Shaw Shenanigans!

I have a scrapbook — originally a booklet called a “Souvenir of the Canadian Association of Stationary Engineers.” It is full of advertisements for such things as boilers, pulleys, ovens steamfitters’ equipment, etc. as well as photos of public building throughout Eastern Canada. Over these ads are pasted newspaper clippings about everything from football games and bicycle races to obituaries and inspirational stories. Mona told me the scrapbook was Nolie’s, but I think it is a generation older. Nothing in it is dated, but there are references to events that happened prior to and not long after Nolie’s birth. Perhaps is was Beatrice’s? I find it pretty remarkable that no one tossed it, and that it made it’s way from Beatrice, to Nolie, to Mona, to me.

I mentioned earlier that I thought being married to Charles Sylvanus Shaw might not be easy. The clippings below concern the exploits of Charlie Shaw and his buddies. There are references to “Norrie” and “C.N. Shaw” — I think this was Charles Norvell Shaw. He was the son of Charlie’s half-brother, thus Charlie’s nephew and Nolie’s cousin. And there were also mentions of a Sylvanus Shaw — possibly another son of Charlie’s half brother.

The Shaw boys appear to have been part of The Dresden Minstrels who performed at the Dresden Grand Opera House as well as at dinners at “Mr. H. Crowe’s Restaurant.”

mistrels 2

My mother once told me that her grandfather Charlie “got in trouble for being too friendly with Black people.” Given his participation in minstrel shows and the references to “darking up,” I am highly skeptical.

mistrels 1


It seems that even the Presbyterian Sabbath School experienced Charlie Shaw’s theatrical expertise:

minstrels 3





Charles Sylvanus Shaw


Charles Sylvanus Shaw was my great grandfather (Mona’s grandfather, Nolie’s father). He was born in Louisville, Ontario on September 5, 1866 — the only child of Sylvanus Shaw and his second wife, Hannah. (Sylvanus Shaw’s first wife was Mary Jane Hazlett. She and Sylvanus had two children: Joseph Marsden (born in 1843) Shaw Semira Ann (born in 1846).

Chaham 1860
A Glimpse of Life in Chatham, 1860

The extended Shaw family resided in Chatham, Ontario throughout the 1860s. The men were farmers, the women folk were seamstresses .

The 1871 Census of Canada, however, shows a change. Charlie’s father had become an innkeeper!


Ten years later, according to The 1881 Census of Canada, Sylvanus Shaw was still keeping a hotel in Chatham with his 52 year old wife Hannah and 18 year old Charlie.

I don’t know what happened to my great grandfather Charlie between 1881 and 1898, but on September 13, 1898, he married my great grandmother, Beatrice Quaintance. As you can see, he was twelve years older than his bride.

charliebeatrice marriage

Throughout the early 1990s, the young Shaw family was on the move, frequently changing residences, professions and religions. In 1901, Charlie and Beatrice and their baby daughter lived in Dresden.Charlie was painter – or maybe a printer? He was Presbyterian and Beatrice was LDS.

In 1911, Charlie, Beatrice and their three young children lived at 105 Lorne Avenue, Chatham (West Kent). And all five were identified as LDS.

lorne avenue
105 Lorne Avenue, Chatham, Ontario

By, 1920, the Shaws were living in Detroit, Michigan. Again, the Census document is difficult to read, but I think Charlie was a paper hanger. ( thinks he was a “rofer honger”  but I don’t think that is a thing, is it?) And interestingly, The 1920 United States Census didn’t ask about religion. The Shaw’s address in 1920 was 699 McDougall Street, in the heart of downtown Detroit. Charlie and Beatrice’s son, Frank was living with them, as was their younger daughter, Mrs. Gee (my grandmother, Nolie).

I think the Shaws only lived in Detroit for a couple of years, because by 1921, they were living at 417 Aylmer Avenue in Windsor, Ontario. This time around, Charlie was definitely a paperhanger. And in addition to his wife Beatrice, he lived with his son, Frank, and the young Gee family: J. Ronald, Nolie and baby Mona! Everyone except J. Ronald was described as Latter Day Saints — Ronnie was Church of England.


old charlie (2)
Charles Sylvanus Shaw






Beatrice Quaintance Shaw

Beatrice Quaintance Shaw was my great grandmother (Mona’s grandmother, Nolie’s mother). Although I could start significantly farther up the family tree, I have selected Beatrice for my first post for the simple reason that I think she and I look a lot alike. My mother Mona told me that Beatrice was a redhead — I have also occasionally been a redhead, so there ‘ya go.

Beatrice Quaintance was born in Kent Bridge, Ontario on August 5, 1877 (or perhaps 1876 or 1879 depending on which record you believe). She was the daughter of Margaret Pinkerton and Margaret’s second husband, James A. Quaintance. Beatrice grew up in Kent, Ontario with her older half-siblings: Robert, Mary Evangeline and Agnes Bentley Shaw, the children of Margaret Pinkerton and her first husband, Amos Bentley Shaw.

Poor Beatrice! Her mother died between 1881 and 1891 so Beatrice was somewhere between four and fourteen years of age when she lost her mother. Her father remarried in 1891 when Beatrice was fourteen and her half-siblings were in their 20’s. The marriage registration of James A. Quaintance and his second wife, Agnes Whitson, is the first place I have seen one of my ancestors identified as Mormon. He was described  as LDS — Agnes was Methodist.

I feel pretty certain that Agnes wasn’t much of a stepmother to young Beatrice, because in the same year as Agnes’ and James Quaintance’s marriage, poor Beatrice was farmed out as a domestic to a farming family, the Clydermans of Bothwell, Ontario. (She was identified as LDS.)

Beatrice Domestic

On September 13, 1898, Beatrice Quaintance married Charles Shaw — she was 22 and he was 33.  Charlie Shaw was the son of Hannah and Sylvanus Shaw and the cousin of Beatrice’s mother’s first husband, Amos Bentley Shaw.

three couples
Beatrice and Charles Shaw

Pictured above on the right are Charlie and Beatrice Shaw. I don’t know who the other people are, but the gentleman on Beatrice’s right looks, I think, a lot like Charlie. Charlie’s half-brother was a good bit older — perhaps this is one of his cousins? I have often wondered if this photo was taken on their wedding day. I have the cameo that Beatrice is wearing in this picture. I wore it on my wedding day and I’d like to think that she wore it on hers.

Beatrice and Charlie Shaw’s first child, Mary Beatrice, was born on September 21, 1899.

Beatrice, Charlie and baby
Beatrice Quaintance Shaw, her Daughter Mary Beatrice and Husband Charles S. Shaw

Interestingly, the 1901 Census of Canada notes that Beatrice was a Latter Day Saint while her husband Charlie and daughter Mary were Presbyterians. Even their Irish boarder, photographer Susie Cummings, was Presbyterian!


Beatrice and Charlie’s second child, my grandmother Manola May, was born on December 23, 1901. Little brother Frank, was born in  1904. Oh, that little girl on the right is UNMISTAKABLY my Grandmother Nolie!


I have a feeling that being married to Charlie Shaw wasn’t always easy. As I will describe in a future post, my great grandfather Charlie was very … lively? And highly … social? My mother once told me that Beatrice remained a Mormon to try to keep her husband “off the booze.”

My great grandmother, Beatrice Quaintance Shaw, died on January 24, 1932 at the age of 54 years, 5 months and 19 days. Her causes of death were endocarditis and myocarditis. Her death registration lists her home address as 39 Elm Avenue. That address doesn’t exist as such today, but I believe that the home of Beatrice and Charlie — where my great grandmother Beatrice Quaintance Shaw died — was located on or near the corner of  Elm Avenue and Riverside Drive West, directly across he Detroit River from Detroit.


my journey into the past …

I began researching my family tree more than ten years ago, only partly due to curiosity about my ancestors. I was also bored, and just happened across an advertisement for a free trial of So I signed up and fiddled around on the genealogy website for a few weeks — I was hooked. Before I knew it, I was ordering documents from the Ontario Genealogy Society; requesting photos on; following “Chatham-Kent Pictures of our Past” and “The East Renfrewshire Heritage Services” on Facebook; and sharing information and photos online with several newly discovered relatives. I should mention that my mother took part in an Elder Hostel (or something similar) program many years ago dealing with Ontario genealogy research, and passed on to me the publications she acquired there — very quaint by today’s standards — lists of farms, surnames, cemetery transcriptions — but this information most certainly helped me get started.

And then I took the DNA test. The results of that test were eye-opening and have enabled me to become acquainted with twigs and branches of my family tree previously unknown to me, and have inspired me to search out and maintain better contact with all my relatives.

We all think of many things we wish to be when we grow up, but I never thought I’d be a blogger, (For several years, I did actually think I would be a ballerina, but that’s another story.) Oh, of course I know I’m not really a blogger, and I’m sufficiently technologically challenged to find this blog stuff pretty difficult. (For example, I haven’t figured out how to distinguish between posts about my mother’s family and my father’s family other than just in the text.) But over the last several years of compiling what I refer to as my family narrative, I have found it increasingly frustrating to add newly discovered information, to share documents, to keep my relatives up to date, and to share information consistently. Maybe this format will be easier to manage — so far I know it will be fun!

So my plan is just to examine my tree’s twigs and branches, a few at a time, somewhat randomly. So let’s go!