Time in the first round. In round II Sweet Daughter beat Mr O'Neile's Silvo to go on to the final round. In round III George's Sweet Daughter beat Mr Pierce's Peeler and won the Crosby Hall Cup, taking home the first prize purse of £26.

Liverpool Mercury 07 February 1878

George's greyhounds won many courses over the years, but I found no record of his dogs ever winning the ultimate Waterloo Cup.

Greyhound Courses were not like races on a track.  A Course was held in a field with a live hare.  Rather than shooting or poisoning the pesky animals which normally would happen, the hares were tolerated by the field owner and left to munch at his crops and grasses. The owner would even put out food for the hares during the cold winter months. The grassy field is surrounded by tall grass in which the hares have a chance to escape if not caught. To start the Course, the hare is given a head start, then the slipper lets loose a brace of greyhounds (2) who chase after the hare.  The dogs are tested and awarded points on their ability to run, overtake a hare, and turn, wrench or trip a hare, not so much aiming for capture. The judge follows at a set distance on horseback and counts the points.

George Singleton: born 27 April 1836 in Stalmine, Lancashire.
My 2x great grandfather, married to Elizabeth Carter.
Their daughter Martha E Singleton married Thomson Tait.

Related post:  Genealogy: Beyond the BMD - Gone to the Dogs

2 October 2015

The Day Andrew got the Good News!

April 5, 1878.  That is the day that Andrew got the good news.  He was granted a provisional patent for 6 months.

Andrew Smith Tait, my 2x great-grandfather, was born in Glasgow.  After his initial apprenticeship, and before the census of 1861 Andrew moved to Liverpool to learn everything there was to know about being a tailor. 

On the 23rd of March in 1878, with a light breeze in the air and cloudy skies, Andrew left his shop at 31 Islington Street and headed to the Patent office to submit his idea to make men's trousers fit better, and to incorporate a secret pocket!

The first paragraph reads: 

PROVISIONAL SPECIFICATION left by Andrew Tait at the Office of the Commissioners of Patents on the 23rd March 1878.


      My Invention relates to a novel construction of the sides of the waist of men's trowsers or pantaloons, whereby a secret or safety pocket is constructed on one or both sides of the waist of the said trowsers or pantaloons, and at the same time a great improvement is made in the fitting of the trowser by the "cramping" or gathering in being performed at the sides of the waist instead of at the back thereof.

The rest goes on to say how he makes the pocket and why it is useful.
A "provisional patent" is relatively cheap and only good for a short time (usually 6 months to a year).  With this he can mark his product "patent pending". It protects the idea of the inventor for a short time while he can get together the drawings and paperwork for the regular patent, which can cost 3 or more times as much.  
He was granted a provisional patent for 6 months on the 5th April 1878.

In 1893 the Tait's were living in Bath and Andrew's 2 sons, William and Andrew were running the tailoring business.  That year this advertisement was in every paper for miles around, and were all for "Tait's Patent Trousers"... so he must have applied for a regular patent? I have as yet found no documents for that.

Years later in the early to mid 1900's other tailors in the USA built on what Andrew started and applied for patents of their version of a secret pocket.

Andrew Smith Tait: b1838 in Glasgow to Alexander Falconer Tait and Janet Smith
my 2x great-grandfather

Son William Tait, b1874 in West Derby, Liverpool
Son Andrew Eli Walter Tait, b1879 in West Derby, Liverpool

Related Post:  Beyond the BMD: Whose Bright Idea Was That?

4 September 2015

The Day James Moved Shop

James Tait was a goldsmith in Edinburgh, with his shop "under the Tolbooth" on High Street.
On 24 May 1739 James placed an ad in the Caledonian Mercury newspaper stating he was moving his business to the next door on the north of the Parliament House.

Here is a map of the area, showing the Tolbooth, the Parliament House and the building in between:

From a bigger Town Plan of Edinburgh 1784:

The south end of the building between the Tolbooth and the Parliament House is home to the Goldsmith's Hall.

James' last apprentice (of 6 that I could find) was Robert Gordon, booked July 1731, so he would have come along to continue learning his craft. Robert would gain freedom from his apprenticeship 11 Sept 1741. James would still be an essay-master for other apprentices wanting to pass their apprenticeship.  Several of James' pieces are in museums in Scotland, England and New York.

James Tait (b 1679 in Edinburgh to John Tait and Helen Yorstoun)
My 6x great grandfather

26 July 2015

The Day Horace Got Stoned

Horace Melvin Porter grew up on a farm in Ulverton, South Durham, Quebec, the 6th of 11 children. His parents sold the farm c1900 and Horace moved to the city, living in the boarding house of Mrs Fields in Verdun. Horace worked as a motorman for the Montreal Street Railway Company for which he was paid 17½¢ per hour. He loved and was proud of his job.

Friday, February 6, 1903 promised to be a fair day after yesterday's snow storm. It was a chilly 18°F in the early hours when the Montreal Street Railway workers called a strike,  wanting better wages and working conditions... and the Union. As soon as word of the strike got out there was rioting in the streets, pelting officials with ice and snow, and the workers attacking any tram car daring to be out on the streets. 

Horace attempted to drive a tram out of the Cote Street barn later in the day, once the rioting calmed down. Word got around quickly and he was immediately assaulted with stones and bricks and left for dead.

The article with pretty much the same wording was in newspapers across Canada and the United States.  I searched, but not one paper seemed to have followed up on the fate of the motorman. 
Horace did not die that day.  The assault left him alive but a brick had hit him in the head altering his mental state. He was later transported to the Protestant Hospital for the Insane in Verdun, where he "lived" for the rest of his life. He was 26 years old.
My great grandmother, Mary Jane Porter (Horace's sister) lived in Verdun, and by this time their parents and most siblings had moved to the United States. Mary Jane went once a week to visit her brother at the hospital for the insane. She would bring him bananas, which he would eat peel and all. Often she took along my pre-school age mother, who was not allowed to go in the hospital.  She had to wait on a bench outside on the grounds.
It is thankful that the administration of this hospital were forward thinking and compassionate.  They realized that keeping able patients occupied meant little to no medications were necessary. Horace worked in the laundry.
In 1937 there was an interesting survey done of the Verdun Hospital for the Insane and it included general info about the staff, salaries, provisions for patients, conditions, etc.

On 4 March 1948 at age 71 Horace died in the Verdun Hospital for the Insane, where he spent the last 45 years.

Mary Jane refused burial at Mount Royal and had him brought home to Ulverton and buried with his parents, who were also brought home when they died in the US.

The Street Railway strike was soon settled, but erupted again in May of that year.

Horace Melvin Porter, b 1876 to John Porter and Susanna Johnston
The bother of my great grandmother, Granny King.

19 May 2015

The Day I Drank the Gin

In a nearby town, just a spit from the ocean, there is an elegant restaurant called "Butlers at the Mansion".  The restaurant is in what was c 1914 a stately home, in it's time visited by the likes of Bing Crosby, John Wayne and the King of Siam. We go there for our anniversary dinners.

The name reminds me of the days when my grandparents, Herbie and Sadie Mavor, went to Old Orchard Beach, Maine for their summer holidays.  Grampa would drive and they always took Granny's sister Stella with them. They would always get their same rooms at the "Butler House", a once beautiful old rooming house just up from the ocean and boardwalk. Grampa liked to do his own cooking, so they got a suite of rooms with a kitchen and a bedroom.


When I was 9 years old they took me with them.  I had a wonderful time being spoiled by my grandparents and great aunt.  Another girl my age was staying there with her grandparents too (in-laws of my grandmother's other sister Bessie), and we had fun playing in the ocean, eating hot caramel popcorn, and trying our hand at skee ball on the boardwalk. I collected all my tickets so I could get good prizes before leaving for home.

At the Butler House, summer 1959


Besides doing his own cooking, Grampa also liked to bring his own drinking water from home whenever he went anywhere. "Verdun has the best water" he would tell you. He would keep some in a bottle in the fridge. He also liked his gin.  Knowing nothing about booze I mistook the gin for water and poured myself a glass.  I was so thirsty I gulped down half of it before I realized this wasn't water!  I was at the sink spitting for a good half hour, then had some ginger ale and crackers to try and take the yucky taste away.  
I never could drink gin, or stand the smell!

After lunch Granny would read and have a nap, Aunt Stella would visit with friends, and Grampa would take me to the boardwalk to go on the rides, or play skee ball.  Then later all four of us would go for a swim in the ocean. 

It was a special time with my grandparents that I would always treasure.

Herbert James Mavor b1893
married 1919 to
Sarah Myrtle (Sadie) King, b1894
my enate grandparents.

Stella Pearl King b1900 (sister of Sadie)

14 May 2015

The Day Susanna and John Celebrated the Gold

2 Jan 1916

On January 2, 1916 Susanna and John Porter celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at Jefferson Meadows, New Hampshire. Susanna and John had moved to New Hampshire from Kirkdale, Quebec in 1902.  Attending the celebrations were 8 of their 11 children, along with 18 of their 19 grandchildren:

Mary Jane (Porter) King, daughter from Montreal
Richard Porter, son from Montreal
William John Porter (and wife), son from Dixville Notch, NH
Ernest George Porter (and wife), son from Dixville Notch, NH
Salome (Porter) Hepworth (and family), daughter from Kirkdale, Quebec
Pearl (Porter) Lowe (and children), daughter from Gorham, NH
Lilas (Porter) Keyser (and husband), daughter from Newport, VT
Cora Porter, daughter from Holderness, NH

A guest of honour was Sarah (Johnston) Placey, sister and bridesmaid of the bride and the only other person who had been at the wedding in 1866. A couple of close friends also attended, including Mrs. Stevens of Whitefield NH, formerly of Kirkdale and old friend of Susanna's.

The couple made so many friends in their 14 years in the Meadows, they all sent their wishes and said if John (age 75) wasn't so feeble, they would have another party for them the next day!

Gifts from the family included a lovely china dinner set decorated with a gold band, a Morris chair¹, and a purse of gold.  They also received many gold pieces from friends at the Meadows and in Canada.

Since January 2 was a Sunday the celebrations were subdued, unlike that of their wedding day 50 years ago.  Aunt Salome writes of what she heard tell about that day in 1866:

"After a beautiful afternoon ceremony at the Kirkdale Anglican Church, 20 carriages followed the wedding party to the home of the bride's parents, William and Mary Johnston. There a hearty dinner was served, followed by music and dancing until after 3 am!!"

It was a wonderful gathering of family and friends, and a chance for the siblings who lived far from each other to catch up on the news.

Susanna Johnston, b1846 to Mary Johnston and William Johnston
Married  1 January 1866 to
John Porter, b1840 to Margaret Manley and William Porter
My enate 2x great grandparents

¹ A Morris chair is a wooden chair with cushions, and is the precursor to the Lazyboy - the hinged back could be raised or lowered to several positions.    

3 May 2015

The Day Sarah got Fined.

"On Wednesday February 20th, 1884, Henry Crawford, painter of Totnes, Devon was summoned to the Totnes Guildhall (court and prison) by the Urban Sanitary Authority for keeping an unlicensed common lodging-house. The defendant's wife (Sarah) appeared and produced a medical certificate stating that the defendant was not in a fit state of health to appear. 

Totnes Guildhall
James Clark, Inspector of Nuisances, deposed to visit the defendant's house on High Street on 26th January, and in the kitchen saw four men of the travelling class. The room was used in common by the four. He had known for some time that travelers of the lower order were taken into the house. He spoke to the four men and they all said they had paid 4d (4 pence) each night for their bed there.  Two of them had slept there for three nights and the other two for one night.

High Street, Totnes
Mr Clark spoke to the defendant and his wife and Mrs Crawford said she did not consider she was keeping a common lodging-house by taking in that class of people. Mrs Crawford in defense said the people she took in were respectable middle class working people.

The Bench fined the defendant 10s, and 10s 6d costs, and advised Mrs Crawford to have the house registered as a common lodging-house.

Mrs Crawford said she should not do so, as she did not take in common lodgers."

-The Western Times, Thursday, February 21, 1884

Sarah Nichols (b 1824 to Samuel Nichols and Sarah Frost)
- the sister of my 2x Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Nichols.
Sarah Nichols married Henry Robert Crawford, 1846.
You will hear more about Sarah, she has a few stories to tell.

25 April 2015

The Day Granny King Turned 75

On Wednesday, October 7, 1942 Granny King celebrated her 75th birthday!

Around the table are the following people who gathered to honour her, with their relationship to Granny King:

Aunt Sal - Salome (Porter) Hepworth, younger sister
Mrs Lathem, friend
Jacqueline Gay, granddaughter
Honey (Audrey) Mavor, granddaughter (my Mom)
Nita Mavor, granddaughter
Granny King (Mary Jane), the birthday girl
Herbert Mavor, son-in-law, married to Sadie (my Grampa)
Bessie (Elizabeth King) Gay, daughter
Sadie (Sarah King) Mavor, daughter (my Granny)
Ivy (Stroudley) King, daughter-in-law, married to son Robert
A friend

Standing at the back:
Cecil Brooks (stepping out with daughter Stella)
Harry Gay, son-in-law, married to Bessie
Stella King, daughter

The party was at Granny King's ground floor cold flat at 434 Egan Avenue, Verdun, Quebec where she lived with her spinster daughter Stella. Aunt Salome was living in Red Deer, Alberta and made the trip east to help celebrate her sister's birthday. The other guests all lived close by in Verdun. Granny King's other siblings lived in New Hampshire, US since the early 1900's.

I see a plate of sandwiches and a birthday cake with candles on the table. The cake was perhaps bought at Langevin's Bakery, down the street. The family often bought baked goods there for special occasions. The table is set with Granny King's best china, and her silver sugar and creamer set are laid out, waiting for the coffee to be served. Granny King didn't allow liquor in the house, but Aunt Stella may have had a stash mixed and camouflaged in a ginger ale bottle, ready to sneak to anyone who wanted to imbibe.

After everyone had cake the men would have gone outside to smoke and chat, while the women caught up on family news. Everyone wanted to hear about Salome's children and life in Red Deer, Alberta. It would have been an early evening as most had to get up early to go to work the next day. Granny King was happy to have her loving family share this special day with her.

Mary Jane Porter (1867-1957)  age 26
my maternal great-grandmother, "Granny King"

Copyright © The Days of Their Lives
Division of Dianne at Home