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February 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: A Fishy Story about William Peer and William Learn

52 Ancestors: A Fishy Story about William Peer and William Learn
Amy Johnson Crow has a new challenge for geneabloggers called Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Amy challenges genealogists to write about one ancestor once a week. I'm having fun with this and I hope you are too!

Today I'm going to share a fish story with you - well, really it's two fish stories - about two of my relatives.

First up is the sad story of my 3rd cousin twice removed, William Edward Learn

A bit of family lore from a family bible concerning Edward had always intrigued me.  

William Edward Learn (1885-1908) died tragically while fishing in the Niagara River. He had a rope tied around his waist while he was fishing and hooked a sturgeon which pulled him in and under. It was a month before his body was found with the rope and sturgeon still attached.
I wondered how accurate it was. Another cousin sent this to me several years ago, copied directly from the Learn Family Bible. When the Ontario Death Records went online on in 2008 I decided to see what William's death registration gave for his cause of death. I expected to see "Drowning" as the cause of death.

Much to my surprise the cause of death was given as pneumonia! It seems a rather fanciful story for someone to dream up and record in a Family Bible. 

How did poor William's death from pneumonia end up being passed down in the family as William being killed by a fish?

Next up is the true story of another 3rd cousin twice removed, William Peer. William drowned in 1937 while fishing for sturgeon. His death is fact and the details given in a newspaper account (on the left). While attempting to spear a sturgeon in the Niagara River, William Peer slipped and fell in. He drowned and several days later his body was recovered. 

The tale of his death is very similar to that given in the family bible for William Learn. Perhaps the two men were confused by whoever entered the information in the bible? I may never know, but these are fish stories to be remembered.

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