Third Great-Uncle Edgar Douglas White: A World Away

There are others (cousins) who could probably give a more detailed and colorful account of Jennie’s oldest brother Edgar, but this is my own account, based on my own research.

Edgar Douglas White was born to Job R. and Elizabeth White on October 3, 1840 in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. He was christened on January 8, 1842 at Christ Church (the combined parishes of St. George & St. Patrick). (Interestingly, this church was founded in the 1780s by Loyalists and is still an active church to this day.) By 1846, the family lived in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Like his parents, Edgar left Nova Scotia in 1869; but unlike them, he did not go to the United States. Instead, he traveled to Little Akaroa, New Zealand. From there he made his way to the Coromandel area, where gold mining was booming. I don’t know how successful Edgar was in finding gold, but he did manage to find a wife in Thames, New Zealand. In 1872 he wed Frances Organ in the parsonage of St. George’s Church. The two went on to have a very large family:

  • William Edgar (born 1874)
  • Richard James (born September 25, 1875)
  • Frances Elizabeth (born November 1, 1877)
  • Annie Jane (born September 25, 1879)
  • Rose Mary (born 1881)
  • Flora Isobel (born November 23, 1882)
  • Alice Matilda (born 1884)
  • Edgar Douglas (born 1886)
  • Joseph Milton (born March 18, 1889)
  • Rachel Eleanor (born August 15, 1891)
  • twins James & unnamed (born and died March 10, 1895)
  • Gladys May (born January 7, 1898)

As Edgar’s family was growing, misfortune struck. On April 1, 1887, he had to file for bankruptcy. That must have been difficult with so many mouths to feed. From what I can tell, however, Edgar continued to be involved in the mining industry.

Edgar and his descendants did not forget their home folks. Correspondence was kept up with Elizabeth White, her granddaughter Bertha Colomy, and Bertha’s granddaughter Cherie Pleau. I’m sure other members of the family were written to as well. Today, I am blessed to be in contact with one of Edgar’s great-grandsons.

Third Great-Grandparents Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White

The following sketch is based on the best information that I have, which is quite limited. Some information is from online trees, some from family stories. It’s all I have, so that’s what we’ll be going on. If there are any cousins out there who have any documentation, it would be most welcome!

Job was born in 1816. Some trees list him as Joseph Job R. White, but I haven’t found any documents naming him as such. Not sure about who his parents were. At least once he was in the United States, he was a carpenter.

Elizabeth Phoebe White (yes, that’s her maiden name, from what I can tell) was born in 1817 in Tusket Lake, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Her parents, if several online trees and family stories are to be believed, were David White and Mary Hurlbert.

The 1900 US Census stated that a Elizabeth gave birth to 12 children, six of whom were living at that time. I can account for eight of them, so I can only assume that four died at a very young age, likely by 1861 (based on the number of children in the household at that Nova Scotia Census). Their children were:

  • Edgar Douglas, born October 3, 1840 in Shelburne, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia
  • William Faulkner, born 1843 in Nova Scotia
  • John David, born May 1845 in Shelburne, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia
  • Frances A., born circa 1846 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
  • Milton K. (later known as James M.), born March 30, 1849 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
  • Mary Roberts, born September 1851 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia (who I wrote of here)
  • Jennie (or Jane) E., born September 1856 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia (who I wrote of here)
  • Theodore W., born 1860 in Yarmouth, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia

Job and Elizabeth and at least some of their children immigrated to Massachusetts in the late 1860s (they are not present on the 1865 Massachusetts Census, but are present in the 1870 US Census). I suspect they may have come over in 1869 on the ship “Linda” to Boston (at least Milton and Theodore did; I still need to see a complete passenger list).

By the 1880 Census, Job and Elizabeth were living at 5 Clinton Street in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. As I noted here, their granddaughter Augusta Goodwin was living with them, along with their youngest son, Theodore.

In 1886, according to family legend, Theodore was very sickly (perhaps tuberculosis?), so Job and he traveled to Florida to see if the warmer climate could help him. Apparently the trip was helpful to Theodore, but Job died suddenly in Martin County, where he was buried. Theodore returned to Massachusetts sometime before 1890. There is another story, saying that the family (at least Job, Elizabeth & Theodore) moved to Florida at this time, but I can’t prove this either.

Rhodes Memorial Chapel.  Author's collection

Rhodes Memorial Chapel. Author’s collection

According to Lynn City Directories, Elizabeth lived with Theodore until his death in 1898, after which she lived with her widowed daughter, Mary Goodwin, until her own death on December 28, 1901. Elizabeth died of a cerebral hemmorage. Her funeral was held at Rhodes Memorial Chapel, which still stands (but is closed) at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn. Elizabeth was laid to rest in the Mayflower Path section of Pine Grove.

Elizabeth White's grave.  Author's collection

Elizabeth White’s grave. Author’s collection

Family Mystery: The Book in the Basement

I was fifteen years old in 1980 when my paternal grandfather died.  My family went up to Salem, MA, to stay with my grandmother a few days and take care of the proper arrangements.

While the grown-ups did their stuff, we kids liked to hang out in the basement.  We’d bang away on my grandfather’s piano or maybe look at some of my grandparents’ old books.  One day I was really bored and I perused each book one by one.  My grandmother’s old copy of “Little Women”, my aunt’s Annie Oakley books, and a slim dark blue volume without a title.  I pulled it out.  It was an old blue notebook with gold lettering on the front:  “Compositions.”


I opened it up and found old newspaper clippings carefully pasted on each page.  And what were the clippings?  Every chapter of “All Quiet on the Western Front.”  Although I was never crazy about the story, the fact that someone in my family put this together intrigued me.  I supposed it must have been my grandfather’s, so I decided to keep it.

front page

Like so many other family mysteries, I never asked questions about it.  My grandmother lived with us for years, and I never asked her whose it was, or how it came to be.  (And she would know; she had related extensive genealogical to me that I later discovered was all true.)  I never asked my dad about it; who knows?  It could have been his.  I never asked my aunt, who was such a bookworm and likely would have read it.  And now they’re all gone.

So now I’m left with the book.  Some of the center pages of the notebook were carefully cut out, but pages were not removed from the story; it must have been done before the story was pasted in.  Whoever cut out the story cut out whatever newspaper it came from and whatever date it was printed.  There is no writing anywhere in the notebook.

Yet I still want to know:  who did it belong to?  Is there any way I can figure that out?  A couple of ideas popped into my head:

  • when was that style of composition notebook made?
  • what newspaper might have published the story and when?  I could do search on the phrase before the one instance of “(continued…” that I found.

If I get the answers to these questions, I can narrow down whose notebook it was.  If it was Baltimore, Maryland, then my imaginary story of my great-grandfather George Pleau sitting down with my grandfather would be true.  If it was the Lynn/Boston, Massachusetts area, it’s a whole other story.  Maybe my great-grandfather Thomas F. Atwell, who fought in World War I (albeit in the Navy) put it together.  Maybe the story was published much later and it was my dad who assembled it.   We’ll see what the story will end up being.

Great-Great Uncle Edwin Scott Colomy

All records indicate that Edwin Scott Colomy was born to Frank Colomy and Jennie White on Oct 28, 1878 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Like his father Frank and grandfather George, there are times in Edwin’s life that finding a supporting record has been hard! However, we are able to find out much about him.

Like his progenitors, he worked as a shoemaker from 1898 to 1906. It was a profession he returned to from 1909 to 1911 and finally in 1914. I suppose that, living in Lynn, this was a path that many took.

Edwin married nineteen-year-old Mary Abbie Johnson in July 3, 1899, the ceremony performed by L.J. Thomas. At first, they lived at home with his mother Jennie and sister Bertha until 1901 (probably when Jennie married James Starbard), then a couple of years with his father Frank and grandmother Lucy at 52 Lynnfield Street. Finally in 1904 they settled in their own place at 43 Springvale Avenue.

Both Edwin and Mary were involved in Masonic organizations; Edwin at the Knights of Malta and Mary was a Mistress of Finance at the Paul Revere Temple. Later (between 1908 and 1919), Edwin was also involved at the Paul Revere lodge.

In 1906 so many changes came into Edwin’s life. He became a conductor on the Boston & Northern Railroad. And on April 4, 1906, Mary gave birth to their son, Roy Edwin Colomy. The joy of new parenthood was short-lived, however. It seems that Mary probably did not recover from childbirth as she should; she contracted metritis, an postpartum infection of the uterus, which led to septicemia. Back then, there were no antibiotics; there was no cure. Mary quickly succumbed to her illness on May 11, leaving Edwin and Roy behind. Mary was buried in her family’s plot in Pine Grove Cemetery (Spruce Avenue, Lot 447), with the inscription, “Mother of Roy E. Colomy” on her tombstone.

Of course it was unusual for a man to be raising a newborn alone. Mary’s parents, Charles Johnson and Vera Torrey, took Roy in and raised him until his grandmother’s death in 1915.

Meanwhile, Edwin worked as a salesman, a shoe cutter, and a salesman again. Although he moved briefly to nearby Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, it seems that he found time to spend with his son.

Edwin and Roy Colomy; I'm guessing this might be Red Rock in Lynn, MA.  Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Edwin and Roy Colomy; I’m guessing this might be Red Rock in Lynn, MA. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

In 1914 Edwin moved back to Lynn to his mother’s house. It seems that Edwin found love again! On April 17 he married widow Eleanor Mabel (Roach) Elwell, the ceremony performed by Arthur E. Harriman. They lived with Edwin’s mother Jennie till her 1915 death. I assume that after Vera (Torrey) Johnson’s death in April 1915, Roy moved into the home at 63 Autumn Street. I can only wonder about his youthful thoughts, having seen both grandmothers die within the same year.

It wasn’t long before the Colomy family moved just a few blocks away and began to rent at 24 Lafayette Park, which was to be Edwin’s home until 1927 (and has a lovely view of Goldfish Pond). On July 21, 1916, the family expanded as Mabel Eleanor was born.

1918 was the year that Edwin began his five-year stint as owner of a variety store at 59 Ocean Street (it doesn’t appear that this location is still standing). 1918 is also known as the year of the deadly influenza epidemic. I was just reading that it was bacterial pneumonia occurring as a result of the flu that lead to most of the deaths in 1918 – 1919. Eleanor had contracted pneumonia, and I wonder if it may have been part of this epidemic. Sadly, she passed away on December 11, 1918. She was buried two days later in Plot F, Lot 59 at Pine Grove Cemetery. Edwin obtained a two-person plot, and made sure “Wife of Edwin S. Colomy” was inscribed on her stone.

Eleanor Colomy's final resting place.  Author's collection.

Eleanor Colomy’s final resting place. Author’s collection.

At this time, Roy was twelve years old and his little sister Mabel was two. To me, this seemed like an arrangement that Edwin might be able to handle, as opposed to when Roy was born. If either child stayed somewhere else after Eleanor’s death, I don’t have any record of it. And perhaps his childless sister Bertha was able to watch the children as he worked.

Well, wouldn’t you know that good fortune smiled on Edwin again. No later than January 12, 1920, he met and married Pearl (whose maiden name I believe was Hutch). The family of four was together for a time; however, it seems that Roy joined the Navy for a period and eventually ended up in the Philadelphia area, where he met Marguerite Olive Fry. Based on their 1930 Census answers to “age at first marriage”, it seems that they got married in 1924. They went on to have eleven children, some of whom I believe are alive today. Roy and Marguerite stayed in the greater Philadelphia area, moving to southern New Jersey. Marguerite died in 1974 and Roy later in 1986. Both are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Newfield, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Edwin continued on with his involvement in the Masons, being part of Mt. Carmel Lodge from 1923 to 1933. He also went back to being a salesman in 1925. This makes me wonder if Edwin had an outgoing personality. Sometime between 1928 and 1930, Edwin, Pearl and Mabel moved to Winthrop, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Edwin and Pearl remained there for many years.

Shortly before 1940, Mabel married George Willis Archibald. They went on to have two children and eventually moved to Stuart, Martin County, Florida.

The Depression and World War II must have had an impact on Edwin’s usual salesman occupation, for in 1942 he worked for the Works Progress Administration. Of course, that job probably only lasted as long as the WPA did. Edwin eventually went back to sales, probably with the post-war boom.

As they got older and probably because they were so far away from both of his children, Edwin and Pearl moved to Stuart, Florida in mid-1951. They had only a couple of years to enjoy the sunny weather, for on January 8, 1953 Edwin died of coronary thrombosis. He was buried on January 14 at Fernhill Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Stuart, where his daughter Mabel was later buried in 1967.

Much more can probably be said about Edwin and his progeny, but at this point I enter into living memory and territory more familiar to my cousins than I.