Oh, Canada! Cyrus Meredith (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks)

March 30, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, Griffin, Meredith

Loyalists in Canada; “In the main, the United Empire Loyalists were those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.”

I have ancestors who fought for the Revolution, and some who fled the country and helped settle Canada. My 2nd great grandfather, Cyrus Meredith, came from a family of those who fled.

Cyrus Meredith circa 1894

Cyrus Meredith circa 1894

Born in Canada in 1855 to Jesse and Rebecca Smith Meredith, Cyrus lived to be almost 100 years old. My father knew his great grandfather, who died in Pontiac, Michigan in 1951, the year my parents married.

Jesse Meredith was the son of Charles Meredith and Miriam Griffin, and it’s the Griffins who were Loyalists. Miriam was the daughter of Richard Griffin, who was born in Nine Partners, Duchess county, New York in 1732. I found this on the internet:

“Richard Griffin fought with the British during the War of the Revolution, and was forced to emigrate to Canada after 1785. He settled in Smithville, ON where he was given 800 acres to share with his sons in 1787. The town was named after his son Smith Griffin. They previosly lived in Lower New York around Nine Partners in Duchess County.”

Richard, who had married Mary Smith in New York, had 7 sons and 5 daughters. Good thing he was granted so much land. But many of his descendants moved down into Michigan and raised families there. His grandson, Jesse, was one of those. My Uncle Dick, my father’s twin brother, wrote and self published stories Cyrus had told him about living in Michigan. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Meredith family moved to Michigan from Canada. The story goes that the boys came over first and cleared land about one mile west of what is now Route 19 in Freidburger, Michigan. I assume the boys were the sons of my great-great grandparents, Jessie and Rebecca Meredith. They built a two story log cabin on the property. Freidburger, which is in the thumb of Michigan, was logging country at the time. The rest of the family came over when Cyrus was about five years old, which would make it about 1860. The father, Jessie, died in 1865, and the mother, Rebecca, died two years later in 1867. They are buried in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Route 19 in Freidburger.”

Meredith Headstone

Meredith Headstone

Rose Emeline Ruby Meredith

Rose Emeline Ruby Meredith

As Cyrus was the last child born to Jesse and Rebecca, it’s safe to assume he was not one of the sons who came to Michigan before the rest of the family circa 1860. He married Rose Emeline Ruby in 1874, and their first child, a daughter, was born in Sanilac County, Michigan in 1875.

My great grandmother, Rebecca Jane, (named for Cyrus’ mother, Rebecca, and Rose’s mother, Emeline Jane Kellogg), was born next in 1877.

Rebecca Jane Meredith Herr

Rebecca Jane Meredith Herr

She married Charles William Frederick Herr, or Charley for short, in 1900, and they were the parents of my grandmother, Clara Herr, whose photo graces the main pages of both my genealogy website and this blog.

Cyrus stayed active his whole life. A news article from the Pontiac Press during World War II gives one story of how:

“Too Old To Join The Army, Local Man Knits for the Boys

Cyrus Meredith isn’t exactly a young man–his memory extends back far enough to cover some impressions of the Civil war draft–but still he’s ready, willing and decidedly able to do something that will help the boys who are doing the actual fighting for Uncle Sam. Meredith lives at 78 North Jessie street, is 85 years old, and just completed the first pair of stockings he has knitted for some soldier. He isn’t stopping there either, as already he has begun work on a second pair.

Some time ago he decided that even an old-timer could do something for the boys at war. Having been taught to knit when still a 14 year old boy and having a supply of yarn on hand, his activity naturally led to work on knitting socks.

He had intended to complete at least one pair before Christmas but just couldn’t get them finished in time. However he missed by only a few days and now has completed work on his first pair and is starting on a second.

Mr. Meredith was born in Canada but came to Saniliac county, Michigan with his parents when he was only four years old. He has lived in Pontiac for 24 years. He worked here for some time as a teamster and carpenter and has also worked at the Wilson Foundry & Machine company for five years.”

And the Press was there when he celebrated his last birthday:

“Pontiac Resident Celebrated 96th Anniversary Here

Cyrus Meredith, of 78 North Jessie Street, knows that one’s never too old for a birthday cake. Mr. Meredith celebrated his 96th birthday Friday. Some 15 friends visited him and helped eat the cake his daughter, Mrs. Bernie Downing, and grand-daughter, Mrs. Gerald Jenkinson, 570 Sterling street, presented him. During World War II, Mr. Meredith knitted stockings for men overseas. Previously he worked at General Motors Truck & Coach division and as a caretaker at the Church of the Brethern.”

He died a month later, September 21, 1951.

His grandmother, Miriam Griffin Meredith, his father Jesse’s mother, lived almost as long. She was born in 1765 in New York and died in 1856 in Canada.