Friday, 24 August 2007

Margaret Helena Sutherland

It is almost ten years ago since I first made contact with my birth mother, Margaret Helena Sutherland. Today marks the 8th year since she passed from my life. After learning the first tiny tidbits of information about Margaret and her family, I set about trying to trace her ancestry.

It was from my new-found family that I learned that Margaret was born in 1933, the 4th child of William James and Emelie Sophie (LeBlanc) Sutherland. That's all I needed to start on the quest for my bloodline!

The Sutherlands

William James Sutherland was born in Portland, Maine, in 1889, to James and Millie (Burris) Sutherland. James and Millie emigrated from Nova Scotia to Maine shortly after their marriage in 1887. Millie must have died shortly after William's birth, as there is no record of her after 1900. His father, James Sutherland, remarried when William was about 7 years of age, having three children with his second wife, Fannie D. Daily.

The available records for Nova Scotia cannot verifiably establish James' parents names. However, I believe them to be John/William and Bridget Sutherland. Until there are more Canadian databases posted online, this is as far as I can go with Margaret's paternal lineage. There is much independent research that has been done on the Sutherland arrivals in Nova Scotia, but I have not been able to "connect the dots"...yet.

The LeBlancs

Emelie Sophie LeBlanc was the 11th child of Charles B. and Sophie (LeBlanc) LeBlanc. (Although her mother shared the same surname with her father, their common ancestor was many generations removed, making it unnecessary to obtain any dispensation to marry.) The union of Charles and Sophie eventually produced a total of 13 children!

Charles died in 1906 and Sophie in 1910, when Emelie was about 17 years of age. They are buried in the Old Cemetery of St. Michael's Parish in Margaree, Nova Scotia, with many of their children and ancestors. It was not until 1918, however, that Emelie emigrated to Portland, Maine, where she met William James Sutherland. Her motivation to leave for a new place where the language and customs were very different from her Acadian heritage is unknown. Was it for economic necessity, or just for the adventure? No one knows for sure.

The Sutherland-LeBlancs

William James and Emelie Sophie were married in Portland, Maine, in 1922. Shortly after the birth of their first child, Armond James, they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is there that Amelia Grace, Joseph Arthur, Margaret Helena and Patricia Ann were born. Patricia died when she was about 2-years-old. Whether it was the difficulty of dealing with the death of Margaret's younger sister, for financial or some other reason, Margaret's mother sent her to Nova Scotia to live with relatives for a good part of her early childhood. To this day, the reason is not known. Margaret would not talk about it, only to say that she liked her family there, but did not want to go back.

Eventually, Margaret returned home to her family in Massachusetts. However, their reunion would not last for very long. When she was about 8, her father died; two years later, her mother also died. Her older sister, Amelia Grace, would become Margaret's legal guardian.

Although Margaret's life was full of trials, she eventually married and lived a good life, short though it was. I was her first born child, but did not get to know her until the last few years of her life...and continue to learn new things through my relationships with my new-found family.

To learn more about my connection with Margaret, see the Family Harvest Genealogy website.

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