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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

McPhersons of Nova Scotia

Although I have touched on this family name before, I’d like to revisit it. Over the course of time, more names and more information has come to light and it may help someone looking into the Nova Scotia McPhersons. It might also generate some feed back which will enhance my research, as well.

The earliest Mcpherson I can find in my family tree is Donald. I have found that many of the early records have been lost due to the ravages of time and the elements, so it has been a struggle. From the death certificate of my gt. gt. grandmother, Sarah McPherson Chambers, I was able to learn that her father was named Donald. As luck would have it, the one reporting her death did not know her Sarah’s mother’s name. So with the help of my sister and some of the neat answers she got to her letters of inquiry, I found that Sarah’s mother was Susan Hingley. It appears that Sarah might have been one of the first two or three children born to Susan Hingley and Donald McPherson. They lived in a rather remote area of Colchester Co., Nova Scotia at the mouth of the French and Waugh Rivers, in Tatamagouche, a Mi’kmaq term.

From the information that has been gathered, Donald was a farmer who was born in Nova Scotia around 1801. He married Susan Hingley sometime before or around 1830. As far as can be determined they had a family of at least eight.  Sarah, my gt. gt. grandmother might be the eldest. Some of my research points to her having a brother, Hugh, born a year after her.
Family Group Sheet for Donald McPherson
Husband: Donald (Daniel) McPherson
Birth: 1801 in Pictou, NS
Death: Aft. 1881 in Waugh's River, Colchester Co., NS
Father: Unknown McPherson
Wife: Susan Hingley
1F        Name: Sarah McPherson
            Birth: 22 Dec 1831 in NS
            Marriage: 1852 in Point Brule, NS
            Death: 20 Aug 1913 in Westfield, NJ
            Burial: 22 Aug 1913 in Fairview Cem., Westfield, NJ
            Spouse: James C. Chambers

2M       Name: Hugh McPherson
            Birth: Jan 1832 in Nova Scotia
            Death: 15 Mar 1917 in Sandville, NS
            Spouse: Amelia Hoeg

3M       Name: Alexander McPherson
            Birth: 01 Jan 1834
            Marriage: 14 Oct 1857
            Death: 25 Jul 1911 in Clinton, MA
            Spouse: Dorcas Seaman

4F        Name: Annie McPherson
            Birth: Abt. 1838

5F        Name: Nancy McPherson
            Birth: 10 Nov 1840
            Death: 30 Jul 1917
            Spouse: James McPherson

6F        Name: Hannah McPherson
            Birth: 19 Oct 1846 in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada; Twin
            Burial: 1926 in West Sackville, NB
            Death: 24 Aug 1926 in West Sackville, NB
            Spouse: Roderick McLeod

7F        Name: Margaret McPherson
            Birth: 19 Oct 1846 in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada; Twin
            Marriage: 1865
            Death: 19 Jul 1930
            Spouse: William Eagan

8 M      Name: William Roderick McPherson
            Birth: 1849 in Sand Point, NS
            Marriage: 30 Jan 1868 in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada
            Death: Aft. 1872
            Spouse: Lilly Jane Tattrie

After some serious confusion over a dozen or more people named Donald McPherson, it cleared itself up with the 1881 Canadian census, where he was listed as Daniel. The people of the Maritime Provinces seem to use their middle names instead of their given names except for legal documents where they used their given names. When a census taker comes along and a head of house isn’t home, the person who gave the info gave the commonly used middle name. A research tip to self – always research both names if they are known.

1F      As indicated, Sarah McPherson Chambers didn’t stay in NS. They went to Wallace Bridge, NS where James was a mariner/ship builder. Their first son, my gt. grandfather, was born there. They moved to Dorchester NB where there were three ship yards. James worked for Hickman’s for about 30 years. Then they moved to Bath ME where the iron ships were being built. The sailing ships were being replaced by steamships. Their youngest daughter married and went to NJ to live. They soon followed and remained there until they both died, in their 80’s about 6 weeks apart. James and Sarah Chambers are buried in the Fairview Cem., in Westfield, NJ. Supposedly she had 13 children, but so far only eight names have been discovered. “The Westfield Leader” on Aug. 27, 1913 reported Sarah's death. She had been ill for two years. It says she was 82 and a native of NS. Their children were: All Chambers surname - Alexander Scott, Emma Jane (Hicks), Nancy Lavinia (Vincent), John, William, James, George, Ella May (Tavenor). Married names in ( ).

2M     Hugh McPherson is seen in the 1871 Canadian Census in Waugh’s River, NS with his wife Amelia (Hoeg) and his son Alexander. In the 1881 census for the same place he is shown with an additional 7 children. In 1891, his son Silas is still living in the household. In 1911, Hugh is living with his son Neil and his wife Lillian (Tattrie) and their 5 children. Hugh’s wife, Amelia is also listed. Their children were: All McPherson surname -  Alexander Scott, Susan, Annie (Mattatall), Neil, Daniel, Sarah, Thomas, Emma, William, Katie, Silas. I’ve been unable to find much more information about the children in this family. The possibility is that they immigrated to the States. This family is still a work in progress.

3M     Alexander McPherson moved to Clinton, MA and appears in the USA Fed census of 1880 living there with his wife Dorcas (Seaman), 4 children and a 16 year old niece, another Sarah McPherson. This Sarah is the right age to be the daughter of Hugh, mentioned above. He is listed as a carpenter. Two of his children and his niece are recorded as being employed at a carpet mill. His eldest child, James Chambers McPherson, has moved to Asheville, NC with his wife Emma (Trafford) and son, Jamie. James C. is listed as a Plumber/gas fitter. The children of Alexander and Dorcas were: All McPherson surname – James C., Susan, Daniel, Sarah, Emma, William, Lizzie Jane aka Jennie (McCracken). Susan apparently never married and was the informant on her father’s death certificate, Sarah died at the age of 3. There is also a birth record for Emma the same year as Sarah. I can find no further records on Emma but there is a death record for Sarah. Without evidence I can’t say they are the same person. However, this may be the use of a middle name rather than the given name. The other possibility is that they are twins. Daniel married and lived in Lynn, MA. He was a blacksmith for the railroad. There are no children listed for them. William stayed in the Worcester, MA area and, with his son, owned a fire Insurance business. Lizzie Jane or Jennie married Alpha MCracken, who was a fireman and they had 5 children.

4F      Annie McPherson is an unknown and may very well belong to a different Donald McPherson, of which there were many. She is still being researched in an effort to positively include her or eliminate her.

5F      Nancy McPherson has a birth year of 1840 and a marriage date of 1864 to James McPherson, a cousin, son of Neal and Margaret Hingley McPherson. According to all the census records found, all of her children were born in Nova Scotia. They were: Alexander, Mary, John (Mary and John were twins), Millie, Sidney, Stewart (Sidney and Stewart were twins), Daniel and Matthew. The family immigrated in 1881 to Bath ME where they remained. James was a carpenter, most likely associated with the ship building industry there. Their eldest son, Alexander, died shortly after they arrived in Bath ME at the age of 15. Their eldest daughter, Mary, never married and lived with a brother in the 1920’s. John stayed in Bath and worked at a foundry. Millie was married, divorced and back living with her parents by 1900. Sidney also stayed in Bath and also worked in a foundry.  Stewart was married and divorced by 1914. Daniel became a brick wall. There seems to be no record of him after arriving in Bath, ME. He doesn’t appear on any census as Daniel or by his middle name Herbert, nor do I find any death record. The last child was Matthew, an iron worker, who married and stayed in  Bath ME. Nancy died in 1917.

6F      Hannah McPherson was born in 1846 and was an identical twin to her sister Margaret. She married Roderic McLeod before 1872 and they had 5 sons. They lived in West Sackville, NB for most of their married life. Their children were: All surnames McLeod: William, Alexander, John, Zabud and Chester.  William was a blacksmith in a forging plant in Sackville, NB, later moving to New Glasgow NS. Alexander went to Vancour, BC where he died in 1950. I could only find the birth info on John and nothing further. Zabud married, had three children and died in 1935 in Sackville, NB. Chester, whose name is really Hazen Chester, married, had three children and died in 1967 in Sackville. Hannah died in 1926 and is buried in West Sackville, NB.

7F      Margaret McPherson, Hannah’s twin, married William Eagan in 1864 in Sackville, NB. They had 4 sons and 2 daughters, all born in NB. In 1892 they were in Bath ME, when one of their daughters married. Sometime during the early 1900’s they resettled in Brockton, MA. All of the children married and settled in the Brockton area, one of them in Needham, MA. According to a news article in my gt. grandmother’s book, the twin sisters hadn’t seen each other for twenty years and a reunion took place at their sister Nancy’s in Bath ME, sometime around 1910. The article said that the two so closely resembled each other that even people who knew them had a hard time telling them apart. Margaret died in 1930 and is buried in Brockton MA.

8M     William Roderic McPherson born in 1849, the youngest child of Donald and Susan. He married Lillian Jane Tattrie in 1868. They had three sons: Roderic, George and John Robert. William died sometime before 1881 when his wife and sons are recorded living with Donald (Daniel) and Susan McPherson at Waugh’s River in NS. I didn’t find a death record for him which leads me to believe he may have been lost at sea. My gt. grandfather was lost at sea and there is no death record listed for him either. Lilly remarried in 1888 to Samuel Buckler who was the son of William and Grizella McBurnie Buckler. Roderic moved to Boston and married in 1894. George was still living in Tatamagouche in 1934 when he was the informant on his mother’s death certificate.

Everyone of Donald’s children, except William, had a son named Alexander Scott. This would seem to indicate that someone of that name held some prominence within the family. For the time being, I am going to use this name as a theory that Donald’s father, the immigrant from Scotland, was named Alexander Scott. Perhaps that will open a few doors to further research and possibly lead to the area of Scotland from whence they came. 

                                      By Jvienneau at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5,                                                     

The Westfield Leader, Aug. 27, 1913

Federal Census records 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

Canadian Census Records 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901

Bath ME, Vital Statistics

Colchester Co. Nova Scotia, Vital Staistics

Automated genealogy

Naturalization Records

Draft Registrations

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