Maxted Family History
~ Story by Stephan Maxted
To all you 'Norvalites,' or former Norvalites (if I may have the liberty to use this term) who may be following this group, "For the love of Norval", I wish to share with you some of the history of my family who lived there during the 3rd and 4th quarters of the 1800s and on into the first quarter of the 1900s. I can't cover this history in one go, so please be patient as this will be a work in progress, written somewhat in the same way that our dear Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her novels. But I believe it will be of interest to many of you, and may strike a few memory bells as you read it. First off, my second great grandparents, Thomas and Charlotte Maxted were married in Newnham, Kent, England in April 1852. They emigrated from Newnham, Kent, England in 1859. Thomas was 26 years of age, and his wife Charlotte was 28. They sailed to Canada with their two boys, Thomas (age 5) and Fred (age 1+.) They had lost two other children back in England who died in infancy. Once in Canada, they lived in Brampton for a short time, but finally settled in Norval, which at that time was a very small town. We don't know why they decided on Norval, but I think they made a very good choice. As mentioned previously in other posts, Thomas was a builder (like his father), and he continued his trade once in Canada as well. His son Thomas dabbled in building with his father for a time, but eventually took on interior decorating. He must have had itchy feet though, because he and his wife Margaret eventually moved south across the border to Duluth, MN. He was 26 and she was 27. But more about that in another episode. For now, I am concentrating on the parents (Thomas & Charlotte) and their homestead in Norval. See the pics accompanying this post. (... to be continued)
In my previous posting, I mentioned that we were not sure why my second great grandparents, Thomas & Charlotte, chose Norval to finally settle down. But having visited the little town from which they came back in Newnham and Doddington, Kent, England, I have a hunch as to why they may have chosen Norval. It may be precisely for the simple reason that Norval reminded them so much of Newnham. I attach some pics of Norval as it may have appeared at the time of their emigration to Canada. If you compare these pics to those of Norval about the time they arrived, you will see what I mean.And the town of Newnham hasn't changed much since these pics were taken, believe me. In fact,the home where Thomas' father was born, lived and died, named 'Rose Cottage' is still standing! So this is the first part of this second episode, just to give you an idea of the town from which these folks emigrated, which I suppose was common to other immigrants as well.
I wish to address a couple of other questions that were given by respondents to our first posting. One ~ is the original MAXTED homestead still standing? And two ~ where did all these pics come from? Well, alas, the homestead was demolished and a new home built in its place by a Sikh family, if I understand correctly. Kathy Gastle wrote a sad poem dated 11 July 2014, entitled 'Wreck of the Thomas Maxted Family Home,' so the demolition would have been within the past ten years, I expect. Attached with this account are some more pics of the homestead from a side view. ~ So where did all these pics come from? Many of them were kept and closely guarded by Margaret Maxted of Milton, who was a granddaughter of Thomas and Charlotte. More about her in a later episode. Some of you 'old-timers' may remember reading or hearing about her as she was quite prominent in the town of Milton. But then, I have been at this genealogical search for the past 20 years or more, so have accumulated many other pics from different sources along the way. Bottom line, don't throw out old pics ~ they may mean something to you someday when you have more time on your hands to do family research!
At this time, it may be of interest to our readers to know what actual buildings that Thomas Maxted had contracted to build in the Norval area during his life there. Like many builders, particularly those who used brick and stone, Thomas left his 'signature' on many of the buildings he was responsible for. To quote Pat Farley of the Norval Municipal Heritage Committee, "I became so fascinated with Thomas that I could recognize his 'signature' by the way the bricks have been laid. The journals of Peter Laird, the builder he worked with on both the Manse and the Presbyterian Church, were recently discovered in the attic of his house and are being digitized by his family." As Pat indicated, the 'signature' of Thomas can be seen in the way he laid the brick work at the lower parameters of the outside walls. In fact, you can see this on many of his buildings that are still standing! Besides the Manse and the Church, he was also responsible for the following ~ the 'McIntyre Mansion,' the Baptist Chapel, Acton's 'Knox Presbyterian Church,' the 'Olde Hide House,' Acton (formerly the Beardmore Warehouse), Georgetown High School, Robert Noble's 'Flour Mills,' and on the list goes. I attach pics of some of his buildings below, but if any readers know of any others or have taken pics of others, please feel free to share and we'll add those to the record.
This next episode takes up the children of Thomas & Charlotte Maxted, who were born and brought up in Norval. My reader may well wonder, why discuss such individuals when they are long gone? What does this have to do with Norval? To answer that, I remember the first time I visited Norval with my father. Though I had never lived there, it was like coming home again! I believe that a town or place can take on a certain ambience that never leaves it as long as the town is there! The people may change, but the town's 'aura' remains. I felt the same when visiting our ancestral village at Newnham in the County of Kent, England, from whence the MAXTEDS emigrated in 1859. Walking down those streets, I had the sense that I was at home and had been there before. I am sure this was largely due to the fact that my ancestors lived and walked on the very same streets. It follows that those who were in fact born and brought up there carry this 'aura' wherever they may move on to. ~ So as indicated in Part One, Thomas & Charlotte brought two boys with them when they emigrated to Canada and settled down in Norval back in 1859. The oldest was also Thomas, and he was 5 years of age. The other boy was Fred, and he was just under 2 years of age. I believe that Charlotte was with child on the sea voyage to Canada, and lost the little one shortly after their arrival. Sea voyages being what they were in those days, there were many who didn't even make it. Within a year however, Charlotte was with child again, and this one was named Annie Sarah (1860.) Annie was the first of 9 children born to Thomas & Charlotte in Norval, 2 of whom died in infancy. But their oldest son Thomas grew up there and at age 24 married a girl (Margaret) from Perth, Ontario (1878.) Two years later (1880) they moved to Duluth MN, had their family there, but never returned to Canada. Further info about Thomas & Margaret & their family has been posted on wikitree.com, as are the profiles of all their family members. Attached with this episode, I include pics of Thomas and his family.
So to continue with the history of the MAXTED family in Norval, the second son that emigrated with Thomas & Charlotte Maxted from Newnham, England to Canada was Frederick William, known simply by family as 'Fred.' As indicated previously, he was less than 2 years of age when he sailed to Canada with his parents and older brother. He was brought up in Norval then, and lived there until he got married at age 23 to Ellen Aitkens of Guelph, Ontario. Then the same year of their marriage, they moved south to Racine, WI, where they had a family of one daughter and two boys. He started a hardware store in Racine and was quite active in local sports teams as well. However, for some as yet unknown reason, 'Uncle Fred' moved back to Canada alone at age 54. He settled in with his younger brother John, who was living in Milton, Ontario. More about John and his family later. Along with this profile, I have attached pics of 'Uncle Fred,' his family and his headstone in the Hillcrest Cemetery. You will notice that he was buried alongside his parents, Thomas and Charlotte. ~ What may be of further interest to our readers is that we discovered that Uncle Fred had a grandson by the name of 'Billy Maxted.' Billy was well known for his amazing leadership of the "Manhattan Jazz Band," which played in the NY area during the Big Band era in the 1940s. (see attached pics of Billy, and two of his phonographs)
in this episode, I want to concentrate on another of Thomas & Charlotte Maxted's children born in Norval. Annie Sarah was the first of 9 children born to them in Norval, 2 of whom died in their infancy. At age 24 (Christmas Day, 1884), Annie Sarah married Duncan Hall, also of Norval. They had three children ~ Herbert, Rubina & Hector. However, there are few families who do not encounter tragedy in one form or another. Alas, dear Aunt Annie Sarah, age 54, died of injuries sustained from a terrible train accident at Niagara Falls on 7 July 1915, along with her sister Mary Adene's daughter Reta Alberta, who was only age 13 at the time. Apparently they were visiting Niagara Falls on a Sunday school outing. While the sad event was documented in all the local newspapers, author Hugh A. Halliday writes a detailed but graphic account of the circumstances that led up to this tragedy in his book titled, 'WRECK! ~ Canada's Worst Railway Accidents.' Annie Sarah would have been my gg Aunt. You will see below pics of her, her niece Reta Alberta and Annie's headstone at Hillcrest Cemetery. I must apologize for any touched feelings in covering this account at this time of year, but as you can see, it was over 100 years ago. I am sure you will agree though, Christmas is also a time of remembering our loved ones who have passed on, but are still very much in our memories. May we all cherish the happy times we were able to spend with them, as my father did with his great Aunt. More later. ~
I want to continue with the history of the MAXTED family in Norval. In our last episode, Part Four C, we discussed the first daughter born to Thomas & Charlotte Maxted in Norval ~ Annie Sarah, who as you may recall met with her death in a tragic train accident on the way to a Sunday School outing in Niagara Falls. Of course, she was buried in Norval at the Hillcrest Cemetery, as indicated previously. Well, the next child of nine born to Thomas & Charlotte in Norval was none other than my great grandfather George, after whom I was named, BTW. He was born in April 1862 and at age 22, married Eliza Savage from Hamilton, Ontario. George & Eliza had 4 children, all of whom remained in Canada. However, at age 45, George himself moved to Chicago IL, remarried and never returned. My own father remembers visiting him towards the end of his life in Chicago, where he died and was buried at age 97! Great Grandpa George was a tool and die maker by trade. Attached with this short biography are pics of him as a young man, and also with his sisters taken in the Norval/Milton area.
MAXTED history in the town of Norval, as it was at the time. Some of my readers may be wondering where we are heading with these episodes, and how many more we have to go. Well, we have five more children born to Thomas & Charlotte Maxted in Norval, and then we hope to finish up this history with an account of the MAXTED Reunions that were held every summer in Norval for a generation, the likes of which even appeared in the local newspaper! ~ Louisa Jane (b. 1864) and Harriet (b. 1866) were the 7th and 8th children born to Thomas & Charlotte in Norval. Louisa Jane at age 46 married Richard Graham of Norval, moved to Milton when Richard died in 1933, and was buried alongside her husband at Hillcrest in 1946. Her sister Harriet remained single all her life and was also buried at Hillcrest at age 92, the same age as my own father. (Did I mention that the MAXTEDs have a history of longevity?) Please see attached pics of Louisa Jane & Richard, Harriet and their headstones at Hillcrest. (BTW, the two ladies standing in the background in front of the Maxted home in Norval are Louisa Jane and Harriet. Those in front are Uncle Fred and his mother, Charlotte.)
The 11th child and second to last son born to Thomas & Charlotte was John Dean. As was often the case with English families, they would name the next or another child for the one who had died in infancy or at childbirth. So John Dean was born in Norval in Dec 1869. At age 26, he married Elizabeth Coulson, also of Norval. She gave birth to two children, Thomas (named after his father) and Margaret. Alas, Thomas did not survive even a year, and is buried in Milton alongside his parents. ~ Like his father and grandfather before him, John was a builder and built over 100 buildings in the Milton area alone (houses & churches, incl. Grace Anglican Church in Milton.) As indicated previously, he built his last home on 115 Thomas Street in Milton when he was in his early 80s. He was the Mayor of Milton (1928) and filled a number of other capacities as well, incl. 30 years as a town councilor. ~ His daughter Margaret served as Ontario's first female County-Treasurer from 1937 to 1973. She was also, for many years, the Superintendent of the Grace Anglican Church Sunday School, and occupied a number of other functions in the Milton area during her lifetime, with utmost devotion. ~ Margaret attended to the care of her loving father, a cousin and several other family relatives as they reached their 'golden years.' Her care was impeccable. She was also custodian of much of the Maxted family historical records, which she passed on to my father Jack, and he in turn to me. ~ Please see attached pics of John Dean and his first wife Elizabeth, their daughter Margaret, some of the buildings that were built by John and finally their headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in Milton. ~
In this continuing series of episodes on the history of the Maxted family in Norval, which covers just over 100 years (explained below), I want to share with my readers the last two children born to Thomas & Charlotte Maxted during their time in Norval ~Mary Adene (b. 1872) and Ernest Bertwin (b. 1876). ~ At age 26, Mary Adene married Bill Wiggins from the same area. They had three children - Reta, Elsie & Bill Jr., of whom Reta died in the train accident along with her aunt Annie Sarah (mentioned previously) on their way to Niagara Falls on a Sunday school outing, and her sister Elsie died at only age 4. Bill Jr. eventually moved to Halifax, NS and was a prominent sportsman there. ~ Ernest then was the last child born to Thomas & Charlotte in Norval, but little is known about him other than that he was a 'farm labourer.' Both the Wiggins family and Ernest are buried at Hillcrest in Norval. ~ Attached with this posting are pics of the Wiggins family, and their headstones. We have not yet uncovered any pics of Ernest. ~ Thus, we have covered the entire family of Thomas & Charlotte, from the time they arrived in Canada from England in 1859 until the death of their last child Ernie in 1956, the year I was born - just over 100 years!
At last we come to the 'grand finale' of this series of episodes in the history of the MAXTED family in Norval. ~ Every summer for almost two decades, they would have a MAXTED family reunion. Maxteds from all over Ontario would come to Norval for a grand day of picnicking, sharing and just enjoying one another's company. It was the ideal place to host such a family reunion as this is where the family began after the journey over from England, and from whence they continued that journey here and elsewhere. Also,it was a very central location, and as Lucy Maud Montgomery alluded to in her memoirs ~ very picturesque and 'a bit of heaven on earth!' Even at the end of his life (1926 - 2018), my father recalled attending some of these reunions as a young boy, and he could hardly wait until the next one came around! ~ Attached with this final episode is an article from the 'Canadian Champion' Newspaper, dated 15 Aug 1929, giving info regarding a recent reunion held in Norval. This type of article appeared in the Canadian Champion almost every year that the family held the reunion! Also attached are pics of some of the family members present at a couple of reunions, some of which I have covered in this series of episodes. ~ So I wasn't able to get to sleep the other night, and I began counting the number of places that the MAXTEDs of Norval have moved on to, since the time that Thomas & Charlotte emigrated from England. I counted four different Canadian provinces and as many as a dozen different US States ~ amazing for just one family! ~ In conclusion, my desire is to encourage each of my readers to look further into their own family history, and you may find things that will both inspire and enrich your lives, and maybe even help you to get to know a little more about you ~ and the what, when, and why you are living where you do! Be blessed!