March 6, 2013

WW1 Soldier's Letters Found in Attic of Home

WW 1 Soldier's Letters Found in Attic of Home
Yesterday I read a CBC news story about a treasure trove of letters and photos from WW1 found in an attic. A young couple opened the trap door in the ceiling of their home to look for storage space and discovered a box full of letters written by a soldier in the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) from the front lines.

The only clues given in the news story were that the soldier's name was N. E. Waring and the person he was writing to was Hilda McLeod. A short video with the story clearly shows Hilda's address as 126 Hampton Ave, Toronto Ontario. The couple want to return the letters and photos to a descendant and are asking for help.


How I wish I could see those letters and photos to pick out more clues and details but I decided to look for the author of the letters with the clues provided. A search of the online CEF database on and on Collections Canada brought up the most likely candidate for the letter writer -  Norman Edmund Waring of Carleton St. in Toronto. He gave his next of kin as Mrs. James Waring, same address as his, when he enlisted in December 1915.

The video shows parts of the letters and you can see the beautiful clear handwriting. Norman's signature on his Attestation papers in 1915 matches the signature on a postcard shown on the video.

Norman gives his birth date as February 1886 and that allowed me to find his birth registration on Ancestry. His parents are listed as James Waring and Bessie Waring and his place of birth, Ingersoll, agreed with the Attestation Papers.


No marriage record for Norman was found on so I began a hunt for possible siblings of Norman. The 1891 census for Ingersoll reveals the family of

James Waring, 42 born Ireland
Bessie, 35 born Ireland
Henry, 12 born Ireland
Willie, 10 born Ontario
Albert, 8 born Ontario
Norman, 5 born Ontario
and Frederick 2 born Ontario

A later census record for  1911 shows one more son, Samuel, age 19 in 1911. The family is living at 279  Carleton Street in 1911. Henry, Norman and Fred are still at home with their parents and still single.

1940 Voter's List
It doesn't appear that Norman ever married, as he is later found as a single man on a 1940 Voter's List, living at 279 Carleton Street with his widowed mother Bessie and his brother William (also single)

So I decided to trace Norman's brothers to find out if they married and left descendants


A search for Norman's brothers revealed the following:

Henry Waring was found on on a Border Crossing Record in 1915 crossing at Buffalo New York. His birth place is given as Belfast Ireland. I could fairly easily trace the family backwards and in fact, discovered their names on a passenger list for the ship The Montreal arriving Quebec from Ireland in June 1880. But the couple who found the letters and photos want to give them to a descendant so I had to stay focused and trace down from James and Bessie, not back. Henry died in August 1933, never having married. He lived with his brother Norman at the Carleton Street address and in fact died in the house.

Willie (William Alexander) Waring went to Detroit Michigan in 1911 [Source: Border Crossing Records] He married Edith Boyd and had one known son, Roy Waring born Dec. 1900 in Sacremento California (Source: US Passport Application 1920). His son Roy's passport application dated 1920 states his father William is deceased. Roy died in 1969 in Los Angeles California but I've not yet found if he had children.

Albert (James Albert) Waring enlisted during WW1 in Nevada, USA. In January 1917 he is found on a list of individuals crossing from British Columbia to Marcus Washington. I have not yet hunted for Albert after 1917 so perhaps my readers will take on that task.

Frederick (John Frederick) Waring married Violet May Cridland in 1914 according to the online marriage registrations on Ancestry. I have not yet searched for further details on Frederick.

Samuel (Samuel Holt) Waring is found in the CEF database as enlisting in January 1918. He was single and living with his mother at the Carleton Street address. A marriage registration on shows him marrying Jane Elizabeth Gardner in 1924. The last record I found for Samuel was a 1963 Voter's List for Eglinton Ontario. His wife "Jane" is with him. I found two children, both stillborn. I do not know if he and Jane had more children.


Searching for Hilda McLeod proved a little more challenging. I found a possible candidate living for Hilda, born in 1893 and living in Toronto in 1911 with her parents Dougald and Mary Ann, and marrying in Toronto in 1921. But not to Norman Waring. I do not know if this is Hilda of the letters.

Whatever the relationship between Norman and Hilda, they did not marry and so far I have not found a living relative of Norman E. Waring. Perhaps my readers can use their genealogy sleuthing skills to help bring these letters and photos home.


Ruth Zaryski Jackson said...

Very interesting story! I'm sure your research will help to locate relatives.
I have been blogging my husband's father's and 2 uncles' letters from WW1.Please have a and see links to other blogs.

Jamie Waring said...

Hey Lorine,

Thought I'd say hi, I'm the distant relative in the story. What an interesting story, I'm really glad the owner of the house could be identified and hopefully a descendent can be found. This family has been so key for me as Norman's parents were first cousins, tying two branches of my tree together.

Best regards, Jamie Waring

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Hi Jamie! It's great to "meet" you. It was fun doing the interview wasn't it? Hilda and her husband apparently had children so it would be wonderful if the letters could go to her family.

Mariann Regan said...

Talk about genealogical sleuthing! Lorine, this is such an artful demonstration of what genealogy can be. I wonder if Hilda and Norman "broke up" because of the war.

In your search for descendants, you remind me of Megan S. Smolenyak, searching for lost soldiers. The families will so much appreciate what you are doing.

Joe Jonash said...

Such an interesting story of a great soldier. The letter should be given to he family.