The Milne/Smeed Connection

Family Stories Past and Present

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Rebecca Cromer Johnson McArthur

52 Ancestors Week 3 – Longevity


Rebecca Cromer Johnson McArthur

Rebecca CROMER (?) was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland on 10 May 1807.

She lived a long life in three countries, married and was widowed twice and raised three daughters mainly on her own in what must have been difficult circumstances.

The (?) follows the name Cromer because although it appears as Rebecca’s maiden name on one of her daughter’s death certificates no record of the surname Cromer can be found in Ireland at the time in question. The name may have been mispronounced or misspelled on the document. This has led to difficulty in tracing Rebecca’s early life and her ancestors.

It is not yet known when Rebecca left Ireland, however, by 1845, Rebecca was married to William JOHNSON, a seaman, and living in New York City.  They attended First Mariners’ Church which was located on Roosevelt Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. William and Rebecca probably lived in this area whose proximity to the docks and the notorious Five Points district would make it a none too desirable location for raising a family.

Nevertheless, the baptismal register of the Reverend Henry Chase of First Mariners’ Church, New York shows that William and Rebecca’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was baptized on 6 May 1845 and daughter, Catherine, was baptized on 30 September 1847.

At some time before 1850, Rebecca became a widow for the first time. Rebecca and a new spouse, Daniel McARTHUR, also a seaman, were in Ontario in 1851 when their daughter, Agnes Rebecca, was born. The growing family has not been located in either the 1850 U.S. Census or the 1851 Census of Canada.

In the 1861 Census of Canada, Rebecca and her three daughters are living in Wentworth County. Daniel is not in residence at the time. He died on 15 May 1862 and Rebecca became a widow for the second time.

Daniel’s will in 1862 refers to Rebecca Johnston, not naming her as his wife. He leaves her $10, a dark grey cow and one half of his bedding. He also leaves Mary and Catherine Johnston $10 each. To his daughter, Agnes (no surname given), when she reaches the age of 20 he leaves his land, $100, and all other possessions.

The wording of the will and the bequests suggest that Rebecca and Daniel never actually married even though her tombstone refers to her as “widow of Daniel”. The fact that Daniel is recorded in the will as a seaman like Rebecca’s first husband, William Johnson, suggests that they may have met in New York City.

Daughter Agnes married Henry Quillman and the couple resided on the farm that had been left to Agnes. Daughter Mary Johnson married William Wallis and that couple moved to the Stoney Creek area. Daughter Catherine Johnson married William Milne. Catherine and Billy lived in Millgrove until about 1879 when they moved to Elma Township in Perth County.

According to census records from 1871 to 1901, Rebecca lived with Agnes and Henry until her death which occurred on 14 September 1902. The 1901 census provided Rebecca’s birth date of 10 May 1807 and the age of ninety-three. When she died the following year, her obituary in the Hamilton Spectator and the official death registration both state Rebecca’s age as ninety-seven. The Memorial Inscription says she was 98. Whichever of these ages is correct, the Spectator was right in naming Rebecca as one of the oldest members of her community.




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A Marriage at Black’s Tavern

William Milne and Catherine Johnson were married on October 3, 1871.

According to the marriage registration, Billy and Catherine were married at Black’s Tavern, Flamborough West Township, Wentworth County. The tavern was owned by Joseph Black, the father-in-law of Billy’s brother, Charles.

William was the son of Charles Milne and Elspet Ross. Catherine was the daughter of William Johnson and Rebecca Cromer.

More detail about the lives of Billy and Catherine can be found on the Milne page of this website.

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Happy Canada Day!

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation I have given some thought to my direct ancestors and their families who were present in Canada on 1 July 1867. They lived on farms or in small communities and I don’t know how or if they marked that historic day.

Those early settlers were:

William Collins (1799 – 1881) and Jean Anderson Collins (1798 – 1850) emigrated from Renfrewshire, Scotland ca 1826 and settled in Oxford County and then Waterloo County.

George Hewitt (1805 – 1893) and Mary Clements Hewitt (1807 – 1896) left Norfolk County, England in 1836 and settled in Oxford County the year before the Rebellions of 1837.

John Hewitt (1833 – 1911) left Norfolk with his parents in 1836 and married Elizabeth Collins (1835 – 1881) who was born in Waterloo County.

Charles Milne (1807 – 1856) and Elspet Ross Milne (1808 – 1897) arrived in Wentworth County from Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1846.

Rebecca Cromer Johnson McArthur (1807 – 1902) was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, emigrated to New York City and came to Wentworth County as a widow ca 1850 with two young daughters.

William Milne (1850 – 1932) was born in Dundas, Ontario and married Catherine Johnson (1846 – 1911) who was born in New York City, NY and arrived in 1850 with her mother and sister.


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For My Great Great Grandmother on St. Patrick’s Day

Rebecca CROMER JOHNSON McARTHUR was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland on 10 May 1807. She lived a long life in three countries, married and was widowed twice and raised three daughters mainly on her own in what must have been difficult circumstances. She died in September, 1902.