Mary Jeffers White 1874

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Place of migration:
Migrated to /Born in Canada

Mary Jeffers White (by Bob Moore)

Our great-grandmother Mary Jeffers was born in Tandragee in 1874 to James Jeffers and Mary Jane Taugher. Our great-grandfather Thomas White Jr. was born in Belfast in 1859 to Thomas White Sr. and Letitia Forde. They were married in 1895 in East Belfast at Willowfield Parish Church (Church of Ireland) and lived at 7 Coates Row, Lagan Village, Ballymacarrett, Belfast.

He went to work in Harland & Wolff as a boiler cover maker. When H&W slowed down during 1899, he went to work in the shipyards on the Clyde in Glasgow. A year later, Mary (Jeffers) and children moved to her maiden home of Laurelvale for cleaner air, and the children went to Tamnamoor National School in Laurelvale. He couldn't read or write, so he had a friend write home for him to his wife and 3 children: Mary (Our Nana) b. 1897; Thomas James b. 1899; Amos b. 1901.

He must have had itchy feet because, in 1903, he decided that he wanted to investigate Canada. He did not want his wife Mary Jeffers to know, or maybe did not want to argue the issue with her, so he told his friend to keep writing as though he were still in Glasgow while he sailed to Hamilton, Ontario on the Pretorian.

He did get a job in Hamilton as a labourer and liked the opportunities there, so he got a message to his friend telling him to write to his wife, Mary Jeffers, that she should bring the children and come to Hamilton. In 1907, Mary (Jeffers) and the three children emigrated to Canada. She already had a sister Margaret Jeffers Redpath there so she hoped that things would work out. They were terribly seasick on board the S.S. Tunisia but made the best presentation they could upon arrival in Montreal so that the immigration officers would let them off the boat.

One thing that Thomas had not counted on was the meteorological differences between Ireland and Canada. Mary Jeffers was not adjusting well, and almost died with fright the first time she experienced an electrical storm with the violent thunder and lightning that would come to Hamilton because it is caught between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario. The next time, she hid under the bed but it did not help. To add to her worry, there was a diphtheria epidemic in Hamilton at that time. It was all weighing down on her health so much that she went to the family doctor. He told Thomas "take your wife back to Ireland or you will be burying her here in Hamilton!"

Thomas did not want to go back to the old country so in 1910, Mary Jeffers took her 4 children, Clara had been added in 1908 (9 months after Mary Jeffers' arrival), back to her parents' home in County Armagh. The diptheria epidemic had put fear into her sister's family also, so she took her niece, Naomi Redpath, back with her and her own children. Mary Jeffers never saw her husband again. They all lived with her parents in Tamnaghmore and she and our grandmother went to work as linen weavers in the Sinton mill in Laurelvale.

When the Spanish flu came, our Nana tells that not one house on their street escaped unharmed. She was the last one to fall sick with the flu in her family, and their family doctor told her that she could not afford to be sick because the rest of the family needed her to care for them. Ironically, even though Mary Jeffers had brought her children away from one epidemic, her son Thomas James died in the Spanish flu epidemic .

Our grandmother, Mary Elizabeth, came back to Hamilton by herself in 1919 and never saw her mother again. Mary Jeffers White died in 1940 and was buried in the Tandragee Baptist Church Cemetery in County Armagh. Her husband Thomas White died in 1952 and was buried in White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Hamilton.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 27th Aug 1874 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 1940  

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