Sunday, September 27, 2009

Finding Aunt Edith


I had the pleasure a week ago of spending a Saturday afternoon, complete with lunch at a local pub, visiting my aunt Carol Royle (nee Hadden), my father's sister. During our several hours of conversation she mused, "I wonder what ever happened to Aunt Edith?" I wondered as well and so this past week tried to find out.

Edith Hadden (pictured on the left) was born in Scotland in 1918 and was adopted by Alexander Shand Hadden and his wife Jessie McKenzie Gaull. Alexander and Jessie had four children already: Alexander, Andrew, John (my grandfather), and the youngest a daughter Hilda Evelyn. Hilda was born in 1914 but died at the age of 3 on May 21, 1917 of tubercular meningitis. It has been speculated that adopting a baby girl perhaps made the family complete again.

Edith was only 5 years of age when the family moved to Canada and by all accounts, she was a great deal of fun to be with. The story of Edith teaching her eldest nephew, my father, the Lord's Prayer still evokes laughter for rather the ending the prayer with the words "...and deliver me from evil", my father's version concluded "... and deliver me from Edith."

Edith didn't know of her adopted status until later in life. Unlike today, where openness and explanation are encouraged, Edith had not been told. The news was disturbing to her, perhaps even somewhat devastating. It may have been a result of this that contact was lost with 'Aunt Edith.' The last known contact I could determine was in the late 1970's, about 30 years ago and so my quest was to see what genealogical sources might help in finding her.

Edith had married George Groves and they had lived for many years on Lawlor Avenue, one block east of Pickering Street, close to the rest of the family in Toronto's east end. Not knowing if she was still alive, I first scanned the obituary notices of the largest Toronto daily newspaper, The Star (the newspaper offers a fee-based "Pages of the Past" database search tool that uses PDF scanned images of all pages of past newspaper editions and optical character recognition (OCR) software). While it took many hours to search out and review all the Groves death notices over the past 30 years, there was nothing connected to Edith or for that matter, her husband George. Another usual source, Ancestry.ca, the Canadian version of the Ancestry.com genealogy portal to literally millions of historic and vital record documents also offered nothing from its Canadian Obituary Collection database.

When all else fails, I turn to Google. Initially, I conducted a search for "Edith Groves," including the quotation marks but the results were many and unrelated. I next searched for "Edith Groves (nee Hadden)," again complete with the quotation marks. In the results, I found Aunt Edith's obituary notice listed on the GenealogyBuff.com website.

Edith Groves (nee Hadden) passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 13, 2001 in her 83rd year in Oshawa, Ontario. Her husband George had predeceased her. Aunt Edith is at last, sadly, found.


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