Discover your inside story with AncestryDNA®

April 24, 2014

Sometimes the Best Find Comes When You Least Expect it!

About 25 years ago a woman I corresponded with about my PEER family in Guelph Ontario Canada told me an intriguing story. According to her she found a newspaper article about my great-grandfather Stephen Peer being attacked and killed by an axe-wielding neighbour. She didn't provide a date or any other details. No amount of pleading or coaxing on my part could get a source from her, not even the name of the newspaper. Stephen was not her ancestor and my Peer ancestry was of no interest to her so even my offers to share everything I had on the family held no interest.

So for 25 years I've tried to find this reference. Some time ago I found Stephen's death registration for 1897 but the cause of death was listed as Typhoid Fever not murder. Nonetheless I checked  Guelph newspapers for several months prior to his death just in case. But nothing turned up. These newspapers are not indexed so searching meant a long laborious read of every issue. Eventually I put this on the back burner as a curiousity, as a story that might have a little truth to it.

Searching Online Newspapers

Sometimes the Best Find Comes When You Least Expect it!
A few days ago while searching through some online Ontario newspapers as I do periodically, I came across this extract of a larger story.

It was published in The Lethbridge News (Alberta) on June 5, 1895 and was noted as a condensed story. I was pretty excited to find this but of course now I want the full story. Why was this pump so important? Who was Walter Hyde and his father? And why would an Alberta newspaper publish this?

Looking for Walter and the Full Story

A search of census records turned up some information on Walter Hyde. He was born ca 1874 to Alfred & Sarah (Farrow) Hyde. It struck me that Walter was quite a bit younger than my great-grandfather who was born ca 1853.  I don't know if Walter went to jail or any other details of this incident but am determined to find out.

Since getting to Guelph to hunt through the filmed newspapers is difficult for me I decided to hire the Guelph Public Library Research Services to look for any references to this event. Fingers crossed that I find out exactly what happened.  Of course if any of my readers live in Guelph Ontario and would be willing to have a look in the Guelph Mercury in first week of June 1895 for this story, please let me know!

The Moral of This Story

The moral of my story is NEVER GIVE UP! Okay I have two morals - never give up and never ever dismiss a "story" as untrue until you've found evidence to either prove or disprove it.

UPDATE: Full news article found! Read about what happened at 52 Ancestors: Found Details re Great-Grandpa Peer Attacked By Axe-Wielding Neighbour in 1895


J.Rob. McGinn said...

Hi Lorine...You are so correct!!! Never lose hope or give up because that on eureka moment will happen while you least expect it. I remember conversing back and forth with you about McGinn/McGinnis.
It took me 10 years to learn the ID of my GGGF Daniel McGinn 1803-1828. July 2010 friend Linda Corupe was at Ontario Archives researching for a client when she came across a box of old Eastern Ontario school lists.Curious, she started through them finding an 1842 summary for a school in Matilda Tp Dundas where John McGinn and Eliza McGinn were under the care of WIlliam Cook. I already knew William Cook tied to our family somehow but I did not know how. I knew also that he had married Rachel Shaver 1830 (1861 census is only record). I had studied up this family knowing they were somehow related.... I wondered if Rachel had been married before 1830? Off to Dr Lockwood, Anglican Archives Ottawa Diocese (covers SDG) and voila! He found Rachel had married Daniel McGinn 24 Aug 1824, Anglican Williamsburg, both of Matilda. A few days later I found Daniel's drowning in the St Lawrence River, 25 Mar 1828. Rachel obviously took her McGinn children to her marriage with William Cook who became their stepfather!!! I had suspected our McGinns were the RC family of Matilda and indeed John A McGinn lived on the same concession as William Cook. So why did he now have the children ??? Well his older bro Daniel who had been educated for the RC priesthood in Ireland, got married instead!!! Well I dare say that caused difficulty both family wise and with the RC Church! This confirms our family legend that a GxXGF had been a priest who married!! For a time after Daniel McGinn died Rachel used the McGinn surname but when she married Wm Cook she went by Rachel Shaver, her maiden name. All the puzzle pieces fell into place in July when I do not generally do much genealogy!! Rachel was the d/o Henry Shaver and granddaughter of Philip SHaver and Elizabeth Angste UELs. So I now know our proper UEL roots! Thanks to Linda!!! This little tale supports your statement premise above!!! NEVER GIVE UP!!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Rob, what an amazing story! And what a great piece of detective work by you and Linda.

I am so happy for you and I can imagine your dance of joy when you put the pieces together.

Love how your family lore proved correct:-)

Maybe somewhere way back we DO connect!

J.Rob. McGinn said...

Lorine, Here is another tale. This one takes place beginnig in Cavan Ireland before Leeds Grenville ca 1825. My original Cooke line were of County Cavan with brothers Joseph and Richard farming Augusta Tp and my GGGF Robert Cooke living right in Brockville with his wife and young family. Robert had been a gardener on the estate of Sir Richard John Griffith, yep!!, the evaluator later.... He eloped with Sarah Jane, youngest daughter of Sir Richard and Maria Jane Waldie.Richard was furious with her for marrying beneath her class. I guess in servile heirarchy the gardener was toward the bottom of the bunch! Anyway Robert and Jane fled Ireland with Sir Richard in such a rage he disowned his daughter. Robert and Jane had John 1828, Elizabeth 1831, Joseph 1833, Sarah Jane 1836, Catherine 1837. Robert worked in the Charles Jones Potash Works as a foreman until he died young leaving Jane (Sarah Jane) destitute. Her letters to her wealthy parents were ignored. I cannot find any death or burial record! But I suspect it was 1840ish. Jane farmed out the kids to Robert's relatives in the Brockville area and she took off with an American man, married and had a second family somewhere in the USA. I have no surname and so far I have not found her. Jane never saw her Cooke kids again!!!
A son from this second marriage did contact the families of John and Joseph who had married and settled in Lansdowne but the source gave no name for him. Again our family legend was that a gardener ran off with a daughter but nobody knew any details so I tended to dismiss it. Evidently the visitor (son) did go to Ireland to try and trace the Griffith line but he got little accomplished. Again I had researched this Cooke clan and I knew a fair bit about them when Elaine Gil Capt Wm Earl and family researcher) told me to obtain "Linger in Leeds" and "Leeds the Lovely", small books written by Evelyn Purvis Earle. My Cookes featured prominently because Elizabeth Cooke above 1831-1917 was Evelyn's grandmother! Much of Evelyn's Cooke material was directly from Elizabeth Cooke Earl, my GGM's sister. 1854 Sarah Jane Cooke married John McGinn in Lansdowne. I am a descendent of the Cookes and Griffiths.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

The stories are great, aren't they! They make our ancestors come alive.

Jana Last said...


I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today Fab Finds post at

Have a fantastic weekend!

Dana said...

Wonderful story!