AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
The Many Members of the Nall Family – Part 1
Desmond Tutu once said “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” In the Nall family there were many gifts, considering how many children were welcomed into this family. The Nall family’s connection to Amherstburg goes all the way back to Alfred and Ellen (Foster) Nall. Records state that Alfred was born in Kentucky in 1820 but came to Canada in 1860. Ellen’s place of birth is a bit trickier because some records, such as the Census, state that she was born in Ontario, while other documents such as death records state that she was born in Kentucky. The couple was married in Essex, Essex County on December 6, 1860 and their marriage record lists Ellen’s parents as Joseph and Mary Foster, while Alfred’s parents are listed as “not known.” Census records and notes from the museum’s family history collection state that Alfred was a gardener on Alma street in Amherstburg. Sadly, at some point during 1881 and 1891, Alfred passed away because the 1891 Census lists Ellen as a widow. Additionally, the following year, in 1892, Ellen married for a second time on September 22, 1892 in Amherstburg to George Shreve; she was 49 and he was 68. Their marriage record also states that George was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania and he was a farmer and widower. George’s parents were Samuel and Esther Shreve. While Ellen was married to her first husband, Alfred, the couple had 10 children: James, Theresa, Gordon, Elnora/Nora, Mattie Jane, Forrest, Hattie, Walter, Grace and George Foster.
Alfred and Ellen’s oldest son was James who was born in Amherstburg on November 16, 1861. He lived in Amherstburg for almost his entire life, until he moved to Windsor on Church Street, three years before he passed away in April 1920. In his early life, James was a chef on the Great Lakes and for a few years was a master chef on the flagship of the Northern Navigation Company. James also had a bakery on the corner of Seymore and Gore streets in Amherstburg which is an occupation he held until his retirement. In 1911, to gain more business, James had an ad printed in the Amherstburg Echo that said, “Ladies, give us 24 hours’ notice and we will supply your parties with lemon, strawberry, pineapple or frozen fruit sherbets packed in freezers in quantities to suit. James A Nall, baker and confectioner, corner Seymore and Gore streets.”
James was married twice: first to Sarah Brown and then to Minnie Odey/O’Dey. James’ first wife Sarah was born in Anderdon on September 6, 1861 and was the daughter of John D. Brown (born in Maryland) and Sarah Chancelor (born in Ohio). Sarah and James married on April 18, 1888 in Amherstburg’s First Baptist Church and the ceremony was conducted by the Reverend J.A. Holt. According to the Amherstburg Echo, their wedding was the largest church wedding solemnized there considering “The body of the church, the choir platform and the pulpit were all fully occupied to witness the important event.” The couple had two children: Margaret Ellen Louis who was born on March 9, 1897 and James Chancellor Nall who was born on June 24, 1892. Sadly, Sarah passed away in Amherstburg on September 18, 1910 due to heart and kidney issues. She was described as popular throughout her life and “became endeared to a large number by her untiring devotion to the path of duty, her kindness and quiet work both in church and the Sabbath school.” Sarah was very devoted to her organizational work within and outside of the church. She acted as treasurer for the First Baptist Church in 1896, joined the Amherstburg Ladies Sewing Circle and the Amherstburg Guild (which stemmed from the Baptist Church), in addition to becoming a charter member and Royal Grand Matron of Amherstburg’s Ruth Chapter #4, Order of the Eastern Star. Her memorial described her as “a loyal supporter of … the societies of which she was identified.” There is still more to learn about James and the rest of the Nall family. See you next week!
The Many Members of the Nall Family – Part 2
Following Sarah’s passing on September 18, 1910, James Nall moved to Windsor. A few years later, on February 26, 1913, he married Minnie Odey/O’Dey in Windsor. Minnie was a widow whose maiden name was Larter. Her parents were Milton, a farmer, and Docha (Warden) Larter. While living in Windsor, James worked in the dry-cleaning business and was a devout member of the church. He was also a Past Master of Amherstburg’s Lincoln Lodge (Masonic) and for years was a deacon of the Amherstburg First Baptist Church. After moving to Windsor, he became the chairman of the deacon’s board of the First Baptist Church in Windsor. Sadly, James met an unfortunate end, dying of a “stroke of apoplexy.” He was on his way home from a church revival at the First Baptist Church and was struck ill. He was mistaken for being intoxicated and put in a jail cell where he remained all night. It was not until the next morning that his family found him, but sadly he died shortly after arriving home. He must have been a very respected person because many from Amherstburg and the surrounding area attended his funeral at the First Baptist Church in Windsor, where the funeral was conducted under the auspices of the Lincoln Lodge of Amherstburg.
James’ sister and the second Nall child was Theresa who was born on January 29, 1868 in Amherstburg. Circa 1890, Theresa married Joseph N. Stevens, a cook, who was born in November of 1864 or 1865 to Joseph Stevens and Mary McCurdy. Interestingly, the 1900 US Census for Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio lists several of Theresa’s siblings living with her and Joseph, including Hattie, Grace, Mattie and Forest. During this time, according to the 1900 Census, Hattie worked as a waitress, Grace and Mattie are listed as “servant girls” and Forest was a cook. The same census lists Joseph and Theresa’s three children: May (b. September 1890), Ellen/Ella (b. November 1892) and Chestor (b. October 1894). The 1900 Census also states that Joseph Stevens came to the United States in 1870, while the rest of the family emigrated in 1899. In the 1920 Ohio Census it includes an addition to the family. Among those living with Joseph, Theresa and Ella is Ella’s husband Roscoe Brown, all under the same roof. Roscoe was born in Atlanta, Georgia in roughly 1891 to William Brown and Amelia Williams. At this time, Joseph and his son-in-law, Roscoe, are both listed as “stewards” on a steamship. It is certainly possible that they worked on the same ship. Stayed tuned for more next week!
The Many Members of the Nall Family – Part 3
Following James and Theresa, the third of the Nall children was Gordon Edward Nall who was born in Amherstburg on June 7, 1872. He worked as a teamster and married Sarah Elizabeth Eckford, on December 25, 1895 in Windsor. Sarah was the daughter of Mary E. and Henry Eckford and was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 13, 1875. Gordon moved to Ohio, where he remained until his death on December 21, 1929. Sarah and Gordon had at least one child, a son named James A. Nall who was born circa 1905. James later married Helen E. Mueke on October 30, 1952 in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Helen was born in roughly 1907 and was the daughter of George Mueke and Ida Vaughn. On their marriage record it states that James was a maintenance man and Helen was an assembler. Both married in their 40s and this was James’s first marriage, while Helen had been married once before.
There is not very much information on the next Nall child, Elnora (Nora) Nall, but we do know that she was born on August 22, 1876 in Amherstburg. She married a marine cook, Robert L. Baker, and was a housewife. She was also a member of the First Baptist Church and does not appear to have had any children because none are mentioned in her obituary. Sadly, at the age of 44, she suffered from a stroke and passed away in Windsor.
Slightly more information was found for Alfred and Ellen’s next child, Mattie Jane Nall, who was born in Amherstburg in 1877. On January 25, 1911, she married Joseph Walter Flennory in Windsor. Joseph was born on October 14, 1872 and was the son of Squire Flennory, a farmer, and Jennie Baker. Joseph worked in several occupations including a cook and steel heater for the Studebaker Plant, while Mattie was a housekeeper. Before their marriage, Mattie was living in Windsor, while Joseph was from Detroit. The couple must have taken up residence in Detroit because Mattie’s death record states that she passed away in Detroit on December 30, 1923.
Forrest Nall was born on March 31, 1877 in Amherstburg. The only other information found on him was his immigration record from 1913. This document provides a valuable lesson when researching your family history. If you recall, earlier it was mentioned that the 1900 Census states that Forrest was living with his sister Theresa Stevens and that Forrest immigrated to the US in 1899. Additionally, the 1910 Census states that he immigrated in 1895. Each of these documents differ on the date of his immigration, so always be careful when looking at documents. Sometimes it takes more that a document or two to get the whole picture. In Forrest’s case, he must have moved several times between the US and Canada.
Hattie Nall was born in Amherstburg in 1878. She married Samuel Lambert on August 5, 1902 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Samuel was born in Virginia in 1875 and was the son of William Lambert and a woman with the last name Green. In the 1910 Census it does not list an occupation for Hattie, but Samuel worked as a waiter on a steamboat. Interestingly, Forrest is now listed as living with Samuel and Hattie, after previously living with Theresa and her husband Joseph. At this time, he is also listed as a cook on a steamboat, so it is certainly possible that Forrest and Samuel worked together. There’s still more to come next week!
The Many Members of the Nall Family – Part 4
Ellen and Alfred’s next child was Walter, who was born on March 19, 1880 in Amherstburg. According to his draft registration card from September 1918, he was employed as a cook by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, which toured the Great Lakes. At this time, he was living in Detroit with his wife Edith (b. circa 1885), who was the daughter of Alfred Berry (her mother is listed as “unknown”). Edith and Walter married on May 23, 1904 in Ecorse, Wayne, Michigan. According to his obituary, Walter lived in Windsor for 60 years and was employed by the Ford Motor Company of Canada for 30 years until his retirement in 1950. Walter and Edith had at least five children: Audrey Bessie (b. October 2, 1903), Andrea Bethrea (b. October 2, 1904), Alfred Francis (b. July 9, 1906), Edie Irene (b. September 14, 1909), and Ellen S. (b. September 8, 1911). Each were born in Windsor. Audrey Bessie was a housewife and married Daniel Dickerson, while Ellen S. married a man named Raymond Kennedy and Edie Irene married James Lewis.
Walter’s sister, Grace Darling Nall was born on March 11, 1884 in Amherstburg. She married William Milton O’Dey on January 7, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. William was born on September 2, 1877 and was the son of Minnie Larter (who was discussed earlier) and Joseph W. O’Dey, who, according to an obituary “had many friends in Amherstburg and was a Mason for thirty years.” William worked as a porter and according to a draft registration card, William was drafted, in 1942, to fight in WWII at the age of 64. Grace and William had at least two children: Hugh Joseph O’Dey who was born on October 19, 1903 and Margaret Helen O’Dey, who was born on December 2, 1905. Both children were born in Windsor.
The last of the Nall children was George Foster Nall. He was born on July 17, 1887 and his death certificate states that his place of birth was Kentucky, which may or may not be correct, considering all of his siblings were born in Amherstburg. On April 21, 1904, he married Emmaline Dorsey in Detroit. She was the daughter of John Dorsey and Mary Guyette. According to a draft registration card for George Foster Nall, he was a marine steward for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company which operated on the Great Lakes and is the same steamship company that employed his older brother, Walter. This document also indicates that he may have married a second time because it lists Blanche Nall as a contact person, who was living at the same residence as George in Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio at that time. This led to the 1930 Census which lists a George and Blanche Nall living in Cleveland, Ohio. It also lists a daughter named Virginia and states that George was working as a Clerk for a garbage plant. Cleveland, Ohio must have been a special place for the Nall children considering seven out of ten lived there at one point in their lives, some temporarily, while others lived there for extended periods of time. The remaining Nall children found a home within Essex County or Michigan. No matter where they lived, the Nall name continued with the next generation. Thanks for joining us for this month’s installment of our family history series.