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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66B43B01-7E56-437E-9301-E58BE5D78272.jpegMilne Brothers and Sister in the Canadian Armed Forces

Remembering my Dad, Charlie, Uncle Ross, Uncle Bob, Aunt Ida and Uncle Les Crowie.

Dad and Uncle Bob married overseas and returned home with their English war brides, Bet and Kath, and daughters, Jane and Ann.

Uncle Ross was wounded at Caen but recovered and returned to service. On his return to Canada he was reunited with his wife, Annie and daughter Betty, and met daughter Joan for the first time. She was born shortly after he went overseas.

Aunt Ida served at various bases in Canada. She married her soldier, Uncle Al, near the end of the war.

While  Uncle Les was serving, his wife, Aunt Rose, worked at the DIL munitions plant in Ajax as one of the “Bomb Girls”.


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Audrey Madelaine Smeed (1888 – 1970)

Audrey Madelaine Smeed was born in East Grinstead, Sussex on 23 June 1888 and died in Dormansland, Surrey on 27 October 1970. She was the eldest of the seven children of Charles Smeed 2 and Ann Maria Burt.

The 1891 census shows Audrey living with her parents at Blackwell Farm, East Grinstead. In 1901 the family had grown and Audrey lived in Burstow, Surrey with her parents, one of her brothers and two sisters. By 1911 the family of parents and all seven children lived at Newchapel, Surrey where Charles was a gamekeeper.

After Charles retired he and his wife lived at Orchard Cottage, Dormansland, Surrey. As the only daughter who never married, Audrey lived most of her life with her parents. After their deaths in the early 1940s Audrey remained at Orchard Cottage on her own. She was later joined there by her brother, Percy. Their sister, Doris, also resided with them from time to time.

Percy died in 1969 and Audrey passed away on 27 October 1970 at the age of eighty-two.

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Family Stories

Family History Month (October) is almost over and still no stories submitted. If you don’t want to write a story send me a name and details of a family member who is special to you and I’ll write the article for you.

If the person is living be sure to obtain his/her permission. Include a photo if possible.

Lizzie Hewitt Hall and Ida Hewitt Milne

Ellen Lindfield

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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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Anita Zehbe Smeed

Anita Eva Margot Zehbe (1927 – 2017) was born 23 August 1927 in Berlin, Germany. She was the daughter of Berthold Paul Zehbe and Martha Anna Elisabeth Broy.

Anita married Arthur Charles Smeed on 24 July 1951 in Dormansland, Surrey, England.

Anita and Arthur had two sons, Alan and Michael, three grandchildren and one greatgrandchild. Arthur died in 2001 a few months before their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Although Anita was in failing health recently, she rallied to celebrate her 90th birthday in late August. Aunt Anita passed away late Sunday, 17 September 2017.

Anita Zehbe Smeed