Photograph of Donald Watt the younger of Horton Twp
On January 10, 1871, in Ross Twp., Renfrew County, Mary Jeffrey, daughter of Samuel Jeffrey and Catherine Lowery, gave birth to an illegitimate son, whose birth was registered as Samuel Watt Jeffrey. On Aug 15, 1873 Hugh Gordon, brother of my paternal great grandmother, married Mary Jeffrey. Hugh adopted Mary’s child who was from that point on known as Sam Gordon. On Oct 27, 1897 in McNab Twp., Sam Gordon married Willena McFadyen of that place. I have a copy of a charcoal portrait of Sam and Willena that was provided to me by the wife of Sam and Willena’s grandson.
Since the name “Watt” is not known elsewhere in the Jeffrey family tree, I have believed for some time that Mary’s choice of that name was a clue to the identity of Samuel’s natural father. I now believe the prime suspect to have been Donald Watt the younger of Horton Twp. Certainly Donald would have been known to the Jeffrey family. He was one of the witnesses to the marriage, on May 2, 1870, in Horton Twp., of Joseph Jeffrey, older brother of Mary Jeffrey, to Sydney Johnston, daughter of James and Margaret Johnston of Horton Twp. Donald is listed on the registration of that marriage as Donald Watt of Ross Twp. although he is not listed on any Ross Twp. census.
Donald Watt the younger was the son of Donald Watt the elder and Elizabeth Knight of Horton Twp. Elizabeth’s sister, Hannah Knight, was the second wife of my maternal great-great grandfather, James Roberts of Horton Twp. Both of these families are listed in the 1861 census of Horton Twp. In the 1871 census both families are listed in the census of Harcourt but the listing for the Watt family does not include Donald Watt the younger who apparently remained in Renfrew County. He was residing in Admaston Twp. on May 6, 1875 when married Mary McIntyre, daughter of Daniel McIntyre and Mary Henderson of McNab Twp
I am hoping that someone can provide a photograph of Donald Watt the younger that I can compare to the portrait of Sam Gordon to see if there is any resemblance.
Re: Photograph of Donald Watt the younger of Horton Twp
I corresponded a few years ago with the wife of one of your Gordon cousins. As both are still living (and hopefully for many years) I won't mention names on the board, but she also told me that she could not get her husband's aunts to discuss the issue.
It is amazing the lengths to which people would go to avoid the issue of illegitimacy. Although Sam's birth was registered at the time as Samuel Watt Jeffrey, it seems that when he needed proof of his age many years later he did not ask the Department of Vital Statistics to search the records under that name. Instead, On April 2, 1934 his aunt, Margaret (Jeffrey) Olmstead declared before a Notary Public at Benito, Manitoba that Samuel Gordon was born in Ross Twp. on January 10, 1871, that the father was Hugh Gordon and the mother was Mary Jeffrey, and that she was present when the child was delivered by Mrs Gilbert Edmunds.
Of course it is always possible that he knew of the earlier registration, but that it was not acceptable for whatever purpose he needed it because the name did not match the name by which he was then known. I expect that his adoption by Hugh Gordon was a de facto adoption and that there was no documentary evidence to support the change of name from Samuel Watt Jeffrey to Samuel J. Gordon. Since by 1934 both Hugh and Mary had already died, this little white lie may have been seen as the only way to resolve the matter.