Mary Ann Aldis (1794-1889)

The adult history of Alfred ALDIS, Mary Ann’s youngest child who came to Canada as a 14-year old, probably bears witness to Mary Ann’s judgment of character and business acumen. Instead of settling both boys in the one business - though this may have been the case initially since Alfred would have been too young to manage a separate enterprise on his own - Alfred operated independently of Salem who seemed to have remained in charge of the lumberyard and saw mill. The 1851 Census on Chatham Town lists Alfred, aged 29 and unmarried, as a distiller while his older brother Salem is the lumberman. Both are still living with their mother, aged 57. Ten years later, nothing has changed except that both men are described as ‘sawyers’, whether in the same business or separately is not clear.

By 1871 both men are married and have families, and Mary Ann is living with Salem and Victoria. The arrival of another baby every year or two probably accounts for the fact that by 1881 Mary Ann, well into her 80s, is living with Alfred in Raleigh Township.

Alfred had married Martha Christina McColl on the 28th of September 1869. The 28-year old daughter of Town Clerk Duncan McColl and his wife Mary (formerly McRae), she was a teacher and nearly 20 years younger than her husband who, like his brother Salem, married late in life. Their first child Jennie was born in August 1870 in Raleigh Township, indicating, perhaps, that Alfred had already settled into his final occupation of farmer. Jennie was still alive in 1894, when her father wrote his will, and unmarried. A second child, Robert Duncan, born in 1872, died in December 1877 of meningitis. Two more sons, Alfred Sidney, who married Margaret Isabella Brown, and John Hillyard, who married Annie Winnifred Woollatt, were born in, respectively, 1875 and 1877. Two further children, Lucy Hellen and William Ross, were born in 1878 and 1880, but did not survive; nor did their mother who died on the 8th of May 1880, presumably as a consequence of her last confinement. She was just 38 years old, and is buried in Old Maple Leaf Cemetery, Old Ward A, Plot 302. So the 1881 Census lists Alfred as a 55-year old widower farmer with his three surviving children aged 10, 6, and 4 and elderly mother aged 86. They have a young housemaid, Mary P…SON aged 15 who was born in England, and James DOYLE, a 25-year old Irish labourer. By 1891 both Mary Ann and Salem are dead, the Census on Chatham listing Victoria as a 39 (sic) year old widow with seven children aged between 8 and 23; young Salem Goldsworth (sic) ALDIS, aged 20, is already at work as a ‘bolt-cutter’. Ten years later Victoria, given age 53, was living at No. 35 West Side of Hyslop Street and working as a nurse at a salary of $200.00. Youngest daughter Evelyn Ada, aged 17, was living with her, as was 6 -year old grandson Harvey Roy EVANS, the only child of Annie Gertrude ALDIS who married Harvey Roy EVANS and died, aged 19, in 1895.

The “Chatham Directory” also contains informative listings. 1857-58 lists “S & A Aldis, Saw Mill & Distillers”, while the 1864 edition has the brothers as “Lumber Merchants & Steam Saw Mill Proprietors”. The “County of Kent Gazette” for the same year provides the detail of the saw mill’s location in Colborne Street (clearly visible in the Town Photo of c.1880). Mary Ann, we learn from the 1876 “Chatham Directory”, was living at 24 Church Street and Salem at 129 Colborne Street, these details repeated in 1882. The 1885 edition lists the “Aldis Saw Mill” on the Creek, Colborne Street, “erected many years ago”, as valued at $4,000 (modern equivalent c. £60,000) and having a capacity of 20,000 feet. Salem lived at 34 Murray Street which runs parallel to Colborne. Salem’s widow Victoria, according to the Directory, remained at Colborne Street from 1892 until 1904, and then at Park Avenue, Park Avenue East, numbered as 75 in 1909, and finally at 265 Park Street in 1910 where she lived with daughter-in-law Laura (formerly Palmer) who was the recently widowed wife of Salem Goldworth ALDIS (1870-1910).

The occupations of some of Mary Ann’s grandchildren also featured in the “Chatham Directory”. “S. Aldis, Baker” in 1900, 1902, 1904, and 1908 was probably Salem Goldworth, son of Salem and Victoria. Another of their sons, Alfred Henry, is listed as a “Teamster” in 1904, while their third son, Walter (born Charles Walter) is a painter by 1908. By 1909 Alfred has become a “liveryman” living at 62 Raleigh, and Salem, son of Salem Goldworth and Laura Palmer, is Clerk to the Chatham Packing Company in 1918, living at 196 Grand W. As times changed, therefore, so did the occupations of subsequent generations. ALDIS was a continuing presence in Chatham throughout the 20th century. Heather ALDIS, for example, was a student in 1971 living at 4 Lorne, and Mrs Margaret ALDIS a dental assistant, later a buyer for the Union Gas Co., at the same address.

As late as 1987 Mrs Stella ALDIS was living at 99 McNaughton, Apartment 152. In fact, this lady died on the 11th of September 1987, aged 86, having lived the whole of her long life in Chatham. Born Stella Marie CRACKEL, daughter of Walter CRACKEL and Eliza (KAY), she was the wife of Samuel Salem ALDIS (‘Slim’) whom she married in 1924 and who pre-deceased her by three years. They had a daughter Peggy and two sons, Goldie and Duaine. By the time of her death, Stella ALDIS was survived by six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Both Salem and Stella are buried in Old Maple Leaf Cemetery.