Were They Related?

Setting the Scene
"Emma was 'accidentally' born in Canada on January 27, 1859 while her mother was making a brief visit to relatives living there and was caught in a winter storm and could not return home, creating fears as to her citizenship, but there were no problems." - An excerpt from a biography on my 2nd great-grandmother, Emma Sophia Tock (Shinn).

Emma Sophia Tock
circa 1874
I never put much stock into the story above because there have never been any sources to back it up and it is so vague on the details.  But, whenever I did any research on the family I never forgot about the possible relatives in Canada Emma's mother had gone to visit.  If there were relatives in Canada who were they?  How were they connected to the family?  Were they the reason the Tocks chose to leave England for the Maine/New Brunswick area?

The biography above also mentions where the family was supposedly residing at the time of Emma's birth: Calais, Washington, Maine.  Looking at a map reveals something interesting about Calais:

View Larger Map

Calais is not only on the Canadian border, it and St. Stephen, Charlotte, New Brunswick run into each other.  They run into each other so much so that the family is often enumerated in records in St. Stephen and not Calais.

What a Little Research Turned Up...
I recently decided to revisit this family story and the results were interesting the say the least.  Census records were the first thing I re-examined.  Unfortunately, Emma, father James and mother Martha (Wadd) Tock aren't on any records (that I could find) in Maine or Canada.  But, three of Emma's sisters (Mary Elizabeth, Sarah Jane "Sallie" and Martha Ann/Anna) do appear in census records.

Death Record for Jane Harris Temple
In 1861, Sallie and Martha Ann were living in St. Stephen with a William Harris and his wife, Sarah.  Both William and Sarah were from England, born in circa 1813 and circa 1811 respectively.  Sallie and Martha Ann are listed as lodgers and are ages five and seven.

Next up is to look for the girls in either the 1871 Canadian census or the 1870 US census.  Well, Martha Ann is nowhere to be found in 1871 or 1870, but Sallie is enumerated.  She is still with William and Sarah Harris in St. Stephen.  The fact that Sallie appears in their household in both 1861 and 1871 is a red flag to me that maybe the Harris family might be more than just charitable to little Sallie and her family.

I was not able to find Mary Elizabeth in the 1860 US or 1861 Canadian Census records.  She is in the 1870 US census though, living in Calais.  She is listed as a dressmaker in the household of Robert and Jane Temple.  Both Robert and Jane were from England.  Could Robert or Jane be related to William and Sarah Harris?

Well, I looked up Jane in the Maine death records at Ancestry.com.  I was happy to see her record was there and even happier to see that it listed her parents names: William Harris and Sarah Barnes.

I then went and looked up Jane in earlier census years in the US, Canada and England.  She appears in Calais in 1860 as Jane Harris and is a servant in her future husband Robert Temple's household.

Were They/Weren't They?
There might be some reasons that could defeat the possibility of a biological connection:
  1. Emma, Mary Elizabeth, Sallie and Martha Ann's mother, Martha Wadd Tock, died in 1861.  It is entirely possible that James, unable to care for four small daughters on his own, sent them to live in whatever household would take them - like the Harris family (and later their daughter Jane's household)
  2. The Harris family put 'Wesleyan Methodist' down as their religion, and so did the Tock girls.  It is entirely possible that the two families attended the same church and had become close that way.  It might also be the reason why both families left England.
  3. I know where in Lincolnshire the Wadd and Tock families were from.  I have been able to find records for both James and Martha and their siblings.  I have never come across a Barnes or Harris in either family, or in the area in Lincolnshire in which they lived.
  4. They were both from England.  Perhaps the families just bonded over their shared origins.  Perhaps they left England and came to the Calais/St. Stephen area at the same time.
  5. Both William Harris and James Tock were laborers.  Perhaps the two men worked together and the families grew close that way.
  6. Maybe the girls worked for the Harris and Temple households.  They might just have been taken in to help Sarah Harris with household chores.  
But, there are also compelling reasons why they might have been related:
  1. I have not been able to trace Martha and James' parents.  It is entirely possible that either William or Sarah was a first (or more distant) cousin.
  2. William was a laborer and his daughter, Jane, was a servant before her marriage.  They probably weren't wealthy or in a financial position to be charitable with anyone other than a relative.
  3. William and Sarah were pushing fifty in 1861.  They also had at least one grown child.  Unless a relative were in need, I find it hard to believe that they'd choose to take in at least two small children and raise them for ten + years.
  4. Sallie and Martha Ann are never explicitly listed as servants, and for that matter neither is Mary Elizabeth.  In fact, Sallie is listed as attending school in 1871.  If she were in the household as a servant, I doubt she would have been able to attend school.
  5. Their connection was multigenerational.  If the Tock girls were a charity case or worked for the family, I have a hard time believing that they would have continued a connection with Jane and her family - especially since the girls probably joined the Harris family after their mother's death in 1861, when Jane was out of the house and on her own.
  6. Sallie's full name was Sarah Jane Tock - is it just a coincidence that her foster mother was also named Sarah and her foster mother's daughter was named Jane?
So, were they related or not?  What do you think?

Note: this post was written for week 2 of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog at Tonia's Roots.


  1. Great list post, Leah! I love reading about research and I really like the way you laid out the Were They/Weren't They section. That kind of organization always helps me sort out knotty research problems.

  2. This is kind of like a detective story where you never know how it ends until the last page. Good luck in your research!

  3. You have done such a good job laying out the pieces of your puzzle. My gut feeling is they were. I'm curious what you find in further explorations.


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