As I was researching the connection between the families of David and Richard Burk(e) something stood out for me. Richard Burke’s wife Mary Ann Shouldice died in 1873 after the birth of her son Frederick Whitlock. Richard Burke was left to raise 10 children by himself. Normally, a widower with children would remarry. Richard never did, and there is a grave marker for Mary Ann in Saskatchewan where Richard buried. A drawing of Mary Ann (likely based on a photograph) has been passed down to descendants. This gives me the sense that this was a woman who was well-loved and desperately missed. But who was Mary Ann? Who were her parents?
1) David Burk and Jacob Shouldice were neighbours.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Jacob Shouldice and David Burk (Mary Ann’s brother-in-law) were neighbours in Mariposa Township, Victoria County. The 1851(2) census records for Mariposa Township have not survived, but the Archives of Ontario hold the Assessment Rolls and Tax Collectors rolls for the early 1850s. The 1853 Assessment Roll is particularly useful because it contains the ages and occupations of the inhabitants of the township.
In the early 1850s, there are four Shouldice households, one Burk household and one Laidley household on Lots 20 and 21 of Concession 2 in Mariposa Township as follows:
- Lot 20, Con 2: David Burk (West 1/2); John Shouldice (South, 2 acres); Abraham Laidley (East 1/2)
- Lot 21, Con 2: Samuel Shouldice (NW ¼); William Shouldice (S ½) Jacob Shouldice (NE ¼)
Mariposa Township Map
View Mariposa Township in a larger map
2) Mary Ann’s eldest son is named Jacob George
The name of her eldest son is Jacob George, likely after Jacob Shouldice. Another researcher pointed out to me that John Shouldice might be her father. He is living with Richard and Mary Ann Burke in the 1861 census. He is the right age to be Mary Ann’s father. However, I think that this John is actually Mary Ann’s cousin. He is listed as crippled in the 1861 and this information makes me believe that he is likely the handicapped son of Adam Shouldice who settled in Harvey Township in 1825 as part of the Peter Robinson immigration scheme. None of Mary Ann and Richard’s children are named John which would be likely if he were her father.
3) Aunt Elizabeth Reekie
Mary Ann’s youngest son Fred W. Burke is living with Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie in Duluth, Minnesota in 1895 and later with his own family in 1920. Elizabeth’s marriage certificate to James D Reekie lists her parents as Jacob Shouldice and Elizabeth Bradley, and there is a copy of her baptismal record in the Valentia Bible Christian Church in Mariposa Township. A written Burke family history recounts that Fred Burke stayed with an aunt in the US after his mother’s death.
4) Mary Ann’s sister Catherine Forest
I think that Jacob and Elizabeth had a daughter Catherine who married Thomas Forest. In 1861, there is a M.A. Forest living with Richard Burk and Mary Ann Shouldice, born around 1854, who is listed as a niece. This is Mary Ann Forest, who, on her marriage certificate, lists her parents as Thomas Forest and Catherine Shouldice.
Also in 1861, there is a C. Forest, age 1, living with Jacob and Elizabeth Shouldice. This census also lists a C. Shouldice and an E. Shouldice living with Jacob and Elizabeth. I believe that this is a census taker’s error and that this is C. Forest (née Shouldice), and her daughter Elizabeth Forest. The ages of Catherine and Elizabeth align with 1871 census results for the Forest family. There is a baptismal record for a Catherine Forest at the Valentia Bible Christian Church born 15 Nov 1860 to Catherine and Thomas Forest.
Catherine Forest’s family and Elizabeth Reekie’s family are also linked. Catherine’s grandson Herbert is living with Elizabeth in 1900 US census. Catherine’s daughter Elizabeth Forest Maunder was also living with Elizabeth in 1930 US census.
I believe that this is good evidence that Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie and Catherine Shouldice Forest are Mary Ann’s sisters. Elizabeth Shouldice Reekie’s parents are clearly listed on her marriage certificate as Jacob Shouldice and Elizabeth Bradley.
5) Cousins Abe, Bill and David Shouldice
Abe, Bill and David Shouldice, sons of William Shouldice (1831-1908) and Elizabeth Irwin (1838-1918), are identified as cousins by the family of Richard Burke in a written history of Gainsborough, SK. This would make William Shouldice Mary Ann’s brother.
There is further evidence that this is the case. William Shouldice (1831-1908) lists his year of immigration as 1834 in the 1901 census. Mary Ann Shouldice lists her place of birth around 1834 as “at sea” on the 1871 census. This William also has a son named Jacob who dies as an infant.
Of course, none of this is conclusive evidence. Much like my attempt to prove the relationship between Richard and David Burke, proving Mary Ann Shouldice’s parentage is slippery and uncertain…
In my next post, I’ll add some additional information about the Shouldice family.