My Favourite Artifact: Brown and Sharpe Hair Clippers

Over the Victoria Day long weekend (Sun May 18/Mon May 19), the Oshawa Community Museum will open its summer exhibition, IT’Story: Stories from the OCM Collection, highlighting artifacts in our collection with fascinating stories to tell.

For the next seven weeks, our Visitor Hosts and other Museum staff will share their favourite artifacts and why they are favourites.

 

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

I have a bias when it comes to my favourite artifact.

In early 2010, my grandfather passed away, and my family was faced with the difficult task of preparing his house for sale.  In our searches through Grandpa’s house, we came across a set of old barber equipment, including clippers, razors and an early electric razor!  My parents, aunts, and uncles were a little unsure of what to do with these objects; at this time, I was a volunteer for the Oshawa Museum, and I suggested that we donate them.

A010.19.11 - The Trainor family, likely taken at their St. Lawrence Street home.  George Trainor is standing, left.
A010.19.11 – The Trainor family, likely taken at their St. Lawrence Street home. George Trainor is standing, left.

The barber tools belonged to my (step)grandmother’s father, George Trainor, who was a barber in Oshawa.  For many years, the family lived on St. Lawrence Street, while George had a shop at 789 Simcoe Street, what was the community of Cedar Dale.  In all, we donated 7 artifacts as well as archival materials relating the the Trainor family.

010.14.1b, Metal Hair Clippers
010.14.1b, Metal Hair Clippers

These clippers are imprinted:  “Made by Brown and Sharpe Mfg. Co. Prov. R.I., Pat’d in Great Britain Bte En France St. G.D.G., USA Patents July 1-79, June 3-84, Aug 23-92.”  The underside is imprinted with “No. 0,” indicating the length that this clipper would cut.

From Popular Science, August 1923, p. 86.
From Popular Science, August 1923, p. 86.

Brown and Sharpe was founded in 1833 and was known as a tool maker.  They stopped making hair clippers after World War II.  These clippers were likely made between 1892 and 1901, based on patent information and the patent dates on this set.

While I never met my grandmother’s family, these artifacts remain my favourite in the collection because they remind me of my Grandma Doreen, and they make me proud that I have a connection to Oshawa’s past.

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part III

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

Welcome back to the third chapter in the story of Oshawa’s Dunbar family.  Last week, I talked about George and Mary Dunbar and their children.  Their eldest daughter, Margaret, was their only child to live to old age.  Today, I would like to share Margaret’s story, as written by her grandson, RB Pankhurst in 1991.  He was researching his origins in Oshawa, and summarized his findings in a narrative which he shared with the Oshawa Community Archives.

 

“George Dunbar, barrel maker, moved from Lower Canada to work at the flour mill located just south of Oshawa and met and married Mary A. Andrews.  The union was to produce 5 children… the oldest being Margaret Serene, born in 1856.  Only Maggie will live to old age…

In 1881, young Henry Pankhurst worked for Tom Conant as a farm laborer, just four doors down the street from Margaret Dunbar’s house.  The proximity offered the opportunity for the two to meet, become acquainted, fall in love and marry.  The marriage met with the deep disapproval of the Pankhurst parents which would result in a permanent rift between son and parents and the animosity of the bride which would last throughout her life.  that branch of the family would not have communication with the remainder for a least two generations…  

'Family Homestead' on Cedar Street, in Oshawa.  This house is still standing today.
‘Family Homestead’ on Cedar Street, in Oshawa. This house is still standing today.

[Henry and Margaret had three children].  The first born, Albert George Dunbar Pankhurst, left the homestead in Cedar Dale heading west.  When World War I erupted he joined the 28th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Winnipeg, was decorated for bravery in action, was captured, escaped and was finally demobilized.  He returned to Cedar Dale, met and married Martha Wiggins in 1920.  His siblings remained unwed and lived to their late 80s in the homestead in which they were born.  Ward Pankhurst was sought after by the local townspeople for his sage advice on all things.  Greta Pankhurst was as genteel, quietly effective lady who supplemented his worldly knowledge with her understanding of the local events and her reliable memory of events.”

l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983)
l-r: Albert GD Pankhurst (1885 – 1977), Ward D Pankhurst (1888 – 1978), and Greta Pankhurst (1895 – 1983)

As earlier stated, the story of the Andrews/Dunbar/Pankhurst family is one that is important to us, and we are always interested in learning more about this family.  We’ve made research connections in Quebec and in the US for this family, and we are always adding to what we know.  If you have any questions or have information to add about this family, please leave a comment, or email membership@oshawamuseum.org.  We also have an outreach presentation about this family, and we are always happy to tell their story, simply contact the Oshawa Community Museum.

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part II

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement / Programs

Last week, we introduced you to the Dunbar family, its matriarch Wealthy Ann, and provided a little background into why we started researching this particular family.  We continue the story, looking particularly at her daughter, Mary Augusta.

Mary Augusta Dunbar (nee Andrews), 1835-1887
Mary Augusta Dunbar (nee Andrews), 1835-1887

By the time the 1852 Census of Canada West was taken, Wealthy Ann Andrews had just become widowed, her husband Peter dying in 1851.  Wealthy is recorded as living with her daughter Mary, son Freeman, and granddaughter Frances.  Daughters Sarah and Elizabeth are recorded as living with other families, likely in their employment.  All members of Wealthy’s family have been recorded as ‘coloured.’  They comprise 6 of the 17 Black persons living in East Whitby Township, as per the census.

Portion of marriage license between George Dunbar and Mary Andrews
Portion of marriage license between George Dunbar and Mary Andrews

It was a wonderful surprise in 2013 when an archival donation of Thomas Henry papers contained a marriage certificate of one Mary Augusta Andrews to Samuel George Dunbar.  The marriage was witnessed by Wealthy and by Thomas Henry himself!  One lingering question we have of the marriage is whether or not it was inter-racial?  It is very likely that George is of Scottish descent, but we can only confirm three records about him: his marriage license, the 1861 Census, and his headstone in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery.  It is interesting that Mary Augusta married a man with the same surname as her mother’s maiden name; for now, we simply chalk it up to a coincidence.

George arrived in Upper Canada (Ontario) sometime between 1851 and 1855, and on December 10, 1855 he married Mary A. Andrews.  They had five children together: Margaret, Marquis de Lafayette (known as Lafayette), Albert, and twins Jennie and Marietta.  Only Margaret lived to old age; her story will play out in next week’s post.

MD Lafayette Dunbar, 1858 – 1886, left, and Albert Dunbar, 1861 – 1881, right
MD Lafayette Dunbar, 1858 – 1886, left, and Albert Dunbar, 1861 – 1881, right

Family history states that George was a barrel maker when he lived in Lower Canada and he moved to Cedar Dale to work at Alexander Small’s grist and flour mill. Sons Lafayette and Albert were later photographed as employees of the Cedar Dale Works.  Lafayette was not only a labourer in Oshawa, but before he died was a landowner and a lawyer.

Tracing the family through the Censuses proved to be an interesting exercise.  Due to poor quality of the 1861 Census, it is unclear what the family listed their background as, however, we do not believe they were recorded in the ‘Colored Persons, Mulatto or Indian’ column which appeared on the census.  In 1871, after the death of George in 1866, the census notes that the family is of African origin.  The 1881 census states that Mary is English and the children, much like their father George, are Scottish.  What is the reason for the discrepancy in background, we cannot say for certain.

George, Mary, Lafayette, Albert and Jennie all lie in the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery, one headstone commemorating their grave.  Marietta is buried along with her son, Alfred.  Wealthy and her daughter Elizabeth are also laid to rest in the cemetery, although they do not have a marker.

Dunbar headstone Side 1: M.D. Lafayette / Dunbar / died June 3 / 1886 / aged 28 years 3 mo’s 23 days / Mary A. / wife of George Dunbar / died Oct. 31, 1887 / aged 52 years / 4 months / & 24 days / Side 2: S.G. Dunbar / died May 30, 1866 / aged 35 years 7 mo / Dunbar / Side 3: Albert E. Dunbar / died Nov’r 8 / 1881 / aged 20 years / 9 mo’s 23 days / Side 4: Jennie E. Dunbar / died / April 27 1880 / aged 15 years 9 days
Dunbar headstone
Side 1: M.D. Lafayette / Dunbar / died June 3 / 1886 / aged 28 years 3 mo’s 23 days / Mary A. / wife of George Dunbar / died Oct. 31, 1887 / aged 52 years / 4 months / & 24 days / Side 2: S.G. Dunbar / died May 30, 1866 / aged 35 years 7 mo / Dunbar / Side 3: Albert E. Dunbar / died Nov’r 8 / 1881 / aged 20 years / 9 mo’s 23 days / Side 4: Jennie E. Dunbar / died / April 27 1880 / aged 15 years 9 days
Annis Headstone In / memory of / Marietta Dunbar / beloved wife of / Alfred T. Annis / died May 13, 1911 / aged 46 y’s 27 d’s / Alfred Ernest / Annis / died Feb 28, 1913 / in his 23rd year
Annis Headstone
In / memory of / Marietta Dunbar / beloved wife of / Alfred T. Annis / died May 13, 1911 / aged 46 y’s 27 d’s / Alfred Ernest / Annis / died Feb 28, 1913 / in his 23rd year

Oshawa’s Black History: One Family’s Story, Part 1

By Lisa Terech, Youth Engagement/Programs

In early 2012, the Oshawa Community Archives was invited to participate in a Black History Month event at Trent University; specifically, we were asked to present on Black History in Oshawa.  A few months prior, while researching the Port Oshawa Pioneer Cemetery and those buried there, I came across the Dunbar family who were laid to rest there.  My initial research showed that this was a family of Black descent, a pleasantly unexpected find for this early pioneer cemetery.  Jennifer Weymark, our archivist, and I saw this Trent project to be a good chance to investigate further the Dunbar family, who they were, what was their story, and what would have brought them to Oshawa.

Black History Month at Trent University Oshawa, 2012
Black History Month at Trent University Oshawa, 2012

Two years later, and this family’s story is one that still intrigues us, and we are continually adding to our knowledge of this early settler family.  As their story can be told through several generations, we will be sharing parts of the story throughout the month of February.

 

With any story, let’s start at the beginning.  Wealthy Ann Dunbar was born in 1795 in Vermont, a daughter to Samuel Dunbar Sr.  The family would move across the border to Stanstead, Quebec.  Wealthy married a man named Peter Andrews in c. 1821 and together they had 4 known children (Sarah, Freeman, Elizabeth, and Mary) and 1 adopted daughter (Amy Jane).  We do not know for sure when Peter and Wealthy relocated to East Whitby Township, but it likely after the death of Wealthy’s father in 1843.

Given the incredibly small percentage of “coloured” people living in East Whitby, the reasoning behind moving to this area is unclear.  According to the 1852 Census of Canada West, there were 17 people listed as coloured in East Whitby Township.  This means that .2% of the population of 8479 were listed as coloured. Most of those counted were single men but there were a couple of families listed as well.  How did Jennifer find this statistic?  It’s simple.  She counted the column for “Coloured – persons – Negroes,” a statistic the enumerator had to account for.

The reasons why the Andrews moved are not known and neither are the reasons for choosing to settle in East Whitby township.  There was no black settlement in the township at that time.

That being said, we have a theory that there may have been a connection between the Andrews family and the Shipman Family which may have contributed to settling here.  Wealthy is recorded as living with John Shipman in the 1861 Census, and there are several ‘unique’ names appearing in both family trees.

Eliza Conant (nee Shipman)
Eliza Conant (nee Shipman)

As well, according to Robert Pankhurst, great-grandson of Wealthy Andrews, Wealthy and her family resided in a log house on property owned by Thomas Conant, whose wife was Eliza Shipman.  With enough small coincidences like this, we strongly feel that the Shipmans may have been the reason for settling here in Cedar Dale.

What became of the family after they moved to East Whitby?  The story continues next week.

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