Friday, September 10, 2010

The Journey of John Albert Berryman Wills, Part the Second: to a Copper Mine in Canada ......AND a genealogical journey of two cousins.

The first place we can find John and Anne Wills in North America is small township called Bolton,  directly north of Vermont and close to Lake Memprenagog in Québec, Canada.  In 2002, for a small fee,  a professional genealogist who researched English church records in Québec, provided me with the letter below..

The first child born to John and Anne was born in April 1868 and baptized in the Anglican Church in South Stukley, Québec in June 1868.  A few other things are interesting to note.   For one, John's occupation is described as a miner.  Secondly, the child is named after John's mother back in Cornwall, Elestra (there's many variations including Elysta, Lystra, Listra, Lesile and perhaps Etta) Berryman Ninnes.

In 1868, the countryside around Bolton township may have reminded John and Anne of back home in Cornwall and in England - Bolton was another bucolic little town with dirt roads and cottages.  

In September 2007, our cousin Ginger Rankin Atchinson and I traveled to Bolton and Stukley to check out whatever was the attraction to lure a miner in 1868.  On our trip we found out that in the the town there had been a copper mine, the Huntington Copper Mine.  It was once a  large operation primarily due to the US demand for copper during the Civil War.  The mine was owned by Lucius Seth Huntington.  Although the market for copper crashed a few years after the Civil War ended, the mine continued to operate until the mid 20th century.
What we saw was an area off the main thoroughfare where the Huntington Copper Mine operated that is now fenced for safety.

What these photos cannot show is  the copper green stones and gravel strewn along the sides of the highway in Bolton .  I will never forget how happy Ginger was to find these rocks.  She declared "John Albert" may have held this very rock" and "John Albert may have been right here".  It made the trip so worth it for Ginger.  

While Ginger and I were there , we looked for and found the Anglican Church in South Stukley which was in use in 1868 and found a beautiful stone church, St Matthews

The town now has ownership of the church. It the town office, one can obtain postcards of a painting of the church and its stained glass windows.  This was especially nice because we could not get inside the chirch to see it.

Later that day, Ginger and I checked into the Bolton Springs Spa which was operating off season and where we had a reservation for lodging for the night.  We were both excited about actually spending a night in Bolton, Québec, Canada! To sweeten the day, we discovered the small waterfall, Bolton's secret!

It was a little cool to lounge alongside the falls but clearly, it was an attraction with massage therapy, hot tubs, a sweat lodge and saunas.  Ginger and I were almost the only ones there and we enjoyed it...including dinner across the street at La Chez la Mere Pule.

Before and after our trip to Bolton, I  found that William Nottman, the famous Canadian photographer actually photographed the Huntington Copper Mine in 1867 exactly during the period when John Albert Berryman lived and worked there.  It is possible that one or more of Nottman's photograph's contain a image of John Albert Berryman Wills.   Nottman's photographs depict the realties adult physical labor as well as child labor in mines and the very difficult conditions families work in during the industrial revolution.  It was a tough life for workers...there is no other way to word it.
Nottman's images are saved in collections at the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montréal on the McGill University campus.  Many of Nottman's images are in the McCord Digital Collection of William Nottman and professional copies can be obtained through the McCord website.  Here's a few thumbnails of Nottman's Huntington Copper Mine and Bolton photos that can be found in the McCord Museum

All photos can be found in the McCord Museum  Digital Collection

Here's the complete sequence of stories about John Albert Berryman Wills and Anne Reed:

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