The Life of David Annis

By Shawn Perron, Visitor Host

It may be the case that discrepancies exist in every area of historical research. Events, dates, and even the images of some Oshawa Victorians can cause some confusion. The latter is the situation I have stumbled upon while reading into the life of David Annis.

There are two main sources which discuss the life of David: the Annis Annals and Upper Canada Sketches. They tell us that he was born in 1786 to quite a wealthy, large family, having eight siblings. His father, Charles, was one of the first owners of the 200 acres which made up the broken front concession (today’s Lake View Park in Oshawa). Raised in Oshawa David lacked the education of his brothers and never learned to write or sign his name. However, he quickly developed a strong relationship with the Conant family, and specifically Daniel Conant. Amongst several business enterprises the two opened a Saw Mill together and when David inherited the entirety of the broken front concession from his family he subsequently passed it on to Daniel. It is possible that David was somewhat of a father figure for Daniel being his elder, especially after Daniel’s father was assassinated in 1838. David worked with Daniel through the rest of life, fathering no children of his own and today the two are buried under the same marker in Union Cemetery.

However, while these two accounts agree on the above, they are divided in regard to David’s physical appearance. The Annis Annals – a genealogy of the Annis family from 1638 to 1931 – pictures David in a family photograph. Here David is quite distinct from his brothers, sitting on the far right he has dark hair and a short beard, wearing a rather severe expression.

The Annis Family
The Annis Family

This does not match David’s picture featured in Thomas Conant’s Upper Canada Sketches – an account of the author’s life in, and stories from, Upper Canada. This actually appears to be a cropped section of Levi Annis, David’s older brother, from the same family portrait.

David Annis
David Annis

One might logically deduct that Upper Canada Sketches provides a more accurate source because Thomas was the son of Daniel and possibly encountered David on a regular basis. However, there is always room for error. Indeed, to add another layer of confusion, the Sketches portrait inaccurately refers to David as Thomas’s uncle. While this does not hold true for David, Levi could be considered Thomas’ great-uncle, having married his grandfather’s sister, Rhoda Conant. But for now, the true appearance of David Annis shall remain a mystery and one has the freedom to imagine him either as a stern-looking dark-haired man, or a jolly Santa Claus-like fellow.

The Month That Was – October 1956

Monday October 1, 1956

Theatre Guide

Plaza – “Edge of Hell” 1:05, 3:42, 6:19, and 9:01

“Day of Fury” 2:20, 4:57, 7:34 and 10:16.

Last complete show 9pm

Regent – “Great Day in the Morning” in Superscope and colour 3:15, 6:30 and 9:55

“Flying Leathernecks” 1:30, 4:50 and 8:15.

Last complete show at 8:05

Biltmore – “The Trouble with Harry” in VistaVision and colour 12:30, 3:45, 7:00, and 10:20

“View from Pompey’s Head” in CinemaScope and Colour 2:10, 5:25, 8:45

Last complete show at 8:45

Marks – “Bread, Love, and Dreams” 1:15, 4:10, 7:00 and 9:55

“Out of this World” 2:45, 5:40, and 8:40

Last complete show at 8:40

Drive –In – “Phantom from 10,000 Leagues” 7:30 and 10:35

“Day the World Ended” 9:00

Last complete show at 9:00pm

 

Tuesday October 2, 1956

Baby Lion Gets Mother

A dog named Fuzzy joined the circus Monday with the job of nursing a baby lion.

Fuzzy was grieving over the loss of a puppy, and the cub was trying to escape being killed by its mother when Huntington police got the two together. They hit it off fine.

The cub’s mother belongs to a travelling animal show. She killed cubs she had once before, owner Eddie Kuhn said.

Lion cubs will not feed on a bottle, and their mothers rarely raise their young in a circus because of the nearby humans, Kuhn said. SO Fuzzy will travel with the troupe, nursing the cub about 30 days before returning to her owner here.

 

Tuesday October 2, 1956

10-Year-Old Girl Steals Boy Baby

Four month old Danny Shaw and his carriage disappeared Monday.

Police, aided by taxi drivers and motorists, found the boy an hour later.

The “kidnapper?”  a 10 year old girl. She told the police she was lonesome and wanted a little brother. Police turned her over to juvenile and family court authorities.

 

Thursday October 11, 1956

Blind Mother Cares For Babe

Before her baby was born, Mrs. Joseph Kezac had many telephone calls- come callers saying she shouldn’t be having the baby at all, and others offering to adopt it.

The callers knew that pretty, blonde Mrs. Kezac was blind, but they needn’t worried. She took lessons on baby care from a member of the Victorian Order of Nurses, using a doll as a model, and her husband read books on baby care to her. Now she is successfully looking after her seven-weeks-old daughter, besides doing the housework.

Mrs. Kezac, 26 became blind from a head injury five years ago, before she was married.

 

Thursday October 11, 1956

Australian Swimmer, 17-Year-Old Boy, Sets New 400-Metre Mark

Murray Rose 17-year-old Sydney swimmer, was clocked in four minutes 29.2 seconds Tuesday in an unpaced 400-metre training swim on the long course at Brisbane pool.

This is the first time 4 ½ minutes has been bettered for the 400 metres over the long course.

 

Monday October 15, 1956

Lucky Find

A 20-year-old girl who had been engaged just three days lost her diamond ring in a busy London shopping centre. She found it an hour later where it had fallen on the sidewalk, unnoticed by thousands of shoppers.

 

Monday October 15, 1956

Monster Lobster

An 11-pound, 10 ounce lobster was caught on a rod and line by a fisherman here. The Brighton aquarium asked if they could exhibit the lobster, measuring four feet, four inches, but it had already been cooked and eaten.

 

Thursday October 23, 1956

Editorial Notes

One of the easiest ways to deflate the ego of parents is to ask them to help with the children’s homework – or even try it.

 

Thursday October 23, 1956

British Church has Ghost For Organist

TORQUAY, England – The vicar says that when Henry plays the organ in vine – covered St. John’s Church the music is something, but you can’t help noticing you can see right through him.

The vicar, Rev. Anthony Rouse, reported the matter last night to the Church of England’s fellowship for Psychical Study.

The ghost is supposed to be Henry Ditton Newman, a former church organist who died as a young man in 1883.

“I myself have heard the organ play twice at night. I can’t tell you the music. It is sweet, but sort of heavy.”

A former vicar, Rev. Sir Patrick Ferguson-Davie, thinks Henry will always be around.

“Unusual ghost in a way,” Sir Patrick said. “He is very happy. He doesn’t want to go away.”

Victorian Humour from the Oshawa Vindicator

These are a few jokes which were published in the Oshawa Vindicator during the year of 1867. They were found as a collection in a newspaper article published around the 1960s. The section was titled: “Victorian Wit: 1867 Humor Found in Paper.”

 

1.  “When I am in pecuniary difficulties,” said a pensive bankrupt, “my garden, my flowers, all fresh and sparkling in the morning, console my heart.”

“Indeed,” responded his sympathetic friend. “I should have thought they would remind you of your pecuniary troubles, for like your bills, they are all dew.”

 

2. “Now,” said the judge, “suppose you and I were turned into a horse and an ass, which would you prefer to be?”

“The ass, to be sure,” replied the lawyer. “Why?”, asked the judge.

“Because I have heard of an ass being a judge but a horse, never!”

 

3.  “A plain spoken women recently visited a married woman and asked her how she amused herself all day. ‘Amuse,’ said the other, starting. ‘Do you not know that I have my housework to do?’

‘Yes, I see you have it to do but as it is never done, I conclude you must have some other way of passing your time.’”

Musing about our Student Musings

As summer is winding down, we will shortly be saying goodbye to this year’s summer students.  Some will continue to volunteer, and others will inevitably return to visit, so it’s not a true goodbye, but we want to take this moment and thank them for all of their work this summer and sharing their thoughts about the Museum and their projects!

Shawn, Emily, and Caitlan, thank you for all of your hard work! All the best for your upcoming school year!

Awesome Students of Summer 2013!
Awesome Students of Summer 2013!

Read their past posts here:

Student Museum Musings – Caitlan

Student Museum Musings – Caitlan

Student Museum Musings – Emily

Student Museum Musings – Emily

Student Museum Musings – Shawn

Student Museum Musings – Shawn

Student Museum ‘Musings’ – Emily

Hi there, it’s Emily again, and I’ve continued the transcribing of the Thomas Henry Correspondence Collection, which I mentioned in my previous post. Through the transcribing and digitizing I have looked at numerous very interesting pieces related to Thomas Henry, and the Henry Family. But there are two pieces in particular that stand out for me within this collection. One of which is a photograph taken by E.E. Henry, the son of Elder Thomas Henry. This photograph is titled a “Spirit Picture,” and contains the image of two men and one women, one of the men however is deceased, being “[b]orn again into the spirit life, July 20th, 1825.” The second piece from this collection that is very interesting is a correspondence letter, which was written by Thomas Henry, June 10th, 1873, and addressed to E.E. Henry. This letter is especially interesting because it is Thomas Henry’s response to the Spirit Picture sent to him by his son.

A013.4.449 - Spirit Photograph
A013.4.449 – Spirit Photograph

The elder Henry’s response to his son is a very interesting read after looking at the Spirit Picture, because being a Christian Minister, one could assume that Thomas Henry has very firm beliefs in regards to the spirit word. The correspondence letter sent to E.E. is strongly worded, long, and firm, scolding his son for taking part in what Thomas believes is unsavory activities. Thomas states in his letter, “I do not dispute but what the picture has been taken. It is not of god, in my humble opinion, But of the Divil[SIC], and show very clearly to me a falling away from God, and disbelieving his word.” Thomas Henry continues through his letter to argue to his son the abomination that is the Spirit Picture sent to him, and writes of the story of King Saul, Samuel, and the Medium at Endor.

Ebenezer Elijah Henry, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection
Ebenezer Elijah Henry, from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

The relationship between Thomas and E.E. Henry is very fascinating because after scolding his son through this letter, and yet Thomas ends is letter by writing, “you might have taken the old prophets picture, and now I would not wonder, but what Dr. Taylor and his medium might get a picture of some of your friends if so send me one.” In another unrelated letter from this collection E.E. writes to his father, “you well know you have left me out in the cold as it were, and I have had to paddle my own canoe for myself. You have as you say in your letter helped all the rest, but me, and now you tell me that I am the favorite. Well God knows I am glad and hope it is so.” It seems to me that parental approval was one of, if not the most important aspects of life for Victorians. And that the Spirit Picture may have been a way that E.E. was seeking that approval by showing to his father his work.

 

This collection has been fascinating to go through, and has helped me understand the Henry family, and Victorians, much more than I had before by the digitizing and transcribing of these letters and pictures.