Tracing a direct maternal lineage (mother’s mother’s mother …) has it’s own set of challenges, yet I’ve found it very rewarding and interesting. I have always been intrigued by the fact that the surnames for women change every generation. Of course this is because, in English and western cultures at least, females usually take on their father’s surnames at birth and then their husband’s name at marriage (with exceptions in cases of intermarriage or illegitimacies). So surnames aren’t designed to identify female lineages even though women are the ones to give life to their children and ensure the continuation of our species - a fairly significant contribution, I would say! This has never seemed right to me. Others have obviously felt the same way because sometimes the mother’s maiden surname (or that of another female relative) is sometimes inserted as a child's middle name. I have numerous examples of this in my family tree.
I have traced my direct maternal line back as far as my 4th-great-grandmother on the Isle of Wight in England. The surnames in this pedigree, starting with my mother, are ANDREW, RICHARDSON, COMPTON, COMPTON, JEFFERY, and RYDER. Yes, there are two COMPTON's is a row; the earlier one married a second cousin with the same surname. As part of a tribute to my direct maternal line, I have already written stories about my mother Mabel Marion ANDREW and her mother Eleanor Louise “Nell” RICHARDSON. It is now time to write about my great-grandmother Isabella Harriet COMPTON. Known as Ella, she was the oldest of nine children born to George COMPTON and his wife Eliza Pring COMPTON (also his second cousin). (Eliza’s middle name of Pring came from a relative on her mother’s side, although her mother’s maiden name was actually JEFFERY.)
FIVE COMPTON SISTERS, taken before 1903 in PEI Canada, from L to R:
STANDING IN BACK: Eleanor L COMPTON (1877- 1903), Anna Mary HASZARD nee COMPTON (1865-1946)
SITTING: Viola Catherine "Kate" COMPTON nee COMPTON (1863-1935), Isabella Harriet "Ella" RICHARDSON nee COMPTON (1859-1951)
KNEELING, BOTTOM RIGHT: Sarah "Louise" Cundall MACLENNAN MORRISON (nee COMPTON)
In 1881 the family is listed as living at Beech Point Prince County PEI, the name given to part of Lot 17 including St Eleanors. Ella’s age was mis-indexed as 27 rather than 21. Her eight siblings ranged in age from 19 to 1. So I don't doubt that Ella played a role in caring for her younger siblings.
We know that Ella became a nurse, although I have not yet found any record of her formal training. Anna, one of her sisters who was almost seven years younger, was an early graduate of the Nursing School of Prince Edward Island Hospital in Charlottetown, beginning her training in the original hospital and completing it in the new hospital on Kensington Road in 1898. Presumably Ella received similar training. Ella continued nursing, probably part time as needed, even after she married and had children. I have heard stories of Ella assisting in some very grizzly procedures including an amputation, which is why she didn’t want her daughters to go into nursing.
Ella participated in farming and gardening activities in addition to raising her children and nursing. In 1907 she won second prize for her Bradshaw plums at the Prince County Fall Exhibition. Family stories mention everyone pitching in with farm chores. Sydney also helped out with the cooking but relied on his family to help out on the farm when he worked at his nearby cheese factory. There was lots of work to keep everyone busy, but they also took time out to socialize and get involved in church and community activities.
“Western Personals … Mrs. Sydney Richardson, St. Eleanor's, and Mrs. William Andrew, North St. Eleanor's, spent a few pleasant days with friends and relatives at Port Hill.-V”
Mrs. William ANDREW was Ella’s first cousin whose maiden name was Harriet Washbourne COMPTON and whose son Harry ANDREW was destined to marry Ella's daughter Nell RICHARDSON. Port Hill was another community on the north coast of Prince County PEI to the north west of St Eleanors.
Later in 1928, I found another short notice published in the Charlottetown Guardian (Monday 5 Nov 1928, page 8, column 4):
“Personals. Mrs. Sydney Richardson of St. Eleanors, has returned home this week from Seattle, Wash., where she had spent an enjoyable three months visit with her two sons who reside there.”
The two sons were Mel and George, both working in mattress manufacturing. I have a few family photos from this 1928 trip, so I was glad to learn the approximate dates and duration of Ella's once-in-a-lifetime visit to the west coast. While there, Ella would have met Mel’s three children for the first time, just missing the birth of their fourth child later that November. Her son George had married the previous summer in Spokane and did not have any children yet. The trip included swimming and camping at a nearby lake, and visiting old growth forests with enormous, towering trees. I'm sure Ella took home many wonderful memories of her growing family and her trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Her daughter Nell, the last of their children still living in PEI who had stayed behind to help her father care for Ella, finally moved west to Vancouver Island in 1950 to join her husband. Nell arranged for other Compton relatives to care for her ailing her parents. Ella's granddaughter Harriet CLARK (nee ANDREW) was her only descendant left on the island.
The following year on 16 Mar 1951, Ella passed away at the age of 92, followed soon after by Sydney, her husband of 65 years. They are buried together in the St Johns Anglican Cemetery in St Eleanors PEI.
"52 Ancestors" is a reference to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge I am participating in.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.